Category Archives: Redemption’s Heart – pieces of my story

Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame Ted Talk

Shame cannot survive empathy. – Rene’ Brown

This is an outstanding speech. I think it’s brave, intelligent and very well thought out. I’m happy she’s found a place of peace.  Say what you will about her, this is a great message regarding the cost of social media, public humiliation, and shame. I think it’s worth the watch. I agree, we need to change how we act online.

Freedom of expression comes with great responsibility.

A Letter To Christians In Indiana, From Jesus


This is beautiful and compelling… I know some peeps will have issue, and that’s okay — I love this. This well written letter exemplifies the Jesus I follow.

Originally posted on john pavlovitz:


Dear Christians In Indiana (and those elsewhere, who might read this),

I’ve seen what’s been going on there lately. Actually, I’ve been watching you all along and I really need to let you know something, just in case you misunderstand:

This isn’t what I had planned.

This wasn’t the Church I set the table for.

It wasn’t the dream I had for you, when I spoke in those parables about the Kingdom; about my Kingdom.

It was all supposed to be so very different.

It was supposed to be a pervasive, beautiful, relentless “yeast in the dough” that permeated the planet; an unstoppable virus of compassion and mercy spread person-to-person, not needing government or law or force.

It was supposed to be that smallest, seemingly most insignificant of seeds, exploding steadily and gloriously with the realized potential of my sacred presence, becoming a place of safety and shelter for all people.

It was supposed to be…

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The Dance of My People

funny-horse-pictures-captionsI miss riding horses. My leg isn’t fully healed yet and the impact of a dismount could shatter my right tibia. I have to wait for at least six more months.

I rode for three years at this wonderful ranch in Claremore, Oklahoma owned by my friend Janel. I didn’t realize how much riding would teach me about life until I couldn’t ride anymore. Oh I’ll be back, don’t get me wrong. I’m realizing though that the lessons in the arena carry out to real life when we are open.

I’d shared earlier that I was a mess when I first started taking lessons with Jo. (See post HERE). I was. I’m not sure what happened really to get me there. Well, that’s a lie. I felt pushed around. I felt like the rules I’d been taught to play by in order to keep the peace were actually stacked in the favor of the house not the player. And they were, no doubt about it. Something had to give and so I took my codependent butt to the stables.

More or less anyway.

What I actually did was sign up for my first girlfriends’ only vacation and hadn’t told anyone until it was done and I couldn’t get my money back. I was feeling over run by testosterone and needed something different. A cruise with my girlfriends was definitely something different. I’m even going on the Muse Cruise again this year. You should come.

I freaked everyone out at first. After years of watching my boys play football, soccer, baseball, basketball, you name it they played it, it was MY turn to do something daring and so I signed up to ride horses through jungles of Belize.

I surprised everyone by not dying.

Taking riding lessons first was an afterthought. I hadn’t ridden a horse since I was 22. I was now in my 40’s. That’s a long time out of the saddle.

Janel initially taught me enough so that I wouldn’t die in the jungle and when I came back from my adventure I decided to learn more. We rode trails, ran the arena, climbed rocks, counted cattle, jumped creeks and even chased a can or two.

There is something about knowing how to handle a 1,000 pound animal that is strong enough to kill me and yet doesn’t that builds confidence and speaks to my soul.

At the risk of over simplifying things, I’ve learned:
  1. How not to get stepped on. – I don’t let the horse I’m riding step on me, nor do I let him back me against a wall while I’m grooming him or brush me up against a fence or can. If he tries to crowd me out, I assertively push his side and loudly say “MOVE.” And he moves. I don’t have to be meek. Actually meek confuses him. I can use the same assertion with people. Speak up, tell them to step off when needed. Making myself small is a great way to get squished, even if it’s just emotionally. Stand up tall, look them in the eye and say MOVE. They usually will and if they don’t, pushing back is a viable option.
  2. Falling off isn’t the end of the world. – Cowboy and I did a jump, okay it was really supposed to be more of a step over a railroad tie, but he jumped it instead and I fell off. Losing a rider actually upsets horses and he came back to get me. Sometimes people throw us for a loop and don’t mean to, or even if they do so what, get up, assess damages, brush yourself off, get back on and try again. The more you fall, the easier it is to learn how to fall without getting hurt.
  3. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t be bullied. – Cowboy, one of the stable horses, is the tattle tale of the group. If you hesitate even in the slightest in your commands he’ll jack with you and do something else. He’s the horse who exploits every rider’s weakness. When I was first learning how to lope (Gallop) Cowboy could tell I was nervous about it so he’d rear slightly, shake his mane and act like he was going to do this big bad thing and I’d lighten my grip on the reins in fear and wind up doing this god-awful trot instead. It wasn’t until I found my seat and made him do what I asked that I discover the freedom of riding. To ride Cowboy well is a victory in the arena. He’s an awesome chaser. Lesson – There are people who will try to exploit what they believe to be a weakness in you. Don’t let them. Bullies bluff, call it. They usually back down once you do.
  4. Bad habits are easy to form – break them straight away. – Stop means stop right now. Not a few steps and stop later. When I was first learning how to stop (whoa) I’d let the horse kinda stop, meaning he’d take a few steps first and then stop. Horses are really good at teaching you what kind of person you are. For me, I learned I was a pushover. Teaching a horse not to get away with something more than once took practice. Lots and lots of practice. Teaching other people the same thing, will take even more practice. Take my name for instance, I get offended if someone who should know me, consistently gets my name wrong. It’s Deena, and yet I let them call me Deanna. Do you know why they get my name wrong? Because somewhere along the line I stopped correcting them. It’s the same deal when we let people put us down or push us around, if you let someone get away with that more than twice, it becomes a habit. Just something they do with you. It works the other way too, if I habitually let someone speak to me in a derogatory way without correcting it, it gets more and more difficult for me to speak up and so I’m the one racing the arena time and time again until my whoa means WHOA.
  5. If you are afraid of something, consistent exposure will lessen the fear. – Horses can be afraid of so many things, a rock, a piece of paper, a plastic bag and I learned during our rides that the more we go near something they think they are afraid of, the fear subsides. This is true in life as well. The more I put myself out there with things that scare me – like public speaking, playing my banjo in front of real musicians so that I can learn timing, saying no when I mean no, the less afraid I am. How about that?
  6. Trust is a two way street – horses don’t trust riders who don’t trust them and try to control everything they do, nor do they understand meek. People are no different. Playing small to win them over or playing BIG in order to control is no different than saying one thing and doing another. It just leads to distrust in the relationship.
  7. Respect matters – You can’t bully a horse into right behavior. Abuse a horse and you will pay for it sooner or later. They are huge, have some respect for that. If you respect a horse’s size, their demeanor, their moods, they will return the favor 10 fold. This is true with people as well.
  8. horse water runningIf you are centered in your seat you are less likely to get thrown. – Azule is a retired ranch horse. He is a 16 hand high thoroughbred who lived his early life cutting cattle, counting head and running a ranch with his buddies. Now he’s a lesson and trail horse. I think he misses the open field sometimes and when Janel and I took him for his first open field trail ride, I swear he got giddy. He couldn’t get to the cows fast enough. Once he saw the creek he took off and JUMPED IT. He then ran up the hill, did a Hi Ho Silver salute and made a break for the herd. – That would have been an “oh how sweet” moment, had I not been ON him when this happened. I didn’t crouch down and hang on out of  fear, nor did I jump off. I sat where I belonged, back straight, head up, heels down, loose reins and I enjoyed the moment.

Sometimes I think I like horses more than people, truthfully though they really aren’t that different. Most people want to be trusted, respected, and loved. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t play small and get squished, speak up. Don’t set others (or yourself) up for bad habits, set boundaries. Reward positive behavior and nip undesired behavior in the bud. Trust each other. Stand tall, keep your back straight, look them in the eye and enjoy the ride.

I am a cowgirl by proxy. These are my people. Let’s dance.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! – Danny Boy Parody by Dan McGowan

Leave it to a comic to ruin one of my all time favorite songs. I think this is hilarious. Happy St Patrick’s Day Peeps! Please remember to drink responsibly today.

To see more of Dan check out his pages




FCC DISCLAIMER: While I am friends with Dan, no goods or services have been received in exchange for this endorsement. I just think this video is hilarious and thought my readers would like it. 

A Night of Comedy with Jonnie W

jonniew poster

I’m excited peeps. My church, Life Park Christian Fellowship is hosting our second comedy show on March 7, 2015 with Jonnie W.  Entering the comedy scene with nothing more than a guitar and his razor-sharp wit, he has gone on to entertain multi-generational audiences nationwide. He blends musical chops, mad vocals, and off-beat standup for a hilariously unique comedy experience. Tickets are only $10 each and are available by clicking HERE.

If you let go of nothing else, let this be the one.


I performed in a comedy contest two years ago. One judge told me to never perform comedy again after my first night. I had two more sets to do after that. Honestly all he did was piss me off — I may or may not have semi-intentionally torched that bridge while I was still standing on it. I may receive the grace at some point to make that right and I may not. I don’t know yet.

A second judge watched all three sets and then called bullshit on 90% of my jokes.

“If who you are communicating on stage is who you really think you are, then someone lied to you. Go find out who you really are, she’s the woman I want to see in your comedy next year.”

I then went home and promptly broke my ankle, had two major surgeries on my leg and was left without my go to for approval places, giving me 14 months to think about what both comics told me.

Neither judge was wrong.

I let fear rule my choices in jokes.

I wanted everyone to like me.

That was my first “big” comedy deal and I played it safe and I played it weak. I played “cute” to win people over.

It’s no wonder they didn’t like me, I didn’t even like the woman I pretended to be on stage.

I spent 14 months taking more than my comedy set back to the studs, I took myself there and I ended 2014 with a lot of letting go.

My trash pile includes:

Friends on Facebook who were only there because I thought I had something to prove — They were there as a see, you should have believed in me – look at me now kind of thing. Some were people I used to know but am no longer friends with and others weren’t even people I actually like in real life.

Names I’ve been called, things I’ve been told. Words like “lazy”, “Slut”, “Bitch”, “unwanted”, “stupid”, “bossy”, “Controlling”, “Bastard”.

Filling that wound with applause and achievements.

My need to control people by being cute or overly submissive.

Mind reading. I suck at it anyway.

Places and friends that are not safe.

Tilting at windmills — wasting energy and trying to change what cannot be changed. Controlling others.

Purposefully giving people a reason not to like me if I think they already don’t. Burning bridges while standing on them.

The desire to be known being over run by the fear of being found out. — that’s a big one and I’ll write more about that as the year unfolds.

Now you’d think after 30 years in a recovery program, I’d have all of this down cold. Notsomuch. One of the worst tag lines that’s going to take work for me is being told,

“I can’t wait for the day when I can prove to the world what a bitch you really are.”

That sentence alone has been the root of so many choices. That’s the sentence that I’ve allowed to define my actions and word choices for so many years. It also defined my sets and choice of jokes.

That’s the fear both comics saw manifest itself in that small theater in Indiana.

I learned a lot at The Cove. I learned that I’m not a bitch and that seasons pass just fine without my interference. I’m not any of those other labels either.

I’ve learned that I can know that for myself without having to inappropriately lean on those who already knew that for me.

So, I call a do over not only in my approach to comedy, but my approach to relationships as well and 2015 is just the year to do that.

Happy New Years you guys.

Much love,