The People I Find: Pray for Lexi

I am a news story junkie, but you all already knew that. It was at the end of February that pictures of Lexi’s accident began popping up on my news feed. The pictures on the Utah News Stations showed a beautiful young woman who had just had the worst night of her life. A few days after the accident I was asked to like her Facebook Page “Pray for Lexi.” I instantly liked the page and began reading through it, trying to get an idea of what happened. In that moment, I stopped what I was doing and said a prayer for Lexi, and the man who hit her. As posts continued to come to her page, I was one of many cheering her on from afar. Lexi is a role model when it comes to doing hard things. She has been such an inspiration for many, and has helped people restore their faith in God. No matter what religion or God you believe in this is a story for you. It is about people from around the world coming together, and showing their faith in a higher being and participating in miracle. I was very excited when she agreed to share her story on The People I Find!

Here is Her Story:

lexiMy accident happened on Wednesday night, February 26. I was like any other night, I was longboarding from my apartment to BYU campus. While I was longboarding I crossed this intersection and was hit dead on by a car. The paramedics arrived and found that I was not breathing at the scene and had to be resuscitated. I was also blessed because the paramedics were Mormon and I was given a priesthood blessing. The ambulance raced me to the Provo hospital. When my family arrived they were told that I had 0% of survival and had as much life as the chair right next to me. The doctors had already called the organ donors because they knew I would not survive the night. But my dad and brother hurried and gave me another priesthood blessing and my family went into a room and had a family prayer. The doctors then came in and said they would start stitching up my face because my chance of survival changed to 1%. My percentage started to increase and surviving was not impossible. I believe that my percentage continue to increase because of the priesthood blessings, the hundred of prayers said for me, and the fasting that was done for me. The doctors were shocked when I awoke from my coma, and they are still shocked at how well I am today and just can’t believe and so they know it is a miracle.

the driverI went through the worst pain for a couple of months in my recovery. It was incredibly hard. So you think it’d be easy to hate the person who hit me, and never forgive him. In reality, I actually felt bad for him. I felt bad for him because he probably didn’t think that we would ever forgive him and thought my life was ruined. I don’t think it was his fault or that he did this on purpose. He had no idea what was going to happen when he got in his car that night. He couldn’t have done this on purpose and so that is why I see this as an accident. He didn’t mean to hurt me in any way. Throughout my stay at the hospital, he came to visit me many times. He was a miraculous person. I admired him, and how kind he was. We became good friends from the accident, and it helped me see that bad things happen to us. People aren’t to blame for what we go through, they are only there to help us get through it.longboard

 

That is just a glimpse of the past few months of my life. I have been able to recover because so many people reached out and helped me in so many ways. I will never be able to thank the people enough who kept me in their prayers. So many people showed me compassion, and was reminded that the world is full of wonderful people. When I think of the accident, I think of it as a learning experience. I have learned to recognize and appreciate service from others and to rely on God more because He is our only way out of the hard things we go through in life. I was shown how important family was and saw my love for them increase daily. When I look at this experience, I only have feelings of gratitude. I see my longboarding accident as just a hard thing I had to go through, but a hard thing that has taught me more than anything else in my life.I believe we have hard times or trying times in our lives to be able to learn. My one piece of advice would be, learn to be grateful for the things you go through, if you do you will live a much happier life.


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The People I Find: Ewing’s Sarcoma Cancer

This week’s story is about a great man with a wonderful sense of humor. I first met Scotty during the summer of 2013 while working EFY, a summer camp for teens. He always kept me on his toes with his wit, attitude, and the kids he got. He had a way of uplifting those who were sad and allowed people to see the best in themselves. I always thought to myself, this kid will go far in life, he has the right attitude. It wasn’t until late into the summer when I heard Scotty’s story and learned about how was a survivor.

Here is His Unknown Story:

While attending Brigham Young University in the spring of 2008, I applied for and received a mission call from my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to serve as a full-time missionary for two years. When I heard word of its arrival I immediately left campus, as well as any regard for my classes that day, with an excitement that is hard to explain. For many years I had looked forward to this day, wondering where in the world I would be for the next two years. Would I have to learn a new language? Will I be in a third world country and wash my clothes by hand? What if I go somewhere and have to eat bizarre food? Thoughts like these competed for my attention as I quickly made my way to the postal office where my letter awaited me. A few hours later, with my brother and his wife by my side, I read my mission call and was overwhelmed with pure joy.

“You are hereby called to labor in the Scotland, Edinburgh mission.”

Scotty going to Scotland seemed like the perfect idea in my mind, and I was thrilled at the prospect of serving in such a beautiful country. My departure date for the United Kingdom was June 5th. On May 30th, with passport and suitcases packed, I was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma cancer. Instead of serving a mission, I was assigned 14 rounds of chemotherapy and radiation over the course of the next year.

The full experience seems surreal to me now six years later, as all those days in hospitals and doctor offices have fused together in my memory. Yet some memories are fresh still, to the point I can recall even the minutest details:

  • The day I learned I had cancer. A few weeks prior, I had a small mass removed from my back. With no symptoms of cancer, my family and doctor assumed there was nothing to be concerned about. The mass was sent for analysis and a week later I received a call stating that something wasn’t right with the mass, and that it was being sent to the Mayo Clinic for further inspection. Another week passed by and my family was called again, this time by a doctor in Tacoma, asking us to please come in immediately. My father is a Tacoma police officer and met my mother and me at the hospital in his patrol car. The doctor wasted no time in informing me of my condition. I remember every turn I made while driving home as my mother sat in the passenger seat weeping in near hysteria. I believed something was wrong when I received the first phone call, so I wasn’t completely surprised by the cancer news. When I arrived home my younger sister could tell by the look in my eyes that it was indeed cancer, and as she broke down and embraced me the reality of the situation still hadn’t set in, until I called my brother and said the words, “I’m not going to Scotland.” My tears were immediate.

Scotty B

  • My first day of chemotherapy. I had to be transferred from the cancer center I was at in Seattle to the University of Washington hospital to finish my treatment. Chemotherapy was more nauseating than I imagined, and after arriving in the parking garage at the university I found myself head deep in a garbage can thinking to myself, “Wow, day one and I’m already this sick.”
  • Losing my hair. Three days after my initial treatment, I was able to gently pull out clumps of my hair. Having scotty b losing hairfun with my hair, I approached my mother and said, “Want to see something cool?” She didn’t appreciate the gesture, go figure. The next day I shaved my head. My hair never grew back after chemotherapy. I love my bald head, but if I knew that day would be my last day with a full head of hair, I wouldn’t have made so many dumb bald jokes.
  • Receiving a blood transfusion. Somewhere towards the end of my treatments, my red blood cell count became dangerously low. Fearing that I may slip into a coma, my doctors ordered me to go receive blood. I was given four pints of blood, with each bag taking two hours. What I thought would be a quick fix turned into an all-day event. I didn’t realize how terrible I felt before until I finished the transfusion. Barely able to walk earlier in the day, as I strolled out of the hospital on my own I looked at my dad and made the comment, “Blood is amazing, absolutely amazing!”
  • My first emotional breakdown. Throughout that year I kept a great attitude about my trial and would force myself to smile and laugh, not wanting pity and attention from anyone. On rare occasions I would allow a breakdown and cry myself to sleep. The first time was in the hospital during one of my five-day stays. The weather was grey and it began to rain. As I lied in my bed and stared out the window I thought of the poem “The Rainy Day” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I let my walls down and wept for an hour.

As strange as it sounds, I am grateful for my time with cancer. I became a better person, and more fully aware of scotty b round twomy faults. Humility and optimism were my rewards for enduring, and I have benefited tremendously from them. A year after finishing my treatments, I was deemed healthy enough to serve a mission. Again I received a letter, but this time to somewhere unexpected. I roared a yell of laughter as I read my new assigned mission. Utah, Salt Lake City. The two years there as a missionary were amazing, and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

Life is hard, but I’m convinced the only way to live is with a positive mentality and a smile on your face. On days when I wasn’t particularly in the mood to be nice to my nurses or family members, I would tell myself, “Scotty, today you’ve seen small children going through chemotherapy. You’re 19 with a strong body, if those children can still laugh and smile while hooked up to machines, so can you!” I have a great life, and I am thankful for the rainy days that come my way. Because of them, the bright days are that much better.


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Forever Young.

IPHONE JULY 2013 126There must be something in the water here in Arizona, or maybe it is the lack of water, but I feel like I am Benjamin Button. I left Boise thinking I am a full-grown adult, I have a husband, and I finally look my age. Well this was a joke. I still do not look my age. I don’t know if it is my lack of enthusiasm when it comes to wearing makeup these days (it’s cheaper not to), or if it is my height (same since 6th grade), or continually diminishing body weight (#giproblems). I have had a cornucopia of interactions since we moved to AZ that has reaffirmed to me that I will be forever young.

My first Sunday in Relief Society I felt shy. Something I don’t usually feel. I quickly chose a seat. I was easily hidden behind the “adult sized” women in front of me. A few minutes later the sister missionaries sat down next to me. As the meeting started and as they introduced everyone, I was mistaken as a sister missionary. Now in this situation, I can understand the misunderstanding. I was a sister missionary just a few years ago, so somewhat understandable… Don’t worry, I got over this one pretty quickly. I did receive some satisfaction out of running up and kissing my husband right after class… I think that made some of the fellow sisters wince 🙂

The second event took place at none other than COSTCO. I guess in the workers defense, everything comes in bulk there, and I am in no way “bulk.” I grabbed my shopping cart and walked through the large opening and showed my OWN Costco (what teenage owns one of those?). I put my first item in the cart, and decided to use my calculator app on my phone to track how much money I was going to lose that day. As I looked down, an employee (maybe 21) came up to me and asked if I was lost, and if I had come shopping with my parents. I was in awe. I can understand that I don’t look 24, but I don’t look like I need adult supervision!

The third event happened yesterday. I had new neighbors moving in and they had two teenage girls. The mom looked like she needed help, so I offered to carry in some boxes. She said great, my girls could use some friends! I didn’t think twice about her comment, until she asked me how old I was. This isn’t usually something someone asks right away. I replied with 24, I live down stairs with my husband! She laughed hysterically, like I was kidding. She said there is no way, you have to be 14…

These comments will flatter me in a couple of years, but right now they drive me nuts. I can’t imagine the dirty looks I will get when I eventually get pregnant. I am sure many mothers will turn to their daughters and whisper in the grocery store, “maybe we will see her on teen mom.” Okay, now that my forever young rant is over…. Does anyone else have this happen all of the time?

The People I Find: Woman Business Owner

Meet Chelsea, she is an educated, driven, balanced, and beautiful woman. I am sad to say that Chelsea and I have never met in person. I found her via her WifeStyle blog when I was religiously searching the internet about being a wife just weeks before my wedding. Her blog and personality captured my attention instantly! Her blog is a great one to follow. Take a minute to read her story about being a life partner and business partner.

Here is her unknown story:

unnamedAren’t identities funny? Isn’t it funny how some of us identify certain ways, while society forces other identities onto people? Each of these identities usually has some sort of generalization associated with them, typically both good and bad. I suppose that is part of being human. We need to compartmentalize things in order to understand them.

It’s been just about a year since I had a pretty large identity shift and I quit my social worker job and starting working full-time on the business I own with my husband. We own a speaking and training business helping people solve their communication struggles, with him doing a fair majority of the speaking while I run our business operations.

Yes, we know this increases our chance of divorce, based on other people’s outcome. Yes, we know it’s hard and challenging. Yes, we do have to pay for our own insurance. No, we don’t sit around making out all day in the office (that’s reserved for Thursdays).

My identity has shifted from social worker to entrepreneur. My identity of ‘woman’ has become ‘woman business owner’ and my identity of ‘wife’ has expanded to balance the relationship of life partner and business partner. To say it’s been an ‘adjustment’ would be a severe understatement and an understatement is the worst.

I could go on and on about many of the stereotypes society and outdated expectations relate to women and wives but instead I would like to focus on my newest identity of ‘woman business owner.’

One of the first things you have to do when opening your own business is to open a business banking account. We had been functioning as a side business for a while but realized it was time to jump all and open a corporation.

unnamed2My husband and I moseyed on down to our bank with our fancy new Federal Tax ID to meet with a small business specialist to open our bank account.

We get settled into the outdated brown chairs and the man we are working with is probably in his late 30s, wearing a fancy business suit. He asks my husband to fill out his portion of the application first. No worries, I can be patient and wait my turn. We all sit quietly while my husband fills out his paperwork.

Then he hands me a pen to fill out my part and the banker immediately starts asking my husband all about our finances, the structure of our business, what about our 401k, etc.

Thank goodness I married a supportive and outspoken man because he suddenly stopped the man and said “Why don’t we wait for my wife and business partner to complete her portion to answer these questions since she is the one with all the business information.”

I could have thrown that pen across the room and leaped into my husband’s arms for speaking to the fact that this man was assuming my husband had all the answers I must have been his secretary or something.

The banker simply said “Oh. Sure. Okay we can wait.”

After I finished my form, he said “So then should we put your wife as the main contact for this because I listed you so we’ll have to redo some of the paperwork.”

I could have kicked him in the head. Why on earth was he assuming that my husband was the go-to for all of this? Because of his identity of a man? Because he was taller than me? Why didn’t he bother to ask us instead of thinking my husband would take the lead on everything?

I took a deep breath and asked the banker, “Why did you decide to put my husband as the primary person instead of asking us whom it should be?”

That made him squirm a little but eventually he said, “That’s just what I usually do so I assumed it would be the same. Sorry.”

I wish I could tell you I launched into a rant about how ridiculous that is, how he should stop judging people based on certain identities and start valuing women the same he values men. I didn’t.

I realize this man wasn’t intentionally trying to tell me I was inferior to my husband or that he must have more knowledge than me because of his gender…but that is what he did. My newest identity of ‘woman business owner’ started shining through because she wouldn’t stand for it.

My reply was “Please reprint the paperwork and list me as the primary contact. Thanks.”

If and when you decide to get married, please make sure it’s to someone who creates a partnership with you. Someone that values your entire worth, sees you as an equal and knows full well that you can speak for yourself but also isn’t afraid to correct a wrong.

I feel quite thankful to have found this person early in life. As we head into our next adventures of being life partners as well as business partners, I know our identities will shift and morph and I’m glad I have someone who embraces all of mine.

Also, if you have any questions regarding our business operations, please direct them at me…the capable woman/wife/entrepreneur.


Check out Chelsea’s blog The New Wifestyle

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(C)LVB-2014

Netflix-ing

rosie larsenNetflix keeps asking me “If I want to keep watching?” Is Netfilx insane? OF COURSE I DO! Right now I have a lot of time on my hands. Mr. Bird is busy in studying to become a podiatrist and is really enjoying it. Me on the other hand, I am trying to develop some new talents. I have started doing some crafts, design, reading, and let’s not forget Netflixing (don’t worry, I am working, but that goes by fast these days). I recently finished Lie to Me. It was a GREAT show until the third season. It was like someone had put a new producer in without having them ever seen an episode before. The first two season we gripping, I could not stop watching. I loved the idea, I studied body language in college and so this show was fascinating. It was a whole new level of crime solving. After finishing this show, Netflix recommended “The Killing.” I am half way through the 48 episodes of this Netflix original. I was a little weary of watching it, because of how provocative some of their other originals are (a Facebook friend let me know, that the first 3 seasons are AMC original, the rest is Netflix). So far it has been good enough to push “keep watching.” It’s appeal is its real life nature and the idea that it follows one crime day by day. Most crime shows present the crime and solve it within the episode. This show isn’t that way. Every episode is about the same murder that was shown in the first episode. It is definitely a creepy show, but worth the watch if you are into that kind of stuff!

 

 

Is it Child Porn?

stopYesterday, one of my Facebook friends posted a status claiming she was upset because someone had reported her picture she had posted that morning. The picture included her son who was about 5/6. He was playing in the bathtub with his toys. The picture was not necessarily super graphic, it hid his “private parts,” but he was still naked. As I thought about this, I researched Facebook’s guidelines on “nudity” It states:

Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

I was happy to see that Facebook is cracking down on nudity, especially in minors. As Facebook’s community continues to grow the activity will as well. I am part of the generation that posts pretty much anything, from what I am eating, to what I am reading, and who I am in love with (duh, my husband). This is great for keeping a”journal” but it poses a lot of security questions. In college I took a Cyber Security class, and learned that if it makes it on the internet it is on there to stay, even it you try to delete it. Bringing it back to the picture containing “nudity,” I would like to point out who can be looking at your pictures.

me ME: I think of myself as a normal person. I have a college degree, a husband, and a job. I work every day, do crafts, cook dinner, and watch shows. I work on Facebook so I often see pictures of your new-born babies, engagements, your vegan food, and even those dreadful #selfies…just kidding I still take them. What I am getting at is, I look at your pictures. I am a pretty safe and innocent person, and I know most of you are comfortable with me looking at your life.

 


deltonStephen M. Parsons: He is a 25-year-old man, a resident of Felton, Delaware. He spent his days on Facebook liking his friends post’s, posting, and was just a regular guy. On March 21, 2014 a search warrant was presented and his home was searched. After a forensic examination of his laptop, they found more than 25 video files containing pornography. He was charged with 25 separate counts of dealing in child pornography.

sebSebastian Crump: He is a 39-year-old man who was a former cabinet office digital expert. He is now facing a long time in jail after 400 child porn images were found on is computer. He used both his work and home computer to access these images. He also plead guilty for making and distributing indecent images of children. In court he insisted he was not a pedophile, he was just a regular guy.

Those are a just THREE examples of people who are looking at your Facebook pictures. Two of them were looking at more… You don’t wake up one morning and think ” I am going to become a child porn addict.” It is something that builds up over time. It could start with simply looking at a picture of a young child in the bath and then escalating to full nudity.
Your children don’t have a choice or a say in what YOU put on the internet. Don’t allow them to be harmed. Don’t let their picture float around the internet. Remember whatever you put on the internet, even with the safety measures you take, your picture can be saved or shared. All I ask is, be careful in what you post!
(C)LVB-2014

The People I Find: Law School

Ever since Legally Blonde came out, I have wanted to be a lawyer. I love crime, not committing it, but learning about it to every extent. This week I am pleased to be sharing Bree’s story. Bree and I went to High School together. I remember her being a genius in school, I always looked up to her! Bree was always very outgoing and willing to be kind to others. I enjoyed reading her story, and seeing her passion and care for the people around her. She is going to make a great lawyer. I am pretty sure she will have my back, when I get my next perm, if you know what I mean 😉


 

This is Bree’s Unknown Story:

breeHello! My name is Bree and I am about to complete law school at the University of Michigan. When Clare suggested that I write something for her blog, I was honored. I love reading this blog and have found all of the stories written by others on here to be inspiring, genuine, and sometimes verrry funny! When Clare asked me to talk about law school, I wasn’t sure what I could share; I can’t write much detail about my clients and their problems without breaking their trust and confidentiality, but vague stories just aren’t as interesting. After some brainstorming, I realized that I often get questions about applying to law school. I’m always happy to weigh the pros and cons with students looking to apply, but you can find that same sort of thing all over the internet. So instead, I settled on showing you all an example of a law school personal statement. Below is the story I told in my personal essay. Also, if you are reading this blog and you have questions about law school, the application process, or the legal career, please feel free to send me your emails! I am so grateful for this opportunity and would be happy to share my experiences. My email is breannav@umich.edu.

The first time I visited the maximum-security prison, I remember clutching a Ziploc bag of quarters that jingled as my hands shook. Prisoners missed meals during visits, and guests were supposed to bring change to feed them from the vending machines. There were no make-up meals, even if guests couldn’t bring money. I thought about this while I walked towards the entrance, while also trying to feign enough confidence to go inside.

The waiting room looked like an airport terminal, and I paused for a moment to scan the visitors. Dressed-up preschoolers bounced on their grandmothers’ laps. Women smiled while inspecting their lipstick with compact mirrors. A man stood up, offering me his seat. The presence of ordinary people took me by surprise, and I felt my stomach release a breath I didn’t know I had been holding. My fear dissipated as I breathed, but shame soon replaced it.  With the stigma attached to prison, I hadn’t envisaged families. Perhaps I had assumed that criminals were too sinister to be humans; I didn’t expect to see actual men, with their families. I considered this, and recognized though my shame that the visitors and I were equal. I was one of them. I was visiting someone too.

I came to see my friend Kerry. Letters to and from him arrived after a delay, which intensified his feelings of isolation. I wanted to make sure he didn’t feel abandoned, especially near the holidays. We had worked together at a real estate company before his arrest; he was the man who taught me how to manage an office: how to stuff one more foreclosure file into a full cabinet without making my fingers bleed; how to calm desperate sellers who yelled into the phone because nobody made offers in the down market; how to motivate others and make them feel better during their hardest years.

Local media nicknamed this prison “The Gladiator School” after the ACLU filed a complaint alleging that guards promoted prisoner-on-prisoner violence. To conceal the assaults, the guards refused to provide medical care to the injured inmates. I spoke with an attorney representing one of the inmates, and he told me that the guards watched, laughing, as another prisoner beat his client for nine minutes. Through published security tapes, I confirmed the attorney’s story. I observed, stunned that the guards wouldn’t intervene, as a prisoner beat the client unconscious and then jumped on his head. As I watched, I attempted to process the level of abuse that some of these men had endured. The attorney’s client spent three days in a coma; he still suffers from severe brain damage.

In the visiting room, most of the inmates’ skin appeared so white it looked almost translucent under the fluorescent lights. One inmate in the corner of the room reached to grab the monopoly piece from the game at his table, pulling his jumpsuit back long enough for me to see the flesh on his arm. It appeared almost rotten, as if the skin could dissolve with water. I had never seen men with so little color. When I asked, Kerry told me that the guards wouldn’t allow them to go outside, which meant some of the prisoners hadn’t felt sunshine for months, maybe years.  Kerry — a black man — joked that at least he had no trouble keeping his tan indoors.

But they all looked thin, including Kerry. He might have been thin because of the HIV. His weight became dangerously low in prison, and the medical staff demanded that he receive a fourth meal. It still wasn’t enough. He told me that he wrapped the cheese of fourth meal in toilet paper and saved it under his pillow, so that he could eat when his hunger became unmanageable. But the guards searched his cell, found the cheese and confiscated it. I bought him a few candy bars from the vending machine before our time ran out, unsure of what else I could do.

What I saw that day has stuck with me. Of course I am not naive enough to believe in the dissolution of the prison system. I understand that prisons serve a critical purpose in our society, and I am often grateful that they exist. However, the behavior I witnessed dramatically changed my perspective on how prisons should operate. It humbled me to realize that men lived there and that families visited; this is something that seems obvious, but I think is often forgotten. These men may have been caged, but they were — are — still human. This fact has been seared into my mind by my first visit.

Witnessing the prisoner’s mistreatment not only disconcerted me, it also gave me energy. That energy has driven me to discover solutions and prompted me study law. With increasing prison populations, I expect that the conditions will remain similar to what I witnessed. I want to make certain that those who run the system account for the lives of these men.

 


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