29 July 2011

Five Minute Friday: Still

 You made it! It is the glorious day known as Friday. :)

 I get so excited for a new prompt every week from The Gypsy Mama. Have you ever tried Five Minute Friday? Super easy and the rewards to your writing soul are immense. Rules? Five minutes. Write like a crazy woman or man. No edits, no worries.

 In the words of Nike: Just. Do. It.

 Here we go!


I am still astonished at her existence. 

 I am still overjoyed I was able to experience a pregnancy.

I am still in love with this house, this man, this pup; this LIFE we have built together, one heartbeat at a time, one foot in front of the other, sometimes running ahead too quickly, often having to step back a few skips and a jump.

I still ache for one more precious embrace with my sister and my grandmother. Still, I hurt at the lost last goodbyes.

I am still my authentic self, even if momma is my main identity right now. And you know what? That is okay. She is little for a quick space in time, but the magic I have the privilege to instill in her is boundless.

I am still me, I falter with my self confidence some days, but I am still a strong woman who has beat the odds on more than one occasion and challenge.

I am still strong, despite my body and the illness it faces. I am still a daughter, a niece, a friend, a cousin, a wife, a confidant.

A force to be reckon with.

Even on my worst days, I am still an important facet in the twirl of this earth.

And I must remember and cherish this always and do everything in my power to preserve and strengthen this fantastic and glorious notion.


Thank you so much for reading. 
Challenge yourself to tackle Five Minute Friday!
It feels good and I guarantee you will learn something wonderful about yourself.

 The happiest of Fridays to you!

24 July 2011

Mormon Hanukkah

We are home.

It feels good.

As sad as I was to say goodbye to members of my Hampton and Cystinosis families, I was beginning to feel slightly gypsy-esque.

Veggie bacon, coffee, wheat toast with low sugar organic wild plum jam.

A trip to Target to replenish groceries. 

So simple, but my big, bold reminder of this incredible little family we have created.  

My favorite dachshund sprinting across freshly cut grass, most likely worried we are going to leave him again.

I am addicted to the new sense of wonder and enthusiasm that comes with a long, love and life filled trip. De-clutter. Our house. My head. My heart. Life. Simplify. My mantra for the last few weeks of July and into August. We've been manic house cleaners since we've been back; pictures that have sat in my bathroom for several months are finally hanging confidently on the wall, furniture has been rearranged, spider webs on the front porch have been washed away. Rory is the best. I look through photos and try to form the words to accurately describe these feelings before I hit my inevitable emotional exhaustion and the guaranteed subsequent post Cystinosis conference patch of sadness in which I want to hang out in bed all day, turn my brain off, and watch Days of Our Lives. For some reason, my problems seem sane when compared to theirs. Ha! It is a good thing I have my little ball of light to remind me to get over myself, see the joy and giggle. Always giggle.

I hope you enjoyed the big jumps; chasing your dreams guest blogger series. I hope the stories moved you to take your next leap of faith. I am incredibly thankful to everyone who participated and am honored to have their words interwoven as a part of this project! A few quick links if you missed any:


Today is known as Pioneer Day  here in Utah. It is celebrated with many of the same happenings as the 4th; barbecues, parades, fireworks and the like. This year we took it easy to catch up on the mounds of laundry acquired during our trip. Although the evening was perfect with fireworks done close by and our funny little neighbor serenading us with his Justin Bieber covers. Too funny! Several years ago my mom and I were shopping in the wonderful outlets of Park City. An out of town shopper asked the (obviously) California girl cashier about Pioneer day. Her response? "It is like a Mormon Hanukkah." I still giggle ridiculously at this. (I am not Mormon, so I sincerely hope this does  not offend anyone, as it is all in fun and quite silly how uninformed some people can be! Just wanted to make that clear.) Probably the worst description I have ever heard. But funny? Yes. Hilarious I think. So happy Mormon Hanukkah to you and yours. :)


23 July 2011

{big jumps} Do What You Love By Rory

I apologize for the little hiccup in posting these fabulous guest posts. We were on the road back home for a few days and it is just too hard for me to try to format blog posts while on my phone. (I've tried and make myself go cross-eyed in the process. Hehe.) I'm excited to post the last installment of the "big jumps; chasing your dreams" series. Today the President and CEO of the app company Appdicted, aka, my love Rory, is sharing his story of how he decided to throw all caution to the wind and truly pursue his dreams, no matter how inconvenient. I hope you can see how his enthusiasm inspires me every.single.day. He is quite funny too! :)


I was asked by my lovely wife to be a guest writer on her blog this week. When I asked what it was about she said “big jumps”, taking chances. So I am writing about the time I bought a motorcycle and decided I was going to jump it over a bunch of school buses in order to raise enough money for my step father to get his 50k surgery. This jump was going to be broadcast on AM radio! Once my step father is healthy again, I can prove to him I am a man by beating the living crap out of him....actually this was the movie “Hot Rod” and not my life experience. Is it possible that Andy Sandberg decided to write a move based on my life and just change everything to avoid paying me any money? I think so.
Back to the “Rory Story” (I am Rory, in case you didn’t read the author before starting to read this post). It’s hard to decide what story to tell as I have done many big jumps in my life. I am sure the one Tahnie would like me to tell involves our family and not the big jumps I would build when I was 12 to ride my skateboard on. In fact those were not so much jumps as they were ramps, really awesome ramps. 
June 9th, 2009 - My 30th birthday. Turning 30 is a big deal for most, you are officially a grown up adult. No longer can I be a carefree 20 something, I have to be a carefree 30 something and no one wants to be 30 Something.... that was a terrible tv show. I was 2 months into doing P90X (a crazy workout program, I am sure you have seen the commercials). I had been on a hardcore diet to go with it. I was almost 2 years without a cigarette (sure I had cigars on occasion). This was the first time in my life I was a health nut. I counted every last calorie and lost about 30 lbs in 2 months. The infomercial forgot to mention some side effects; mainly that when you are healthy you are much more likely to make babies. After going to Olive Garden to celebrate my birthday, I stopped at the grocery store to purchase some power bars and a pregnancy test. The lady who checked me out was for sure laughing about this. The test came out positive (as you know if you have read this blog at all). 
Up until this time I had been working as a consultant and traveling 100% (when on projects) of the time. This meant that I would leave for New York on Sunday night, arrive in the morning and go straight to work. Then I would fly home Thursday night and be home for about 2 days and go do it all over again the next week.  I was setting customer relationship management software for financial firms. It was cool to work in New York; I was in the actual 30 Rock building on the 57th floor (take that Jack Donaghy). This was a crazy life to live and certainly not a life for a good father, you know the kind a father the child actually knows. 
So I decided something needed to change. Then the universe decided as well and I was let go from my job. Not because of anything I did, because the market crashed and there was no more work. I started looking for work I could do in my home town or anywhere in Utah for that matter. There was nothing, at least nothing I could support a family on. I was also sick of doing “grown up” work that made me dead inside. I have a strong creative passion and working for large companies does not embrace the creative. They embrace the red tape. After a few months of looking. I decided to take my “big jump”. I stopped looking. This was not my path, to search and fight for a job I did not want. I knew what I wanted. 
I wanted to be my own boss, have my own company, do something I love. Now what is that? I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. I have spent years trying to do this on the side and failed every time. Was this because I was a failure? No. I was learning and not fully committing to myself. I loved to make products and ideas come to life. I love creating the branding and all the marketing materials. I loved to create. Now what to create?
I loved my iPhone. I was an early adopter and had the first one. I was one of the people who unlocked and installed “Apps” long before Apple decided to allow “Apps” on their phones. I loved the idea of a computer in your pocket that could do anything that my 3 year old desktop could do (besides watch a flash video, he he). I decided that I wanted to build Apps. There were many people making good money creating apps and I wanted to be part of the gold rush!
Where to begin... how the heck do I build an app? What would the app do? I have to buy a Mac to develop an app? But I am a Windows guy! (not anymore). So I found a cheap used Macbook Pro on craigslist and began my quest. I tried learning as much as possible and wanted to release an app within about 3 months. HA HA HA. Nine months later after hiring a few people to help create my first app, I finally had my first app get accepted into the app store. This was the App that featured my lovely daughter as the icon and on the home screen. This was more to remind me of why I was doing what I love. I want to teach my daughter to not settle with a life you do not like. You can achieve the life you want by creating it for yourself. No one can give you the life you want. You create it. 

The app was called “Wig It” (now it is called “Wig Booth). Two days after it was released, Apple sent me an email letting me know it was going to be featured in the “New and Noteworthy” apps. I had an idea this is big, but did not know how big at the time. I am now on my 18th app in the App Store and have not had another app featured. So this was a good way to start my new business venture. I made some good money the first month. Then was almost broke for 4 more months. 
I never focused on the lack of sales. I could not affect that. The only thing I could do was focus on making the best products I could. I would spend about 70hrs a week to try and keep the dream alive. I would build everything I could. I was working harder than I ever have. I would be the perfect employee, but only if I am the boss. The most important thing was that I was home every night with my new daughter. She knows I will always be around. 
I was doing what I loved, creating... creating apps and creating lives. I believe that is the sole reason my App business continues to grow. I am doing what I love. None of this would have happened had I accepted a crappy low paying job and if I had never took a big jump and left the worry of failure behind. I am not scared to be broke, I am scared to be in a cubicle jail. In the words of Dylan “Success is getting up in the morning and going to bed at night and in between you do what you want to do”. (that quote is from memory, so it may not be word for word). 
So take your big jump and don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be afraid to be broke. You are smart you will find a way. You will love the freedom that comes with letting go of the fear.  I will be rich, I will be broke, doesn’t matter I will be me.

20 July 2011

{big jumps} Hope Whispers By Becky

I cannot put into words what it means to me to have Bec guest posting on the blog today. She does not have a blog of her own (yet), so it took some convincing on my part. She and I have been to hell and back many, many times in the course of our friendship, but we always emerge stronger together. She sat with me on the bathroom floor of a crappy hotel in NYC as I sobbed over the death of my grandma, and she talked with me calmly as she drove through a blizzard in the wee hours of morning when I was in the hospital with what we thought was pre-term labor. She has been my biggest cheerleader and knows me better than I know myself.

Get your tissues handy. I have read this piece multiple times already and can't contain the tears each time. I think Bec has such an eloquent way of sharing her heartbreak and how she used the pain to live bigger and better. Please make sure to give her lots of comment love!


 For some people, going after dreams seems to come, if not easy, then at least somewhat naturally. This has never been the case for me exactly. When Tahnie asked me to write a blog post for her series about taking jumps, going after a big dream, and silencing your inner critic, to be honest, I panicked a little.  Despite a lovely and encouraging text from the lovely and encouraging owner of this blog, my inner critic has always been a bit of a loud mouth, and this was no exception. All I could think was, when have I EVER taken a big jump or chased my dreams? Suffice it to say, I have a history of being a little hard on myself.

So I took a breath, smacked my inner (brat) critic around a little, and rejoined reality. (Sometimes she just needs a little physical persuasion to keep her quiet.) Through much gentler eyes, I was able to see that chasing my dreams is exactly what I have dedicated the last several years to.

I think it’s fair to say that I spent the first half of my 20s floundering…and I promise that isn’t just my inner critic speaking. I depleted the better part of a decade waging a war against my past and myself, leaving very little time to spend thinking of the future. I took college classes with little direction, frequent and short-lived ideas for what I wanted to do with my life always sputtering to an early and untimely death, only to be replaced by other ill-conceived and directionless designs.

Those few years for me were a little like traveling through the Grand Canyon on foot. After a sharp and rocky fall to the bottom, I had just begun to scratch and climb my way out when three short minutes sharpened my upward trajectory.

One white stick. Two pink, positive lines. Terror, laughter, and joy in equal measure. We still aren’t quite sure how we got pregnant (well we know how, but you know what I mean), but I remember every moment of how we got unpregnant. It took a week or two to sink in, but my fiancĂ© (then boyfriend) and I quickly adapted to the idea of what we lovingly referred to as “our next big adventure” (we’ve seen a few too many romantic comedies). A life that had once seemed both fantastic and somehow out of reach to me was suddenly so very real. I suppose this post could end there; that was, after all, quite a big jump. But unfortunately it was not a soft landing. It became clear very soon that the possibility we had not even considered (which is so amazing to me now that pregnancy loss is a part of my very core) was in fact a reality. We had what they call a blighted ovum or anembryonic pregnancy. (It’s a bit of a misnomer really. If you actually research the science, they believe that in many cases there was once an embryo that simply did not progress, but I knew very little about any of this then.) I am still amazed today at how you can be in a moment so afraid of having something, and in the next instant doubly terrified of not. In only a few short weeks I had become a mother, a change that once undergone cannot be undone, but it was being undone in every way that mattered. And then, on Mother’s Day 2009, it all ended as abruptly as it began.  

The only really beautiful thing about personal tragedy is how we rise up against it and fight back. Sitting in that hospital stretcher on a day meant to be a tribute to mothers everywhere, even my Morphine-enhanced mind could not have imagined that THIS is what it would take to transform me into a confident, steady, capable woman who is able to take care of, not just herself, but others too. Yet that is exactly how it went.

In the two short years following those events, I found a way to focus the manic emotion and energy that plagued me in the past into building a future for myself, my soon-to-be husband, and our many future big adventures. It was the proverbial wake-up call, my very own “get it” moment. I had come so very close to doing one of the most important things I am ever going to do with nothing but tons of excuses and little direction. It was like taking the blinders off.

And so I leapt. I applied and was accepted last year to the Johns Hopkins Diagnostic Medical Sonography program and have spent the past 13 1/2 months completely overwhelmed and absolutely loving it.  I discovered not only a career, but a passion, which is something I fully realize I am so lucky to have. I learned early in the program that I have a love for obstetrical ultrasound; a field that I know all too well to be laced with both tragedy and wonder. My own loss has made me acutely aware of how personal the pregnancy journey can be, regardless of whether or not the pregnancy is a healthy one. I think and hope that this has prepared me for a career of helping women through their own journeys.

And now I have other dreams to aspire to. Dreams of white dresses, first dances, and I Dos. Of a home with a mud room streaked with tiny mud footprints. Of kissing my husband in bed on lazy Sunday mornings. Of traveling any and EVERYwhere. Of a long career with some failures, overshadowed by many successes. Of loving myself in spite of the sometimes deafening protests within. Of being stronger than I have ever been before, even in the face of life’s inevitable heartbreak.

And the biggest dream of all: A future. Happiness. Life.

Now let’s not waste our time,
Now let’s make the most of every breath we take
The most of every second we’re alive
Oh, cause we’re alive
(good charlotte)

19 July 2011

{big jumps} Jessica Jondle

I hope this series is motivating you to push yourself; always forward and always to be better. The sky is truly the limit when you turn obstacles into opportunities.

I am proud to have Jessica guest posting on the blog today; she also has Cystinosis so the two of us make up 2 of about 500 people in the United States. Crazy to think about, right? She is one of the biggest inspirations I have; she lives with this disease and yet she doesn't let it stop her from doing anything. Her book Roller Skating With Rickets is going to be a huge happening in our little community, as no one else with Cystinosis has written a memoir. (I hope to be second! ;)

Enjoy her post! She has such a beautiful way with words!


Hello! I’m so excited to guest post here at A Happy Girl. Tahnie is a huge inspiration to me – for her strength, her insight, and her perspective on living life to the fullest despite some fairly challenging circumstances. 

When she asked for posts on the topic of “taking chances,” I had to think a bit. I don’t consider myself a risk taker – not by a long shot – but I certainly have had moments that others perceive as a little ridiculous. 

When I pulled my own IVs out less than an hour after surgery in order to make it to school in time for a stupid (in hindsight) 11th grade calculus test. 

When I decided, out of the blue and to my parents’ horror, to change my major from Electrical Engineering to Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic. 

When I took a job teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth graders without ever setting foot in a classroom teaching environment. 

When I exposed my heart (something I don’t like to do) and began the process of writing and publishing a book about life with a rare, genetic disease (http://www.rollerskatingwithrickets.com).

But when I really think about the subject of “big jumps” and taking chances, I think of a school field trip I took to the woods.

No, it didn’t happen when I was in school. You may be thinking that we’ve all had them – school field trips. But I didn’t really take one until becoming an adult.   

Oh, I went on short field trips to museums and nearby parks. And not to criticize the educational value of these excursions, but museums seemed very mundane compared to the additional places my friends were able to experience: the week-long trip to the great outdoors in fifth grade. The eighth grade adventure in Washington, D.C. Yes, even junior and senior proms aboard a boat in the San Francisco Bay.

I vicariously lived through my classmates, always making up some excuse (never based on reality) for why I couldn’t go – and then imagining myself in their shoes as they described what tremendous fun was had while I was home lamenting my shortcomings. 

It’s not that I didn’t want to go on these trips. In fifth grade I was on so many medications that had to be taken every six hours around the clock that I feared what my friends might think at the sight of it. By eighth grade, I was adamant: no one must know of the disease that was slowly shutting down my organs. And by senior year, every other day was consumed by a four-hour after-school trip of its own: my regular dialysis treatments at Stanford Hospital. Non-dialysis days were dominated by complete exhaustion after a full day at school.

I just didn’t have the desire to be “that girl” on an excursion, the one who had to have special accommodations or medication or needed to sit down and rest a little more often than everyone else.

Years later, when I became a teacher, myriad opportunities for school trips presented themselves. This time around, people still didn’t know of my chronic illness, but I felt freedom to take such trips, aware that I was willing (although somewhat nervous) to be “that girl.”

The first trip I took was to the great outdoors – an overnighter in the Muir Woods, just north of San Francisco. I bunked with a group of seventh grade girls, officially as their chaperone and unofficially as their confidante during late-night conversations. I experienced all that I had missed out on 15 years earlier – the rustic accommodations, the morning hikes, the afternoon nature lessons, the cafeteria-style food. At some point in the trip, I realized that I wasn’t living vicariously through anyone, although my students were the reason we were on this adventure. I was living this too.

And so, when we reached an obstacle course with an narrow ledge 80-feet high in one of the amazing redwood trees, I knew that my days of vicarious living were about to be truly incinerated forever. Not once did anyone tell me that taking my kids to the woods required my own participation in any of the activities. It was an unspoken rule that I could simply sit on the sidelines and make sure that they behaved. But as we approached the tree, one of my seventh graders said to me, “Miss Britt, you have to do this!”

And she was right. I did. With all my heart, I wanted to do something that I had never done before – and I felt willing to do it in front of an audience. Unsure that I would even be able to climb the tree due to muscle wasting in my arms and legs (another side effect of having cystinosis), I somehow opened myself up to the fact that if I failed, I failed – it was a huge leap to accept that I might have to admit defeat in front of so many kids who looked to me as one of their role models. I surprised even myself when I made it to the ledge in record time. With my kids cheering me on – “Jump, jump, jump; you can do it!” – I walked to the edge with shaky legs and prepared to make my “Lion’s Leap.” I looked down at the smiling faces below me, though I soon heard only the loud clanging of my knees inside my head.

I turned my face upward and looked at the magnificence that was all around me. Redwood trees shot into the air as far as the eye could see. I knew that somewhere up there, just as my kids were doing from beneath me, God was smiling down at me from above. I had made it. It was a huge step in my life journey.

And with that, too frightened to leap and grab hold of the swinging bar that was about six feet out from the edge of the plank, I instead fell backwards and let the harness and ropes catch me. (And falling back into thin air was scary enough.) On this trip, I was content to simply have the new experience of making the climb. I knew that next time I would jump.

So where’s the risk taking in this anticlimactic story? Well, I knew that the potential was there to fail – and in some sense, I really did fail. I may have made it up the tree, but I didn’t make the leap. But I also achieved a huge victory by exposing my weaknesses to others, even if it was only a group of 12-year-olds. Add to this my fear of heights, and you realize that I actually made a huge leap without ever jumping at all.

But the real risk came the following Monday at school. On the first day back from a week-long trip, I did what I always do on Monday mornings with my students – let them talk about their weekends. But this time, I went first.

“I want you all to know that this whole weekend I was glowing,” I told my students. “I had so much fun last week with you. And let me tell you why it was so special.”

And with that, I told my students about cystinosis. I told them of my kidney transplant and my muscle wasting. I told them that I had never had the opportunity to go on such trips when I was their age, because I was so sick. And I told them that they had inspired me to do something I had never done before.

My leap was to admit that I’ve never been perfect. I am actually incredibly, ridiculously, hugely weak. And along those lines – my students told me how cool it was that I had someone else’s kidney inside my body. When I got home that day, I reflected on those words and I cried. I am so glad I took that jump with them, both in the woods and in the classroom.

18 July 2011

{big jumps} Ashley Stock

I am traveling after the Cystinosis (the disease I live with, see my 'About Me' section to the right) Conference that wad held in San Francisco. I am incredibly lucky to be a part of this community! I have been so inspired over the last few days; right now I'm relaxing with my sweet little family for a few days and attemtping to wrap my head around all the new medical information and my heart around all the emotions that come with being enveloped by love from people who live with the same chronic disease, every single day.

I'm invigorated by this "big jumps; chasing your dreams" blog series (scroll down or use the archive menu to read the other amazing guest posts!) and feel so privledged to have this special guest blogging today! Ashley Stock, aka Little Miss Momma, is a ray of sunshine, adorable as all get out, sweet as can be, and just an all around superwoman! I feel BLESSED to have her on the blog today.


When I think of big jumps,
I think about taking chances,
about having faith,
about living life to the fullest
and taking advantage of the opportunities given to us.
So I wrote a life list.

A list of a hundred things I want to do in my lifetime.
I saw the exercise on one of my favorite blogs,
and I thought now that's a great idea.

And you know what?
I ended up learning a bit about myself in the process.
You should try it.

From the most simple,
to the most extravagant,
to the utterly ridiculous,
these are my
1. Run a marathon
2. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
3. Spend an entire summer in the Hampton's
4. Century bike ride {100 miles}
5. Meet Ree Drummond and eat some of her good cookin
6. Write a book that people want to read
7. Read every Jane Austen novel
8. Write my love story
9. Be able to see my abs
10. Refinish a piece of furniture
11. Learn to crochet using a pattern
12. Sew my own skirt {a cute one}
13. Learn how to use a Mac
14. Use my DSLR camera on manual
15. Speak at a blog conference
16. Shake hands with the Prophet
17. Read the Book of Mormon in 24 hours
18. Speak Spanish fluently
19. Do my family history
20. Watch the live birth of a baby horse
21. Learn to shoot a rifle
22. Speak at the USC commencement ceremony
23. Have a monthly column in a national publication
24. Get paid to do what I love
25. Build a piece of furniture
26. Have naturally thick hair
27. Spend an entire day in bed cuddling with the hubs
28. Live in Manhattan for a year
29. Run through Central Park
30. Have lunch with Kelly Ripa
31. Make someones dream come true
32. Float down a river in an inner tube
33. Stop drinking soda
34. Grow watermelon and boysenberries
35. Learn to apply liquid eye-liner
36. Do a juice fast
37. Write a thank you letter every day for an entire year
38. Design a shoe
39. Get invited to the Mighty Summit
40. Go ice skating
41. Dig up real dinosaur bones
42. Attend Blissdom
43. Color code my closet
44. Teach a spin class
45. Serve a Church Mission with my husband
46. Have my hair in braids for a
47. Get a teeny tiny peace sign toe ring tattoo {yes, I'm serious--sorry hubs}
48. Take photography classes
49. Own a small book store and
50. Cook a Thanksgiving turkey {by myself}
51. Make my own baby food {for my future babes}
52. Anonymously pay for someones groceries
53. Leave a $1,000 tip for a deserving waitress
54. Write a children's book about standing up for others against bullies
55. Print a line of greeting cards
56. Have my favorite scriptures memorized
57. Try at least 20 new kinds of cheese {in
58. Have a Gone With the Wind themed party
59. Have a blogger retreat in my home
60. Watch all my children live happily ever after
61. Be able to do a flip on a trampoline {again}
62. Learn sign language
60. Stay in one of those huts over the water in Fiji
61. Buy a house
62. Solve a Rubiks cube
63. Overcome my fear of riding a horse
64. Learn to shoot a bow and arrow
65. Hold someones hand as they give
66. Have a booth at a craft show
67. Have a product I design presented at a Trade Show
68. Make pasta from scratch
69. Do 50 push ups {without resting}
70. Throw a monthly dinner party
71. Take cooking classes
72. Travel with TOMS for their One for One campaign
73. Learn to cut my husbands hair
74. Can my own jam
75. Teach my children to be confident and kind
76. Play in an indoor soccer league
77. Ride my bike through one stage of the Tour
De France
78. Bask in under the Tuscan sun
79. Dress like a cowgirl for an entire week {do cowgirls wear chaps?}
80. Get a black belt in Karate
81. Win a contest
82. Get a home/room makeover from HGTV
83. Fly my nieces and nephews out to California for 2 weeks in the summer
84. Start an etsy shop
85. Collect sea shells from 50 different beaches
86. Have a wall in my home be nothing but my favorite quotes
87. Walk the Great Wall of China
88. Write a song
89. Cook every recipe in my favorite cook book
90. Visit and spend time at the homes of all my sister-in-laws 
91. Make a baby girl
92. Build a tree house in our backyard
93. Travel to all 50 states
94. Have a closet that lets me display all my shoes and purses
95. Mentor a child
96. See Wicked in NY {again}
97. Learn to french braid
98. Go to Disney World
99. Memorize the U.S. Presidents
100. Be photographed in a Lisa Leonard product photo shoot
101. Create life
102. Make a difference

I would love to know three things on your life list!

15 July 2011

{big jumps} take the plunge

I am in San Francisco for the Cystinosis  (the rare disease I live with) Family and Medical Conference and to attend to my duties as a  (proud!) member of the Board of Directors. And, to borrow some beautiful words from my second mother, Frankie, to spend time with those who understand my life the best, those that have walked before me and embrace those just embarking on this journey.

This is the fourth installment in the big jumps; chasing your dreams guest blogger series.
Shelby is one of my closest friends. We have known each other almost half our lives. She is so many things a friend should be. We have ventured to Vegas together to see the Counting Crows in concert and she held my hand as I received my first tattoo. We have weathered many emotions and trials during our friendship, but we have also celebrated a lot as well. She blogs over at Shelby Lately and is a strong woman I look up to in my life. She has always gone after what she wants with gusto and I admire that SO much. I am happier than a kid let loose in a candy store that she is sharing her adventure here with us today.


When you know that your life is not going the way you want it to, I believe the only option you have is to change it. Don't make excuses, quit complaining and take all of that negative energy and do something with it. Negative energy is easy, but it's a toxin that simmers inside the body and can kill you slowly. Before you accuse me of being some hippie chick, believe me when I say I have worked very hard to practice what I am preaching right now.

As I begin to write this, I'm sitting on the DC Metro and bumping elbows with a total stranger. I am originally from southern California, a sprawling mecca of land and sea that makes cars an absolute necessity of life. If you would have told me a year ago that I would soon be relying on public transportation for my daily work commute 3000 miles away I wouldn't have believed you.

But a year ago I was broke, unhappy and working a dead-end job I'd taken out of desperation after using all of my savings on a summer long trip backpacking around Europe. I was applying for jobs I didn't even want to leave a job I absolutely hated. Does anyone else see what a problem that is? The stagnancy and failed potential of my life was causing me to feel increasingly disconnected and depressed.

Without going into the details, the truth is that I became fed up with myself and knew I had to make a huge change. Which is why 9 months ago I ended up in my car with everything I owned, driving to the East Coast. I had no job and pretty much no plan, except for a place to initially stay with family in Richmond and the vague notion that I would end up in DC eventually. I took the opportunity to turn it into the great American road trip I'd always longed to take. As I drove from destination to destination I left the unhappiness in the dust and worked on healing my bruised soul and believing in myself once again. The lessons and experiences aren't easily summarized, but I'll try anyways. 

Tahnie & Shelby October 2010

In Utah, I believed in miracles after meeting the most miraculous, magical baby there ever was.
In Colorado, I saw the satisfaction of a life well-lived with the beauty of good friends, good food and financial security.
In New Mexico, I Couchsurfed (<---- couchsurfing.org/bells_cheri) with strangers who made me Frito Pie and watched the surreal Air Sex Championships in a musty bar.
In New Orleans, I danced in the streets Halloween night to a house band jamming on the porch while drinking vodka and wearing a terrible red wig.
In Florida, I ate outside at a trendy Miami restaurant during a thunderstorm and slept in a beanbag while my college roommate and I Couchsurfed with twin brothers.
In North Carolina, I consumed kale and realized it had been weeks since anything green and remotely healthy had entered my system. I then canceled it all out by drinking beer with whiskey & honey mixed in.

As I am sure you can imagine, it was the adventure of a lifetime. And that was only the very beginning.

I'll be honest. The road to DC was bumpy and often less than magical. There were endless job interviews, family fights and homesick nights spent sobbing into the pillow. But as I finish writing this, tomorrow is my second day of employment at the kind of job I've been waiting to find for two years. As I finish writing this, I am laying on a mattress which is the only piece of furniture I own in my newly rented apartment.

I took such a huge gamble on my life but I realized that even if it failed, the risk alone made me aware that I was ALIVE. Tomorrow is never guaranteed and living like you just want to get through the day is a sorry way to spend your time. You have to take big leaps if you want real, genuine change. If you're standing on the edge of the cliff, hoping for something big, do yourself a favor and take the plunge. You are exactly what you've been waiting for. 

14 July 2011

{big jumps} Casey Wiegand

I am in San Francisco for the Cystinosis  (the rare disease I live with) Family and Medical Conference and to attend to my duties as a  (proud!) member of the Board of Directors. And, to borrow some beautiful words from my second mother, Frankie, to spend time with those who understand my life the best, those that have walked before me and embrace those just embarking on this journey.

This is the third installment in the big jumps; chasing your dreams guest blogger series.

Casey Wiegand from  
The Wiegands is gracing us with her presence today. She is a breath of fresh air and face of strength, as you will see after reading this post. I feel lucky to have her here today!


My name is Casey Wiegand, I am a freelance artist, wife and mama. 

I love painting and sharing our life through my blog...where you can expect pieces of my perspective on life, faith, kids, marriage, with touches of art, creative inspiration, projects and things I love along the way. I have two little ones in the hopes of lots more and am married to the love of my life!

I posted this post recently on my blog :), this is our story!


So, I have talked a lot about us struggling financially. 

I have some news.

This is what our bank account looked like the day Chris walked in and quit his job last week. His last day was today.


No, I am not joking. 
And yes those are NEGATIVE signs.

Chris quit his job. no savings. negative signs in the bank account.

I took a screen shot of it so that everyone could see what we are dealing with here. 

We both felt like God was asking him to quit. It's just scary when you are already struggling to let go of that tiny bit of security.

But when God tells you to move, you move.

So here we are.

Student loans, 4 people on individual health insurance, mortgage, gas, food, diapers, electricity, internet, business loan...I am sure I am forgetting something....
but the exciting thing is that I believe you all will get to watch first hand God bring us out of this mess.

From Chris Himself:

A New Start.

Oh where? Oh where do I begin?

I'll start here...

After Casey and I got married in 2007 we felt called to start something that would generate revenue for our family, provide a base for both of our "artist careers" and be a part of a bigger picture of what God wanted to do in and through us. So Casey, being a Children's Art Teacher, and I decided to start A Little Artsy, an Art School for kids. Everything was going great, we were doing what we loved and we were really making a huge impact on the community where our business was located. Then we had our first baby - Aiden. We had so much fun taking him up to our studio everyday and I even made a nursery for him in the back room. But working mostly 14 hour days, we quickly realized that that was no place for him to grow up.
Fast forward 1 1/2 years... I accepted a job at a start-up media company in November of 2009 as Senior Editor/Director. I was, in a sense, at the top of the food chain within the company and was respected by my co-workers and boss. But from the beginning, something always felt a little off. I never really felt like it was a place where God intended me to be. I would sometimes think that I had made a wrong turn somewhere in there and worried I may have gone off the dirt path and onto a superhighway with all the security and comfort of a full time, nice salary, sweet benefits, decent 401K, job. I was a freelance filmmaker for 8 years. I never felt the Lord leading me to take a full time job. I was so afraid, with a business, wife, infant, mortgage, student loan, life insurance policy etc... that somehow only I was able to provide for my family and God was busy dealing with tsunami's and earthquakes. 
So I took my "career" and "financial future" and "security" into my own hands and strutted around like a little fool with a new yo-yo. 
I fought with God for 1 1/2 years about what He wanted for my life and what I wanted. Or thought I wanted. Country Club membership, a 75205 Zip code, an incredible School District, a SUV with less that 150k miles, a lake house, couple ski-boats and so on. I was on my way to a total comfortable and utterly (pause) MEANINGLESS life. Thank You God for coming to my rescue. 
Two months ago, through several different people, specific work related encounters and lots of pacing around in my backyard praying, I heard the Lord (and all it took was a whisper) calling me away. Thats all I heard. Just away. To Quit. 
I was told by many to "make sure you have a back up plan" and "you have a family now so you can't just quit" and was actually told "You are an (expletive) idiot If you think you can get a better job". That really hurt. Especially when the voice and hand of God was leading me so strongly away. It was becoming more clear every day to step out on faith and just pull an Abraham. 

Technology has changed so much in the last 2 years all my equipment is out-of-date. 
I have no camera, no computer and no prospects. I am, for the first time in my life, completely and desperately dependent upon the Lord. I believe God will provide me with opportunity to buy a camera and computer, and He will bring the clients. I'm trusting in Hebrews 11 - Sure of what I hope for, and certain of what I do not see. With negative numbers in our bank account, I am confidently placing myself and my family in a position of a total "God must move" lifestyle. Selling everything if we must, holding fast to His Promises, seeking His direction, and surrendering my will and my dreams to Him. In return, all I desire is Christ Glorified in and through me. I want Him to use the gifts He gave me for his Glory, not mine. For His Kingdom, not mine.

So my last day at my eight to six was today. And I feel great. I feel great because I believe I am obeying God. That I am following after Him. That He alone knows the way. That He alone knows how He alone will provide for my family. That He alone will bring business and opportunity. That He alone will heal my wounded spirit broken by ugly, cold, selfish, hardened hearts. 

So here I am world. One wife and two kids. Armed with a camera and a little creativity. What will you bring me today? What adventure will unveil before me? What challenge will tempt me inside? Bring it on. I'm ready now. Motivated and educated by my past, I'm determined to walk boldly toward the little lamp lighting my path. One step at a time. Falling forward. I'm moving on. 

Stay tuned. I'm expecting God to split seas.