Living Happily Ever After


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A Hairy Proposition: Life

“Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.” (Author Unknown)

As I write, “Hairspray” is on t.v. and it has gotten me thinking of Tracy Turnblat. Now there was a girl with hopes and dreams and challenges. She didn’t necessarily have everything going for her, but she didn’t quit. She managed to make her dreams come true despite her unexpected challenges in life–and never stopped singing about it, or dancing!

Tracy was more than a cute, perky bouffant. She was on to something. In fact,  I think we don’t have to look past the strands of our own hair for the keys to living a happy life.  (And not to tout my credentials or anything, but having had the 60s pixie cut, the 70s “Dorothy Hamill”, the Farrah Fawcett do, Olivia Newton John’s “Xanadu”–ribbons streaming down the side twists of my hair, the 80s bob, the 90s “Rachel,” and my share of perms and highlights, I like to think I know what I’m talking about.) Here’s what I’ve gleaned from…hair.

How can I control my life when I can’t control my hair?” (Author Unknown)

Lesson #1. You can’t control life or the unexpected things that happen. Don’t even expect to. Just know sometimes things beyond your control are going to bless your life, and you’ve just got to “relax” until your hairstyle becomes you again.

“It is foolish to tear one’s hair in grief, as though sorrow would be made less by baldness.” (Cicero)

Lesson #2. Tearing your hair out, won’t improve the situation. Baldness doesn’t always make sorrow sweet, and I don’t think it’s conducive to dating (if you’re a woman.) Scream into a pillow, punch a pillow if you must, but then plaster on that smile (fake as it may be in the beginning sometimes) and press forward. Things WILL get better. And until they do, take it easy on your locks.

“Hair is the first thing. And teeth the second. Hair and teeth. A man got those two things he’s got it all.” (James Brown)

Lesson #3: Count your blessings, especially in the midst of adversity. (I’ve had my bad attitude days of counting only two blessings: that I was still breathing and that I was a mother, but I still found two!) We’re all richer than we realize. And James is right: hair and teeth? Check. You’ve got it all!

“Gorgeous hair is the best revenge.” (Ivana Trump)

Lesson #4: Remember that eventually, you’ll have good hair days, even happiness, again. I think that is the best revenge on the unexpected life–hair-flipping-happiness once more! So when the lice of things unexpected infest you, when through no choice of your own your beautiful, flowing tresses are shaved away by challenges, circumstances, adversity, the actions of others and every other part of the unexpected life, don’t give up. Grow your hair back–better, longer and more beautiful than ever!

“Once you’ve had chemotherapy, there’s no such thing as a bad-hair day.” (Elizabeth Tilberis)

Lesson #5: Keep it all in perspective. I mean, when you’ve lost your entire life, you learn to appreciate whatever life you’re left with or that you can salvage out of the destruction. As my mom used to say, something is better than nothing! And in my experience, the something is even better, in many ways, than what used to be.

After all, “It’s not the hair on your head that matters. It’s the kind of hair you have inside.” (Garry Shandling)

Now if I could only learn to French braid…

My News Story

It’s official.

The “exciting” event I foreshadowed in a blog last month actually became an “exciting” event for my middle son yesterday–he got to see himself on t.v.!

Cheryl Preheim, a news personality on NBC affiliate Channel 9 in Denver, CO, did a story on our family’s experience which aired, for the first time, last night.

Click here to see the news story.

But to keep it all in perspective, I’m reminded of some wisdom Abe Lincoln shared, “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”

Just don’t call me Flower.

It’s Ok To Be Uncommon

“Great dreams… never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, “How good or how bad am I?” That’s where courage comes in.” (Erma Bombeck)

During that time I struggled to accept and adjust to my unexpected life, while I so desperately needed and waited for the miracles my children and I needed, it seemed as if everything was a battle. Each new day required courage.

One day I got a message from a co-worker that inspired me. It was just what I needed to hear at that time, and it meant so much to me, I saved it. I wasn’t sure why I saved it, at the time, (other than it inspired me when I really needed inspiration) but I figured out today it was so I could pass it along.

Here goes. The best “Ryan’s Rant” I ever received.

“As an entrepreneur at heart that knows the hardships of breaking away from the herd, I found this extremely inspiring this morning and I hope you do too. There are so many things in the world that can make even an optimistic man check how full his cup is, and at times it takes leaders like Dean Alfange to remind us it’s okay to be ‘uncommon.’

I Do Not Choose To Be A Common Man

‘It is my right to be uncommon–if I can. I seek opportunity–not security…I want to…dream and to build, to fail and to succeed…I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence…I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say,’This I have done.’”

Great advice for life, especially the unexpected one.

Because it takes uncommon effort to rise above it, to dream and to build in spite of it, to overcome it, and to succeed: to create happiness and joy in spite of, or again, perhaps because of it.

*The Honorable Dean Alfange was an American statesman born December 2, 1899, in Constantinople (now Istanbul). He was raised in upstate New York. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I and attended Hamilton College, graduating in the class of 1922.

Not Fair

I met an old friend and his wife for lunch a few months ago. We hadn’t seen each other in person since 1989 but he was exactly the same–same good person, same nice guy, same handsome man (now a husband and father), same terrific sense of humor. In some ways, he hasn’t changed a bit! Then he smiled and I saw something was different.

He had gotten braces. As the daughter of an orthodontist, I had to acknowledge them. He made a joke about them–something about a mid-life crisis and how it wasn’t fair.

THAT made me laugh. I mean, what IS fair?

I corrected him, “No, what’s NOT fair is having to be single again after having four children! What’s NOT fair is having to date when the wrinkles are showing!” But I felt his pain. I was secretly fixing my own shifting teeth with Invisalign at night. The things we do mid-life.

What’s also NOT fair is having to repeat some teenage experiences–like dating and battling acne at the same time! That was an experience I always thought was best left in the 1980s and can you believe my good fortune? Forty-two years old and getting some acne again? I consulted my dermatologist about it. I wanted him to “magically” make it stop and he told me he couldn’t do anything, that the acne was most likely caused by hormones. Probably the “old age” kind of hormones, knowing MY luck!

No, life isn’t fair. Especially the unexpected life. But I’m thankful I’ve got one. Each new day is unexpected. Each new experience (and challenge) a blessing.

The Innocent…and The Unusual

One day toward the end of Bachelor #1 I was talking to my sister about the single situation. She asked me, “So, have you found any other cute guys?” (That’s what we called them in the 80s.)

I had to laugh. Because I really hadn’t. I was expecting men to look 20-something (that was the last age I’d really checked out the looks of men) and instead, all of the men I saw or met were wrinkled, gray-haired (if they had hair), bald, and/or heavy. In other words, they were aging! And apparently, I was in denial that it was taking place in my life as well, because I felt like I was meeting and socializing (and getting asked out by) fathers and grandpas–not MY peers. (Told you, a little denial on my part!)

So, that was a challenge of re-entering the single scene in my 40s.

It was not the 1980s anymore.

The good news?

I discovered there are some handsome, kind, fun, and active single fathers and grandpas out there. And get ready. You’re about to learn about several I met–in spite of the fact that, “It’s always been my personal feeling that unless you are married, there is something that is not very dignified about talking about who you are dating.” (Luke Wilson)

In an effort to be dignified, I won’t name the real names of some of the memorable men I’ve met or dated. All names will be changed to protect the innocent…and the unusual.

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Eggs, Anyone?

Things continued to escalate as we prepared to move from Colorado to Utah. The stress and strain was absolutely palpable. Even my children felt it.

My youngest was emotional and clingy. My middle son was emotionally devastated yet frustrated–he was the one that wanted to use his finger to communicate that hard day I already blogged about. My two oldest held up well, but finally got closer to snapping. They told me they were going to egg the neighbors on their way out of town!

I laughed–thinking it was one of our usual “coping jokes” that we made up to help ourselves deal with the trauma of our new life. We laughed, to try to keep the tears at bay, I think. But then I realized they might be serious.

I absolutely forbade that behavior from them and we had quite an animated discussion about it as they had very different opinions than I did on that one!

I told them when we stoop to the level of hatred, frustration, and anger displayed by those around us, and when we choose to lash out the way those around us had, then we become like them. And I didn’t want any member of my family to behave like those around us had! I told them we knew better. And regardless of what anyone done to us, regardless of their opinion of us, we would continue to hold our heads high and live good lives. Even if no one around us believed that is what we were doing.

And I think for the first time in my life I uttered the dreaded phrase, “Over my dead body will any one of my children…”

You become a cliche at the most unexpected times in life, don’t you?

Sometimes it felt like everywhere I turned, I was faced with another nightmare not of my choosing. It seemed like in so many ways, my children and I didn’t have any choices. But we had a choice in how we responded in our challenge. And as for me and my house, I was determined we’d keep our eggs in the kitchen and eat them for breakfast! It was the right thing to do. And food was in short supply anyway!:)

To my children’s credit, they did not give in to the impulse to vent their feelings as they left what had once been their very good life in Colorado to begin a new one in Utah. I was grateful…and proud.

Eggs, anyone?

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We Press On In Spite Of The Red Stuff

I met my cousin and her husband for breakfast yesterday.

Like all of us, in the course of their almost 24-year marriage and raising four children, they have experienced a very fair share of their own adversities. But I loved their life philosophy and had to share it: “As long as everyone is conscious, and there is no blood, we’re ok. We can get through anything!”

When faced with a challenge, they take stock of the situation, make sure everyone is conscious and the blood is taken care of, and they press on!

It’s a good perspective to have and a good way to face life and its unexpected growth opportunities.

It works, too. (Except maybe for parents of sons who play ice hockey and lacrosse! lol. Then you play on in spite of the blood!) I remember attending one of my son’s basketball games and his best friend, who also played ice hockey with him, got hit in the face. Blood was gushing everywhere. The refs stopped the game, the boy was taken out and given first aid while the court was cleaned. To everyone’s surprise (except my son, who has the passion for hockey of Joe Sakic and other professionals) the boy returned shortly, gauze hanging out of each nostril like some kind of deformed unicorn-type creature, demanding to go back in and play. The adults were dubious about letting the boy play but my son and others said, “It’s ok! He’s a hockey player!”

They let the boy back in the game and he played his heart out. So I guess sometimes we press on in spite of the red stuff too.

“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.” (Winston Churchill)

And as an added bonus, sometimes we even win the game.


“Victory belongs to the most persevering.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)


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Winston’s Words

Last April I read that Winston Churchill said, “…to every man [and woman] there comes… that special moment when [they are] figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a special thing unique to [them]… what a tragedy if that moment finds [them] unprepared or unqualified for [that]which [could have been their] finest hour.”

It hit me that I had an opportunity to let 2009 be my finest hour.  It was a critical time.  I believed my life and the lives of my children, then and forever, hung in the balance.  As daunting as it seemed, I had to make 2009 my finest hour for the sake of my children.

I didn’t know what the future held, but I had faith enough to KNOW there would be one.

I believe these moments, to one degree or another, come to each of us. And it is what we do with them that makes all of the difference. Finest hour or failure.

This was reinforced to me during my service as president of the women’s organization of my church congregation.  One day a new woman joined our group.  I made an appointment to visit her in her home to officially welcome her to the area.  When I arrived at her apartment, I discovered she lived there with four other adults and sublet a bedroom in the apartment.  As we sat on her bed and talked, I looked out the window and noticed snowflakes beginning to fall.  At the same time, I glanced into her open closet door and saw only one pair of flip flops, one pair of athletic shoes, one skirt, and one shirt hanging on the rod.  No other clothing.  Not even a coat.  (Remember, I lived in Colorado.)

When I asked about her situation she told me she didn’t have a coat, didn’t have shoes other than the two pair I saw, didn’t have food to eat and she didn’t have a job. I arranged to take her shopping for a coat and through our pastor provided her with some groceries.

As I drove her to the store, she told me more of her life story:  her dad died when she was a teenager, her family lost their finances, she was raised by a single mother, she had had health challenges…and she attributed all of her experiences as the cause of her current situation.

In that moment I was struck with a powerful realization.  She and I had experienced many of the same life challenges. Yet while her experiences had changed her life in very difficult ways, I had been taught to rise above the challenges, to turn my stumbling blocks into stepping stones, to continue to live and achieve, and to attempt to utilize my adversity to make myself better than I would otherwise have been. (More wise words from my mom.)

What a blessing to have been taught, and to instinctively realize, we each are blessed with moments that can be our finest hour.  It is all in what we do with them.

I believe that now more than ever.  I hope my actions and attitude as I carry on, continue to live, and rebuild my life one day reveal my finest hour.

And it caused me to ponder:  What if everyone, in moments of heartache and seemingly insurmountable challenges, chose the path that would lead to their finest hour?

Imagine the legacy we would leave our children and those who come after us if we did.