Here we go…hang on for a wild ride.

Thank you for having a look.  I have been through several devastating situations as a child growing up in the 70’s with a single mom, who struggled with alcoholism.  I am going to look back in my life and address issues that have been living in my head, and hopefully I can leave them here.  Hopefully I am not the only one that had to deal with such issues, and maybe I can help others through their struggle.


Lasting effects…

My recovery from sceptic shock was nothing more than a miracle… there is no doubt in my mind. The doctors tried to figure out how I got so sick, and my recovery was a further testament of the miracle I endured. As it turned out, I recovered very quickly, so quickly that I was walking around the ICU…that never happens! The nurses on the ward were completely flabbergasted that for days I was near death, and a few days later I was walking around, and taking showers! They tried to transfer me to other wards, but I got so much better so fast that no other ward wanted to give me a bed. It was crazy, and I was ready to go home. After a lot of conversations, I was released right out of ICU-they had to write protocol for that to happen as it never did before.

One would think that I would be happy and ready to get on with my life, but sadly that was not the case. I went into a deep depression… thoughts started flowing in my head about how life would have been without me, and all that I almost lost overwhelmed me, and I stayed in a bed soaked with tears. The one thing I wanted at this point was to go to my sister’s wedding, which was weeks away, in Colorado… and there was no way I was not going. I figured if God spared me, he was not done with me, and I would muster the strength to make the flight, and I did. My husband bought me and my daughter business class tickets to fly over from England to be there for my sister. I was still very fragile, but being around my sisters gave me energy, and uplifted my spirit enough to be a part of the celebration. It turned out that I DJ’d her wedding and it was a magical time of healing and I really felt a surge of energy that got me through the wedding with a new vigor. I got to spend time with my aunts, my mom’s sisters, and we spent hours going down memory lane through the music I played the night before the wedding. It was perfect.

I would have hoped the joy from the Colorado trip would help me back in England, but the reality of the entire situation caught up with me and I slipped back into a depression. Of course it did not help that I got “Bird Flu” right around Christmas time and I was not really strong enough to handle that. I had to miss out of holiday festivities with my friends and family, and I was put back in bed so I did not spread the disease. I remember feeling sicker than a dog, angry at the situation, and sad that it all happened. I was diagnosed with “PTSD” from the event, and prescribed antidepressants. I kept reliving the entire event every night, so I did not want to sleep…it was a horrible realization of what “could have been” and I just could not see past it. I still met with my “Friday Morning” ladies for fellowship and friendship, but that was about it. I did not care what I looked like, did not want to shower, let alone entertaining conversations, but they helped me get through the darkness, and reminded me of the beautiful life that I had ahead of me. You would think that being saved from an early death would inspire me to life a happier life, but I just could not get passed what might have been.

It took me months to get back to me, and it took a lot of prayer and support to help me regain my place in this world. The kids were just happy to have me home, but they did not understand my sadness and I did not really understand it either! “Why am I being this way?? I lived through such a tragic event, and came out virtually ‘healthy’ enough to walk out of the Intensive Care Unit, only to cry and lock myself in my bedroom!” So many emotions flowed through me like waves in a hurricane, and I was buried under the waves, with no sight of the horizon…so I had to change my perspective…I just had to find some inner strength to pull me through, and that is what I finally did. Slowly I started re-engaging in my world, and started to see the light at the end of the storm. I made myself get out of the house to meet friends, went back to church, and spent more time downstairs away from my bed. It was so hard to do, and it took me a long time, but finally I was able to ween off the antidepressants, and wound up back in my role of life.

I can’t stress enough how much tragic events cut deep…so deep that the lasting effects can linger for as long as you let them. People deal with tragedy all the time, and I for one can surely understand how a person can just wallow in their grief…it’s real people. I am still learning how to turn the emotional baggage I carry into a positive by reassuring myself that I belong here, I was saved, and I need to live-no…thrive! Of all the tragic events I had endured (so far) on this planet, nothing hit me harder than staring down death…meeting it head-on, and talking about it on the other side. I sometimes tell myself to “just get over it already!” but it’s easier said than done. The struggle is real, and those of us who deal with such events need help.

Life isn’t easy…we all know that, but it’s how you deal with such events that creates the beauty that is humanity. I wish we all could realize how precious our life is, and live accordingly, but that is not the case. How do we deal with forgiveness when the “issue” that needs forgiving is not something that is tangible to forgive?? When I figure that one out, I’ll let you know…but until then, I just keep waking up every day thankful that I get more time with those who love me, and that I love…and to hell with the rest of it…but that is just me.

Til Death do us Part…or not

Out of all the adventures and difficulties I have had throughout my life, nothing prepared me for what I was about to endure.

The morning started great; did my school run, had my coffee, and played with the dogs in the yard…all was normal.  But in the afternoon I felt so sleepy, and decided to take a nap before picking up the kids, and I didn’t get back up.  My friend Dee had picked up the kids for me, and tried to get me up upon returning, but I was delirious.  She called 999 (UK 911) and spoke to a nurse who tried to talk to me on the phone where I was confused, dizzy, and wasn’t making any sense.   When I responded the way I did, she sent an ambulance to me and they took me inside to try to understand what was going on.  I don’t remember a lot of this time, although I do remember Devon (eldest son) knocking on the ambulance door to tell them that he found a Mentos rapper near the couch where I had been sleeping, and that he knew I never ate them before.  I guess the paramedics asked if there was something unusual in my system, Bless him.

I ended up in the MAU (medical assessment unit) and the Royal Derby hospital for a few days where I was getting worse, a lot worse.  I remember the “fight or flight” response was enormously strong and I was fighting.  I could still walk myself to the bathroom with help, and I remember looking into the mirror and seeing my mom’s face before she died.  I was so blown up that I could hardly recognize it was me in the mirror, I broke down and totally thought I was fighting for my life.  After trying to get a line in my artery for what seemed like hours, I crashed. They called my husband in at 2:38 in the morning as they weren’t sure if I would make it through the night.   A few hours later, a doctor whom I recognized from her increasing visits to my room came in and wanted to talk.

She told me I was going to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) or CC (Critical Care) where she would do her best to help me, but she couldn’t even reassure us that I would leave the unit.  Remember, my mother died in ICU.

The entire time I was fighting for my life, I was praying, hard.  As they rolled me up to the ICU I remember praying for God to help me…and as we passed the corridor with the name printed across the top of the automatic doors, my prayers changed.  My prayers changed from “God, please help me, please save me and make me better…I can’t leave my kids, my husband, my family, I’m not ready” to “God, I am willing to go with you, please allow me to say “Goodbye” to them so they can have some closure with me before I go with you to Heaven”.  It was the most surreal moment of my life.   And I was ready to die and go to Heaven, God gave me peace.

During the transition to the unit, they had to put an artery line in my wrist, the same one they tried nights before and couldn’t do, but this time it went in like butter…and I was quiet and content.  I had ventilators, oxygen, fluids pumping through my body, but I was content.  The doctor told me in thirty minutes she would be back to put a line into my heart for adrenaline or whatever, but that didn’t happen.  When she returned, she noticed a large rash forming from the chest up to my neck:  a nasty red, violent, spotty rash had spread rapidly and she was very shocked and decided it was too risky to put the line in as the infection would spread inside my body and that it was too risky.  She seemed concerned about not getting the line in, but again, I was content and calm.  You see, in my head I was already dead, and had the “Peace of the Lord” with me.  I can’t explain it any other way, but I never felt so peaceful, and I was in the ICU dying of something they hadn’t figured out yet!  After all the testing, prodding, poking, swabbing, and scans came back, my body was full on poison through my blood, I was in Septic Shock.

I don’t really remember much for the next few days, except a couple from the Elders of CCD (Community Church Derby) came in to pray with me, and I could see by the looks on their faces how sick I really was.  I found out later that some of the leaders of the church were outside my room praying for me, and it felt like my last rites were given with love and commitment, and I was peaceful.  Rick and I also had the difficult conversation of how to bring the children in to say “Good Bye”, and we decided at the advice of the doctors that the next day would be the day.  How???  How can I be fighting for my life, leaving this beautiful life we had created…leaving my Devon, Trevor, Preston and Morgan without their mom, and my husband of 20+ years alone to raise them without me?  How can my sisters lose their sibling?  Somehow I was ready to have the conversation, and somehow I had peace…

I had a true angel in the ICU with me, and she was a Christian woman who noticed my small mp3 player that was reciting the bible, and asked me if she could pray for me.  She laid hands on me, and I felt a surge of love and peace…the final bits of panic and despair disappeared and my body slowly calmed down and I was not alone.  You never know where you will find angels, but she was right there, and I saw her in a different light than the other nurses in the ward.  Don’t get me wrong, all the nurses and doctors were wonderful, but she was magnificent.

That night I prayed with a thankful heart, I thanked God for allowing me to live the life I had, and thanked him for my children, who would live on without me…I knew I wouldn’t be there for graduations, weddings, grandchildren…and I would leave my daughter in the same position I grew up in, without her mom.  As I sit now, pondering what that meant, my eyes well up with gratitude.

That night I slept, and the doctors were unsure if I would wake back up, but I did…18+ hours later.  I woke up with a new hope, and when my husband brought my children in (except my daughter, whom I didn’t want her to see my like that) he was amazed at how well I was doing.  We all prayed together, and hugged each other, and I whispered in my husband’s ear “I’m going to get out of here soon”.  He was crying as he thought I was going to Heaven, but my heard said that it wasn’t my time, and I reassured him that I was  coming back home with our family, and he felt the same overwhelming feeling of joy that my heart was full of.

Believe it or not, I live with that same reassurance of  peace, and I try very hard not to dwell on the fact that I survived death, but that everyday is not promised, it’s a gift. Nothing in my life is as pressing, horrible, or sad than that time at the Royal.  The residual effects stayed with me for a long time, but that will come in a follow-up post,
I’ve said enough for today…

I am an Ass…no, for real.

So today I woke up with tears in my eyes…It’s October 9th and I am 49 years old.

I have a daughter that turned 15 about six months ago, and she was an ass too.  She was trying to find her way in the new place we call home, and I gave her too much “rope” to “hang” herself with, and she did-metaphorically that is.  You see I can see myself in her so much, and I remember how hard that time was in my life, but I can also see how selfish I was by parenting her.

I was on the JV volleyball team, I was a cheerleader, I was cute, I was confident, and I was too proud to visit my sick mom in the hospital.  I thought my life was so important that no one else’s life was more important than my own, and although I loved my mother so much, I was stuck in my own head.  Any time I wanted to do something or go somewhere, I did it; if my mom had the “gall” to say “no” I would argue with her, beat her down so much that she would finally say “Fine! Go! Do what the hell you want!  If you die while you are gone make sure to remember I Told you So!”  And I would go.  I came and went when I wanted, I ate what I wanted, I wore what I wanted, and I said what I wanted…and no one would tell me otherwise.  I did my own laundry, I took beers out of the fridge, I had kittens in my bedroom, (seriously I snuck in a cat and she was preggers and had the kittens under my bed) and I snuck out all the time.  I didn’t think about how dangerous it was to drive 50mph on the hood of a car holding only the windshield wipers, nor what would happen if I missed the jump from one silo to the next about 30ft in the air, (maybe that is why my son loves Parkour) or if I would return from an exploration of the missile base out side of our town.  And of course the boys…

I got a lot of attention in high school, and it was hard not to notice the loudest girl from Deer Trail when she walked into the gym.  I was very passionate about everything BUT my dying mom.  She never made it to my high school games, and I think she only made one of my middle school games, and she maybe saw me cheer, and it hurt me; but I played, cheered, or performed for me, I was in charge of how I did.  I realized that my mom opened the bar at four, and she did just that, every day…regardless of what her girls had going on.  She had bills to pay, and she was solely responsible for us, and the memory of us being taken into foster care under “her watch” was still fresh and there was no way it would happen again to her, so she did what she had to do.  She was also the “town drunk” and I don’t imagine the rest of the town being very interested in talking to her, or sitting next to her on the bleachers at any of my games or events, and she didn’t handle judgmental people at all-worse than I do present day.

So today I sit here, in tears, missing her.  I sit her thinking back to the times I had with her, and it hit me like a sledgehammer…she trained me.  SHE is the reason I sit in my screened-in porch looking at my pool in Florida, SHE is the reason I have a successful 26-year marriage, SHE is the reason I have four beautiful children who are turning out to be successful in their growth, SHE is the reason I was able to get off the 180mg of Morphine (and about 4 other narcotics) and SHE is the reason I am who I am.  Please understand that I had/have a strong relationship with my God, and I know how powerful and absolute that is, and to me, right now, my God is showing me the angel he gave me on Earth.   

My present day relationship with my 15yr old daughter is a glimpse to me of what I didn’t have, and a second chance to experience that relationship-just from the other side.  I get to see (and experience) her being an ass to everyone, her being selfish, her being cute, and her being stubborn.  I also get to see her growth, her change, her inner beauty, and her heart.  I get to hold her accountable when she messes up, I get to be there when she plays volleyball for her varsity team, and I get to be there when she gets her heart broken.  I am also accountable for when she goes beyond the scope of what we call “age appropriate actions”, and I get to parent her back to good.  I get to give her that “unconditional love” that I never had;  I get to because of God, and because of my mom.  She was the strongest woman I knew, and I never understood how she went through all the crap she did for us; she could have left us on the side of the road at any time, but she didn’t.  She picked herself up and worked as hard as she could for her girls, and I learned how to work hard for something you believe in.

I know my mom, and my husband’s dad would be proud of us, and I know in my heart that my life would look very different than it does today if my past was different, but I love my life.  I love the fact that I have friends from all the different experiences I went through:  I have my siblings…including blood, foster, and marriage, that I don’t know what I would do without; I have my mentors who trained me how to be a woman, wife, parent, and friend; and I have my soul mate that I have screwed over, fought to keep, and love with all my heart.  I am still a work in progress, but I am still here living the life we created and deserve.

She died in 1983, on this day 35 years ago: she is still as alive to me as ever.  She is still the voice in my head when I parent.  She keeps my memories of our “happy times” together fresh, and I mimic her “silliness” without thinking about it.  My time with my mom was too short and riddled with a lot of pain, sorrow, anger, hate, loneliness, and even despair…but what I remember of her, and what I talk about on a weekly basis???  Her favorite songs, and how she would just dance around with us, and be silly…and I love those memories…and I am creating those with my family.  Thanks Mom!

So, I am leaving this blog post with a few songs my mom absolutely LOVED, just so you can get an idea of what kind of “nut job” she really was…

Bounce your Boobies – Rusty Warren  (gotta listen the entire way through)

I’m gonna Hire a Wino – David Frizzell

Cocaine Blues- Johnny Cash

Convoy-C.W. Macall

Smokey Mountain Rain – Ronnie Milsap

Grandma Got ran over by a Reindeer – Elmo & Patsy

Spiders and Snakes- Jim Stafford

White Lightening – George Jones

I Believe in You – Don Williams




Norway is beautiful. It is probably the most stunning country I have ever seen, the fjords are so strikingly awesome, especially in the spring.  The drop of sheer rock creates waterfalls in the snow melt that cascade down with such grace and beauty that it really shows you how insignificant you can be compared to the natural beauty of mother nature.  We lived in Stavanger, which hosted a large military base of Air Force and Nato personnel.  It was a great to be in a military-heavy place, it felt like home to me.  I made several friends there, and even got to DJ some great parties on base for some ex-fighter pilots-their music choices fit mine perfectly!  We got to have American Thanksgivings, Christmases, 4th of July Celebrations…it was awesome.

My back however, was a different story.  I was suffering a lot off and on, the pain in my lower back was manageable…but that soon turned not so.  I found a doctor in Michigan that would perform a total disc replacement.  Since I never had any operations or C-Sections I was a good candidate for this newer procedure.  He cut my stomach, about 8″ cut about 2″ below my bellybutton, and moved all my “insides” to the side.  He then cut my damaged area out and replaced it with a new one.  The healing process was better not to cut my back, by using the “less-muscled area” to cut into made the muscles in my back stay strong so the new disc would have support.  I stayed in Michigan with our lovely nanny that came from Singapore with us…funny how life finds a way.

Within a month I was doing much better, and made the flight back over to Norway to rejoin my family.  Once I did the travel, I figured I was all better, and weened myself off all the medications I had been given, well…I say “weened“, but I really “dropped” all of it, at the same time.  Let me tell you something:  Withdrawal is no Joke!  I can’t remember all I was on, but I didn’t sleep for a week.  My brain was SCREAMING AT ME to take something, but I stayed strong.  I had such a mental week that I couldn’t focus on anything other than my brain telling me I needed to alter my state of being…I was tired, shakey, irritable, sick, grumpy; you name it-every emotion I could have-couldn’t stop the SCREAMING.  My brain finally realized it wasn’t going to win, and the screaming turned to chatter, turned to words, turned to quiet, I had won, again.

When I returned to Michigan for my three month check the doc was shocked that I was off everything-he asked me how long I took to ween off the medications, and when I told him how I did it he was floored.  He scared me a bit with what “could’ve happened” to me by dropping it all, but he was also proud of the fact I was able to do it without medical help, so I promised him if I was ever in a situation like that again, I would do it the right way, and a few years later, I did. (but that is another story…)

Norway was coming to a close, and Rick was excited about a new opportunity with a new company headquartered in Derbyshire, England, so we went to check it out.  What that meant to us, was for me to take the four kids on an 18-hour ferry across the North Sea, in March.  Now, I don’t know where you all are in this wonderful world we live in, but let me tell you, it was probably not the smartest decision I have ever made.  It was rough, and I mean ROUGH!  The boat rocked so hard that we didn’t dare walk without holding the rail, the swimming pool was off limits as the waves in that little pool were splashing so high against the walls that one side of the pool would empty-and I am not kidding!  We were all seasick; and no amount of that 18-hour trip was enjoyable, but we landed safely (albeit green) in northern England; in a minivan that had the wrong-side steering wheel, with only Norwegian Kroner, (only GBP or Euro monies for the toll bridge)  and Mapquest directions. (Thank You Simon)

England was beautiful, and we made our way down to Derby after a 6-hour drive.  We met up with our (Scottish) Education expert, and our house hunting guru, who showed us the new “sights and sounds” of what we would soon be calling “home”.  The funniest thing about this trip had to be the Education Expert and how he talked.  See, we were not used to hearing the word “wee” in any other way but for “pee”, and everything in England is a “short” or “little” or “right down the road” from everything we needed.  So, when we were with the expert, he used the word “Wee” for all of it!  The kids were from 6th grade down to Kindergarten and they broke out in laughter every time he used “Wee” to describe anything!  Maybe you had to be there, but that laughter made the trip so much more enjoyable; especially since we had to look forward to yet ANOTHER crossing of the treacherous North Sea!  Not to mention all the kids didn’t touch their candy from the Easter Bunny…somehow he made it out in the middle of the cold, angry waters to surprise them on the ferry.

So, after leaving Norway we went on a family excursion across the country from Michigan to Florida, and then from Florida to the Grand Canyon, where we met up with my father and my buddy Sean.  We then traveled up to Colorado via Four Corners and landed at the Royal Gorge, where my sisters and their families met us for a few days together.  It was such a fantastic trip, until we blew up in Iowa after a major flood came through and finally made it back to Michigan.  That trip is still talked about as a family favorite, as we have seen so many other exotic places, the kids saw the US the same way.  I think it’s important to explore your backyard, and we did that in every other country we lived in, so we needed to explore our own.

Our family always grows closer with every move, but this time was even more so.  The two younger ones went to a lovely, small, Christian school that was associated with the church my hubby was attending before the kids and I moved over.  The two older boys tested into a “fantastic” grammar school in the area that was only for boys, and my boys hated it.  Besides the fact that they were demanded to wear ties and blazers to school, they were also discriminated against.  My oldest boy got told off by pulling his little brother out of the way of the wave of boys headed to the lunch room, and when he spoke (in American English) the teacher’s demeanor changed quickly and he said “Bloody American will learn some manners at this school!”  When I picked up the boys that day (school busses aren’t really a “thing”) my eldest was very upset.  We always try to respect the cultures that we are in, but this was bigger than “culture” to us.  It happened again a week later when the same teacher pulled my son out of the lunch line and told him to go to the end of the line.  When my son asked what he had done the teacher replied “I told you, you would learn some manners at this school!”  We tried to talk to his head of class about the comment, and he said he would “get it sorted” and we would not have to deal with that going forward…well…he didn’t, and it happened again, to me.

While I was waiting in the parking lot, a kid drove through the crowd of moms and students quite fast in a BMW, and one teacher told him to slow down.  Then he made a comment like “these kids in these posh cars, in my day I had a bike!”  I commented back with “I was thinking the same thing, I still don’t own a BMW!”  Once he heard my accent, his demeanor quickly changed and he turned away in a scuff, and I was left with the feeling of “what did I say?”  My son piped up with “That is the teacher I told you about!”  Now, please understand that I don’t “look” for opposition, but this was clearly a case of it as he was friendly while I was interacting with my body language with him-it was only when I opened my mouth that it quickly changed.  I couldn’t leave it like that, so I did some research with friends whom I met in Norway, they were English.  He advised me of how to handle this “English Style”, and so I did.  I called a meeting with the Headmaster.  I explained to him my disappointment of his staff, and how they were allowed to treat foreigners, and how much damage those words “Bloody American” can do to both  my son and his establishment.  I was heading for the BBC, Ofsted, Derbyshire County Counsel, not to mention my hubby worked at Rolls Royce and that school was FULL of kids from there.  After a very difficult (for them) meeting, I gave them time to sort themselves out, or I would file a formal complaint.  Turns out that the teachers both got fired, and the Headmaster that I spoke to had just been appointed, so he inherited a “Good ol’ Boys” network of teachers that needed to be culled.  He turned it around, so I just moved the boys to the local public schools and life got much better.  There was only one other American in the public school of 1500, but LCS was a great asset to our family.  I didn’t like getting called into the Headmaster’s office when my kids had issues, but I highly rate the education and respect that the school demanded-especially after enduring the education system I recently pulled my last two out of.


You never know what life has coming for you, and how strong you are to endure the challenges that come with it.  I know what I will put up with, and I know what I won’t. My challenge is doing things the way that “culture” gets things done.  If I would’ve gone screaming and shouting through the halls of the grammar school, I would damage the “American reputation” and not accomplish what I needed to.

It is very hard to learn how to influence people, but over the years I have had to, just to have a place to sleep at night.    It doesn’t mean that the fire in my belly has gone out, it just means that I am learning how to adjust the flame…


Life after Singapore didn’t stop…

As much as we loved Singapore, we knew it was time to move on.  We had lived there for five years, and in that time we lost most of our close friends; it is a very “expatriate heavy” country, and most of them had moved on.  We had an opportunity to move back to the states, and it was a good move for my hubby’s career, so we packed up our four kids, our nanny, our dog Krissa, and moved to Michigan.

Neither one of us had ever been to Michigan, nor had we ever lived in the mid-western states, so the transition was hard.  We bought a house that needed work, we had four small kids, and we had my sister (and her 6y old and 18 mo) move in…I needed to get a job!  I ended up officiating volleyball, driving the school bus, and dj’d at a restaurant/nightclub on the weekend nights, we were both very busy!

I got to play volleyball again too-a lot, which was a great switch back from the tennis I played in Singapore, but it also ended up with another torn ACL on my right knee, however, my rehab was quick and solid.  I played on several different leagues, and open gyms, and it took a toll on my back.  I had some troubles in the past with my back, but I just chocked it up to playing hard and not stretching out beforehand, but I soon found out I suffered from a disease that degenerates my vertebrae.

After getting off the bus that morning, I noticed a lot of pain in my lower back, and by the time I drove home I could hardly get out of my car.  In fact, I had to have my nanny load the kids in the car and drive me to the physical therapy office I was currently attending from knee issues.  He put me on traction right away, just to try to relieve some of the pain from the pressure of my body on my back.  It worked for a bit, but I found myself in the emergency room the next day.  I had a “quick” four night stay that ended up with a Laminectomy on my lower spine.  My hubby was in Korea at the time for work, so it took some time to get ahold of him to agree to the operation, as I was in no way coherent enough to make the call.  While I was recovering at home, I had a massive scare with a HUGE BLACK SPIDER crawling on the side of my bedroom wall…luckily, I was just hallucinating the entire episode!  As I recovered, and went off all the opiates, my reality came back;  I even went back to playing for about a year.

During the time we lived in Michigan we also worked on our house.  While my hubby worked hours and hours at his office, my nanny and I (and my physical therapist/friend) tackled the house.  We retiled the door/hallway, laid hardwood flooring in the den, painted the entire house, finished the walls in the basement, and built a 20X40ft lifted deck off the back porch.  We also had a fire in the master bathroom, which ended with a nasty contractor running out on us with the money, so we fixed that too!

As you can imagine, all the stress from our life in Michigan took a toll on my marriage.  We were surviving there, not living, and I had made friends there…I made my world a place that he would have to fit into, and it wasn’t fair.  We really struggled to stay together, let alone stay friends.  We were both unhappy together, and I took my friendship away from my soul mate, and when the opportunity came to move, we decided it was time to move on.  It was a very scary thought of moving to a foreign country with my marriage in the state that it was, but we both knew it was the right thing for us to do.


I wish I could say my back stayed strong, but unfortunately it didn’t.  After a flight back from Norway, and a 18 hour drive from Michigan to Colorado, I ended up passing out on the toilet in the wee hours of the morning (from what I was told) and ended up back in the emergency room.  I was medicated enough to make it through the trip, but spent most of my nephew’s wedding and reception on the floor, luckily my family was there to keep me company.  I had damaged my back so bad that surgery was the only option, so when I returned from Colorado by airplane, I found a surgeon.


It may seem odd that I bounce around a bit…but the entire picture of what “my life” looked like is the best way to tell my story.  Just one squall can damage those who are not strong enough to take the storms of life, but I don’t think we ever manage just “one” squall…it’s always blowing in from one direction or another, and I feel encouraged with my progress throughout my life.  I am “life“…that’s just how I “roll“.  The problem comes in sometimes where I don’t have as much “sympathy” with those who don’t “progress” through life, (notice I said “progress“…it looks different for everybody).  I know there are those who criticize my choices, and they always will, but as long as I am “progressing”, I don’t listen.  Those of you along for this ride are not surprised by that statement.



Another Country, another lesson…

As you can imagine, the next stage of my life was difficult, but I can’t think it’s much worse than anyone else entering this phase of life.  I met my future husband, and we got married a short time later.  We both had lost a parent at a young age, but he still had his mother in his life, so we had a unique bond that we hoped would help us manage married life.  By the time we decided to have kids, we had been married for five years, and had already gone through our first round of marriage counseling.  I was not very willing to “compromise” my life at all, and as we all know, that doesn’t work when you share your life with another.  I had a lot of growing up to do, and I was willing to give my marriage %100 effort before I walked away, and luckily we found a way to make it work.

My husband is an “over-achiever” who was very committed to his career, and I wanted to by home with my kids, so it worked for us.  After he got his MBA from Harvard, we were moving to Singapore for his new role.  I stayed in Colorado while I was pregnant with my second son, as I had lost two  babies in between my first and second so I didn’t want to risk the flight.  I moved to Deer Trail for three months and spent time with my family while my husband moved overseas.   We planned on moving over as a family when my baby boy was six weeks old, but his birth was not as expected.

Rodeo weekend was a huge weekend in Deer Trail, and my husband’s mother, sister, and brother-in-law flew in for the weekend.  It was supposed to be a great time, and I was going to give birth, head out to watch the rodeo, and show my inlaws my hometown, but that didn’t happen.  The birth was fine, but the next day my world crashed.

The second day of his life, Trevor’s bilirubin levels skyrocketed!  Bilirubin is the byproduct of red blood cells being broken down by the baby’s body in order to get rid of the excess blood needed in pregnancy.  All babies go through this process, but Trevor’s was really excessive, and he spent the first week under lights in the intensive care unit.  I couldn’t hold him, I couldn’t feed him, I couldn’t believe he could end up with brain damage.  (If bilirubin counts go above “30” brain damage occurs, and Trevor was at “28”) After a long week, the doctors stabilized him enough to take him to find out what was going on-but the problem was they needed blood, a lot of it.  Trevor had so much blood drawn from him in the ICU that he needed to produce more to test, and his poor heels looked like a pin cushion.  When the doctors finally thought we could do the test we went for our appointment, at The Rocky Mountain Oncology Department.  Yeah, that put life into perspective for me and my sick boy.  There were so many babies, toddlers, and kids in that office, waiting for treatments to stop their cancers that I was stricken with shame.  I was completely devastated with what was going on with my son, but it was ONLY a blood disorder.  I felt so ashamed of myself for my attitude and my emotions, I wasn’t ready for my son to be born with any issues whatsoever!  (but who was???)

We managed to get the tests done, and Trevor was diagnosed; Spherocytosis.  It’s a hereditary blood disorder where his red blood cells never mature, so they stay in a rounded-shape, instead of flattening out.  The spleen sees them as “dangerous” and takes them out. When he was stable enough for me to fly to Singapore with him, we left and sought out a specialists right away.  I still had to give him shots of epogen to spark his bone marrow to produce blood so he didn’t run out, but we managed to keep him going.  The original doctor we had would not speak to me, but only to my husband, (he was old school Chinese, and didn’t recognize me as important) so we quickly moved him to the University Hospital oncology department.  We saw the doc there for years, and even had a study started on him as “Hereditary Spherocytosis” didn’t fit our situation.  After a few years Trevor’s body was able to stabilize his blood production, and we slowly calmed the “panic” that had taken over our lives.

We lived in Singapore for five years, and we had a lot of amazing adventures:  scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, Tioman Island, Koh Pei Pei; flying to Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Bali, and even walked on the Great Wall of China!  Life in Singapore was great, and the experiences there were priceless; I was raising my young brood in the safest country in the world.   I had a nanny to help with my kids, which came in handy again when I had my third boy.  (I get bed rested with my pregnancies so it was perfect timing!)

I found a church in Singapore that I got totally involved in.  I took parenting courses, helped with the Newcomers club, joined the Kids’ Mass ladies as the storyteller, and I trained as a parenting coach.  I loved working with new moms, I felt I could be a good cheerleader for them to get through the hard parts.  I joined “Focus on the Family” as a Volunteer Coordinator, and also helped newcomers settle in to Singapore.  Our life in Southeast Asia was a wonderful experience, and I still pinch myself sometimes to see if it was real.

Trevor was pretty mild until he hit puberty, then his body crashed.  He spent a week in the Royal Hospital in Derbyshire, England in 2013 after his blood count dropped dangerously low.  His final count was “2” before they transfused him.  He slowly bounced back to his “normal” and has not had any episodes since.


I never imagined myself living in another country, let alone one so far away and so foreign.  I really believe that “life finds a way” and that I am on this earth for a reason.  My life is mapped out already by a higher being, my God, and I am fine with that.  I haven’t had the best upbringing, as some of you may have read about, but I still see life as “half-full”.  My mom left this earth way too young, and I feel compelled to live the best life I can.  I so wish I could “bottle up” that feeling as there are several people I know who would really benefit from some positive reinforcements.  God only knows why I still love life and feel so fortunate to be living.



(There is no cure for Spherocytosis, and it’s hereditary, although no family members were ever found to carry it.  In the severe form, monthly transfusions would be needed, and the spleen would most-likely be taken out.  We have met one other person born with the disease, and her spleen was out and she is on antibiotics for the rest of her life.)

18 and full of life

School life was just that, school life.  I’m sure that all of us at that age went through their issues, and trying to find their way through to the next level of their life.  I turned 18, it’s my life now, I am in control, and there is no more “blaming” anyone else for my life.

The two families that I had in Deer Trail were supportive, but when I went away to college and came back things were different.  I was not used to a curfew, and my younger sisters rode with me to work, so they were coming home late too, and it wasn’t tolerated.  I was asked not to return after the break.

In Terrytown we had several deaths it seemed to be in such a short time.  Grandma Reed and Wink Kohlman hit me hard.  We spent a lot of time with the grandparents in Agate, and from the first move to Deer Trail they were very inviting to me.  Wink was my mom’s friend.  I met him within the first few days in Deer Trail, his son Brad was in my class.  Wink always had a smile on his face, and he was always in the bar with my mom.  After she died Wink and I kept in touch, and I loved him like a father.  I know he probably wasn’t the best dad, or husband, but he was to me and my mom what we needed.  He always told me that Brad and I should get married so I could be his daughter, and Brad and I dated for a long time, but it turned out Brad was more like his father than I was my mom, and we ended the relationship.

These deaths hit me, if my father died, and I didn’t see him or forgive him as an “adult -to-adult” than I would not forgive myself.  I decided to make a trip to California to see him and forgive him for my anger growing up.  I asked him if I could go and visit and he agreed.  He seemed to be genuinely happy that I was coming, and he even said he would pay for my ticket.  As I was working at McDonalds in Limon at the time, I had to take time off work unpaid, so having the ticket paid for was a big deal for me.  So, off to sunny California I was, and I was going to meet the “Stepmonster” at the same time.  My father remarried and she was not very interested in becoming a stepmom.  She didn’t have kids herself, and she wanted to be the only woman in my father’s life, so she make it difficult for my father to see us-or so he said.

The trip was good, I spent time with my father is his world, and he enjoyed showing me off to his office and other friends.  We went to the beach together, and we spent the day at Universal Studios.  Being home with his wife was awkward, she didn’t put on a “poker face” at all, and she took no interest in me.  I took the time to speak with my father regarding my childhood.  I told him that I forgave him, for everything, and that we can start over having an “adult” relationship-but it would be up to him.  It felt good to get it off my chest, and that “God forbid” something happen to him, I said my peace.  I really don’t know him well at this point, but the weird thing was that I had some of his mannerisms eventhough I haven’t lived with him forever.  We ended the trip on a good note, but my expectations were very low, turned out I was right.

After my father and his wife broke up he told us that she was the reason he stayed away. He said he found some letters that we had written on the top of a closet, she had hid them away.  He thought we didn’t care about him, and he didn’t try to find us, or get us from foster care.  I think we can safely say he was the epitome of a “deadbeat dad” to us, and I know he never paid my mom any child support.  If this was going on today it would be a different story, but back in the late 70’s and early 80’s it was different. I don’t know how he thinks or how he explains his way out of his actions, but somehow he has  managed to dodge the “fault bullet”.

Our relationship now is what it is.  He came to my wedding, but I didn’t have him walk me down the isle, he has met my kids and played “pop pop” for a few years, but as far as a “father figure” or “grandpa” he missed the boat.  I leave the door open for him to come in, but I don’t see him as a “dad”, and I told him he could be a “Grandpa” to my kids, but our relationship as “father-daughter” is not really feasible.  As heartless as this is to say, (God forbid) he passes away, I will not be taking any guilt with me for not knowing him.

It has to be said that my father was very successful in his working career.  He was with the Los Angeles Police Dept. for over 20 years, taught “safe/defensive driving” to teens, and still works for the state of Arizona as an expert witness in vehicle deaths.  He just didn’t grasp the whole “father” role the way he grasps his “career” role.  I feel sorry for him that he doesn’t know us, and doesn’t have grandkids to spend time with.  Maybe one day he will decide to spend time with us, every 10 years or so isn’t enough.

I love you Harry, and I hope your life is what you want.  I missed you so much growing up, I needed you.  You should thank the other “father figures” in my life that picked up the slack that you left.  You owe Jerry, David, and Victor a “Thank You”, and I have written off the money for the plane ticket.

My heart is open… and will remain that way just in case he wants to be a part of my life.


Get tucked in…

As life was going for me, I was miserable.  I hated fighting all the time with Terry, I was confused over her betrayal, and I was sad for my new little brother and sister.  I did anything I could to be away from the house with a purpose, as I could not be gone without one.  Most of the time I had sports, boyfriends, and my jobs to keep me busy and that would help get my brain away from my situation.  I poured myself into anything I could possible do, and I hid my sadness behind a DTHS cheerleader uniform.  I had a mouth, and I had nothing to lose having people look at me, laugh at me, or even rely on me to engage a crowd.  It was a way that I could go to all the games, and think of myself as a normal teen.  I was still living with Terry, but things were getting worse between the two of us.

I had resigned myself to stay there as I figured I made my bed so I need to lay in it-but Terry and I were fighting all the time.  I loved/love that family and wanted to make it through to graduation, but that wasn’t going to happen.  When several members of the community, and a few from the school finally talked with me as to why I prefer to go to school with walking pneumonia and bronchitis, instead of staying home, I felt understood.  They asked me a few times to leave the house of Terry and move back in with the previous family.  I felt ashamed and took all the blame with me.  The school contacted my father in California to transfer the “Power of Attorney” back to my sister’s family, and my older sister took me to her house for a few days so I could get some rest and get rid of the pneumonia.

When I went back to school, the rumor was that the police were looking for me as I was called in as a “runaway”.  There were police in our town looking for me.  Luckily, my school was in one county and my sister lived in another, so I just needed to get over to the other county so I would not be caught.  If I was, I was worried about going back into foster care and miss my district volleyball tournament.  There was a few “close calls” and they came into the school and talked to administration, but the issue was squashed when the police saw the “POA” signed by my father…or so I thought.

We had our regional volleyball tournament in Yuma, Colorado, and I was scared to death that the police would show up, and they did.  I just knew that the police would haul me off the court, put me in handcuffs, and take me back to the city and put me in juvenile detention for running away.  When they showed up at the gym, my coach called me off the court and talked to me about keeping my head in the game, and don’t worry about the police, they are not here for me, but they were.  Thank God that the school administration, Laura’s family, and my older sister had copies of the new POA and that I was legally able to move out.  The police stayed for a while, and it seemed like everyone went up to talk to the police either to take me away, or trying to explain the situation, either way I was way freaked out.  Going into the biggest game of my volleyball career, I was a complete mess.  I had to try to pull myself together for the sake of all the other girls on the team, the coach, and me.  I did see the officers finally leave the gym, but I had no idea if I was in the clear or not, but it was much better without them standing at the side of the court, where they were ready to pull me off the court at any minute.  We played the Otis Bulldogs for the championship game, and I don’t think it was my best game, but we pulled it off and got to go to state.  I moved my stuff out of Terrytown, and back into my little sister’s family.  It was very sense, and sad at the same time.  Our town is too small to act like everything is good, and the two families didn’t get along for a long time, but the fence is mended.  We all made mistakes back then, we were young, and I was a mess.

In our state championship game, we won the first game, lost the second, and I was up to serve when the score was 6-6.  We won the game 15-6, I served the game out.  It was the best day of my life…

We Won State!!

Going bigger and better….

I am working on my blog, may be heading in two different directions.

As with most of my favorite films, it’s always the 2nd one that is a let down.  I think that trying to bring you all on my journey through the natural progressions into early 20’s is just not sitting well with me.  I think that we all have struggles we go through at that age and I just think I will tie it off in the next blog or two and head to dealing with all the baggage I had going into life on “Heather’s Terms”.  It isn’t easy to deal with your past and just see the world like everyone else.

So, I will be adding to my blogs, maybe add a few photos of me in the age range that I was in while my life was happening around me.  I have been researching this, and I have come to the conclusion that we are visual people, especially women.  We feel, so therefore we need to see to tie it all together.  I am sorry if my journey has been too graphic or too detailed for you, but I am not sorry I put it here.  I am not ashamed or holding any grudges to anyone-it’s my life, and I will own my decisions, and my past.

I’ll be back, there is so much going on in my head that I have to get it out…Me after first 4 blog entries UK

Which way do I go….

The summer of my sophomore year found me in a town called Bennett. My best friend moved there the year prior, and I was happy there. We used to stay with them when my mom would be in the hospital or rehab, and they had asked me if I wanted to move in with them permanently. Of course I said “Yes!”

That summer I joined them on their trip to see their family. It was a long ride, but we had a van to ride in and it was exciting to see another state. The coolest part of that trip had to be the train bridge. It spanned the Missouri River and their cousins showed us how to climb out over the river-then they jumped off! I was scared, but I totally wanted to do it. It took something like 5 seconds to hit the water, and when I did hit, I went so deep I barely made it back to the surface for breath. The second time I jumped I decided to spread my body out a little so I wouldn’t go so deep, but I hit so hard I bruised the entire insides of both my arms and legs. It really hurt, but I was “cool” so I hid it. We couldn’t tell the mom, so I suffered quietly. It’s a great memory of mine, which inspired me to jump off the cliff at “Rick’s Cafe” in Jamaica on my honeymoon.

When we returned from our holiday, I went to Deer Trail to get my stuff to move in with my friend. The problem became my younger sister; she didn’t want me to move, and her family invited me to live there with her. It was very difficult for me because I really wanted to live with my best friend, but my sister was crying and didn’t want me to go. I made the decision to stay in Deer Trail with my sister, which upset my bestie and her family, but I felt that my sister needed me there.

I moved into the basement room that was nice and new, with closet doors that were mirrored. I felt very alone, and the worst part was that my little sister’s tears dried up and got mad at me for moving in! We fought a lot then, and I didn’t really know the new family much, I mean I knew them, but I never visited their house, or even stayed the night, so it was all very new. I was not doing very well, and when I talked to my Aunt “Phred” (my mother’s middle sister) about my problems she invited me to come visit her in Seattle, Washington over my Christmas break. I really wanted to go and spend time near my aunt, but when I asked my new “mom” she said “No”. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t go, but the new family wanted to celebrate our “new family” unit’s “First Christmas” together. That caused a lot of issues in my head, and I was already messed up from losing my mom. “Purple Rain”, “Twisted Sister” and Cyndi Lauper” blared off my cassette player in my “pity party” room.

Now, while I was unhappy where I was, our old landlord and friend of my mom “Terry” was worried about me and we started talking a lot. What I really needed at that time was someone to encourage me to do the right thing and stay home for Christmas, and try to develop more relationships with my new family, but that is not what I wanted, and that is not what she did. To be fair, I knew Terry and her family better for sure, as Terry saved my mom’s life by calling 911 when she found my mom having a seizure. I was a headstrong teenage girl without a mother figure, and I was easily convinced to move out of where I was living, and in with Terry and her family. She did make it sound like the best place for me, and Terry agreed with me about the trip to Washington for Christmas-all I needed to hear! Heather exit stage left…enter “TerryTown”. Population: 4 plus 1.

TerryTown seemed ideal, and I got to go visit my aunt and all was happy, or so it seemed. Don’t get me wrong, I love this family, I still love this family, and all the extended family is my family too. There was a few major problems with living in TerryTown. Terry was only ten years older than me, and she and her husband had a small boy called “Kevin” and a baby nearly four months old named “Jessica”. I think between my upbringing (or lack thereof) and her age and her upbringing it was a recipe for disaster. Within a few months I had decided that I made a bad choice, but I needed to lay in the bed I made. They were very strict with me, and my “learning curve” was more like a vertical line. They did want the best for me, I just needed a lot of shaping. We had a lot of good times, and there were also a lot of bad ones. Of all the “issues” we all dealt with, the one that I struggled to forgive was regarding a letter.

I had been dating a guy who was a few years older than me, (Ok four years older….but he was a great guy) but had never had a girlfriend before. We had a lovely, innocent, playful relationship, but Terry wasn’t happy with me dating him. I won’t begin to explain or excuse her opinion regarding him, but it made it very difficult to spend time together. My boyfriend and his family were very respected in my community, and I personally think his family wasn’t excited about him with someone like me, but they always treated me kindly. We were together for a long time when we decided to fully commit physically to each other. It’s was a huge step for both of us, and I needed to talk to someone about my experience, so I wrote a long letter to my “Christmas Aunt Phred”. It was really an emotional time for me, as my past kept telling me I wasn’t worth a relationship like the one I was in. I wrote it all down in pages (way long ago before instant gratification from social media) and I waited and waited for a response, but none came. I felt like I was a “slut”, like all those people said I would be. I felt my Aunt didn’t love me anymore as she didn’t respond to one of the biggest “chosen” experience in my life. I felt so happy inside, so in love, but outside I was crushed.

My Letter, full of emotional and personal life situations that my 17yr self was juggling, meant the world to me, and I was waiting and checking the mail everyday for my Aunt to write back. I so needed to hear her say that I was “ok” in my world and the decisions I was making. I needed to hear that she still loved me, and that she was proud of me. The Letter never came: Terry never mailed, Terry opened up the letter and read it. Terry knew what happened. Terry went to my boyfriend and talked to him behind my back. Terry told me my boyfriend was “pressured” by me.

Ok, I need a minute…