And just. like. that. our fun Thanksgiving weekend is over.  The boys left yesterday after church and arrived back to their campuses safely.  Olivia is pretty unmotivated to head back to school this morning after her week long break and I feel her pain…I don’t want her to go back either.  Ha Ha  But, then again, getting back to our normal routine isn’t a bad thing and we get to see the boys again this weekend so we shouldn’t complain!

Our long holiday weekend consisted of a lot of this…

Bed snuggling and Christmas movie watching with Olivia and Co.!!!
More snuggling while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
And some MORE chilling in bed!!!

Although it was pretty tempting to stay in bed, we did manage to make it out of the house to celebrate Thanksgiving with good friends and the dear folks at the rescue mission…


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Homeless dogs get some love too!

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Enjoying the sounds of the “Geyling Trio”.


Once again, there was magic in the air at the SBRM annual Thanksgiving feast…magic in the form of unconditional love, a strong sense of community and light-hearted fun.  The kids helped set the mood with their music in the courtyard with a varied playlist of classic rock ‘n roll, contemporary country, worship songs and what turned into impromptu sing-a-longs…at one point, the homeless guests waiting in line for lunch started singing along to the kids’ rendition of “Stand By Me” and it was a fun moment for the guests and residents and staff hanging out together.  Here’s a little sample of their sound…

I was sitting with one of the residents in the recovery program and we were handing out new socks to the homeless guests as they left the dining room after lunch.  One of the guests came up with one hand carrying a to-go box of food and his other hand was holding up his pants…he fumbled a bit trying to grab the socks we were offering him while not letting go of his pants or dropping his container of food.  The resident next to me said “Hey man, you need a belt?” to which the guest responded “Yeah man”.  Without a second thought, the resident stood up and took off his belt and handed it to the guest.  At first, the guest resisted saying “Oh, nah man!” but the resident insisted, “Take it man, it’s okay”.  The guest put his things down, quickly put the belt on and picked up his food and socks and some toiletries that were also being given away with a big smile of gratitude on his face.  My description doesn’t do it justice…but it was so powerful.  I just sat there quietly, watching this precious interaction unfold and selfishly soaking up the magic that filled the day.  So good!

We also headed out to the movie theater, enjoyed the pretty decorations downtown…
…got a jump start on our own holiday decorating…and cheered for a friend at his bball game…
Our last outing was a picnic lunch with Rudy yesterday (the 25th) before the boys headed back to school.

I guess it can go without saying that is was also a weekend filled with much emotion.  My emotions are constantly just under the surface and it doesn’t take much to make me sob…I know it’s not a comfortable space for most to share with me but the reality is it’s hard to control once the tears start and it’s where I’m at…it’s honest.  Have you noticed how honesty can hurt so, so deeply and often requires effort to be worked through but is always infused with movement, life, transformation and the power to draw us closer?  There’s a gift to be excavated in those moments for sure.

So, the Christmas season is officially here and we look forward to an even longer break with the boys in just about 3 weeks!  Woo Hoo…the countdown is ON!  Happy Belated Thanksgiving dear friends…Thankful for you.

Poor Harley, this is what she looks like when everybody leaves.


“We’re Family”

I was given the honor of sharing a charge with the graduates at the latest SBRM graduation a couple of weeks ago.  Sharing at the November graduation specifically had personal significance for me because Rolf, the big kids and I attended our first graduation in November of 2006 when Rolf interviewed for his current position as President.  That graduation was my first exposure to the work and people of the SBRM and as I sat with tears streaming down my face overwhelmed by the transparency and love that filled the church that evening, I knew our family needed to be a part of it.  Luckily, the search committee and board of directors felt the same way and Rolf began his SBRM employment two months later!!  He commuted between LA and Santa Barbara for 6 long months until our house in Los Angeles sold and we relocated the whole family the following July!  Our family’s relationship with the rescue mission was natural and casual from the very start…the kids related easily to the residents through football scrimmages in the parking lot and impromptu music sessions in the chapel and to the homeless guests at mealtimes and hanging out in the courtyard.  I may have shared this story before but I remember when the big kids were young, they were interviewed on a local radio show and the host asked the kids if they liked volunteering at the rescue mission.  There was an awkward radio silence until one of them said “no, we don’t volunteer there.”!!  Not hearing the response she expected, the host quickly changed the subject.  Afterward, I asked the kids what they were thinking…”why didn’t you answer her question?  You guys are there all the time!” .  The kids looked at me a little confused and said “but we aren’t volunteers, we’re family.”  Ah, yes, indeed.  That was a special season in the life of our young family.  I miss our weekly family dinners in the dining hall with the residents and guests as well as our drop in visits to see the women at the Bethel House.

The Rescue Mission is in the middle of a $10 million remodel…a capital campaign that Rolf and his team have been working hard on for the past few years.  Phase 1 of the remodel was recently completed and the administrative staff got to move into their new offices.  Olivia and I went over to help Rolf hang his pictures and unpack boxes.  It is a beautiful facility and will serve our community well for many decades to come.  I’m so proud of all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that have gone into this project so far.  There is much work left to be done but there is light at the end of the tunnel and morale is high.  I admit I got overwhelmed touring the new building and seeing all the amazing potential for future ministry and programs.  I guess I didn’t realize how emotionally invested I was in this remodel project and how deeply I wish I could be a part of the great work that is going to fill the freshly painted halls of this very special space in the future.

Sharing words of encouragement to the graduates also allowed me the opportunity to share my genuine love for the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission…the work done through it, the people that fill it and the God who empowers it to “rebuild broken lives”.  ‘Just to be clear, it isn’t a perfect place but it’s genuine in it’s intent for good and in it’s dependency on God and that is a powerful combination!!!


The video of my charge was shared on the SBRM website so I’ve attached it below for the record. 😉  You’re welcome to listen to it if you have 12 minutes to spare.

Holiday Prep

The pace of this last week has been much slower.  The weeks between the end of September and the start of November were particularly full so a little respite before the holidays begin is a good thing.  I started another round of Radicava infusions this week which gives me another reason to lounge in bed and watch Hallmark Christmas movies (yes, I’m one of those people!).  Actually, it’s getting to the point where I don’t need an excuse to be in bed…it’s where I’m most comfortable and where I spend most of my day…out of necessity.  I’m still doing my own self-care (i.e. showering and getting dressed) but it’s slow going and pretty much wipes me out.  A couple of trips to the bathroom and back are about all I can handle by myself during the day.  My lack of energy is no longer just a nuisance but a real hurdle in me doing the basics.

The gradual (BUT NOT GRADUAL ENOUGH!) nature of this disease is a perplexing process.  You’d think knowing what your needs are at any given point would be obvious but it isn’t…it’s kind of like standing near the edge of a fog bank…you see it coming but you don’t really notice you’re in the thick of it until you can’t see a few feet in front of you anymore and all of a sudden there is a frantic need to do something about it.  There are some things you can do to be “pro active” in this process but when it comes to certain specifics, you don’t know until you know and that is a little distressing.  I am definitely on the verge of transitioning to yet another level of support.  Each transition pushes me farther away from what is familiar and into new territory…territory that is unknown, frightening, exhausting, humiliating, territory that requires truckloads of patience & grace as well as a constant adjustment of expectations on every level imaginable.  My body feels like it started out in a pool of water, transitioned to a vat of wet cement and now that cement is beginning to harden.  It’s happening, I can feel it and there is nothing I can do to stop it.  A tough reality to face day in and day out no matter how full or empty the calendar may be.

On the bright side, I am using the extra time I have this week to do some holiday prep.  Bound and determined to hand address all 400 of our Christmas cards this year, I got an early start and am chipping away at the list a little bit at a time (address a few, take a nap, address a few more, take a nap, etc, etc).  🙂

Ho, Ho, Ho! I LOVE Holiday prep!!

Two of my sweet friends came over yesterday and helped me get a jump start on a couple of projects and some wrapping while we listened to Christmas music…now, THAT kind of help I can embrace enthusiastically.  Ha Ha  Oh friends, who am I kidding, I’d be doing all this Christmas prep already with or without ALS!!!  I’ve said from the very beginning of this journey that I wanted to stay true to myself so, I guess, my hyper organized approach to Christmas is a good example of that.  (Yay for the fun of Holiday Prep!!)

Rolf and I on our 26th wedding anniversary. November 7, 2018

Dia de los Muertos

Thanks to the 2017 Disney/Pixar film Coco, the Mexican “Day of the Dead” holiday is more widely known and part of popular culture than ever before.  I didn’t know anything about it until I moved to a predominantly hispanic community 28 years ago.  It is observed from October 31-November 2 so when I was first introduced to it, I thought it was Mexico’s version of Halloween and because I wasn’t a big fan of the skull and La Calavera Catrina symbols associated with the holiday, I didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention to it in general.  I didn’t understand it’s deep historical roots or it’s profound meaning at that time which is why I’m super glad I took the time to learn more about it over the years.

As I understand it, the holiday at it’s core is time set aside for family and friends to gather and honor loved ones who have passed away.   Dia de los Muertos (or Dia de Muertos) traditions include building altars to honor the deceased, preparing the loved ones’ favorite foods and visiting their graves with their favorite possessions and gifts.  Long ago, the holiday was observed for a whole month but the modern tradition lasts three days with November 1st being reserved specifically for dead children and infants…known as Dia de los Inocentes or Dia de los Angelitos…and November 2nd for deceased adults…and as Coco so beautifully illustrated, it can be done with such color and creativity and enthusiasm!

I have an even GREATER appreciation for the love expressed through the observance of this holiday as I’ve received word that Rudy is being included in some very special tributes this year…

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Rudy is pictured front and center in Nurse Gina’s altar display!!! What a sweet act of love by his former night nurse.
Rudy’s former teacher “Miss A” texted me a picture of this poster displayed at his school. The students were encouraged to share a name of a deceased loved one and and then talk about what gift they’d bring to that person. If you zoom in on the picture, you’ll see many of Rudy’s schoolmates listed his name and said they’d bring him cars!!! What a sweet comfort!
…and the tradition of bringing gifts and favorite possessions to the gravesite makes our collective effort on the year anniversary of Rudy’s death back in July even more meaningful! Yay! Way to go friends!!

As I was looking closely at Nurse Gina’s altar picture, it dawned on me that we have our own version of an altar!!!  We have a space on our living room cabinet where a collection of pics have gathered over the years as our loved ones have passed away…


Well, given that today is November 1st (Dia de los Inocentes) and we’ve already taken  “gifts at the gravesite”, I guess the only thing left to do is to whip up some pizza, tomato basil soup and ranch dressing.  Love you Rudy!  You are remembered and celebrated by many today and we are grateful for the village of friends that still thinks of and loves you too.  Big hugs!!!

Eating his favorite at Kyles Kitchen…tomato basil soup…in 2017!!!


(P.S.  I think it’s interesting to note that Rudy’s original due date was November 1st.  He ended up coming a month early…how strange it would be now if his birthday had been November 1st)