Friday, August 23, 2013

Life is Good

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 

I survived another day. There were 1000 ways it could have gone wrong. Car accident. Caffeine overdose. Rabid dog attack. Building collapse. Elevator malfunction. Lightning strike. Heart attack. And so many other ways I can’t even imagine.

And because I made it another day, I should appreciate the good things. Why is life so good? In spite of everything, war, crime, politics, death, and taxes, life is good.

100 Things to be Happy About

  1. Laughing so hard milk shoots out of your nose
  2. Drinking a little too much Firefly, but somehow not feeling hung over the next morning
  3. The Internet
  4. Video Games
  5. New books that make you laugh
  6. New books that make you cry
  7. Paychecks
  8. Tax Refunds
  9. Used books with notes in the margins
  10. New car smell
  11. New baby smell
  12. Petting a cat
  13. Petting a dog
  14. Playing with a puppy
  15. Chicken soup when you have a cold
  16. Sleeping
  17. Napping
  18. Long windy roads when you are not in a hurry
  19. Top Gear UK
  20. James Altucher
  21. Zenhabits
  22. Where the Sidewalk Ends
  23. The sound of rain when you are trying to fall asleep
  24. A good ghost story
  25. Movie theatre popcorn
  26. A movie that you have to see three times
  27. Seeing an amazing movie three times with your best friend
  28. Losing a few pounds
  29. Good hair days
  30. Friday at 5:00
  31. Federal Holidays
  32. Museums
  33. Wikipedia
  34. Netflix
  35. Your favorite cereal on sale
  36. Warm fuzzy socks
  37. Giving the perfect gift for someone
  38. Playing the perfect prank
  39. Knowing exactly what to say at the right time instead of a day later
  40. Meeting an inspirational person
  41. Reading a great biography
  42. Realizing you’re lucky to be alive
  43. Praying and receiving an unexpected answer
  44. Finding money tucked in your pants pocket
  45. Finding money tucked in the pages of a book you read years ago
  46. Making a new friend
  47. The smell of clean laundry
  48. The beach
  49. The city
  50. The country
  51. The mountains
  52. The first snow of the year
  53. Falling in love
  54. Realizing it’s okay not to be perfect
  55. Realizing that no one is perfect
  56. Realizing everyone else is just as messed up as you
  57. Getting back up when you fall
  58. A really good sneeze
  59. Laughing so hard you pee a little bit
  60. Great service anywhere
  61. Being pleasantly surprised
  62. Dark chocolate
  63. Warm chocolate chip cookies
  64. Hot fresh donuts
  65. Hot Krispy Kreme Donuts
  66. Girl Scout Cookies
  67. Samoas
  68. Samosas
  69. Mamosas
  70. Fireworks
  71. Firetrucks
  72. A great magic trick
  73. Cirque du Soleil
  74. Carnivals
  75. Silly cat videos
  76. Libraries
  77. Laughing so hard your face hurts
  78. When justice is really served
  79. When a police officer lets you off with a warning
  80. Your favorite song comes on the radio while you hit all green lights
  81. Singing at the top of your lungs when your favorite song comes on
  82. Singing at the top of your lungs with a good friend
  83. Dancing even though you have no rhythm
  84. Lightning Bugs
  85. The night sky in the mountains
  86. Funny cat videos
  87. Facebook
  88. Butterfly Circus
  89. Being glad you came
  90. Being glad you didn’t give up
  91. Being grateful
  92. Missing teeth on a 5-year-old
  93. Snails in the garden
  94. Canoeing
  95. Knowing that everything will be okay
  96. Donating old things to Good Will
  97. The perfect Halloween costume
  98. Seeing kids double back to your house on Halloween because you give out the good candy
  99. Ted Talks
  100. Babies

Monday, February 18, 2013

Elder Financial Abuse (Sign this White House Petition!)

American Senior Citizens are our fastest growing demographic. They are also the group of Americans who hold the vast majority of the wealth in our country. Many of them are also very vulnerable. 

One in ten Senior Citizens in the country experiences elder abuse every year. 

Huffington Post reported that financial abuse robbed almost $3 billion from elder Americans just last year. Who are these elder Americans? They are old soldiers who gave years of their lives to protect our country. They are the humble and brave mothers who cared for their families while their husbands were at war. They are our parents’ teachers. They are the carpenters who built our grandparents’ homes. They are our spiritual leaders… retired fire fighters… businessmen… nurses… police officers… librarians. They are the thrifty people who remember the great depression. They are the people who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. They are the ones who wept at his assassination. They are the same ones who wept at John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the wondering eyes who watched in awe as men walked on the moon. They are my grandmother who never answered the door without heels on. They are gentlemen like my grandfather who never walked outside without wearing a tie and hat. They are our national treasures. However, they are also the people who are most likely to be intimidated by someone in their family and lose their hard-earned financial legacies; 78% of elder financial exploitation cases are perpetuated by senior citizens’ relatives. 

One of the first people who recognize this abuse is often a bank teller who sees money patterns changing and funds disappearing from an elder’s account. They are the call center representative who fields a call from a sobbing grandmother who does not know where her money went, and she does not even remember calling in and speaking with someone on the phone because she is in the early stages of dementia. What can these tellers and service representatives do? There are a few states with robust state programs that require financial institutions to contact local social services (See Maryland State’s Project SAFE:; those few amazing state laws give financial institutions safe harbor from Federal privacy laws with regard to reporting elder financial exploitation. However, most states do not have this. In fact, most financial institutions in this country have their hands tied with regard to Elder Financial Exploitation. They cannot do much because of federal privacy laws. There are a couple avenues built into the Bank Secrecy Act, but none is robust enough really to protect our senior citizens. Not when their physical safety, their financial legacies, are on the line. 

All it takes is a few wires, a password, some intimidation, and someone can rob a vulnerable senior citizen of everything they have… leaving them with no money for their mortgage, their groceries, their electricity, anything. The results can be devastating. 

We the people demand a Federal law be enacted that gives safe harbor to financial institutions who report elder financial exploitation and any kind of elder abuse directly to local law enforcement and local social services. We the people demand a Federal law be enacted demanding that elder abuse of any kind be reported to local law enforcement and social services within one week of a financial institution suspecting abuse. We the people demand that our government protect these national treasures… our Senior Citizens. Please sign this White House Petition:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It’s 2012: Election Time Again?! WTFC (What the Fried Chicken!?)

Obama ~ Biden 2012
Romney ~ Paul 2012
Oprah ~ Gale 2012
Yoda ~ Obi Wan 2012
Chunk ~ Sloth 2012
Katniss ~ Peeta 2012
Snooki ~ Jwoww 2012
Sookie ~ Bill Eric 2012

It doesn’t matter which way you are leaning, because like it or not it’s election time again!

These times fire us up! They get us thinking about all those issues that we hold so dear to our hearts! Things that we stand behind… and also those things we stand against. They rile up our blood and show us our greatness and also our flaws. These times shine a light on how we can stand together and unite as Americans… one nation… under God… but they also shine a light on our shortsightedness… on our prejudices and our bigotry. It’s interesting to watch unfold. It’s beautiful and horrible. It can make you proud to be an American in one moment and in the next, it can take your breath away with our hatefulness.

We are a beautiful mess.

But that is what makes us great. That people from all over the world, that speak many languages, that have many faiths, can come together under a single flag…

We belong to all sorts of parties:

Republican Party
Democratic Party
Libertarian Party
Green Party
Socialist Party
Constitution Party
Tea Party
Cocktail Party
Dinner Party
Keg Party (my husband’s favorite)

We bicker, we create, we grow, we fight, we vote, and we love this beautiful mess that is us.

It’s an amazing dream. The dream of our country’s founders, the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., the dream we have for our future.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Declaration of Independence

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

And we are free! And we are amazing… as messed up as we sometimes seem, remember that even with all our wrinkles, our arguments, our craziness, we are still awesome because we were made, and continue to be made, by all the amazing cultures, religions, races, languages, beliefs, creeds, philosophies the world over.

It almost makes you want to jump up and down… okay… go do it… jump and dance… sometimes it overwhelms me. The wonder of it… the wonder of America. It is no wonder so many people come here every year. My mother from England in the 70s. My husband from Guatemala in the 80s.

Go ahead and own it… this crazy beautiful mess… is awesome.



If you get a chance, check out my new novel: Finding Faith. It’s available at online bookstores like Amazon, and Barnes and Nobles now. It is an expression of my love for this beautiful crazy mess… America.

Monday, August 13, 2012

But for the grace of God...

Some days... some weeks... months... years... are hard.

Just pray... and know that you are not alone. I love this poem... sometimes it helps just to read it...


One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints.
Other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life
When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord, "You promised me, Lord,
That if I followed you, you would walk with me always.
But I noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
There have only been one set of prints in the sand.
Why, When I have needed you most, you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints
Is when I carried you." - Mary Stevenson

Whatever you might be going through... hang in there.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

An Answered Prayer

I was having an awful morning. I had just dropped little A off at school and got back into my car to head down to Fairfax to go to work. I laid my head on the steering wheel. It was all too much. Too many responsibilities. Too many bills. Fixing the house. Worrying about family. My grandmothers were both desperately ill. Thinking about all I have to do to sell the house and buy a new one this summer. We got audited by the IRS… worrying about work and how two analysts can possibly do the work of four people and not end up a puddle of catatonic goo. Having to sit next to and regularly work with people who I think channel the anti-christ on a daily basis. It was just too much stress. I felt depressed. I honestly… wanted to give up. Crawl under a blanket, cry, and just disappear.

But that is not an option. I closed my eyes and I prayed. “Dear God. Please… PLEASE... I feel terrible today. Help me see the light. Please. I’m begging you. Help. Help me see the light.”

I turned on the car, turned down Centreville Road. And right in front of me was a car with the following license plate:

Vi La Luz

Or translated…. See the light.

A simple answered prayer. Nothing changed. I still had too much work, too much stress, but God had given me a shout out and reminded me that I’m not in this alone. See the light.

There is light. He is the light.

God bless.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fear, Faith, and the Good Fight

They say let go, let God. But somehow that doesn’t get rid of the squeezing pain in my chest. I believe the loving hand of God is watching and guiding us, but that doesn’t stop the blood from rushing to my head when panic sets in. I believe there are angels and spirits around us every day and everywhere looking out for us, but that doesn’t cure the nervous stomachs and stress headaches I have every day.

·         I fear everything! Everything!
·         I fear I’m going to get fired because the new guy is really great…
·         I fear my husband’s new employer will go out of business…
·         I fear my son will hate me when he grows up…
·         I fear my husband will cheat on me…
·         I fear that he will leave me…
·         I fear I’ll never save enough to retire…
·         I fear that cancer will take me from my son before he’s old enough to be on his own…
·         I fear everything.

I want to never be afraid again. I want to be fearless. I want to stop panic attacks and end anxiety attacks in their tracks! I want to forget what worry feels like.

How do you fight fear? How do you stop a panic attack? How do you end worry?

There are so many ways. There are things you can do to prevent fears and stop worries. And there are things you can do when you are in the harsh grip of fear. Here are some things that I have found do work. No one thing works every time, but when one bullet doesn’t kill the serial killing night stalker chasing you… USE EVERY SHELL, EMPTY THE ENTIRE MAGAZINE, AND RELOAD! And if he’s still coming… NEVER EVER GIVE UP… you just keep on running. He’ll give up and you’ll be the last one standing. I promise.

Thirty-five ways to fight fear, stop worries, and end anxiety!

1.       Pray. Pray hard. Pray until you fall asleep or pass out. Scream at God if you think he’s not listening. He is. And he can totally take it.
2.       Take a break… step away from whatever madness you’re in the middle of for 5 minutes or 30. Count to 100. The issues will still be there, but maybe you’ll be more able to handle them.
3.       Face your fear. Imagine that what you fear is definitely going to happen. Work out how you would deal with it. And ask yourself, “So what?” If I get fired so what? My husband is working right now, so maybe we’d lose the house. So what? We’d rent a tiny apartment. So what? We would still be together. We would still love one another. We would still be able to eat. We would still be able to live. So what?
4.       Tell yourself that everything is going to work out perfectly. Even if you don’t believe it, it will confuse your subconscious worry-machine and invite your angels to help make it happen.
5.       Make sure you get enough sleep. Anything less than 6 hours is not enough.
6.       Use positive words and think positive thoughts. If you try hard enough, you are in 100% control of you mind. It takes an effort to replace the negative thought patterns created by years of mental programming, but it’s worth it. And if you do it long enough, you can reprogram yourself. Make your mind your Matrix and you are Neo!
7.       Surround yourself with positive people.
8.       Count your blessings and even write down all the awesome things about yourself. Write down your accomplishments. There are many. Each one is worth a lot. You are worth more than you know.
9.       Do one thing. Know you don’t have to solve all your problems in one night. Just try doing one thing to move you in a more positive direction… maybe it’s brushing up your resume, or exercising, or apologizing. But just do one. Tomorrow you can work on number two.
10.   Exercise. It helps if the exercise involves punching, kicking, and screaming, but if that’s not your bag of candy, try something else.
11.   Think about a time when you had the same or a similar fear. Did your worry happen? What are the chances that what you fear will actually happen? If it did occur, how did you deal with it? How do other people deal with it? Someone, somewhere, definitely has. Look it up. Be inspired.
12.   Get busy working on something. Be so busy your mind cannot be bothered with fear. If your mind is 100% engaged in repairing drywall or de-cluttering your spare room, you won’t have a second to worry about that thing that’s been eating away at your stomach lining.
13.   Phone home…. Call mom, dad, a friend, a grandparent, your parole officer, whoever…. God’s always listening.
14.   If your fears have anything to do with keeping up with the Joneses… remember that they are cheating on each other, they are compulsive liars, their children smoke crack, they are selfish and evil, they worship Satan, and they wear those expensive clothes to cover up their stinking puss-filled souls. Or whatever disgusting thing helps you feel just an inch taller. But truly know that they have their own bag of problems. Their path is different from yours. Your path was chosen by God. Trust Him.
15.   Execute plan Z – a glass or two of wine at night does not a drunkard make.
16.   Execute plan D - Talk to a doctor. If shrinks are not your thing, any regular general practitioner can prescribe some Valium.
17.   Learn to meditate. Repeat a peaceful mantra when everything is quiet and still. Shut down the other voices in your head.
18.   Get creative… dance… sculpt… program… color… write… paint… sing… even if you sound like a blender choking on too much ice for a daiquiri! It doesn’t have to be perfect.
19.   Know our imperfections just mean you’re human… typos are meeningless. Everyone knows what you were tryin' 2 sae enyweigh....
20.   Know we all make mistakes… you are still AWESOME!
21.   Play with your pet. They love you… warts and all.
22.   Take a bath or a shower. Brush your teeth. Slap on some deodorant. Know that even if everything else stinks… you smell FABULOUS!
23.   Look your best… it will make you stand a little taller and feel a little better. Who’s that good looking person in the mirror? That’s right… it’s you!
24.   No matter what is going on, know that things could be harder. Read about someone who has been through the circle of fire and come out shining on the other end… Read about someone who has had to struggle and their fight was the fire that turned them in to a hero… read about Nick Vujicic, or Don Piper, or Dan Caro… or insert your own hero. My grandfather abandoned my grandma and their four small children in the 50s. She not only survived… she thrived. She fought, and prayed, and turned into a beautiful and strong rose who worked like crazy, but managed to trust again, fall in love again, and had four more children.
25.   Stop whatever you are doing and just relax your whole body. Imagine a cat curled in a warm summer window. Purr. Stretch. Lick your paws if that helps.
26.   Live beneath your means. Live simply. Jesus did not have a TV, DVR, a cell phone, a LAN line, a PC, a McMansion, two cars, and a laptop… do you really need all these things?
27.   Simplify your belongings. When your house stops looking like a hoarder's playground, go further. Maybe pretend you’re Amish.
28.   Simplify your responsibilities. Don’t let a cluttered schedule overwhelm you. Do you really have to do all those things on your to-do list? If something doesn’t get done… so what? Seriously.
29.   Breathe slowly and deeply. Empty your lungs as much as you can and then fill them completely.
30.   Change the pace. If you’ve been sitting for a while, stand up. Go for a walk. If you’ve been working non-stop, sit. Be still.
31.   Know that it’s okay to be afraid and that everything is temporary. This too shall pass. Sometimes you just have to wait it out. The rain always stops eventually.
32.   Help someone. Sometimes helping other people with their problems can put our own in perspective or even just distract us long enough to feel a little better.
33.   If you have a husband or wife… maybe a little boom boom would help you feel a little cheerier. Or at the very least, maybe they’ll make you a cup of tea or give you a nice massage.
34.   If you don’t have a love… go get a cup of tea, indulge yourself in something that makes you smile.
35.   Just smile… if you don’t feel a smile anywhere inside… just fake it. Just the act of smiling will often help lift your mood.

Tomorrow is going to be better. If not tomorrow… then the next day definitely. Hang in there little pilgrim. We’re all in this together!

And sometimes fear will bring you alive. Let it light your passions on fire… let it ignite your inner Spartan warrior!

Are you only here if God ensures blue skies and a perfect harvest? Or are you all in for whatever is in store?

If yes… and the fear still grips you… Scream into the storm now… face the hail, lightening, thunder, tsunami, and tornadoes… scream to God that you are ready and willing to fight the good Fight. Scream into the wind…. BRING IT ON! GIVE ME YOUR WORST!

Put on your boots… apply your SPF30… layer on the war paint... pray… and hike up your kilt and yell to the fates: I will never quit! I WILL NEVER GIVE UP! I WILL NEVER SURRENDER!

How Did You Die
by Edmund Vance Cooke

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?

Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it? You are beaten to earth?

Well, well, what's that!
Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there--that's disgrace.

The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts;
It's how did you fight--and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only how did you die?

Keep up the good fight… my friend.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Global Warming or God?

My son made a good friend in Kindergarten: John. He’s the sweetest little thing. Always building something with Legos. Always friendly and fun. His floppy blond hair is always falling in his face. They were in the same class last year. This year they are in the same after school program. I always find them playing together when I pick up little Alex. John said something to Alex and Alex passed it on to me one day after school last week and it broke my heart.

John said he wished he had never been born.

Oh sweet, Jesus… my heart breaks. What 6 year old has thoughts like that? What sadness is in his life that he could say such a thing? I had no idea. John and Alex have been asking to have a play date recently… so I sent a note to school to John’s mom. We had met before, but I didn’t even know her name. We got together last Saturday and the boys played together all day. And Kay and I talked over coffee and I found out why John thinks those too sad and too mature thoughts. They have been abandoned by John’s father. After eighteen years of marriage he left his wife.


After 18 years, and 3 children… he left his family.


After 18 years, 3 children, dragging his loving family all over the world and uprooting them every few years and forcing them to start over in new schools, with new friends… he abandoned his family with nothing.

He met his high school sweetheart on a social networking site and left the woman who had been there for him… taken vows of faithfulness to him… torn her body apart to bring his children into this world… sacrificed developing herself professionally to support his career and dreams… and now he’s gone.

No child support…
No alimony…
No contact…

And now… just after Christmas… they live in a small apartment… John’s mom works her fingers to the bone at the only job she can find… and they have no electricity… in the dead of winter.

Some people think this unseasonably warm winter is evidence of global climate change. I think it’s evidence of God. Right now… little children and families have no electricity… and God has let this winter be warm. Right now… small babies are living in tents less than 20 minutes from my home because their families… EVEN WITH JOBS… cannot afford a place to live… and sometimes food… and God made this winter warm…

My heart breaks for little John… and I feel a love of God for this warm winter… today it was 70 degrees in Washington DC… I thank God for this weather… but, part of me wishes I could find little John’s father… break his legs with a lead pipe and then drop him off, and his awful high school sweetheart, in front of the police station and have them both locked up in prison where they belong.

Lord forgive me…

But, I don’t think this is global climate change. This is God looking out for the weak and the humble in these rough economic times… pray for John and Kay…

If you happen to have a Nintendo DS that you’re not using, I know a little 6 year old with a birthday at the end of March that could use a little happy play time… shoot me an email…

Pray and listen carefully… you can hear the angels singing…

Luv and hugs,


P.S. Sorry about the typos… this just got me so upset…