Living Happily Ever After


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Make A Difference

(This post is excerpted from a speech I gave in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 26, 2012 at the Aria Convention Center at a LifeVantage corporate event.)

There have been, and are, many inspiring people in the world. One person from history who inspires me is Leonardo da Vinci, but not just because of of his art. Yes, he is famous for his art, like “The Mona Lisa,” but he was also a scientist and inventor who envisioned many ideas long before the technology existed to build them: solar power, the calculator, weapons of war, motorized vehicles, parachutes and flying machines. Pretty visionary for a man born in the 1400s!

He dreamed big, left the world a better place and said, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough…being willing is not enough, we must do.” That wasn’t just Leonardo da Vinci’s philosophy, however. I’m fortunate to work for a company that also believes in doing, and changing lives, not just through its products and business opportunity but through its charitable efforts as well. Like da Vinci, we feel the “urgency of doing” and we ARE doing!

For example, earlier this year LifeVantage and its distributor generously supported LifeVantage Legacy (the charitable program of the Company) which resulted in a donation of over $53,000 to Deworm the World and contributed to improving the health, education and quality of life for over 3.7 million children in Bihar, India. That is significant!

Nelson Mandela said, “What counts in life is not there mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the lives we lead.”

I recently met a “modern day” man who inspires me. He’s a graduate of Cambridge and Harvard University and a philanthropist—he credits his involvement in philanthropy to being “completely and utterly rubbish” at operating a remote control. One night, while attempting to turn off his television he accidentally turned to a program featuring a 2-year-old girl who suffered burns over 90% of her body in a house fire. (The only part of her not injured was the wet skin under her diaper.) He felt he had to do something to help the little girl.

So he arranged to swim the distance of the English Channel in a swimming pool with two friends, and ended up with 10,000 people in 75 countries swimming for the little girl! Which made him wonder, “What if I got one million people to swim for something global, medical and nonpolitical—like malaria?” And he ended up with 250,000 people, including Michael Phelps, swimming for malaria. The world’s largest swim for the world’s biggest killer of babies and children under five years old. His name is Rob Mather, he founded the Against Malaria Foundation and he is an inspiring example to me of the power of one.

There’s an African proverb that says, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito!” We’re never too small, or too insignificant, that we can’t make a difference in the life of someone else.

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever have. (Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist, 1902-1978)

I’m grateful to all those who have made my life, the lives of others and the world better through their small and simple acts as well as their heroic, global endeavors. And may we each strive to be like them in our own way and make a difference in the lives of others.

Life Happens

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” (John Lennon)

Remarrying mid-life is an interesting experience in so many ways and on so many levels, not the least of which is constantly feeling like I’m trying to catch up, or make up, a few decades—getting to know my husband’s family, his history and everything else. That, combined with raising children, working full time, household duties, hobbies and life in general, keeps us pretty busy!

Recently, as part of the getting to know one another’s history, I found myself at a little cemetery in Snowflake, Arizona, seeing grave sites of Ramsey family members (including my father-in-law) I’ve heard many stories about but have never met. While there, I was particularly struck by the dates engraved on the stone monuments to row after row of lives lived.

Reminded, again, of the importance of making the most of the life you’ve been blessed with—whether you chose it or not. And that while to every life there is a beginning date and at some point there will be an end, what truly matters is all of the time in between: what you choose to do with it, what you make of  it, the positive impact in the world (even if it’s only in your little corner of the world) you have, the memories, the friendships and the happiness and joy you cultivate throughout it all.

Standing there in the green of a quiet and peaceful resting place I thought about the hopes, dreams and aspirations we’re all working toward; and how we each have our share of those that don’t work out for one reason or another: death, divorce, sickness, war, Ponzi schemes, accidents, betrayals, employment disappointments, natural disasters, way too many “man made disasters” and everything else no one plans to experience or wants to experience…but it comes to each of us any way.

Life “happens.” It’s what you do with it that counts.

Make the most of your moments.

Revise your plans, if necessary, due to the things that develop in your personal story.

And then choose to live happily, ever after, in YOUR unexpected life.


The First Adventure

“For there is a price ticket on everything that puts a whizz into life, and adventure follows the rule. It’s distressing, but there you are.” (Leslie Charteris)

One adventure of my most recent business trip, was the opportunity to address a crowd of several thousand people. As I manage the philanthropic efforts of my company, my topic was service to others and making the world a better place. Here’s an edited excerpt:

On the plains of Texas and Oklahoma, trees were sometimes rare and precious things and there was a tradition that recognized the responsibility of one generation for the next. Homesteaders, once their house was built, the well dug and the first crops harvested, planted their ‘grandchildren grove.’ Farmers read scores of seed catalogs to select a particular type of pecan tree—hardy and strong, able to withstand deep winters and torrid summers—and sent off carefully hoarded money.

In due time, a tree hardly larger than a switch arrived. The farmers placed the roots in water, dug a hole, planted the trees, and watered them carrying bucketful after bucketful from their wells. The pecan trees weren’t for their benefit. Pecan trees grow very slowly, the farmers would be dead and gone long before the groves they planted provided substantial shade or nuts. Some felt work that went unrewarded for generations was a waste, but farmers who planted pecan trees weren’t planting the trees for themselves. They were creating a legacy for others.

In the 1870s, my great-great grandfather left his native country of Denmark for Utah and established a homestead. He built a dwelling on the property, worked the land for a number of years and eventually it became his. He built this house—lived in a tiny upstairs accessed by a ladder on the outside of the structure while his sheep lived in the room below him! His effort sustained his life and became a legacy.  Who can predict the value of one person’s life well-lived, the service they provide or the impact of a legacy? In my experience, you can’t, because it’s limitless.

I was reminded of that fact 140 years after he established his legacy, because his legacy literally saved me when I unexpectedly became single—without a home, money or assets—the sole parent and support of my four children. What began as a little homestead and then became his legacy, sustained me and my children for a time and helped us get our start in building and creating a new life.

What is your legacy? How are you demonstrating your commitment to making a difference in the world, making the world a better place? Your legacy is the service you provide, the mark you make on the world while you’re here and the one you will leave behind when you are gone. Although our days are numbered, may our good works never be!”

After the speech ended, I went about my other business duties at my company’s event. But as usually happens after a speech, I met people who recognized me as the woman who spoke on stage, they’d introduce themselves and we’d have a great discussion about the impact of service, making the world better or they’d share how someone had touched their life by serving them. What I didn’t expect was any discussion about anything else. But as I’ve said before, in life, you get unexpected adventures.

A man approached, introduced himself, told me how much he’d enjoyed my remarks and what an amazing woman I was. He was quite effusive in his praise, it made me start to think, “Wow, my speech must have been even better than I thought!” And then the man moved on to the topic of being a single parent, surviving hard things, told me we had a lot in common, what a strong woman I must be, how much he admired me and how nice it was to meet me. (I know, I know, I’ve always been slow to catch on to these types of things, haven’t I? And apparently two times through the singles scene, in the 1980s and again in 2009-2010, didn’t make my instincts any sharper!)

It suddenly dawned on me that the man was single and apparently thought I still was! He continued to talk (and compliment me) and I began to notice he was still holding my hand from our initial handshake. And then his talk turned to the idea of destiny, including that it was more than a coincidence that we were involved at the same company, at the same event, and that it was fate that we meet.

I withdrew my hand as politely as I could, thanked him for his kind words, told him it had been a pleasure to meet him and added, “And what a blessing it is to get through those hard times! It’s so nice to be out of mine, to have life move on and to have it all come together again in great happiness.” (Or something like that. I was kind of flustered about the man’s mistaken impression and was almost panicked that I’d apparently given an auditorium of people the wrong impression about my marital status—despite the fact I’m very open about my marital status and I stood there wearing my wedding ring during my speech AND while meeting the single man!)

I went back to my work duties, laughed at that “unexpected” adventure and quickly forgot it. Until the next time the man sought me out. And the next time. And when his next conversation began with, “Can you believe we keep running into each other like this? It must be more than destiny!” (all the while, he’s clutching my hand in his) I began to think it was more than destiny too. I thought it was like many other travel experiences I’ve had—trips to Disneyland, cruises, whatever—where I’ve noticed the same person/family or run into the same person/family over and over again for a STRANGE reason (usually because they stand out because they’re “odd”!) I emphasized, again, that I was married and didn’t run into my new friend again after that. Adventure over.

Until I got home, returned to work, checked my email and had a new Facebook friend request! From you-know-who!

“Boldness be my friend.” (William Shakespeare)

The Way The World Laughs

“The world laughs in flowers.” (E.E. Cummings)

Despite my experiences of 2009 and my entry into an unexpected life (when many voices of the world weren’t quite so jolly and the tragic situation many of us found ourselves in as a result of the crimes committed by my former husband was anything but humorous) I love that thought. I love the thought of sharing laughter (aka. happiness and joy) with others through flowers—must be why I always loved May Day and secretly leaving fragrant bouquets on neighbors’ doorsteps. I also love the visual imagery of the earth, itself, blooming with flowers (aka. joy and “laughter.”) What a beautiful time of year it is as the world laughingly leaves winter behind and blossoms into spring.

Last week my husband got us all out into the yard to do some general spring clean up and weeding. I noticed it was a lot easier to see what I was doing in the sunlight this year compared to last year’s weeding and garden planting in the dark of night—but I didn’t expect it to be as memorable.

And then, when we were almost finished, my 12-year-old son walked up with a bouquet of dandelions clutched tightly in his growing hands and gallantly presented them to me with a smile. I thanked him, ran into the house, put the “flowers” in a vase of water in the kitchen windowsill and returned to my work in the yard—pulling growing things, “weeds,” that looked suspiciously similar to the bouquet on the kitchen windowsill.

“A weed is but an unloved flower.” (Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

It’s all in your perspective.

I believe it’s all about how you choose to look at it, whether it’s weeds, the world or an unexpected life. There is beauty in “weeds” just as there can be great beauty in an unexpected life. It’s up to you to see it that way. It’s up to you to take what you’re handed, look for the good and make the most of what you’ve been given; to find joy and to live after the manner of happiness despite, or perhaps because of, the unexpected life.

The Small World of Television

“Television is intensely personal.” (Jessica Savitch)

The very next day I was chatting with a different co-worker new to my company who gathered from our conversation that I was divorced. She asked about my previous husband, where he lives now and whether or not my children ever see him. “No, they don’t see him,” I replied.

“Really? Not at all? Why not?” she asked.

“Because he’s in prison,” I clarified. “Until 2020.”

With information like that offered up, there are always a few follow-up questions! (Which I’m  happy to answer.) After more questions and some additional explanation, a light came on in my co-worker’s eyes. “Oh! I have a great idea! I know what you need to do!” she exclaimed. “There’s a television show that would be perfect for you!” She told me a about it, including its title and that it’s her favorite show, and I started laughing.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

“That’s the very show that I’m talking to about appearing on!” I explained.

Two different people, two days in a row, same television show. And me.

Small world.

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.”


“…I’ve only had tragic haircuts and outfits.” (Kylie Minogue)

My daughter is mature, wise beyond her years, hard working, sensible, organized and many other things—none of them the typical light-minded, giggly, gaga-for-boys stereotypical of many teenage girls. Until prom season approached. She still wasn’t any of the above, but the drama factor of her life suddenly increased.

Suddenly, the boys began asking girls to prom and the girls began discussing who was going with whom, who hadn’t been asked yet and who was hoping they’d be asked to the dance. And then one day a tragedy occurred. My daughter reported it, “Oh, Mom! Today was so tragic!”

Apparently one boy had asked my daughter to prom just as another boy was going to ask her to prom and the girl who wanted to go to prom with the first boy was devastated. She walked around school, crying during all of her classes all day, because the boy she’d wanted to go to prom with had asked my daughter instead.  And not only did she walk around crying all day, she told everybody why!

Low drama moms like me might occasionally be inclined to roll their eyes at said drama. But not me. Not this time. I actually quite enjoyed it. Because I was remembering a time in my daughter’s life, just a few short years ago when she lived through unimaginable events at 13-14 years old including the loss of her entire life, family as she knew it and most material privileges (including a stay at home mom) that had always been a part of it all…and she used to roll her eyes at teenage girls that got worked up over boys, fashion, friends, other teenage girl topics of interest and all of the drama that went along with them because she knew there were much bigger challenges in life than showing up to school in the same shirt as someone else.

The fact that she experienced a “typical” teenage drama and considered it “tragic” was a sign, to me, of the healing that has taken place in her life. From the beginning, she has advocated forgiveness and “letting go” and I was grateful to be reminded, yet again, that she is living as she believes.

“The only work that will ultimately bring any good to any of us is the work of contributing to the healing of the world….The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.” (Marianne Williamson)


“When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.” (Barbara Bush)

In conjunction with my Las Vegas business trip, I was asked to speak at our corporate event there regarding the philanthropic effort of our company (one of the areas I manage.)

Service is something I’ve always been passionate about, particularly since there were moments upon entering my unexpected life I wasn’t sure how my children and I would have survived without a little help from our friends (and even some strangers) who delivered food to us, made meals for us, gave us cash, sent gift cards, left a thoughtful treats on the porch, wrote notes of encouragement, smiled at us (when it felt like nobody was), made my first Mother’s Day post-Ponzi scheme not just bearable but beautiful and joyful, tended my children while I attended to the details of wrapping up a life…I can’t even list all the ways we were blessed by (and continue to be blessed) by service from others!

For that and many reasons, I was happy to do it and was grateful for the opportunity to talk about making a difference in the world. I am certainly the grateful beneficiary of so many people who have had an influence for good in my life.

I was thankful to do it, that is, until they announced my name, I walked out into the glare of the lights, on stage…and faced over 4,000 people! That’s a pretty big crowd. I don’t think I’d ever spoken to more than a crowd of 1,200 or so people prior to that in my life! Whew! In moments like that, it’s nice to have a monitor prompting you (reminding you) what you had planned to say before your mind went blank at the sight of so many people.

However, despite the emptiness of thought I temporarily experienced, I did have the presence of mind to think this, like I have so many times: “If someone had told me in 2009 that THIS was an experience that would be coming to me just a few years later and courtesy of my unexpected life, I’d never have believed them! Like the Ponzi scheme my former husband perpetrated, I never saw it coming.”

There is a LOT of good in my new life. SO MUCH happiness and joy. So many unexpected opportunities I’d never have had. Tender mercies I’d never have known. Things I may never have learned and certainly things I’d never have known I was capable of surviving, much less doing and accomplishing. I realized something:

I’m grateful for the detours.

“…Believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours – so enjoy the view.” (Michael York)

It’s a pretty nice view in the unexpected life. How’s yours?

A Good Kick In The Pants And A Season Of Growth

“Each man should frame life so that at some future hour, fact and his dreaming meet.” (Victor Hugo)

Lest anyone think all that has been happening in the unexpected life of our family are boys making less than ideal choices—like ditching kindergarten and scheduling a playground fight with a  school bully via Facebook—we’ve witnessed a few dreams become reality, too!

Several months ago, we saw my oldest achieve a lifelong (since he was 5 years old) dream: to play hockey at the college level. I confess, the first time I saw my son skate onto the ice while the fans roared their support, I think I was probably the only person there with tears rolling down her cheeks! I couldn’t help it. Everyone else may have seen a tall, handsome, athletic man on ice skates, skating like the wind, fighting for the puck and working for a goal…but all I could see was a little preschooler so passionate about skating he never took off the blue Playskool skates he strapped to every pair of shoes he owned; the kindergartener who begged me to let him play hockey; the little boy who hounded his mother all day for what seemed like every day of the year to let him play hockey, until 5th grade, when I finally relented and enrolled him at Big Bear; and the enthusiastic boy who came off the ice after his first game so thrilled with everything about the sport he uttered words I never expected to hear come out of my ultra-competitive son’s mouth: “Mom! Hockey is SO FUN, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you’re just so thrilled to play the game!”

He never quit. He seemed to eat, breathe and sleep ice hockey from that moment forward. He was out practicing his shots or skating before school. He played against anyone he could get to put skates on. And long after the sun set, I’d hear him outside whacking the puck with an energy that never left him. His enthusiasm finally led us to install outdoor lighting so he could practice longer each night. And the day he played his first college ice hockey game was quite a moment. For him and for me.

It was a season of growth…for both of us. Last weekend, I watched my son play his last home game of his inaugural college ice hockey season. I was a lot more relaxed, there weren’t any tears, but I was still full of admiration for my son and all that he accomplished in making his college ice hockey dream come true.

It just took one dreamer. ”Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” (Harriet Tubman)

That, and a kick in the pants. Remember: ”Dreams will get you nowhere, a good kick in the pants will take you a long way.” (Baltasar Gracian)

True, for all of us. No matter the dream, no matter the unexpected opportunities you’re blessed with, you can go as far as you need to; as far as you dream to. Supplemented, of course, by the occasional, well-administered kick in the pants.

Did I Say Strange?

“Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be…Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you’ll live as you’ve never lived before.” (Eric Fromme)

Before I go any further I have to reiterate, again, that remarriage is a journey through a strange new world.

It’s unsettling, after living four or more decades of your life and doing things a certain way for specific reasons…to change it all up and do everything differently. But it’s also exciting, not to mention occasionally entertaining. You certainly have new experiences you never expected to have; you learn new things; and I like to think (or hope) that all of it will help keep me young!

Now back to the birthday cruise for my husband.

We both had prior cruising experience prior to our first one together. My husband had been on several cruises and I’d been on 10 myself (I had been married for 20 years to a man who did everything to excess; now that I know what was REALLY going on all those years, I see that he certainly lived up to Ponzi scheme criminal stereotype/reputation for “living the high life.” Bummer that I, like everyone else, simply thought he was just very successful and good at his job!)

We brought to our 2011 marriage our own (different) travel habits and expectations. But since this cruise was with in celebration of my husband’s 50th birthday and we were  traveling with his family and friends,  I told him not to worry about me; we were doing it his way—and while I don’t think we did the whole trip “his way,” (my husband is too considerate for that) I pretty much went along with everything my husband suggested (like karaoke) and had a lot of new adventures (like karaoke) that were part of his previous experience but had never been a part of mine.

It was a very different cruise than any I’d ever been on before, but it was also a LOT of fun!

“Old and young, we are all on our last cruise.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Make the most of it.