#SusieStrong – You’ll Never Walk Alone

Trials have a way of defining us as a person. Not the challenges in and of themselves, but the way we respond to them. Do we run and hide? Do we stand up and face them? Are we strong enough to weather the storms of life?

Some of the most inspiring people I know are those who have not only withstood the trails life’s sent their way, but faced it head on with grace, laughter and strength. But they rarely stop there. These living, breathing miracles take it one step further. They find a way to use those same experiences to help, inspire and give hope.

One of the coolest things about the internet, and blogging in particular, is the people you get to know along the way. It was through blogging that I had the pleasure of getting to know one of the coolest people I know. She has a zeal for life that can’t help but bring out joy and laughter in those she touches. Her Wild Rides have become notorious….from her Polar Bear Club Excursion to her Helicopter skiing to so many more adventures, she’s kept us entertained. Susie Lindau is one of those people who you can’t help but admire and enjoy watching as she attacks life.

Recently she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When she shared the initial news, on her blog post titled The Boob Report – Roadblocks and U-Turns my first thought was that I seriously hate cancer, followed quickly by my certainty that Susie would rise to the occasion with this disease just like she has every other adventure in her life. She’s just that kind of woman. What was more, she was smart enough to share the experience with her friends and let us all find our little ways to be there to love and support her through this time.

Most of you know that music is a medium I use to express my thoughts, and today is no different.

After Susie shared with us in her The Boob Report – Laughter Is The Best Medicine that she would be undergoing surgery today, one of her other awesome blog followers came up with the idea of showing her our support through our blogs. I was thrilled to participate. Susie is a constant source of inspiration to me! Doubt how badass she is? Read the links I left and see what I mean.

If you know Susie and would like to wish her a speedy recovery, please feel free to comment. If you don’t know her, but would still like to wish her well, I welcome you to do so and to check out her blog and see why she’s so well loved.

Here are a few other folks today who’ve joined in the campaign to cheer Susie on as she kicks cancer’s butt:

Gloria Richard

BrickhouseChick

Jess Witkins

Tameri Etherton

To close out, I’m posting a song that has always helped me feel strong and reminded me that the strong know when to lean on those around them.

 

 

Melting Pots, Ethnic Food and Language

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I love that the United States is a melting pot. Today I found myself thinking about diversity and the many ways we can choose to embrace it. As a child born into a multicultural household (mother Asian, father WASP from the US) it has been important to me on a personal level to integrate and honor both cultures I represent.

For me, the process has been fairly easy. I was born a military brat and got the opportunity to travel with my family. Even better, my mom is an amazing cook who passed her skills down to her girls. The picture above is of a Filipino dish called pancit using rice noodles, veggies and chicken (though it can be done with other meats). Making this tasty Asian pasta for my Italian husband today was what put me on the path to this discussion.

I’ve enjoyed integrating our cultures through food, and so has my guy. As many of you know, he cooks, too. What’s funny is that he wasn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a culinary adventurer when I met him. He hadn’t even tried Chinese food, convinced he’d hate it. Too many childhood jokes about fried lice that he actually believed it. (And somewhere along the way he’d heard soy sauce was bug juice). Dating me changed that and opened his palate. (It’s amazing what guys will try to impress the girl.)

So, in our house these days, you could be treated to traditional American fare of pot roast or meatloaf or you might be served Asian fried rice or pancit….or even homemade ravioli or chicken cacciatore. The big regret I have is that I never learned my great grandmother’s Cornish pastie recipe.

But food is not the only blending I do. I’ve learned to merge my love of languages and music, too. I love that I can still remember a few of my favorite church songs in both Tagalog and English. Over the years I’ve even taught them to some of my friends. I enjoy the fact that I can still speak, read and write in both languages. My husband has even picked up some words and phrases over the years.

Which leads me straight onto a soapbox. As many of you have probably guessed, English is not my mom’s first language. Would you know it if you met her? Maybe not. She only has a hint of an accent. Why do I bring this up? Because there has been such a huge deal made lately about immigrants and their language choices that it’s had me shaking my head.

Why am I shaking my head? Because I sort of feel like we’ve brought some of these negative behaviors on ourselves. To be clear, I do believe that those who want US citizenship should be required to learn the language. I’m not saying to throw away or hide your primary language. In fact, I recommend you teach it to your children should you have any. I simply feel that if you decide to take up this country’s flag and the many benefits that come with it, the least you can do is learn the language. I believe this should be the case for whatever country you decide to reside in.

But here’s where we screw ourselves with our arrogance. We are notorious for going into other countries for vacations or business and demanding they speak English. Why? We are in their world, not ours. Is it any wonder why they get pissed off and return the favor when they come here?

We’re getting a taste of our own medicine, people!

The beauty of this country is in our diversity…and yes, there’s more than ethnics in diversity, but it’s what I decided to share today. If we were to take the time to understand and appreciate a few more cultures here within our melting pot, maybe we’d have a little less hatred and violence. There are so many cool and unique flavors to our many different cultures. I challenge you to try just one thing outside your cultural comfort zone and see what you learn.

Am I way off base with my little ramble? Have you had a really cool experience a little outside of your cultural box? What’s your favorite ethnic food?

My Battle With The Foot In Mouth Disease

My fantastically funny friend, Gloria Richard wrote a post yesterday entitled Ever Lost Your Brain’s Remote Control. After recounting several of her hilarious mishaps over the years, she challenged us to share some of our moments. As I sat thinking about the many idiot moments I’d had over the years I figured I’d share some of my own. Hey, turnabout is fair play, especially since I shared some of my friends’ more awkward moments in the past.

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Those of us who tend to say what we think know that there is a hazard that goes with being blunt. For example, there was a young lady that I used to work with at a popular electronic retailer store. I was new, and she and I were pretty friendly. The weather had taken on a cooler edge recently, so when I walked in, I was wearing my black leather biker jacket.

black biker jacket

It was a men’s jacket and I loved it…still do, actually. I was the first “real” gift hubby ever gave to me. Anyway, back to the story. As I came walking down this young lady’s department, she came over to say hi and the following conversation ensued.

Her (with a big grin and a nudge) : Hey there, Biker Bitch!
Me (with a grin and a wink) : Better watch your step or I’m going to make you my bitch.
Her (eye contact, not laughing) : Any time.
Me (blinking) : Um, yeah….

Oops! Yeah, I’d heard the rumors about her being either lesbian or bisexual, I just didn’t care. It just never occurred to me that a simple off the cuff response could create such an interesting ripple. Well, it confirmed the rumor if nothing else…LOL! Oddly enough, that moment helped to cement our friendship.

Unfortunately my talent for the awkward started much earlier. It’s the hazard of being a person whose mouth rarely stops moving. Sometimes we can be deliberately hurtful and regret it later. My “lesson learned” moment actually became my college application essay. Here’s the short version.

While we lived in the Philippines we had some live in help. A maid and a nanny. Hey, the dollar stretches quite well in third world countries. Anyway, as my mom is also Filipina, our servants were more like family and were treated as such. I was about 7 years old when my mouth got me into trouble.

Nanny (looking around at toys strewn all over the floor): Kitt!
Me (fake innocent look): What?
Nanny (pointing at all the toys): Put away all your toys or you’re not playing outside.
Me (irritated): Pfft! Your the maid. Isn’t that what we pay you for?
From somewhere behind me….
Mom (snarling): Kitt. What. Did. You. Just. Say?

Yeah…mom had walked up behind me and heard the whole thing. She was NOT happy. I got my butt whipped, had to clean up my toy AND I got grounded for the day. No bueno.

My sophomore year in high school there was a 4 day choral music festival held at a one of the private universities in Michigan, culminating in a concert on Saturday afternoon with the University Orchestra. The private high schools tied to this particular religion from the surrounding 5 states sent the top 2 singers from each section (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) to go to this event. It was a privilege to be chosen, and I was one of the 2 sopranos chosen to represent my school. We were put up in the women’s dorm and spent most of the time rehearsing songs in German (Haydn) and Latin with a couple of English ones thrown in for good measure.

As you can imagine, after a while we became restless. Several of us congregated in one of the dorm rooms early that Saturday afternoon waiting for the concert. Keep in mind, most of us were little suburban kids. I, being half Asian, was the closest we had to an ethnic mix in that room. To this day I’m not exactly sure how it started…all I remember was thinking I was going to die.

What had I done? I sang Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love Of All”. And not in my normal voice. NOOOO. I was singing it at the top of my lungs, over enunciating each word with theatrical dramatics.

“I Buhleeve that children are hour fyuchaaaa.
Teech them well ahnd let them lead the waaaayyyy.
Show them ahl the beauty they possess insiiiiide.
Give. Them. A Sense of pride.
To make it easiahhhh!”

The girls were all in a fit of giggles as I belted it out….and then came the knock on the door. My singing stopped. We all looked at each other, eyes huge and praying… Why? Because late that night an all black university from Canada had come down for an event the following week and were staying in the rooms across the hall from us.

Of course, with my luck…it WAS, in fact, several of the very nice ladies from that university. Here’s what happened:

My traitorous friend: Uh, hello?
Nice lady: Hi girls, we heard someone singing from down the hall. Who WAS that?
(Yup! You guessed it. All hands pointed at me as I slowly turned around to face the women in the doorway.)
Me: Sorry about that.
Nice lady: Why are you sorry? We thought you sounded GREAT!!!!
Me (blinking while my friends all tried to hide their laughter): Um… Thank you?

And just like that, they were gone… Thankfully they hadn’t realized I was poking fun at the way a lot of divas overdramatize song lyrics. As my friends cracked up, I was mortified. Seriously. What if I’d really offended them? Sooo not my intent.

Then there was the time I met the Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Football Hall Of Fame quarterback, Terry Bradshaw.

Terry_Bradshaw

Okay…so I’m unapologetically an Dallas Cowboys fan, but still. I love football and I respect the game. That’s one of the reasons that every time I think of this moment I want to hide somewhere. Why? Because my usual eloquence eluded me that day in a big, BIG way…making me sound like a total airheaded bimbo (something I hate).

So the back story? Mr Bradshaw’s brother has a home in the Sarasota area. He’d come to town for a visit only to realize he’d left his camera bag back at home in his foyer. What did he do when he discovered this error? Why, what every wealthy man does, of course. He showed up to the local electronics store with his dad at opening (when it’s least crowded) and replaced everything he’d left behind.

The guys in the store were dying to talk to him and ask for his autograph, but figured it would be easier to break that ice if they sent a female in. As I qualified and was the only woman knowledgeable enough about football and his HOF career, they asked me to go over and talked to him. I didn’t want to disrespect his privacy so I declined being used in this manner. Fortunately for them, he noticed several guys hovering and welcomed them over to get his autograph and offered the opportunity to any employee in the store who wanted it.

Once he gave permission, the guys let me know and I walked over to get his autograph before I left. Here’s how THAT went down.

Me (in a timid voice that was so unlike me the guys all blinked): Excuse me Mr Bradshaw. Would you mind if I asked you for your autograph?
TB (with a gentle smile): Sure thing, Sweetheart. Do you have anything for me to sign?
Me (holding up small brochure form): This?
TB: Why don’t we find something a bit bigger?
(Grabs a manual receipt form)
Me (while he’s signing): Thank you so much! (And then I made my big faux pas that made me want to commit seppuku) I just want to say, I really LOVE watching you and Howie (Long) on Sundays.
TB (Showing class all the way, put an arm around me): Aw, thank you sweetheart. We need more fans like you.
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Why was that so mortifying? Because I was well aware of his Hall of Fame career and his 4 Superbowl rings…and what did I mention? His Fox Sports thing? OMG! Yes, that is my head you hear banging on my desk. Never mind that this incident happened nearly 10 years ago. I’m still mortified…. But I also still have this awesome autograph.

Terry Bradshaw Autograph

My Terry Bradshaw Autograph

Okay, enough of my verbal face plants…. What about you guys? Care to share some of your more awkward moments? If not, I’m open to you sharing the awkward moments of friends and family. And just so no one can question my Cowboy Fandom….Here’s a pic of me at one of them many Cowboy events I’ve been to… Hanging out with some Cowboy Legends

Tailgate in Big D with Hubby, Bill Bates, Me, Everson Walls & Kenny Gant

Tailgate in Big D with Hubby, Bill Bates, Me, Everson Walls & Kenny Gant

And here’s another one of me with my girls at a game at Cowboy Stadium.

At The Game

At The Game

 

 

 

The Final Goodbye (A #MemorialDay Story)

Hey guys! In honor of Memorial Day, I decided to write a little story. As many of you know, I have very strong feelings about our armed services and those who serve. With the story, I included songs that I felt conveyed the sentiments of each moment. I hope you guys appreciate this small tribute to those we’ve lost who have guarded our freedom with vigilance.

He stood alone. As he gazed out at the white crosses that covered the beautifully manicured lawn he felt the weight of his 48 years drag his shoulders down in a way he never had before. It had been a long time since he’d been back to this place, and he’d hoped to never return.

“A parent should never outlive his child.” Grief scratching at his throat.

He blinked back tears that stubbornly refused to fall. Part of him clung to the image he had in his mind’s eye. Full of laughter and vitality, that precious dark head bent over to kiss his young wife’s distended belly, before he turned around to say goodbye. David promised to come home soon.

He shook his head as the pain threatened to suffocate him. Not like this. This had to be a bad dream. He just needed to wake up and everything would be okay again.

Unfortunately, the folded triangle of fabric pressed tightly to his chest told him everything was all too real. His bowed his head, fingers digging into the precious flag. Alone with his grief he dropped to his knees and cried out to the only person who could hear him.

“God, if you’re listening…this is too much. Almost more pain than I can bear! My boy was a good son, a great husband. He was going to be a great father. He loved you. Loved this country. He wanted so badly to follow in his grandpa’s footsteps. Did you really have to take him?”

The hand on his shoulder felt familiar. It had been decades since he’d experienced that touch. He looked up to find his father standing beside him. He wore the same dress blues he’d been buried in 40 years ago and he hadn’t aged a day.

“Dad…” he choked out, blinking, sure this was some sort of hallucination.

There was a wealth of understanding and regret in his father’s eyes.

“Hello, son.”

“I’m finally losing it, right? Hallucinating? A psychotic break caused by grief and stress?”

“No, son. You’re not. God heard you…. So did I. We’ve never been far away. When you called out, I asked him to let me go to you.”

Although none of this seemed real, he decided to go with it. Maybe he was dreaming. What harm could it do?

“It’s all so damned unfair, Dad!” he railed. “First you, then my son? Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of him. Proud of you… But did the price have to be so high?”

His father wrapped strong arms around him, something he’d missed most of his life. He soaked in the comfort, gaining some strength before he let go. With a bolstering breath, he straightened his spine, threw his shoulders back and raised his head.

“I’m proud of you, you know.” His father looked at him with the same piercing blue eyes as his son. “I’ve watched you grow into a strong, honorable man. I know it wasn’t easy for you to let David join the service. After the way you lost me, it would have been all too easy to encourage him to go a different direction.”

“It wouldn’t have been right. Being a soldier was all he ever wanted.” He shrugged, his smile, bittersweet. “To be a hero, just like his Grandpa.”

“It may have served you better not to paint me with such a heroic brush,” his father laughed. “I appreciate that, by the way. The way you kept me alive in your heart. The way you shared me with your family. It meant everything to me.”

The man shook his head. “I didn’t do anything all that special.”

“Yes, you did,” his father smiled. “It may seem like nothing to you, but it’s what gave your son the courage to chase his dream. He knew the danger, but he also saw your gift. When his number was called, he didn’t worry. His son and wife are in good hands with you. He knows you’ll keep his memory alive, just like you did for me.”

“You’ve seen my David?”

Tears finally flowed, unchecked.

His father nodded. “Of course. You didn’t think I’d let your son get to heaven without a welcome party, did you?”

“He’s okay? My boy. You’ll look out for him, Dad?”

“Of course,” his father nodded his head. “He’ll be loved. Surrounded by family, both military and kin.”

With one more shuddering breath, he clasped his father’s hand and squeezed.

“Tell him, Dad.” He bit his lip as his voice broke. “Tell him I’ll watch over his family down here. I know he’ll be watching out for them with you. And please, tell him I’m so proud of him.”

“I will.” His father smiled one last time before fading away.

As he stood gazing out at all the soldiers that came before, he could have sworn he heard David whisper on the gentle breeze.

“I love you, Dad.”

Squeezing the flag to his chest, he nodded.

“I love you, too, son. I’m proud of you.”

Combining Laughter And Learning

Yesterday, my awesome new buddy Jess Witkins did a post called “Guilty Pleasures: Flashback Fun” inspired by Thoughts Appear’s  Movies Teach Us posts.  In it, she discussed the lessons that can be learned from watching the funnier movies. At the end she asked for examples, but I couldn’t do it! Why? Because I had too many movies floating around in my brain to narrow it down to just one. Instead, I decided to try my hand at it and see what you guys think. (I still had so many movies that I may have to do this in sections if you guys enjoy it as much as I did). 🙂

Real Genius

Real GeniusLessons Learned:

  • All schools for the gifted are located near beauty colleges, and they love playing with minors.
  • Dry ice can be cut and used as coin in vending machines
  • TPing a house is a lame prank. Assembling someone’s car in their bedroom…THAT’s a prank! Go big or go home!
  • The best way to convince someone you’re Jesus when gas lighting a person is to tell them to stop playing with themselves.

 

Adventures In Babysitting

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Lessons Learned:

  • When your boyfriend calls on your anniversary to cancel because his mom is sick and he needs to care for her, he’s cheating on you.
  • All kids know how to scale skyscrapers with nothing but rope.
  • Cars always break down in front of frat houses.
  • There’s only one rule when running from thugs in a bad neighborhood and you duck into the local bar. “Nobody leaves this place without singin’ the blues”.
  • Thor is REAL!

 

Blast From the Past

Blast_from_the_PastLessons Learned:

  • If Christopher Walken is your dad, you’re doomed to an unusual childhood (possibly in a bomb shelter or Baltimore).
  • In case of nuclear war, you must stay in your underground bomb shelter for 35 years (every household has one).
  • Guys named Adam are destined to fall in love with girls named Eve.
  • All guys that grew up in bomb shelters have manners, dance well and love Perry Como.

 

Exit To Eden

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Lessons Learned:

  • Somewhere in the Caribbean is a sexual Fantasy Island that specializes in D/s play.
  • Everyone is sexy to someone. Just ask the guy who volunteered to sleep on Rosie O’Donnell’s floor.
  • “The best submissives usually become the best Masters.”
  • “Australian kink!” is a method for eating croissants-butter edge of bread, butter woman’s nipple, sprinkle cinnamon on edge of bread, sprinkle cinnamon on nipple. Guy nibbles on nipple, girl eats croissant.

 

Pump Up The Volume

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Lessons Learned:

  • If a guy is shy and chews Black Jack chewing gum, he must run a pirate radio station.
  • Everything you need to set up a pirate radio station can be purchased at Radio Shack.
  • The FCC won’t come after you for broadcasting illegally unless they get multiple complaints.
  • If a bare chested hottie says “I’m not like you”, the best way to prove he’s wrong is to take of your shirt and show him your boobs.
  • The truth is a Virus!

One of my all time favorite soundtracks is Pump Up The Volume. Combining Samantha Mathis & Christian Slater with Ivan Neville’s “Why Can’t I Fall In Love” was just….::fanning myself::

So what about you guys? What lessons have you learned from your comedies over the years? Did you enjoy this segment? If I missed a few lessons, share yours…because I tried to limit myself to 4-5 bullet points per movie.

Friendship, History and Howling At The Moon

Probably my first friend when I joined WordPress was the awesome Mae Clair. We “met” early on when I stumbled on her blog. After I commented, she was kind enough to respond and visit my blog in return. Back then I was pretty green, but she must have seen something in me because she kept coming back (and I kept stopping by hers).

Through these little visits we forged a bit of a friendship. I didn’t know much about her except that she was a writer and had recently gotten her manuscript accepted by Lyrical Press and was looking forward to being published for the first time. While I enjoyed her blog posts, especially her Mythical Mondays, I was a bit nervous about her book. You see, I wanted so badly to support her, but I wasn’t sure that her book was going to be my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong… I’m a life long fan of romance. I adore supernatural stories (yes, that includes werewolves, vampires, Valkyries, demons and most of the other shifter/god related characters). My problem? I wasn’t sure about her leading man from the past. I wasn’t much into historicals these days. In fact, my leanings had taken a sharp turn towards the more explicit erotic romances, which this definitely was not! What if I read her book and didn’t like it? I worried for nothing. How foolish was I???

weathering-rock-mockup2

Mae’s book, Weathering Rock, was jam packed with all sorts of things that drew me in and kept me interested. Seriously. The opening scene had her heroine, a school teacher named Arianna Hart, nearly hitting a man on a horse with a car in the middle of a lightening storm…and not your usual kind of lightening. It was ball lightening! Odder still was the man himself! Handsome, muscled, but with a speech pattern that screamed old world (then again, so did his attire)!

The guy she hit was her hero, Caleb DeCardian, of course! His story is a bit of a mystery… He’s a man out of time…both literally and figuratively. He’s managed to travel from the Civil War era in the 1800’s into today and his nemesis has been following him and taunting him with killings that are steadily escalating. As if that weren’t enough to contend with, when the moon is full, he shifts into werewolf form!

With all the craziness in his life, he doesn’t have time for love! Plus, he’s got a deadly cat and mouse game going with his former best friend who is out to destroy him. Not to mention he’ll be going back to the past (though he has no clue how) once his mission is completed.

Does the book sound exciting enough for you yet? Now I’m not going to spoil the story for you, because I think you should go out and buy it, just like I did. It’s a very strong freshman effort by a wonderful lady from whom I expect great things! In fact, I can’t wait for her next one. Twelfth Sun will be launching on August 5th. Her teasing tidbits that she’s shared on her blog have had me hooked from word Go!

Have you read Mae’s book yet? What did you think? If this sort of story isn’t your cup ‘o’ tea, what do you like to read?

Where To Find Beautiful

With all the terrible sadness and tragedy of this last week, my heart has been a bit heavy. My thoughts have been with those in Oklahoma who are going through so much right now. My prayers have been filled with them and childhood and online friends who’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer.

I needed my heart to be soothed. To remember the good in the world. To be empowered and inspired.

Today I thought I’d share with you the things that have touched me….and hope that they speak to you, too.

Here’s some poetry from a young lady named Botlhale Boikanyo from South Africa’s Got Talent at the age of 11.

Next is Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough’s Freestyle performance Monday night on Dancing With The Stars. It brought tears to my eyes. The emotions were so clearly displayed. She bared her soul with that dance. (The song was gorgeous, too.)

My last addition is a song sung by Jotta A, a Brazilian boy. I believe he was 12 at the time of this particular recording. I think it might be from Brazil’s Got Talent. You can definitely tell English is not his first language as he mispronounces some words, but the heart of the song…the message…  He delivers that, loud and clear. He’s singing Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone.

Where do you go when you need to add a little beauty to your life? Have you seen anything that’s wow’ed you lately? If so, please share it with me!