Sunday, August 20, 2017

His name is Larry

Larry is homeless. I met him while sitting on a bench waiting for friends in Bay Harbor Park in San Diego.  He stood about 5’8” and might have weighed 130 pounds.  He appeared clean, but like many without access to dental care, he had very few teeth.  He was pushing a baby stroller full of his belongings. The San Diego Symphony was setting up to play music from Fiddler on the Roof in the park.  Larry asked me to watch his belongings because he needed to go to the box office.

I waited as Larry walked to the box office and when he returned he handed me a brochure which listed the summer park events.  He was excited about the different concerts and his face lit up when he saw fireworks were on the schedule for that evening.  He was out of breath and said he needed to sit and catch his breath because he had COPD.  It was then he began to share his story with me.  He started with “I wasn’t always this way” (referring to his COPD).   With tears and broken, breathless words he related his near-death experience. 

On May 14, 2016 Larry was asleep and awoke to what he thought was someone kicking him in the back.  Only what he felt was not someone kicking him, but someone stabbing him in the back with a butcher knife. A knife that was left in his left arm.  By all accounts Larry was left for dead but, for reasons even he cannot explain, he survived. 

Larry said he didn’t initially realize he had been stabbed.  When the offender left, Larry smoked a cigar.  He reached around his back and when he pulled his hand back it was full of blood. That’s when he used his free government cell phone to call 9-1-1.

Larry spent 29 days in the hospital.  29 days. When I told him it sounded like God had a plan for him, Larry’s response was “I’m a living testimony.” Larry was one victim in a series of attacks in San Diego in 2016.  

We continued to talk and I learned Larry was a veteran. He said he had built condominiums and office buildings without any injuries.  He also appeared to enjoy music.   

I do not know how Larry ended up on the streets or why, after being in the hospital, he returned to the streets. What I do know is he appeared to have a joy for life.  A joy some people who have much more than Larry never seem to find.  Larry did not ask for anything from me, did not appear angry, and did not indulge in self-pity.  And when I left, with a smile on his face, he raised his hand in the air and said “Remember the Bee Gees!”

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Quarter Moon Books & Gifts...a treasure on Topsail Island.

Books have been a staple in my life for, well, as long as I can remember.  I love reading them, writing them, and collecting them.  I could spend hours exploring bookstores, reading the covers, and losing myself in the stories they contain. 
Three years ago I started planning my move to the coast and came across an article in Our State magazine about Quarter Moon Books & Gifts.  I was immediately intrigued.  It looked like a perfect combination of my two loves - books and the beach - so I put it on the top of my list of places to go.

One sunny afternoon after work I made the thirty minute drive down the island.  I knew from the moment I walked into the store there was something special about it. I grabbed a cold beer and a book by one of my favorite authors, and found a seat on the deck. I smiled as the stress of a busy day melted away. 
Coffee, tea and smoothies 
You see, Quarter Moon is more than a bookstore.  At the front of the store, behind the counter is a coffee, tea, and a smoothie bar. There are gorgeous postcards, funny greeting cards, beautiful jewelry and some pretty clothes throughout the store.  
Do you need some decor for your house or some gifts for the kids in your life? You can find books about the sea, stuffed whales and turtles, some fun temporary tattoos, and a classic book or two.  If it's decor you are looking for you can find some ceramic and glass pieces, light boxes, candles, and beautiful artwork.  Jewelry from local artisans, gorgeous coffee mugs, and of course stationery and wine glasses are displayed throughout.  
Oh, and there are books....books for all ages. New and used.  Books on local history. Cookbooks. Fun beach reads. And a title or two to lift your spirits. You will have no problem finding something to take to the beach to read.
Music on the deck
Wine for all
Finally, there is a gorgeous bar, built by a local artisan, where you can get a glass of wine or a cold beer. Sit at the bar, on the couch, or find a spot on the deck.  If you decide to sit outside you will be able to hear the waves crashing against the shore and the seagulls flying overhead.  It's the perfect place to relax. And if you have a well-behaved dog - they are welcome too!
Over the last three years, Quarter Moon has become a fixture in my life.  You will find me there almost every Saturday night (sometimes Friday too) listening to talented local musicians.
Ben and Heather
 I have had the pleasure of getting to know the owner, Lori Fisher, and feel blessed to call her friend.  She has owned the Quarter Moon for over twenty years and has grown the business into a "must see" on the island.  

Lori has a great staff who have also become friends.  Marie, Mollie, and Melinda all bring charm and life to the business.  
Marie and Mollie
Within a couple of visits they will greet you by name and whether it's your first or fiftieth time there, you will feel welcomed.  Marie will fill your glass with your favorite drink and Mollie will regale you with a spirited story.  Music will fill the venue and laughter will abound.  One of the regular musicians, Doug McFarland, makes a regular appearance and even wrote a song about Quarter Moon.  If you are there when he's playing you will hear the "regulars" singing along and once he knows your favorite song(s) he will be sure to fit it into the set.   Be sure to ask him to sing the Cadbury Egg's sure to make you smile.  
Doug McFarland
Last night I asked Marie and Mollie what their favorite thing is about working at Quarter Moon and after giving it some thought, both said it was the relationships.  Relationships with each other and relationships with the "regulars." 
I am happy to say I have become a regular at Quarter Moon. I have made friends with the other "regulars" and even a few tourists.  I have fallen in love with the energy and the atmosphere of the place and the people.  I recommend it to everyone that will listen and always take my visitors for a drive down the island so they can experience it for themselves.  
If you are ever on Topsail Island, take a drive south to 708 S Anderson Drive.  Join me for a good book and a drink on the deck.  

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Twenty years ago I packed my things and moved out of the house I had purchased with my, now, ex-husband. My daughter and I moved into a tiny two-bedroom apartment in Kansas City and set forth on a new journey.  If you would have told me then what the next twenty years would bring I wouldn't have believed it.

In the past twenty years I have moved.... a lot.  14 times to be exact.  I have rented apartments, houses, townhomes, and even a loft in the city, but I have not owned any of these homes.  I have finished college, had another child, went to the Police Academy, made friends, lost friends, fallen in love, had my heart shattered, and moved across country. A lifetime has passed and I am now 1216 miles from where I started. My children and I live in a tiny rental house in a charming seaside village in North Carolina where we have decided to plant some roots.  

In seventeen short days I will be closing on the first home I've owned since 1997. I will pack my boxes, load the truck and drive the four miles to my new home. It will make the 40th move in my lifetime...and God-willing, the last. Looks like I'm....

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Laugh. Love. LIVE!

It has been two years since we moved to the coast. Four since we moved to North Carolina.  As much as I miss the work I did I don't regret the decisions to move.

In the last four years I have lost a grandmother, stepfather, sister and best friend. The last two almost breaking my spirit. 

I have gained new friends and reconnected with old. Hosting anyone who wanted to travel to my beautiful community.

Work has been an adventure; every day different. I've traveled (more than I want).  I've grown a program and hopefully made a difference along the way.

With this last move I have enjoyed a social life full of LAUGHter.
Met my favorite superstar musician and volunteered as a turtle walker.
Spent thousands of hours on the beach. Met one of my favorite authors. Started the novel I always said I'd write. 
My children have grown and blossomed into amazing people.  My daughter has begun to pursue her own career goals and my son has made it halfway through high school.  I am so proud of the adult my daughter has grown into and the young man my son has become. They are unique, fun people that still seem to enjoy spending time with their mom. They are truly my LOVE.
I have evaluated (and reevaluated) my life.  In the last year I have learned a lot.  A lot about the fragility of life. I have always tried to value every day but, like many others, always think there will be time.  In the last year I have made the decision to do more and procrastinate less.  To LIVE.
I am not sure where my life is going to go, but I know where I want to stay.  For the first time in 19 years I am looking to buy a house and set down some roots.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Being punished for what he did

I do not write in this blog often, but when I do I try to post about trips and other happy adventures since I have moved.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if that is all life was - happy adventures? Today I have to step out and talk about something real.
For well over a decade I have worked (in some form or another) with victims. Not all were victims of crime-some were just victims of circumstance.  I have always had a passion for helping the underdog--or as some would say, trying to save the world.
I guess some things never change. Over the last few months I have been helping someone who I can only describe as a classic domestic violence victim.  Oh, her spouse never physically or sexually assaulted her (as far as I know), but the power and control behavior is extremely prevalent.  They have been estranged for nine months and it has been a roller coaster ride, but finally a couple of weeks ago it all changed.  Over the last few weeks he has broken into her home more than once, taken all of their possessions (including the food from their freezer, momentos, and transportation) and terrorized her in the process.  During all of this she decided to move with family out of state...but has been dragging her feet.  Throughout this I have tried to be the calm in the storm, listen when she wants to talk, provide logical, sound suggestions during a time when her thinking is anything but logical and calm, and provide a safe place for the kids to be.  I have tried to help her see the big picture - and to look at what her options are.  I have tried to empower her - help her gain the confidence and belief that she deserves so much more than this.  I thought this was what she needed, but how is this any help when your dogs, food, photos, momentos, belongings, and most of all peace of mind have been stripped from you? When you do not feel safe and secure, but instead are frightened for your safety and unsure about your future?
Today she said to me, through tears and a trembling lip, "Why should I have to leave my home; disrupt my life?  Why am I being punished for what HE did?  I am moving because I HAVE to, not because I want to."  The truth of the matter is, I have no answers for her.  All I could say was that I was sorry for what has happened to her and wished it was not this way. All I could say, is ultimately it is HER choice and ask her to think what her life will be like if she stays; focus on the positive and quit looking back saying "coulda, woulda, shoulda."   I offered an ear and a place to feel safe if she wants it.  However,  I had to step back and consider what she was saying. She is moving (as she describes it) to "the country" where she does not know where anything is.  "Country" - with cows and pastures. She has no job or vehicle and will be staying with family. She is leaving everything and everyone she has known for almost 40 years - and not because she wanted to or because of something good, but because HE has beaten her down.   How is this fair?  I know, life isn't about "fair" but she brings up a good point.  She has taught me a lesson-a glimpse from the inside. One I hope to share with others.
I have no answers for her or other victims, but maybe I am not supposed to. All I can do (and all many of us can do) is be there-listen, help pick up the pieces, and pray. Be there for others - help them when they are down because you never know when you might be down there with them.  I left my friend with a book and a thought today as I walked away.  The book was entitled Under His Wings by Patsy Clairmont.  The book is about needing refuge and lifted up- I found it at a thrift store a long time ago and for no real reason picked it up. I guess this was the reason.  Today I told my friend I wanted to empower her-and hopefully this  book will help do that. 


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Where the Road Ends...

 Anyone that has known me for very long knows I have a special fondness for the sea.  It is by the sea that I recenter and recharge my batteries.  There is a calmness that overcomes me when I put my toes in the sand and a joy that fills my soul when I can hear the waves crashing against the shore and smell the sweet smell that is unique to the sea.  It is by the sea that one's heart can begin to heal when it feels like it has been shattered into a million pieces.  The sea, for me, is a place of respite; a place to get rejuvenated. It is a place I love to share with those who care to join me.

About ten days ago I had the privilege of spending a week at the beach, in the Outer Banks to be exact, where I would be training a group from the area. Thanks to a wonderful friend I was able to stay at a house in Duck while I trained and amazing group of folks.  As an added bonus my BGF was able to get away from work and home and join me for the week.  She was in need of respite and rejuvenation-in need of the healing powers of the sea.

I picked my dear friend up in Raleigh and off we drove to the sandbar otherwise known as the Outer Banks.  She had never been there before and I knew she was going to be in for a treat of epic proportions.  In no time at all it seemed as if not a moment had passed since we last spoke. We spent the 4 hour drive catching up on the every day happenings and discussed the upcoming week.  The closer we got to the beach the lower our shoulders dropped; the more relaxed we both seemed to be. The sea was working it's magic.

Once my classroom was set up we made our way to the house in Duck.  Along the way I pointed out places and activities I thought might be of interest to her. I shared my desire to go hang gliding at Jockey's Ridge (on my bucket list) and recounted my first adventure in the OBX almost ten years prior.  As we spoke I noticed I was seeing things with fresh eyes as I shared the information with my friend of seventeen plus years.   

The week started off rainy and a little dreary and cool.  My students apologized for the weather, but I just smiled and replied, "A rainy day at the beach is still a day at the beach."    I was not to be daunted by the rain. I was enjoying the class and the time in the OBX. I found myself making new friends and really appreciating how fortunate I was.

 It was on the second day of the class that the rain stopped and we were able to go explore in the evening. It was on that evening that we saw a breathtaking sunset over the sound - a sunset we would have missed had we been there just minutes later.  After the sun sank below the horizon we made our way a few miles north to where the road ends.  It is here that you must have a 4-wheel drive or turn around. It is on that patch of sand that the wild ponies run, but alas my car is not 4-wheel drive. It was here we saw the (almost) full moon as it reflected it's beauty on the water.  It was here, windblown and covered in sand, 
that I captured this photo.

We tried to make the most of our time in the evenings.  The following day, after class, we made our way south...once again to where the road ends.  On the way we made a stop in Rodanthe.  Many years ago we went together to see the movie Nights in Rodanthe in the theater and I could not wait to show my dear friend the house used for the film.    

After leaving Rodanthe we made our way to Cape Hatteras where we sat by the sea and watch the surfers as they patiently waited for the "perfect" wave. We made memories as we laughed - a common theme for the week. 
And while we watched the surfers I watched a mother and her two children as they played in the sand, fishermen hoping to reel in the big catch, and the birds as they raced along the sand finding dinner beneath it's soft grains.  I think I could have sat there for hours.  
From the lighthouse we made our way to the ferry.  Once again it was where the road least for us.  There just wasn't enough time to venture over to Ocracoke on the ferry (we will save that for our next trip!).  As we drove back we saw kite boarders  and windsurfers as the sun started to sink towards the horizon.  We got to Bodie Island just in time to see the pinks, blues, and purple hues of the sunset as the full moon rose behind the lighthouse.  Another day was done.

Our last night in the OBX was spent with some incredible women who, led by my dear friend, performed the Vagina Monologues.  Neither of us had ever seen the production, but both of us were very impressed.   The sheer talent (and courage) in that room was remarkable. The venue was a charming restaurant on Roanoke Island, with a breathtaking view as a backdrop.  It was the perfect ending to a wonderful week.  

 The next day I wrapped up class and sadly said good-bye to a fun group of new friends.  We packed up the car and made one final stop in Nags Head for a walk in the sand before making our way off the island.  We were both sad to see the week end.  The next four hours flew by as we drove along talking and laughing (I will never hear Madonna again without thinking of that trip) and with a heavy heart we said good-bye in Raleigh - but with plans to make this an annual event...a plan I hope we can keep.

Moving to this amazing place I call home,  I lost, and developed a new, core group of friends.  Over the last year I have learned that time and distance change things-whether we want them to or not.  1000 miles is a long way and while some stay in touch others find it too hard and simply fade away.  I am blessed with, and grateful for, a wonderful support system of beautiful friends here -  I wouldn't trade my girls for anything, but I still love and miss the ones I left behind.  So as I sit here during these early morning hours writing I am grateful  that over the course of five days one of those BGF of seventeen plus years... and I had the chance to travel to where the road ends...and on the way reconnect with one another. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I wonder, do you believe in angels?  Not the cherubs with wings, or even the glowing images of incandescence, but angels who walk among us.  I am beginning to.....

Bailey has had a touch of the flu and was pretty much down for the count for about 24 hours.  Today he tried to go to school, but did not make it the day.  Thankfully I work in a place that is flexible and could leave and finish working from home.  The poor child slept for almost 3 hours and when he awoke he was a different kid.  Suddenly he was his ornery self-which anyone that  knows my kid, knows what I mean. 
 Suddenly he was hungry and the only thing that sounded good was shells and cheese.  You guessed it - none in the house (trying to avoid packaged, processed foods).  Because he has been sick (and gave me the most pitiful puppy dog face ever) I slipped on the flip-flops and headed to the store. Little did I know I would be stopped by a beautiful, white haired woman as I pushed my buggy through Ingles.
As I surveyed my buggy of rotisserie chicken and shells and cheese this sweet lady stopped me as though we were old friends and began a conversation about the high cost of food.  As I talked to her I could not help but think she looked familiar, like my grandmother.  She talked about how it was cheaper to eat out than cook and how a simple meal for just herself yielded leftovers for a week. She did not say these things in a manner of complaint, but just as fact.  As she held her saltine crackers and honey wheat bread she talked about watching a man steal candy in front of his children the night before and how 'right is right, wrong is wrong.'  She talked about how blessed she was and as long as she has crackers, bananas, and peanut butter she will do just fine. She talked about being a Christian and listening to Christian radio even as she slept adding that she wakes up singing and thanks God every morning for being able to put her feet on the floor because there are so many that cannot.  She had a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye as she talked.  
The conversation couldn't have lasted more than two or three minutes, but it was long enough to leave an impression and teach me a lesson.  I think I am a pretty grateful person, but she reminded me that there is so much in this life to be thankful for and that we can never know how much simple contact can mean to another person.  I walked away from our little conversation with a smile on my face and a prayer in my heart that I will be a blessing to those I have contact with and that I will always appreciate the gifts in my life.  

I looked for this woman as I made my way to the checkout stand. I wondered how she got to the store and if she would need help getting home.  In the couple of minutes it took me to get to the checkout stand she was gone. I did not see her in the parking lot or anywhere near the front.  Was she an angel? Probably not. But for a few brief moments she was an angel to me delivering a gentle smile and sweet nature, much like my grandmother did before she passed.  You can trust that the next time I see some Reese's peanut butter I will think of her.