Thursday, April 27, 2017

PSA: Beware of virtual kidnapping

This is a public service announcement to every mom out there: Evil is real.

Many moms live with this boogieman in their heads that makes them fear every little thing that can happen to their kid: run over by car, fall out of tree, drown in pool, stabbed by child holding scissors wrong.. I know, I get it. I'm not a worrier by nature, but kids do that to you. They take everyday life and turn it into this massive obstacle course where a unsliced grape could mean life or death.

A heightened state of awareness. Parental awareness.

For what it is worth, I consider myself pretty laid back. My parenting style is what I would deem modern free range. I want my kids to play like I did in the 1980's, but I am trying to avoid being reported to CPS, it's a balance and an art. Anyhow, I disgress.

I was reading The Shack. A Word to the wise, this is a wrenching book. A father's wrestle with God after the abduction and murder of his daughter. The absolute worst kind of parental nightmare that exists.

I'm just gonna put that right here. Conjure up the worst, and The Shack is pretty much it.

I was reading The Shack on my flight to Portland last Monday. I debated whether this was a smart choice as I was flying away from my family on a week long business trip but my mom had recommended it. I also knew this book would suck me in, and the time would go faster.

I was right. I was enraptured. The book is captivating. Cue embarrassment as I cried on the plane (and the plane from Portland to Denver, and Denver to Indianapolis....)

As I glided down the airport people mover in PDX, I mentally noted in my hypothetical text to hubs: "Happy to report, Portland is still weird." As we texted, he said he was going to pick up the kids.

The Uber driver and I engaged on a random conversation about horses, polo, dog training and psychology. Uber, always an adventure.

Then my phone rang. Glancing at it, I didn't place the number. Against my better judgement and only cause the number started with a 5 (and Portland area calls are 503, so it could have been my local attorney), I answered it.

For a couple of seconds it was dead air.

"Hello? Hell- O?"

Then muffled crying and whimpering. Seconds passed, but it seemed long.

"Who is this? Who IS THIS?"

More crying... "Mommmy...."

"Who is THIS?"... "XJL is that YOU?!"

"Mommy.... Mommy, it's XJL (sounded more like "Cindy" or "Sandy")...

Then a man with a deep baritone came on the line:

"Mam, I'm sure we can come to some accommodation."

At this point my Uber driver has pulled off the side of the road. Every nerve in my body was standing on end and every pore was screaming PANIC. I didn't know what to do.

And then my finger, almost with a mind of it's own, hung up the call. Done. Swearing, mumbling...

I texted Erik: "Is XJL with you?"

No response. My mind raced. He could be driving. Sometimes he doesn't text back immediately. Call him? No time. My mind raced.. and raced.. my heart and my mind were sprinting each other.

I told the Uber driver to take me to the Marriott. In seconds, I was there, and I rushing into the lobby. I called my brother-in-law who is good at answering his cell phone and lives within minutes to my kids school and my house. Answer he did, and within minutes, he was heading to the school and my sister to my house.

Then Erik texted back: "Yeah, I have her. Why?"

Poor Hubs, then my sister showed up at the house, and he still had no idea what was going on.

The whole situation diffused within 5 minutes. But wow... the panic, the fight or flight, the dread, the fear... the thought - "Did I just hang up on my child?"... it was unreal and yet, all too real.

I checked into the Marriott. Afterwards, with the hair on my arms still standing up. I asked the nice gal behind the desk: "Do you have kids?"

"I want to!"

Poor gal. I told her my story.

Told her I think I needed a glass of wine.

After I debriefed with Erik and my heart stopped racing, I reported the incident to the non-emergency police in Phoenix. I also looked at the number again - Mexico country code. I also googled the scam, and apparently, "virtual kidnappings" are a thing.

It is my duty to tell you all. Lest this should happen to you. Virtual kidnappers want you to stay on the line. They want you call them back. They want you to go to the bank and wire relatively small sums of money.

This is in contrast to real kidnappers who do NOT want to stay on the phone and demand sums of money that you can't just go to Chase and withdraw from the ATM. At least, I can't.

As I replayed the whole thing over and over and over again.... I gave them the name... but consider the circumstances, I am a mom of girls, I'm away from home, and reading The Shack.... sooooooooooo not funny. The rational side of me knew something was off - the name, even in distress, XJL would know how to pronounce her name... and stories of recent scams preying on seniors... but WOW, the emotion. Two very serious forces were at conflict with each other in my heart and mind.

I gotta give it to Charlotte P. at the Marriott City Center. She came thru in spades. She called my room later on and asked my wine preference. Red, of course. A bottle delivered gratis to my room. Thank you Marriott. You've got a faithful customer now.


So be warned mommy-friends. There are sick people out there. People who do want to take your kids, and others who want to take your money preying on your fear of those who will take your kids.

Hug those little tonight.

And if you are going to read The Shack, do it at home.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Life Happens

Please forgive me upfront for this post. It is going to sound really elementary... sheltered... ridiculous even. It's going to be obvious. It's going to sound stupid.

When you are staring fear in the face.... when everything you know is ripped out from under you... when you start to wonder how you go on... that sort of life-rattling, soul-quaking, spirit-searching event... all the other stuff that I've talked about on this blog... weight, politics, vacations, bra-reviews.. seems pretty darn trivial.

When you've grown up... Protected. Loved. Forgiven. Encouraged. Celebrated. Blessed. Never losing trust, never losing love, never losing a foundational relationship or person...

Facing it - the "it" that might take away the cornerstone of that love - can be pretty darn upsetting. Upsetting like anxiety for the perpetually calm. Sleeplessness for the one who could sleep for a job. Emotional outbreaks for the person mostly cool, calm and collected.

I've done my share of adulting since February 18 when my happy little bubble world went pop. Can I just have a couple days with NO adulting? That'd be great...

Life happens and it is painful. That shouldn't be surprising but somehow it is.

The "it" that has moved into my world in the form of a unwelcome tumor is pancreatic cancer. It's fair to say that our family may never be the same again. The "it" has brought all of us to our knees and the question now is how do we respond? Do we let it rob us of all the things that we enjoyed for so long (see list above)... love... celebration... or do we just make room for this unwelcome visitor and find blessings where we can?

That is what we do... We grasp for the thankfulness. We bask in the light. We hoard peace. We relish the moments and we know that it sounds silly to say we never expected this -- of course, we know our time here is fleeting.

Maybe I'm not running like I used to.... Life happens... but...

Hope is my new marathon.  Mercy and grace are my hydration.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

America is still the best thing going (ie. I voted for Trump Part 2)

The second most read post on this blog was viewed by 2300+ people and titled Dear Republican Party.. or Dear Democrats. It was written with a heart in turmoil after Trump successfully triumphed over Hillary Clinton last fall. I was honest for whom I voted for. I wanted friends, mostly liberal, to see, that you can - actually be educated - be a woman - with a vagina no less - and vote for a man for reasons unrelated to the blather that the mainstream media is forcing down our throats about Trump's alleged racism, sexism and whatever else they can come up with...

I have a similar feeling today. Man, I'm sorry folks. But if you marched today and couldn't even bring yourself to turn on the TV yesterday, you've got a problem. If you think you're capable of civil discourse and you can't even praise the peaceful transfer of power to a man who rightfully won the White House, then it's time to look in the mirror. In fact, as I was insulted and told to check my privilege last fall...  need I say mirror? I better stop....

Millions of Americans want a government who will leave them alone.
Millions of Americans believe that rights come from God, not the government.
Millions of Americans know that true charity comes from one neighbor to the next without a government mandate.
Millions of Americans see the consolidation of power in Washington while their local economies crumble and want DC to do less, be less, suck less life out of the rest of our country.
Millions of Americans understand that equality comes with empowerment of the individual thru liberty and freedom, not regulation and collective identity.
Millions of Americans want a shot at the American dream.

So march. You are free to do that. But you don't march for me.

As a woman who votes for more issues than her sexual reproductive rights, I will sit back and applaud. For the first time in many years, the left sees that fear of government and dissent is a real and even patriotic thing. Welcome back.  I know that feeling. So, the flipside of the coin is here. Use your voice. Use your purse. Vote with your feet and your wallet. You are free to do that. Stock food. Get your concealed carry license.. I'll take you to the range. Establish a charity for your issue of choice. But considering that Trump is no ideologue... Trump is not a true conservative... and Trump isn't a sexist, racist pig... you do yourselves and your cause a disservice for not even listening to what he says. America is still the best thing going, don't take it for granted or wish it away. #silentmajority


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Jan Week 2 - Me? Military?

The rubber meets the road on all those resolutions this week... can't you just feel it? The stress of last year creeping into the resolve of this year? Week one were all determination to change. Week 2 were falling back to old excuses. Week 3 we wonder what we were thinking in the first place...

I started this year with a lovely Kathleen Turner-esque chest cold. I took the first week of Jan to refocus. I've become classically good at allowing exercise to be my crutch, and the diet... it just lags behind in priority. I do well during the day. I always have my shake for breakfast, and I usually do alright with lunch. But after 3pm my willpower seems to fly out the window.... then add a glass of wine, and I'm shoving all sorts of sweets in my mouth.

I buckled down. BIG TIME. No more sweets. No more wine. Just whole foods, all the time.

The result? I have shed a massive amount of water weight (hello inflammation!). In 10 days, I have lost 10 lbs. I have probably consumed more vegetables in 10 days that I did in all of December 2016. I've drank water. I've eaten whole fruits. I've had 1 glass of wine. YAY me!!

I've started doing Tony Horton's 22 Minute Military Hard Corp. It is short but it hurts. I'm sore all over, in a good way. Now, just get thru Jan week 3 and I'm on my way!! 2017, I'm coming for ya!

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