the year that did not kill me


I’ve been writing and rewriting, wanting to sum up 2015 for you guys, and for myself to no avail.

Word picture: Me, butt in chair, staring at a computer screen and eating potato chips, for hours.  That and drinking massive amounts of coffee. Then going outside in our forever summer to smoke. I know, smoking is bad, but it relaxes me.


Then I saw this cartoon on a friend’s Facebook wall and I’m thinking YES, this is it. THIS is 2015 in a nutshell. That which did not kill me has made me weirder. And maybe a little harder to relate to. Or not, I’m not sure really.

Oh no worries, 2015 did not make me neurotic. I’ve been that way for years. Ask anyone, they’ll tell you.

I’m the daughter of a prom queen. The rules were simple, Mom was always the prettiest woman in the room. If I gained five pounds, she threw up and I pay for my own therapy.

I can live with neurotic, trust me.

Part of me believes that I have this semi-empty-nest-grown-kids thing down cold, but when the guys (husband included) all went to see a movie over Thanksgiving weekend and didn’t invite me, that got me right in the feels. We made up for at Christmas by going to see Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Wonderful movie. I loved it. I also loved spending time together as a family. So even though I’ve proven since 2012 that there is life after kids, the bottom line is, they are still my favorite people to spend time with when they are home.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes 2015.

This is the year of Catch Me If You Can. I’ve traveled everywhere it seems. Sometimes for fun and sometimes not. We lost my brother-in-law to cancer this year and my mother died from COPD and Depression. She was miserable in the end. That doesn’t necessarily make her passing easier though. She was my mom. Our relationship was complicated by a lot of things including the lack of relationship she had with her mother but we made the best of it and had our moments. I miss her. A lot.

So, highlights:

We saw Garth Brooks in concert (It was AWESOME!). I went to San Francisco for the first time ever to see my best friend from childhood. I performed at the Syracuse Funny Bone and was given the nickname “Hippie Chick.” Went to New Orleans (Another First) I spend five months  in Upstate New York taking care of Mom before she passed away. Went on a Muse Cruise with my girlfriends and visited Haiti, Jamaica and other islands. Every place I visited, I found someone playing banjo which is pretty cool to me. I spent a week in St Petersburg Florida with friends performing at Coconuts. I did a show at the Tulsa Loony Bin with other friends. Celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. Turned 50 (E-Ghads) and didn’t die. Recently discovered my Dad is in the early stages of dementia and will soon need more care than I can provide. (I’m not even going to discuss the bed bugs in my NY apartment or my airplane catching on fire and the emergency landing)

Simply put, I survived the roller coaster that is this crazy mixed up life. And if that makes me weirder, so be it. If nothing else, it gives me great material.


And that is 2015 in a nutshell. I learned this year that I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit, that we all need community and I have wonderful friends, that I’m a halfway decent banjo player and I am going to go back taking lessons after the first of the year, that life after kids comes with twinges, that a name (or lack there of) on a birth certificate doesn’t mean anything really, that alcohol and grief don’t mix well, and that I am indeed funny.

May you look back on 2015 with peace and gladness and may 2016 be all you ever dreamed of. Happy New Year my friends.

And don’t forget to breathe darlin’

Deana O’Hara

Top Tenish: My Top Influencers of 2011

This is the last post I have for 2011. I’m on vacation with my family for the rest of the year. Rather than end the year with an inventory like I usually do, I thought I’d share with you the top ten people or things that influenced me this year. Outside of my inner circle of course – those relationships I keep sacred and are not for this blog. You know who you are. (Rena!–love you)

Corporate America taught me to surround myself with people who are where I want to be, whether it’s a year from now, 5 years from now or 10 years from now and learn. I’m relational to the core – with the exception of the first two, I’ve actually met everyone else listed. Again though – they are not my inner circle, but they do have an influence on my life and my choices. These are the feet I sit at from a social network perspective. In no particular order, I offer you the people who  influenced me the most in 2011. If you aren’t reading these people, you are missing out on a great adventure.

  • The Blog Post that set the tone and had the most influence on my choices for 2011 – Living a Good Story, an Alternative to New Years Resolutions by Donald Miller.  Donald made  me think about my life. What do I want? Am I willing to overcome conflict to get it? He also wrote the worst woman haters blog piece I’ve ever read in my life, which teaches me that everything has a balance. Nobody is perfect.
  • Author and Poet laureate Molly Fisk: I met Molly online via a mutual friend. Molly teaches Poetry Boot camp and Finding your Voice. I spent six of the most amazing weeks learning about voice with nine other women. Molly’s encouragement, kind instruction, and great advice brought the poet in me alive again.
  •  Gail Hyatt, married to Micheal Hyatt (see below) is a blogger at: Treasure Hunt. Her posts touch my woman’s heart. Gail raised five girls while I raised two boys. Gail isn’t famous nor does she seem to want to be, though I could be wrong. She is a wife, a mother, a daughter, a bible teacher and a friend to others. She is by far and large a better wife than I. I learn a lot from her. Her posts look beneath the surface of human relationships and the heart of family. Gail’s influence on me is one of a calming femininity, trust in life and in God. She is one of my favorite reads.
  •  Chonda Pierce is probably my favorite woman on the planet. She’s funny, super sweet, and has a heart of gold. I met Chonda in 2003 at Women of Faith and now work/volunteer as one of her National Turbos. It is a pleasure and a joy to help promote her ministry. The video below is a trailer to her video This Ain’t Prettyville. Several of us went to the taping in Nashville a couple of years ago and had the time of our lives. Chonda is near and dear to my heart and has played a huge role in helping me find myself again now that my kids are grown. I got to put my Turbo skills to work again this year when she came to Tulsa. Watching her grow as a person and as an artist has really given me the courage to do the same. — I’m in two (to be released next year) motion  pictures because of her encouragement.
  • Ken Davis: Best Selling Author. Motivational Speaker. He’s a gifted comedian and a master storyteller. They showed one of his videos called Super Sheep at a woman’s retreat back in 1995.  I laughed until I cried and then forgot about him for ten years. — Now, I own his full library. I’ve seen him speak live and I’ve personally invested in several of Mr. Davis’s speaking seminars. They are informative, to the point, a lot of fun, and wildly successful. I got far more than I bargained for when I went to my first conference of his back in 2009. I wanted to learn about speaking and I’ve learned so much more. Not only has Mr Davis’s conferences helped teach me to be a better speaker, through his blog he’s helped me learn how to be a better liver of life. He’s why I decided to ride in the MS 150 in 2012 – the guy is 63 and has ridden in triathlons for heaven’s sake. For those of you who have followed me all these years you know how terrified I was just to be at the seminar back in 2009. Times have changed. He also taught me to live with nothing to prove, nothing hide, and nothing to lose. This year, I’ve learned about living a life of expectancy instead of expectation.
  • Michael Hyatt helps people live and lead on purpose. He’s a father, a husband, an in-demand speaker, as well as a published author. He is also the chairman of Nelson Publishing. When I met Mr Hyatt at a speakers conference in Nashville back in 2009, I was so intimidated by his position (and my desire at the time to work for Nelson) that I turned into a walking lobotomy. He gave a presentation on how to get published and writing queries that sell and I was thrilled to be there. Nelson Publishing is the group that puts on Women of Faith. At the time, I wanted to give back what they gave me and be a part of great change in the world. I don’t work for Nelson, may never work for them and that’s okay. Today, I read Mr Hyatt because of posts like this one: The Blessings of Discomfort. and I’m moved  beyond myself to a bigger picture.  He writes on intentional leadership, speaking, social networking, and life in general.
  • Janel Brookshire from Stay in the Saddle: Janel is teaching me how to ride horses. Jo is part of my inner circle, but I am going to write about her just a little bit here. She is a cowgirl through and through. An excellent writer and a great teacher. She and her husband own the Cactus Bars Ranch in Claremore Oklahoma and have a love for life like none other. I was a bit of an emotional mess when I first started taking lessons from Jo last winter. (family issue) Riding made all the difference. Seriously. Can’t tell you why, only that it did. Tuesday mornings are my favorite time of the week. Stay in the Saddle isn’t the name of the program, but rather a result of the philosophies taught there. I feel free when I ride. And because of Jo, I got to ride horseback in the jungles of Belize last Spring and had the time of my life. Today we are learning barrel racing (albeit slowly) and soon I’ll be jumping and roping cattle – maybe, I don’t trust myself with rope, but who knows. Anything is possible.

What a journey y’all. This time seven years ago I was grieving more losses than this heart could imagine. Today, I’ve learned how to trust again, how to love again, how to breathe again, and how to live again. I owe that to the wonderful people who’ve come in my life over the years. Seven years is a complete cycle. I’m not sure how I feel about this cycle ending. But end it must. 2012 begins a new season, new chances, and new adventures.

This year is over. I declare it complete.

Merry Christmas and have a wonderful New Year.

LIVE – Love/Laughter, Inspire, Volunteer, Excercise

Behold, I make all things new

2011 has already been off to a wonderful start. We began by celebrating a 50th birthday with friends on Friday and on Sunday we celebrated another friend’s 50th wedding anniversary. It’s a year of Jubilee — what a gift. Leviticus 25 proclaims the 50th year as a year of holiness and rest.

Three things jump out at me when I read this chapter of Leviticus. The Bible speaks of the Year of Jubilee as  a year of  redemption of things lost or sold because of poverty. It also speaks of kindness to others and freedom from bondage.

These are three great thoughts as we face the new year together.

Some things to think about:

1. REDEMPTION: What things, ideas, values, et all have we sold off over the years because of our own spiritual poverty? Relationships, truth/honesty, health, self-respect? How can we return to those right, meet, and salutary things this year. How can God help us restore those broken places?

2. KINDNESS: Can you think of a way to extend kindness to others this year? It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a smile, a warm hello, or maybe even volunteering at a soup kitchen once a month. – what random act of kindness can you share?

3. FREEDOM: In this passage, we are talking about bond servants or slaves who are set free — is there anything holding you back from experiencing all that God has in store for you? Are there places of bondage that you need to be released from? Is there forgiveness, hurt, anger, or fears that you are hanging onto? Now would be a good time to let go of those things. Can you write out a prayer asking God help to break those chains?

Let us make this a Jubilee Year all the way around and celebrate the gifts of God.