Friday, February 22, 2013

Sister time in LA and the Anaheim Ducks

Being crowned is such a wonderful moment and being crowned with wonderful sister titleholders just adds icing to the cake.  I have been blessed with 2 sister queens who are hard working and sweet.  Tiffany, Miss California, and I have forged an amazing bond through this experience.  I have been blessed to get a chance to get to know her through our 2 hour phone calls and regular text messages.  But nothing beats in person... so we met up for a day of shopping in Los Angeles.
After walking through many stores, having a good laugh and just spending time together we met with Daniel at Claire's Collection for some good old fashion gown shopping.  What a wonderful day.  I am grateful to have had this time with her and look forward to seeing her at the Bakersfield Pageant in just a few weeks.

After our shopping day I headed home to meet up with 10 Got Your Back families for a night with the Anaheim Ducks.  I LOVE hockey and am so excited to share that love with others.  The Ducks graciously donated 2 suites for us to enjoy the game and boy did we ever!  The kids enjoyed the game and the TV intermittently and the moms all enjoyed each other.  Several of them had never been to a hockey game which made this a little more sweet.

Just getting together warms everyone’s heart, reaffirms their friendships and bonds as well offers a new experience with new memories.
Krystina and Corey enjoying the game

Karen and I are part of the cool glasses club

Salina & Karen

Kylynn & Salina (It was Salina's first game)

Cindy and Andrew

The silly group during intermission

Ducks beat Columbus!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Understanding & Supporting families of our fallen

I think it’s very important for our community and country to know about surviving families – families who have lost their service member to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Often times families feel ostracized after a loss even saying that it seems that others feel that being a widow is contagious. Sometimes moving to new communities that don’t know how to react to such loss even going as far as demanding that their husband be present for certain transactions (obviously not understanding what it means to be widowed). There are unique challenges to being the surviving spouse and family of a fallen service member. 

Having worked with the surviving spouse/family community for the past several years I have learned so much. I have listened to stories about their amazing husbands (and ones that involved leaving socks on the floor), stories about children missing daddy and schools that just don’t get it. Sadly from the moment they learn of their loved ones death there are decisions to be made and changes to learn. 

Recently I asked several spouses to tell me the things that they wanted others to know about them as a community. I asked about their needs, stigmas that they don’t like and just some much needed information to share. I remember the first time I met 10 surviving family, and wondering how to act or respond. I learned very quickly that it’s ok to talk about their husband/fathers, it’s ok to ask about his life and it’s ok to cry. It’s funny conversations about life that lead to learning about men that I will never have the pleasure of meeting. Through friendships I have learned so many cool things about our fallen service members. I laugh with Patty that Mark is just like Grant, both soldiers to the Nth degree and that David had a great sense of humor, loved to make people laugh (evident in Salina’s stories). I also learned that so many service members don’t want to ask for help, don’t realize they need it until it’s too late. I have learned about suicide and PTSD from speaking to Megan, Jennifer and Kylynn about their husband’s struggles.

Several spouses told me that people need to realize that their smiles and humor is how they cope; what some may think is an odd conversation they find comforting. I was also told that they want people to talk about their husbands, remember their sacrifice not clam up and act like they didn't exist. These men were human being’s, these couples had dreams and goals for their lives and even though their lives were cut short they are no less important and should be talked about. 

With the total service members killed in action being over 6600 and the number of those committing suicide growing we need to take care of each family. When we each sit down to our dinner tables at night, take a moment and say a prayer for those that aren't home for dinner... our military that is fighting for our freedoms, our military that are in hospitals with injuries and our military that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Red High Heel Walk for heart health awareness

Soccer is back! With our daughter being in love with the sport Grant and I choose to support her in whatever way is necessary... one of those being a large part of her soccer team each season. Last season Grant was an assistant coach and this season I am the team mom. We have had so much fun with her and her team... I have still only missed 1 game thus far which was the day that I won Mrs. California (we both won that day!) So here we go with our spring season and I am sure our girls are going to learn a lot.

I have learned quite a bit about my own heart health through the GoRed for Women movement. Education is important to your health and the health of those you love. I couldn't imagine missing milestones in my daughter’s life or not being by my husband’s side in 30 years. Taking care of me is the center point to being there for everything. My reason for all I do is my family.

Saturday afternoon I took part in the 1 mile Red High Heel Walk in Long Beach for the third year. A mile in heels is a daunting task for most women but what impressed me most was the amount of MEN rocking heels for the cause. Justin Rudd and the Community Action Team hold this event each year during February to educate other on the necessity of heart health and honor those we have lost. As we walked we were able to educate many onlookers along the way as they asked who we were and why we were all walking in heels. People are always so surprised to hear the statistics of heart health.

I enjoyed walking with another titleholder/friend. We laughed and discussed the wonderful things we have each learned through pageantry.
Lisa (owner of the AMAZING La Strada restaurant, Courtney Mrs Rancho Cucamonga and the current Miss Long Beach after our 1 mile walk

Courtney and I with Woody (the official C.A.T. photographer)

These shoes were made for walking... to make a difference!

Grateful for another fabulous weekend with my family and friends!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Articles and upcoming events

This past month I have been very busy planning several upcoming events for families of our fallen in addition to participating in events for heart health month.  I am also a featured write as the Military Family Examiner on and was recently asked to write a monthly column for the Orange County Register.  Most who know me know that I LOVE to write; I have 2 books that are complete that I am just pending publication on.  I believe that you should do the things you are passionate about;  while I may never be JK Rowlings and amass a fortune through writing it is something that I love and enjoy.  Growing up I was encouraged to write my feelings and thoughts, I have journal upon journal chronicling my adolescence and early adulthood however due to circumstances I was unable to keep journals for several years... those years were turned into my first book in retrospect.  That book may never be published but will always hold a very special place in my heart as that was a very difficult time in my life that I am so proud to have made it through. 
If you would like to see my writing and subscribe to my columns you can:
Our upcoming events for Got Your Back Network are very exciting.  I am in the planning stages of family day with the Anaheim Angels baseball, Ducks Hockey and our first surviving spouse financial literacy program.  With the scope of all that the Got Your Back Network offers being so broad it allows me to seek out different events for families to participate in and see what they like the best.  The organization is for them so what works and what doesn’t is based on their needs and wants.  In the past several years I have learned that each person in a different place in their journey, no place is right or wrong but a personal journey, therefore it’s important that their needs are met regardless of where they are.

Coming up:
February 16       Red High Heel Walk for heart health awareness
February 18       Anaheim Ducks game – Got Your Back Network (Tentative)
March 16          Got Your Back Network Financial Literacy Workshop
March 22          Go Red for Women Luncheon