Living Happily Ever After


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Of Victory, Defeat…and Birthdays

“Time is everything; five minutes make the difference between victory and defeat.” (Horatio Nelson)

I celebrated my birthday yesterday. It was a WONDERFUL day, for many reasons and thanks to so many people. It was a happy day, all day, for me (and my husband, who shares my same birthday.) But then, unexpectedly, there came that moment.

That one moment when I couldn’t help but acknowledge the miracle of having such a wonderful 47th birthday…as I remembered how absolutely terrible turning 42 had been.

That lovely birthday that hit about a month after my extreme life losses and divorce in 2009, amid of a LOT of change, challenge, trauma and turmoil. I felt terrible, I looked awful, and I can’t describe the misery I experienced–feeling like a total failure in my 40s! (I don’t recommend it, haha.)

But I DO recommend hanging in there. Choosing to live anyway, despite your losses, burdens and adversities. Never give up. Get out of bed every day and accomplish something, even if it’s just getting out of bed!

Because time really is everything. And those ensuing minutes (or years, in my case) really do make the difference between defeat and victory. And victory feels so good and is literally, so SWEET.

“Victory is sweetest when you’ve known defeat.” (Malcolm S. Forbes)

Taste it.



Keep Going

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” (James Cash Penney)

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to experience G-forces, courtesy of the summer training bobsled at Park City, Utah Olympians use to prepare for the winter Olympic games. I’m a pretty cautious person: there is a reason I’ve never had stitches or broken a bone (other than my nose in an unfortunate accident courtesy of my ex-husband, another friend and a lack of intelligence on my part many years ago.) Alpine slides, not Olympic training bobsleds, are the only degree of risk I’m comfortable with but the bobsled opportunity was free (offered at a work party), my husband and sons really wanted to do it and they needed an extra rider and then my company’s new COO joined us so I was pretty much trapped into participating!

As I climbed in the sled I thought, “What am I doing?”

As the driver oriented us, told us what to do and explained the forces we would experience I really wondered why I was in that bobsled—sons, husband or COO not withstanding.

And then as we were tearing down the track during THE MOST MISERABLE 60 seconds of my life, the G-forces wreaking havoc on my body and my psyche all I could think was, “I’m in my mid-forties, I’ve had four children, I hope and pray I don’t have an accident!” (ANY type of accident, take that any way you desire, they’d all be accurate.)

I got through it only by hanging on for dear life, trying my best to breathe deeply and in a relaxed manner while gritting my teeth, closing my eyes and counting to 30. (I figured I could survive 30 seconds of anything, which in this case I did—but barely!) And holding on, enduring, until the boblsed came to an eventual stop. THE LONGEST 60 seconds of my life.

Long story short, I survived. And I realize, now, that I did it by doing what we must do to get through anything life hands us: hang on for dear life, remember to breathe (sometimes that’s all you can do), grit your teeth when necessary to power through, and know that at some point, “this too, shall pass.”

And it always does.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” (Winston Churchill)

Hang in there!

The Power of One: Make the World Better

I believe in the importance of making a difference in the world for the better and I believe it’s a responsibility each of us has. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to give a speech about making the world better through service to others. Today I thought I’d share a brief excerpt from what I said:

“The endeavor to better the world is timeless.

Florence Nightingale was born in another century, to the upper class in society, but she would have none of it. Instead, her great desire was to relieve pain and suffering, so she became expert in nursing. She headed the Scutari hospital during the Crimean War; the situation when she arrived was one of absolute despair: the hospital was an old warehouse, wounded men were crowded in rooms that reeked of foul odors; the air was filled with the cries of the suffering.

Florence set to work amid beds that held suffering men stretching over four miles and within 6 months, order reigned and the rate of death had fallen from 42 per hundred to 22 per thousand. Suffering was reduced. Lives by the thousands were saved.

No other woman in the history of the world has done as much to reduce human misery as this lady with the lamp. In our century, I’ve been inspired by many people who endeavor to make the world a better place. Today I’d like to tell you about one in particular, a 2nd grader, my son, tasked with “making the world a better place” as a school homework assignment.

He decided he would improve the world by helping a little boy who lost his leg to cancer so he set a goal to earn $10 and donate it the foundation the boy and his family founded to help families of children with childhood cancer.

That was a big endeavor for an 8-year-old who didn’t receive an allowance, but he created a product to sell for $1, he turned our dining room table into a production line and enlisted the help of siblings, neighbors, cancer patients and their families, anyone he could find!) to help. He sold his product at 3 Colorado elementary schools and ended up making not a $10 difference in the life of a young cancer patient…but a SEVEN HUNDRED AND NINETY-SIX DOLLAR difference!

Isn’t it amazing what one person, even a little boy, can do to make a positive impact in the life of another? To this day, that Colorado foundation makes and sells the product designed by my son when he was in 2nd grade as their primary fundraising effort.

You really can change the world if you care enough: one dollar at a time. One little, 2nd grader at a time. One willing person who acts on a generous thought and desires to make a difference in the world. The power of one.”

In My Dreams

“In my dreams, I could be a Princess, and that’s what I was. Like most little girls, I believed nothing less than a Prince could make my dreams come true.” (Loretta Young)

A marriage proposal is a moment. In time. In life. In dreams. And that marriage proposal moment with Bachelor #5 was no different–it was one of THOSE moments. Surreal, yet very real. When the past and the present come together. Where time seems to stands still.

The man I had fallen in love with was kneeling before me, proposing marriage, and this is what I was thinking:

“Is this REALLY happening?”

“Oh my gosh! THIS is a moment.”

“Focus, Andrea. You have to hear and remember everything he says!”

“My memory is terrible–how am I going to do that?”

“I have to remember this, I have to try to remember this moment, and this feeling, for the rest of my life.”

“Wait a second…what did he just say? That was really good, I HAVE to remember that!”

“Oh no! I can’t remember what he first said. I have to remember everything!”

My thoughts were racing. And then they turned to these:

“In one moment everything I loved, treasured, had known and held on to had been ripped out of my grasp; my entire existence devastated and destroyed. Words cannot express (although I’ve tried!) the depth of pain, grief, shock, sadness and betrayal that were mine in a single moment. Yet just 13 months later, although I’ve been absolutely convinced no one would ever want an ‘old bag’ like me again, that I was destined to remain alone for the rest of my existence, that my children would remain ‘fatherless’ and without male influence during the formative years of their childhood, my entire world is on the brink of near complete and total restoration. Words also cannot express the joy, exhilaration, depth of healing, happiness, and trust in something new–new hopes, new dreams, this new man, a new life, a new future and new possibilities–that are mine again. How can this be?”

In that moment I was overwhelmed by all that I had lost, by all that I had gone through, by all that I had learned, and also by gratitude for all that was now mine. I was so overwhelmed by all of that, tears rolled down my cheeks.

I think that’s one essential part of fairy tales that The Brothers Grimm and The Disney Corporation leave out of their stories. I bet those princesses cry when they realize that despite everything they’ve lost and have gone through–despite the dark forests they’re thrust into, the poison apples they’re handed, the cinders they sweep and the floors they scrub–they are on the brink of their happily ever. How can they be anything but overwhelmed by the emotions that surface when they see there really is a chance, after all, that all of their dreams can come true? And that maybe their lives are going to, as all fairy tales do, end with the promise of happily ever after.

Yes, I bet they cry. I know I did. Because, “Being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” (Princess Diana) You’re just going to have to trust me on that one. I don’t recommend anyone find out the way I did!

So, “If you see me as just the princess then you misunderstand who I am and what I have been through. (Mariah Carey) Because all princesses are more than the sum of their miseries and the towers they’re locked in.

“I love that whole princess mentality, but I also like throwing my hair in a ponytail and just wearing jeans, going on a hike and then eating a big chili-cheeseburger.” (Jennifer Love Hewitt)