“Hi my name is……” Let’s talk about addiction

I knew when I first started conceptualizing this blog I would talk a lot about addiction on here. The world of addiction has been a huge part of my life and my story, taught me many valuable life lessons, and has played a critical role in how I view the world and other people. And this is MY story with addiction. My opinions. My experiences.

I realize addiction comes in many shapes and sizes. And the experiences are varied. My experiences, heartaches, triumphs, and lessons learned were largely shaped through the world of addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Addiction seems to be accompanied by a lot of shame. Brene Brown has done large amounts of research about shame and says the difference between guilt and shame: Guilt is “I have done something bad”. Shame is “I AM bad” Shame is a focus on Self. “I AM a mistake”. Guilt is a focus on behavior. “I made a mistake” She says if you were to put shame in a petri dish, there are 3 things that will make it grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment.

I don’t like the shame. I think it’s a huge reason why so many addicts never recover. Or why they become addicts in the first place. And according to Brene, the antidote to shame is to douse it with empathy. Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. We can’t fight shame unless we talk about the things that are causing the shame.

Addiction runs in my family. On both sides. My brother is an alcoholic/addict. He tried alcohol for the first time at a very young age at a neighbors house. He was caught with marijuana at school for the first time in the 8th grade. He slowly spiraled out of control with drugs and alcohol throughout high school until he eventually became a non-functioning alcoholic/addict (unable to keep a job, have a place to live, provide basic means for himself, etc.) . His drug of choice is alcohol, but he has also abused nearly every drug you can imagine, some of which I’m sure I don’t know about (and don’t want to know about).

He has been through countless rehabilitation programs (I honestly lost track). I’ve thought about taking him to Pacific Ridge in Salem, Oregon but I gave up trying with him. Some more effective than others but none able to keep him sober for any significant amount of time. He has been in and out of jail over 50 times (mostly for public intoxication charges). This does not count the nights he was put in the “drunk tank”. His longest stay in jail was about a year. I was grateful he was in jail (oh the irony of that). Because I knew he was “safe” and he was alive. Very telling that I felt he was more safe in jail than he was out of jail. Even the time he was locked up in jail with significant and debilitating injuries after being beaten badly on the streets (he claims by cops). I still felt he was safer in jail. My sister and I showed up at court one day and literally begged the judge to put him in jail. My brother was, understandably, pissed. The judge complied.

He has been transported by ambulance to nearly every Emergency Room in the Salt Lake Valley, has been in the ICU at least 4 times I know of, and has spent several weeks (on more than one occasion) in the psychiatric ward. His medical history is pages and pages (and pages) long. He was also homeless for a period of time, spending time at the VOA (Volunteers of America) detox center–God bless those people, as well as the Road Home, a shelter for homeless people. Or just passed out on the streets in whatever city he happened to be in.

In June of 2011, my brother was drunk walking/staggering in the dark, tried to cross a busy road (at least that’s what we presume), and was hit by a car going approximately 40 miles an hour. He was life-flighted to the hospital. Two police officers showed up at my parents house late that evening and told them Burk had been involved in an auto-pedestrian accident. “He has head trauma and has been life flighted to the hospital”. That was all they could tell them.

(the helicopter that brought him to the hospital)

My sister called me with the news. She was on her way to the hospital. I told her to call me when she got there to tell me how bad it was. This may sound shocking to some people. You’d think that when a family member has been life-flighted to a hospital in critical condition with head trauma and multiple broken bones, everyone would jump in their cars and be on their way. But this wasn’t the first (or second) time he had been life-flighted. Nor was it the first (or third or fourth) time he had been transported to ICU. So I was waiting to see how “bad” it really was. He has literally cheated death dozens and dozens of times.

That’s what addiction does. It slowly desensitizes the people around you. So injuries or events that once seemed traumatic start to become “routine”.

My sister called me an hour later and said “It’s bad. You should probably get down here“. At that moment, I didn’t know whether to pray for him to live or pray for him to die. Yet another horror of addiction. If the addict you love is “bad” enough, sometimes you want them to die–for all the pain to end. For their sake. For your sake. I’m not proud of those feelings nor am I ashamed. Just being honest. When it feels like there is no hope for recovery, and your addict apparently has no “rock bottom”, death feels like the merciful solution for everyone.

(took this right before he was rushed into emergency surgery for a shattered leg)

He lived (after a 3 week stay in ICU and 1 week stay on a regular floor with a 24 hour “guard”–for his safety and the safety of the medical staff). His months and months of recovery after the accident was nothing short of hell. For him AND for all of us who helped him live.

I’ve felt nearly every emotion possible for my brother through his decades of addiction. Anger, frustration, disgust, pity, as well as love, empathy, and compassion and every emotion in between. Oh the anger. For the hell he put my parents through. For the hell he put our family through. For the hell he put himself through. Oh the compassion. For the worthlessness he felt, his lack of control, and the torment and utter misery he went through.

I’ve stopped to pick him up off the side of the road, face-down in the dirt, waving people off who were trying to call 911 (or the police). I’ve also turned him away when he showed up at my door in nothing but a hospital gown and his ICU bracelets. I didn’t even know he had been in the ICU. And he had nowhere else to go. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Depends on the day. The hour. The moment. The situation. My tolerance level. The other people (or kids) I need to “protect”. There never seems to be a right answer or an easy road. And ultimately, all I could control was how I let it affect me. I couldn’t “fix” him. I couldn’t make him stop. He was/is broken. But I guess we all are in some way or another.

But I can say I have never been embarrassed of him. I have always proudly claimed him as my brother even during his worst moments. And I have always believed in his ability to DO more, to BE more. I have told him this countless times throughout the years. And I meant it with every fiber of my being.

I think I can attribute this to two things. First, knowing my parents love him (and all their kids) NO MATTER what we did/do. That doesn’t mean they approved of some of his life choices, but I have never doubted their love for him (or me). And second, I know every person has worth no matter their actions. I believe in second chances (and third and fourth and fifth chances too).

Something my brother often said when we begged and pleaded for him to stop using: “You have no idea what it’s like to be an addict.” My response was always “And you have no idea what it’s like to be the person who loves the addict.

I hope to use this space as a safe place to talk and educate others about addiction. A safe place for the addicts. And a safe place for the people who love the addict. I plan to share more stories and experiences I have personally had with addiction and my brother. I have also asked several other people to help me as well. Stories from people who love addicts.

And if nothing else, I hope we can build a community of people who can support each other and help each other through the often unbearable world of addiction and life in general.

To read more articles about addiction, click the “real stories” tab in the menu at the top of the screen and scroll down to the “Addiction” section. You can also sign up for periodic newsletters to stay connected to the blog by entering your name and e-mail in the sidebar.


If YOU or someone you love suffers from addiction, first of all, do NOT watch the show intervention. More importantly, I get it. I do. You are NOT alone. Hang in there. Please hang in there. And find help. Addicts do NOT get better on their own. For any hope of recovery, they need to have effective treatment from somewhere like a rehabilitation center in california. The people who love them don’t either.

{Disclaimer: My intent is not to exploit addicts or the people who love them. My intent is to hopefully help dispel some of the shame associated with addiction. To empathize with those who love the addict. And to help addicts understand their worth and inherent right to be loved. My brother is aware I am writing about him and has given me his express verbal permission to do so. I am also fiercely protective of my brother, so if you have something unkind to say about him specifically, please keep it to yourself. He’s his own worst critic. Trust me.}

“Real Life Stories–Women of Inspiration” My cousin, Lanie.

Lanie is my cousin.  So we’ve known each other since we were babies.  Growing up she didn’t live close to my family, but each summer she’d come spend a week or so at our house and I always looked forward to it.

Lanie is one of those people who are just good to their very core.  Very relaxed, down-to-earth, always up for adventure, and an amazing mom.  She’s also friendly, easy to talk to, and easy to be around.

And she’s one of those people who can have her hair in any style or color imaginable and still look amazing.  Score for her.

Real Life Stories

1.  Give me a quick peek at your story.
Well, my name is Lanie Wilkinson.  I am a 35 year old mom of 3 and wife of 13 years.  I always like to define myself as that first because those are the 2 accomplishments I am most proud of in my life.  I’ve moved around a lot in my life but most recently lived in San Francisco, Portland, and have recently moved to Utah.  I studied Special Education at Utah State University.  I love to read, cook, hike and camp with my family.  I love to experience new things and new places and I get restless if things stay the same for too long!

2.  Tell me about an “every day moment” you are grateful for.
My youngest is a 5 year old boy.  His sisters are both in school so it is just the two of us at home during the day.  Every day without fail, he crawls on my lap, puts his chubby hands on my cheeks and says, “I love you mama!”  It’s such a small thing but it melts my heart every single time and is such a gift to me!

3.  What is one ambition you have right now
I have always wanted to use my education in working with children with disabilities to help those in other countries where there are not services for those with disabilities.  My husband and I spent some time in Ethiopia a few years back and it was so heartbreaking to see that the people that had disabilities there had no way of working, no homes to take care of them, no school accommodations.  I would love to work to help develop programs to serve those people.

4.  If you could speak on anything to a large group of women, what would you talk about?
Ah this is a hard one!  To be honest, I don’t feel qualified to talk to a large group of women.  I get easily intimidated by all of the amazing people around me.  But I guess I would talk about the need we have as women and moms to be an influence for good in our children’s lives.  I think about this a lot.  As I have gotten older and have my own family, I see women that set amazing examples for their kids or other children in their lives.  I think we need more of that in our world.  We need to be examples of strong women who stand up for what we think is right.  That is what I want my kids to take away from me as their mom.

5.  What does the phrase “create a good life story” mean to you?
I love this phrase!  When I hear that I think of “creating experiences”.  Making memories with the people you love most sounds like a “good life story” to me.

6.  Tell me something someone taught you that made an impact on your life
I feel like I have been blessed to have a lot of amazing people in my life that are constantly teaching me things.  But I would say one of the most important lessons I have learned has been from my mother-in-law.  She has taught me to laugh about almost everything.  She has gone through a lot of hard things in her life but she has learned to put on a smile and find humor in almost everything.  I am trying to be more like that.

7.  Name one event in your life that has made a significant impact on the course of your life story
My decision to stay home with my children.  I know it isn’t for everyone and not everyone who wants to is able to.  But when we moved to San Francisco so my husband could go to medical school, I had an amazing job offer to work at an autism school in Oakland.  I knew the money would help with medical school but I had one daughter already and another on the way.  I knew they needed a parent to be available to them, especially with how busy Justin would be in med school.  I really feel like the decision to turn down that job and stay home with my kids has had more impact on my life story than almost any other decision I have made.

8.  What is something you want to accomplish you haven’t yet?
Lots of things!  Bike the Oregon coast with my family.

9.  What photographs are you most grateful for from your childhood or teen years?
I love the photos withy my grandparents and family

10.  What are you most proud of?
My kids for sure.  They are better than I could have imagined!

11.  What is the best parenting advice/tip someone gave you?
Someone told us one that before they had kids they had a million theories on parenting and since they’ve had kids, they have none.  I thought it was funny at the time but now I realize it’s true and you have to always be changing your tactics!

12.  Tell me something you are sure of
I am so sure of my faith

13.  What is your favorite quote or your life motto?
I always tell my kids to “Have a Sunshine Day”.

14.  What is your favorite part about yourself (not a physical trait)?
This is always a hard question to answer but I would say my ability to talk to people.

15.  What type of photographs do you wish you had more of?
Definitely more of us as a family.  I am always behind the camera and rarely get pictures of all of us.

16.  What is something you do to help drive away fear or anxiety?
Exercise and clean–they both make me feel more in control!

17.  What is your favorite part about being a mom?  Your least favorite part (just keepin it real on this question–I know you love your kids)?
Favorite part–seeing my kids grow into the people they are, watching the choices they make and how they learn.  Least favorite part–cleaning up after everyone, constantly!

18.  Tell me something about yourself that may surprise people
I really hate waking up in the morning.  I am NOT a morning person at all!

19.  What’s one thing you wish you would have known when you were younger?
How important it is to be nice to everyone!  I don’t think I was mean to people but I wish I would have always remembered to include others and go out of my way to be kind to them.  Now that I have kids in school I am constantly harping on them about that.

And for fun:

Favorite book:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Favorite family tradition:  Seafood on Christmas Eve

Something you enjoy doing with your spouse:  going out to eat at new restaurants

Talent you wish you had:  singing

Favorite meal:  Indian Food

If you never had to do one specific thing again, what would it be:  clean the shower!

Favorite show on TV:  Parenthood

Something that scares you:  tidal waves

Favorite thing about your husband:  his ability to leave work at work and be present with us at home

Something you can’t live without:  Ghirardelli dark chocolate and caramel

What’s something you think about often:  beach vacations

Thanks for doing this Lanie!!  Glad I get to claim you as family.

If you want to read more “Real Life Stories–Women of Inspiration” interviews, click HERE.

“Real Life Stories–Women of Inspiration. Jacqui”

I used to live in the same neighborhood as Jacqui for a few years.  She’s not only stunningly beautiful, she’s crazy smart and creative.  She’s a writer and I had the privilege of reading her first completed Young Adult novel which I can’t WAIT to see in print one day.  

She’s fiercely dedicated to her kids and you can tell she always puts them first.  She’s also recently taken up running which just makes me happy.

Real Life Stories

1.  Give me a quick peek at your story.
I grew up in the pine-covered mountains of Flagstaff, AZ, the oldest sibling of six opinionated, semi-crazies.  A lot was expected of me as the oldest, and I’d escape from responsibilities by entering my own imaginary fantasy worlds.  I loved escaping into a book and got into lots of trouble because I was easily distracted.  I sang in the HS choir, ran track on year and worked for my dad from age 13 on. My parents taught me to work hard.  I studied abroad the first semester of my freshman year, traveling from Russia to Western Europe.  Traveling gave me a worldview and an appreciation for God’s love for me and for all of His children.  I reinvented myself that first year way from home.  While at Ricks College I met the most adorable identical twin from Tennessee.  He could talk to anyone, was easy-going, confident and had mad cooking skills.  Plus his apartment was clean–even the bathroom.  We transferred to BYU and got hitched mid-winter semester, 1997.  I graduated in English and had four babies over eight years.  I love staying at home with the kids and have been married over 17 years.

2.  Tell me about an “every day moment” you are grateful for
I was born to be a mom to teenagers.  Little kids and babies stressed me out big time.  Chatting with my teenage daughter (who is taller than me and borrows my clothes) and helping her with make-up techniques or friendship dilemmas is so fun for me.  I LOVE having her friends over tot he house.  Teenagers are such a riot and have so much potential.  I love watching the antics of my 12-year-old as she creates artwork and executes crazy ideas like filling Rubbermaid tubs with hot water in the winter and soaking in them on our back patio.  I love kicking a ball with my 8-year-old son, or trying to answer his deep questions about the nature of God.  I’m absolutely drinking in pulling my six-year-old onto my lap and kissing her tiny face.  She’s like a little kitten and I know how fast her siblings grew up, so I’m snuggling her a lot.  Also, I love our 15-20 min drive to our charter school.  It’s like herding cats getting all four of them into the car in the morning, but we have to be together and the best talking of the day is before and after school.  And at the dreaded bedtime.

3.  What is one ambition you have in your life right now:
As much as I’d like to focus on my ambition to be a published novelist, my number one ambition is to be invested in my teenage kids as I was with my infants.  I want my house to be a safe, comfortable place for them and their friends.  It’s important to me to listen and connect, even through fist-bumps and passing hugs.  A well-timed conversation can turn the course of a teenager’s life.  I want to keep feeding them–both their bellies and their souls, and I want them to rely on me to be a steady voice in a crazy world.  I’m honored to help them navigate their unique path to God.  Their souls are precious, and I want them to realize their worth.  It’s my greatest ambition.  I fail all of the time, but I want to make a difference.

4.  If you could speak on anything to a large group of women, what would you talk about?
We can’t control a lot of our trials, but in spite of all the ways Satan tries to take us down, we are happiest when we become God’s hands.  I love learning from other women, and am all about copying.  If you have a good idea, I’ll unabashedly steal it and try it in my home or life.  So thanks to those overachievers who make my life look good.  Most likely anything that’s working wasn’t my idea in the first place.  Women have such unique gifts, and we can change the world when we abandon competition and instead lift and bless each other.  Society’s definition of what we should be is pretty much a physical one.  It doesn’t focus on the fierce courage or intense intellect that we have.  It’s a good reminder to me that the Lord doesn’t look on the outward appearance, but on the heart.  We should stand together and celebrate when we’ve kept our tempers and extended compassion.  And if you are potty training, you deserve a daily shout-out.  you inspire me.  Women have wicked smart brains, strong muscles, voices of truth and compassion.  And if we aren’t who we want to be, we have the potential to change.  Always, we have the potential.

5.  What does the phrase “create a good life story” mean to you?
Creating a good life story means that I purposefully recognize the daily meaningful moments, even if the feelings are temporary.  I find my most blissful moments are small–when I sent down my phone and observe what is going on in the present–the angle of my daughter’s face as she reads on the couch, the way the light bounces off of my son’s summer-blond hair, the way my husband’s nose twitches when it’s allergy season.  Whatever it is, I want to be in the present–intentionally emotionally aware and available–as many times as I can.  This is a challenge for me, but I don’t want to waste my life overlooking the greatest blessings.  I also hope that my story continues as it has been written so far–that I learn from my mistakes, change what needs to change, improve daily through the grace of God and be grateful for my blessings, especially when life is hard.

6.  Tell me something someone taught you that made an impact on your life
You can do it.  That is what a woman in my neighborhood told me when I was 14-years-old and sat at her piano, fumbling through the first couple pages of the most difficult composition I’d ever seen.  It was well above my skill level, but she sat down next to me, assisting me through it.  And when I closed the music, she put her hand on my shoulder and looked me straight in the eye.  “You can do this,” she said.  “You can play this piece.”  Her belief in me flipped a switch.  I felt empowered by her complete faith in my abilities.  She gave me the music.  I worked my guts out, and I went well beyond the skill level of that piece.  I had the wings to fly.  She showed me how to open them.

7.  Name one event in your life that has made a significant impact on the course of your life story
I sat with thirty other college students in the airport in Istanbul, Turkey.  We’d just finished a month’s travels through Russia and Ukraine, a 56-hour bus ride through Romania and Bulgaria, and a fabulous week in the catacombs, cisterns and mosques of Istanbul.  Now we waited to board a plane to Amsterdam to begin our Western European tour.  One of my instructors plopped down next to me and said, “You weren’t supposed to be here.”  He went on to tell me the study abroad had been completely full for months, so when two students unexpectedly dropped out he picked up the phone to call the next two people on the long waiting list.  As he went to dial, his eyes moved down the list and he felt confused.  So he dropped to his knees and prayed, asking the Lord who needed to go on this trip.  He opened his eyes and put his finger on my name.  I was far down the list, but the Lord had led him to me.  I had no idea it was even a possibility to go.  But my life was forever altered because my parents loved me enough to inquire about the grip, and my teacher had faith to ask God who needed to go.

8.  What is something you want to accomplish you haven’t yet?
I’d like to be published.  My goal would be to go the traditional route–to be represented by an agent who sells my YA (young adult) novels to a great publisher.  I’ve been close to landing an agent.  I could say that it’s a tough market in the publishing industry (because it is), but I haven’t hunkered down and put my all into querying again.  But I will.  And all heck will break loose in my household when I do, because it’s pretty much a full-time job.  Maybe I’ll do it while my husband is working on his Executive MBA this fall.  Why not add more crazy to the mix??

9.  What photographs are you most grateful for from your childhood or teen years?
My favorite photos from my childhood are a series of thumbnail prints of my mom and me when I was a baby.  We don’t have the negatives because my parents were too poor to purchase them.  I love photos of my grandparents, young parents and ancestors.  My favorites of me are spontaneous shots, like the one my mom took when I was about nine.  I’d made this mug in ceramics at school that collapsed in the kiln into what vaguely resembled a lopsided pot.  My friends’ mugs were beautifully formed, smooth and shiny.  Devastated that mine was riddled with holes, my mom took me out to pick flowers, in order to dry and display them in my mug.  While out, she snapped a picture of me holding a Twinkies box full of picked greenery.  I’d been experimenting with new smiles, and had a friend who had a high gumline that I thought was so pretty.  So I tucked my upper lip up high, smiling my new smile, which in reality made me look skeletal.  I hated that picture as a kid, but now I love it because it shows how innocent childhood is.  (By the way, my mom displayed that ugly ceramic mug for years.  She taught me how to be a good mom.)

10.  What are you most proud of?
Bringing children into the world is incredibly empowering.  I’m proud of (and grateful for) my strength through my difficult labors and deliveries.  And I’m proud of my marriage.  It takes work and commitment to have a good marriage, and I married a guy who values both.  I’m also proud I finished writing a novel and am working on several others.  And I’m proud of myself for overcoming my aversion to distance running and working hard to run several half marathons.  Running has been a huge mental strength for me.

11.  What is the best parenting advice/tip someone gave you?
There are seasons in life to just let things go.  If you have an infant and toddler, let the dishes sit in the sink so you can snuggle their sweet bodies because (now I sound old) they grow up so fast!  You have a nursing baby, so let the laundry pile up and breathe in the sweet scent of baby hair–it’s gone too soon.  Let things go that aren’t as important as being in the moment with your children.  Also, each child is unique.  Find their strengths and magnify them in a way that they feel loved.  Parenting is not one size fits all.

12.  Tell me something you are sure of
I am sure that there are unexpected trials awaiting me in this life.  I just hope to be strong enough to conquer, or at least survive them.

13.  What is your favorite quote or your life motto?
“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.”  
“A person’s mind is so powerful.  we can invent, create, experience, and destroy things with thoughts alone.” -Anon  
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”  -H.D. Thoreau

14.  What is your favorite part about yourself (not a physical trait)?
My favorite part about myself?  Despite being an English grad and writer, I have an engineering mind.  I can figure out how to make things work.  I attribute this to my dad making me think through how things work.  It really comes in handy sometimes.

15.  What type of photographs do you wish you had more of?
Pictures of my great-grandparents when they were younger.  Pioneer ancestors.  Spontaneous pictures of playing, riding bikes, family interaction, etc.  And I love details.  Pictures of each room of the houses I lived in growing up.  Pictures of my parents’ most beloved items and memories.  Pictures of myself–particularly playing with my kids, working in the yard, or snuggling with my husband–pictures that i didn’t have to ask people to take or pose for.  I feel stupid asking people to photograph me, but I do wish I had more photos.

16.  What is something you do to help drive away fear or anxiety?
Yoga, running, writing and time alone to ponder, plan and meditate.  Dancing, singing and playing the piano.  Playing games.

17.  What is your favorite part about being a mom?  Your least favorite part (just keeping it real on this question–I know you love your kids)?
 I experience intense surges of love at the most random times.  It’s a miracle to me how my love for my children expanded with each birth, and continues to grow as I get to know them.  I love them all equally–in different ways and for different reasons, but equally.  That’s crazy to me.  I could have never predicted my feelings–that I would sacrifice myself for their good.  I thought maybe I would, but I didn’t know before I became a mom.  id on’t love the emotional upheavals, and being a broken record when they don’t listen to the things I ask them to do.  I hate nagging.  Ugh.  And crumbs and sticky surfaces are not my faves.  Don’t even get me started on laundry…

18.  Tell me something about yourself that may surprise people
I once at two live nightcrawler earthworms to with $100 to Hale Center Theatre.  It was at a Halloween Survivor-themed party, and Jeff and I tied with another couple for the grand prize.  The woman picked up one of the eight-inch long earthworms that we’d had to slurp into our mouths for a previous challenge (but not swallow) and said, “I’m the mom of four boys, I’m breaking this tie right now.”  She swallowed the worm whole amid the cheers of the twenty other guests.  I guess you could say I learned I was competitive that night, because a fire lit somewhere in my cold little heart.  Immediately the stakes were raised–if I wanted the tickets, I had to no only swallow two of the earthworms; I had to chew them up first.  The worm-swallower gloated at me, arms crossed over her barmaid costume.  I looked at her, looked at the 1/2 cup of wriggling worms on the plate, and popped those babies in my mouth.  I gagged twice as the slime coated my mouth and my teeth crunched the dirt inside the worm’s intestines, but I swallowed those darn worms.  And then I said, “I’m the mom of two girls,” as I took the grand prize.

19.  What’s one thing you wish you would have known when you were younger?
I wish I’d know that it would all turn out okay, and that God was well aware of me and believed in me.

And for fun:

Favorite book:  Dang.  Don’t make a writer choose a fave.  Proably Wonder by RJ Palacio

Favorite Family tradition:  Christmas activities with the family

Something you enjoy doing with your spouse:  running, traveling and eathing ethnic foods

Talent you wish you had:  I wish I were more of a peacemaker

Favorite meal:  too many.  I love food!  If I had a last meal it would probably be Thai Waterfall beef salad, Tom Ka Gai coconut milk soup and mango sticky rice for dessert.  And an avocado bubble drink.  Oh baby

If you never had to do one specific things again what would it be:  L.A.U.N.D.R.Y

Favorite TV show:  I don’t watch TV.  I liked Parenthood on Netflix.  Kinda edgy sometimes, but real. I love historical dramas like Downton Abbey but can’t stand to watch anything on a weekly basis.

Something that scares you:  heights, confined spaces, being outside in the dark, deep water, big flying bugs, bare feet in the ocean.  I’m a wuss.  But I try so hard not to be.

Favorite thing about your husband:  He can talk to anyone.  He is one of the friendliest and most genuine people I know.

Something you can’t live without:  my creative brain.  I love to think, ponder and create.  Sometimes it gets onto paper, and sometimes I just like to plan things in my mind.  I’m a weird that way.  I like to envision things differently–how I’d change things in my life, in my house, in myself

What’s something you think about often:  What a blessed and privileged life I lead, and how I need to do more to give back.

THANKS for doing this Jacqui!!

If you want to read more from the “Real Life Stories–Women of Inspiration” series, click HERE.

“Real Life Stories–Women of Inspiration” Natalie.

Natalie is sisters with one of my best friends growing up.  She LOVES to have fun, laugh, and is incredibly fit.  I went to a spinning class (my first one) she was teaching a few weeks ago and she had me begging for mercy.  Those spin classes are no joke.

One thing I love about Natalie is her need for laughter and fun.  She’s certainly had her struggles in parenting (like all of us) but she makes a conscious effort to continue laughing and enjoying life.

Natalie is also a really talented graphic designer.  My go to girl for a lot of my digital design needs.  you can check out her stuff on Etsy:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/nattysuedesigns1

Real Life Stories

1.  Give me a quick peek at your story.
I was born in Idaho Falls (yup, I’m a Spud) but spent most of growing up years in Sandy, Utah.  I have 4 sisters and 2 brothers, and how I love every single one of them…not to mention that I am my parents favorite!  I was your typical teenager, loved friends, boys and school (well the social part, I could have skipped the classrooms and homework)!  Spent ALL of my two college years at Snow and had a blast. Backpacked Europe in 1998.  Was re-aquainted with a pretty cute guy in December of 1998.  Fell in love and we were married in September of 99!  Almost 15 years later, I am the mother to 3, absolutely amazing kids.  That’s it, life in a nutshell.

2.  Tell me about an “every day moment” you are grateful for
It would have to be 5:00 to 7:00 am when I have the time to focus on me, at the gym, doing something that I love.  I finish, I come home, I’m ready to conquer the day!  That there helps me be a better mom and wife.  I am grateful that my hubby gives me that time and he knows that is something I need ot do in my life.

3.  What is one ambition you have in your life right now.
To get all my photos organized.  Man, it is gonna be tough!

4.  If you could speak on anything to a large group of women, what would you talk about?
FIND you.  LOVE you.  I think as women especially mothers, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others.  I think it is so important to figure out who you are, what you want out of life, what makes you happy.  Once you find that, love it and better yourself.

5.  What does the phrase “create a good life story” mean to you?
I always think to myself, “what kind of movie would my life make?”  Comedy, drama, love, horror, etc…I think life should involve ups, downs, good times, bad times, mistakes, laughter and love.  Don’t push the bad times and the mistakes away, embrace them and learn from them.  Let them define your story.  Enjoy the laughter, humor and love, those are the things that will help push you through the bad.

6.  Tell me something someone taught you that made an impact on your life
My parents definitely taught me to be independent.  They taught me to be a hard worker, things weren’t just given to me, I had to work for them.  That I am grateful for.

7.  Name one event in your life that has made a significant impact on the course of your life story
I would have to say giving birth to our second son.  When he was born we found out he had Down Syndrome.  I had so many emotions, shock, fear, sadness.  I also felt so much love, determination and felt pretty special.  The scariest part at first was not knowing how to raise a child with special needs.  I still don’t know how to raise a child with special needs and he is 9!  You learn each day.  We have raised this little guy as a family, his older brothers is his best friend and our biggest help.  Little sister loves to help him and play with him (when he allows it).

I always imagined doing every day life things as a family, with him we can’t do that and I think that has definitely changed the course of my life.  It has been hard on our family, we miss out on a lot of things, sporting events, vacations, activities with family and friends.  We don’t do the things that other families get to enjoy as a family together.  But when it all comes down to it, other families don’t get to be constantly surrounded by his giggles, hugs, silly humor, and all the many things that make him the kid he is.  And that, I wouldn’t trade for anything.  We are pretty lucky to have him.

8.  What is something you want to accomplish you haven’t yet?
Swim with dolphins.  Yep, I’m a geek.

9.  What photographs are you most grateful for from your childhood or teen years?
Probably the ones that tell a significant event in my life.  I also love all of the goofy ones, it shows the fun times in life.

10.  What are you most proud of?
My family.  Love them.

11.  What is the best parenting advice/tip someone gave you?
Family first, the housework can wait.  This is hard for me and will always be hard for me, I like to have a clean house.  But don’t want my kids to remember the mom that was always cleaning, or a mom that was mad because the house was a mess.  I want them to remember the mom that wanted to spend time with them.  Don’t take me wrong, there is a time and place for housework and I believe our kids can be our number one tool in getting it done quicker.  Ha!

12.  Tell me something you are sure of
Candy is delicious and I can NOT deprive myself from it.

13.  What is your favorite quote or your life motto?
Don’t judge.  Don’t come to your own conclusions about someone.  Love and be kind to everyone, no matter what.  On a lighter note….”I want to spend the rest of my life laughing!”  Life without laughter is boring.

14.  What is your favorite part about yourself (not a physical trait)?
I like to have fun.  I like to smile.  Life can REALLY suck at times, but suck it up with a smile.  🙂

15.  What type of photographs do you wish you had more of?
My grandparents and I.  I don’t have a lot, and I want to always remember the memories with them, they are all amazing people.

16.  What is something you do to help drive away fear or anxiety?
Turn the music on and dance.  I love music.  I love to dance.  It may be only for a brief 10 minutes, but that anxiety or fear gets pushed aside for a short time.  If it was possible, I would just go to Disneyland, fear and anxiety do not exist there.

17.  What is your favorite part about being a mom?  You least favorite part (just keeping it real on this question–I know you love your kids)?
I love that I am their go-to-girl and hope that I will always be.  If they need something, they come to me.

Homework and bedtime are hands down my least favorite part.  My kids area like me, they want to play, have fun, homework is not fun.  I wish bedtime wasn’t my least favorite.  I hear mothers that love bedtime, it is their time to lay with their kids, talk and snuggle.  My kids hate going to bed, and I hate fighting them to go to bed.  By the end of the day, I’m kinda done and just want bedtime to be quick and easy.  Enough said.

18.  Tell me something about yourself that may surprise people
Hmmmm.  I don’t know.  I was really shy as a child, like really shy.  Grew out of that!

19.  What’s one things you wish you would have known when you were younger?
The years after high school are short, accomplish things, make fun memories.  You become an adult way too quick and have the rest of your life to be an adult.

And for fun:

Favorite book:  I don’t like to read so the closest thing would be US weekly

Favorite family tradition:  I don’t really have a favorite, I love them all.  But I do love Memorial Day when the whole family visits my sisters grave and then spends the rest of the day playing yard games in my grandparents huge backyard.

Something you enjoy doing with your spouse:  Dinner and a movie

Talent you wish you had:  I really wish I could sing.  I love to sing and that doesn’t stop me from singing, but I wish I could carry a tune.

Favorite meal:  Love Mexican food!

If you never had to do one specific thing again, what would it be:  LAUNDRY!

Favorite show on TV:  Just a few that my DVR records weekly would be…Parenthood, Grey’s, Nashville and Scandal.  Yup, a bunch of scum!

Favorite thing about your husband:  His positivity and the amazing father he is.

Something you can’t life without:  Tootsie rolls and cinnamon bears

What’s something you think about often:  If I am teaching my children enough

(Look at those arms!  Yowzers)

THANK YOU so much for doing this Natalie!!  Looking forward to the next spinning class.  🙂

To read more “Real Life Stories–Women of Inspiration” interviews, click HERE

There ARE good strangers in this world. I have proof.

Here’s a story worth telling.  And remembering.

We spent the weekend at Starvation reservoir camping and boating.  Despite the hurricane force winds for 48 hours and buckets full of dirt Caleb managed to scatter around the tent, we had a great time.

We of course stayed out on the lake longer than we should have and were in a rush to get back home for Father’s day dinner at my parents house.  

But we were “way low on fuel, Mav” (more like coasting on fumes) so we had to stop for gas about 20 minutes from home.  Mike filled up the tank while I walked around to figure out how we were going to get the boat back out of an awkward gas station driveway.

We got back on the road and headed home.  After backing the boat into the driveway, I was pulling kids out of the car as cups, crumbs, clothes, and toys toppled out with them.  

And then a man and a woman in a silver SUV pulled up in front of our house.  I didn’t recognize them. The man got out of the car and said “Where’s your husband?” in a cheerful voice.

Mike came out from the back of the boat and the following conversation took place.

Man:  “Hey.  I saw you on the freeway.”
Mike:  Blank stare.  Thinking “oh great, I cut him off and he chased me down”.
Man:  “We saw you pull out onto 800 and something flew off the top of your boat.  We realized it was your wallet so we stopped.  Everything went flying out everywhere, but we think we got it all back in.”

Now Mike and I were both just staring.  Completely surprised by what he was saying.

Then we just kept saying “Thank you.  Thank you so much”  Over and over and over again.

I was honestly so surprised I didn’t even know what else to say.  We certainly should have given him some cash for his trouble and asked his name and baked him some cookies and taken him for a boat ride.  Something.  Anything.  But we just stared.  And said thank you.

When Mike filled up the car, he must have set his wallet on top of the boat and forgot it there.  A very uncharacteristic thing for Mike, completely normal for me. 

Here’s the thing.  If I’m being completely honest, and I had witnessed this happen to someone else, I would have thought “Oh man, what was that?  Looked like a wallet.  That super sucks”  and kept driving.  On a really good day I may have thought “I should probably stop and pick that up for them” but then I most likely would have come up with a dozen excuses why not to.  The road is way too busy.  I’ve got a sleeping kid in the back.  I’m in a hurry to an appt.  How would I even get it back to them?  And on and on and on.

But not this man and woman.  They saw Mike’s wallet.  They were on a large, incredibly busy road.  They must have stopped traffic.  They were obviously headed somewhere.  For all I know, they were headed in the opposite direction headed to a Father’s day dinner of their own.

But they stopped.  And they chased down all the cards and cash they could find.  And put it all back in the wallet.  And found our address from Mike’s drivers license (at least I assume that’s how they found us) and DROVE THE WALLET TO OUR HOUSE and gave it all back to us.

In situations like these, I think we often say God was watching out for us.  But even more accurately, these PEOPLE were watching out for us.  They stopped.  They gathered.  They drove.  And there was nothing in it for them.  No reason to do it other than they obviously know WE ALL BELONG TO EACH OTHER.  And God watches out for us by expecting all of us to watch out for each other.  To take care of each other.  To help each other.  To stand by one another.  And make life just a little bit more bearable.

My faith in humanity was restored a little last night.  After a particularly hard week and feeling as though kindness towards one another is crumbling beneath our feet, this couple proved otherwise.  
I’ll never forget what they did.  It changed my heart.  It restored some of my hope and faith in other people.

This wasn’t about a returned wallet.  It’s just a wallet.  And we could cancel the cards.  Sure it’s a hassle, but not that big of a deal.  

This couple obviously knows love doesn’t just say things or think things, LOVE DOES THINGS.
A seemingly small thing made a huge impact on my heart.  They did what we all should do.  What would this world be like if we all made a little more effort to watch out for one another?

And the best part, it all happened right in front of my kids, who were able to see first hand there are GOOD people in this world who do good things for one simple reason:  we should take care of each other.  It’s always the best use of time.

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