Lucky Charms

Yes, the Aggies lost more games than they won. But, one person that won… was me.

I got to watch boys turn into men. I got to watch a wife give her undying love not just to her family, but a team. I now understand what a “football family” means.

I got to give hugs and high fives. Occasionally, I got to say or do something motivational.  Maybe I made a positive impact on just one of those kiddos’ lives.

When I was having a shitty day I got to walk into Aggie Memorial and get whisked into a world of Xs and Os, not liver functions and tumor markers. They accepted me not because of donor money, but because of love.


I got to see what’s it’s like to be a D1 football coach. Talk about an up at the butt crack of dawn and home after dark career. They sacrifice being parents and husbands to be leaders of kids trying to become men. Oh, and not on one single day is everybody happy with the head coach.

I got to see first hand what it’s like to play through the pain. I got to hold the hand of a young man during the pain of a season-ending injury. I got to be a set of mommy eyes on the sidelines.

I was able to witness young men in the midst of loss, chaos and devastation connect with their faith.

I got to hear with coaches say on the sidelines. Eek!

I got to tell sideline police officers at Arkansas State that if they didn’t protect me from the jerks in the stands, 60 men in crimson would.


I got to slap #TeamLori bracelets on a few very large wrists. (Note to self: order bigger sizes next time.)


I got to watch my beloved #21 suit up for the last time in his college career. At one point this summer when I was really, really sick, I remember wondering if I could just make it to November 30th to watch the seniors play their last game. But I’m stronger now than I was then.

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No, I wasn’t their lucky charm. It’s quite the opposite. They are mine. They are my many handsome, talented, kind and hardworking #TeamLori lucky charms.

My love for the Aggies hasn’t changed due to their record. In fact, I think I love them more now than I did before. I won’t give up on them. Nope, not gonna do it.


PS – Rumor has it that this was my freshman year on the team. I hope they are planning on keeping me on the roster. ‘Cause, they are gonna have to police escort me right out of Aggie Memorial Stadium if not.

Of All The Things

While at the mall recently, I jumped for excitement when I noticed an ULTA Beauty store had finally opened in Las Cruces. For those of you who don’t know, ULTA is like the Cabela’s of beauty supply stores for chicks. And let’s be real, I have an unhealthy obsession with lip gloss and nail art. When I got to the register, they asked if I was on their mailing list. I remembered one of the many ridiculous things I did in July, when I thought I was dying. I know, I know, technically, we are all dying. But I don’t feel like I am now, so we’re gonna go with this whole living concept, okay?

At the time, for whatever reason, I started unsubscribing to email lists. I thought that I already received an abnormal amount of promotional emails and one day someone else would be checking my e mails. I didn’t want them to be bothered with all the clutter, so I got off the lists. Of all the things, right!?! Like who cares about that? Me, obviously.

Fortunately, I have eyelashes now and they need mascara again. Duh! Now, what’s a girl to do if she can’t get her hands on some over-priced black stuff in a shiny tube? If the cancer doesn’t kill me, unattractive eyelashes just might.

I guess the point of my ramblings today is that even when you are down and out and decide to do stupid things, remember one day to look back at yourself and laugh. Shrug it off to being a weirdo. Embrace the inner weirdo and have a good chuckle. At the end of the day isn’t laughing more fun than frowning? I seem to think so.

Now go laugh about my ridiculous behavior and choose to laugh at yours too.

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There are so many reasons to post this pic… 1) Taking a selfie is pretty ridiculous 2) This is my editor’s daughter and she asked to be on my blog 3) This dress deserves to be seen again. As Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City would have said, “The dress made me do it!”

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What a better way to follow up a bathroom glamour shot with maybe the worse picture of me… EVER? This was pre-cancer. Maybe you could tell from the hair and the 50 additional pounds, ha.


Kick Cancer’s Butt, Charlene

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So many people – and when I say so many people, I mean a ridiculous amount of people – have offered to help us financially.  From donating briskets, to volunteering to make enchilada plates, to straight-up cold hard cash.  Although we are by no means rich, we make decent money.  Our cars aren’t new and our house isn’t big (trust me on this one… try feeding 12 football players in a 1,500 square foot house).  But we are good, and our standard answer has been, “We don’t need it now, but one day we might – so hang on to it until then.”  I’m happy and proud to say we still don’t need it, but someone else does.

One of the many benefits of being the captain for the NMSU football team is getting to eat dinner with the team before they travel, or the night before a home game.  A few months ago, I sat at a table with some of the kids I didn’t know so that I could get to know them better.  I sat with two young men and after some small talk, one of them told me that his mom also has cancer.  What was interesting was when he talked about her.  There are so many different kinds of guys on the team; jokesters, leaders, and serious guys. This guy is a straight up man.  He’s six feet, five inches tall, weighs 270 pound and has a thick beard.  I’m not easily intimidated, but if anyone could do it… it’s him.  He’s a defensive end with long legs and swelled-up muscles. I could imagine him breaking another human right in half.  That is, until he started talking about his sweet mother.  His face perked up; his body language softened.  It was clear to me that this kid loves his mommy.

At the last game in between plays he came up to me and with sparkly eyes under his helmet and said, “My mom is here from Fresno! She came out to watch me play!”  In between plays, he told me that they had found a good website to raise money and wanted to share the site with me in case I needed it. After that, his swift 270-pound frame ran into the game where he soon crushed his opponent on the field.

After the game, I made sure to find them so I could finally meet this sweet lady.  And sweet she was.  We only chatted for about five minutes, but I felt an instant connection.  It wasn’t cancer, or football, or being a fighter that connected us.  It was that she’s a mommy that loves her kids, and so am I.    Her giant son and his tiny girlfriend sat there is awe of this woman and I did too.  She’s also got a rare and stupid form of cancer.  But, she’s sassy, funny, and she’s not going down without a fight.

So, dear friends… I started doing some math.  I believe that I have about 500 followers on my blog.  If everyone donates $10 to her she will get $5000 bucks!  See? I told you I was good at math.  I’m positive that every reader I have has an extra $10.  If you are reading this on a smart phone… you could probably spare $20. #justsayin

If you don’t have the money, let’s make a deal.  Keep her (and her three children) in your thoughts, your prayers, and send your good energy her way.

Here is the link if you would like to help out my new friend, who is not only a warrior and a survivor, but most importantly she is a mommy.  Pull out your credit card and click away.

P.S. Thank you friends for your generous offers… they mean the world to me.

P.P.S.  Dear sweet Charlene, you just got 500 more people that will silently be in your corner.  Keep fighting the fight, Lady.

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Refusing To Be An Expert

This month is pancreatic cancer awareness month. How do I know this? It’s not because I have pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. It’s because the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN) reached out to me once my story ran in the Las Cruces Sun-News. After deciding to write this post I started doing a little more research and found out that yesterday, November 10th, was Nueroendocrine Tumor awareness day (whatever that is). So what a better time to share this with my blog audience!

My diagnosis was such strange and uncomfortable time. Part of me wanted to know exactly what I was getting in to. Coming from a short stint in the healthcare field, I wanted to research and understand the ins and outs of this strange disease. I started researching it but it was overwhelming, and quite honestly, depressing. I was also undergoing terrible, awful chemo and couldn’t always make sense out of the simple things in my life. Wrapping my head around it was more than I could handle. So I decided to have blind faith. I decided that my healthcare team was indeed smarter about this topic than I and I would trust them (easier said than done – trust me). In my defense, I’m not burying my head in the sand and pretending it doesn’t exist. I know exactly what I have, but no one has a crystal ball. Not me, not my doctors. As Olivia Pope taught me, I will be a gladiator with this disease.

At one point, I read that I have a 15% chance of living over five years and I decided, “Screw it.” Well, actually, the word that came to mind started with F and has four letters. I’m not going to become an expert in this. This will not consume me. I will live life to its fullest and laugh more than I cry. You will not see me on the corner of Hoagland and Valley collecting quarters in a purple paint can or organizing fun runs. I don’t own a stitch of clothing with the cancer ribbon on it, nor will I have a purple ribbon tattooed on my ass.

Here are a few things that I learned about pancreatic cancer during my short conversation with the PCAN:

1) A recent study suggests pancreatic cancer will surpass breast and colorectal cancer to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. around 2020. The top four cancer killers in the U.S. by 2030 will be lung, pancreas, liver, and colorectal. This is a change from the ranking today (lung, colorectal, breast, and pancreas).

2) There are many factors that have contributed to the lack of sufficient progress in the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer. Historically, the disease was understudied and underfunded. In an effort to double pancreatic cancer survival by 2020, the PCAN is intensifying efforts to heighten awareness, raise funds for comprehensive private research and advocate for dedicated federal research to advance early diagnostics, better treatments, and increase chances of survival.

3) Due to these efforts, The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act was signed into law by President Obama in January 2013, which requires the National Cancer Institute to develop a scientific framework to conduct and support research for recalcitrant cancers, including pancreatic and lung.

The facts above came from PCAN. But these are my words:

Cancer sucks.
Pancreatic cancer really, really sucks.
And that my friends, is about as blunt as I can get to raise awareness.

No picture this time. It might have been me with my middle finger, haha!

2014 Spirit of Service Award – Dedication

Last night, I graciously accepted the 2014 NMSU Foundation Spirit of Service Award .  I dedicated it to a few folks and I wanted to share my speech with my blog audience.  I was the last of eleven people to get an award and had to follow Mother Hubbard and Coach Lou Henson (nothing like tough acts to follow – geez!)


After hearing the stories and resumes of my fellow honorees, I feel so inadequate… I just sell wine!

In 1967, a young man living in Madison, Wisconsin named Len Traina accepted a professorship position in the college of engineering at NMSU.  He and his wife Judy and his family moved to sunny Southern New Mexico.  Judy Traina was my father’s second cousin.  The Traina’s reported back to their family in chilly Wisconsin how wonderful of a place Las Cruces was to live in.  Soon many more family members moved down south.  My grandparents, Chap and Ethel Paulson were some of them.  So in 1973 my father, Pete Paulson moved down south and quickly met my mother Maribel Garcia.  Judy was a material and infant nurse, and in 1980, she delivered this brown eyed girl with a full head of hair (more than I have now) at Memorial General Hospital (which is now Memorial Medical Center just down the street). So being an Aggie happened long before I was even a twinkle in my Daddy’s eye.

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Judy and I on the day I was born.

This year both Judy and Len passed away.  Judy at 78 and Len at 80.  Part of this award is dedicated to Judy and Len Traina – for had they not ventured out to New Mexico and moved to Las Cruces for NMSU, I wouldn’t be in this world.  Their son, Chris who lives in Sacramento now came to town for homecoming and is one of my guests tonight.

I would also like to dedicate this award to Dr. Dwight E Newton.  At the young age of 16, I met and started working for Dr. Newton.  He had recently retired from general surgery and had real estate property.  Doc was also a retired Air Force Colonel.  He was a navigator in the Air Force where he completed thirty-one missions during World War 2.  He had three young women that worked for him.  Funny side story, he was an original investor in Cimarron Health Care which President Carruthers owned.  Now, I know that many eyebrows were raised in this community as Dr. Newton drug the three of us young and somewhat attractive ladies around town to many events.  This event here would be a perfect example except that he would be the one winning the award.  After high school graduation many of my friends chose to leave Las Cruces to further their education, but I stuck behind.  I had a good job, a scholarship and no real reason to leave.  At the time, I liked Las Cruces.  Today the only thing that has changed is that I LOVE Las Cruces.

So while working for Dr Newton, I came to NMSU where I got my degree in Marketing.  I was scheduled to graduate in December 2002.  Being a typical college student in November, I realized I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.  Now I am not sure if you remember how this country felt at this time, but it was a year after 9/11.  But, the country had a very different feeling at that time.  We valued our relationships and pulled our loved ones in a little closer.  Doc valued my relationship with him and I in turn valued his.  So, in a very simple and short conversation Dr. Newton asked me what my next move was and I really didn’t know.  He asked if I had considered getting my Master’s Degree.  I really hadn’t-  but getting my undergrad was fairly easy.  I attended all my classes, worked at least two jobs and partied like an Aggie (yes, I wobbled) throughout my undergrad, why not?  Doc was the ripe age of 77 and wasn’t ready to let me go yet. So he offered to pay for my Master’s Degree.  By the time I had finished my masters I had worked for Doc for 8 years and he taught me so many life lessons that one could never learn from college (even this fine institution).  The most valuable lesson was loyalty.  Due to his military and surgical background – loyalty was number one in his book.  Maybe it took him until his 70’s to realize it and so he chose to share this with his staff.  I don’t think (no, in fact I know) he wasn’t a gem throughout his life, but he had this opportunity to make a difference in my life – and he did.

While taking what I recall was a Human Resources class at NMSU, we were taught that different generations had different employment behaviors.  The people in the “Greatest Generation” had one job.  They worked 40 years for Ford Motor Company.  The “Baby Boomers” maybe had two careers that they stuck out for many years.  And – as it was explained to me – the younger generations have become more selfish.   It wasn’t, “What can I do for this company?” but rather, “What can this company do for me?”  My professor at the time said if you want to set yourself apart in the in work world – find a company that you like to work for and stick with it.  It was essentially what Dr. Newton had been teaching me all along.  He was loyal to me and I was loyal to him.  After a short 18 months, I graduated with my MBA where I met my now husband, Brandon.  After 8 years I was finally off of that man’s payroll and it was time for me to enter the scary world of real employment.  I struggled in the healthcare industry where I finally threw up my hands and said “this is for the birds”.  By circumstance, my husband and I ended up in the New Mexico wine industry working for the incredible Lescombes family and St. Clair Winery.

Of all of the things that I learned from NMSU and Dr. Newton, I decided to try out this loyalty concept at this company.  It was a small family business that had recently experienced tremendous growth and the perfect place for me to fall in love with my career, wine and food!  This business takes New Mexico agriculture, artful winemaking, creative marketing, food and mashes them all together.  Lucky me!  When I first started at the winery I often joked that if they ever wanted to fire me they were going to have to physically remove me from the premises.  My husband and I turned up the gage and threw ourselves and loyalty into the winery.  It was this February that our loyalty paid off.  The Lescombes family decided to be loyal right back to me after I got diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors, an incurable and unfair disease.  So at this very moment I want to stand at the top of Thomas Hall and yell at the top of my lungs how grateful I am for my job, my employers and this family.  But, I would be doing myself no justice if I didn’t pay it back to Dr. Newton and NMSU for teaching me about loyalty.

I am a loyal Las Crucen, a loyal Trojan (hence the green and gold outfit), a loyal Aggie and Packer Fan, and most importantly over the last 6 years, a very loyal employee of St Clair Winery.

Thank you Len and Judy Traina for paving the Aggie way for me, and thank you Dr. Newton for teaching me what loyalty is all about.  Lastly, thank you NMSU for honoring me with such award and allowing me a platform to share just part of “my story”.  Particularly, in front of my family but most importantly in front of my son… Jeremiah.

Me and Miah

Jeremiah and I on the way to the banquet. One of my new readers told me that I don’t post enough pictures – this one is for you Jacob.

Trojan Tradition

I’m not sure if this particular post is for me or for one of my editors, Christopher.  But, it is indeed time to profess my love for the Mayfield Trojans. It’s this time of year that I am proudest to be a Trojan. The smell in the air has changed; the wonderful scent of green chile roasting has changed to red chile being processed.  I can walk outside my house and can hear the sound of the MHS drum line and scent of tacos (thanks for that one Jeremiah).  It’s the time of year that Trojans unite, Bulldawgs unite and we divide this town right in half.  Now, I know there are four high schools in Las Cruces, and I’m not tryin’ to ruffle any feathers, but since this is my blog you get to see the world through my eyes.  

This time of year, I drive down Hoagland and think of the hundreds of times during high school I pushed my Mazda 626 over the speed limit, driving to Corner Deli so we could have our traditional Friday afternoon sandwiches.  I look in my rear-view mirror and though my son now occupies the back seat, if I squint, I can still see so many of the friends back there, listening to music, singing at the top of our lungs and applying yet another layer of mascara.

Most of my Gomez Gems share the same love for our Trojans.  It might be why I’m still “a little crazy” about them now. And, yes we are indeed a little obnoxious, Auntie Libby.  But that love is why the first house I bought was across the street from Mayfield.  It’s why every time we talk about moving, I make it known that we must live in the Mayfield district.  It’s what helped instill in me a sense of tradition, a sense of belonging; it’s my part of the Trojan legacy.

When I attended MHS I danced on the pom pon dance team. While attending college, I was lucky to to return to Mayfield, this time as a dance coach.  Now, I’m not going to pretend that every second spent coaching 15-20 teenage girls was always a bouquet of sunshine and daffodils. Hello, it was 15-20 teenage girls! But I will tell you what pom pon power has done for me now. I have had a lot–and I mean A LOT–of friends from high school reach out to me.  99% of what my fellow Trojans have said has been awesome, inspiring and truly sentimental.  Included are a decent number girls–now women– I danced with or coached, but never really had a relationship with. Most of the time the message starts off, ‘I know we weren’t very good friends, BUT I’m thinking about you, sending you my thoughts and prayers,’  and it’s awesome.  I love it and soak each of those messages like a dry sponge.

Now, if there are any teenage girls reading this blog and you sometimes want to to poke some other girl’s eyes out because she liked your boyfriend’s Instagram pic, take it from me: life is short.  Spend more time laughing than frowning.  Come together like a band of sisters.  We watch our football players band together like a band of brothers, but we never talk about being a band of sisters.  Why is that?  Why are other women so hard on each other?  We are all just trying to get by.  Let’s support each other ladies!  I do indeed love all of you ladies that I danced with and coached. I have so many memories from that time and I choose to hold the good ones close to my heart.

Sorry I got off of topic. Now back to my love affair with the Trojans.  For this week, our town will be divided while we sport our colors. Mine, of course, are green and gold. As my friend Dave Matthews said, “Tomorrow we can go back to being friends,” on Saturday after the Trojans pummel the “other team.”  It’s this rivalry that makes Las Cruces, Las Cruces.  It’s this rivalry that makes me love this community so stinkin’ much.  It’s why that as I am accepting an award at NMSU on Friday night, I will wear a green and gold outfit, because although I am proud to be an Aggie, I was a Trojan first.



I probably have 1000 pictures of my family in MHS gear, but this is one of my favorites. It’s almost all of “my dudes” at a state championship game that not only MHS won, but my little Betancourt was a superstar at.