Monday, December 23, 2013

At times, it is your turn to be the recipents of the generosity of others...

Forty-Six years ago today, my family lost almost all their material items, but we were all okay and that is all that mattered. Everything else was replaceable. Following is an excerpt from Traces of a Hero that tells this story:
My parents always taught us the value of paying things forward, but there were moments in which they had to be the recipients of the generosity of others. One of my first memories as a young child was traumatic. Just a few days before Christmas, when I was three-and-half-years old and Tracy was one-and-a-half-years old, my dad was painting in the basement. He had a can of paint thinner close by and accidentally knocked it over. It caught the pilot light on the water heater and exploded.
Mom and Trace had been out Christmas shopping, but I was upstairs in the living room playing with my dolls when the explosion occurred. Dad ran upstairs yelling my name, but by this time I had hidden behind a chair. The noise from the explosion coupled with my dad’s yelling scared me. Nevertheless, he found me hiding behind the chair, scooped me up, and ran out the door.
My dad volunteered at a fire house just a block away, and he ran straight there with me in his arms. He threw open the garage door to the fire truck bay and set me up in the truck’s seat.
He then began to yell, "My house is on fire!”
The others thought he was kidding at first because he was a big joker, but when the garage door came down, he yelled, "If you don't open that door, I am going right through it! My house is on fire!” By this time, they knew he was serious.
We pulled up to our burning house and flames were engulfing it. Our neighbor took me and held me as we watched my dad and the fireman fight the fire.
When all was said and done, the shell of the house was left, but we lost everything from our baby pictures, Mom’s wedding gown, and all our personal items. We had to move into a rental home for many months while our house was rebuilt.
Only one week after fire destroyed much of our home, my mom had to have major surgery. I witnessed from my earliest memories, my parents struggling with some really tough stuff from which they had to pull from their inner strength and faith to deal with. They taught us great lessons - that when your strength is tested, you give it your all. My Mom would say, "What don't kill you makes you stronger.”
Well, my parents should be able to bench press a house by now with all the strength they’ve been building! As important as it is to help others, sometimes it’s just as important to allow the help of others.
All the best, always!

When I shared with my cousin David about the 1967 fire last year, he put out a call to our family to find any pictures they could of my family before the fire. My cousin Diane found this photo - it was taken just 2 days after the fire on Christmas day with our cousins. I am in the stripped shirt and my dad is holding Tracy in front of the Christmas tree. I am very thankful to my cousins for taking their time to find this photo, something that is now so precious to me.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Does Music Speak to You?

Letting the Music Speak to you!

Music has been a big part of my life ever since I can remember. I cannot imagine my life without music. I work with music coming out of my computer - unless I really have to think harder than normal, then I may have to mute it until I get through my task at hand.

I also like to sing, but I am not very good at it. I have a saying that those around me just ignore because they hear it so much. When I hear a song, I will say, "Oh, this is such a great song!" and then I sing it. Even though I am not a good singer, I have been known to belt it out.
There are so many genres of music, which is awesome because we have many choices for our moods. I have found that music has been healing for me. I turn to music a lot because it changes my mood within seconds of hearing a great song.
Years ago a friend of mine told me that she did not like music because she did not like the pain it evokes when she would hear certain songs. Always being a lover of music, I was shocked when she told me this. I remember telling her that there are so many great songs that also remind you of good times, so why not look at it that way. My friend went on to love music and just made a point to change the channel or remove herself if she did not like the song she was hearing.
Brian and I like a restaurant on the river that we visit during the summer months. They have a jukebox that you can pay to play songs. We have walked in many times when no music is playing. On those occasions, the place seems so boring! But the moment you put music on the jukebox, you immediately see people’s moods change. Brian and I look at this intentionally when we are there. We know the owner and have shared with him that he needs to have music playing all the time. He says that he makes money off the juke box, and as Brian pointed out, when others are enjoying themselves, they will stay longer and that could possibly mean more sales for his restaurant.
I believe that music speaks to the soul. It helps to wake it up when needed or it just reminds us that life is meant to be enjoyed!
All the best, always!

The picture is of Tracy breaking into a dance in the middle of the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. I grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures in between my belly laughs. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Can over used words lose their meaning or keep it?

Sometimes words can get over used, but I hope in many cases that the meaning of the word (or words) is never undervalued, like the phrase pay it forward. There is a great movie with this title that started a movement and it continues today.
To me, Pay It Forward means giving back to someone else because of something that someone did for you. Now paying it forward doesn’t have to always be the result of someone giving something to you. You can pay it forward any time you want, just because you want to help someone. A Pay It Forward does not have to be something big or include money. A kind gesture will also do.
I can be known as a Pollyanna at times. I want everyone to have the best life that they can envision for themselves – to have all their great dreams come to life. I know that I am not alone, though. Many people want the best for everyone. As I sign off on each of my blog posts, All the best – Always, I am not just saying this. I really want the best for everyone. Can you just imagine what kind of a place this world would be if that were the case?
We don't want the phrase pay it forward to be meaningless words. Let them become something in your life - a way of looking at life as one constant pay it forward. I believe we all have something that we can pay forward in our lives. 

All the best, always!

The photo is of Tracy and her SuperFriends in 2010. They are a big reason why Tracy always wanted to Pay It Forward. They were there for Tracy throughout her journey with her brain cancer. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thoughts on Christmas Movies...

Do you watch Christmas movies 

this time of the year?

I will be the first to admit that I am a sucker for a Christmas movie, but it has to be on the "not-too-cheesy side." Brian and I have a rule. We will tape the movies on Hallmark or Lifetime and we give ourselves 20 minutes to watch. Then we decide if it is a keeper to watch or on the too cheesy scale. We usually agree on which ones should stay or go.

But why is it we watch these movies?Is it because of the spirit of Christmas? For me, this is a big part of it. I love a feel-good story. They always have positive endings, and they make you feel the true spirit of Christmas. On a side note, they really need to come up with some new story lines because they are too often repeated. Brian and I were even brainstorming about some new story lines just for the fun of it.    Is it the Christmas decorations that we like to see in the movies? I love Christmas decorations. I grew up with a lot of them, and we continue that tradition at our house so we are not in short supply them. I do like the old fashion scenes in movies that remind me of my childhood.

Or maybe it’s just because it is that time of the year? This is one that is definitely true for me. I don't like to watch a Christmas movie unless it is Christmastime. Some people like to watch them in July when they have Christmas in July on some TV stations, but not me.I am sure there are other reasons why you watch Christmas movies. Please feel free to share your take on why you watch them.

All the best, always!



Keeping Humor and Fun in your Life...

Life cannot always be fun, but keeping your sense of humor can help you through some tough times. Tracy and I would say that this life is not always easy, but without some comedy and sense of humor, boy would this life be even harder.
Tracy loved to have fun and enjoy life and she did that. I remember one time, she went out to eat with her son Austin and then they went back to her condo and played a game. She told him that she had so much fun. He later recounted that story to me and said, "We didn't really do anything special, but she said she had so much fun!" That amazed him. It was a just a night out for no special reason but she knew how to make fun out of the little and big things.
This is one of the biggest things I miss the most about Tracy not being with me in the physical world. We would just be silly and laugh and have fun. Don't get me wrong, I still have a lot of fun in my life. If I did not, Tracy would not be happy. I have to honor her by keeping our fun alive!

Tracy had one doctor who said to us, "Please be the last appointment of the day because I like to sit and just talk to you all." We would tell stories, laugh, talk about things Tracy was experiencing with a funny twist that would catch them off guard, but it was all in how we dealt with things.
When I wrote the letter to my younger self, the last thing that I said was "Most importantly, laugh out loud a lot.” Laughter is the best medicine and it helps make those not-so-easy times a little easier and it makes those easier times a lot more fun!
All the best, always!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Way to Cope...

No fear for our future; no regrets for the past

This ran through my head on 1/12/12 as I lay awake unable to sleep - again. I felt in my bones that it meant something, so I grabbed my notepad and pen and wrote it down in the dark as I have done in the past with different things. But this was different. This was similar to the time when the thought of Help Your Hero came to me. I knew it meant something more.
When I woke in the morning and read my note, I was amazed that I could read it because I often have a hard time reading my notes made in the dark, and sometimes even the ones I’ve written to myself in the light. This one, however, stood out like a beacon. This note is about the two things that people do the most - fear the future and have regrets for the past. I was one of those people as well.
This quote has become a mantra for me. I knew it was from God and I knew that I should heed the wisdom in it, although sometimes I find it hard to do within my daily life. But if or when I forget and send up a prayer for guidance, this quote comes back to me again and again, and it has helped me through some tough moments.
1/12/12 was just a few weeks before Tracy's health worsened and we entered into what I call the last 3 months - which are the last three months of her life on earth. I knew that it meant that there were some things coming that were going to test me, but I didn’t want to over think it. I could not fear for the future. I knew that I could be presented with situations that I could regret, but I was being told not to.

I see now with hindsight that this was another tool handed to me to enable me to deal with situations presented before me, and I am very thankful that they were given to me to help me cope.
We all have our ways of coping and skills that were given to us throughout our lives. This was one of mine, and I hope it helps others cope. Now I ask you to share some of yours. Please share anything that helps you to cope through your tough moments in life. It may just help someone else.
All the best, always!

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Advice We'd Give Our 25 year-old sleves

I happened across an article on Oprah's website about the advice that we'd give our 25-year-old selves, and I thought, "Yeah, I have to write out my advice to myself." I knew it would be thought-provoking. It was and still is. I would love to hear from you and see your letters to your younger selves. It makes you think
(The picture is my favorite hubby and me in Hawaii at age 25. Look at all the hair we had!)

All the best, always!

Hello to my younger 25-year-old self,

Let go of the idea that you need to please everyone…

because as hard as you have tried, you can't!

Don't let what others think of you be your beacon in life.

Care just enough about what people think that you will always do what is best for you and for your loved ones.

Know that there will be some tough times in life,

but don't anticipate them and don't overthink them. Know that "this too shall pass" and you are a heck of a lot stronger than you thought you were. Know that a Don't Stop Believin' attitude will help you more than you everthought it would, even when it is really tough.

Don't let anyone be a dream stealer.

When you envision it, hold that vision in the best feeling place possible within you, and when you get to a place of worry or fear, just send up a prayer for God to take care of it.

Give up trying to control anything outside of yourself.

You now say at 25 years young to "Let go and let God", but you will learn to say, "Let go and TRUST God."

You are surrounded by great people.

Don't take them for granted. Do more to show what they mean to you every chance you get.

Your life is a blessed life.

Don't ever doubt that! Have lots of fun, don't do things in normal ways. Most importantly, laugh out loud a lot.

From your 49-year-young self,
Don't Stop Believin'!
Love, Me

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Dream Realized

We all have a dream, some big, some not so big and many in between. Like you, I also have many dreams. I have a big green sheet of paper on which I have written my dream list, and it sits on my night stand. I recite my list of dreams every morning before I get out of bed. It is a way to help me connect with myself, to get in a mode of appreciation and remember my direction before my feet hit the ground and the day is off and running.

A dream of making a difference in the world has been something deep within me that I knew I had to pursue. So exactly how does one go about that? There are books that you can read and success stories that you hear, but I had to ask just what my "it” was. I had to find what would satisfy this feeling in my bones - to find my way of making a difference. It took many years, tears, fears, faith and a Don’t Stop Believin’ attitude to discover it. Something unique, something inspired, something that will make a difference in this world, somehow.

Yes, now it is easy to tell you what my "It” is, my dream realized, my true story. Yea, you guessed it. This is it…Help Your Hero! Now we hold our breath and let the world see what we have been working on - a way for others to find inspiration and also offer inspiration to those that need it.

Though Tracy is not physically here on earth with me, her journey was complete. She left me to complete our mission to pay-it-forward.* I know in my heart that she has been inspiring and helping me from the other side with Help Your Hero and that she is beyond proud. I am sure she is cheering us on with her big smile and fun spirit!

What does the future hold for our dream? Well, that is where our team is always fore thinking. What you see is just the beginning at, and there will be lots more to come. One day, Help Your Hero will be open to everyone (no age limit) that has a medical condition around the world who wants to take on their personal Superhero persona in our Hero-Verse. We will offer interactive games that are inspiring, empowering and healing. And in what we call HYH Unlimited, our hope is that we will help people through their journey with their medical condition in positive and empowering ways. Do I know how all of this is going to happen? Heck no, but what I have learned is that by keeping this vision tight to my heart, we will find a way, not always the way you thought, but a way will be shown, we just need to keep our eyes and ears open to anything when pursuing our dreams.

All the best – Always!

*Because many of you may have read Our Story at, I will not repeat it, but if you haven’t read it, be sure to check it out to see why my sister Tracy and I are on this quest, to pay it forward!