Setting my intentions..

I’ve had a couple of weeks now to reflect on 2016 and what I would like to set my intentions upon in 2017. As turbulent as 2016 was for the kids and I with the house (which is still not solved…it’s a nightmare quite honestly) and with my health (I’m a zebra according to my endocrinologist!!), I found myself dwelling on nothing but negativity. I found myself giving up on many things…and on many people…and on my faith..and I didn’t put as much time or effort into my business as I wanted. I do not like any of that. At all.

So, my intentions for 2017 are many, but also very attainable. I wish to spend more time with my family. I wish to rebuild relationships with a few people. I wish to spend more time on my business and really getting to know my customers. I wish to spend less and save more. I wish to close the house saga… Whatever may come of it, I know that we will be okay. I wish to spend more time with Jason to continue building our relationship and making memories together. I wish to spend much more time on gratitude and just plain being more thankful for the amazing people in my life and the many blessings I tend to overlook because I’m too focused on the negative.

I struggled with my business because I did not have a clear vision of what I wanted and needed from it. I have thought long and hard on this. Yes, I want and need the additional income it has provided, but I want more. One of the things that I learned about myself in my graduate program is that I am a tried and true Servant leader. I am at my best and my happiest when I am helping others. So, in that light, I would like to focus my business on helping others. I plan to focus on fundraisers. I plan to focus on helping those that choose to join me on my journey to become successful. I understand that I will not make as much as I could while doing fundraisers as the majority of my commission will go to the causes/groups I assist….and I am okay with that. It was never truly about the money for me….it was about finding my purpose and my passion again. My purpose and passion is, and always has been, helping others. Be it building their own business, motivating another person to rise above and overcome, assisting in earning money for sports teams or groups, helping a family in a difficult time ( like a foreclosure, maybe? Medical bills?), or for causes like homelessness, animal rescue, veteran’s assistance, disease research….I want to be able to help. This is my purpose. This is my WHY.

I have a lot of work to do to make my intentions reality. And, if I am being honest? I’m actually excited about something for the first time in a very long time. I know that I possess the knowledge and skills to achieve everything that I desire…I just need the courage to start and the momentum to continue.

What intentions have you set for your year ahead? Do you have a plan? Have you started putting pieces in motion? I would love to talk to others setting course on making 2017 a fantastic and fulfilling year!!

An Overdue Cry for Help..

For the people that know me, I am not the type of person to ask for help no matter how much I may need it.  I never have been.  I am very proud—or—perhaps the better word would be stubborn. It’s been a lifetime of needing to prove myself capable, smart enough, good enough, strong and worthy.  I’ve done some things in my life that were done just for the sake of being able to show those who doubted me how wrong it is to think I am incapable of accomplishing anything on my own.

Professionally, I have excelled in positions I was never qualified to fill.  I’ve repaired cars, appliances, and brought many a plant back from the brinks of death (skills, true skills).  I pride myself on doing and being more than should be capable. I have held closely the theory that there is always something new to learn, and, am always looking for those opportunities to learn a new skillset to add to my arsenal.

Personally, I’ve opened up my heart and my home to many who just needed someone to care.  I’ve helped people find employment (even when I could not).  I’ve stood by many a friend during times of personal strife—and, sometimes, I’ve carried them when they were unable to find the strength to stand on their own.  I’ve guided young minds as a Girl Scout Leader.  I’ve helped spread the Gospel as a Bible Times teacher in church.  I’ve joined in many community projects.  I’ve held, as well as, helped plan and contributed to, benefits to help lift others in their times of need.  I’ve always had an open door invitation for Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who may not have anywhere to go—this is something my ex-husband and I started when we first got together, and I’ve kept the invitation open each year since.  Yes; I’ve opened my heart and my home to many others that have taken advantage of my compassion.  And, that’s okay.  While they may have felt they ‘got one over’ on me, I beg to differ—I remained me—the same caring, open, helpful person with a shoulder on which to lean when it’s difficult to stand.   I love those traits within myself. I know it opens me up to be hurt, but, I still choose to believe that every single person has a bright light inside that may just need a little coaxing to come out and be seen.

But, sometimes, even the brightest bulb in the package dims.

I have tried to remain that bright light for everyone, while, at the same time, drowning in my own needs. This is very difficult for me to even put out there for everyone to know and see because, well, part of the reason I am the way I am is because I DO care what people think about me, and I DO care how people view me.  Despite my best efforts, however, I have been unable to figure out how to fix this one.  It’s time for me to admit that I am incapable of accomplishing everything on my own.  This time, it doesn’t just affect me—it directly affects my three children—and I cannot allow that to happen any longer.  So, here goes…

Our home of 12 years is in foreclosure.  We were part of the sub-prime lending back in the early 2000’s.  I’ve managed to keep the home and payments going all these years.  In 2013, the new servicing company, Select Portfolio Servicing, imposed an escrow account without my prior knowledge—which was perfectly fine with me—except that they had to ‘fill the gap’ and placed the prior year (that I hadn’t yet paid on my own) and the current year of escrow on my account all at once.  This left me in arrears by over $8,000, so they raised my monthly payment.  My monthly payment went from $553 to $968 with the correct escrow amount, but because of the prior and current year ‘gap’ they tacked that on and raised my payment to $1,404.  Just like that.

In 2014, I was laid off from my job.  I was unable to find new employment for 11 months.  I was a single mom and couldn’t find a new job to support my family.  It was extremely stressful and difficult, but with the love and support of a few very close friends and my brother, the kids and I pulled through.  I worked as many side jobs as I could find—mowing lawns, computer repair, gardening, errands, etc.  I kept the mortgage stable, albeit a month behind every month, but I was able to catch it back up when taxes came in.    I did my best to keep up with that payment, but, I was trying to get caught back up from almost a year of unemployment, so, I did what I thought was best—I called to ask for a modification on the mortgage payments.

I began this process in July of 2015.  I followed all of their instructions, rules, uploaded every single document they required, called in every two weeks and made the single ‘good faith payment’ they required to ‘show I was willing to make payments with whatever modification comes through’.  I was instructed to not make my regular monthly payments because ‘once the modification goes through, my payments would be applied differently’.  By December 2015, I was getting nervous, frustrated, and impatient!  I finally got one representative to advise me that all that was left before the modification could go through was the need for a quitclaim deed to be signed between my ex and I which would sign the property over to me.  I complied with their request and paid the $190 to file the quitclaim and sent the mortgage processor the copies required.

I was informed it would take 30 days for the review to be completed.  By the middle of February, after weekly calls requesting updates (with no communication from them at all), I was verbally informed that the modification was denied and I was now required to pay back all those months of payments they had me not make because they would have been applied incorrectly.

I tried to work with them.  I tried to get a repayment plan—they requested a $10,000 ‘security deposit’ which I did not have.  They had me upload all of the same documents I had submitted for the modification, and this time, kept rejecting them for one reason or another.  I kept trying to get written notification of the denial, copies of the mortgage documents, and more.  All requests went unanswered.  I attempted to retain a lawyer, who, bless his heart, turned me away because without that hard copy denial of modification, he could do nothing to assist me.

Fast forward to 8/31/16:  I was served with foreclosure papers.

I have exhausted my skillset.  I have consulted lawyers. I’ve called the FBI White Collar Crimes division (apparently, while what the servicing company is doing is certainly underhanded, it’s not illegal).  I’ve started a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  I’ve talked to realtors.  I even contacted a hard money lender to try and have them acquire the house and work out a rent to own contract with me while I clean up the fall out from all of this.

I have fought for almost two years now—and it’s come down to three little words that are keeping me from keeping my home: Pooling Service Agreement.  Apparently, my mortgage cannot be modified in any manner—no extensions of closure date, no change in terms, no reduction of interest rate.  Nothing.  According to the attorney assigned to me at the first foreclosure conference last month, this is a fact that Select Portfolio Servicing SHOULD have uncovered very early on in my original modification process— not 9 months later (resulting in an exorbitant amount of arrears).

According to the lawyers now, in light of this Pooling Service Agreement on the mortgage, my options are: buy out the mortgage—which I cannot do because of that quitclaim deed they had me file (I’m now the property owner, and, therefore, cannot obtain a mortgage on the property that is already mortgaged, and can’t refinance the current mortgage that is in my ex’s name because it’s in arrears).  Option 2 is to pay back ALL of the arrears within 12 months (on top of the monthly mortgage payment of $1,404)—which I am unable to do as that will bring my payment to well over $3,000 per month for 12 months. I don’t make enough to do that (but I wish I could afford the kind of house that has that kind of payment!!  Haha!!) Or, my final option is to liquidate the house via foreclosure or short sale.  This option is not okay. On any level.  This is my home… my children’s home… losing our home was NEVER part of the plan when I originally attempted to work with Select Portfolio Servicing to obtain a more manageable payment.  Instead of working with me, they’ve put me in an impossible position.

Now, I have my theories as to why Select Portfolio Servicing pushed this to almost 2 years—servicing companies are not banks—they make money on the accounts they ‘service’.  What better way to ‘service’ an account than through foreclosure??? Seriously, Google this company—any one of those stories could have been written by me….  But, that’s not the point here.

The point is I am asking for help saving the home in which I have raised my children for the last 12 years.  I am asking for help in saving the home that has seen happiness and heartache, sheltered my daughters from the cruel world of breakups and fights with best friends, saw stitches, broken bones, the end of one relationship, and the beginning of a new one and the blending of two families into one.  But most of all, I’m asking for help in saving the home that has surrounded my children, our pets, our friends and family with love.  As small as it may be in size, it is very big in what it has seen us through.

Yesterday, I had to explain to my oldest that I have thrown in the towel…that I cannot fix this one.  I don’t have the resources, connections, or, quite frankly, the strength left to fight anymore.  As she cried with me, she asked me how I can just quit like this after almost 2 years of fighting.  How can I just quit? I cannot watch the tears fall from my child’s eyes one more time as I try to explain that we may need to find a new place to live and re-home our animals.

So, I am swallowing my pride and doing the one thing (besides saving my home by myself) I have never been successful in doing:  I am asking for help…

I have created a GoFundMe page with this very same story in the hopes of raising enough money to combine with what I have saved to either pay the arrears or get a ‘short pay’ on the current mortgage, or, somehow buy out the current mortgage.  You can find the page by clicking here:

If you know of any good Samaritans that would be interested in purchasing my home prior to it going to auction, please let me know.  I do not wish to lose the home, though, so it would be a rent- to- own type deal.

If you know of anyone that has had success in winning litigation against Select Portfolio Servicing for unclean hands or any other defense, please let me know.  In addition, if you know of a lawyer that is willing to take this fight on pro bono, let me know.  The court-appointed lawyers do not litigate foreclosures, unfortunately.

If you have any prayers, good intentions, good vibes, or any pull with the universe… please send them out and call in those favors.

As embarrassed as I am to have had to write this in the first place, I am more embarrassed that I was unable to ask for help when it first began.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for considering helping Emily, Christian, Maria, and I keep our home.  We are truly grateful for the help.

Sometimes, you just have to share.

I haven’t posted in a very long time.  I’m sorry for that.  Life has gotten in the way of many things that I’ve previously enjoyed.  It’s been an endless cycle of ups and downs.  Some days are amazing.  Some days are very, very bad.  My health has been at the top of the priority list for the past year after a very scary incident involving my Diabetes last November.  I have been under the care of my physician, and finally, after almost 9 years of being Diabetic, an endocrinologist.

My health has gotten somewhat better in a few areas– I’ve lost 35 pounds, gotten my Hemoglobin A1C down to a reasonable level, and followed every direction given to me by the medical team (which, if you know me, is a HUGE accomplishment all on its own because I am non-compliant with taking pills regularly).  This is all good.  And, I’m pleased to a degree.

But, as many know, with the good comes the bad.

I’m still not well.

I’ve stopped losing weight no matter what I do.  I can no longer regulate my blood sugar levels (even though my A1C suggests that I am doing just that).  My breakfasts consist of 9-10 pills (depending on the day of the week) and an injection.  I am exhausted.  All. Of. The. Time.  It doesn’t matter if I sleep for 2 hours or 20 hours— I feel as if I’ve been hit by a truck all the time.  My muscles ache all the time.  My head pounds just about every day.  The depression and anxiety are almost unbearable.  I bruise if I just think about bumping into something.  My hair is falling out — everywhere except my face.  I’m getting ‘grandma whiskers’ all over my chin. I break out with little pimples all over my jaw line that do not heal for weeks.  I cannot concentrate on things for very long.  I forget a lot of stuff.  I appear 5 months pregnant– even though my last children were born almost 11 years ago.

Repeated complaints to the doctor only earn me new pills to try.  I finally told the endocrinologist that I needed answers.  His response?  “You almost certainly have sleep apnea.”  I felt my stomach sink a little and said, “I sure hope so seeing as I’ve been on CPAP for the past 3 or 4 years!”  He appeared surprised and said “well, we need to get rid of the extra weight.”

Again, my stomach sank.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told I’m fat and need to sleep more.

I finally told the endocrinologist that I wasn’t leaving until he came up with tests to run to figure out what is going on– because, as I told the doctor, I’ve lost 35 pounds and have a cpap machine, and I feel worse. Not better.  Worse.

He finally decided to check my adrenal functions.  It was a simple blood test for cortisol that had to be completed before 9 AM.  I failed.  I then had to do a second test called a dexamethasone suppression test in which I took a low dose of dexamethasone that should have suppressed my cortisol production to an almost nonexistent level.  I failed that test, too.

If you’re not familiar with what cortisol is– it’s the stress hormone.  It is a steroid.  It helps with sugar, protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism,  anxiety/stress, blood pressure normalization and much more.  In most people, the pituitary gland will send out a hormone called ACTH that signals the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.  The system is alleviated of the stress or symptom and the adrenals stop producing cortisol until triggered again.  I find it fascinating.  It’s a pretty cool to learn how these things all work together to make a body function appropriately!

Unless it doesn’t function appropriately.

Like mine.

Apparently, I have an abundance of cortisol.  Something is going haywire in my system and it is wreaking havoc on my entire body.

This ‘something’ is called Cushing’s Syndrome.  From WebMD,

Cushing syndrome is a rare endocrine disorder characterized by a variety of symptoms and physical abnormalities that occur due to excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol, a type of glucocorticoid. Glucocorticoids are a class of steroid hormones that are important in the regulation of the metabolism of glucose and also modulate the response to stress. Cushing syndrome most commonly affects adults between the ages of 25 to 40. It can be caused by prolonged exposure to elevated levels of glucocorticoids produced within the body (endogenous) or introduced from outside the body (exogenous).

Cushing’s is usually caused by an over use of corticosteroids– which I have not used.

It’s also caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland or the adrenal glands.

It can also be caused by an ectopic tumor elsewhere in the body that produces ACTH and continually triggers the adrenal glands.

The problem with Cushing’s is that it is ‘rare’, so, it is often misdiagnosed as something else because the symptoms can all be attributed to many other conditions.  For me, it’s been labeled as depression, anxiety, diabetes, obesity, migraines, sleep apnea, fatigue, peri-menopause, and a number of other individual ailments.  Instead of looking at the whole picture and seeing a pattern, I’ve been treated for each individual problem.  This is the norm.  And it truly sucks.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad to FINALLY have an answer to why I cannot feel better no matter what I do.  But I’m also angry.  I’m so angry at the number of years I have had these symptoms and been told to lose weight and get some rest.  When I was a teenager, I got the migraines– the neurologist tried me on a bunch of different medicines that never seemed to help at all.  My senior year of high school, I blew out my hips in Cross Country– docs told me Bursitis.  Went to college and gained a lot of weight– which I attributed to the ‘freshman 15’ and the booze, but it wouldn’t go away after I left school and quit drinking.  It just got progressively worse.  The hump on the back of my neck that I thought was a herniated disk that has been there forever.  The double chin and thick neck.  The huge stomach but thin legs (finding pants is a NIGHTMARE, btw).  The crazy stretchmarks on the insides of my arms, the back of my calves, my lower back and my whole abdomen that I’ve had basically as long as I can remember.  Yes, I had a set of twins– so, it’s now more difficult to discern which stretch marks were there before the huge baby belly.  The facial hair.  The receding hair line.  The thin skin and easy bruising.  The horrible dark circles I have under my eyes that, if I look back in the old pics my father sent, I had even as a kid.

How long have I had this awful disease???  How many years have I lost???  Will I EVER feel better?  The migraines and bursitis date back to my teen years.  Those are both symptoms of Cushing’s.  The diabetes I’ve had for almost 9 years.  The huge stomach and thin legs.  Both symptoms of Cushing’s. The bruises, the stress fractures in my foot.  The numbness and tingling in my legs when I walk.  All symptoms of Cushing’s.  Not all because I’m “fat”.

The many  nights I cried myself to sleep begging God– or whoever would listen– to just let me not wake up because I couldn’t possibly make it through another day like this.

I’ve been lucky to be put in touch with a gentleman that has the same disease and has not only survived but thrived.   Surprisingly, he lives about 5 minutes away from me.  I say surprisingly because the statistics are that only 2-5 out of every 1 million people are diagnosed with Cushing’s each year.  I didn’t expect one would live so close.  He has helped me tremendously to understand what is going on with my body.  He has helped me realize that I’m NOT crazy and most certainly NOT a hypochondriac.  He has helped me realize that while this diagnosis sucks, it is also the start of finally regaining my life.

I am still in the diagnostic stage– there are LOTS of tests.  Right now, we do not know where the tumor is or what course of treatment I will need to undergo– surgery to remove the tumor, radiation if the entire tumor cannot be reached or removed, chemotherapy if it’s an ectopic, cancerous tumor or medication if it an inoperable tumor…

So, why am I sharing all of this now?  Because.  It proves that old saying that you know your body better than any one.– and to not give up trying to find answers.  If something feels off, it probably is.  If it doesn’t fix itself, it likely won’t.  Don’t allow the doctors to simply put a band aid on each problem.  Don’t just sit back and wish, beg, or wait to die like I have all these years.  Do something.  Insist on seeing the right doctors.  Insist on blood work or scans.  Fight for your own health because you are the only one that will.  Be able to put your symptoms into words.  Write them down.  Document the frequency and if anything calms or agitates them.  Be proactive in your healthcare.  Ask questions.  Lots of questions.  Ask more questions.  Most importantly– tell someone else what is going on.  Let people in.  They may not understand what you are going through– and that is okay.  They don’t have to.  Sometimes it helps just to know someone is there if you need to talk, cry, scream, or even rejoice.



Planting seeds to grow a community

As I have previously stated, I started a list of goals for 2014 back in December.  Some are personal goals.  Some are financial goals.  Some are household goals.  And, some are ‘pay it forward’ goals.

One of these pay it forward goals is that I would like to start a community fruit and vegetable garden.  While it is not a new idea, it is something that I believe would benefit many people here in my local area.  People like single parents, un/under employed, dual income families with just too many ends to make meet each month– basically, anyone and everyone.  Even though I am unemployed, I do not qualify for benefits such as SNAP or WIC because a piece of paper states an amount that I should be receiving to support my children.  Sometimes I get this income.  Sometimes I do not.  It’s not at all regular, but, because that piece of paper says I get it, it leaves me unable to qualify for assistance.  I know that I could benefit from a community garden to help offset the cost of groceries for the children and I.

This garden would not be charity, though.  Quite the contrary, actually.  This garden would allow those to proud to apply for assistance an opportunity to ‘work’ for their shares of fruits and veggies.  This garden would allow those that get assistance an opportunity to stretch their benefits a bit further.  This garden would give parents a teaching opportunity for their children on what it means to work for a living.  This garden would allow children to see how awesome our environment is and how to use it to provide sustenance.   This garden would bring a community together and allow for networking and new friendships and relationships.  This garden would be a community effort– one that is as functional as it is beautiful.

I envision plots of tomatoes and vines of squash.  I picture blueberry bushes and strawberry patches.  I dream of peppers and lettuces and broccoli and cucumbers and carrots and more.  I imagine children laughing and smiling as they sneak green beans and snap peas to nibble.   I see beautiful flowering plants and overflowing baskets of healthy, ripe, delicious vegetation.  And, I visualize the family recipes being utilized to create meals that fill the bellies and hearts of all whom partake of the community garden.

When the seasons start to change, and the growing season slows, the community garden is just warming up!  While I cannot, I know there are many that can and do can fruits and veggies from harvests.  The garden will have its harvest, and the remaining bounty can be made into salsa and jams and canned tomatoes, peppers, and more.  This effort will enable the community to enjoy the labors of the summer months well into the long, cold winter.  One of my favorite Christmas gifts this past December was a jar of homemade salsa from a dear friend.  When I cracked the seal on the jar and poured out the fresh tomatoes, peppers and cilantro into a bowl, I remembered my friend and our talks and our stories.  It was comforting– and delicious!!

The problem is, though, that I do not know the first thing about taking on a project like this.  This is all that I know:  I would have to find a location and get zoning.  I would have to get word out so that we could build our list of ‘community helpers’ to get gardens prepped and sectioned off.  We would need tools and gloves and knee pads for us *ahem* older helpers.  We would need to have seedlings started– or maybe we could get donations from some of the local stores.  We would need to create schedules of weeding, watering, and general maintenance of the space.  When the plants begin to produce, we would need help harvesting and sorting and packaging.  We would need to divide the harvest amongst the community garden helpers and families.  Anything left over could be donated to a shelter or soup kitchen, I’m sure, or, used in early canning batches.

One thing that I would like to see happen–besides the community coming together to grow relationships and food–is a community dinner created from our harvest.   I can think of nothing better than coming together to share in the reward of our hard work.

Has anyone ever started anything like this?  Any advice or input?  Would you participate in a community garden?

Silver Linings

“Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way.” ~~Florence +the Machine ‘Shake It Out’

I have had one hell of a year so far.  I am seriously considering a career in Country Music as my life provides plenty of fodder for song writing.  My car broke down in January.  I lost my job in February (remember, I am a single mom…).  My dog died in March (he was 14…).  My cat got plowed down in the middle of the street by a *ahem* very nice woman who happened to be texting while driving just last week.  Seriously, I have the makings of a perfect country singing career here, folks!

When 2014 began, I was full of hope and positivity.  I know, difficult to believe, but I was determined that this was going to be MY year.  I turn the big 4-0 *GASP* this July, and had decided that instead of dreading it, I would embrace said birthday by having an awesome lead in with the remaining months of my 30’s.  Silver linings were my thing.  I’ve spoken previously of the proverbial ‘shit-fan’ in which I seem to have a seat planted firmly front and center, but, that I was working on learning how to step aside when it turns on.  That’s where the silver linings come into play– I would take each seemingly negative situation and find at least one positive thing within it.  It was working.  People were seeing the change in my outlook and behavior.  In fact, at work, one person in particular would email me or come find me after we had been issued bad news (which was happening quite frequently) and ask me “Okay, Pam… where is the silver lining here….”.  I suppose that, like a dreaded virus or something equally as icky, my new positive outlook was contagious.  I felt good.  I felt more at peace.  I felt I was on the path to healing.

And then the car died on New Year’s Day and cost just about $500 to fix.  I do not, usually, have that kind of disposable funding lying around– especially not after Christmas and just before the twin’s birthday.  Yikes.  I found the silver lining, though– at least it broke down on a day I was off from work so that I did not miss a day!  YAY!  And then it died again approximately two weeks later.  This time, the damage was almost $900.  The silver lining was very quickly turning into a tarnished mess, but I brushed it off and moved on.

Well, as I stated above, the couple of months since have been progressively worse, and I have lost all sight of that silver lining.  Gone.  Vanished.  Just like my 30’s are about to be. I have not had that awesome lead into my 40’s as I had hoped and planned.  And, I’m angry.  Bitter, even.

Much like Florence + the Machine state in their song, regrets do collect like old friends.  They like to bring along buddies.  They like to fill the room until everyone is nose to nose and there is no room left for anyone to take a single breath without stealing air from someone else.  They consume everything.  They continuously whisper in my ear…… they tell me I’ve failed. Again.  They remind me of all of the things I promised myself I would do.  They remind me of the list of goals I started back in December for 2014 (also when I implemented the silver lining initiative) and how I have not accomplished a single one of them.  Like a child clings to every single word of the story their parent reads to them before bedtime, I cling to these regrets as if they somehow keep me alive.

But, they are killing me.

I have never, in my entire life, felt so lost.

I know that it may seem as if this post is simply to bitch and moan about how awful my life is— but I promise it is not. In fact, I have been attempting to gather my thoughts enough to sit down and type this since leaving Church this past Sunday.  There is a gentleman there that plays piano for and sings (amazingly) with the Praise Band (my teenager sings with them once a month… it was her week as well) and he sang a song that….. that, I do not even know how to explain it… but it just seemed to dig right through all of the piles of shit I have sewn together and wear like a prom gown:

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise ~~Laura Story “Blessings”

Don’t worry, I am not going to get all holy roller on you all.  I am still struggling with my faith and beliefs, so I am hardly the one to preach.  But, for whatever reason, as he sang these words, I wanted to cry.  I have spent all of these years looking at the countless trials I have been handed as bad luck…. a massively raw deal… each one a tragedy.  As he sang these words, something shifted within me and I felt something I have not felt in a very long time…..

I felt hope.

As he sang these words, I thought about each one of these raw deals I had been handed throughout the years, but especially the ones these past few months, and realized that they are not tragedies at all.  They are opportunities.  How can my busted car be an opportunity. you ask?  My dead pets?  My position at work being downsized?

My busted car has provided me with an opportunity to see the value of getting it paid off so that I can finally purchase a dependable vehicle.  I am close to having it paid off, and had I not lost my job, it would have been paid off by now, but that is okay….. I will continue with my regular monthly payments for now, and when I find a new position I will go back to throwing double and triple payments at it and move forward with my goal of obtaining that new(er) vehicle. A positive thing.

My animals passing away is tough– anyone that knows me and my wild kingdom of children and animals knows that I am crazy about my pets.  They are just as much children to me as my actual children.  But– Hudson lived a very full 14 years and can now swim in the lakes without worry of those awful, painful ear infections or his back-end giving out.  Sokka the kitty only had four short years of life, but he was the neighborhood watch-cat.  Everyone knew him.  He was a superstar on our block.  Perhaps his terrible death caused by the texting driver gave her pause– and opened her eyes that next time might be a child.  Perhaps his passing helped one person put down the phone while driving. That would be a positive thing for sure.

My position being eliminated at work has caused me much turmoil. I have cried more tears than I ever thought I could create. I am, for all intents and purposes, the only one supporting my children and our home, and the loss of employment has taken away my ability to do so.  But truth be told, I was unhappy in my position.  I felt that I was being under-utilized and under-paid due to the wage freeze for five of the seven years in which I was an employee.  I wanted more.  The loss of the job has provided me with an opportunity to find a position that I will love and be excited for each day.  I am still looking, but am optimistic that I am going to find something wonderful very soon.  The other good part of being laid off is that I have had these past six weeks to focus on the final class in my graduate degree program.  I will complete the program on April 29th and will have earned my Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership— and I did it as a single mother of three working full-time.  Not too shabby.  A very big accomplishment, if I do say so myself.

I guess what I am saying is this:  As he sang that song and those words, he brought back my silver linings.  He forced me to feel things I had been refusing.  He forced me to put things back into perspective.  Yeah, I know…. he didn’t sing the song for me… and, likely, has no idea about everything I have been going through lately.  Maybe it was the fact that I really love his voice and focused a bit more on the words.  Or, maybe it was the big man upstairs trying to get a message to me that He knows I’ve been cursing Him and feeling like I should just walk away from Him and the Church all together.  I have no idea.  All I know is this… whatever the reason… it worked.

I pulled out that list of goals for 2014 I created back in December.  I changed a few things– mostly time frames due to the layoff– and added a few more.  I feel more strongly, now, that I will not only accomplish the goals I have already written down, but, that I will be adding a lot more to it as the months (very quickly) pass.  There are a few that I need to buckle down and begin working on here very soon as I have them slated to be completed prior to my birthday.  That gives me just shy of four months.

I am scared, but determined.

I’ve got this.

United Skates

This is not my typical blog post, so bear with me.

If you know me in real life, you know that I am the kind of person who tries very hard to help those for which I care.  I do not help, or try to help, because I am waiting to see what I will get in return.  I attempt to help because I believe that with just a little help, nudge, or loving push, the people or things for which I care can succeed.   I always help because it feels good to do so.  A pay it forward kind of feeling.

Having said all of that, let me get right to the point.

I have this amazingly talented and beautiful friend.  Some of you may have seen my postings about my dear friend Dyana ‘s United Skates Kickstarter campaign on my personal Facebook page.

Others may have seen my shameless requests for votes to help push United Skates over the top and win IndieWeek’s feature film contest (which they WON!! Thank you to all who voted!).

Well, I am at it again. You see– there are only 11 days left in the Kickstarter campaign and United Skates is short just $4,656 for the goal of $50,000 phase one funding for the documentary. I am hopeful CONFIDENT they will make goal.

All they need is just a little help from friends…. or friends of friends… or family of friends… or complete strangers even.

A Pay it Forward kind of help.

***There is an Angel Donor that has agreed to match any pledges made today.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?***

$4,656 from goal.  That’s insanely close!!

Please take a moment to consider helping to finish “lacing up the skate”. Any amount is helpful and will be matched if made today— if 233 people gave just $10 each??  The campaign would gain $2,330 that would be matched– for a total of $4,660!!  They would make their goal in ONE DAY!!  United Skates would be ROLLIN’!!

Ok.. bad pun.

But seriously, please consider helping. Watch the trailer on the Kickstarter page.. you’ll get hooked as fast as I did!

If you are unable to donate– YOU CAN STILL HELP!!  Share this post.  “Like” the United Skates Documentary page on Facebook.  Tell your friends…. your family… even strangers about this project!! (except for the creepy ones.. that’s just scary)

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and consider helping out an awesome woman complete an awesome project!!

One Year…

One year.  365 days.  8765 hours.  525,949 minutes.  That’s how long you’ve been gone.  I cannot even begin to comprehend this fact.  It has been a year without hearing your voice.  It was my first birthday without having a voicemail of you singing Happy Birthday.  It was my first Christmas without you.  It was my first everything without you.  I still cannot wrap my brain around this fact.

I think that Kristin Hannah said it best when she said: “A daughter without her mother is a woman broken. It is a loss that turns to arthritis and settles deep into her bones”.

It has been a very long year.  I have accepted your death, but have not mourned it.  I still have days where I pick up the phone and see your number in my list of favorites and think I should call you.

Then, I remember.

I still have days where everything in the world seems to be going wrong for me and I just want to call you and have you tell me it will all be alright.

Then, I remember.

I have days where I know you are no longer with us, and I am alright with that– happy that you are no longer suffering.

But it hurts.  Deep in my bones.

And, I cry.

I tell everyone that I am just fine… and I am good enough at placating people that they believe me.

But, I cry.

I think about how we used to talk for hours.  Even when there was nothing to say.

Then, I remember.

I remember how, for a few years, we did not talk at all.  Because I was upset with you.

And, I cry.

I cry about the years I lost with you.  I cry about how my children will never know you by anything other than name.  I tell myself we will fix that– we will all get together– siblings, cousins, grandparents.

Then, I remember.

I think about how when you died…. I was not there.  I think about how that last week before you died.. I couldn’t get through to you on the telephone.  I think about how I never got the chance to tell you one last time how much I loved you.  I think about how I should have been better…. more attentive…. more patient… more forgiving.

And, it makes me cry.

I think about how much we were alike.  I get my stubbornness from you.    I also get a lot of my strength from you.  I get my clutter gene from you (although, I’m not all that happy about that one..).  I get my pale skin from you (also not a fan of this one…).  I get my ability to make lists from you.  I also get my ability to misplace the list from you.  I get my sappy, emotional side from you.  I am sure there are more things that I got from you— but I’m too sad to think about them.

I love and miss you, Momma.

And, it makes me cry.

By the way…. I’m listening.  Anytime you want to stop by and whisper in my ear…. I’m here.