New Platform Direction: Concussion Awareness

When I decided to enter the Mrs. International Pageant, I was positive of what my platform should be. After all, I’ve been encouraging people to walk for health for over ten years now and it seemed a natural. Until I got my hands on an advance copy of the book Concussion (release date: 11/24/15).

I knew that the movie “Concussion”, starring Will Smith, would be coming out on Christmas Day and was eagerly looking forward to seeing it. When I learned I would get to read the book, I was thrilled. When I got it, I stayed up all night reading it until I was finished. What I read changed my life.

I decided to change my platform to Concussion Awareness. My reason for doing that is because of our oldest son. He started playing football when he was eight and went to Tulane University on a football scholarship. Before he got to college, he’d had at least one concussion. By the time he had a career ending neck injury at the beginning of his sophomore year of college, he’d had five concussions. I now believe the broken neck was blessing in disguise.


After our son had his last concussion, the doctors at Tulane University Medical Center told us they felt he was fine to play but they would have him wear a high tech helmet that would provide him extra protection. I was happy with this. Even up until the beginning of college football season this year where it now looks like all players wear this helmet.


Up until I read the book “Concussion” that says that no matter what kind of helmet an athlete is wearing, they will still be able to sustain a concussion because, although the helmet can stop the skull from being fractured, it cannot stop the brain from banging around inside of the skull in the cerebral fluid.


Every time another NFL player takes his own life, and they indicate it was due to concussions, I pray that God will keep our son safe and, even if we never get to speak to him again, he will have a happy life.

What we know when we let our kids play football is that they may break an arm or a leg. We know about those kinds of injuries but no one talks about concussion. In our son’s case, he was a defensive lineman in college and played both sides of the ball all the years before college. The research indicates that the cumulative effect of all the subconcussive hits, the hits that a lineman receives on nearly every play as they go head to head with the other line, could be even worse.

Parents need to have this information and understand the potential outcome of multiple concussions. They need to be aware of the signs of concussion. I want to help get this word out.  

Would we have done anything differently if we had had this information? I can’t say. But at least we would have been making the most informed decision we could make because we would’ve had all the facts.

This isn’t just a football problem, either. Concussions happen in all sports. Football just happens to be the topic for the movie and my own experience. A place to start.


I’ve chosen to work with the Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation. When I read Patrick’s story, and it was so much like our son’s, I knew it was the place for me. 

While I will never stop telling you how great walking is for your heart, overall health, and even your marriage, I feel that making parents aware of the signs and effects of concussion is so very important. If I can stop one mom from feeling the way that I did when I learned that a helmet doesn’t really protect against a concussion at all, it will be worth it. 

You can learn more about concussion and CTE at the Foundation website


Book Review: Ashley Bell

Ashley BellAshley Bell by Dean Koontz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a crazy book and I loved it. There were lots of twists and turns and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out!

I’ve been reading Koontz for a lot of years. I always found the stories to be true enough to be scarier than more far flung stories that couldn’t possibly seem real. This book. like his last, is not as scary as those in the past but I’ve enjoyed the newer direction.

Bibi Blair is an author that has been writing since she was a child. She’s the daughter of surfer parents that have always had a live and let live mentality. She’s a little more down to earth, in her mind. Bibi is found to have brain cancer, a kind that cannot be treated, and is given a year to live. That’s where this story really takes off.

Bibi fights a war on two different levels and the book weaves well through both of them and the back story of her childhood.

If you want a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat guessing, here it is!

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Book Review: Concussion

ConcussionConcussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness. When I saw the trailer for this movie, I knew I had to see it. When I saw the opportunity to read the book, I jumped on it. I couldn’t stop reading it and stayed up all night to finish it.

This book is about Bennet Omalu, the man who discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which he found in the brain of a former NFL player, Mike Webster, who played for the Steelers. Omalu, from Nigera, comes to America to work with Cyril Wecht. He admires Wecht’s work and works hard. As long as he gets his work done, Wecht doesn’t mind if he studies brains. Every brain tells a story, he thinks. He feels like he can tell what happened to the person by reading the brain. It is because of this he eventually discovers CTE. He’s eventually able to study more former NFL player brains and is sure of his findings.

The book is about Omalu’s fight to get the word out about CTE against an eight billion dollar entertainment entity, the NFL.

If you have a child who plays sports, are a coach or a trainer, I highly recommend this book. It changed my life. The one most important thing I learned in this book is that helmets do not protect from concussion! When I read this, I felt like a child abuser because I felt my son was always protected because of his helmet.

Excellent, excellent book. I look forward to the movie.

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Put A Cork In It Winery – Sponsor

I’d like to thank my sponsor, Put A Cork In It Winery! The winery is located in Bricktown along the canal and is one of my favorite destinations in the City.


They have awesome wine which is, of course, the major attraction. My favorites are Outlaw

and Skirt Alert

Put a Cork In It has been a favorite of mine for a long time. Not only can you have a great glass of wine or do a wine tasting, there are also rooms there where you can have a bridal shower, going away party or other event you are planning. 

Andrea and John, the owners, are the best! So friendly and welcoming. They will be sponsoring my gift for the silent auction that will be held at the Red Carpet Gala at the Mrs. International pageant next July. I’m so thankful for their donation. Proceeds from the silent auction will be going to Go Red for Women

If you’re ever in Bricktown in Oklahoma City, make it a point to stop by the winery and have a glass of one of their tasty wines.

Thank you so much, Andrea and John!


Book Review: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

Stars Over Sunset BoulevardStars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. I love the way it wove between 1938, when they were making the movie Gone With The Wind, and today. I loved the unlikely friendship between Audrey and Violet.

Audrey is a gal with a mission to become a star in Hollywood. She has a bungalow that was left to her by an aunt and is working in the secretary pool at Selzniak Studios waiting to be discovered. Violet heads to Hollywood to get away from sadness and ends up working with, and living with, Audrey. The two become best friends.

The story travels through the making of the film Gone With The Wind and around a hat from the movie that was lost during filming but that Violet had really taken, hidden and sent back to Alabama in a box of clothes. Bert, has been Audrey’s best friend since she’s been in Hollywood and Violet finds herself falling for him. Eventually they get married and Audrey gets into the Hollywood scene as an actress on television.

I loved watching how Violet and Audrey’s friendship changed and grew over the years and I loved the people of this book. Highly recommend. :-)

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Book Review: The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia MossThe Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, when I first started reading this book, I was a little leery. It’s about gamers. I’m not a gamer and don’t really know the genre but I had to keep reading.

Why? Because it’s so funny and quirky and I wasn’t sure what was going to come next.

Dahlia Moss is an down and out, unemployed girl who has lost her boyfriend. It seems that her life is never going to get better when she is approached by Jonah to investigate the theft of one of his game pieces – the Bejeweled Spear of Infinite Piercing.

Then Jonah winds up dead. The story takes us through her sleuthing to find out who stole the spear. But ultimately, Dahlia also figures out who killed Jonah.

Funny, zany, loved it!

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Teaching Kids to be Heroes

Today, I was excited to be a part of a group from the American Heart Association that went to Blossom Valley Elementary School in Los Gatos to help teach the kids how to do hands only CPR.

It was quite an assembly. Also attending were several county councilpersons, the superintendent and many fired and EMS workers. Santa Clara County is working on putting automated external defibrillators (AEDs) n all of their schools. We were at Blossom Valley to talk to the kids about the AED and to show them how to use it.


Three of the five fifth grade classes participated in the assembly. I love fifth graders! They are interested and smart and fun. They were excited to learn the process and they were all really good at it. I walked around, along with the other adults, to make sure they had their hands positioned correctly, were pumping the Manikins correctly, etc.  

The Manikins that were used are like the ones in the Family and Friends CPR Anytime kit.

The cool thing is that these kits can be purchased for your own home use so your fifth grader can learn how to properly do CPR, too! 


Once the kids learned how to do the hands only CPR, the AED instructions were added in an they practiced that. I think they kids learned really well the subject matter they were supposed to learn. They had fun doing it and I’m sure that if they ever need to help someone, they will be able to!


Mrs. California International Pageant

This past weekend we drove down to Palm Desert to attend the Mrs. California International Pageant. I was super excited because I hadn’t seen my friend Eddie, the director, since my last trip to the National pageant in 2011. 


We drove and drove and drove. And drove some more. It seems like it took so very long to get down there. We were in constant bumper to bumper traffic. We even pulled off to have dinner in hopes that when we got back on the highway the traffic would have lessened. But it didn’t.  I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the traffic in California!


We were exhausted and fell into bed as soon as we got into the room practically. The following morning when we went out to get breakfast, Eddie and the contestants were all down in the lobby and we got to say a quick hello. 


The pageant was held at the Indian Wells Theater which was right across the street from the fabu Italian restaurant where we had dinner. (Look at us in the reflection. :D )


There were 21 beautiful contestants in the well run pageant. It was fun to listen to all of their platform statements as the community service platform is the basis the International Pageant system. When it was time to for the reigning queen to give up her crown, Eddie sang to her! It was so sweet that I got all choked up. I’m not sure how she was able to hold it together so well. 

Finally the moment arrived when the new Mrs. California, Tiffany Calig, was crowned. I loved watching her husband place the crown on her head, another hallmark of the Mrs. International system. 


Photo Courtesy Mrs. California International Pageant

We then waited for things to calm down a bit so we could thank Eddie and say goodbye. It was really great to see him, see his production and to be part of such a wonderful evening. Thank you, Eddie!


On the way home, we stopped in San Dimas (Yes! San Dimas where Bill & Ted are from!) and had breakfast with Jayna, who was Miss International 2008. I hadn’t seen her since 2009 so it had been way too long. It was wonderful to see her in person and visit and catch up. Breakfast was really great, too!

Then we traveled the rest of the way home. The highlight of the drive was seeing RAIN! I hadn’t seen rain in so long. It seems like it rains here when I’m in Tulsa and it rains in Tulsa when I’m here but we drove in the rain almost the entire drive home. It was great!

A Place We Knew Well

I really loved this book and got sucked into the historical fiction that takes place during the day’s surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

Wes Avery is a former military man who runs a Texaco station in Orlando where he lives with his wife and daughter. He notices unusual activity around an air base close to his home. Having been a part of the bombings at Hiroshima, Wes is immediately concerned about what he’s seeing.

In the middle of all of this, Wes’s wife Sarah, stars having a nervous breakdown. It seems to stem from the fact that after having multiple miscarriages, she was given a hysterectomy without her knowledge and consent depriving her of the large family she wanted. 

Meanwhile, we learn that Charlotte, the Avery’s 17 year old daughter was actually adopted from Sarah’s sister right after she was born. Charlotte was selected to the homecoming court at her school and through much of the book she’s preparing for that along with experiencing her mom’s breakdown and the impending conflict in Cuba.

I enjoyed reading about the event as part of a bigger story. If you like historical fiction, this is an awesome choice to read.

Mrs. Southwest International 2016


If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen that I’ve made a couple of appearances in the past month wearing a new banner. Yes, I’m Mrs. Southwest International 2016 and I’ll be competing at the Mrs. International Pageant in Jacksonville, FL next July. I’m excited!

I’ve loved the International system for a long time. I directed the Oklahoma pageant from 2006 until 2011 when we were told we’d be moving to Saudi Arabia. I reluctantly gave up my directorship. While I was directing, I was the only female director who’d never competed. At my last director’s meeting, the other directors suggested I should compete. I demured.


But the idea remained in the back of my head. The competition age for Mrs. International is from 21-56. As I get closer to 56, I realize that I’m running out of eligibility to compete in this pageant. I discussed it with my husband, who agreed I should compete. I also have the strong encouragement of many friends, so I entered.

What I love about the Mrs. International system is the requirement to have a community service platform that you’ll promote throughout your year. I’ve been promoting walking for health for the past 10 years and that will be my pageant platform as well. I’ll be aligning myself with the Start! Walking Now program with the American Heart Association. I’ve been working with the AHA since 2008, mostly with the Go Red for Women program but, as happened the other day when I joined them at the Capitol for the tobacco rally, whatever they need my support for, they have. I love the message of the AHA. There are so many simple things we can do to ensure our heart remains healthy and knowledge is power! If you can share that message, and let people know what they can do, you help them.


I’m really looking forward to this year as Mrs. Southwest International and the culmination of the year at the pageant next June. If you’re interested in competing for Mrs. International, many states have preliminary pageants you can participate in. You can find them at the Mrs. International website. If you decide to enter, let me know! :-)