Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sometimes Life Gets In The Way

It's been far too long since I have been on here.  Sometimes life gets in the way.  I am back and in full force!  I am going to try to get on here each day and post something!

It may be a positive thought, it may be a recipe or it may be what happened during the day... I am not quite sure yet.

I have a lot to share with the world and I can't quite cover it all while writing for Eugene Daily News.

I have gotten wrapped up in living.  Trying to get by.  Both financially and emotionally.  It's been a rough couple of years for me to say the least.  I am not trying to be on a pity party by any means, I know we all have our "stuff".   I have just gotten away from what makes me happy.


It's been a joy to me my entire life.  I think of it constantly.  I just wish I had an awesome way of recording what I come up with to write about when I am away from pen and paper, computer, any thing to write on or speak into.  These thoughts and quotes come to me when I am least expecting it and by the time I reach for something it is gone...

The next wave of technology perhaps.

Have a beautiful day!

It's good to be back.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Learning To Drive A Stick

Learning To Drive A Stick

I have had many people over the years attempt to teach me how to drive a manual transmission.  It has never ended well.  Either someone was kicked out of the vehicle, tears were shed, or worse the car ended up in the ditch…true story.
I think there are three basic rules to learning how to drive a stick shift (manual transmission).
  1. The person who is teaching you must have a sense of humor.  No ifs ands or buts about it.
  2. You must believe in yourself.
  3. You should do it on an empty stomach!
With a borrowed car, my friend took me to a secluded parking lot up the McKenzie highway, determined to teach me how to drive a manual transmission, explaining what she was doing along the way.  I watched her feet and hands as she drove.  When we arrived at the park, my stomach was pretty queasy!  I started to get nervous and say forget it!  But with her encouragement we switched seats.
Im in the drivers seat now and she explains the clutch to me, the mechanics of the gears.  While Im holding the clutch in, she has me move the stick into the different gears so I will know where they are and how it feels going in to each position.
“If you have to force it, it’s wrong”.
I purposefully wore my Vibram Five Finger shoes so I could really “feel” the peddles.  I am glad I did.
I push the clutch in, put it into first gear, she nods and tells me to slowly release the clutch as I am slowly giving it gas, the same pressure with each foot.  I do as she says and it is almost as if I know what i’m doing.  Without a hitch we are rolling through the small cramped parking lot and my senses soar!  Im doing it!  Wow, what a feeling!
I feel the urge to shift (my favorite part) and ask if it’s ok.  She gave me the go ahead.  In with the clutch, off of the gas as I gently slip into second, off with the clutch and on with the gas.  I feel so important now!  I drive around the curbs, stopping occasionally to go over what I have learned.  Wanting to start from scratch I turn off the ignition.  A very important thing to know; how to turn the machine on and off.  I try reverse and I am scared. I can’t quite put a finger on why this is.
There are a few cars that enter the parking lot and I get a little nervous, They must realize what is happening and vacate as quickly as they came.
I am feeling confident in my abilities and drive over to the second part of the lot.  I had avoided this area as there were actual people standing outside of their vehicles.  (I just knew that I would all of a sudden forget how to drive, swerve and hit them or kill it right in front of them).  I put my big girl pants on and just went for it and acted like I owned the lot, which I did!  I rocked it.
I was done playing and felt I had had enough excitement for the day handing over the controls to my instructor.  “You did much better than I thought you would Grasshopper” she say’s to me with a smile. Inside I’m doing the happy dance!
Day Two
I tried my hardest to avoid driving!  I didn’t push for it because my stomach would begin to twist and turn at the thought of trying to get out of first gear!  But my trainer prevailed.
I decided the Pacific Source properties in Springfield would be a great place to practice.  This proved to be well utilized as there were plenty of turns, with enough room to use all gears, ensuring a lot of shifting, braking, down shifting and a slight hill I wont ever try again.  Seriously.  There should be a 4th peddle just for hills!  Or an easy button.
My trainer was very encouraging and even talked me into getting onto the road!  My heart was in my throat at the thought, but then again, what is the worst that could happen, right?
So after a little coaxing and few swigs of water, I pushed in the clutch, found first gear and slowly gave it gas as I let the clutch out and away we went.  No cars!  Whew. Thank heavens for small miracles.  I took a left and drove like I knew what I was doing, using my blinkers and everything.  The back roads were not very long, so I found a side road I could take.  I ended up on a dead end, with not much room to turn around.  I tried with everything I had to just loop around, but to no avail, I was going to have to back the car up.  Not my most favorite thing with a stick.
I don’t know why, but it seems harder for me with the gas and clutch in reverse and in my mind, I know there really is no difference but direction.
My leg is shaking and I feel as if I will somehow shoot myself and my passenger into oblivion, never to be seen again if I mess this up.
I push the clutch in, find reverse and give it gas.  The car starts to rev high!  ”What is happening” I ask.  My leg shaking even more at this point.
Turns out I wasn’t letting the clutch out.  An important little step.
I started over.  Clutch in, I find reverse, out with the clutch in with the gas and I peel out backwards!  It’s funny now, but it scared me, my life flashed before my eyes.  We happened to be on dirt, so the affect was even more dramatic.  I slapped it into first gear and away I went.  Im driving! all by myself.
Well, my instructor is sitting beside me, but I ask her to please act like she is on the phone with someone, this makes me feel as if she is not focusing on me and my new acquired abilities.  I just feel more at ease, and it worked.
I drove further down the street, around a round about and into a new parking lot, where I practiced stopping, turning off the car and starting all over.  I was digging this whole thing!
Then it happened.  I didn’t give it enough gas as I let the clutch out, the car not knowing what to do but the cha cha with two helpless passengers along for the ride!  There we sat looking at each other laughing until it decided it was done.  That my friends was not a comfortable feeling.  The good news is it was the only time I did it!  Yay for me.
I parked the car, feeling as if I had done enough for the day and we decided to call it good.    Once my trainer was back in her seat and we were securely fastened in our seat belts, I asked her a few questions, reviewing what I had learned, the last being:  ”Do you know how to peel out?”
Without hesitation and before I knew what was happening, she looked me in the eye and right there in the parking lot laid some rubber down!  Boy did that get my heart rate up!  I laughed for a couple of minutes with tears running down my face!  That was the icing on the cake for me.
Rule number 4.  Your instructor must know how to peel out properly.
I went into this a little nervous but with so much more confidence in myself.  I was able to do it without anyone getting hurt or crying.  Right now, I feel as if I can take on a race track!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Sandy Harris

Sandy Harris is a writer for Eugene Daily News. Currently a resident of Brownsville, Oregon. Sandy grew up on an island in the Alexander Archipelago in the southeastern region of Alaska. Her life's passions include writing, photography, and cedar carvings. Follow her on Blogspot (

IMG_8908When you walk into Bellage’ Day Spa, Salon & Wellness, a sense of serenity over takes you.  You are greeted by soothing music and welcoming staff, promising a warm and relaxing stay. Krysta Albert, owner of Bellage’ has created a place of relaxation and comfort coupled with familiarity in a warm and inviting space.
The meaning behind the name Bellage’  “Now is her time” or the Italian translation is “strong and beautiful woman”.
Krysta Albert of Belllage' Day Spa, Salon & Women's Wellness
Krysta Albert of Belllage’ Day Spa, Salon & Women’s Wellness
Amenities offered at Bellage’ Spa’ 2700 square foot facility are skin care, anti-aging treatments, hand and nail care, an intimate 3 station full service hair salon, waxing services, massage therapy, reiki, reflexology, naturopathic services, chiropractic care and acupuncture, with plans to offer body wraps in the near future. You can even enjoy complimentary appetizers and sip champagne or wine while you relax as your feet soak in their custom Japanese Foot Spa.
“The primary focus of Bellage’ is relationships – it is our goal and desire to hold each client with familiarity of their likes, preferences and needs and to anticipate what those needs may be.”   Albert states.
But Bellage’ is not only a place to be pampered, it also provides free women’s health screenings under the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP).
IMG_8922The BCCP was created to help low-income, uninsured and medically under-served women, as well as patients that have a high medical deductible, gain access to life saving screenings for early detection of breast and cervical cancers.  As hard as it is to believe, some insurance companies still do not cover preventive medicines or women’s health check’s.  BCCP provides services to women ages 40 to 65.
BCCP has been in around for approximately 20 years and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Oregon, SW Washington Affiliate and the American Cancer Society.  Each year, approximately 7000 eligible individuals receive screening services, who may not have otherwise been able to afford these screenings.
Christina Whitaker, Physicians Assistant at Bellage’ has helped diagnose 13 women with cancer over the last two years.
“We teach women how to do self breast exams. You don’t need to know what to look for, you only need to know what is normal”.
IMG_8934According to Whitaker, funds are allocated to facilities based on the number of patients that are treated quarterly. There are always available slots and funds for patients to be seen.
“I always tell my patients, seeing you today, ensures another sister will be seen tomorrow” Whitaker states.
Bellage’ and BCCP will help many woman, who without this service may not seek medical treatment or could go undiagnosed because they lack financial ability or insurance coverage.
“Women drive two hours to come and see us for this program, some as far away as Portland, Bend or Coos Bay, as there are fewer clinics offering BCCP, or the wait list is simply too long”  Whitaker points out.
Bellage’ works with Peace Health Labs, Oregon Imaging, physicians offices and hospitals in their screenings. If there is a diagnosis of cancer, treatment is covered 100%, allowing patients to focus on getting well and not medical bills.
IMG_8905After completing BCCP, which include the woman’s check up and mammogram, the woman are referred internally to the the New Leaf Program lead by Carrie Janes, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner of Bellage’, providing cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure checks, along with nutrition and exercise counseling. Bellage’ accepts insurance, which sometimes covers other services at the spa such as therapeutic massage.
Bellage’ Day Spa, Salon & Women’s Wellness is located at 2868 Willamette St. Eugene, OR. Located at the Market of Choice shopping center. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with plans to open on Saturdays.  For more information please call (541) 684-3988.
To find out more information regarding BCCP please call Bellage’ today or visit

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


It has to be said...

I figured out why I love summer so much, besides the obvious; warm weather, beaches, flip flops, shorts, tank tops, sunshine, vitamin D, hot sultry days sipping iced tea with my feet up because I am simply too hot to want to move...

What it really comes down to is that I don't have to wear socks!

I HATE them!

Now, I know, some of you out there may be saying to yourself, "hate is a very strong word"  Yeah, it is, and it has muscles when it comes to my feelings about socks!

Let me break this down. All summer, I spend so much time trying to keep my feet looking nice and pretty, painting my toes fun colors, (sometimes spending a little too long in the polish section because I can't decide which colors I like best). Sometimes I even decorate my toes with rings, and it's fun!

We pay other people to pamper and spoil our toes, even giving them the pleasure of painting them for us. Hmph!

Right now, as I type this, I am barefoot and I love it, even though my toes are freezing.

I HATE socks.

A few reason's, and I know I am not alone in this. The dryer eats my socks, they don't come out in pairs, folded and ready to put away neatly in my drawer, my cat is playing tricks on me and has a secret stash of them somewhere inside my house or there is a sock thief in the neighborhood. Believe it or not!

I have a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes, and I love them!  I feel more connected to the earth, but best of all... I don't have to wear socks with them! :O)   This makes me so happy!

Now, I just need to find some Five Finger rain boots, and winter boots.

I mean come on! all summer long, and now I have to hide my toes, with mismatched socks because I can never, never find their mates... Im holding out as long as I can. If you should ever see me with different socks on, you will know why.

Thanks for coming by. :O)

I just had to get this off my chest.


Friday, November 16, 2012


To have your arms wrap around me, to feel the warmth of your body pressed against mine helps me to feel whole, to feel loved, and to feel not alone.

These things I crave deep into the depths of my very being. 

It is not that I am not complete without companionship, it is the feeling of total connection with another human being that I long for.

It is not that I can't warm myself with blankets and clothing and fire,  it is that I yearn for the heat of your heart.

It is not that I can't find laughter outside of my world, it is that I lust to laugh with you.

It is not that I can't enjoy a meal alone, it is that I hunger to share life's flavors.

It is not that I don't shed a tear when alone, it is that I want for your arms around me, knowing it is much to much to ask, afraid to even think it aloud, am I even entitled to ask.

It is not that I can't succeed alone, it is the fact that to share with someone my dream in life being fulfilled, 
it is not the same alone.

It is the thought of a kiss, I never knew I would forget 
the feel of another's lips
upon mine.

It is this loneliness that is consuming me, wondering where you are you wondering if I even exist at all.

Upstart Crow...

My latest story in the Eugene Daily News... I am reaching out for my friends and asking for help for them.  Please help if you can.  Such a worthy cause! The owner, Eularee collects no money, yet she has some how kept this place going for 13 years!  Amazing she is. I had the utmost pleasure of meeting her.  I told her how lucky the children are to have her and Upstart Crow... She replied... It is I who is the lucky one....

Sandy Harris

Sandy Harris is a writer for Eugene Daily News. Currently a resident of Brownsville, Oregon. Sandy grew up on an island in the Alexander Archipelago in the southeastern region of Alaska. Her life's passions include writing, photography, and cedar carvings. Follow her on Blogspot (

Upstart Crow Studios is a non-profit youth performing arts organization. Teaching and inspiring hundred’s of children, in music, vocal, dance and acting, who may not have had an opportunity to learn and perform without them.
Upstart Crow Studios was founded in 2000 by Eularee Smith and her daughter Sarah Beth Byrum. They started the company out of frustration for the children who did not test high enough on the TAG system (Talented and Gifted (TAG) Education serves the purpose of providing instruction that challenges high-end learners and meets each students learning needs.  Resources and support materials for districts, schools, teachers, parents, and students are included) in their schools.
“Every child is gifted and talented. No child is turned away at our school of theatrical arts.  If they audition, they get a part regardless of talent, challenges or financial need.  We fit the child to their particular strength. In typical auditions, you try out, all but one is eliminated for a particular part. Our goal is placement, not elimination. We may need to get a little creative if we have 10 Cinderella’s, but we manage.” Smith smiles at the thought.
“Our students know they may need to be the strength for the next person”
Behind the name: A jealous critic of Shakespeare called him “an upstart crow, made beautiful with our feathers, believes he can bombast out a verse as the best of you.”  Crows are seen as ordinary black birds. Well, that’s who our kids are; everyday kids, ordinary, until they step out on a stage and prove to the world and to themselves, there is more to them than meets the eye.
Upstart Crow performs approximately 6 “full scale Broadway shows” per year.  Show’s that are performed on Broadway, are performed on stage at The Crow.  Show’s such as Annie, Legally Blond, Sweeney Todd, Aladdin, and Peter Pan to name a few. All of the performers are children, ages ranging from 5 years up to the age of 18. Upstart Crow is unique in this way, Broadway show’s have adults playing adult rolls and children in their age group. In it’s first year, Upstart Crow started with 10 children and now have approximately 300 students per year.
Eularee Smith founder of Upstart Crow
Eularee took me on a tour of their facility and it is quite evident her feelings for these children.  She pointed out to me pictures of children that are now adults, who have either graduated or will be graduating high school this year.  She has literally watched them become young adults. Summer of 2013, Upstart Crow will begin their first adult theatre.  This was decided after graduating students voices were heard. They didn’t know what they would do without The Crow, as it has been a part of their lives for so long.
In their early years, they were nomads, moving from facility to facility, temporarily finding places that they could call home. Upstart Crow found it’s permanent home 6 years ago in the Whitaker neighborhood.
“We found a home where we were needed the most.”
Making improvements to the building over the years, they are getting closer to their goal. There are however a few very much needed improvements remaining on the list. They are in need of a new stage floor.  The one they have now is functional, but to have a safer floor for the performers is vitalThe entrance to the theatre needs to have wheelchair access. The theatre is accessible from the front door; however attendees must go through class rooms in order to get to the theatre, this may pose a problem when a class is being held during a show.  A panic door is on the list of improvements.  They have a contractor in the wings donating his time to relocate and install a new door once it is purchased.
Upstart Crow’s current monitoring system
Lastly, they are in need of a monitor system. They are pretty much blind back stage as to what is happening on stage, limiting performers on their cues to enter the stage, communication, you name it. Their current monitoring system is a small television set, and a small camera mounted in the theater, capturing only a small part of the stage.
They have learned how to manage by trial and error, but it is quite obvious how they would benefit from a new system back stage. As Smith put it,
“the show must go on, but it would be much nicer of course to have a monitoring system in place.”
Upstart Crow is funded by student tuition, private donations, and grants, however the grants are quite small as the organizations give more money to the larger companies. They also rent out their studio and theatre space, whether it is a one time rental or an on-going event.  All That Dance is one company that rents space from Upstart Crow. 
Scholarships are available (which many children are on) as well as a sliding fee scale for children or families who can’t afford the tuition. No child is turned away. As you walk through the studio, you will see signs posted, reminding people to turn the lights off when leaving a room to conserve energy and costs.
“it is hard keeping the lights on at times, but we manage” Smith states.
A few students wanted to share their experience with Upstart Crow:
“I only graduated last year and have been with the theatre for over six years.  There’s so much I could say about the Crow, they’re more than a theatre for me.  Upstart has been a community of support, a family, a home.
They’re the nicest people you will ever meet and they give you so much more than an opportunity;they give you a place you belongThe studio will literally do anything they can to help someone succeed, and I hope that everyone will take this chance to help them fulfill their dream too.” – Holly Flora
“Theatre at Upstart Crow is fun and rewarding. It helped me realize my passion for the stage.”        – Aidan Ziegler-Hansen
“I started at Upstart Crow when I was 7 years old and they have taught a lot about how to be a better actor, singer, dancer, and person.  They opened my eyes to the passion that I had for acting. They gave me the opportunity to be in my first play, Aladdin, as a second grader.  Over the past 8 years I’ve become a confident actor and person because of what I’ve learned from them.” – Conner Criswell
It is evident the impact Upstart Crow has made on the lives of these children.
Artwork done by artist from the Restorative Justice program – working to keep juvenile offenders out of jail.
You will see artwork on the wall’s, painted by an artist from the Restorative Justice Program.  There is so much talent out there that goes un-recognized, because these children don’t “fit in”, whether it is social, economical or grade point averages. Upstart Crow is changing that. 
“Every child’s voice is heard when they walk into the crow” Smith stated.
The next performance at The Crow is The Elves and The Shoemaker showing December1st – 2nd and 8th – 9th.
Upstart Crow needs our help.  They need to raise $6,500.00 in order to get that stage floor, the panic door and monitoring system for these children. They must reach their goal by November 22nd, otherwise no money changes hands.
Kick starter is a funding platform for creative projects. Launched in 2009, it is an all-or-nothing donation platform.  If the goal is met, or exceeds the goal, then all credit cards are charged and a check is issued to Upstart Crow.  Donations can be made at
For more information please feel free to email or call Eularee Smith at 541-688-8260. Visit their website at 
Upstart Crow Studios is located at 855 W 1st. Avenue Eugene, Oregon.