Steps of Faith… Wynonna and Cactus at The Standard…

Sometimes we think we know what the cards hold for us.
We lay them out, take a good hard look, and play the hand we’re dealt.
Sometimes we get stuck, but we muddle on through, hoping for a win.
And yet, no matter how we play the game, sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose.
It’s not the stumbling, and the giving up that matters most.
It’s the getting back up….
We step back, look at things from a whole new angle, and try again…
We take that first “Step of Faith.”

Some people see entertainers at a live music show, or on TV, and think “They’ve got it made.”
But just like everyone else, these well-known people have their share of ups and downs, too.
Some hide their struggle well, while others talk openly about them.
We think we know them by their appearance.
And sometimes we’re proven wrong….

At the invitation of Marbie Baugh, last Friday night she and I were members of a small, intimate crowd who gathered in the ballroom at The Standard at The Smith House in downtown Nashville to see how two people have struggled, and have overcome…

The Standard Ballroom Nashville - 2 rev

If you follow country music, then you’ve likely heard the story of Wynonna and Cactus –
the husband/wife team who travels the country, performing some of the old Judds standards, and some newer songs.
And you’ve likely heard the story of the accident that changed them forever…

I’d not been to The Standard, so I was looking forward to the show, on many levels…
A dark, quiet upscale room in Nashville, the ambience was just right for a very personal show.
And though I’ve seen Wynonna and Cactus perform before, in various rooms, somehow, once again, in a very different way, they stole my heart.

This night was a fundraiser for the Steps of Faith Foundation, a non-profit organization whose goal is “moving amputees forward.”
Executive Director, Billy Brimblecom Jr. started the night out with a heartfelt talk about his journey.
You can read his story, and more about the foundation here.
a - Billy Brimblecom Exec Dir Steps of Faith

Billy Brimblecom, Jr., Executive Director of Steps of Faith Foundation shares his story

I knew basically what the fundraiser was for, and as I listened to Billy explaining about the evening, something across the room got my attention. When I turned to look, there was Cactus, standing tall in the crowd, listening intently to Billy. If one didn’t know that Cactus had lost a leg, it would be hard to know just looking at him…

b - Cactus standing tall at Steps of Faith event

When Wynonna and Cactus took the stage, the energy in the room was tender, and genuine, and heartwarming…

Though she’s used to playing sold out theaters, arenas, and various other venues, Wynonna seemed to be very much at ease with the small crowd. The music was extraordinary in this setting, and Justin Weaver’s gentle guitar provided just the right ambience when Wynonna talked to the audience. Speaking from the heart, she said “People look at us and they think we have it all.” In a very humble tone, far removed from celebrity, she talked about the costs involved in recovery and the world of prostheses.

c - Wy belting it at Steps of Faith eventWynonna belting it out at Steps of Faith Foundation fundraiser

Talking openly to the crowd about what it meant for her and Cactus to be there to help this foundation raise money, her sincerity filled the room. Those who know the story know that Cactus lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident in South Dakota. While the focus after the accident was on Cactus, we often overlook the caregivers. It’s hard to imagine what Wynonna went through. In fact, I can’t begin to imagine it…

Cactus was told he’d never play drums again, but within three months, he proved them wrong. With grit, determination, and the help of his loved ones, he fought his way back.

And here they both were,  a year and a half after their lives were altered forever, closer than ever.
Their love for each other was palpable…

d - Wy, Cactus looking at each other
Wynonna and Cactus at The Standard

Toward the end of the evening, Cactus shared more about the foundation. And I was stunned to learn that the money raised will not go toward the cost of the prosthetics. Money isn’t needed for them, because they’re all donated! What the money does go toward is the myriad ways that the amputees will need support for the rest of their lives.

f - Cactus talking about Steps of FaithEngraved on his left leg – “BELIEVE”

I am more profoundly amazed at the courage and resolve that amputees must have to put one foot in front of the other, and take those first steps. Our Wounded Warriors certainly deserve this kind of help, and there are so many others, like Cactus, whose lives were forever changed by an accident, who would benefit from the services that this foundation provides.

As the night was drawing to a close, Cactus jumped up and joined Wynonna front and center.  Looming large beside her, he leaned over, rolled his pant leg up, and flashed a smile that lit up the room. He didn’t say much, but I thought about how absolutely blessed we are that he is still here with us, still making music, still touching people’s lives. And in that moment I heard this song running through my head…

“Love is alive and it’s made a happy woman out of me… Love is alive, and here by me…”
e - Wy and Cactus standing on stage Steps of Faith





©2014 Sunny Stephens /
The photo of The Standard was graciously borrowed from their facebook page.



Can we set REALISTIC goals?

I hit the wall with the first game of solitaire this morning with a big score of 75! There were “no useful moves detected”, so I started another game.

And I hit the wall again.  But even with scores of 165, 110, 230, and 195, I wasn’t upset that I was losing. I was just in the flow…


And then I won a game, with a score of 695. My personal best high score is 740. I used to keep trying to beat that score, but I’m at a point in my life where high scores are less important. Playing a good, solid game means more. Strategies, good card placement, staying in the rhythm of the game – these are uppermost in my mind right now.

I lost the next game with a 55, and the next one at 125. I needed to wrap up, and get on with my day, so I told myself “I’ll play till I win one more.”

Ironically, I won the next game with a 705. Typically I hit the “auto complete”, but this time I hit “manual completion,” to have that feeling of being in control of the final outcome. But wouldn’t the outcome be the same, regardless of HOW I got there?

Setting goals. We all do it at different times in our lives. And when we don’t attain our goals, we feel like a failure. And when big corporations set financial goals, unrealistic goals, and they don’t meet them, it often results in bankruptcy, or closing down altogether…

I worked for a company that had a pretty set standard for weekly goals. And I didn’t know of ONE person who actually met that goal. I watched as the people in the company felt more defeated by the day, knowing that by the end of the week, they’d fall short of that goal. I wondered why they didn’t set a more realistic goal, so that when they met it, they would thrive on the excitement, and accomplish more. I do that in my own life, and it seems to work…

I’m not saying that setting your goals real low is always a good thing. I’m saying that REALISTIC goals can often get you where you need to go. I’ve done it, and I’m thriving on the excitement, daily…


Chris Angell is an author, coach and consultant. I attended one of his business planning seminars a year or so ago, and I really connected with him, and his thought processes. He stood in front of this group and said the very thing that I was thinking – if the goals you’re setting now aren’t attainable, set a more realistic goal. Sitting in the back of the room, I could see the attendees breathing easier. They all nodded in agreement. They got it.  And I bet that the next weeks and months were more productive for those who attended that day…

Be realistic. It’s really that simple. And it works.

What are your goals for today, this week, this month?

And what are you doing to move toward them?






Time and space…

Have you ever been so tired when you went to bed that when you set the alarm clock, you didn’t realize that you had accidentally hit the “time” button at some point in the process, setting the actual time ahead by half an hour?

When I woke up this morning, I though I had overslept… until I realized that the clock was wrong. Looking at the trusty cell phone to find out the real time, it felt like I’d gotten a bonus, with an extra half hour on my side. That’s an interesting way to start the day…

Feeling  bit out of sorts, due to the time snafu, I sat down to my coffee and solitaire.

Have you ever played so fast, that the games seem to run into each other? My mind was racing, trying to plan my day, and I remembered a play from the last game, only to realize that it wasn’t a play I could make in the current game. Time and space seemed to be running into each other, so I had to slow down, and play with intention.

How do we slow down our minds, so we can focus on the here and now? A few deep breaths, closed eyes, and a determination to pay attention…

The next few games flowed easily, with a low score of 35 and a high score of 730. I was so focused that I saw the symmetry in one game. Across the board were the following lead cards:
K / 10 / K / 8 / K / 10 / K

An interesting layout, that eventually led to a winning game.

When we slow down and focus, we can often see things we might not have noticed before. And sometimes those things can reset the course of the day.

What’s in your cards today?




Life is like a game of solitaire…

I decided to launch this blog, today, on February 17, 2014.

Why this? Why now? And why me?
The better question is – Why not?

As long as I can remember, I’ve written poetry. My first toy must have been an ink pen, because I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write.

Through the years I’ve even dabbled in songwriting, and had several of my songs recorded by several different artists.

I’ve spent my life behind the scenes, supporting others in various capacities, in the music business, in the corporate world as office manager, as virtual assistant for some in myriad businesses, and as hospice caregiver. I have enjoyed helping others, and still do.

My personal goal for 2014 was to get my thoughts out there to the universe, for the world to see. And with a little gentle prodding from a longtime friend and colleague, I picked a date, and I started gathering my thoughts for this blog.

Ironically, I had already been writing for weeks before that. This year I had also promised myself more time for me, especially in the mornings. I’ve always loved the game of solitaire, and with a warm cup of coffee in hand, I try to start every day with several games. It clears my head, and frees up the thoughts and ideas to come floating out. And those are what will be posted in this blog.

Join me on this journey, as I contemplate life’s questions, musings, and wonders…


Today I slept late, allowing myself the rest I needed. We often don’t think WE deserve to take life a little slower, to catch our breath. But sometimes we just need to push the “reset” button. With a smooth cup of coffee in hand, I started to play…

Sitting in the quiet, behind closed blinds, the first game of solitaire was uneventful, with only an average score. Sometimes the score isn’t as important as playing the game, and today’s no different.

As I play, I can think of something, or nothing at all, and ideas, solutions, and new perspectives come to me. Today I’m thinking of how many times I opened the solitaire app in the morning, and seeing that I had left off in the middle of a game, somehow my first reaction is to clear that game and start a new one.

Giving up on a game isn’t failure, Sometimes it’s more important to make the best use of our time, and to move forward instead of getting stuck in the past. Maybe we don’t need to get caught up in the rhythm of the last game, but we need to start fresh and set a new pace. We can start anew every day…

I play in the dark, before I open the blinds to let the world in. The world waits as I do something for me, as I take care of myself. And there’s nothing selfish about that.

No matter our place in life, we can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves first. We need rest, and nourishment for our bodies, but we also need to feed our souls, so that we can go out and fulfill our purpose on this planet.

What’s your purpose?

And how do you feed your soul?