What the Fudge? Staycation Memories…2015

So I am on ‘staycation’ this week.  No work, just sleeping in and hanging out by the pool with my girl Holland and my sista who also took some time off.  We also decided to hit our City Zoo and local Amusement Park during the week since we had the time.

I am sorry to admit that I had not visited our zoo for several years, okay many years.  In the past, and I mean like 10 plus years ago, if memory serves, the zoo was not a pleasant experience.  Very smelly, no shade, and some very sad animals in cages that all looked like they desperately needed a drink, I know I did.  Our zoo was also colorless, many varying shades of tan.

However, my daughter and my sista, who teaches elementary school, make the trip to the zoo pretty much annually.  They were both very excited to shuttle me around the ‘new zoo’ so I could see how beautiful it is now.

So off we went.  We parked and the first thing that met me right at the gates was the smell of manure.  Deja vu.  Yeah, I been to this party before.  Well what did you expect lady?  It’s a zoo for crying out loud.  Everybody poops, get your nose out of the air and carry on already.  Through the gates we went only to find the ‘African Savannah’, a sprawling geography of land within the zoo with plants and water holes indigenous to Africa serving as home to the animals that live there, together.  Giraffes roaming around while zebras drank from the water and gazelles ran by.  It was beautiful.  We saw the Asian Highlands, home to the big cats with their habitats separated only by nearly invisible fencing hidden in the foliage.  Each habitat was preceded by beautiful sculptures of the animals done by local artists and ‘eco-explorers’ ready to answer your questions and give you information about the animals. It was a great day.  There was just one moment where I got the dry heaves entering the reptile house, and had to gird my loins.  I am calling it a win.  Well done Zoo.

On to the Amusement Park.  Our local park is called Lagoon and it opened in 1886, I kid you not.  This year they are selling T-shirts that say Lagoon ’86 on them.  Here is another fun fact.  Why “Lagoon” you ask?  The original creator of the park was named L.A. Goon.  Once again, I kid you not.  I always thought that was creepy, and frankly, Lagoon has always had a little creep factor for me and my sista that we can’t quite put our finger on.  We fondly call it ‘Galoon’ among our own.   It runs along the same vein of being afraid of clowns, like that.

Anyhoo, my son Zach got the day off so the four of us headed out for Galoon.  The tradition is that we ride the Terror Ride first.  The quintessential fun-supposed-to be scary carnie ride with the Wolf-man scene, the Dracula scene, Frankenstein etc.  My son and I rode together and as we all laughed getting off he said to my daughter, “Mom sounded just like CC in there!”  CC would be his grandma, my mother.  Well, fabulous.  I just stood there as they headed for the roller coaster.  My sista was laughing hysterically and I just looked at her and said “we are getting fudge later.”  She said “for sure” and we walked after them.

The new roller coaster at our park this year is called ‘The Cannibal’.  Clever.  I guess they call it that because the big drop looks like a tongue..like a big letter ‘P’…and it’s red.  You get in the car and go straight up in an elevator.  Then a big garage-like door opens and you move straight out the door and then…nothing.  The track literally disappears because it curves completely underneath itself and then straight back and down.  My son was very excited to ride this.  It is extremely high and fast, we watched it run several times as we waited in line.  The scary factor has been made bigger than usual because the opening of the ride has been delayed due to safety concerns for a month.  My daughter about had a nervous breakdown the night before we went because she thought her brother was going to make her ride it.  To be honest I about had a nervous breakdown in line watching the damn thing because I agreed to ride it.

Okay, let me come real clean here.  I am a dizzy wizzy.  Not really a scaredy cat per se, but a dizzy wizzy.  I get sick on things that go round and round.  I have been a dizzy wizzy since I was little.  I once was twirling in our yard with my sista when were very young and got dizzy and walked right into our light post and about knocked myself out.  At Galoon, on our church Galoon Day when I was about 11, in the Fun House, which is not there anymore because it was an accident and a lawsuit waiting to happen, I was on a “ride” that was really just a big wooden disc that you sat on and pushed yourself back against the people around you as hard as you could while they spun the disc around faster and faster and you tried to stay on despite the centrifugal force until every one spun off.   Unfortunately, I vomited right in the middle of a crowd of kids on this thing and my barf spun off everywhere along with a zillion pre-teens and they had to shut down the ride.  My mom was so mad.

Anyhoo, the older I get the less it takes for this dizzy wizzy to get the clammy sweats and the jelly legs, yet here I am ready to get on the Cannibal.  Smart chick.  So we are going up the elevator thing and I am sitting next to my sista on my right and an 8 year old boy I  do not know on my left.  Suddenly the door opens and for a split second I think I can see so far I spy the waving cowboy in Wendover, and then we are heading straight out and over the edge and I hear my sista say “This was a mistake”.  I lean over and say to my 8 year old co-rider, “Yes, this was a mistake” as sweat trickles down my back…and then I am literally standing up in the car because it is completely upside down and someone is screaming and it is me.

Then…it is over.  The heavy thing keeping me in my seat lifts off of my shoulders and over my head.  I am supposed to stand up but my legs are like jello when I try to stand.  I am sweating cold and clammy sweat and having a hot flash at the same time.  I am slush.  My son is trying to pull me onto the platform and I am trying to get myself out and off of this wretched ride.   I look up and see my sista just outside the exit with both hands on the garbage can and breathing hard, she is the color of the zoo…kind of a light beige…all over.  I pick my way over to her with my Novocain legs and she says “time for that fudge”  and I say “yes ma’am”.

It takes a little bit for the both of us to get our bearings, but we do.  We carry on like the old broads we are, making our way through the Rattle Snake Rapids (wet pants) and the Log Flume, corn on a stick and frozen lemonades and steering clear of the Tilt-a-Hurl and the Flying Aces.  When we get to the Pioneer Village we head straight for the candy shoppe to get our fudge, only to find they don’t have it any more.  But all is not lost, there are hot, soft pretzels and all is right with the world.  It’s closing time, almost 11pm and time to head for home.  Goodnight Galoon!  Good times, even without the fudge.

lagoon_logo          Wicked launch tower roller coaster at Lagoon park


Happy Holidays 2014! …Finally :/

Holiday 2014

Well, Happy 2015…for crying out loud.  You may be surprised to see our holiday letter in February…or March, but I hope it is a pleasant surprise.  Some unfortunate and unexpected life events derailed me and it took me a little time to get my bearings. So we keep calm and carry on!  We hope all is well with you and yours!  Please know that we are all healthy and blessed.

If you haven’t heard by now, after a 27 year career, I have recently taken a leap off the Stagecoach and hit the ground with a very hard bump.  I am seeing a few stars and in the process of gathering my petticoats and brushing off the dust, so to speak.  There are no hard feelings per se, but I am still smarting a bit.  So I am currently between careers at the moment. Moving on has been a little bit of a learning experience to say the least.  I have not applied for a job since 1988, I have worked for only one employer and I am very much a stranger in a strange land!  Welcome to 2015!

Now write a LinkedIn profile and page and remember it must be worked and updated daily to make connections and ensure it is viewed.  Endorse others as you would like to be equally endorsed and be brave and select some folks you think might write you a recommendation on your page and invite them to do so.  But try not to feel badly of they ignore you or decline you.  Remember people are notified when you view their profile so don’t stalk anyone and be sure your own update notifications are turned OFF so you are not the pest of the internet. Oops.  Nothing too personal, no kids in your picture, no pets in your picture, not too formal, not too candid.  Do not use anything too old, no wedding photos.  No hubby photos, yes it has to be of yourself.  Don’t you have another Employer to add, or more Education?  You need more connections!  Look who has viewed your profile?  …someone from the Stage Coach, they wish to remain Anonymous, not helpful.

Now do a new Resume, and a Cover Letter and what the hell is a Cover Letter?  Note to self – Google “Cover Letter”. Objective statements are out, Professional Brands are in, but don’t call them a brand.  Two pages max for a resume and be sure you detail your career accomplishments separate from your skill set and your work experience and include your community affiliations and your charitable support work.  No one cares if you are married or of you have kids but be sure to include your web proficiency and social networking skills like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram etc.  Oh by the way, you will customize your resume and especially your Cover Letter (less than one page, 3 paragraphs – google it) for each job you apply for to emphasize the skills each employer is looking for specifically.  You will do this constantly because, to stay eligible for Unemployment Insurance payments, you will apply for 4 new jobs every week and submit the application information every Sunday via the Utah.gov website…or you will be deemed not eligible for Unemployment and have to start over again and re-apply.  THAT is not an option, trust me.  Plus I need that $400.00 a week to pay for the Cobra, man…  I am trying to stay focused on not eating everything in my pantry and not wearing my jammies all day.  But I am FINE!  REALLY I AM!  😉

In lighter news, Keith is working away at Hudson Printing and is looking forward to even more warm weather so he can get out on the Golf Course.  He has enjoyed sharing his rabid love for the Utes with Zach in the last year on both the football field and the basketball court!  They both enjoy watching in our theater room and attending games in person every once in a while.  However, in his old age, Keith is taking more and more after his Dad in the “rabid” department and gets quite…animated during the games and will hardly notice Zach slinking away, his face hot with embarrassment during his Dad’s ranting and raving at the TV.   Funny, because many a time has Keith come home early from his parents’ home during a game because “my Dad was out of control.”  Frankly, I find it HI-larious.  Keith is trying to stay focused on doing dishes and laundry and not on me eating everything in the pantry and staying in my jammies all day long…I told him I am FINE.  We are both on the Prozac, thank the Good and Gracious Lord.

Zach is 21 (!?) and also works full-time at Hudson Printing and he and Keith are spending good times together attending Jazz games from time to time in the court side seats with Hudson clients and pairing up for work events like the annual Holiday Breakfast.  They were “Big Ride Buddies” at Universal Studios during our family vacation this summer in Southern California and are often seen together in our neighborhood helping others with the Elders Quorum.  Zach also enjoys a round or two of golf and taking off to see the newest movie premiere.  Zach is my hero.  He has lost over 60 pounds since January of 2014 and looks super great.  He has done it by eating less and eating the right things and exercising more.  So the hard way.  He only drinks water and the occasional Gator-aid, no sweets and has his portions exactly right.  I feel like a diet coke-drinking pig in a pen next to him at dinner time but it has been nice to have him eating the same way I do as a diabetic, if not an emotional wreck of a diabetic.  Zach is our enduring spirit, our tender mercy.

Our Miss Holland is 15, sweet 16 in April.  She is a sophomore at Hillcrest High School and having the best school year ever!  She is finally placed exactly right academically and it has made all the difference in the world.  Imagine that!  Her special needs core-director at Hillcrest, Joanne Plant is literally her Fairy Godmother of Autism and one day when Holland gives two hoots about a Prince or a ball she will be Cinderella.  For now Holland is a second soprano in the Sophomore Girls Choir and has 2 recitals and a solo under her very tiny belt.  She loves to sing and has a voice like a crystal bell.  It is best showcased in the shower or when she doesn’t think anyone is listening.  She has been recognized for her art skills in Drawing and Painting and was showcased in Hillcrests’ Gallery show last spring.  She is currently working in Ceramics and Sculpture and is preparing a portfolio.  Holland also enjoyed our vacation in California.  Especially hanging out on Huntington Beach and in the beach house with her cousins and CC ad Poppy.  She is a beach bum at heart, just like her Mom.   This year she also discovered the Street Fair and I could hardly pull her and Zoe away…as if I tried very hard, I like me a Street Fair at the beach!  Holland likes shopping! …beach jewelry and beach bags and sunglasses, T-shirts and swim suits and sun dresses and especially the art.  They had a beautiful Farmers Market with fresh fruits and veggies and imagine my surprise when Zoe and Holland wanted to go “listen to the bands” while I was picking out produce.  (Translation = check out the boys!)  Needless to say, we can’t wait to go back to the beach!   Holland is our beautiful light, teaching us so much about patience and kindness every day.

So that is that for now.  The tide is sometimes in and the tide is often out in our lives and that is the way it is supposed to be.  So as I often say, “we keep our mitts up for the unexpected line drive” or painful fall off the Stage Coach, whatever the case may be.  It is in these experiences that we learn and grow the most, after the dust clears that is.  Then we continue to survive, count our blessings and be ever so grateful for what we do have…and carry on.

Much love,  Dee, Keith, Zach and Holland

Everyone is a little Autistic…

Previously Published /2.2013

Posting again now for my Holland.   Everyone is a little Autistic…

April was Autism Awareness month and I was asked to participate in a Diversity presentation in Fort Worth Texas in May that included some Autism Awareness and how Autism impacts my life, and my daughters life, and the life of our family day-to-day and how we cope.  The event was to be held for my company and all of my peers and our partners and management from across the country.  That’s a lot of people.  There was a definite “Yikes” factor at work for me this time.  I have spoken to large groups before but in my business and among my peers I have never been asked to speak about how a topic impacts me and my family on a personal level.

But, ‘Yikes” factor aside, I am an Autism Advocate for parents and kids and will speak to anyone that will listen about my life and my daughters life with autism, cards on the table man.  Ask me anything and I’ll give you more information than you every wanted in the first place.  My middle name is “TMI” and that is fine by me.   The presentation went very well and I had many people want to talk afterwards about their son or daughter, or a grandchild or niece or nephew or friend.. The fact is that when I spoke the word Autism I instantly made a connection with over half of the audience.  But if I had more time, I would have had the other half no problem…because everyone is a little Autistic.

First, don’t panic, being Autistic, a little or a lot, is not even close to the end of the world.   In fact, didn’t we all survive the end of the Mayan Calendar world?  It was just like the day before the end of the world wasn’t it?  So we can learn a valuable lesson from the Mayan’s;   a)  Maybe what feels like the end of your world, is just another beginning, remember that today, the present, is a gift, and 2)  Maybe the Mayans are just like regular people and just ran out of space on that calendar. How would they know how serious everyone would take it.  Mountain and molehill…who knows?

In fact, the older I get the less I see a need to actually panic.  I find that when I catch myself feeling panicky (if that’s even a word)  I feel silly.  My inside my head voice says “Oh for heaven’s sake, stop this.  Calm your damn self down and carry on with what you need to do to address the situation within the limits of your control.”   Unfortunately, many times it takes longer than I would hope to catch myself and usually do or say at least one very silly or hysterical thing before the “smart cookie” side of my brain kicks in.   Exception – if I am being chased by a big dog or other large animal, wait I take that back because if a chicken or a goose was chasing me, that would merit valid panic. See everybody has a thing.

This is why we are all a little Autistic.  ANXIETY!  With children (and adults) who are diagnosed with Autism you may not find a single symptom the same in every case.  There are many commonalities you might see, but way more differences. Just like people without Autism.  We all experience anxiety.  The differences seem to be to be what causes an individual’s anxiety level to rise (big dog, aggressive chicken) and how they are able to cope with that anxiety…or not.  (Run away willy nilly!)

For example, why do you think so many stores and designers are making shirts and tops and blouses that are tag less?   Do you think it’s because a good portion of Autistic folks cannot cope with a tag in their shirt scratching or even touching the back of their neck?  While this is true, of course not!  Although Holland, my daughter will cut the entire piece of the shirt with the tag out of the back with those nubby school scissors leaving a big scraggy hole or ‘notch’ in the shirt to alleviate that particular anxiety.
But the point is, almost everyone in the world gets bugged by tags in the back of their shirt!  It causes them a certain level of anxiety they don’t like.  The difference between a little Autistic and diagnosed Autism (among other things) is how high that level of anxiety goes (I cannot think about or focus on anything else because this tag in my shirt is making me feel crazy, literally) and how well we are able to cope or progress forward with the task or situation at hand in spite of our anxiety.  (I am cutting up my stupid shirt while my teacher is in the rest room.)

My daughter Holland has Autism.  She hates tights. She has hated them since she was a baby.  She would cry and pull on the toes of the tights trying to get them off for the duration of church, or the wedding or funeral etc.  At about two years old I was pleased to realize that Holland had inherited at least part of  the ‘smart cookie’ gene when she just started snagging her tights with her finger until she could rip a ginormous hole in them and step right out of her tights and carry on!   So, it’s been leggings ever since.   But her ability to find a way to keep on moving, however destructive (holey shirts and ruined tights) told me that she could learn to cope and that for her in her life, we can find a way.
Now frankly, tights and tags have been the least of our issues as most parents, or folks who work with Autistic kids would agree.  But the principle is the same. Unlike many disabilities, Autism does discriminate.  Some children are super high functioning and can respond, adapt and learn quite quickly.  Others have more severe delays and their anxieties can stay locked inside making it nearly impossible for them to speak, which makes learning and coping extremely difficult and challenging.  But many of our Autistic brothers and sisters are just somewhere in between. Trying to live in a very socially dominated world that no matter how high functioning, they simply don’t understand.  None of that comes naturally and learning it and practicing it, and I mean accepted and expected social behavior, takes a lot of work and effort for these kids AND it makes their level of anxiety shoot the moon.

Remember how you felt the very first day of Jr High School?  Or the first day of any new school?  Imagine feeling that way every day of your life about several things during those days.  Now imagine not being able to articulate why you are feeling that way to anyone, even your Mom.  How frustrating would that be for you?  If you think “a lot frustrating”  you may start to understand Autism.

So here is what I can tell you now, what I have learned so far in my journey called life, that just so happens to include Autism.  I cannot stand ear buds, they hurt and so I prefer head phones.  I use a Blackberry Bold because I cannot tolerate the touch screen key pad, it makes me…yes…it makes me mad to use it so I don’t.  I will not eat zucchini in anything but zucchini bread.  Just thinking about it makes me have a dry heave.  In fact, I have avoided the squash family altogether until just last year ( I am 47) and now I only eat spaghetti squash on my own terms.  I refuse to shave my husbands back, neck or chest no matter how many times he has asked me in 25 years of marriage.  I think it’s gross and just thinking about it makes me have a dry heave.  I could go on and on.  Because we all have a thing…or three.

But I can identify these things and find my way around them in my world and carry on with no problem except a hairy husband.  (Still gross.)  Most of us do this every day.  That is the difference between being a little Autistic and having Autism.

Last story.  One April day before her 5th birthday, Holland and I were in TJ Maxx in the check out line.  Holland had found some Polly Pockets she wanted and I agreed to buy.  While in line she was pretending with the dolls and talking to herself and all of a sudden she became aware that some people in the line had turned and were looking at her.  She stopped and came close to me and said  “Mom, am I weird?”  I prayed a little prayer and then said “Little bird, everyone is a little weird.”  AND THEN, I kid you not, this kid came up to stand behind us in the check out line.  I glanced around and saw him, who was probably 6 or 7, wearing Woody pajamas and a full cowl Batman mask and his snow boots.  Holland turned and was face to…well…mask with this Lone Dark Knight Ranger and they just looked at each other for probably a full minute, saying nothing.  Holland’s face was serious…for Woody the Batman I can’t say.  Then slowly, Holland turned  back around and reached up to whisper to me.  “Yeah Mom, everyone is a little weird huh?”  I said “See I told you.” and we smiled at each other and went to the check out.

Whoever dares say that God doesn’t answer our prayers…or have a sense of humor…is 100% wrong.  I thanked Him for that little miracle in a mask and snow boots who appeared at just the right moment all the way home.

Every once in a while it really does go your way, if you look at it from the right perspective.

Mom and Holland- 2015

Mom and Holland- 2015


Posted from WordPress for Android

Couldn’t pass it up… edited for content… :/

Don’t stop believin’…

Had to edit..my sis mentioned my pic resembled a part of the female…nether regions…now I can’t have it here.  On to Plan D…or O I guess.  Good Lord.


Junior Prom, 1983 Olympus High School…good times.  LOL.

Previously Published/ 2.2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Don’t You Forget About Me….

Hello Friends!

I am sharing an article I recently wrote for my company’s January news letter.  I am on the Diversity & Inclusion Council and so this is my personal story about how this issue impacts my life.  If you want to, please share your story.  I received so many emails from all across the country after my article was published, and that is just within my company.  Trust me, you are not alone.

Don’t You Forget About Me….

As the holidays come to a close, we put away the decorations that remind us of such a happy time of year, and say goodbye to loved ones, I often get a little sad. Mostly because it is so much work, and I live in Utah where January and February are very cold and snowy and the skies are gray.

This year was even more emotional for my siblings and me. My dad is suffering from severe, degenerative Dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease. It has been just over three years. My mother is the primary caregiver, but in the last year, her physical and emotional health has degenerated from the stress of taking care of my dad. 

It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have some form of Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. And that number increases as the population ages. Alzheimer’s is not a part of the normal aging process, but the risk of developing the illness increases with advanced age.

My dad is 77. In June 2007, he and my mom moved to Barbados to serve on a religious Mormon mission. He had just retired after 46 years working at Hill Air force Base managing the online Military Defense Department. He had also just retired from the Army National Guard as a Full Bird Colonel. My dad was a planner. He had made good investments, their home was paid off, and he had two pensions coming in plus social security. My mother had worked teaching school for over 30 years, and she retired before they went and had her pension and Social Security coming. They were thrilled to be moving to the Caribbean for the next three years. Frankly, so were we!

Our first trip down to the island was for Thanksgiving in 2008, and they were thriving among the very diverse environment on the island of Barbados and loved the people and their way of life. My dad was becoming quite the local photographer, and my mother was speaking a combined form of English and Rastafarian; she still does. “We be comin’ for suppa ‘round say 6pm. Now you all be havin’ a bless-ed Sabbath,” my 72-year-old mother will say in a voicemail. She loves those people with all her heart.

We visited again in April 2009, falling more in love with Barbados with every trip. Their time on the island was coming to an end, and they had mixed feelings about coming home. We decided as a family to take one last trip to the island in April 2010 before they came back to Utah in June 2010. However, when we got there, things were very different. My Dad was very quiet. While he had always been quiet with three daughters yapping away all the time, this was different. He had always driven when we were on the island, but during this trip, he got us hopelessly lost several times. My mom’s left knee was now bone on bone and would have to be replaced when she returned home, so she was walking with a cane. I watched as my dad got out of the car, shut his door, and walked right into the restaurant, church, or wherever we were and let my mom struggle to get out; something did not feel right.

When they returned home at the end of June, it was worse. He could not find the bank or the grocery store or any of our homes. He could not drive anymore. Within the last three years, my dad has rarely recognized friends and neighbors. He knows I am his daughter – but not which one. I have a twin sister, a younger sister, and we all look similar. When I see him, I just say, “Hi, Dad!  It’s DeeAnn!”

I’m the only sibling who still wears glasses, and I keep wearing them because every once in a while, my dad will recognize me by my name because of them. In fact, this past Christmas Day my Dad said, “Merry Christmas, DeeAnn! When did you start wearing glasses?” I just said, “Merry Christmas, dad. I love you!” and took a moment to compose myself. I often get emotional after receiving a very special gift. I hold it close to my heart as a memory because I really do not know if I will ever get another one.

Alzheimer’s is cruel. Most of us, just like my dad, work all our lives for our families. My dad worked for 45 years. He took the van pool to Hill AFB every morning at 5 a.m. for work, was gone one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, and did four years of active duty for the military so he and my mom could travel and enjoy their home, family, and grandchildren debt-free after retiring.

My dad took us to summer camp with him to California each year, and we spent two weeks on the beach and went to Disneyland and Sea World. We were with the other army moms and our summer “army brat” friends. We stayed in family housing and went to the chow line to eat and loved every minute of it. All you take with you are your memories – unless you have Alzheimer’s.

I took a trip to New York last year and went to Ground Zero. I brought my dad a book about the tragedy and the memorial reconstruction. He must have asked me 10 times as we looked through the book, “Who did this?” “Why did they do this?” and “Where did this happen?” He remembers nothing about 9/11. Remember, he’s a retired Full Bird Colonel from the Army.

Now, my dad rarely speaks and barely leaves his home. Crowds make him feel anxious, chaotic, and afraid. He is frail and thin and does not remember what it is like to feel hungry or thirsty. He does not remember what regular items (toothbrush, razor, soap, or shampoo) are for. He also needs a home health care nurse, which my mother takes to mean that she’s somehow a ‘failure’ as a caretaker. That is the rock and the hard place my sisters, brother, and I are facing right now.

I know I am not alone. I am certain there are many team members going through similar life experiences. If so, reach out. Hey, you play the cards you are dealt, but that does not mean I could not use a tip or two.

Finally, keeping a sense of humor is crucial. My dad wears a patch for his memory. When I take care of him, he always asks why he needs that patch. I tell him that it’s to keep him from smoking. He says, “I’ve never smoked in day in my life!” and I say, “Good thing you wear the patch!” He laughs, every single time.  I Love You Dad   Facebook-20150208-015845  Strong Family in Barbados. Nov. 2008


Alzheimer’s / Dementia Foundation of America                                       http://www.alzfdn.org/AFAServices/careconnection.html



I was part of a Team before I was even born…

i am an extraordinary Team Builder.  That’s right, I am tooting my own horn on this one. Toot, toot. I have studied effective communications and influential leadership for many years and learned by observation and by my own experience as a leader for more than 20 years what works and what does not, sometimes the hard way.  I also believe that I was raised in a culture that prioritized and recognized more ‘team efforts and accomplishments’ than individual achievements.  A very family oriented culture. I also saw that same culture change a little bit with my younger siblings.  Finally I believe that my ability to relate well to people and bring a group together is enhanced by some inherent talents that I was born with, because when I was smaller than a dot, I was already sharing a room.  You see I was a part of a Team before I was even born…

I have a twin sister and she is fabulous.  So let me answer the usual questions right out of the chute.  She is the oldest, by one minute on the birth certificates.  But I am told we were born one right after the other, and they have to put different times on the record.  We don’t have matchy names, I am Pop and she is Geeg.  That is what we called one another as babies.  They were interchangeable and our given names are no closer to matching than they are and no, we do not use Pop and Geeg as nick names today.  Although I hear those sounds more and more the older I get…Yes! I liked being a twin, but I didn’t know the difference.  No, we are told we are not identical but we look very much alike, we sound very much alike and we have the same laugh and we find the same things incredibly funny. I have included a picture so you be the judge.   We have switched places a time or two in school, but we have pursued different interests and careers and frankly, we fought like alley cats until one of us finally got married and moved out.  We shared a bedroom, with rare exception, from womb to the day I turned 22.  The year I got married and began my 27 year career.  I will be 49 in May, 2015.

I have always had my sister. Or my family, or my husband, or my kids, my friends or my Team or my God. My background is in getting along and being a peace maker and saying I’m sorry. We don’t hold a grudge, we talk things over and have family counsels and act like civilized human beings…or at least come in the house to argue for heaven’s sake.  I do have a younger sister and brother and when my parents were away and my sister and I were ‘in charge’ at 11 or 12, it was a free for all like any other house on our street in 1977 with 3 TV Channels and …well…books.  Pop once snapped me right in the forehead with a dish towel, except she had tied a walnut in the end of it. The walnut hit me in the head and exploded into a million nutty pieces and I went down like a bag of bones.  All I remember was waking up to Pop slapping me in the face. She had recognized an opportunity she would not soon get again and wasn’t about to waste it.  That and a knob in the middle of my forehead the size of a…walnut, turning all shades of black, blue, purple and green for about 6 days. The point is it takes a lot to learn the patience and skills to build a team and I was lucky enough to get a running start.

As independent and successful as I like to think I am, frankly I have to admit I have very rarely felt alone.  My Mother tells stories of my sister and me complaining to her that we did not want to walk to school alone.  The two of us, standing there, complaining that WE were alone.  My poor Mom, it’s a wonder she is not drooling in her froot loops by now.  I have had a little time in the past few weeks to think.  I realize that as independent as I consider myself to be, quite frankly I have only felt truly alone, bereft and abandoned with no one to help me just twice in my life.  This is a horrible feeling.  The first time was nearly 16 years ago and the next time was one month ago almost to the day.

April 28, 1999, about 10:15pm I finally lay back against the cool sheets of the hospital bed.  It is the day my second child is born.  My girl, Holland, just over 12 hours old now.  It is quiet now that every one has gone home.  I can still hear the crib moving down the hall and the nurses fussing over her and her beautiful head full of silky dark hair and big blue eyes, ocean eyes.  She is warm and sleepy with a full tummy and she is rooming out.  I am exhausted after a very busy day beginning with a scheduled C-Section and Hollands arrival followed by the comings and goings of so many loved ones wishing us well and calling to check-in.  It is a happy day and a long day.  I think about the 200 pictures taken and cringe. I may as well have had caution tape slapped across my forehead for how terrible I look on the day I deliver a child

My legs are beginning to tingle as the epidural is wearing off and Sheri the night nurse comes in to check my pain level.  1 to 10 she asks?  Three, I say, the tingling is turning to pins and needles and she turns up the drip. She says good night and that is that.  I begin to relax.  Now I admit 100%, I am not a good sleeper.  I have insomnia and anxiety.  The wheels in my head keep turning away, it has to be very dark and quiet for me to even fall asleep and stay asleep for any length of time.  I can see you reading your Kindle two houses away and I can hear you breathing too loud in the basement…I am just saying. But I realize my legs feel very cold and the pins and needles are in my abdomen and back now and…I am uncomfortable here.  I look at the clock and it has been only 30 minutes,  I call myself a big fat baby right out loud.and try to relax and sleep.   But very soon the cold is searing and burning.  It felt like I had been there for hours with big tears rolling down my face.  Finally I looked at the clock, 25 minutes had passed.  I push the call button.  Sheri my night nurse comes down and I tell her I am at a 9 and I am sorry but I am old now and I am a pansy ass and need more pain drugs.  She laughed and said no problem.  She took a look and told me I was on a pretty high drip (probably set at the “big as a barn” setting)  but she had set it at the maximum  (that would be the “down goes the elephant” setting} and I should feel better in a few minutes and sleep through the night.

So I waited for the relief to come…and I waited…and nothing.  I take that back, searing pain where my abdomen had been cut open so they could cut open my UTERUS and pull out a HUMAN BEING (Holland) that had been growing in there!  At this point, every nerve ending in my body is singing the Battle Hymn in high shrilly voices in my head with pain.  And then…I begin to sweat…profusely. I look at the clock, it has been just 20 minutes. OMG. I push the call button.  Sheri is back and all I say is 12.  Now she is worried.  She says they are paging the anesthesiologist and gives me two Tylenol and rushes out of the room. They may as well have been Skittles for all the good they did me.  In minutes she is back with a big syringe.  She said she had spoken with the doctor and she had authorized one big shot of morphine until it was time to change the bag.  I watched as she shot the medicine into the joint in the tube where the opening was.  I thanked her, and with tears rolling down my face and my hair matted to my head and neck with sweat, I asked if I could please have a diet coke.  She said of course and went to get it.

And still…no relief.  I am trying to pray,  I am sweating and sweating and now I can smell hot dogs…and I begin to dry heave. I look at the clock…it has been 15 minutes. I realize I am on the verge of some kind of panic attack and begin to slow my breathing.  It is as though I have had a surgery with no anesthesia or pain medication.  I am sitting in a puddle of my own sweat trying to sing myself to sleep and I began to feel afraid. It was the very first time I ever, and I mean ever in my life, that I felt that I had no one. That I was completely alone.  I had no one to call, no place to go, no help in sight and honestly, I had never felt that way before.  No comfort is coming and my mind is racing.  I actually am wondering why I haven’t passed out and wishing I would…I wildly scold myself for drinking the damn diet coke.  And then…the ugly cry.  I am honestly waiting for the reel of my life to run before my eyes already so I can just get on with it.  It is the darkest and craziest I have ever felt.  I won’t feel it again for nearly 16 years.

So I will flash forward and continue with my next post.  But I will make a long story short here and tell you that I waited for any kind of relief for 2 hours until I was out of my mind with pain.  All I could think of was that this is what it must feel like to be stabbed. Then in my delirious state I started thinking about the street fights in West Side Story…and by the time the anesthesiologist arrived I am told I was shakily singing a weird version of “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet” to myself.  The first thing the doctor did was check all the joints in the IV tube.  Smart cookie that one.  Turns out one of them had become loose.  The puddle of hot dog sweat I thought I was sitting in was actually the contents of the IV bags that had been running through the tube and spilling out where the joint was loose and draining into the bed sheets and mattress.  Imagine that. Poor Sheri.  Dr. Drugs was madder than a wet hen and I do remember that she let the expletives fly!  The keystone cop-nurses came in to change the bed linens out.  Unfortunately before Dr. Drug could get my line restored and my pain relieved, so when she came back in they were trying to scrape me off the ceiling after standing me up to clean the bed. This time I actually watched the Doctor come completely a part at them.  But then, I was in a clean bed and all of a sudden it was as if a big warm blanket fell gently over me all at once and the pain was gone and the shrilly choir in my head faded away and I finally slept.  I’ll tell you what though, those nurses kept me high as a kite for the next 36 hours bless their hearts.

To be continued….  Aloha, Dee

Cancun 6-11

My sister is on the left and I am on the right. 🙂

Fresh Start! New Me? Nope. Just on 2 Plan Dee!

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my brand new blog!  For those of you that have followed me on Plan B, thank you for making this move with me to On2PlanDee!  Nothing goes quite how we expected it will, does it?  ,,,and yet we are consistently surprised!  Human Nature I guess.  Bless it.  For those of you that are just clicking in, you can review Plan B and my previous posts by clicking on the ‘Plan B’ tab on the menu bar above or the link I have provided here:


So many things have changed for me in such a short amount of time I frankly have not surfaced yet.  Life as I know it has been turned up side down and side ways and the ride is not over yet!  So time to just turn the page and start ‘anew’ if you will.

I hope to become a much more active blogger!  But I will need your help!  I need you to follow and participate!  Make some comments…and please share, share, share!  The more the merrier right!

So here it is.  Why I write, besides the high levels of anxiety I feel if I don’t and my wish to limit the time I spend in the “prozac nation’, so to speak.  I think that too many people worry about too many things, especially what others might think of them if they knew about those things, that really aren’t that serious.

Life is full of things that happen to all of us.  Some are really good things and some are very tragic things and hopefully those tragic things are very few and far between. But most things that happen are somewhere in between.  See I don’t think anyone should feel too mad, sad, bad, frustrated, embarrassed, ashamed or most especially alone about those ‘in-between’ things that just happen in life.   But we need each other’s help to do that.  I have 3 favorite feelings…I know, for people who know me that sounds very girly, which would be out of character for me, but you would also know that my ‘soft skills’ tend to be my strengths as well.  They are, and strictly in this order by the way:

#1 – Laughing Out Loud – preferably with crying and snorting.

#2 – Tears of Happiness – not the same as LOL.  You will know it when you feel it.

#3 – Laughing through Tears – “I can’t know what you are feeling right now Malin, but your hair is holding up beautifully.”

So we have a choice when things happen to us.  I call it laugh or cry.  What I write about is stuff that most everyone can relate to…I just say what everyone is already thinking…possibly more directly than most.  But I call it as I see it and most of the time I find life incredibly, wonderfully, and painfully funny.  If you can see it from the right angle…

Aloha!  Dee