Humble Pie Doesn’t Taste Very Good


Today’s lesson in humility and graciousness:
Jeff and I got up from our chairs to go cool off in the hotel pool. A few minutes later we noticed on each side of us umbrellas had gone up. Large umbrellas that now put our chairs completely in the shade.
This not only annoyed me to no end, it was completely unnecessary because the whole other side of the pool had umbrellas up and they could have sat down under those instead of sitting down next to us and putting up the umbrellas.
I got out of the pool and walked back to my chair. I pointed at it and said to the man under the umbrella “now my chair is completely in the shade. I left 5 minutes ago, and it was in the sun. There are tons of chairs over there with umbrellas.”
He seemed annoyed that I was annoyed and said, “I didn’t know you were there.” And then stared at me like I was a lunatic. He didn’t offer to move to another chair under an umbrella.
I picked my stuff up and huffed over to another area where I found two open seats in the sun. I came back and started to grab Jeff’s stuff, which was partially shaded by new people on the other side.
“You’re not gonna bitch at them too?”
“I think it’s inconsiderate of both of you,” I snapped as I walked away.
A few minutes later a waitress came over and said,”I hear you were upset about the umbrella. I apologize. I’m the one who put it up. I didn’t know you were sitting there. The gentleman would like to buy you whatever drink you’d like to make up for it.”
*cue sinking feeling of bad behavior*
“No that’s fine. Tell him I appreciate it very much, though.”
There are a lot of ways I could have handled that scenario better. I could have just moved without saying a word. It wasn’t the big deal I made it out to be, and in the end, the jerk of the situation was me, not the guy sitting under the umbrella trying to keep from getting skin cancer.

Jeff came out of the pool and came over to our new seats.
I said, “I see you stayed out of the fray and let me handle it.”
“Yeah I thought it best to wait until it calmed down over here. Want me to accidentally spill my water on him as I walk by?”
“No, he tried to buy me a drink to apologize. I’m the one who behaved badly.”
“Then maybe I should throw my water on you. I might get a standing ovation from everyone.”

What Have You Learned- Part Two


Well, this is it. Do you know what today is? It’s our anniversary! (Cue Tony Toni Tone)

One year ago today, I launched this blog. was my first official post and, terrifying as it was, I’m glad I did it. Looking back over what I’ve written, I’m proud of what I’ve done.

The next day I wrote and my husband began to get a little nervous.

“You can’t post something every day. You’ll run out of things to say.”

He can be hilarious some times.

I went back and re-read “What have you learned?” and thought that sounded like a really great birthday but because I am old and can’t remember anything, it’s like reading about someone else’s life. I had forgotten about the drunken karaoke serenade and the board games. I did remember the Aretha Franklin solo and coffee with my girl.

Over the past week I have contemplated what I would like to write about for my anniversary/birthday blog.

I thought about writing a scathing diatribe about Facebook’s new policies that limit my blog audience to almost nothing, and how that has taken the wind out of my sails more times than I can count.

I thought about mentioning my frustrations with WordPress, the fact that the only people who comment on my blog are my mother and autobots who leave me encouraging comments like “My membeг is just regular size in case you’re interested.
The issue with this isn’t simply because theу
do not fսnction the obliqսe’s simply because thеy
do, it is simply because you will find mucɦ better workouts…” You get the picture.


I thought about writing some heartfelt introspective post  where I try to determine if I have had any personal growth this year.

I even thought about writing a poem. (I have mad limerick skills. Terrible at the haiku though)

In the end, I decided I have written a lot of words this year. Probably too many, I think, as one of my greatest faults as a writer is lack of brevity and knowing the attention span of my audience.

So here, in no particular order, are the truths I have attempted to absorb this year, in pictures:

bdaypost5 Life is about celebration. Sometimes you’re not feeling it, but if you can tap into that place inside you where gratitude and joy reside, it can’t help but spill out.


(4th of July)

bdaypost21My father’s 75th birthday

bdaypost25hawaii8IMG_640410175047_10152303957254089_1006229682_nI learned that surviving family vacations is a matter of perspective

bdaypost11The world can be a cold place, so you’ve gotta be prepared. (Parker playing goalie)

bdaypost14Life isn’t fair. We lost Shonda to cancer in July, but her legacy lives on in our sunshine group.

God is faithful and He is the giver of life. For every loss there is new beauty to take its place.

Since my last birthday we have welcomed into our extended family:




And any moment now Masai will be making his debut


bdaypost18Filling your home with friends and family and the laughter of children is better than any gift you could buy in the store


Friendship matters. was my tribute to Shonda and the beauty of friendship.

bdaypost26bdaypost20bdaypost19bdaypost13382516_10151679509649089_240970835_nbdaypost17 She’s my mom and my friend



bdaypost10Sometimes you have to meet life’s challenges with toughness

But usually the best way to handle the ups and downs of life is with silliness and laughter.



Life is always changing. I’m not great with change but it certainly keeps life interesting.

I truly believe what it all boils down to are two things-I don’t ever  want to miss an opportunity to laugh and I never want to miss an opportunity to tell someone that I love them.

Thank you all for your support this year, for encouraging me and for reading my stuff. It means more than you can imagine.

Sometimes my own words are simply inadequate. I’d like to end with something written by one of my favorite all-time authors and life mentors, Erma Bombeck.


I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather rambling about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculped like a rose before it melted
in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more
while watching life.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment, realising that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s” and more “I’m sorry’s”

. . . but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute . . .
look at it and really see it . . . and never give it back.








The Break-up


I thought I could avoid it forever. I was so careful. Until this week- one simple misstep and I found myself face to face with him. The awkward encounter with the Ex.

It all started on Tuesday, when I went on Zoe’s field trip. Dozens of children were crammed three to a seat in a school bus. All the windows were up, and I could barely catch my breath. Finally, when I could take it no more, I began to remove my jacket.

That’s when it happened.

As I twisted in the narrow seat to take my arm out of my sleeve, I felt a twinge in my neck. Twinge is such an innocuous word for the cramping, searing pain that shot all the way down my arm.

My birthday is this weekend, and if I ever needed an indication that I’m getting old, having my neck seize up while trying to take off an item of clothing will definitely suffice.

Luckily for me, I have a massage membership, and several prepaid massages awaiting my use. The next morning I sat, barely able to turn my head, with a searing headache. I was desperate for relief. I called the massage place, and the woman said, “if you can be here in 20 minutes, I can get you in.”

I jumped at the chance.

I raced over there, got checked in, slung a warm neck pillow around my neck and sat in the waiting room. I was looking down at my phone when I heard my name called.


I looked up.

It was him.

“Oh. Hey. How’s it going?”

“Good. Follow me.”

He said very little as we made our way back to the room.

I took a seat on the chair and he looked directly at me.

“So, what can I help you with today?”

“Well, I tweaked my neck yesterday, and my middle back is pretty tight.”

“Ok, well, normally on a 90 minute massage I would start at your feet, but it sounds like you need me to start with your neck.”


He looks at me for a minute and then says, “It’s unusual to have an appointment start at 11:15.”

“When I called she told me to come down at 11, but then decided I couldn’t make it here that quickly, so she said 11:15.”

“Normally a 90 minute massage is 80 minutes hands on, and 5 minutes prep. I’m going to have to figure out the math.”

“Uh. Okay.”

“Get undressed, lie face up. I’ll be back in… I don’t know. A few minutes.”

He didn’t recognize me. I think I’m in the clear.

I get up on the table and wait for him to return. I always wonder what the deal is with other people. Does it really take them so long to strip down that they need a full 5 minutes to undress?

Finally he comes in, and I keep my eyes closed. I figure the less eye contact the better.

I sense him dimming the lights and he moves to sit on the stool behind me. He begins to rub my neck and I’m starting to relax. It’s quiet for a moment, except for the music playing overhead which reminds me of the type of music played during the saddest scenes of foreign films.

Where’s the tranquil Asian music? The pan flutes and the mandolins? This depressing piano music is making me think of the Holocaust and children on their deathbed with the Spanish Influenza.

“So,” He says. “You seem really familiar.”

Oh no.

“Have I worked on you before?”



“Didn’t I work on you a lot?”




Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t say it.

“When I worked on you before… Did I do a good job?”

He said it.

“Mmm hmm.”

What am I supposed to say? Your breath smelled like cigarettes and you constantly talked about the two LEAST relaxing subjects, religion and politics? I often left my massages more stressed out than when I came in? I was thoroughly relieved when I found out you were leaving so I didn’t have to officially break up with you as my therapist?

“You moved, didn’t you?”

“Yeah.I did.”

“So then I started seeing, um, who’s the big muscly guy who works at the GNC when he’s not here?” Who likes to talk about conspiracy theories and tried telling me he traced his genealogy back to King David. You know, David and Goliath-  David.

“Oh. Keith.” He said this like the words were distasteful in his mouth.

“Yes. Is he still here?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Well then I had my car accident and I was in physical therapy for a year and a half. I just came back in the spring.”

“This spring?”


“So… who are you seeing now?”

“Dustin.” He has a breathy voice that makes my skin crawl, but he does a good job and doesn’t crush my spine with his forearms… like you’re doing now. Ouch!

“How’s the pressure?”

“A little hard.” I grunt out.

“Tell me again what you do for work.”

“I am a mom. And I work for my husband. I also write a blog no one reads.”

At the end of my massage he says, “Well, we’ve unfortunately come to the end of our time together. I hope I made you feel better.”

“Mmm Hmm,” I say with my mouth muffled by the headrest into which my face is squashed down.

“Get dressed and I’ll go get you some water.”


I quickly pull my clothes on and head for the front desk. I hear the door open behind me and I turn to face him. He looks like a sad puppy dog.

“Listen, I know you’ve got a thing going with Dustin, but if you ever need to come in and he’s not available, I’m going to give you my hours.”


He fills out a card and hands it to me.

“It was really good seeing you again. I hope you give me the opportunity to work on you another time.”

“Ok thanks.”




It’s never easy running into an ex. Occasionally I see one of my former hair colorists or stylists at the salon. They look at me with that expression of betrayal and I hold my head up in defiance- I’m happy with Naomi and Marques. You can’t make me feel bad about moving on to someone better.

I’m still Facebook friends with my beauty bark guys, even though I was unhappy with their service.

My neighbor owns a nail salon I have been to infrequently. I pray as I pass by her house that she doesn’t notice my fresh, gleaming French manicure.

I walked by another neighbor’s and saw her house cleaner that I had interviewed but decided against hiring. I pulled my hat down over my face.

I’m terrible with break ups. I’m an avoider who hopes they will forget about me and move on without me ever having to say the words:

“This isn’t working out.”

As for my massage situation, I’ll just have to be more careful next time. The last thing I need right now is to be in a three-way massage triangle.

That didn’t sound right.

You know what I mean.





Why Should I Care? (Empathy, Convenient Morality, White American Privilege and Hashtag Activism)


I’ll never forget something I learned in my high school debate class. My teacher, Ms. Chamberlain (or PC as we all call her), said, “The greeting card companies have it all wrong. Unless we have had a loved one die, we should be sending empathy cards instead of sympathy cards. Unfortunately they don’t sell empathy cards. Sympathy means you understand exactly what that person is going through, because you’ve experienced it yourself. Empathy is for those who are going through something you have not experienced in your own life.”

***editor’s note- after further research, it appears she may have been mixed up about which word had which definition, or in my 16 year old head I may have gotten them reversed. *****

That statement has stuck with me over the years. We often like to interchange these words, but the truth is, they are very different. While it is always nice to have someone who has been in your situation to talk to, to support you, the more difficult act of compassion is the one that doesn’t come naturally to us, the one that requires us to look beyond our own life and feelings and allow for others’.

I had always thought of sympathy as pity, or feeling sorry for someone, while empathy was just the emotionally detached version of sympathy.

A few months back I wrote a blog about being a black and white thinker and my struggle to empathize.

Once you are aware of a personal shortcoming, it’s interesting how many opportunities arise to challenge you to overcome it or succumb.

While I can only speak for myself, I will say I believe this is a systemic cultural problem in white America- we do not empathize well. I do not empathize well.

For you see, what happens when we are unable to empathize with others, is we begin to dehumanize them.

I’m about to confess some pretty wretched stuff.

As a white American woman who grew up in a comfortable middle class home, there are certain privileges I have enjoyed without really understanding that they were privileges. That’s the thing about systemic white American privilege- it is so much a part of who we are, we don’t even recognize it exists. That is, until someone threatens it.

Occasionally I will have brief moments of clarity where it will strike me that while I lie comfortably in my bed, my belly full of food, secure in my neighborhood, there are people lying on straw mats on the ground, people starving, people in fear, surrounded by gunfire and war.

And then I banish those thoughts because they are too foreign to comprehend and too awful to dwell on.

There have been times where people have expressed the difficulties in their lives and my thoughts and or words have been, “You just need to try harder.” Because, after all, if life is working for me, why shouldn’t it work for everyone?

And there are stories I read about or see on the news from around the world, and yet I am unable to bring myself to invest because I am disconnected from those who are different than me, who speak a different language, whose religions and cultures I don’t understand. Those who don’t look like me.

When Malaysian flight 370 disappeared, I noticed an interesting trend in the wall-to-wall media coverage. While the majority of the people on that plane were Chinese, the two people who were interviewed and highlighted time and again were the wife of the Australian businessman and the girlfriend of the American.

Why is that?

I believe it is because we empathize more with those families than we do with the Chinese. I’m not even saying it’s out of blatant racism, so much as an inability to connect culturally. We don’t speak their language, and they don’t look like us.

Hundreds of Korean high school students drown in a horrific ferry sinking. That merited 2, maybe 3 days of coverage on CNN. Few, if any, interviews with the families. We don’t speak their language, and they don’t look like us.

A white high school student stabs several kids at a suburban high school. Our first thoughts go to our own children, and how safe they are at their own schools. Those victims look like our kids. They sound like our kids.

More than 200 Nigerian school girls are kidnapped and sold into slavery. It takes weeks for the media to take notice, and when they finally do, it’s as a result of a hashtag campaign, #bringbackourgirls. Those who tweet and post about this story, including Michelle Obama, are maligned for useless efforts and painted as narcissists who don’t really care, but want to feel like they have done something.


Maybe there’s some truth to that. We are lazy in our activism. We are apathetic and our morality is often in direct proportion to our comfort level.

I saw a cartoon that showed a man standing at a greeting card counter. He was telling the clerk, “I need an Empathy/Apathy card- one that says I understand but I don’t care.”

When I first heard about the kidnappings in Nigeria, I must admit my deep-rooted American ethnocentrism reared its ugly head.

The following are some of the grotesque thoughts that flitted through my mind:

It’s Nigeria. I will bet stuff like that happens all the time.

Those people are used to suffering, to corruption, to struggle.

They are used to loss, to burying their loved ones. It’s probably not as traumatic for them.

I know, I told you it was gross. It’s not how I really feel. It’s not how I WANT to feel. But this is what a lack of true empathy does- it diminishes the value of other people.

A lack of empathy has guided American policies on human rights, on foreign relations and on war since before we were the United States of America.

A lack of empathy enabled the enslavement of twelve million Africans. It is enabling 20-30 million people to be in bondage worldwide TODAY.

Back in 2002 we were living in a suburb of Salt Lake City when news broke of the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. Young, pretty, white, wealthy.

At the time, my daughter Sydney was just a few years younger, also pretty and blonde.


The kidnapping from her own bedroom in her nice home, just a few miles from our house, of a girl who looked like she could be my daughter- THAT was something I could empathize with.

We seem to have a very shallow idea of empathy.

Empathy isn’t only the attempt to put ourselves into the shoes of someone LIKE us. It is the attempt to put ourselves into the shoes of anyone for the purpose of understanding their grief and pain.

We don’t like that. That’s icky. That means acknowledging the suffering of the world on a deeper, personal level.

That means believing each and every single life on this planet has equal value, and acting on that belief; Regardless of color, nationality, language, religion.

That means EVERY child kidnapped around the world is worth the efforts to recover them, not just the pretty white ones. Not just the Madeleine Mccanns, the Patty Hearsts, the Elizabeth Smarts.

2000 volunteers searched for Elizabeth Smart each day for MONTHS.

Did you know that there is a website called for those who don’t get the round the clock media coverage? We should ask ourselves why that is, and think very carefully before we answer, not in knee-jerk reaction.

And we need to be totally honest with ourselves- the obsession with MH flight 370 is not out of empathy for the victims and families, but because of the mystery surrounding the disappearance. 99% of the coverage was talking with experts, recreations with flight simulators and graphic maps of flight paths and search areas. There were only brief clips that showed the wailing of the grieving families.

I’m not advocating invasion of their privacy, but stoic interviews with the only two white women connected to the whole tragedy does nothing towards connecting viewers to the reality of what this has been like for those left behind, wondering. Their wives, husbands, parents and children mean just as much to them as ours do to us.

Do we really believe that though? It doesn’t seem so.

There are nearly a billion and a half people in China.

There are nearly a billion and a half  people in India.

There are over a billion people in Africa. (23 million of whom are living with HIV while the world does very little- a whole other topic for another day)

Those large amounts obscure and minimize the value of each person in those nearly 4 billion people. Each human being who is created by God in His image. Each human being with real hopes, dreams, feelings, pain. Until we see them that way, we will never be able to empathize.

Child soldiers. Human trafficking. Famine. Drought. Endless war.

It’s almost beyond our comprehension.

Empathy is not supposed to be just a pat on the back of “poor you, glad it’s not me.”

Empathy should change the way we think, feel and act.

I am the first to admit that I completely suck at this. It doesn’t come naturally to me.

I’m a pretty guarded emotional person, and deep down I know that to empathize means to enter into that person’s struggle with them. That is terrifying to me. I feel a longing towards missionary work and  an aversion to what I know it will do to my heart.

I’ve long lived comfortable, convenient morality, the foundation of hashtag activism. The more I allow reality in,and the more I attempt to empathize, the more I come face to face with my own biases, my intuitive dismissal of other’s life experiences, my inability to enter in to their struggle emotionally or physically.

I believe the only solution to a lack of empathy is to recognize our privilege, to make real attempts to understand where others are coming from, and to get to know people from all parts of the world, from different cultures, with different life experiences. We need awareness, even if it comes in the form of a hashtag campaign, and then we need to follow it up with action. No more “Oh that’s too bad,” *Tweet Tweet* and then moving on unaffected.

Every person I have known who has worked with children in need, worked with communities in need, done missions trips, held orphans, prayed with girls who were sold into sex slavery, built dwellings for those with no homes- EVERY ONE OF THEM say that the experience may have benefitted those it was intended to help, but it also changed them to their core. Forever.

As much as I enjoy my comfort, I know I was made to do more, and that the greatest rewards in this life come from serving others.

My prayer today for myself and for our country is that we develop compassionate truly empathetic hearts that spur us on to real action. Patriotism is great, but not if it comes at the expense of seeking to understand the hearts and needs of the world around us. We have a moral obligation to take care of each other, not just the ones who look like us.





Life From The Back Of The Bike- A Mother’s Day Memoir


Huntington Beach, circa 1977.

My mother is riding her bike, and I’m in the seat on the back. I’ve spent a lot of time in this position, seeing the streets and the beach from the back of my mom’s bike. She doesn’t drive a car, so this is how we get around.

I recall thinking to myself, “I wonder what would happen if I leaned this way.”

What happened was an epic crash. It was totally my fault.

This one incident is an accurate metaphor of what being my mother has been like.

I could say that I have no idea how my mother survived parenting me, but the truth is, I know exactly how- she laughed her way through it. How do I know this? Because I have a daughter just like me and I have found that’s the only way. I also have 3 other kids who are not like me. Laughing helps with them as well.

8 year old me: Why do they have all those tanks? Who are they guarding against?

My mom: I dunno

Me: Idaho?

Now, you and I both know I heard what she said. In my 8 year old mind, though, the idea that the local national guard armory was keeping tanks in case of an attack from Idaho seemed much funnier.

She could have rolled her eyes. She didn’t, she laughed. And every time she laughed at my antics (there were many) she taught me an important life skill. Laughter makes everything better. The greatest gifts I ever received from my mom, and there have been some great ones (she always knows how to find the most interesting, most applicable stuff), are not material. They are the legacies she has passed on to me.

Let me paint a picture of me as a kid.





A little bit of an attention hog.


Yet one of the greatest gifts my mother ever gave to me was the freedom to be me.

Even if being “me” meant dressing in my Wonder Woman bathing suit, putting a yellow plastic headband across my forehead with a red star sticker in the center, covering up in my pink polyester robe and then spinning around in circles in my living room, all the while stripping off my robe in transformation.

Even if being “me” meant dressing up in the Native American dress that she hand made for me, begging her to cut slits in all my clothes so people might think my towhead pale self belonged to a local tribe, and sitting around playing “10 little Indians” over and over on my fisher price record player.


Even if being “Me” meant converting my sister’s pilgrim dress (also handmade by my mother) into a raggedy pre- Daddy Warbucks Little Orphan Annie costume and wandering the house singing the entire soundtrack at the top of my lungs.


Another gift that my mom passed on to me was the tradition of making every holiday a special day. I read a blog not too long ago, where a mom lamented the trend towards elaborate holiday tables. For me, this isn’t new. Every holiday I would wake up to discover the table decorated, and I have done this for my kids as well. Zoe has already told me she plans to do this for her kids.

I remember one year I came down on Valentine’s Day to find handmade lace doily valentines and a handmade Valentine’s Day outfit. She had worked on this outfit after I went to bed, creating a vest and skirt combo with hearts all over it. She. Sewed. Me. An. Outfit. I can barely comprehend it.

I love the opportunity to make those days extra-special. I remember the feelings I had when I came downstairs to find the table transformed, and I enjoy doing that for my own kids. I figure this somehow makes up for all the other ways I fail as a parent, just a little.


I also inherited my love of reading from my mom. I remember reading Erma Bombeck to her as she cooked dinner and we both laughed until we couldn’t breathe. She introduced me to her favorite mystery authors, J.A. Jance and Sue Grafton, getting me hooked on them and the mystery genre in general. She bought me Bill Bryson and Molly Ivins, both of whom inspired me to write what I observed.


She brought music into our home. Many weekends growing up there was no TV on, just a never-ending rotation of records playing John Denver, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt. She gave me the confidence to sing out loud.

My mom has modeled compassion for others, a social conscience, and a desire to serve.

She gave me a voice and a platform to express my oh-so-many opinions.

She has been my cheerleader, my sounding board, and a soft place to land in a sometimes hard world.

She stood by me as I dealt with consequences of bad choices. She taught me put on my big girl pants and face problems head on. She’s given me boosts when I need them and she’s let me pull myself up by the bootstraps all on my own. She’s shown me that a contrite heart and being willing to admit your mistakes as a parent is the key to gaining the trust of your kids. I have called her crying saying I understand why she lost it sometimes over the years. She has told me those moments are her greatest regrets. I’ve been able to real with her about my struggles and failings and I know that she will be real back with me.

I would say she’s been my friend, but that word doesn’t suffice. In the end, the only word that truly tells the story of who she is to me is simply MOM. It’s all encompassing.

She’s cool, freshly washed sheets on a sick day, hands in the dirt replacing weeds with flowers, freshly baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies when no other comfort can be found.

Thank you, mom, for all of this and so much more.