“We didn’t start the fire It was always burning Since the world’s been turning We didn’t start the fire No we didn’t light it But we tried to fight it’ – Billy Joel


Yesterday this memory popped up in my Facebook memories. I’ve seen it everyday for the last eight years. The first few I remember thinking how lucky I was. Duane was okay. The next few I was angry. Angry at the City of Reno for laying off so many firefighters, angry that their “guys” were forced to work 18 straight hours in some cases, waiting from relief from California and surrounding areas. I’m tearing up as I write this. Tearing up that so many lives have been altered and lost because the city balanced their budget on the backs of the firefighters.

There were the initial incidents. Over 10 million dollars in damage, 43 homes destroyed or damaged, two fire fighters injured, multiple others treated for smoke inhalation, flying debris, foreign objects in their eyes and one citizen had a fatal heart attack while being evacuated. It was a horrible “incident” for the area. 

I remember this day, it’s etched in my memory. I knew right away I would never forget but I could never have imagined the impact that this fire would have not only on Duane and I’s life but on so many others. 

We had moved to back to California a few months prior. Reno was going down the toilet and Duane needed a place where he could go and relax and not be stressed out. As a captain at the busiest station he was not sleeping. He would come home exhausted and and stressed. He was so angry with the city council and couldn’t believe his friends were getting laid off. He KNEW there would be major incident soon. 

Back to my story … 

We had spoken the night before and said goodnight. On the morning of November 18, on my way to work, I called him, he didn’t answer. Not common but not anything to get worried about. As I got closer to work I tried again – nothing. I walked in to the restaurant and immediately froze. All the news stations were covering a major fire in Reno that had started in the middle of the night. I ran to the TV turning it up so I could hear everything that was going on. There were some retired SF firemen sitting at the bar, yes already, and they just looked at me and said this isn’t good. They convinced me to stop trying to get a hold of him. He was dealing with enough and didn’t need to be worried about me, worried about him. His mom called seeing if I had heard anything – she hadn’t either. 

The fire was bad. The news just kept showing the footage, the devastation. Sacramento and San Francisco had been been called in to help. I mean, Reno didn’t have enough fire fighters – they were at the staffing levels from the 1970s. 

I spent the day scared and worried, constantly checking my phone. I received a text from him, saying he was ok, still on the fire and would call as soon as he could. I foolishly felt relief. 

When we finally spoke he told me that his relief came in from San Francisco. He had been on the Caughlin fire for over 18 hours. It said it was bad. They lost a lost of homes and cars. It was devastating. He was so upset that they hadn’t been able to save more, to do more. 

When he came home he even more angry, so many people had lost everything. The wind was bad that night, there wasn’t defensible space between all the homes and nature and they were understaffed. They did the best they could. He couldn’t get over the fact that part of this horrific “incident” was the city’s fault. 

We moved on. There was another major fire two months later. This time 29 homes were destroyed and there was over 5 million dollars in damage. Duane couldn’t believe how bad this was getting. It was so sad to watch him emotionally suffer over the horrible loss that all these people were dealing with. 

Fast forward a year … the twitching had started. The toxin levels in his blood were through the roof, lung capacity was lower and his life was ending. 

Can we say for sure that the Caughlin Fire was the “incident” that cause Duane’s ALS? No. But should we look at that as a possibility? Yes. Should we take a poll on all the fire fighters that were on those two fires and see what their neurological status is now? Yes. Should we poll all those same firefighters and see what their lung capacity is now? Yes. Should we dive deep into the records and see how many firefighters experienced life changing symptoms after these two fires? Yes. Should new see how many of them had to take an early retirement due to their declining health. Should we see how many of those health factors are proven to associated with inhaling toxins and smoke on fires? Yes. Do we need to do a better job protecting our first responders? Yes. 

I believe, as did Duane, that November 18th was the day his life changed forever. Please next time you get asked to vote to increase your taxes for fire departments think of Duane and the many, many other first responders who have given their lives to save yours.

– xoxo Victoria

“I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use the tools and gifts we’ve got yeah we got a lot at stake…I won’t give up…” – MRAZ JASON THOMAS / NATTER MICHAEL LEE


For the last few years I feel like I’ve been forcing things to happen. Forcing myself to make decisions and making moves to try and create a new life for myself. 

I’ve been forcing things to happen and doing things I don’t LOVE because I thought “I needed” too. I’ve put all this pressure on my self to recreate myself and give my life meaning. To show that the time I spent time away from working and caring for Duane wasn’t wasted, that I have something to “show” for it. 

I’ve been searching and settling and grasping at straws trying to figure out my new life. Worried that when people see me jumping from one thing to another – they will judge and be disappointed. Worried that people wanted to see me ok so bad that I settled into things, jobs, activities, that I don’t love or even like. 

I have felt the need to prove that I have my shit together – it’s been 2 years I should, right? I mean I’m 40 – I should, right. 

I have no idea what I want to do – I know I’m not happy at the hospital right now. I’m not happy doing daily care but at this point it gives me the resources to explore other options. 

I guess I worry about people judging and thinking less of me because I haven’t rejoined their “society” yet.  But today I stopped worrying. When have I ever conformed to what society said I should be or do? I mean the realist job I’ve ever had was jumping off a pirate ship, in Las Vegas, in a bikini 4 times a night. It provided me a salary, medical insurance, retirement … It was, by societies standards “a real job”. hahahahaha 

I have freelanced my way through life and I have had an amazing life. I’ve done so much and have been so happy.

I remember Duane always telling me to settle into something BUT in the end that was the last thing he wanted for me. He loved me and my crazy ideas and constant change and movement. 

It’s okay for me to do a lot of things – it’s who I am. 

So if you need a … Beautycounter Consultant, Virtual Caregiver, a Juicer, Meal Prepper, Event Planner, Talent Agent, Travel Agent, Bartender, Boat Captain, Pilates Instructor, Personal Concierge, Clown (yes, I went to clown college), Scuba Diver, Reality Show Contestant, WWE wanna-be, Showgirl, Bass Fisher Person, Stunt Woman …. I’m your girl!

– xoxo Victoria

P.S. My face in this picture – hahahahahahhahahahaha


“And he’s gonna marry me His momma don’t like me one little bit But you know I don’t care Let her pitch her hissy-fit ‘Cause I ain’t a’marryin’ her He’s always been a momma’s boy It’s just plain jealousy She’s as mad as an old red hen ‘Cause he’s gonna marry me” – Dolly Parton

Four years ago we got engaged. We were sitting on the back of the boat, drinking wine and watching the Sea World fireworks. We had spent the day ocean fishing and hanging out with family and friends. I was happy and content.

Duane: Go get the box from under the tv in the bedroom. (We kept extra cards and cash in a little box under the TV and every once in awhile he liked to “check” it).

Me: Why – I can tell you everything that’s in it.

Duane: Just get it.

Me: Put my wine down and go into the room and grab 2 boxes from under the TV. Not thinking anything. I sit down and throw them in his lap. (Knowing full well he can’t open them, because his hands and arms no longer work! hahahahahaha)

Duane: Who’s money is it?

Me: What?

Duane: Who’s money is it?

Me: I don’t know. I mean I bought a bunch of stuff from Amazon on my credit card. I used your credit card to pay off mine, but I paid the shipping (cause it’s free!!).


Duane: So it’s our money?

Me: hahahahhaha Ya

Duane: Well then I need to tell you I just spent a lot of OUR money today.

Me: What did you buy? Another boat? I can’t manage another boat? I seriously can’t fix anything else. You don’t understand, I don’t even know what I’m fixing now. What did you buy?

Duane Shut up. Open the box…. The other one.

Duane: Will you marry me?

Me: hahahahahahhahahahha What? Are you joking? What is this?

Duane: I love you and I should have done this a long time ago. Will you marry me?

Me: hahahahhahahhahaha Yes!

I remember it like it was yesterday but it feels like millions of years ago.

We were only married 578 days. But everyday I am so grateful he finally asked and we said I Do!

– xoxo Victoria

Obviously Buddy was happy!!!

“Stars fading but I linger on dear Still craving your kiss I’m longing to linger till dawn dear Just saying this Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you But in your dreams whatever they be Dream a little dream of me” – Fabian Andre / Gus Kahn / Wilbur Schwandt

I never dream about Duane. NEVER. In the two years since he passed I can count on one hand how many times I have had a dream with him in it. Sometimes I have begged for them but nothing.

Last night, well this morning, I had two.

The first one was when Duane was sick. He was well into his progression and he was so angry at me for everything. He was yelling and crying and so mad he couldn’t use his hands and he couldn’t do anything. It was like a flashback. It was heartbreaking. I woke up with tears streaming down my face.

The second one I had in-between alarm snoozes. This one had me reaching for him when I woke up. It was so so real. This one had me truly believing he was alive and we were on vacation. In my dream we are laughing and looking at instagram pictures (I don’t think he even knew what instagram was hahahahahaha). We were making fun of each other and trying to figure out if we were going to eat or go to the beach first. I remember the sun being up and the room being full of light and laughter. It was amazing.

Then I woke up. For the first time in a long time I was disappointed. I was so confused about where I was and why I was alone. I had to remember that he’s gone.

So now I’ll get up walk Buddy and shower for work, thankful for the sweet dream and sad that it was only a dream.

– xoxo Victoria

“Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing” – Unknown


This day. This day three years ago was my breaking point. It was the day I just surrendered to ALS. Surrendered to the disease and the CTE we didn’t know he had. Surrendered to his need to control and be in charge. Surrendered.

We were living in Del Mar, CA, one of the most beautiful places in the country. If you looked to the right from our front gate you could see the ocean. We were so lucky. But on this day, life totally sucked.

The weather had been so nice the last few days. All Duane wanted to do was go to the boat and head out to ocean fish. We had spent the day before at the boat cleaning “relaxing” and prepping for our next trip.  But we had a hospice appointment this day, an appointment we had put off for over a week. We needed meds and to be reevaluated. We couldn’t put this appointment off any longer. 

The morning was so nice – I kept suggesting to go outside, go to the beach or lunch or just sit on the patio. He refused. He was being a jerk, on purpose. He wanted to go to Mexico and fish and I said no. He wasn’t used to me saying no. I dragged, pulled and threw him into the boat way beyond the time it was safe to do so. I drove us 40 miles out, put out lines and trolled for days. It was hard work. Running up and down stairs all day, caring for him, the lines, the fish and driving the boat. But, I always said yes – that’s what you do when someone is dying and they want to go fishing.  

So he was pouting and making the day so much harder than it needed to be. Making up reasons to stay inside. Making up things that “needed” to be done. Needing to pee, poop, eat, try to poop again. Move to the couch, the bed, the bathroom. Any time I grabbed a book to go and read he called me in, within 1 minute, to attend to some new imagery issue. (Even Buddy was getting frustrated). 

The weather turned late in the afternoon (thank god we didn’t go out fishing), it started raining. He wanted to sit outside. I said no, it was raining. He insisted. I transferred him to his wheelchair, with no help from him, wheeled him around the house and out front, and transferred him to his patio chair. 

I went back inside, he called me out. Saying that he was trying to make me happy by sitting outside. Saying that he did what I wanted. He was being so difficult. I went inside. He sat outside in the sprinkling rain until our nurse go to us. He told the nurse that I put him out there and left him in the rain alone, that he had been begging for me to bring to bring him in. 

Luckily the nurse had seen this behavior from him before and knew what he was doing. He “told” me to help him get back inside so we could have our appointment. The rest of the day was fine. Duane acted like the morning had never happened. 

– xoxo Victoria


“Life ain’t always beautiful Sometimes it’s just plain hard Life can knock you down It can break your heart … No, life ain’t always beautiful But I know I’ll be fine Life ain’t always beautiful But it’s a beautiful ride.” – Tommy Lee James / Cynthia Evelyn Thomson


My sister and her husband are away for their anniversary (YEA!!! CONGRATS!!!), so my niece and nephew are staying with my parents. I hung out with my niece for a few hours today and then went to my parents house to eat dinner with them all. 

As I sat on the couch watching tv I felt my anxiety rising. Similar to how I sometimes feel at my sister’s house (or anyone’s house really). It is SO loud. Everything is so loud. Loud talking, loud laughing, loud tv, loud chewing and really loud walking … I mean stomping. So much stomping.

Every time I am at someones else I think – why are they stomping so much? Why can’t they just walk quietly? Take your shoes off, they are. Put socks on, they are. There is nothing that quiets the stomping. The loud, pounding stomps throughout the house. 

Tonight I realized I have not lived in a home with some else that walked in 5+ years, it has been 5 years since I lived with someone that “stomped”, 5 YEARS?!?!?!?! How is that possible? 

The truth is they aren’t stomping. They aren’t loud. They aren’t talking, laughing, chewing or playing loud. I am just used to the quiet. I have lived so long in the quiet, in the silence.

It makes me sad. I used to love the laughing and noise. I loved being around people and having people around me and now … now it gives me anxiety and makes me uncomfortable. It shouldn’t be that way. 

For a long time I’ve had anxiety at people’s homes, when lots of people are at my home  and around large groups of people and now I realize why. I haven’t had that in so long. And that silence, although deafening and heartbreaking, is my normal. 

Knowing is half the battle – isn’t that what “they” say. 

Wish me luck at family dinner the next two nights! hahahaha

– xoxo Victoria

P.S. I am grateful to spend time with my family and anyone that invites me over, I’m just sharing something that I realized tonight!

“Choose to focus your time, energy and conversation around people who inspire you, support you and help you to grow you into your happiest, strongest, wisest self. ” – Karen Salmansohn


Today I finished Reiki Level 1. I received my first 4 attunements and am able to practice on myself, other people and animals. Next month I will hopefully take level 2, and will be able to practice in the hospital. 

Reiki is channeling energy. You have 7 chakras and reiki works to move energy through them. (That’s the basic basic).

We spent the class getting our attunements and practicing. I was paired with our instructor – I feel incredibly fortunate about that. She performed reiki on me and was able to enlighten me on so much. After multiple sessions and clearings she told me that my throat and heart chakras were blocked. Along with my solar plexus chakra a little. This translates to I have a lot of information to share and stuff to say but I am holding back. I just giggled.

She (the energy) was right, I have been holding back. I have so much I want to share and talk about (on both blogs) but I have been holding back. Afraid of what people will say or think about me. But you know what – that’s none of my business. What other think about me is none of my business. I believe and feel the way I do.  I and the information will find the right path and people.

I am so excited to started really sharing with you all. 

– xoxo Victoria

P.S. If you want a reiki experience let me know! 

“She says, yeah, he’s still coming, just a little bit late He got stuck at the laundromat washing his cape … She’s waiting for Superman To lift her up and take her anywhere Show her love and climbing through the air Save her now, before it’s too late tonight Oh like the speed of light And she smiles” – Martin Johnson

Today I bought paint. A 5 gallon bucket weighs way more than I thought it would. But I got it from the store, into the car and into my house. I stood in the store and sent 15 pictures of paint swatches to my dad in Mexico so he could help me decide what colors to pick. I know – lame. 

I’ve never bought paint before. When I told Duane I wanted my bathroom painted, I came home form a work trip and I had a new bathroom. I wanted a pink bedroom and lime green living room in my tiny Vegas rental, Duane did it. New kitchen cabinets, closet organizers, built in dog door, a motor on my pontoon … Duane did it. 

He did all of it. Before him, my dad did. Now I do, with A LOT of help from my dad. HAHAHAHAHA 

People ask me why I’m single or what I’m looking for… 

He needs to be very handy – I am NOT going to be the handiest one in the relationship. the other day I was called “one of those girls” because I can fix my own stuff. I don’t want to be “one of those girls”, but I am proud that I am. Proud that I was taught how to do things and take care of things on my own. Proud I don’t have to call someone when something breaks. He also cannot be a fireman or military member that served in the middle east (60% higher chance of getting ALS), no family history of ALS – or any terminal illness, has a job, no crazy mom, no shrinks in the family, must know how to tow a boat, do household maintenance, likes fishing and camping, makes me happy and loves dogs. 

I’m picky, I know, but I’m allowed to be. I’m lonely but not willing to settle. I’d rather be alone than unhappy. 

I’m waiting for Superman. 

– xoxo Victoria

“But somehow I can’t shake, The feeling I might make, A difference, To the human race.” – Avenue Q

From flip flops to compression socks, filleting fish to taking vitals, how has my life changed this much? I never imagined a life where I wouldn’t be on a boat, on the water catching fish and drinking beer. I never imagined buying compression socks, wearing crocs or taking blood pressures, and yet here I am! HAHAHAHA. 

This new life has its perks, health insurance, 401K, a paycheck. But it lacks freedom, afternoon naps and I’m stuck inside for 12 hours a day … and Buddy hates it! 

I had a funny blog planned for tonight comparing my past to my present and where I’m going, but my heart isn’t in it tonight. I received a message tonight from a friend. She told me her friend’s boyfriend was diagnosed with ALS and asked if it would it be ok if she reached out to me. YES!!  Absolutely!!  As it turns out I know him, or knew him many years ago – we spent a fun filled summer working alongside each other at the waterslides  He has an aggressive progressing ALS. An ALS similar to Duane’s. My heart is broken for them. For him, for his family and his friends. 

ALS is a monster. An unrelenting, non-discriminating horrible monster. People are diagnosed everyday. People die everyday. And yet so little is still know about it. 

I have no real words tonight. I hate ALS.

Hug your people. Love your people. 

– xoxo Victoria

“Here’s to whatever puts a smile on your face Whatever makes you happy” – Brandy Lynn Clark / Lori McKenna

Disclaimer  – This is a post I wrote for my other blog, but I thought I should share it here as well, sorry if you’re seeing it twice. 


(That’s me and my dad wearing matching our beer belts at the Reno Rib Cook-Off)

Tonight I was sitting in the lobby at hot yoga, chatting with the instructor, waiting for class to start. During a lull in the conversation a guy, in his mid 30’s (I’m guessing) looked at her and said, “What do you do for a living? This can’t be it”. Those of you who know me, know what my face looked like when I heard this. My head snapped around so fast I’ll be massaging out the whiplash for a week. She looked down and started talking and explaining that she was a substitute teacher as well as a yoga instructor. As she stammered her words and explained her choices, he lost interest and turned away. 

This bothered me more than I can explain, I have been on the receiving end of this question for the last 20 years. I thought about it all through class and when class ended, after a few minutes in shavasana, I grabbed my mat and beelined out of there. 

I found her, I looked at her and said, “That guy earlier” she immediately looked down and said, “I know, I just …”. I grabbed her hand and said “You can do what ever you want. I doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says.” I went on to tell her something my dad had said to me many, many years ago when I dropped out of college and walked away from a swimming scholarship. He had to come pick me up and bring me home. “As long as you can put a roof over your head and food on your table it doesn’t matter what you do, AS LONG AS YOU ARE HAPPY! I have always lived that way. I have had an amazing life and I have been so lucky. I have done what I wanted and I love my life.”

Yes, there have been hard times and heartache but I have had and do have the most wonderful life. I’ve been stuntwoman in live shows and movies, been a model in print ads and commercials, had a juicing business and a talent agency. I’ve been a bartender, a caregiver, a server and a stay at home dog mom. I am currently a NA in a hospital and I have no idea what will be next. As long as I’m happy who cares. No one else has to wake up to my life everyday. No one else pays my bills, cooks my food or is responsible for my happiness. 

In the last few years my dad’s advice has taken on a new meaning for me. It means more now. After watching Duane, and so many others, get sick and pass away I realize that life is short. You never know when your time will be up. You owe it to yourself to be happy and live the best life you can. It’s not about having a huge house, or money or stuff – you can’t take that with you. Be happy, enjoy everyday you can, because you never know when it will be the last one.

– xoxo Victoria

“But it’s all an adventure That comes with a breathtaking view”  – Benj Pasek / Justin Paul