Coming Alive

Inspiring others to use their voice to change the World

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Behind the Scenes

“One little spark of inspiration, is at the heart of all creation”~Figment

After spending most of the summer in a funk from our lack of routine and busy schedule, it took the song from Disney’s Figment to reignite the Fox Family!!   For anyone who knows me, change is not my strong point.  I see change requiring money (or so I assume), taking energy (that I have lacked this summer), and time (which in our house is a commodity).  The family wanted to take our bonus room and turn it into work stations.  In my ideal world I could visualize the room (all full of IKEA), but with our budget of $0, I only saw the project as stress.

Lucky for me I have three kids that like to remind me of the things I tell them (and sing to them) all of the time.  They reminded me of the Figment’s words that we had just heard a few weeks prior:

“One little spark of inspiration

Is at the heart of all creation

Right at the start of everything that’s new

One little spark lights up for you

Imagination, Imagination

A dream can be a dream come true

With just that spark in me and you

So while singing we found our motivation and started moving furniture at 9pm on a Sunday night.  The results are better than I even “imagined” and we did it all without spending a penny!!

All summer our blogs were a struggle—one week in their creative spaces and our sparks have ignited!!  Enjoy what you read:

Neverland Effect


Dream Think Live It

 I am Copious

As the school year begins we would like to find some consistency with our blogs.  At this time our plan is for a weekly Sunday post that will then be shared together in a post on Coming Alive Monday mornings.  Now that my spark is ignited Coming Alive should start taking form as well…..I am looking forward to creating a dream that can come true–changing the world, with all of you:-)

Why Disney?

Sometimes talking about Disney can be taboo like religion and politics.  There is the saying, “you either love it or you don’t”.  For me over the years I have learned not to have a definitive opinion about anything, because there is always a chance I might see things differently.  Such was the case with Disney.

I had a history with Disney and had a visited a few times, but there is a much deeper story to why Disney is important to me and really how it was one of my “coming alive” life moments.  My son Henry was a wonderful homebirth in May 2011–our family was balanced and now complete with baby number three.  However, about 6 weeks after his delivery I started feeling extremely emotional—panic attacks, long episodes of crying, anxiety, cloudy thoughts, night sweats, and more.  I continued to get through my days barely at times, with only my husband aware of how I was feeling.

It was September 11, 2001 when my fragile emotional state crumbled.  I was cancelling our January trip to Disney, sitting up all night watching the kids sleep, and constantly in a state of panic and anxiety.  I finally opened up to my doctor and was diagnosed with post-partum depression.  My body was not reacting well with the medication, so I had to do discover some alternatives.  In that period of self-growth I read many books, opened up, and as crazy as this sounds made a decision to plan the best Disney trip ever.

This project really helped pull me out of my dark place.  It later even landed me as an official Disney Vacation Planner for a local travel agent and a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge.  My favorite Walt Disney quote:  “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”, continues to serve me to this day.

And now here I sit on the eve of our 9th trip and this year we are taking a guest—Jonathon(JB) is a teen from the DREAMS Teen Council.  When I was the co-facilitator I began each meeting with our leadership trip plans—JB would always shout, “you mean our trip to Disney World”!!  Well, my kids asked if we could make that happen.  So last year when Isabel was tutoring him she made it all about Disney, ending with the BIG announcement.  I am expecting to see many “coming alive” moments as I watch him experience the magic next week, and for me I am grateful that I allow myself to see Disney in the light of imagination, possibility, inspiration, and happiness.

As Figment likes to say……”One little spark of inspiration”……………

About Me

I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter ‘till they bloom, ‘til you yourself burst into bloom. –Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Just this week I realized that Coming Alive does not have an “about” page.  That is the first place I go on a website—how could I leave that page out of my own?  The “about” page is the beginning of coming together; it is the connection portion of the entire site, and here is my new website without one!  There is definitely something subconscious going on here; probably “shame” (thanks Brene Brown for making that clear).  I am guilty of brushing off my past experiences, degrees, careers, and accomplishments for no better reason than I had intentions of doing more.  And in reply to that statement, as I would tell my kids and husband the same thing, “then go do more and honor all that you have done up until now, because every decision you made was the right one for that moment in time!”  For me that is what Coming Alive is all about—rediscovering who I am today and pursuing my passions.

Every bio that has been written in the last couple of years begins with: “Rachel left her nursing career to concentrate on her growing family…..”.  Today I am sharing the parts of the story that are left out.  Today I will present my About Me page along with a tiny blog-memoir!

For the short version visit the About Me page……….for those with time on your hands proceed here:

I was born in a small town in central Indiana spending my younger days on my grandparent’s farm and my school days in the city of Anderson.  Between my mom’s family and my dad’s family I have hundreds of cousins who all still live pretty much in the same houses they grew up in.  Something I have learned through the years is that many people in the mid-west are content to be right where they are.  I never was.  My plan was to graduate high school and go to college in a big city (New York was my dream and I I have still never been there!).  After high school I was accepted to Nursing School at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis and awarded a 4-year nursing scholarship from a local hospital.  Indianapolis became my big city….so the story begins.

Once in college I began learning about the many different schools within a university.  I did not even Anthropology or Sociology degrees existed.  I fell in love with these humanity classes, but was committed to the nursing scholarship.  During my final year of nursing school I started working at the Veteran’s Hospital on a day hospital unit for chronic psychiatric patients.  I LOVED this job!!  The unit was staffed with three CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialists) and one MSW (Master of Social Work).  I was able to lead small group sessions on stress management and daily skills.  Every week I would work with the patients to plan, shop for, and prepare a Friday meal.  I loved taking them to the grocery!!  If the hospital would have allowed me to stay there after graduation as a BSN, RN then I may not be where I am today, unfortunately they required I spend a year getting medical experience.  I obtained this experience as a charge nurse on a 58-bed Nursing Home Care Unit, then later transferred to the Emergency Department.  I enjoyed the ED and even saved a few lives, but when the government was disagreeing on the budget in the early 90s I was trying to get pregnant and buy a house.  During that time I had been called about a teaching position in the town I had grown up in.  They were actually recruiting me, so the job was mine if I wanted.  I took the leap and began teaching a LPN program to adults through the community school system. In this position I taught Nutrition, Geriatrics, and CPR certification.  I also provided clinical experiences for a group of students at a local hospital.  I missed working with the psychiatric patients, so during this time I also worked part-time as a staff nurse on an adolescent psychiatric in-patient unit and an adult chemical dependency unit.

At this point I was in a groove.  We had bought a house in an eclectic part of Indianapolis and I felt like it was time to pursue my advanced degree.  Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, but continually reading Nurse Anthropology journals I decided to make an appointment with the chair of the Anthropology department at IUPUI.  He was great and willing to help me develop my own graduate program and then later use it to develop programs for local hospitals to provide medical care that was respectful to other cultures.  Then the news came……….after a year of trying I was finally pregnant!!!  I finished the statistics and Spanish course then put school on hold to enjoy every moment of the pregnancy.

I returned to teaching and the part-time jobs when Isabel was three months old and was missing her terribly.  A group of the Adolescent Psychiatrists approached me with a proposition to obtain my CNS at their expense, but all I could think about at the time was being home with Isabel.  My commute to these jobs was over an hour, which meant I had to get Isabel up, fed, and out the door by 4:45 am to get to the hospital for the 6:30 am clinical rotation.  After picking her up from our parents’ house and driving home it would be 7:30 pm.  The days quickly wore on us.  As the universe usually works in wondrous ways I was called again for a new job (I wish it was that easy today).  This was a high school nurse position much closer to my house with all of the holidays and the summer off.  There was not much to consider—I would be working with adolescents (definitely some psych added in) and I would have lots more time with Isabel.  I ran a ten bed clinic for 1600+ students, coordinated random drug tests, plus provided workshops and vaccines for the staff.

At this point we were ready to give Isabel a sibling.  Returning to school for my masters did not cross my mind—I was in la-la baby land!!  The one pitfall with the school nurse job, was the pay.  Living over an hour from family meant that Isabel was in an in-home daycare.  Adding Jackson was going to take my salary to the next-to-nothing amount.  This is where the story really takes a giant leap.  I made a decision to take a year maternity leave from the high school and work as needed for a local hospital on their psychiatric units.  While all of this is going on my husband tried to make a career change from restaurant management to being a loan originator (longer story) and ended up with a severe back injury leading to surgery.  During a chance meeting with an old boss at a stop light he was offered an opportunity we jumped on!  We packed up the kids, sold the house in two weeks, and moved to a house a mile back on a gravel road in the woods of Brown County Indiana over two hours from our family.  This was the beginning of a whole new chapter.

We were only in town a few weeks, when the kids became sick.  Jackson was only 4 months old and running a fever.  I called the pediatrician we had been referred to and they agreed to see him without a pre-physical—I was so grateful!  This first appointment led me to my next job that ended up lasting six years.  I became an afterhour’s telephone triage nurse for the group of pediatricians at the practice who took call.  At first I worked in the office and would return the calls from the day.  After Henry was born (a wonderful homebirth—and another long story) they created a way that I could make the calls from home as well as take new calls through the night.  This was another great job!!

Raising the kids in Brown County was wonderful, but as they grew we all longed for more culture and urban life.  We were close to Bloomington, IN (a campus town) and spent almost every day there at the skate park.  When we could get away we drove the four hours to Chicago.  There was a pull though to move from the mid-west.  Again fate was with us as my husband was offered another great opportunity.  After seven years in the woods we left it all behind, loaded up Minnie (our 15 year old mini-van), and headed to Virginia.  We lived in a three story townhouse outside of Richmond and felt like we were living The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.  It was like being on a mini-vacation with the pool and fresh cookies every day.  The school was directly across the street and a great local restaurant asked me the first night in town if I wanted to help out in the daytime while the kids were at school.  Another instant job!!  We were only there short term as part of the relocation package and ended up in a two bedroom apartment (with three kids) after our house sold in Indiana.

It is this next part of the story that lands us here in North Carolina.  After 7 months in VA, my husband was offered a chance to come to Jacksonville, NC.  The kids and I scouted the area and fell in love with Wilmington.  My agreeable husband offered to make the hour commute, so a house was bought and we found our place to bloom.  We have been here almost five years and the blooming is a slow going process—there have been no job recruiters calling, but the experiences and stories that we are creating are full of heart.  I have my North Carolina nursing license and have provided home care to a couple of older women during transitional times of their lives.  To connect with adolescents I spent a couple of years as the co-facilitator of the DREAMS Teen Council and continue to mentor some of the teens on my own time.  Then to revisit my love of culture I work part-time teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to adults through Cape Fear Community College.  All of this combined with my volunteer work with ONE is leading somewhere—I am sure of it.

When I was searching for a quote about sharing our stories and discovered the one above by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, I thought how appropriate!  Do you remember Women Who Run With the Wolves?  I read it before Randy and I were even married (over 17 years ago) and still have the poster on my wall today.  I’m not sure where my stories are leading me, but I plan to keep watering them with my blood, tears, and laughter.  I am ready to burst into bloom!!

The Importance of Fathers

I am the person I am today from the influence of fathers all around me.  I had my dad from birth who instilled in me the greatest work ethic ever.  From the beginning he encouraged independence that has never left me, but reminds me often that I am still his little girl—even at almost 40 years old.   Shortly later came my stepdad, who met me at age four and loved me unconditionally right from the start.  From oil changes to teaching me to fish, he has always been there for me and for that I will always be grateful.   My father-in-law started watching me grow at age twelve, then when his son and I started dating at age fifteen he took me into his family.  I have felt like his daughter ever since.  How lucky a girl I am to have all three of them in my life!

Now over the last fifteen years I have had the gift of watching my husband weave through the web of fatherhood.  What I have realized in reflecting on my own relationships and observing him with his, is that we do not always acknowledge the importance of fathers or the pressures they face.  There is a movie scene from a recent real-life version of Peter Pan where the mother is helping the children understand the behavior of their father; a conversation quite similar to some I have had with our kids.  She explains that there are many different types of bravery and one of those is putting others before oneself and making many sacrifices for our family.  She goes on to say that their father has tucked many of his dreams in a drawer and late at night he pulls them out.  Sometimes this drawer gets harder and harder to close.

My husband has now decided to open the drawer!  He has discovered that tucking away his passions was not the example he wanted to be and that there was more than just talking that needed to be done—he was leaving out the doing.  Having him “come alive” is changing the dynamics of this house.  The family is energized, motivated, full of creative ideas, and feeling like anything is possible.  Through all of his trial and error he is discovering the importance of fathers and creating a platform for others to join in the conversation.  His personal conversations with the kids are at Poppiopushover and a more interactive discussion is happening at DadLeadership.  In my opinion, just as everyday is Mother’s Day, I believe it is Father’s Day too.  Happy Father’s Day to all of you out there living your dreams and reminding all of our children they can do the same!!

You have to be alive to “Come Alive”

Reflecting on what makes us “come alive” means that we have to consider our lives up until now.  Sometimes we fail to realize the impact we have made on the world just by being in it.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post for the ONE blog, Living to tell the story, in preparation of USAID’s Child Survival Call to Action live webinar event happening this Thursday.  This event is part of the Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday campaign.  Knowing that 7 million children will not live to see their 5th birthday and that these deaths are mostly preventable is a reason to come alive, at least it is for me.

Over the last year there has been lots of talk about vaccines around the world as well as right here in our house.  My kids were with me as we gathered well over 100 letters, visited our Members of Congress, and talked to anyone who would listen about the two new vaccines for pneumonia and diarrhea that can save 4 million lives by 2015.  When they were launched a few months ago in Ghana there was a celebration.  My youngest son was eating breakfast with me as the twitter party began.  As the tweets were coming we were dancing in the dining room.  We could feel the excitement from the moms whose babies were some of the first to receive these life saving vaccines.

These experiences have left an impression on my kids, especially Henry.  Just this last week he finished up elementary school with free enterprise day where the students create their own business and then use money (fake) that they earned from making good choices at school.  Henry made some awesome silk eye pillows with rice and organic lavender.  (No joke-he can embroider some great designs on the sewing machine)  They were a huge hit, especially with the teachers.  From this success he came up with an idea to raise money for the Shot@life campaign.  Whereas my kids and I used our voice and advocated for support from our governments for the GAVI Alliance, the Shot@life campaign gives individuals a place to make a donation.  It only takes $20 to vaccinate a child for life.  Henry has decided to make eye pillows for $10 each with 20% of his proceeds going to Shot@life.  My favorite part of this was the tagline he came up with:  “because every mother will rest easy knowing that her child will be vaccinated”.

Think of the world with 7 million more Henry’s in it!!  Knowing that by being alive and “coming alive” is inspiring my family and others is a reminder of the domino effect.  When you begin to come alive it affects those around you in an incredible way—I guarantee it!

I will keep you posted on the eye pillow offerings!!



There is Always Time to Change the World

It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?– Henry David Thoreau

It was last year at this time when I wrote “The World is Busy”.  Running from one school function to another while continuing to maintain normalcy in the rest of our lives can most certainly create a challenge for the best of us.  But I am a witness to the fact that there is always time to change the world—whether you are a single mom, working mom, single dad, working dad, student, twenty-something, thirty-something, or eleven.  Whoever you are and whatever your circumstances there is something you can do to make a difference.


This past weekend, right in the middle of the end of school marathon, I hosted a (RED)Rush event as part of being a volunteer Congressional District Leader for The ONE Campaign to raise money for The Global Fund and support for programs that are making a huge impact in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  The week prior was spent preparing for and pulling off an incredible 5th grade social for 130 students, so what better way to wind down than a Saturday morning with a favorite drink from Starbucks and at the same time being a voice for the beginning of the end of AIDS.  There are 1,000 babies born every day with HIV and, get this, we can see that number be ZERO—yes ZERO!!!  I did not have to pull legs or make harassing phone calls; everyone came because they wanted to.  Some even initiated conversations with others waiting in line for their coffee inviting them to join.  The point is we were getting together on Saturday anyway (the customers in line were there anyway) and it took only a minute to check in on Foursquare, and a minute to write a letter to Congressman McIntyre.  Since June 1 these “check ins” have already raised $186,000 for The Global Fund—taking ONE minute is saving lives….how cool is that??

This is a movement and the busy world is not keeping people from taking action.  We are making the end of AIDS a reality.  I remember being a nursing student in the early 90s when the AIDS epidemic was a death sentence.  To know that we are now at the point of having NO baby born with HIV by 2015…………we HAVE to make time for that!

Infinite Possibilities

“If you have built castles in the sky, let not your dreams go to waste. Just build the foundations under them.”~Henry David Thoreau

            It was seventeen years ago today that my husband and I were married.  However our story starts many years earlier than that.  Actually twelve years earlier—I met my husband when I was eleven years old.  This is not a mushy love story, but rather a story of empowerment, trust, hopes, dreams, and possibilities—infinite possibilities.

            I was in seventh grade math when I met this kid named Randy Fox.  My gosh did he like to give me a hard time!  Always making fun of my shoes (do you remember the black roman shoes?).  Well, I had a strong voice and a talent for finding solutions even back then, so a contract was written (by him, per my request) that we both signed to remind us to choose our words differently.  I now look back and wonder if that “Contract of Agreement” was signed during some astrological event creating a little magic, because it was from that moment on when Randy and I would go to each other when we needed reminded that we had purpose and something to offer the world.  We officially went on a date our junior year of high school, but were never considered “high school sweethearts”.  He was a skateboarder and I loved honors calculus.  We really did our own things, but were on a forward moving path together.  During college we took some time on our own—you know the “I need to find myself stage” and the “I’m setting you free” break up.   With no intention of seeing him again I mailed a card and included the quote from my Celestial Seasonings tea box (I always cut the quotes off!!):  “If you have built castles in the sky, let not your dreams go to waste.  Just build the foundations under them.”~Henry David Thoreau.  This was my goodbye and my deep rooted wish for him.

Now obviously this was not the end of the story.  We did reconnect after a year apart and the moment he walked in the door I knew in an instant that together we could build a foundation for castles grander than my imagination was ready for.  He reminds me daily to go full speed ahead, NO FEAR, let your light shine, go change the world and I remind him that I love him.  I am super excited that he is starting to share his insight, warmth, and talents with the world.  Follow him on his blog at Poppiopushover and discover what I have known all along……….He will remind you that the world is full of infinite possibilities.

Random Thoughts While Driving 6.5 Hours Alone in the Car

Yesterday I was able to hit the road solo.  My husband cleaned up his car for me to drive and took the day off to shuttle the kids to and from school.  I had my tea, GPS, and music.  I was all set for the drive—time to organize my thoughts and reflect on the direction my life is taking me.  What I found was not an organized list, but rather a smash-up of many things.  Welcome to the World of my random thoughts…….


*)  The wildflowers along I-40 from Wilmington to Greensboro bring me joy.  They remind me so much of my wedding bouquet from 17 years ago.  That was a good day!

*)  The Women and Men of the United Way of Greensboro are doing some incredible work to promote community resources that advance family issues.  Attending their Women in Philanthropy event left me inspired.  It is always uplifting to travel other places and see individuals coming together to do good.

*) Everyone needs to buy a copy of The Beauty of Different by Karen Walrond to be reminded of their superpowers and how they can use them for good.

*)  I wonder how iTunes determines the genius list.  It just does not seem right that Erotic City by Prince would be followed by the Phineas and Ferb theme song.

*)  Our tour guide at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum radiated passion.  To be standing in the room of the lunch counter sit-in was a little surreal.  We need to fill ourselves with the courage from these men and women to continue being a voice for social justice for everyone everywhere!!

*)  I love meeting remarkable woman.  Confidence and poise are words to describe Valda Boyd Ford.  I look forward to connecting again with her.

*)  It is time to take my life menu (bucket list) out of my head and put it on paper.  I would like to take singing lessons—my kids would agree.  I want to add piano lessons to that too and visiting San Francisco, New York, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, Greece…..ok I need to share these thoughts in a different post on a different day!!

*)  We need to start dropping more Love Bombs to change the World.


To wrap up and be honest, there were MANY more thoughts that went through my head on this trip and are continuing today.  I feel like I am “coming alive” at lightning pace.  But the thought I want you to hold with you came from Karen’s dad:

“The World is a small place.  You have to help where you can.”

We all have superpowers and the ability to come alive.  Find your power, find you voice, and use it to help where you can.

Peace and love,


Not What I Was Expecting: A Family Full of Bloggers

Not What I Was Expecting:

A Family Full of Bloggers!!!

            A few weeks ago I attended the Mom 2.0 Summit in Miami—my first ever social media conference.  It was time I learned about the online world I had found myself in since visiting Kenya with the ONE Moms last July.  Yes, I left there with a clearer understanding of the inner workings of this dynamic field, but more importantly I walked away with an awakened sense of my own self-confidence.  Again, it was another “coming alive” moment.  What I didn’t expect to happen was to come home to a family full of bloggers!

            While listening to Brene Brown during her keynote address at the conference I wrote big across my paper: “We cannot give our kids what we don’t have”.  Over the last several years (probably more than several) I have struggled to find my purpose outside of motherhood.  It is now becoming apparent to me more and more everyday—and it’s obvious by what I am witnessing in my family.  I came home from Miami to my husband more inspired than I have seen him in years to start writing again, a daughter with an incredible idea for a blog, a son working through struggles of being a teenage boy and wanting to write about it so that it might help others, and a son that the World better watch out for—I am not sure it is ready for his copious ways!!! 

Needless to say, I am SUPER impressed, empowered, moved, elated, and proud of each one of them and want to share their blogs here……… 

            Please be patient as we fine tune all of our sites, we will continue writing through the process.  Join us for our journey……….It should be a great ride!!

My husband, My forever friend

My youngest son (who gets tired of being last—so has his blog here first!), My sunshine

My middle son, My sage

My daughter, My inspiration

Too Late To Go Back To Sleep

Too Late To Go Back To Sleep


            Last weekend, my son and I went to see Wicked for his birthday—and yes, I am still “defying gravity”.  I was ready to stand up a sing, “It’s time to trust my instincts…..close my eyes and leap”.  Henry probably would have run from the theatre horrified, but it is how I am feeling these days!

So much is always going on in my head and I feel like I am always trying to sort it out, when I know that is never necessary.  There is no need to ask why all of these experiences are happening or what I am supposed “to do” with them.  My blog is called Coming Alive for a reason.  I know my voice has been in me all along and I have known what to do with it–for some reason I have just been sleeping.  Well not anymore! 

            This week I have freshened up my blog, added a few pages, and changed my twitter and email.  My design is a nifty template and still a work in progress; however I definitely know I am moving in the right direction.  I am especially excited about: What I Have to Offer and Shining Moments.  I would love for you to take a look and let me know what you think.

            As always I invite you to join me in this leap.  There is so much that can be accomplished when we do it together.  It is too late for us to go back to sleep.  We have a World that needs some changing!!

With peace and gratitude,


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