Amanda’s Bench

Morgan Shoemaker doing a perfect head stand at Amanda’s Bench in 2017

There is a bench at the Hummingbird and Rocky Peak trail  intersection that my husband put there in honor of our daughter Amanda Shoemaker. 
The bench that was there was falling apart and he asked the Santa Monica Conservancy if he could repair it. From scratch. 
He ordered special wood and sanded, carved and finished it. 
Then we asked for help getting it up the trail and so many people joined in. There were more people than needed but it was more about being part of this really special event.  It was heart warming to be surrounding by so many people wanting to help.

We put something special beneath the bench at the last second.  Next time you hike up, take a peek.  

Now that we are leaving Simi Valley to begin our next adventure we have asked a special person to keep the bench up.  It means they have to visit it off and on to check on how weathered it has become.

We lost Amanda in 2009.  April 28th. 

Her gravesite is Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth.   I don’t know the exact way to tell you where she is resting.  When you pass through the gates you carry on straight over a speed bump.  About 300 yards past the speed bump is a road.  Amanda’s grave marker is in the next field on your left (west side).  There is a bench made of stone and it is above that toward the one tree. Everthing in that area was brand new when Amanda was laid to rest. 

During cooler months we come and sit to think about life and Amanda.  

Every Christmas we decorate too.  

10-4 Loud And Clear. 10-10.

Chiquita Banana Walkie Talkie
Yep, they’re bananas AND walkie-talkies.
I love walkie-talkie stuff.  My sister and I had Chiquita Banana Walkie Talkies and inbetween building forts of our mom’s sheets in the livingroom we would run around the neighborhood testing their range (which was about 10 feet).

1985 was when I was stuffed in a Greyhound bus and taken from the secret Scientology International Base with WAY MORE PEOPLE THAN SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON BOARD to help fight for RELIGIOUS FREEDOM in Portland Oregon.

Portland Religious Crusade 1985
My actual pin from the Religious Freedom Crusade in 1985.
We marched the streets chanting. We slept on the floor of the Portland Organization (Church) in hallways.  The senior executives stayed in fancy hotels.  I was chosen to be a Communicator for Nancy Pomerantz.  In ENGLISH, I was her PERSONAL ASSISTANT.  It meant I got to have AN ACTUAL WALKIE TALKIE and communicate over it in ACTUAL HAM RADIO LANGUAGE.  Granted, this was for a few weeks of my life but I will always remember what 10-4, ‘what’s your 20’ and 10-10 mean.

I’ve got to share that whole experience in another blog post.

The point of this blog post is to share feelings about people in my life.

To anyone that knows me reading this post I can sincerely tell you that I feel for you exactly what you feel for me.  Actually, DOUBLE my feelings for you.

This goes all the way back to the day I was born.

I have learned so much in the last 10 years.  As I wrap up my 40’s I have to say that this point has become crystal clear.

No matter how old you are or when you came into my life I can see clearer now than ever before.  That is very grounding and makes me feel good.

Forget “Facebook Friends” and “Likes” and the “Followers”.  That is superficial bs in my opinion.  You know who your friends are by that energy you get  and hopefully you give it back double.

Think about the people around you and what they give you.  Don’t second-guess or question it – it is for real!

Mark and Jaydee speak
Time for a speech. Tough.
Last night was a special night for me. I’ve never experienced something like I did.  It was overwhelming and heartfelt.   I want to thank our friends that wanted to celebrate and send us off onto our next adventure.  I’m reading the notes and I admit I’m crying.  I know exactly what I am going to have as a giant void in my life when we lift off and that part just sucks.

It’s not a complete 10-10 just yet. 🙂

But that day is coming soon and I’ll be in touch with my 20.

Check out this CRAZY delicious cake made by Lizzy Whitlock.  Without a doubt she is a young woman to keep an eye on – I can’t wait till she opens up her own business.  Thank you Lizzy!!

Happy Trails by Lizzy Whitlock
Incredible cake. The USA! Made by Lizzy Whitlock.
I will put more photos on my blog as they come rolling in.  I didn’t take ONE photo last night which is a miracle.  What a night packed with so much LOVE.  Ugh my heart!



50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms

FIRST THINGS FIRST:  Thank you Benjamin P. Hardy for this story.  I’m sharing it with people in my life.

The internet is a risky thing to use.

You can “prove” anything you want to prove using it, you can diagnose or misdiagnose yourself, you can see beautiful places and awful places…it’s a trap that seems to waste more time for me than give me time.

Michael Laws shared an article today entitled 50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms.

Our ego pushes us to want things like this…so I clicked the link and began reading. Hmmmm. This is a fantastic post of great thoughts from random people.

Check it out – click here.

Big Changes For Us As A Couple

Randy and I have been on a quest to improve our mental health.

I decided a few months ago to spend way less time on FB because of the hate that was being flung in every direction. Suddenly EVERYONE was screaming their opinions at each other.

We got rid of cable and the newspaper delivery in May 2016. We only have one TV now. According to Nielson, the average number of televisions in an average household is up to 2.93 from 2009’s reporting of 2.86.  In 1975 the average was 1.57.

We looked for and found a few people that were quietly needing help in December last year and have made adjustments to do what we could which meant having less to spend on entertainment out.

We are downsizing our house.  This plan went into motion a few years ago when a dear friend John Chuang passed away after losing a battle with cancer.  As we drove home from the beautiful event to celebrate his life we decided firmly: WE DON’T NEED SO MUCH STUFF!  Our priority shifted the next day and we began filling the garage with items to sell.

We began a “Bucket List” and started knocking items off.

Piper sits semi-patiently at the door of our very first RV Travel Trailer we named The Lorax.
Since 2006 Randy has tried to get us to a Trojan Game so I can kick the thing and see Tommy Trojan.  After making our list, we got the opportunity and this time we said HELL YEAH!  We saved and finally got to see a live SUMO match!  We finally got to see our friend Bill IN THE PIT at the NASCAR races.  I began writing letters to people I was thinking about often.  I got my knees fixed so we can do some bigger physical bucket list items.  We bought a 1999 Coachman for peanuts and took our pets with us on an RV adventure.

We’re making progress but it took starting with a LIST.

We Are Not Alone

I watched a moving video created in Canada interviewing three generations with the same question: “What did/do you do for fun.” (when you were a kid). Grandpa caught fish and watched black bears, mom built giant forts you could stand up in and son’s eyes twinkled at the thought of playing video games. UGH.

Of course no one can help you do anything you are not interested in doing. I get that completely.

But what if you were to see something on a list that you liked and wanted to change to make your life better? I say DO IT. Don’t get approval or need agreement from anyone. If it is legal, do it!

Check out this list and see what you like.  I’d say “teach your kids” but my kids wouldn’t listen to me if I told them anything (maybe later in life).  For now just begin teaching by being an example.

This may be difficult to do.  It was for us.

“You’ll be fine!” as the saying goes in our house and so far, so good.



Morgan Monday’s

IMG_0046Our daughter Morgan is part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – aka the LDS Church. We are not and I never have been.

They send kids on mission.  2 years for the boys and 18 months for the girls.  The mission purpose, I’ve learned, is to get more members into the church.  They do this by going door to door talking to people and I think they give bibles out too.

(As a side note: if you are ever visited by a Missionary please offer them water, at least.  You don’t have to listen to them – but know they are all really nice kids and it is likely they are thirsty.)

She “signed up” for this task early this year, followed all of the rules and guidelines, had all of her Bishop Interviews and was accepted.  That was in July I think.  We would know where her mission would take her in September and have a few days to spend with her before she took off for 18 straight months.

I’m not LDS.  All I’ve learned about LDS has been from my husband (who served as a Missionary in Guatemala for two years when he was 19), Amanda (Shoemaker) and Morgan.

I was VERY against this idea for Morgan.  More scared than anything else. It all sounded like a part of my life I would hope to avoid and DEFINITELY not put my daughter or son through.

We will not be able to speak to Morgan during this 18 months.  At first I was told there would be a call on Mother’s Day (to her mother, not me I assume) and Christmas.

Being a good Libra, that was immediately and easily noticably UNFAIR to Randy – her father.  Why not Father’s Day?!

But it is not my place to boss the LDS church and I have no idea why that would be the way it is.  Add this non-nonsensical idea to the mountain of them that seems to be a part of every organized group (church, business, team…anything requiring “rules”).

Monday is the day we get an email from Morgan!

We hover around our computers all morning looking forward to the latest installment of her adventure.

I sent her off with a personal note telling her a bit more about what happened to me, just to get her to see what can happen when you allow someone to be the boss of your destiny.

She’s old enough to have some real-world experience and has had the taste of freedom to roam earth.

It’s Monday December 21st, 8:05am.

Vegan Pumkin/Pecan muffins just out of the oven and we’re ready to be dazzled soon.

Dogs Detecting Cancers

Family of Sarita and Adelita - 2_0054My little sister is a Dog Whisperer (read: trainer).  She’s always had a soft spot since before I can remember as a kid.

She told me about this concept at the end of 2014, having been connected through someone in the Los Angeles Area that is specializing in cancer detection through k9 noses.

Pretty special. And so is my sister.

Dogs detecting cancer – amazing video here.

UPDATE:  she will be training dogs on this!