The Day Our World in Butte County Changed. #CampFire2018

The Day Our World in Butte County Changed. #CampFire2018

We awoke to one of those crisp, crystal clear autumn mornings where we could see all the way to the coastline from our perch. From the moment I looked out our window during breakfast and saw a menacing plume of smoke racing across the sky, with gray ashes falling into the pool, our world here in Butte County has been forever changed.

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Wine Country Fires Bring Devastation, Heartbreak and Resolve.

Wine Country Fires Bring Devastation, Heartbreak and Resolve.

I'm nearly at a loss for words watching the devastating fires in our beautiful wine country. We are hearing reports of family and friends who have lost their homes. This image from iconic Signorello Estate a couple of years back that burned to the ground last night. Thoughts and prayers for everyone impacted by the firestorms.

Update: It's been nearly a week since the catastrophic firestorms exploded in wine country and it still feels surreal. This is a place where I have both lived and visited regularly for most of my life and it always feels like home. Praying that winds calm for brave firefighters and predicted rains help put an end to the destruction. Sending love and prayers to family & friends who have lost homes and livelihoods.

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A Sweet Summer Bébé Shower for Briana (and Our First Grandbaby) xx, Gigi

A Sweet Summer Bébé Shower for Briana (and Our First Grandbaby) xx, Gigi

It was a sweet summer bébé shower last month for my beautiful step-daughter, Briana. We are incredibly excited for Briana and Shawn with their little one on the way. Briana's mom, Shawn's mom and I co-hosted the shower for family and friends at her mom, Danielle's, house. For me, the preparation started with flowers at home. I used a mix of pastels since they have chosen to be surprised with the gender of the baby, due in early November. I created little nosegays for use in mason jars. I added ribbons with both pink and blue colors because the ribbons (with baby motif) were just so darn cute!

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What I Gained By Giving Up My Shopping Habit [Retirement Series]

What I Gained By Giving Up My Shopping Habit [Retirement Series]

The last time I indulged in my regular shopping habit was June 2016.  This may sound odd, but I’m tracking how long it’s been since I have darkened the door of my previous shopping addiction, TJMAXX.  It’s been nearly 10 months. I’m sure my friends working at the checkout stand assume I’m pushing up daisies by now!

As with many life transitions, like retirement/reinvention, being conscientious with finances is an essential piece of the puzzle.  I’m impressed by how much cutting the excess shopping can ease the strain of a reduced income. It’s a simple, but effective formula.

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Real Life: The Deepest Kind of Loss

As a school psychologist, I've grown familiar with being a first responder to crisis and grief. We are well versed in the stages of grief and have the resources at hand whenever there is a crisis. When the deepest kind of loss, the loss of a child, strikes at the heart of our school community, it is much more difficult to process.

Frankly, I'm at a loss...

This week, my long-time friend, and principal of our school, Maryanne and her husband, Brooks, lost their precious 8-year-old Wyatt, due to complications from newly diagnosed leukemia. He was suffering from flu like symptoms last week, transported to a regional hospital in Sacramento, and we heard there was a possible diagnosis of leukemia. Wyatt and his family were going to FIGHT this!!! They were gearing up and so strong. Then the unimaginable news filtered through the school, and on tearful phone calls, on Tuesday. Wyatt had just passed away.

I've known Maryanne since I started working at BCOE nearly 16 years ago. She was a teacher at our school and is now our principal. I remember plopping down in her office when the principal job at our school became available and "begging" her to consider taking it. We were thrilled when she did. Maryanne is a bright light to our school and programs.  Her office is just a couple of doors from mine, and I always love to hear her vivacious laughter. She's that kind of person--warmth and kindness exude from her. Wyatt was like that too.

This is not the first time the family has dealt with loss. Brooks lost his first wife to leukemia. When he married Maryanne, she became a step-mom to his son, Shane. This family has already been touched by grief and loss. To now endure this, the loss of a child, is simply heartbreaking beyond words.

It goes against the natural order of life.

I wasn't planning to share this story, it's not mine to tell, though we are all grieving for our friends.  I read one of Maryanne's posts on Facebook in which she told us to feel free to share as they need as much support "as there is in the universe to make peace with this loss".

Wyatt was a happy kid and a friend to all. People absolutely adored him. From wearing Dodger blue ribbons with his number 12 on them, to moments of silence at his team Little League game, to words of compassion written on butcher paper by classmates, Wyatt is being remembered. I know his parents are being comforted by hearing the stories of how Wyatt navigated his world. Friends of Brooks and Maryanne have also started a Go Fund Me campaign to "Build a Buddy Bench" at his Sierra View School to memorialize this wonderful boy, wise beyond his years, in a way that will be a gift to others. Even in grief for the deepest kind of loss, this family is thinking of others. Their strength is absolutely inspiring.

I reached out to Maryanne to see if she would mind my sharing their story and the Go Fund Me link with my wonderful blog readers. She thanked me and sent me a big red heart. I only wish I could do more at this time.  Please, from wherever you are today, I would appreciate a thought or a prayer for our friends, Maryanne, Brooks and Shane, as they navigate this new phase of life. Wishing them peace.

Hug your family today.

Life is so precious.

xx

Update: Maryanne has started a very moving blog, Salt Water Tides.

A Bittersweet Season and a Cure for the Holiday Blues

A Bittersweet Season and a Cure for the Holiday Blues

With all the hustle and bustle, merrymaking and cheer, I can't help but remember that this season can be a bittersweet time for many of us.  As time marches on, most of us experience loss, heartbreak and bittersweet moments, all made more pronounced by the 'Joy to the World' surrounding us during the holidays.  There are loved ones we have lost through death or distance- lost loves, lost lives, lost homes, lost pets; and the broken hearts and dashed hopes of living life.

I know, it's not exactly cheery, but it is a very real part of life.

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Motherhood Day and Celebrating Us

Happy 'Motherhood' Day to all! If you have birthed a baby, adopted a baby, fallen in love and became an 'insta' stepparent, been a nurturing auntie, or stepped in as a grandparent to care for your grandchild, you are part of the motherhood in my book. Motherhood can encompass all kinds of nurturing and care. I see it everyday as a school psychologist.  I am surrounded by an army of nurturing, caring teachers, clinicians, nurses, administrators and staff.

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