Killing Buford T. Justice

If I made up life’s rules, people who have been through a lot would get a free pass to live out the rest of their lives in peace. But unfortunately, I am not yet in charge of the world. Case in point: My dad. In February 2005, he went to work an outwardly healthy man and about an hour into his work day our lives changed forever. He suddenly collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. We found out when we arrived at the hospital that he suffered a thoracic aortic dissection and a subsequent stroke. In English, that means that the largest artery in his body, attached to his heart suddenly tore.  80% of aortic dissection patients don’t survive and 50% never even make it to the hospital alive. Luckily, my dad did and after 7 months in 4 different hospitals he got to come home. My sweet mom retired to take care of him.

Now, 9 years later, he’s facing another challenge. He was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. Fortunately, after a bone scan and CT scan we were able to determine that it hasn’t spread anywhere else. I didn’t even know this was possible but apparently the docs are so good these days, they can tell us exactly the kind of prostate cancer we’re dealing with.  They score tumors based on a Gleason scale. I envision the tumor sounding exactly like Buford T. Justice and the doctors holding up signs with scores on them like in the Olympics but I’m pretty sure that isn’t actually how it works. Anyway, my dad’s tumor, Buford T. Justice is an 8 out of 10. I’ve lived my whole life programmed to go for the high score but in this case a high score is bad. It means that the cancer is aggressive and likely to spread if we don’t kill it.  Trust me, if we could hop in the Trans Am with the Bandit, head east, put the hammer down and outrun the cancer, I’d do it. But, unfortunately that only works when you have an awesome mustache like Burt Reynolds and I’m fresh out.

Buford T. Justice/aka Jackie Gleason

Buford T. Justice/aka Jackie Gleason

After several family conferences with his doctors, we have decided to go with the treatment plan of hormone therapy and radiation. Prostate cancer typically needs testosterone to grow so if we remove the fuel (testosterone) we can hopefully shrink the tumor and keep it from growing and spreading elsewhere in his body. But, because cancer is smart (darn it!), and this one is as aggressive as Buford T. Justice chasing the Bandit, there’s a pretty good chance that it could figure out how to live without testosterone and spread outside the prostate. In short, hormone therapy can’t be our only option because it won’t kill the cancer.

The only chance we have to permanently take down Buford is radiation.  Unlike chemo, radiation doesn’t have too many side effects. It won’t make Dad nauseated, he won’t lose his luxurious locks of hair, and he’ll only have soreness at the site of radiation. The drawback is that Dad is in a wheelchair and it is pretty tough to get him in and out of a car so just driving him to treatment isn’t an option. When Mom takes him to the doc, she uses a couple of different services that picks them up in a wheelchair accessible vehicle since we don’t own one. Radiation must be done in 45 visits, 5 days per week, over 9 weeks. That’s a lot of trips to the doctor’s office.  We’ve looked into using these services for radiation. Metrolift is $12 per day and has a subscription service that means you can use it every day if you live in the right “zone”. You guessed it-they live 5 miles away from the zone.   So, it may be out but we’re still working on it. Medride is $74 per day so over 45 visits that’s $3,300 just for a few miles ride (basically Lake Hefner to Baptist)! We are certainly hoping for a better solution to getting him back and forth to his treatments for 9 weeks. I called the American Cancer Society but the ones they recommended require him to be ambulatory so they won’t work. Anyone have a wheelchair van we can rent for 9 weeks?

Dad and me

Dad and me

Over the next month, we’ll be working with his doctors to plan his treatment, transportation, and home care. While we already have doctors and a pretty decent idea of treatment, we could certainly use any prayers, transportation ideas, and warm thoughts that you can send our way. While I can’t shield Dad from this latest health challenge, I can rally an army of support to help him through it.

Update: I was able to sweet talk (aka beg) Metrolift to agree to transport Dad to his treatments and hire a companion to accompany Mom and Dad to treatments so things are already looking up! 🙂 Thanks for all of the suggestions and words of support that have already been given, friends.

Happy trails,


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What Does Marriage Mean to You?

Depending on your life experience, the word “marriage” may conjure blissful images of a white dress, fairy tale honeymoons, and happily ever after. For others, it may bring up hurtful images of fighting and ultimately of dismantling a life that you once built with someone. Perhaps you’re somewhere in between and understand that marriage takes a lot of hard work from both sides. I can’t help but think of this when I think of marriage:

Marriage has been on my mind a lot lately because I’ll be celebrating my 7th anniversary with my husband Justin later this year. We have both been married before and coincidentally, the 7 year mark was the last anniversary that we each had. Lucky for us, we are going strong and have never been happier. I’ve been examining what I learned in my first failed marriage and everything I have learned since then. I also have supported several friends through their own divorces and definitely have sensed a pattern with relationships. I’m no relationship expert but I know what works for me and what doesn’t. So, I thought I’d share.

What Marriage Isn’t

Verbal abuse: I have heard it said that you always hurt the ones you love most. While this may be true, it doesn’t make it right. I have seen people use this as an excuse to treat their spouse like a virtual punching bag (verbal abuse isn’t OK) and take out all of their frustrations on them by spewing hateful words whenever things don’t go their way. If you want a punching bag to help you release some aggression, they sell them at Academy.  You don’t treat your spouse that way. Screaming, yelling, name calling, cussing, belittling, etc. are not acceptable in your marriage. Your spouse should be your best friend. Someone that wants to be around you. Treating them like this will do the opposite. They may tolerate it because they made a vow but eventually, it will chip away at the very foundation of your relationship and you’ll be left with no one to scream at but that angry person in the mirror.

Constant criticism: No one wants to be picked on constantly. No one wants to be bullied, told that they aren’t good enough, smart enough, thin enough, talented enough, or successful enough. Most of us have a little voice inside our heads that do a pretty good job of that without any outside help. Who would want to be married to someone who says these things? Never ever break the cardinal rule and ridicule your spouse in front of others. Nothing is more embarrassing for your spouse (or the friends who witness it) than  having someone who is supposed to love them make hurtful comments in public. If you truly love someone, shouldn’t you want to make them feel good about themselves instead of tearing them down?

Power Plays: Many men want to marry a woman who remind them in some ways of their mom but that doesn’t mean they want to marry a woman who treats them like she is their mother. While there’s probably a clear leader of the household in some areas, no one needs to be the “boss” of anyone else. You’re both adults and no one needs to be reprimanded like a child. Marriage should not be a power struggle because you’re on the same side.

Suspicious minds: If trust has been an issue in your relationship for any reason, you should be willing to be an open book as that trust is being rebuilt. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. If you’re setting up secret e-mail accounts, erasing internet histories, saving phone numbers under fake names, or erasing text messages, you’re being dishonest.

Stagnantion: Marriage should be full of happiness, joy, good times, growth, learning, and above all enjoying life together. If you’re just going through a routine, like a hamster on a wheel, either because you’re stuck in a rut or you’re just trying to keep the peace, that’s no way to live. Over time, a stagnant existence that’s devoid of joy will suck the life right out of you.

Empty threats: You should never throw around the word “divorce” unless you really mean it. It can be tempting when you’re in the middle of an argument and you want to get a reaction but don’t do it. You’ll probably regret it. You don’t want to make your spouse feel like you have one foot out the door-unless you really do.

The Precious Gift

Pretend for a moment that you’ve been trusted to protect a very precious priceless diamond. Taking care of it could set your family up for life and could make you incredibly happy. You wouldn’t be careless about what happened to it, would you? You’d probably install some kind of high-tech security system complete with cool lasers so that if anyone tried to take it, they would be stopped, right?

The Precious Gift of Marriage

The Precious Gift of Marriage

Well, marriage can be a precious gift but the problem with many of us is that we don’t truly treat it that way. We often take it for granted. We think it will be easier than it is. We naively think that good marriages just happen. They don’t. Good marriages happen because two people are committed to working through problems, treating each other with love and respect, and communicating over many years of ups and downs. It would be easy if marriage were a diamond that we could lock up in a safe to keep it away from any negative outside influences but it isn’t. It lives between you and your spouse and takes both of you to work well. Now that I’ve set some ground rules for what marriage isn’t, let me tell you what I think it is.

Never Let Go

Never Let Go

What Marriage Is

Love: When I married my current husband, my friend Holly gave me a book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs called Love and Respect. I won’t say it’s perfect but the premise is a good one: Women need to feel loved and men need to feel respected. I’ll get to the respect part in a moment but let me start with love. I absolutely believe this is true and I’ll take it one step further-we especially need to feel safe. If we bare our souls to you and tell you that we’ve always been self-conscious about our thighs, please for the love of God, do not decide to start calling us Thunder Thighs in front of your buddies the following week. If we let you see our vulnerability, never, ever, ever, ever use it against us-not even in the most heated argument. Because if you do, we simply will stop trusting you with that information and won’t feel safe being vulnerable with you anymore. Also, don’t turn our vulnerabilities into jokes because they aren’t funny to us. If we don’t feel safe with you, other parts of intimacy will begin to fall apart, too. Your spouse should feel loved all of the time. 100% of the time, even when you are fighting, even when you may not like them at that moment, they should still know that you love them.

Respect: Both men and women need to feel respected by their spouse but this one is especially important for men. If their wife is constantly belittling them, they cease to feel like a man. While you may be a strong woman, don’t emasculate your husband. It is important to let your spouse know that you’re proud of them on a regular basis. While I mentioned earlier that you should never criticize your spouse in public, I highly recommend praising them in public as much as possible. It’s nice for them to see that you are proud of them. Let him or her know that you appreciate how hard they are working for your family and all of the great ways they are contributing. Men also like to feel needed so when you see that spider run across the living room, be sure to let him squish it (or put it outside, if you prefer).

God: These are in no particular order but if they were, this one would certainly be first. When we first got married, we didn’t go to church, although we were both Christians. Since we have joined a church, our relationship has grown even deeper as we have grown closer to God. It is such a blessing to me to have a husband that will go to church with me. I literally thank God for that every day. We joined a small group at church where we fellowship with other couples and  that has enhanced our relationship in so many other ways. By surrounding ourselves with so many other couple who are 100% supportive of our marriage and our walk with God makes any problems we face seem a lot more manageable.

Friendship: Before I found my husband, I always said that I just wanted someone who loved me like my friends love me. I have been blessed with the most amazing, kind, caring, wonderful, supportive group of friends. They believe that I can do anything! If I announced that I wanted to be an astronaut, they’d ask when I start training. Was it too much to ask to find that in a husband? Apparently, it wasn’t but I just hadn’t found him yet. Thank God, I did! We love to spend time together whether it’s travelling, watching movies, or just talking. He is truly my best friend and I know I can tell him anything and he won’t use it against me later.

Communication: No marriage is without disagreements but I have found most of ours happen because we just aren’t communicating effectively. Once we sit down and talk things through, we always come to a solution. It’s important to just ask for what you want and say what you mean instead of expecting your spouse to be a mind reader. It’s also important not to fill in any blanks or make assumptions about what you think they may mean because you could be completely wrong.

Partnership: So many couples fight because they’re jockeying for power or because one person is spending too much money so the other decides to retaliate by spending more. You must realize that you are on the same side. If you’re in competition with each other, you both lose. Only by working together will your marriage thrive. When you get married, you are saying that you want to face anything that life throws at you with your spouse by your side. Always picture yourselves as a team. That line from “Drops of Jupiter” by Train comes to mind, “Your best friend always sticking up for you, even when I know you’re wrong.”

Authenticity: Your spouse should know, love, and accept the real you. You should be able to be exactly who you are and not feel like you should try to be anything else. Even when I’m being a total nerd, my husband just laughs along with me instead of trying to make me feel stupid. Having someone know every part of me and love me for it is the ultimate dream come true for me. That’s not to say that he isn’t always encouraging me to grow and try new things if I want to but he supports me 100%.

Selflessness: You aren’t always going to get your way. In fact, you’ll often not get your way but selfishness really has no place in marriage. You gave up only being concerned about yourself when you said, “I do.” If zombies are coming for you, long gone are the days when you can just make a solo break for it. Nope, you have to also make sure your spouse gets out alive, too. But, here’s the weird thing about marriage: I have found that if I try to put my husband’s needs ahead of mine and he does the same, we are both happier. Isn’t that weird? But, I promise you, it works. It might mean that I do a load of dishes when it’s actually his turn because he’s been working a lot that week. Then, I’ll come home to a load of my laundry that he’s done without me asking. He may go play golf with his buddies while I stay home with the kids. But the next week, he’ll hand me money from one of his band gigs and tells me to go shoe shopping while he stays home with the kids.  See how that works? You give freely and you are repaid in kindness. Good stuff!

Sacrifice: Sometimes, you just have to do what needs to be done in order to make your household run. My husband works two jobs and is gone some evenings. My job sometimes takes me out of state for several days at a time. We adjust and work together because we are a team and that’s what we need to do. We are in this together and we just tackle anything that comes at us with that attitude.

While marriage isn’t something you can lock away, a good marriage is rare and must be protected. I have written before about staying happily in a relationship in Love in the Bullseye and you have to be willing to fight for your marriage. I think it’s dangerous to open the door (even a little bit) to anything that could harm it. Sometimes I picture Justin and I as two warriors, standing back to back, swords drawn, ready to strike down anyone or anything that tries to attack our marriage. If you’re doing anything that you wouldn’t do or say in front of your spouse, it probably isn’t right. If you’re involved in any kind of vice that could be harmful to your relationship, please stop before it is too late. If you have people in your life that don’t support your marriage 100% or encourage behavior that is contrary to its success, they have to go. There’s no room for grey. A good marriage is a beautiful gift and must be protected at all costs.

Posted in Love, Marriage, Oklahoma, Uncategorized, Women | 8 Comments

Why Live in Oklahoma? It’s an Okie Thing and Apparently Some of You Wouldn’t Understand

I’m a born and raised Oklahoman. I’ve read several comments this week online from people asking why we would choose to live in a place known as Tornado Alley. Some have gone so far as to imply that we “have it coming” when disaster strikes because we know there’s a risk of tornadoes by living here.

As some Okies might say, this way of thinking really chaps my hide. According to the National Oceanic and Atlantic Administration (NOAA), there are two parts of the United States that have a high number of tornadoes in the spring: Florida and states known as Tornado Alley including Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, and Ohio. Furthermore, there’s an increased risk of tornadoes in the fall in Gulf States in areas such as Mississippi and Louisiana along with several other southern states.

Home pic

So, what should all of the inhabitants of these states do to avoid tornadoes? Perhaps we should all pack up, vacate our respective states and move to Hawaii. Oh, nope. We could be hit by a tsunami or a volcano could erupt. What if we all headed to California like we did back in the Gold Rush days? Well, there we could encounter mudslides, wildfires, earthquakes, or floods. What about the East Coast then? Surely we’ll be safe there. Not if you remember Hurricane Sandy and the many hurricanes that came before her.

Obviously, natural disasters are everywhere. There is no magical place where everyone can move so that we are immune from them. Yes, we can do a lot to be prepared for tornadoes in Oklahoma. I firmly believe that everyone that can afford it should have a below ground storm shelter or above ground safe room. If you can’t afford it, you should have a storm safety plan so you know where you will go in case of a tornado.  You need to be below ground, if possible. If not, put as many walls between yourself and the tornado as you can. Whatever you do, you don’t want to get caught in a car.

If you live in Oklahoma, there’s an excellent chance that you know someone who has lost their home or sustained damage in a tornado. My cousin and several friends lost their homes in this tornado. My sister-in-law lost her cousin. It is a fact of life in our state that tornadoes are going to happen at some point. We are prepared for it as much as we can be. I hope you have good insurance. Most people I know have a weather app on their phone or a weather radio so we are alerted when the weather starts to get bad. We all know that tornadoes don’t just happen during the day. Okies know that if Gary England starts cutting to Val Castor, you’d better freaking pay attention. If Mike Morgan is wearing his sparkly tie, you’d better tune in and listen up. Damon Lane is just getting started so I don’t know his tornado “tell” just yet but I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon enough.

At last count I heard that 13,000 homes were damaged and 24 precious lives were lost. While every single life is a terrible tragedy, it could have been so much worse. We have the best meteorologists in the nation and they save many lives during every storm. Thank God for them! We know what we are doing when it comes to tornadoes, for the most part. We just can’t move our homes out of the way. Tornadoes are unpredictable monsters and we don’t know exactly when they will strike. We do the best we can with the warning we have.

So, meanies, listen up. Make no mistake: Tornadoes are still natural disasters. We can’t just vacate half of the United States because a tornado could strike here. Oklahomans no more have it coming than the victims in California who build their homes by some trees that dry out, catch fire, have the winds blow out of control, and then burn to the ground. We no more have it coming than anyone who lives along the coast and loses everything to a hurricane. Oklahomans whose homes are destroyed by a tornado no more have it coming than someone who lives in the unpredictable path of torrential rains that quickly become a flood. If you think we do, then I pity you and your compassionless, black heart.

I already knew that the best part of Oklahoma was our people. On pretty much every normal day, strangers open doors for each other, wish each other “Good morning”, strike up conversations in the grocery store, etc. It’s just part of living in Oklahoma. It’s like a big, small town. But, the fact that Oklahomans are amazing was proven to me over and over again this week. The outpouring of love, kindness, generosity, and compassion has been overwhelming. People have been donating their time, money, clothes, water, food, shelter- you name it- to help others. Kids have set up lemonade stands to raise money for tornado victims. Ball players in uniform raised over $30,000 in cash for one family whose daughter was tragically killed at an elementary school that took a direct hit. When a crazy cult showed up to protest funerals of victims, bikers and many other volunteers turned out in droves to shield the family from their hateful words.

You see, the people are why we all live in Oklahoma. We care about each other-even when we don’t know each other. We have each others’ backs. When our people lose everything, the rest of us are there to say, “We are here for you and we will help you get back on your feet.” So, if you’re the kind of person who is on the outside looking in and instead of seeing an incredible community that rises above staggering tragedy, you make snarky comments like “If you choose to live in Tornado Alley and you get hit by a tornado, you have it coming,” here’s what I have to say to you: You probably just don’t understand Okies. Someone like you wouldn’t. So, please don’t ever come here. If you’re ever on I-35 or I-40 passing through, just keep on driving because we don’t need your bad attitude here. But the secret truth is if you are passing through and oh, say you got a flat tire. There’s a pretty good chance that some kind and caring Okie would probably pull over to help you change it because that’s just the kind of people we are.  Another truth is that if you ever have a disaster in your area, there’s probably a pretty good chance that some of the volunteers that are working hard to help YOU will be Oklahomans. Bless your hearts.

Copyright Brent Stovall

Beaver’s Bend, Broken Bow, OK (Brent Stovall)

Posted in Oklahoma, Uncategorized | Tagged | 7 Comments

Baby on Board

It had been a long week of meetings in San Francisco and I was relieved to finally be on board for the non-stop evening flight back home to Oklahoma City. I missed my kids, my husband, and my bed.  My seat mate, Roman arrived, a friendly gentleman from South OKC and we chatted with the lady across the aisle from us who was coming to OKC for a conference. Roman and I ran down our lists of favorite Bricktown area restaurants for the conference lady as we waited for the other passengers to board.

It was hard to miss the frazzled young mom when she boarded the plane. She was wearing her 5 month old daughter in a face-front harness that reminded me of a scene from The Hangover. She was also carrying a giant Minnie Mouse, a smaller Minnie Mouse, a Minnie Mouse rattle, a baby bottle, a Frappuccino, a diaper bag and two baby blankets with a purse strapped around her middle. They were traveling alone. They sat one row up from me.


The flight attendant came over to tell her that because of something to do with the oxygen masks, she had to switch sides of the plane. So after moving seats with another passenger, she attempted to fasten her seat belt. Then the flight attendant mentioned that the perfectly content baby couldn’t be strapped into a harness during take-off. So, the mom had to remove the baby from her kangaroo pouch. Immediately, the baby started crying. Then, the flight attendant told her that her plethora of Minnie Mice and baby gear would have to be stowed before we could take off. So, the poor young mom was left to do something with all of the stuff while the baby was crying.

Instantly, surrounding passengers (complete strangers) jumped into action. One held the mom’s Frappuccino. Another checked the overhead bins to find room for all of the Minnies, diaper bags, and blankets. The mom was working as hard as she could to soothe the baby. Finally, she got settled and we took off. The baby stopped crying and we nestled in for a 3 ½ hour flight that was to arrive just before midnight.

I was hoping for a relaxing flight home but the baby had other plans. She cried much of the way home. When it all began, I could hear her mom whispering to her, “Oh, please stop! Please don’t do this to me!” She was doing everything she could to calm her. When the “fasten seat belt” sign was off, she would walk the aisles and bounce the little girl, which seemed to help. But, as soon as she would sit back down, the crying would start again soon after.  She tried a bottle, which worked for a while but the baby soon lost interest. The pacifier worked for a bit but that, too, didn’t do the trick for very long.

I could tell that the mom was very stressed out by her daughter’s crying because she didn’t want to disturb the other passengers. But, she was doing everything that she could and babies that age have a mind all their own. She even turned to face most of the passengers at one point in exasperation and said, “She never cries like this! I don’t know what is wrong with her.” She sat back down. I placed my hand on her shoulder and whispered, “It’s OK. Many of us are parents and we have been there. You’re fine.” Because she seemed like she needed it in that moment.

As we barreled through the air that night, a captive audience to an unhappy child, something amazing happened on that flight. I didn’t notice one person seeming annoyed. No one was complaining or grumbling at all. Instead, people were knowingly smiling at the mom when she’d walk by with the crying baby. One passenger in front of me said, “Is she teething? It always helped my daughter when I’d rub her gums when she was teething.” So the mom tried that.

The young woman in front of the young mom struck up a conversation, “So, is she your first child?” I heard the young mom say, “Yes, she is. I’m only 19. She was with me in my tummy at my high school prom and my high school graduation. We are on our way to see her daddy now.”

The grandmother in front of me offered to give it a try with the crying baby, “I have 5 grandchildren of my own. I’d love to give it a whirl.” So she took the baby, bounced and patted for a while. Roman and I offered to take a turn if she needed a break, too.

The baby needed a diaper change and another man rang the flight attendant to see if there was a changing table on board. It was like we all had a stake in helping this young mother and her baby.

As we began our descent into Oklahoma City, they turned off the cabin lights so we could see the beautiful city as we flew in. We noticed a hush fall over the cabin as we busied ourselves with looking out the windows.

I’m sure many factors came into play that night. But, I like to think that the biggest one is that most of the people on that plane were probably Oklahomans. Our nature is to care for and help others. That’s what happened on that plane that night. Everyone was just trying to help.


As we taxied to the gate, I had to chuckle as I looked across the aisle. The baby was sleeping peacefully in her mother’s arms.

Happy trails,


Posted in Babies, Oklahoma, Travel, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Love in the Bullseye

With so many friends’ marriages unraveling around me lately, I find myself even more thankful than usual for my incredible husband, Justin. For both us, it’s our second marriage and the decision to divorce our first spouses was a heart wrenching one. My parents will celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. His parents have been married for even longer so lasting unions are our legacy. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for us the first time. It breaks our hearts to see our friends struggle and make the decision to divorce because we know how tough it is.

When Justin and I decided to get married in 2006, we knew that second marriages have even lower chances of success than the dismal rates of first marriages. We felt like we needed some kind of iron-clad guarantee that we wouldn’t go through another divorce. But, there isn’t such a thing as a divorce-proof marriage, right? I was so afraid of another divorce that I found myself reading self-help marriage books when I was single! A great one I have bought for many friends and would highly recommend to everyone is Fighting for Your Marriage.

Well, there are no guarantees in life. First and foremost, God is the center of our marriage, which makes a huge difference. But, I do have a theory about love and how to make it last. Keep in mind that I’m no expert so if you need advice, I’m a big fan of seeking professional counseling. But I’ve seen enough relationships fail and helped far too many friends through their own divorces to know that my theory is a pretty solid one.  Are you ready to follow me on this?

People don’t just go to bed one night, perfectly happily married, and wake up the next, and decide to end their marriage. Little things add up over time that slowly drive people apart until they become really big, seemingly insurmountable things.

I like to visualize love as a great big dartboard. When you first fall in love, you’re both snuggled up in the bullseye. The only thing you may fight about is who loves the other more. That’s the infatuation stage but beyond that it grows into something deep enough that you decide you want to build a life together. Everything is close to perfect and you’re in the zone. You’re best friends. You treat each other with kindness, love, and respect. You can live like this for months or years, depending on your problem solving skills.

I love you more! No, I love you more!

I love you more! No, I love you more!

But, eventually, Mr. Perfect is going to forget to do the dishes, you’re going to be mad about it, and yelling will ensue. This is where the CFC’s (no, not the ozone destroying kind) of a successful marriage come in but I’ll talk about them later. So, while you’re fighting, you aren’t loving in the bullseye anymore.  Each ring away from the bullseye can represent unresolved issues such as hurt feelings, things that need to be shared, things that shouldn’t have been shared, unforgiveness, etc. For something as mundane as a fight about the dishes, hopefully, you just come one ring outside the bullseye, resolve it, and move right back in. For something more serious, you may be so upset with each other that you move several rings away from the bullseye. The point is that every time you move outside of the bullseye, you have to do whatever it takes to work through all of those unresolved issues to get back inside.  I’m serious when I say that you must work to get back to it for the duration of your marriage if you want to be happy.  Of course, real life is going to happen and your bullseye may look different in your 15 year marriage than it did when you were dating for 15 days.

I believe this is so important because when you love outside of the bullseye, one ring out may not feel so bad. You may even get used to it. It’s no big deal. Then you’re loving two and three rings out on a daily basis. You don’t remember what your relationship was like when you didn’t have any resentments toward your spouse. But, it isn’t so bad that you want to leave but you may not define yourself as “happily married” anymore. Everyone has issues, right? Then you’re loving four and five rings out. You’re fighting a lot more often. Pretty soon, you’re seven or eight rings away and barely on the board. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t find your way back to the bullseye even if you tried.  You no longer know how to get back. You don’t even like each other, much less love each other because so much hurt has been built up that you just don’t think things could ever be good again. I believe they could with an excellent counselor and a lot of tenacity but this is where a lot of folks throw in the towel. Others may go on living this way for many years, in an unhappy relationship, becoming more like roommates than partners in life.

If you’re in the bullseye or anywhere near it in your current relationship, you just have to keep fighting your way back. Don’t wait until you’re eight rings away to make an effort. Work on your marriage every day, even when you’re in the bullseye, or just one ring out. Block out any negative influences that try to knock you out of the bullseye or aren’t healthy for your marriage. Don’t take it for granted that your marriage will work without putting any real effort into it. Many newlyweds think that they are never going to get divorced. That’s probably what EVERY newlywed thinks. That’s what I thought in my first marriage, too. They don’t realize that these everyday, unresolved hurts, build up over time and are really what lead to divorce. If you solve them when they are small and keep them from festering, your marriage will have a much greater chance of success.


OK now to the CFCs I mentioned earlier. They may be terrible for the ozone but they’re the key to a successful marriage. Let’s use the dishes example I threw out there before. It’s Mr. Perfect’s turn to do the dishes and he forgot. You have a few options:

Option #1- Choose Stubbornness- It’s his turn to do the dishes and you are NOT doing them! Don’t say anything to him about them but just let them pile up. As the plates overflow onto the counter, roll your eyes and stomp around angry.  A smell that resembles the water treatment plant begins to emanate from your sink after several days. You think an opossum may have taken up residence under the now fuzzy cake pan. Stand your ground. Your family moves to paper plates because all of the real ones are dirty/green.

Option #2- Choose Extortion- Even though it’s his turn to do the dishes, you do them anyway. But, when he gets home from work, the first thing you do is greet him at the door. You let him know that even though it was his turn, because he didn’t bother to do them, you did the dishes for him. Remind him of this daily for a week.  Charge some expensive shoes on the credit card as further payment for doing HIS dishes. (Note: Options #1 and #2 do not start with C, F, or C)

Option #3- Choose Communication- It’s his turn to do the dishes. You aren’t doing them. When he gets home from work, you lovingly say, “Hey honey, I think it’s your turn to do the dishes. Would you have a chance to get them in the dishwasher this evening?” End of story. No criticism, harshness, sarcasm, or anger. Just straight up communication. You can’t expect him to read your mind. Just tell him what you want. Have you tried it? It’s surprisingly effective. Communication is the first C.

Option #4- Choose Compromise- It’s his turn to do the dishes. Do them anyway. He’s been working extra hours lately and hasn’t felt well. You’ve got some time on your hands. Marriage isn’t about keeping score anyway. Just do them. When he gets home from work, if you choose to mention it, do so lovingly, and hopefully he will be appreciative. Yes, it’s his turn and he should do them. But, maybe he can do them the next two times. Maybe he sucks at doing the dishes and you need to rearrange your chore assignments if this is a constant battle. Marriage is a constant compromise. The more you dig in your heels and decide that you aren’t giving in, the harder it will be. Selfish pride has no place in a successful marriage but it has been front and center in plenty of divorces. Compromise is the second C.

Now for the F. I’ve saved the best for last. It stands for Forgiveness. I don’t mean the shallow “It’s OK” kind of apology acceptance. I mean the real, let go of all hurt, and resentments, I-will-never-throw-this-in-your-face-again-at-a-later-date kind of forgiveness that you will need to make a life long relationship work. You need to be an excellent apologizer and an even better forgiver in a marriage.  When you’re wrong, give a heartfelt apology. When you are wronged, accept the apology.

Love 8

Photo by Stubbs Photography by Kim

By using the CFC method, you can resolve many conflicts and find yourself back to the bullseye in no time. So that, my friends, is my theory on how to have and keep a happy marriage.  It’s working for me and I hope it works for you, too. 🙂

Happy trails,


Posted in Love, Marriage, Oklahoma, Uncategorized, Women | 7 Comments

What the World is Coming To

I’m going to break from the traditional topic of my blog (traveling) and talk about something that hits a lot closer to home this time. It’s been weighing on my heart lately and this is best way I have to get my thoughts out of my head and put to paper. Well, virtual paper, anyway.

As more and more bad news rains down on us, I keep hearing people ask, “what is the world coming to?” We just made it through a nasty and divisive election. I’m still seeing Facebook posts from my friends who are mad about the outcome and aren’t ready to move on. We’re feeling more divided than ever. Every day, we hear about the looming fiscal cliff and we’re the unwitting Thelma and Louise all packed in the convertible, zooming toward the precipice. Additionally, we have the conspiracy theorists saying that the government is out to get us, making us paranoid. I haven’t even mentioned the upcoming Mayan doom, asteroids hurtling toward the Earth, or North Korea’s nukes yet! Is it any wonder that we are feeling that the world has gone mad?

Earlier this week, we heard the horrors of the mall shooting in Oregon. Thankfully, the shooter’s gun jammed and only two were killed, plus the shooter. But still, two families must spend this holiday season and every one from now one without their loved ones. Not to mention the guilt and pain the shooter’s family must be feeling. As I write this, specifics are still coming in about the shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Details are still sketchy but it is certain that dozens of innocent people lost their lives, among them a classroom full of kindergartners.


I watched a video on my friend Amy King’s Facebook page that has haunted me for days. It showed a dog that had been hit by a car being dragged to safety by another dog, across several lanes of traffic. The awesome little guy risked his life to save his furry friend! So heartwarming! I had seen that video before but that wasn’t the haunting part. It was juxtaposed with another video from another country. This video showed a little girl that was being run over by a car. She lays in the street. Others drive by, literally step around her, drive around her, but no one helps. Finally, someone comes and moves her out of the street but does not give her medical attention. They just move her off to the side and leave her lying there. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, someone comes and carries her away. The video says that she was 2 years old and died from her injuries.

I’d like to dismiss this and think that something like this would never happen here. But, would it? We’ve become a society that seems to kill each other so freely. Recently, one man pushed another onto subway tracks and he died when the train hit him moments later. No one helped. Where do we draw the line? How can we fix it? When will it stop? I don’t pretend to have all of the answers and I would love any and all constructive comments here. But I have a few thoughts.

First, I own guns so I’m not going to get into a debate about them. But, it does seem that our society much too readily skips past all of the options available to resolve our differences and goes straight to “I’ll kill ’em!” Whatever happened to talking, arm wrestling, arguing, slapping, dance offs, drum battles, rock/paper/scissors, or even a fist fight? Heck, taze them if you must. But, do we really have to resort to such a permanent solution as death to solve such a temporary problem as a dispute? It just seems like we don’t value human life anymore. Instead, I wish that we would use deadly force as an absolute last resort, only when all other avenues have been exhausted. There are so many other ways to solve differences rather than killing someone.

Second, we’re so angry all the time. Maybe we need more mandatory yoga classes in every community. I saw friendships end during this past election and some barely survive the college football season simply because we were rooting for different sides. Can we no longer allow people to have an opinion that differs from ours? I’m all for being passionate about your beliefs but when you get to the point that you dislike people simply because they don’t agree with you, I think you should take a step back. Our national media and talk show hosts who get paid millions to fuel your fire only make this worse. They blow stories out of proportion, spin things to sensationalize, and rake in the ratings all to raise your blood pressure. Meanwhile, you’re left feeling angry, paranoid, and very much feeling the “us vs. them” mentality that they perpetuate. But, the “them” is your fellow man, living in your community, and maybe even under your roof. Be passionate! But when you approach anger, nastiness, hatred, or bitterness it’s probably a good idea to examine why you’re feeling that way and step away from the situation that is making your blood boil. Change what you can but fuming about things beyond your control is fruitless and harmful to your well-being.

I am a Christian and every time something tragic happens, I just feel that the world needs God. Our pastor, Mark Foster at Acts 2 United Methodist Church in Edmond, taught us a sermon recently about the number of times in the gospels that Jesus says “Be Not Afraid.” I just kept thinking during that sermon that so many people would be comforted by that.   I’m not a preacher and I’m not going to become one now (I’ll leave that to the experts) but I do believe that if we put our faith in God instead of man, we will feel a lot more secure.

So, how do we fix it? Well, we can start by using Jesus as an example. He accepted others (even sinners-aren’t we all?) and treated people with kindness, love, and compassion. It’s really simple-be nice to one another. “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” Luke 6:31. I mean, how simple is that? But, how badly do we mess it up?  Why can’t we live it? If you aren’t a Christian (you’re welcome to come to church with me!) some form of this Golden Rule can be found in basically every religion and society since the beginning of time. Even though it is the easiest concept to grasp, we just can’t seem to stick to it. If you don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle, condemning them isn’t the answer. Lucky for us, judging is God’s job so you are relieved of duty. I believe that you can lead many more people to Christ through love than through finger pointing and scare tactics. By the way, the Golden Rule does not give you license to be crappy to people that are mean to you. It tells us to treat people how we want to be treated.


Each and every one of us can make an effort to change society today. We ARE society. I don’t think any of my friends reading this are going to snap and go on a rampage next week but you never know what is going on inside those you work with, those in your family, that woman you pass in the grocery store, or that man you refuse to let on the ramp in traffic tonight.  You don’t know what a smile, a kind word, or a prayer can mean for someone, or the difference you can make in someone’s life. It may seem like a small thing but if we had more compassion for our fellow humans, I think it would go a long way toward solving this blackness that we seem to have hanging over us. Let’s all work to treat each other with more kindness, caring, good-will, and love. I know I sound like an idealist but that’s OK. I’m not ready to give up on this world just yet. We’re lost-yes. But we can be found with some help from above and by caring about each other.

I’d love to hear from you. Other than shipping all of the mean people off to their own plat of land in Siberia, what do you think would make this world a better place?

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.”~John Lennon

Happy trails,


Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

The Magnificent Mile and All that Jazz

Ah, Chicago, how I love you so! Last week, I got to take my fifth trip to Chicagoland which was a work trip for my husband, Justin and part work/part vacation for me. Justin attends a trade show right after Thanksgiving every year and I have been fortunate to tag along for the past several years because of the willingness of my wonderful in-laws to watch the little one. It allows Justin and I to have a few days to remember that we do actually have things to talk about other than when we last fed the kids and whose turn it is to do the dishes. (It’s usually his turn, by the way). Plus, we get to enjoy some great food, and see some incredible things in an amazing city. This year, I got to add the new element of working a couple of days and visiting a few local credit unions while I was in town.


The River North District of Chicago

I should have known I was in for an interesting trip when I went shopping on our first full day into town while Justin had to work. I was standing in line, waiting to pay in one of my favorite discount stores that we don’t have in Oklahoma, when I was bumped very hard from behind. As a turned to see what was going on, I caught a glancing elbow in my cheek as two women stumbled by. One was trying to get away while another was saying, “You hit me!” and was punching her in the face. I’d like to say that I jumped in, saved the day, tackled the aggressor, and helped the poor lady who was being punched. Instead, I just stood there, in stunned silence. It ended as soon as the blood began to flow from her nose and the angry woman realized what she had done.

Finally, store personnel came over and stayed with the puncher as the bleeding woman went to clean herself up and police were called. I paid for my purchases and was free to go but didn’t feel right about just leaving. I went to the office and told them I wanted to leave my name and contact information in case the lady needed a witness. I saw everything but the initial contact that set the angry woman off. The store manager thanked me for giving my statement and information. No one ever called. I’m guessing an accidental bump during a busy Christmas shopping day was blown out of proportion and the result was numerous punches to the face. Happy holidays!

We always stay in the River North district so there are plenty of great restaurants within walking distance to our hotel. One night Justin and I were walking back to our hotel after dinner. A young man on the sidewalk outside our hotel asked us if we were from Chicago. I’ve been to enough big cities to know that you need to be careful about who you speak to on the street but he seemed lost. I told him that we aren’t from Chicago but we go there a lot and asked if he needed directions. We asked him to step inside the hotel lobby with us. He started telling us that he had been at a concert with some friends the night before at the House of Blues, which is across the street from our hotel. He said that he was taking the train back to the University of Indiana, where he is a student, and he fell asleep. When he woke up, he was in a bad part of town, alone, and his backpack had been cut off of him and stolen, holding all of his money and ID. He said he needed $45 for a train ticket to get home. He was holding a police report and a train schedule. He told us that we could call his dad if we wanted. He said his parents are worried sick about him being trapped in Chicago. They tried to wire him money but he couldn’t pick it up because he has no ID. He said he was so embarrassed to ask for help but if we could just give him the cash, his parents would pay us back.

I was torn. It was a pretty elaborate story. But, I just had a bad feeling and Justin wasn’t buying it either. But, I didn’t want to not help the guy if his story was true. I wouldn’t want my son to be stuck in a strange city! I told him that I’d like to talk to his dad and we should call him. His dad could wire us the money and we could then give him cash to buy the train ticket. He then started to back peddle, saying that the wire would take an hour to go through and then he wouldn’t have enough time to catch the train. He just needed us to give him the money instead of calling his dad. Then, I knew he was lying and we walked away, telling him we can’t help him. I know that wires can go through in minutes and he didn’t really want me to call his dad. So, I give the kid credit for creativity but we did not give him cash.

On my previous trips, I’ve walked or taken cabs everywhere so I’ve never actually driven in Chicago. This time, I had to rent a car for a couple of days so I could drive outside of the city for work. I found a rental car place in a parking garage a couple of blocks from our hotel and walked over one morning. I also have a new Garmin and this was my first time to use it. Looking back, maybe I should have practiced with it first.

Growing up in Oklahoma, I don’t have much need for GPS and when I do, I use the one on my phone. I was pretty excited to take my Garmin out of the box and get it all set up in my bright blue rental. First, the windshield was so cold, the suction cup wouldn’t stick. I’d lick, stick, flip the tab that is supposed to make it stay and thud, it would fall off. I repeated this 27 times, hoping no one in the garage was watching. I typed in the address to my destination, because I had no idea which way to go once I left the garage. Well, in the garage, I had no signal.  It asked me if I wanted to simulate a signal. That sounds helpful, right? No, it wasn’t. I left the garage and turned the only way I could on the one way street. I drove a few blocks. Garmin was on it’s own route. I kept hoping it would tell me where to go. Did I mention that I was driving in downtown Chicago, where drivers are impatient, traffic is plentiful, and horns are loud? Finally, I fell back to my trusty phone GPS (thank you Google Maps Navigation) and got some help. When I got to a place I could pull over, I figured out that allowing Garmin to simulate a GPS signal actually turns off a real GPS signal. So, I turned it back on and Garmin was back in my good graces (but I’m watching you, Garmin).

Driving to a place I have never been before, having no concept of where it is, never seen it on a map, purely through the help of an electronic device is new to me. I know they can be helpful when things go right. But, I’ve also heard plenty of stories from coworkers who wound up in some crazy places because their GPS led them astray. Mine led me to all of my credit union meetings just fine. To follow the directions to some completely foreign place and then see the credit union sign right where it’s supposed to be was kind of like finding a little present waiting for me. I’d breathe a little sigh of relief each time I’d arrive, in plenty of time for my meeting.

The drive home was a different story.  I had a late meeting about an hour away from downtown, which put me into rush hour traffic. We also had to attend a gala event at the Field Museum for Justin’s work that night so I knew I needed to get back. I did fine for a while. Then, traffic completely stopped. My ever so helpful Garmin chimed in that it was routing me around traffic. It told me to get off of the highway. It did show a 25 minute traffic delay so I thought Garmin was really making up for flaking out on me that morning.

I learned that when Garmin oh so graciously routes you around traffic, it has no regard for the crime statistics of the neighborhood it directs you through. As soon as I exited the highway, I knew I had made a mistake. There were homeless people milling about in traffic. I don’t mean politely standing on the side of the road, holding a little cardboard sign like they do around the malls in Oklahoma. No, they were in the lanes or standing on the lines between them. Some of them were wearing dark clothing, too, which made it even trickier to avoid them since it was dark outside.  I felt like I was playing Frogger but I was a car instead of a frog. I threatened Garmin that if I died, I was taking it with me. All I could do was pray that I didn’t get lost and that I was being led in the right direction. At one point, I noticed a police officer behind me. That was one of the only times I was actually happy to have a cop in the rear view.

I did finally get back to some familiar streets and made it safely back to downtown. I learned that when you are driving in downtown Chicago in rush hour traffic, you don’t get many green arrows for left turns. Instead, you do the creep and run method. You creep out into oncoming traffic as much as you can. Then, if the light turns red before you get your chance, you run it.  I walked into the hotel room that night and told Justin to get me some wine, STAT! Luckily, there was plenty at the gala.

Blues Bros

The Blues Brothers and I at the Shimadzu Gala at the Field Museum

I realize that I started off this post by saying I loved Chicago and all I’ve really done so far is talk about the weird stuff that happened on this trip. But, it is the third largest city in the U.S. Out of its 2.7 million  residents, some of them are bound to be a little off, right? When I say I love it, I mean it. First, it’s absolutely beautiful. The Chicago River runs through the middle of downtown and Lake Michigan flanks the city, spreading out like a glistening sea. Next, the shopping is amazing. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a bargain shopper and there’s plenty to be found in the city, even in the hottest shopping area, known as “The Magnificent Mile.” Also, the restaurants are some of the best in the world. It’s like a special occasion dinner nearly every night when we go there. Don’t forget to see the amazing art at one of my must-see places the Art Institute of Chicago. Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, anyone? The museum also appeared in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, if you’re into pop culture.

I know that New York City is known as the “melting pot” but by just walking around Chicago, you’ll see that this name would fit here, too. You’ll hear many different languages just by taking a stroll around the block. I didn’t even mention the shows and nightlife in Chicago but I’m sure you get the point. You should go!

Growing up in Oklahoma, you don’t always realize how different the world outside of our state can be. I’ve been outside of it many times but I’ve often had someone with me. Exploring alone can be scary at times (darn you, Garmin!) but it can also be empowering, freeing, and exhilarating knowing that I can be successful on my own. I just have to stay smart on the streets, trust my instincts, and ignore my Garmin when it tries to re-route me.

Happy trails,


Posted in Oklahoma, Travel, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged | 6 Comments

Pain in the Bleep Travelers:I Bet You Think This Blog is About You

In my first 90 days in my new job, I have traveled to San Francisco, Omaha, Washington D.C. /Maryland/Virginia, Houston, and Chicago so while there’s still plenty of the country left to see, I do have a few flights under my belt. Soon , I’ll be on a first name basis with the Will Rogers World Airport TSA agents. While I still have a lot to learn, I have figured out a few valuable lessons, like you really do need to arrive early or you take the risk of not making your flight (See First Day Worst Day) and you’d better know which airport you’re going to (See The Five Stages of Flight Cancellation Grief).

In my first three months, I’ve also seen some pretty unsavory behavior in my fellow travelers-stuff that would make your mother blush, unless your mother is the one that sat behind me last week, passing gas. So, I’ve made a short list of a few things that you shouldn’t do when traveling. These things should be common sense but aren’t because we already know that good sense isn’t common.

1) Don’t cut in line on the plane: I don’t know what it is about lining up for boarding and deplaning that makes people lose their ever loving minds.  But it never fails that I see some eager beaver march up the aisle to the front of the plane as soon as the seat belt sign goes off. Instead, it is much more polite to let passengers deplane according to their row instead of cutting them off by hopping out into the aisle and walking up beside their row so they can’t get out. I have never understood this. The people rushing by me to get off the plane are the same ones ten minutes later standing beside me in baggage claim, waiting on our bags. If you’re in a huge rush, don’t check a bag. If you’re in the back of the plane, wait your turn.

2) Don’t pass gas on the plane: I realize there are pressure changes and all of that. But, take some Gas-X. Go to the bathroom if you need to equalize some pressure. But, for the sake of all that is good and holy, please hold it in. We are all trapped with you in close quarters. We don’t need to be gassed with your stench. Control yourself. If you can’t control it, perhaps you need to travel with a GasBGon seat cushion. Buy one here! GasBGon Seat Cushion

Odor Absorbing Cushion for the Gassy Person You Love

3) Don’t drink too much: Last week, I was sitting beside a man who was working on his laptop and we’d made it through 3/4 of the flight without really talking. In the dark of the plane, we heard a sound, softly at first. As it grew louder, we both started to look around to identify the source of the noise. Finally, we figured out that the dude one row up and across from us had his headphones on and was singing. The man next to me said, “Um, is that….Rocket Man? That’s awesome!” We both started cracking up. Drunkie grew louder and louder. Next, he moved on to his terrible rendition of Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville”. Then, shortly before landing we were all subjected to the sounds of the dude throwing up in his barf bag. Not awesome anymore.

4) Don’t stop in the flow of foot traffic: This goes for all areas of the airport, jet ways, moving sidewalks, etc-if you need to stop, move over to the right. There’s nothing more frustrating than walking along at a fast pace and having someone come to a dead stop in front of you. I nearly mowed down a senior the other day because he unexpectedly stopped to pick up his bag. On moving sidewalks and escalators people will frequently walk on the left and they don’t appreciate some yahoo standing there blocking the way. Pull over to the right if you want to stop or stand.

5) Don’t be a sheep: I see so many people standing in lines and I’ve started to ask questions before I do the same. Do I have to stand in this line? Is there another way? Last week in Chicago, there was a line with 50 people in it and a line with 1 person in it. Instead of just blindly following everyone else, I asked the attendant, “What’s the short line for?” She said, “That’s if you already checked in online and just need to drop your bag.” I had so guess what? Short line for me! If I hadn’t asked, I would have been in line for at least 20 minutes for no reason. In the Oklahoma City airport, there’s a “secret” security line that most people don’t know about. Everyone sees the obvious one right in the middle of the airport so they go stand in the long line there. But, if you walk down a little farther by Southwest, there’s almost never a line and you can get to all the gates. So, if there’s a long line, my advice is to ask if there’s any way you don’t have to stand in it. Also, always check in online and print your boarding passes at home. You have a much better shot at bypassing the long lines. Carry on bags instead of checking them when possible and you don’t even have to go to the counter at all.

Sheep get a bad rap but they sure are cute

Sometimes flying really is a hassle but often, it is made worse by those inconsiderate people around you. Don’t be a burden to your fellow travelers. Be kind. Be thoughtful. I’ve already discovered that my i-pod and headphones are my most cherished traveling accessory whether it is to drown out the sounds of the chatty redhead ahead of me in line at 5 am or the over- served Jimmy Buffet fan.

Happy trails,

Posted in Oklahoma, Travel, Uncategorized, Women | 9 Comments

The Five Stages of Flight Cancellation Grief

Strutting up to the self-check in at Hobby Airport in Houston, I was so proud that I had arrived early for my Houston-Dallas flight after a harrowing drive through construction traffic. My ego was quickly deflated as the ticket agent drew my attention to my ticket that read “George W. Bush Airport”. I went to the wrong airport! Stupid! When I made my reservations, it was cheaper to buy two one-way tickets and I just blindly assumed I was coming and going from the same airport. No need to remind me what happens when I assume…

So, after being assured that I still had time to make it to the other airport, I hopped in a cab and begged him to “step on it”. Yes, I agree that I’ve seen too many action movies.  The cabbie bobbed and weaved through rush hour traffic to get me to the airport in time for my flight. I tried to avert my eyes. I said a few prayers that I would live to see my loving husband and children again. Several times, I checked online to make sure the flight was still on-time. It was.

I breezed through security and made it to the gate just as the gate agent began to announce that we would begin boarding soon. Whew, I had made it! I may have done a modified version of a touchdown dance right there at the gate. The early bird boarders began standing up and gathering around the gate, anxiously awaiting the precious moment when their group would be called so they could scurry to the front of the line. Then, she changed her tune.

“Unfortunately…blah blah blah…mechanical issues…blah…see if we can get another plane…blah blah…keep you posted…delayed 30 minutes,” she droned.

Everyone at the packed gate jockeyed to find a seat back at the gate. A few minutes later, the agent of doom came back on to announce that there would be no other plane. Our flight was cancelled. I’ve had many flights delayed but cancelled was new for me. Trust me when I say that it’s a lot worse. You go from slightly inconvenienced to stranded.

As I stood there at the gate, my pulse still racing from my wrong airport and subsequent death defying cab ride ordeal, it dawned on me that I was beginning to go through the five stages of flight cancellation grief.

1. First I was in denial– No, you see, my flight can’t be canceled. That cabbie drove like a bat outta hell to get me here for this flight. We made it just in time! I checked online many times and it said the flight was on-time so you can’t cancel it now!

2. Then I quickly moved into anger-Are you freaking kidding me? Why couldn’t you have made this decision an hour ago when I was at the other airport? I could have caught a flight out of there! You’re telling me the mechanical issues just happened, just now? So, I risked my life and spent money on a pricey cab ride for nothing? Grrrrrr

3. Next came bargaining-God, it’s me, Jennifer. I hate to bother you but I could use your help. I really need to figure out a way to get home, preferably tonight so if you could help me out by giving me a little extra patience and wisdom right now, it would be much appreciated. I’ll be extra good this week. Thank you!

4. Ever so briefly, I fell into depression-I may just be stuck here in Houston tonight, despite my best efforts. I won’t get to kiss adorable little Griffin and Kyle good night tonight or see my family as I’d hoped. Ho hum.

5. Then, I quickly moved into acceptance– There was a guy from the airlines handing out cards with the rebooking assistance phone number on it. I snatched one out of his hand and called right away. I was told that there was a later flight from Houston to Dallas but no more flights from Dallas to OKC. Even if I made it to Dallas, I’d be stuck there. My only option was to fly to Chicago then to OKC arriving at 12:30 am. It was my only hope of getting home that night and there were 2 seats left. Did I want one of them? I had to decide right then. As I looked around the room, at all of the other people on their cell phones, dialing the same rebooking number, I realized I couldn’t take a moment to think about it. I couldn’t consult with my husband. I had to decide. The Chicago flight was about to begin boarding. So, I made a split second decision to go to Chicago when I was supposed to be going to Dallas. Flying isn’t for the faint of heart!

I called my husband, Justin, from the plane to let him know I’d be getting in later and from Chicago instead of Dallas. As a former traveling salesman, he just laughed. He knows the drill. It sure is nice to have someone so supportive on my side as I adjust to the constant curve balls that traveling for my new job throws my way. Sometimes I am able to hit those curve balls out of the park. Other times, it feels like they’re being flung at my head. I’m learning to roll with the challenges. I must control what I can, learn from my vast mistakes, and not get stressed about the stuff (like flight cancellations) that I can’t do anything about. I reminded myself that I didn’t really want to fly on a plane with mechanical problems anyway! The more adversity comes my way, the more I feel myself growing-as a traveler and as a person.

Travel lessons learned: Double check your ticket to make sure you know which airport you’re leaving from. Also, call the rebooking number right away if your flight is ever cancelled. They can help you find a way home, if there’s an option of one. If you hesitate, others may take the available seats. Be ready to make split second decisions.

Happy trails,

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The City by the Bay-e-ay

You’ve heard of sunny California, right? What they fail to mention is that it may be sunny but it’s also kind of chilly…even in July. My first week of on the job training was held in San Francisco, which is an amazing and beautiful place as long as you bring a jacket.  I did my research ahead of time and came prepared with the right wardrobe. Still, part of me felt like a goober wearing a coat and sweaters in the summer. The day temps would climb to the mid 60s, which was perfect when the sun was shining. But when the ol’ yellow ball in the sky would dip behind the huge downtown skyscrapers and the wind would come whipping in off of the bay, it would feel more like the temperatures were in the 50s.  Brrrrr. Plus, it should be noted that I am pretty much a cold-natured wimp.

My hotel was about eight blocks from the office. I had grand intentions of walking to work every morning but that never happened. I was there during the XXX Summer Olympics and I could never get to bed before midnight. I blame Bob Costas. I meant to get extra sleep and wake up early but just when I was about to turn off the TV, he would announce something amazing like “Gabby Douglas on the uneven bars, up next!” and I’d be hooked. It was cute lil’ Gabby! I couldn’t miss Gabby! Darn it,  Bob!

So, instead of getting up early enough to walk, I had to take cabs to work. I learned that cabbies don’t love you when you’re only going eight blocks. They’re all hanging out at the hotel hoping for the $50 ride to the airport fare or better, not the eight block $7 “short”, as I learned it was called. One morning I told a cabbie where I was going and he refused to take me. He told me he’d get me another cab and he did. Other drivers were nicer on some mornings. However, one actually chatted on his cell phone to a friend the entire way and loudly complained that he had “been stuck with a short.” Hey, I can hear you! Well, whatever. I got to work on time. I have enough friends and if San Francisco cab drivers aren’t going to be among them, I think I’ll sleep OK at night once Bob Costas leaves me alone.

Most of that week was spent in downtown San Francisco in the eight blocks between my hotel and the office. Downtown was an odd mix of business people, hoards of tourists in Union Square, and homeless people. It feels pretty heartless to step over someone with a cardboard sign to pop into Macy’s to pick up some lipstick. But, that’s just the way it is.  I guess in Oklahoma, the people with signs are further away from the mall entrances, thus easier to ignore.

Luckily, my friends Cory and Tara live just outside of the city and came to take me on a field trip one afternoon. They loaded up their four beautiful girls and we went for a drive. It was great to see more of  the city and Golden Gate Park. It was absolutely amazing. As we neared the Golden Gate Bridge, there was a haze hanging over the park. Cory explained that it was fog. As we neared the bridge, it looked like someone had a giant fog machine and was pumping it down the hills. It was pretty incredible the way it was literally rolling downhill. I had seen the bridge before in clear weather so I wasn’t disappointed to see the fog. It was actually really cool.

As we left San Francisco, the weather cleared and the sun began to shine. The temperature quickly climbed from around 60 degrees to 80. We had dinner in Berkeley and ended up circling through Orinda before heading back to the city. I took a great picture of the city tucked into a blanket of fog.

Sleep tight, San Francisco

My trip home was uneventful compared to all of the trouble that I went through to get to San Francisco. I was thankful for that.

Travel lesson learned: Cabbies don’t like to drive you a few blocks. You don’t need everyone to like you.

I did not take this beautiful pic but had to share it. I found it here:

Happy trails,

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