Thursday, June 26, 2014


An open letter to Pet Food, Pet Care, and Advertising companies in general.

It is time we stop glamorizing certain breeds of dogs and demonizing other breeds. Using 'pretty' toy breeds and other 'pretty' purebred dogs in ads only drives the need for puppies of these breeds. This, in turn, drives the puppy mill business. It also drives breeders to charge a hefty fee for these dogs. Pet store purchases as well as purchases from breeders often lead to owners who do not understand what they are getting into in having a pet. Puppies are cute when then are, in fact, puppies but they grow up fast and need care and training. Many families do not understand the demands of pet ownership and act on impulse when in a pet store. When that puppy starts to misbehave and chew and do what puppies do, families look to rehome these pets or deposit them at shelters. 
There are shelters full of wonderful, affectionate, adorable dogs that have been trained, screened and are ready for adoption. These dogs need to take center stage now as they are in need of homes. As the mom of 3 shelter dogs, I can say that they are the best choices my family has ever made. They chose us...we didn't choose them. As I have written before, I am sure who saved who. Saying goodbye to my first fur-ever friend was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The 2 that we have now are a lot of work, especially the puppy who is just over a year old. His training is constant but his love is as well.
 Pedigree Dog Food is leading the way by featuring success stories of adopted shelter dogs. With the help of celebrities like Miranda Lambert,  they are shining additional light on the need for adoptions. Shows like "Pitbulls and Parollees" have also shown the need for good homes for dogs that are abused and neglected. They show how loving and attentive these 'bully breeds'  and other dogs can be if given love and attention. 
Dogs are givers of unconditional love and affection however, dogs are not without commitment and work. They need attention, care and training. Dogs are not 'bad' by nature. They 'feed' on what pleases their owner. It is time to train better owners and empty the shelters by getting these dogs adopted. 
Create campaigns that feature these dogs and the gifts they have to offer. Showcase the dogs waiting for a loving family. Provide opportunities for families to meet these pets. Assist shelters in adoptions as well as training. 
All of this and more can only lead to more families with Fur-Ever family members giving and getting love.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Kids...I have 5 of them. They are all different and all unique. There are people that cringe when I tell them I have 5. They make comments...some not so kid...about my children. When I tell them I have 4 girls and my youngest is my son, well that leads to "Oh so you finally got the boy and stopped." or "kept trying til you got that son, huh?" or any variation of that line.
No, we did not keep trying til we had a son. No, my oldest is not mine by birth but I hate the term STEP.
My oldest daughter, 26, is my daughter. She is my oldest daughter. Like I said, she is not mine by birth but she is mine all the same. I have known about  her and loved her since my very first date with her father. He and I talked about it and I told him what I wanted to name my first child. He told me that that name was taken and if we were to stay together, I would have to choose another name. I knew then that we would be together forever. 26 is my hero. She has been through more in her young life than any human should have to deal with all the while maintaining her strength and courage. She has seen loss, breakups, heartache as well as joy and happiness. It is my privilege to be a part of her life and watch her find a new part of herself. I am blessed to be chosen to be in her life and call her friend. I adore all those things that make her special and I love that she is starting to see those parts of herself as well.
Next is 18. She is my first born and has had her own agenda since she was conceived. She was born early, was not a textbook baby, and was the one to teach me how to be a mother. Over the years I have made many mistakes with her and our relationship has suffered because of it. However, we are both looking to change the future and make things better. She has taught me to be a mom from day one and continues to teach me. She makes me proud every day not only with her work ethic but with her passion for her friends and life. She is a gifted and talented writer...far and above my skill set. She is so beautiful but often fails to see or believe her own beauty. She challenges me and pushes me to be better and for that, I am grateful. For a while it was just her and me against the world and I think she misses that...and so do I. Time alone is precious and we are leaning to carve out time to be with each other. She is more like me than she cares to admit and for that, as well as many other reasons, I love her to pieces.
Third in line is 16, my curly girl. They really broke the mold with this child. She was not a typical pregnancy, was late to be born, and did not want to be born. Once she entered the world, I knew things were going to be different.  She is a beautiful girl both inside and out. Her compassion for people and animals never ceases to amaze me. She can find the one in a million in a crowded room that needs a friend and make them feel like the only person in the world at that moment. People tend to take advantage of her for that and it hurts my heart to see her sad.  She is a stunner to be sure but doesn't take advantage of that quality nor really embrace it...she is who she is and that has to be enough. She has deep faith, an old soul and reminds me of my humanness daily.
My baby girl is 14. She is the last of my girls. She makes a sailor blush with her vocabulary but can make even the most serious person laugh. She is silly and carefree...or so she would like people to believe! She is a fabulous actress. She has a sweet soul and a gentleness that not many people get to see. She rarely gives hugs but when she does....look out!  You have earned it and she will wrap you up in her embrace. Those hugs and that affection comes from a place deep inside. She is a fierce competitor and a fabulous teammate. She has taken full advantage of her status as youngest girl and often gets away with murder at home...and she knows it. She embodies her nickname of "Queenie" and wears it with pride.
Last but not least is the boy, 11. He is my gift from God and that is also what his name means. He was not planned and a complete surprise. A true miracle baby. Oh, and he knows it! He embraces his status as youngest and only boy. He has learned the fine art of smooth talking his sisters as well as annoying them (much to his own pleasure!). He is the first to give an opinion on a boy that the girls date and is most often correct in his character profile of these young men. His sisters do not like to listen to him but realize he is right more often than not.  He is not one to be 'categorized'. He is his own young man with strong opinions and an even stronger temper!  He is my baby boy and will always be my baby boy no matter how big he gets.
I am blessed to be given the honor of raising these children. I yell. I swear. I make mistakes. I am far from a perfect mom. I do my best. Some days they make me angry. Some days they mane me crazy. Some days they make me burst with pride. Some days my heart is so full of love for them I can't express it. Every day I am so happy that my greatest blessings call me mom. Peace.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

shells favorite of all animals. I especially love sea turtles.  There is something about them that makes me smile. We share a kindred spirit I think.
Yesterday a friend posted the quote in the photo and it really struck a chord with me.
I have never felt at ease in my own shell. I have always tried to be something or someone else. I have always tried to do more and make everyone happy. It was not until recently, ok a few years ago, when I started coaching Girls on the Run that I had to be me. I had to set an example. I had to learn to be at ease in my own shell if I wanted the girls to do the same. Funny thing was that they were already comfortable with who they were. They made no excuses. They lived out loud and had fun and just wanted others to do the same. There were some times when the girls had a bad day here or there but for the most part they all knew that they were different and beautiful and was only a matter of time before society and the world would change the perception they had of themselves.
I realized that it was up to me to fill their toolbox with all that they would need to fend off these changes. It was up to me to make sure that the girls never lost the belief that they were strong and smart and talented. I grew up not knowing my knowing or owning my gifts and talents. I spent years trying to achieve someone else's vision of beauty.  I spent years being something I was not....being what others thought I should be.
It was not until my 40's that I learned the lessons my girls were learning. Be who you are. Be your own kind of amazing. Be you. I was learning with my girls. I was learning to be at ease in my own shell.
I wrote about envy and body image in a post a few years back and it was good to revisit it. I am so much more at ease in my own shell these days. I am happy with who I am, what I look like, and how I act. I am not perfect nor the most beautiful creature on the planet. But I have a strong shell that protects me. I have a soft inside that is filled with love. I am move forward at my own pace....slow.  I have a long neck that I stick out there for others. I am smart and always return home. I am a survivor and like the turtle, have longevity.
After years of being a chameleon, I have become a ease in my own shell.  Peace.

Monday, June 9, 2014


After my encounter yesterday with the woman at the bakery (see previous post), I got to thinking. I thought about what has happened to our society in recent years. Technology has taken over and we have lost a true human connection. We are all looking down and rarely looking up. We do not 'see' each other much any more.
We portray an image on social media that we want others to see. We hide our pain and bury the 'bad things' creating a 'beautiful' person online. The young people of this generation(and many adults) think that this is reality. That people are perfect and without flaw. They feel the pressure to post the perfect 'selfie',  create a viral video, and write a retweetable tweet.
They are too busy living a life to 'post' about rather than really living a life. My children gather together with friends and spend the time not 'being' with each other but texting and snapchatting others about the fun (or lack of) that they are having. Adults do the same thing. Look around any restaurant. Every other person is looking at their device, posting pics of the meal, checking in at the eatery, and texting others about their dining experience (or other things).
I know this because I am soooo guilty of this behavior. I am the first to snap a photo or 'check in' when I am out to eat. I post things in the morning before I start my day and then read posts and tweets throughout the day.
We are all in a hurry too. No one has the time for small talk anymore. We do not make pleasant conversation with cashiers. We do not take the time to express a kind thought to a server. There are times we forget to say thank you or make eye contact with others. We are in a hurry and angry when others delay us on our journey.
Had I been 'checking in', posting, tweeting, snapping .....I would have missed the moment. I would have missed a much needed connection. Had I been in too much of a hurry I would have missed the longing in the eyes of another human being. I would have missed the opportunity to ease the burden on another human being.
I do not want to miss those moments. I want to reconnect with my neighbors and with the people of the planet. This summer see. See the people around you. Look in their eyes and see who they are inside.   This summer, connect. Reconnect with reality this summer Really live. Not so that you can post about it but so that you create a memory. This summer....look UP!


While waiting for my order at the bakery this morning, woman came in. She looked so sad. After a minute I asked "Are you ok?"
"Really? No. I came to get myself a treat before work."
"I'm sorry." I really didn't know what else to say. 
She then just started to tell me about her life. Tears welled up in eyes and spilled out down her cheeks. We stood in the middle of the bakery as she told me her husband passed and she needed to find a job. She did and she hated it. Her boss was an abusive 20 something the swore at her but she could not say anything and she could not quit. She felt alone and sad. She needed the job and money. She was terrified to lose her home.
My number was called and my order ready. The woman thanked me, wiping away her tears, telling me I was the first person who had said something kind to her in over a week. She then turned and walked out of the bakery. My heart broke for her and her situation. She just needed someone to be kind to her.
How often do we let our fear get in the way of our kindness? Today I stepped in front of fear.