Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thinking Forward

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Once again, for the second time this summer, I am posting this blog a day later than normal. What can I say? Once again, family first. I hope everyone understands. Anyhow, continuing with the story of my childhood head trauma, this week I want to talk a little more about the days after I woke from my coma. When a person wakes from such a sleep, it takes time for that person to regain all of his/her motor functions.

The day after I woke from my coma, I began my therapy sessions. Those included learning to speak all over again, as well as a team of physical therapists stretching my legs. The day after I woke I recited the alphabet, which is highly unlike for the victim of an A.V. Malformation to do. I had to learn everything all over again.

On the afternoon of August 31, 1984, Drs. released me and warned my mother (My father was a pilot, so he missed much of these weeks) that I would not begin to walk for at least two years. My mother brought me home and I either rolled around in my wheelchair or crawled around the house.

A couple of weeks later, I crawled down a narrow hallway and asked my mother to step to the side. I told her I wanted to try something. Now, please realize that I can be a rather impulsive person. Sometimes I get this inkling that something is the right thing to do. At my request, she stood back. I lifted a hand, pressed against the wall, shoved my opposite knee forward, and stood.

When my mother brought me to my therapy session the next day, she wheeled me into the hospital; then, she announced to my therapists that I had walked. They reminded her of the impossibility and suggested that perhaps she had had a dream. Obstinate, my mother lifted the foot rests, the therapists set a walker in front of me (yes, my feet were still feeble), and I stood and walked. Of course, then there was screaming and what not; though, imagine, within a 2 month period going from a team of Drs. diagnosing a loved one with an A.V. Malformation along with only a 10% chance of living to walking. That fall, my aunt and cousin moved to San Diego. Paul taught me how to ride a bicycle and six months after the day I stood I ran.

When I make a major life decision, I think forward, and I encourage you to think forward. Sometimes, my major life decisions upset people, because they don’t understand them, but I never regret those life decisions. On the day I stood, and on every other day I’ve made a major decision, I’ve thought forward. I thought forward to my life 20/30/50 years in the future; and I’ve asked myself: “What do I want to see when I look back on my life 20/30/50 years from now?”

Whether it’s a personal, relational, or business decision, I encourage you to think forward. Think about what you want your life, your relationship, or your business to look like when you look back on it many years from now. Sometimes, that means taking chances that may not seem like the safest or most rational. Not everyone will always agree with you, but some will support you. That’s why it’s important to have those people in your life. So, today, whatever is in front of you, think forward. If you have a family, especially if you are married, think about how your decision will impact them. Doing the right thing is not always easy; though, thinking forward will always help you make sure you’re on the right track.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

KenyaRelief & Shop To Earn - Help A Great Cause While Shopping

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I just received this note from a friend of mine, Chris Jones. Chris is involved with a company called “Shop to Earn” that allows you to shop for everyday products, but, by using their sales platform, you are able to support numerous charitable endeavors: Chris shared his latest client I think it’s a great model that you can buy everyday product, and “pay it forward” to some great causes.


I wanted to share this letter that was sent out to all the donors with this non-profit organization. This will explain what Shop to Earn is all about. If there are organizations or individuals out there that want information about this great opportunity, they can call me at 517-605-3620 or email me at

Hello Kenya Relief Supporters,

I would like to invite you to help Kenya Relief launch an exciting new way to support our children.

Welcome to Kenya Relief’s website, a unique website that allows you to shop online with many retailers we deal with everyday and many “green- conscious companies” , where you can purchase environmentally safe products, and partner with Kenya Relief to help make difference in the lives of the children of Marindi Children’s Home of Grace in Migori, Africa. is a 501(c) (3) non-profit charity, and is the sole supporter for a school, an orphanage, a modern health clinic, boys and girls dorms, a church, a library, numerous support programs for widows and families, and over 100 orphans in Migori, Western Kenya.

In 2009 we are sending 9 medical and mission teams over to Kenya to provide free health care to the disadvantaged and physically disabled of Western Kenya. Kenya Relief teams have provided full health care for over 15,000 patients over the past 6 years. In 2004, Kenya Relief opened the Marindi Children’s Home of Grace: it is now a home to over 100 boys and girls who would have otherwise been left to wander the streets. Our goal is to provide spiritual, physical, educational, and emotional care to each child in their community. We are committed to raising the children to make a difference in Kenya.

Please join Kenya Relief as we launch a new way to support our efforts by using the Shop to Earn and Shop to Earth websites. When you log onto, scroll down the page to the left hand corner, where you will see the logo. You will know you are on our website where your purchases will give a small of cash back to Below I have listed a list of many of the most recognized retailers who participate in the Shop To Earn Program. Remember these are companies that people use every day. Why not shop on line, save time, save gas, and feel good about giving a small percentage of your purchase to Kenya Relief at the same time!

When you go to, you will see many of the most well known retailers providing items in many different categories. Under the category of clothing, you will recognize names like: Banana Republic, Ae’ropostale, Birkenstock Shoes, Footlocker, Couture Candy, Land’s End, Old Navy, Lucky Brand Jeans, Steve Madden, Timberland, Under Armour, Limited Too, and The Gap.

Plus sized Clothing Providers include Catherine’s, Lane Bryant, and C.J. Banks. Western Style Wear brands include: Sheplers, and Western work clothes by Dickies, Uniform City, Plus T Shirts, and more. Participating Department Stores include: Kohls, Macy’s, K-Mart, Target, Sake’s Fifth Avenue, Sears, and specialty favorites like Babies R Us and Nursery Depot. Under Accessories, you will find sunglasses, handbags, luggage, laptops, briefcases, watches, and fine jewelry from sites like Zales, Sunglass Hut, and more.

The Health and Beauty section includes products for allergies, herbal remedies, and vitamins from sites like GNC. You can purchase skin care items from Clinique, Clarins, Derma E, or get fit with items from Bowflex, Online Fitness, or buy Nutrisystem products. Books from providers like Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Family Christian Store, Readers Digest, and Get Textbooks. Automotive sites include Budget Rent A Car, Thrifty Rent A Car, and the Motorcycle Superstore.

If you are now hungry, there are a number of Food and Drink sites: Coffee For Less, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Godiva, Wolfgang Puck Coffee, Red Bull Energy Drinks, and Hickory Farms. Other Special Interest Sites like OmahaSteaks, Wine Enthusiast, and Diet Food like Zone Perfect, Atkins, and

If you have pets, check out sites like: 1-800-PetMeds, Petco, Pet Smart, Only Natural Pet Store, and many more. In the Entertainment section, you will find sites like the HBO Store, NBC Universal Store, CBS Store, ABC Store, Warener Bros., and A & E Television Networks. You can also go to Legends Tickets for discount concert tickets.

Many other categories and websites can be found for items that we buy everyday: why not buy them on line and support Kenya Relief at the same time? Please visit our website and shop while helping Kenya Relief.

If you have any questions, you can email


Terri McIntosh & Steve James

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Battle Scars

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Blog posting by Erick Pettersen

On July 13, 1984 I opened my eyes for the first time in a month. I had fallen into a coma; though, Drs. put me into a deeper coma, so they could perform the brain surgery and stabilize my condition. There was no guarantee I would make it through the surgery or that I would ever wake up. I did wake up. In an instant.

It sounds unbelievable. Like something that only happens in the movies. But it happened. Of course, when it happened I had anything but 20/20 vision. That’s the part about movies that is the most unbelievable. Try sleeping for an entire month and then waking up. When you walk into the bathroom or kitchen in the middle of the night, after sleeping for 4 or 5 hours, you have a difficult time adjusting to the light. Now, imagine your eyes being closed for an entire month.

Over those first several days, everything hurt. I didn’t like to go out in the light. When someone brought me into the light, I wore sunglasses. I never stayed out doors for too long, because the San Diego children’s Hospital (Now, Rady Children’s Hospital was below flight paths in and out of the San Diego), and I didn’t like loud noises. My vision got better, but the murals on the walls continued to blur, then I started seeing double. I learned that by closing one eye I would only see one of everything. My hearing eventually returned to normal, and I got glasses.

25 years later, I still wear glasses and I think loud noises still bother me a little more than most people. A few physical signs of my days in the hospital remain, such as the limp from one of my vertebrate being offset, and the scar on the back of my neck (I’ve actually only seen it once). Sometimes people notice my limp or my scar and ask about them, and I always tell them whatever they want to know.

Whether it’s my limp, which I don’t really notice; the scar on the back of my neck, which I can’t even see; or someone asking me to share about those days, the memory of those days reminds me of where I’ve come from.

Look at your battle scars (past victories). Look back at your life, and consider where you’ve come from. Whether it’s just been over the last week or the last year or the last 25 years. Too often people measure themselves against who they were yesterday; though, that’s like a worm measuring itself against a snake and calling itself short. Think of it this way, if a marathoner ran the hills and the plateaus the same way, rather than pacing him/herself. That person would probably collapse in the middle of the race. If you’re going through struggles in your life, measure yourself against your victories.

Perhaps, it was some sort of brain surgery. Perhaps you were homeless for a time or in an abusive relationship. Perhaps you’re going through a battle right now. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve all been through our battles. If that’s the case, go through your current battles with the support of those around you.

I went through my battle back in 1984. I made it through because of a wonderful medical system, the love and support of those around me, and my own unwillingness to give up. So, whatever you’re going through today, just remember to either focus on your battle scars (past victories) or to focus on developing a support system of those who will come by your side and help you through those battles. Maybe it’s both; but, however you get through those battles in your life, just make sure to always focus on your victories.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Through my words and through my smile.

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Blog Posting by Erick Pettersen

For the past several weeks, I’ve written this blog, but I have not formally introduced myself. While I have never met any of you, that I am aware of, and will probably never meet most of you, I want to tell you who I am. I am sure after reading this blog throughout the past several weeks you have a curiosity about the person who writes these letter of encouragement every week. Maybe you’ve Googled me. Maybe you’ve thought “Erick, you’re in San Diego. Life just seems to be a little dandier there.” Maybe you think I’m some rich guy shouting from the top of the mountain top. Well, I think it’s about time to tell you the truth; so, here’s my story.

Yesterday, July 13, 2009, was the 25th anniversary of the day I went into a coma. That afternoon my mother walked into the living room of our house in Encinitas, Ca. She had just returned home after an afternoon of grocery shopping. When she walked through the living room, she asked me to get off the couch and help her put the groceries away. I had lain down on the couch to take a nap because of a migraine headache, but I did not get up to help her.

When I didn’t answer my mother, she walked over to me, and tried to jostle me awake. I didn’t answer, and the more her gentle nudges led to her realization that I had fallen into a catatonic state, the more her whispers to awaken me turned into screams of desperation.

Over the next hour, I drifted in and out of my catatonic state, of which one moment of consciousness I recall was my mother trying to hold my limp body erect, while trying to feed my soda crackers. In that moment, I had lost all motor skills. No matter how much she screamed, I remained a fish looking at an innocent victim on the other side of a porthole of a drowning submarine.

At the San Diego Children’s Hospital, Dr.s diagnosed me with an A.V. Malformation, which had caused my headaches and led to my brain aneurysm. They performed brain surgery—the only option of saving my life—and for the next month I lay in a coma. On August 13, 1984, one month later I came out of my coma; and on August 31, Dr.s released me from the hospital.

Today, 25 years after my mother’s screams, I know I can and will attain every goal I set before me. And those who know me know I consider nothing less than rising to, and above, every challenge an option. Today, just as thankful for the sunshine and grains of sand as every other day throughout the past 2 ½ decades, I know my story touches the lives of those who walk alongside me.

So, I invite you to journey with me over the next 8 weeks, as I recollect the trials and tribulations of surviving a childhood brain aneurysm, through stories of my childhood, adolescence, and beyond. I cannot tell you everything in eight weeks, but I hope that after that time you’ll either realize you’re not alone in your challenges or your challenges aren’t so bad after all. And if after this series of blogs, you still consider your challenges insurmountable, I challenge you to consider the greatness of people like Beethoven, Dr. Temple Grandin, and Dr. Steven Hawking. Now, come and discover why my recovery left Dr.s baffled, many throughout the years in awe, and me with the goal of bringing healing to the world through my words and through my smile.

If you have any question, or would like to know any more than what I share, please e-mail me at I'll be more than happy to share and converse.

until next week,


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

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Blog posting by Erick Pettersen of People Connect

In a movie I recently watched, the protagonist went on an extended vacation. He didn’t go to visit anyone, and he didn’t tell anyone he left. He took a cruise, on which he befriends several people. He learns from them; they learn from him. Toward the end of the movie, he contracts a virus, and the ship’s doctor can’t figure out what was wrong with him. Before the end of the cruise, he dies without saying goodbye to his family.

Though, I did not agree his decision to take his vacation without letting loved ones know, I understand why he made it. Certain people had caused so much stress in his life that he felt he needed to run. While his death brought misery to his friends and family, if he had not left he would not have learned from and taught people he met. He brought joy to them, learned and grew from them, and they did the same for him. And those people who caused him misery, and made him feel he had to leave, worked out their problems toward the end of the movie.

I believe the meaning of a person’s life is to search for happiness. In fact, we just celebrated the 233rd anniversary of our nation’s independence, declared by a document in which Thomas Jefferson reminded the British Monarchy and everyone that everyone has the right to, “The pursuit of happiness."

If you want to connect, if you want to move forward in your personal or professional relationships, pursue happiness. If you are the one causing others pain, please stop before you lose those relationships and hurt yourself. If you are trapped and victimized by others’ selfishness, consider the effect of their negativity on your mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and how that may adversely affect those around you.

I am not encouraging divorce, nor am I encouraging anyone to stay in any type of abusive relationship. I am encouraging everyone to pursue their goals by pursuing happiness; though, never search for happiness at the expense of anyone’s misery. And all the better for a person to pursue happiness by bringing happiness to those around them.

In memory of Michael Jackson, pursue happiness by bringing happiness to those in your world.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Kris Kelly Foundation - Rummage Sale in Hollywood

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I had the pleasure of meeting Kris Kelly a couple of weeks ago, and she explained to me what the Kris Kelly Foundation does: they help rescue abused and abandoned animals. Kris has a huge heart, and I really liked her. I received this email a few minutes ago. If you are in Los Angeles, please help - all they need is $1,500 to pay off the vet bills:

Hello To All My Kitty Friends,

We are having another yard sale to finish paying the vet bills of the 80 cats rescued from the home of the woman in Northridge who died Cmas eve. The Kris Kelly Foundation's last big rummage sale raised about $6000 so there is only about $1500 remaining on the vet bill. (We have gotten all the cats adopted --and ferals placed into yards-- except 4 or 5!!!)

Could you donate small items to sell? We need small items such as CD's, DVD's, jeans, jewelry, household items, knick knacks, vintage stuff (not a lot of clothes -- we have no hanging racks or place to try them on.)

Then Come To The


Sat, July 11, 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM

924 N. La Jolla Ave, West Hollywood, 90046

(2 blocks west of Crescent Heights, between Melrose and Santa Monica Blvd)

We will have over 20 beautiful, sweet, kittens along with a few cats from the Northridge house

who all need homes.



For donation pick-ups call: Kris Kelly, 310-699-5566

Erica Hagen, 310-948-6639



From: Kris Kelly []
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 2:01 PM
Subject: Donated items needed for YARD SALE

Hi Everyone,
The Kris Kelly Foundation needs donated items for a Yard Sale to finish off the bills from the Northridge Rescue.

We are going to have the YARD SALE / KITTEN ADOPTION in West Hollywood on July 11th.

Items needed....

jewelry of all kinds
knick knacks
vintage items


We want to keep the items small because we do not have much space and not a lot of man power to pick up larger items.

Please call Kris Kelly at 310-699-5566 to set up a time for pick ups.


Kris Kelly | Contact us | P: (916) 709-6101 |