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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I Share My Dreams With Him

Derek and I love taking the kids on trips.  We have an array of tablets and iPods, so while traveling there are many hours where the kids happily watch movies while Derek and I (wait for it)  . . . have uninterrupted time to talk.

This rarely happens. 

We’ve been married for 18 ½ years, so with that track record I’ve noticed some meaningful patterns in our communication.  One that is most special to me is the conversations he and I have on long car rides (and it speaks volumes about how well our children entertain themselves when left to their own devices).  This time together usually ends up with us talking about two things:

1)  How we met and fell in love.

We’ve explored the many unknowns, under workings and miracles of how we came to meet.  It’s so fun to ask questions and understand the person he was before me, how he prayed me into his life and how he felt courting me.  In return, I express what he meant and means to me, how he’s the person I always dreamed of and how before him, half of my heart was missing.  I mean really, how many times can one talk about feelings when they first met or their first date?  There was a distinct moment I noticed Derek was tall.  We'd been friends for months, but not until I fell in love with him did I notice he was 6'5. There’s always something new to learn about each other.  It’s not like we set out on this topic, but somehow it always seems to find us.  Travel time feels like time travel and we love to twist and turn in our early years of courtship. 

2) What are our goals, ideas and dreams?

I’m a big dreamer and always have been.  I have personal goals like fitness and parenting and big goals as a writer and publisher.  Derek is a highly motivated person as well with personal and professional goals.  We talk about family goals and experiences.  Our enthusiasm is contagious and when one of us gets going, the other feels the magic.  Because of my absolute love for this man, I have no defenses.  I’m an open book and my mind gets going in all sorts of ways.  I talk about risks and new endeavors, see parallels in past accomplishments and use the momentum to push even further. It’s amazing what happens when someone absolutely believes in you.  Derek will share his confidence in me and with his background in psychology; he’ll usually have something interesting about personality types or the power of positive thinking.  It’s like a regular motivational seminar on these car rides.   

On our last car ride, I considered the hours we’ve spent talking about my ideas.  I’m talking about the far-reaching ideas that some people might deem unrealistic.  I really push the envelope and for a moment, just a moment, wondered if it was healthy to constantly want more, even expect more.  How many dreams had I shared with Derek that I had actually accomplished?  Not often, but it’s happened more than once where my insecurities come back to haunt me.  Was I really going to do what I’d set out to?  My goals as an artist and writer can be brutal and as my own boss, I don’t give myself much credit.  That’s when I had the thought, “I’d rather have far-reaching dreams then none at all.”  Of course, I told Derek what I was feeling and we had a discussion about it.  We conclude the joy we experience by imagining and believing such things can happen are worth it.  We would continue to be big dreamers!

I’m so thankful to have someone in my life who lets me share the inner workings of my heart, that he always listens and believes in me and that he give me the platform to be who I need to be.  

Most weekends, Derek and I make it out for a dinner date.  If time permits, we find our minds wander back to these two points of topic.  I love learning new things about him and appreciate all he does to validate and love me.    

A few weeks ago, I found this video on Derek's phone.  I had no idea he had taken it.  

I had no idea I act like a school girl in love.  He is constantly building me up and I know he is one of the reasons I can dream so big.  

May 1998, the day we told his parents we were engaged. I have that puppy love look in my eyes and it's never gone away.

To read about my 30 days of kindness to my husband challenge, click here.  It's blessed our relationship in unimaginable ways. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What Could I Have Done to Help the Man by the Canal?

I love to walk on the local canals here in Mesa.  They zigzag throughout the busy city.  Cars drive by on the busy streets and it gets especially chaotic during rush hour, but out on the canal it’s serene and peaceful.  The water moves at a snails pace and welcomes ducks that swim and search for food.  Occasionally a fish makes itself known and I wonder what else is down in that murky water. 

Last spring, it was one of those days when the sun was shining bright, but the air was blustery and cold.  The baby and Eden where wrapped up in a blanket in the jogging stroller and I pushed them through the neighborhood until we arrived at the canal.

As a woman and a mother, I am always evaluating situations for safety, sometimes subconsciously.  This day was no different.  Sitting near the water, I saw a man about a ¼ mile up the canal.  He was sitting alone.  Was he writing in a journal or working on a piece of art?  I’m not sure if I wanted to respect his privacy or keep my distance, either way I instinctively made the decision to walk on the other side of the canal
The walkway of the canal path sits several feet above the water.  While pushing the stroller, the strong wind gusts seemed to push at the wheels.  The stroller responded and it was like we were in this game of tug of war.  I kept both hands on the handlebar and recognized the potential danger of the stroller getting too close to the water.  It was during this debacle Eden and I both noticed the man, now directly across from us on the other side of the canal. 

His body language seemed full of messages.  He appeared unsettled, thoughtful and unsure.  Was he making a big decision?  Seeking inspiration?  Was he upset?  How many times had I come out to the canal with big ideas, obstacles or insecurities in my mind?  That’s when Eden spoke and with the swirling wind gusts, I could barely hear her:

“Mom, that man looks like he’s going to fall in the water.”

And he did.  He was sitting very close to the water's edge, but he was in fact a man, not a child?  Was it my call to consider he was sitting too close?  Through out the years, I'd seen many people fishing on the canal and they would sit near the water's edge.  Was he fishing?  He must see me, but he wasn’t looking up.  I wanted to respect his privacy, but I also wanted him to know I saw him.  If he was sad, I wanted him to know someone cared.  He had a box next to him, like a tool box or was it a lunch box disguised as a tool box?  Was it full of fishing gear?  Art supplies?  Lunch? 

“Hello,” I said and smiled, but he refused to look at me.  Did he speak English? Perhaps the wind was too loud.  Did he hear me at all?  Again the stroller pulled against the wind and I focused my attention back on the kids.  It was late in the afternoon and I didn’t want to be stuck on the canal in the dark. 

Within 30-45 minutes, I turned back onto our neighborhood street and considered what to make for dinner when my cell phone rang. 

“Honey,” and I heard the desperate voice of my husband on the other end. “Are you alright? Is everything ok?”

“Yes, what’s wrong?” I asked.

Derek explained to me he had just picked up our son at basketball practice and was driving home, right by the canal he knew I was walking on with our children.  There were police cars, fire trucks and an ambulance.  His first thought was something had happened to me or our children, but I immediately knew.  The man – he’d either intentionally or accidentally fallen into the water. 

Why?  Why hadn’t I done anything?  My intuition was something I could always count on, but it had failed me.  I was more than capable of handling an emergency, this emergency.  I could have helped him.  My dad was a psychologist and I’d grown up with a keen awareness for mental health.  I’d been a swimming instructor through the City of Mesa and was trained in CPR.  More then once I’d been the first to witness a car accident or medical emergency and I was at my best under pressure. 

In my mind I could see the man’s face.  Looking back, I could see the signs.  That’s when I realized I could have called someone?  I should have called 911 and said, “There’s a man here and I’m not sure if there’s a problem, but he appears troubled and he’s sitting close to the edge of the canal.”  Why had I cared so much about respecting his privacy? I considered why I didn’t walk near him, but instead walked on the other side of the canal.  Was he really a threat or had I over reacted? And the wind!  It had prevented him from hearing me when I said “Hello,” or had it. His body language had not invited me in. If he had heard me, he didn’t acknowledge it, but that wind pushing the stroller had kept me more focused on my kids then him. 

It was too late. He was gone and I couldn’t believe it. I called the non-emergency police department for information.  I told the dispatcher I’d just seen him and gave her a description.  I told her I should have done something and she said something about hindsight, that I'd done what I thought was best and to not feel guilty about it. Later, I did an internet search and read he had drowned.  The article didn’t say why, just a man had been pulled out of the water and was pronounced dead.

I didn’t go on the canal for a while.  I prayed about the man, about my experience and felt a bit lost.  Wouldn’t God have wanted me to save him?  “Why” was a question I couldn’t answer and it made me mad at myself, very mad.  I knew if I allowed it, this experience could put me in a dark hole.  I tried to keep my distance from the guilt, some days doing better than others.  One evening after work, Derek picked some roses from our backyard and suggested we walk to the canal and spread the pedals where I’d last seen him.  He said I needed closure.  

We left our home and when we turned the corner to the canal, I wondered if I could do it.  I’d failed that young man.  I was the last person to see him.  I could only imagine the heartache and pain his family and loved ones were going through. I held Derek’s hand as we walked back to where I’d last seen him.  On the ground, pebbles had been made into the shape of a heart and white sand had been placed inside.  

A note, maybe from his sweetheart had been pinned down with several large rocks.   

“Are you alright,” Derek asked as he put his arms around me.  I wanted to ask why, but knew the question would remain unanswered.  I pulled the petals off the roses and dropped them in the water, hoping the young man knew I would never forget him.  Most importantly, because of him, I would never miss an opportunity to help someone.

Over the last year, I’ve had two more experiences by Mesa canals.  While driving, I witnessed a man and woman fighting on the canal path.  He appeared to be shoving her.  I called 911 and reported what I thought might be domestic abuse.  I didn’t question if I was wrong, I would let the authorities investigate.  I’d rather be safe than sorry.  And just last week, my daughter Eden and I were driving to an appointment when I saw a woman standing near the water’s edge.  I stopped the car and asked if she was alright.  She wasn’t.  She asked for something to drink and I had a water bottle in the car. I offered her some money so she could go eat.  I told her “God loves you.  He told me to stop and help you.”

I’m glad I’ve been able to help in my own way, but nothing will make me stop asking “What if” or “If only.”  I’ll never know if I could have made a difference to the man sitting too close to the water, but if someone out there is struggling today, please know someone cares and that in honor of this man, I’m not letting another chance go by without helping someone.

I trust God knew what he was doing that day, but I wish I could have been the one to help the man by the canal, to tell him everything would be alright, that I could have offered him a hand and he would have walked away from the water’s edge.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Law of Attraction and The Cat

Over the last year, Eden has said to me many times “Mom, I wish I had a cat.”

So, we set out to find her one.  This last summer, off we went to the pound and looked at the cats, but ended up adopting a dog, a beautiful collie/golden retriever mix named Luna.  Up one dog, but still no cat.

I love this dog!

A few weeks ago on a cold evening in January, I was dropping my son Reef off at basketball practice.  As we pulled into the parking lot, Eden just out of the blue said, “Mom, if I had a cat I would love her and she would be my best friend.  I would take care of her and she would sleep with me every night.”  I knew how Eden felt about a cat and so heart-felt was her little desire, so specific were her motives, I recommitted to doing what I needed to do to get a cat for her.  “Eden, we will find you a cat,” I professed again, this time hoping I would follow through on my commitment.

While Eden stayed in the car with her older brothers, I walked Reef across the parking lot to his practice.  His basketball league practices at a park and the court is outdoors.  I wrapped my sweater tightly around my body and watched for a moment as Reef, in his short-sleeved shirt ran up and down the court.  “Grab your jacket,” I’d said to him as we left for practice, but in my experience, the only thing little boys notice when it’s cold and windy outside is that it’s an adventure. 

Reef’s practice would last for about an hour, so I was going to run up the street to Costco and grab a few groceries.  I thought I’d make a quick potty stop and ran into the park bathroom.  Those of you who live in Arizona know the restroom at the city parks are sparse – cement floors, steel toilet seats and grimy. Well, in the very back corner of that freezing bathroom I saw it.  A cat. A white and gray, purring, warm, fluffy, beautiful cat.  The only thing missing was a bright red bow.

I’ve seen stray cats.  They don’t want to be approached, the are dirty and scared.  This cat looked like it was put there just for Eden.  I bent down and reached out my hand to her.  Her pink moist nose touched my skin and it was love at first sight.  I reached out and she allowed me to pick her up.  When I walked out of the bathroom, Eden was watching from the car.

She didn’t say a word.

Eden, Heavenly Father gave you your cat,” I said, believing all good things come from God.

She waited as I approached her and then, through the car window I handed her the cat. 

“Her name is Princess,” Eden finally said. 
I just couldn’t believe it.  My daughter had manifested the cat, this playful, heaven-sent, tender, gentle cat. 

The cat looks to be about six months old, not a kitten, but not yet full grown.  
Disclaimer: The cat does not have a chip.

What I find interesting, is almost every time Eden and I are out, we now see stray cats. “Can we have that one,” Eden will say as we see a stray cat in a parking lot or in a random neighborhood.  Finally, I had to laugh out loud because I realized her positive energy and desire for a cat continues to manifest cats.  I finally said to her, “Eden, you need to stop desiring a cat because the universe keeps granting them to you.”

I’ve been listening to Abraham Hicks now for about a year.  If you haven’t already, take a listen to The Law of Attraction.  It’s life changing.

Click here to watch it full screen.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I'm In Awe

What Has Your Sister Done – Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy

I have been completely in awe of the stories from my sisters who have faced an unplanned pregnancy. Some days, I open my email and somebody has sent a story.  These moments have been breathtaking.  Those of you who have sent your stories, thank you.  They demonstrate the strength, fear, social barriers and all the diversity that comes with such an experience.  Many of you have suffered through abuse and speak about such injustices while others share where they found support.  Many stories have both aspects – abuse in some areas and support in others. 

Once I offered to help write your stories, I have been scheduling appointments to conduct interviews and the book has been rapidly growing.  Thank you for trusting me with details you may have never shared with anybody else in the world.  Thank you for giving your story to others, so if they are in the same situation they will find answers and validation. 

In my memoir Staving Girl, I share my own story and how I became interested in collecting stories of unplanned pregnancy.  To me, this journey is personal and through my research, I’m drawing conclusions that even I wasn’t aware of. 

I have a degree in communication. My senior year of college, I was the assistant director of a project where we collected stories about a diversity of issues and presented them in a vocal stage performance.  I remembered how each story demonstrated a variety of social issues when all we were doing was sharing a story.  It’s been said the best stories allow the reader to interpret the meaningful effects.  Readers are independent thinkers and can come to their own conclusions.  Stories on unplanned pregnancy demonstrate certain aspects of societal norms and changes we as a people need to make to better support our sisters.  Each story of unplanned pregnancy stands as a witness to what is going on in our society, how each sister stands in an unforeseen place and with a leap of faith, does the best she can. I appreciate these stories and I love my beautiful sisters.

If you know someone who may be interested in sharing their story, I have extended the deadline to February 26, 2017.  The book is scheduled to be released in Summer 2017.  Below is some information you can share with them.   Thank you for your support. 

___How to Submit Your Story__

What Has Your Sister Done? is a collection of stories about girls who faced an unplanned pregnancy and what they decided to do about it.  Some may have kept the baby while others may have placed their baby up for adoption or terminated their pregnancy through abortion.  Because many aspects of unplanned pregnancy aren’t talked about, I’m hoping these stories will open the door and help someone in the same situation – after all, our stories are more powerful than we realize. 

If you want to help, here’s what you can do: 
Write your story.  This can be done the same way you would write a journal or diary entry.  Write about how you felt and how your story progressed.  Share what ever you feel.  There is no judgment here.  Remember, your story just may be what someone else needs to read. 

Stories can be submitted anonymously or you can request names be changed.  You can email stories to or message me on facebook here.  I need your story by February 26, 2017.  By submitting your story, I reserve the right to have your story in What Has Your Sister Done?

More thoughts on writing your story?

Start with prayer or meditation.  Allow your mind to open up to your memory.
Outline your experience from beginning to end to give yourself a point of reference if necessary.
Write down the key people who shaped the story?  What were your pivotal experiences with them?
Ask yourself?  What is it I want to share?  Some parts of your story may be too private?  If so, give yourself permission to submit your story anonymously.  Does this help you feel like you can be more honest?  See what you feel comfortable with.
What is it you’ve learned?  What would you change?  Did you see God’s hand in your situation or not? 

Also, if you know someone who has had an unplanned pregnancy, please pass this information on to them.  Feel free to contact me is you have any questions. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.