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The Best Day of the Week

One of the reasons I love my job is that I am blessed to be able to meet extraordinary people, and tell their stories. Luis Carlos Montalvan is one of those people. He is a decorated 17 year veteran, who has written a book entitled Until Tuesday. It is about his experiences during two tours in Iraq, but he also shares the story of a dog who he says has saved his life.

The dog’s name is Tuesday. The four year old has trained since birth for the job of K9 Service Dog. He, like hundreds of other dogs are helping veterans like Montalvan heal from the physical and psychological scars of war. It’s an intimate relationship that bonds warrior with man’s best friend.

Statistics show that nearly 18 veterans commit suicide daily here in the states. Many of them suffer from what’s called PTSD-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and many are afraid to seek help. Montalvan tells me he encourages fellow veterans to “Be brave at home like you were taught to be brave in war, and seek the help you need.”

Another man who is making a big mark on not only this issue, but many others is filmmaker and philanthropist Charlie Annenberg Weingarten. Explore.org is Annenberg’s outlet to the world. The website includes videos, pictures, and information that educates and inspires. When you meet Annenberg, you get the sense this guy has his pulse on the world. His true love though is Lucky, his 14 year old Golden Retriever, a dog that has traveled to nearly every corner of the country with him. The two have visited schools, the elderly, the aftermath of Katrina, and even death row.

Annenberg created www.dogblessyou.org and tells me the response has been overwhelming. War veterans and those currently serving are sending in pictures of themselves with dogs at home and at war.

I was honored to interview both men whom I believe have a message that is incredibly powerful, and an intention that is simple and pure.
WATCH MY STORY HERE

 

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Makes Me Very Sad

This week, I received a call from a group entitled Animal Defenders International. Within 48 hours I would be covering a story about alleged elephant abuse.

As an animal advocate myself, I feel like I am pretty educated on animal issues, but this story was an eye-opener for me. As I logged each frame of the video, I was pained. It was so difficult to watch and re-watch the images, but I knew I had to tell this story.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE STORY

No matter the outcome, or the allegations, or the statements, elephants were hit. Baby elephants were hit for no apparent reason.

Animal Defenders International says the practices are not illegal, and will likely never stop unless there is a public outcry, or the media steps up to share the stories. For more information, and to get educated on the facts visit Animal Defenders International

This is a bull hook. It's similar to what's being used in the video.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Journalist, opinion, Uncategorized

 

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A Moment

I love moments that take my breath away, and lucky for me, one of those moments happened this week at an event in Los Angeles. It’s no secret that I often attend events here in the city that honor many extraordinary men and women. I have met Presidents, tons of celebrities, and other fascinating people. This time it was different.

While attending the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s National Tribute Dinner, which honored actor Tom Cruise, I was introduced to a man named Luis Alberto Urzua Iribarren. You may not know the name, but you surely know his heroic story. Urzua was one of 33 Chilean miners trapped inside a cave below the surface of the earth for 69 days back in the summer of 2010. When the mine ceiling collapsed, the miners were believed dead, but after 17 days a note that was brought up through a drilled hole notified rescuers that all of the miners were alive.

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera holds the letter from the trapped miners.

During the first 17 days, Urzua, the 54-year-old shift supervisor rationed food, giving one spoonful of tuna to each of the miners every 48 hours. Once the rescue effort began, Urzua was also the man who volunteered to stay behind until all his men were safe. The father of four would wait and watch as each of the men were pulled to higher ground. Imagine what each of these men must have gone through physically and mentally. Imagine how grateful they must be every single day to be alive.

I was only able to spend a few minutes with Urzua, who doesn’t speak English well, but because I have been studying Spanish, I was able to get a few nods and a smile from him. It was such a moment for me! I could tell this man, while tenacious, also has a kind and happy soul. Even though we couldn’t communicate verbally very well, I could feel his good energy just being next to him.

With Luis just after he made his speech

In October of 2010, I reported the rescue on television as it happened live. While in the newsroom, my colleagues and I watched with bated breath, as did millions around the world. One by one the men were pulled to safety. One by one, we sighed a bit of relief for them. I still consider those historic moments, and our coverage as one of my most memorable as a journalist.

Miners underground


Just after the rescue

So as many extraordinary people were being honored that night, including Tom Cruise, I found myself enthralled with Urzua’s message of strength and calmness. When he was introduced on stage, I couldn’t resist, and was the first out of my seat to stand. What an honor! During Urzua’s speech, he praised his fellow miners, and pointed to God as the 34th miner. Amazing!

I am grateful that I was able to meet Urzua, and will always use the experience to remind myself that no matter our hardships and struggles, we always deal better with calmness, strength, and knowledge that we WILL eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel.

WATCH THE FINAL RESCUE HERE

Order of miners rescued:

1. Florencio Ávalos, 31,
2. Mario Sepúlveda, 39,
3. Juan Illanes, 52,
4. Carlos Mamani, 23,
5. Jimmy Sánchez, 19,
6. Osmán Araya, 30,
7. José Ojeda, 46,
8. Claudio Yáñez, 34,
9. Mario Gómez, 63,
10. Álex Vega, 31,
11. Jorge Galleguillos, 56,
12. Edison Peña, 34,
13. Carlos Barrios, 27,
14. Víctor Zamora, 33,
15. Víctor Segovia, 48,
16. Daniel Herrera, 37,
17. Omar Reygada, 56,
18. Esteban Rojas, 44,
19. Pablo Rojas, 45,
20. Darío Segovia, 48,
21. Yonni Barrios, 50,
22. Samuel Ávalos, 43,
23. Carlos Bugueño, 27,
24. José Henríquez, 54,
25. Renán Ávalos, 29,
26. Claudio Acuña, 44,
27. Franklin Lobos, 53,
28. Richard Villarroel, 23,
29. Juan Aguilar, 46,
30. Raúl Bustos, 40,
31. Pedro Cortez, 24,
32. Ariel Ticona, 29,
33. Luis Urzúa Iribarren, 54.

 

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Please help spread the news!!!

I ran across this video about a week ago, and haven’t been able to get the images out of my head.  It has affected me beyond words.  I hope you get a moment to look at it.  A warning, it’s difficult to watch.  I wanted to turn it off, and did several times, but I made myself watch it so I can remember.

Click here to watch video

More on www.huffingtonpost.com

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2010 in Journalist, opinion

 

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Looking for a Gift Idea?

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Every great face deserves a great picture, even if you’re a dog. It’s the philosophy of Los Angeles based photographer Frank Bruynbroek (pronounced brin-brook) who has photographed hundreds of homeless and rescued dogs. His portraits are often haunting, some funny, while others simple tell a story of a creature who has no voice. Bruynbroek is their voice. Check out his pics

Years ago, the French born photographer was inspired to begin writing a book based around the importance of rescuing animals. He tells me, “The need to contribute more and more became very present for him.” The book, which is still a work in progress includes many interviews with noted celebrities, politicians and musicians. Nothing new there, but what’s so unique about the interviews is they all revolve around dogs, and how they have affected their owners. No celebrity pictures here, just the dogs.

Before he was known as the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan agreed to write the foreword for Bruynbroek’s book. The rest is history. The two men began a working relationship, and now have teamed up for another important project to benefit homeless dogs. The 2010 calendar features 14 months of Bruynbroek’s incredible photographs.

The dogs, several who are owned by actors like Diane Keaton (Red) and Josh Duhamel (Meatloaf) are showcased in an effort to bring attention to the undeniable fact that homeless dogs, and those from the city shelters are amazing. With a flip of each month, you see a dog who might have died a shameless and early death if it weren’t for many kind and wise people who chose to adopt rather than buy.

Bruynbroek tells me the 2010 calendar is a “proud result of a true and passionate collaboration.” Meanwhile, I couldn’t be more excited to know that my dog Monkey who I rescued through Best Friends via the South LA shelter is Mr. November. To read more about the calendar:
Click here
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Every calendar is a gift, and all proceeds from calendar sales benefit Millan’s Foundation.

For more information on adopting a local animal from the city shelters, Click here

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2009 in Inspirational, Journalist, opinion

 

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My 1st LA TIMES Blog

Halloween was fantastic as usual, but extra special this year. See blog below!!!!!

LA Times Blog

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2009 in Fun Stuff, Inspirational, opinion

 

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Not about Me

This blog is by no means about me, and at first I was reluctant to write about this topic. Soon, I realized I should share it, because it has a powerful message.

I received an email from a girlfriend of mine that I have known since at least 7th grade. We don’t see each other often. We live in different worlds. She has a family and lives in a small town in South Carolina. I live in Los Angeles with no children, but we love each other and share our life experiences with each other no matter how far apart.

My friend has two sons. She wrote to tell me about her son Frank’s day at school. I have included it for you to read, not because it’s about me, but because it affected me so much. It’s a powerful lesson in how we as individuals can influence other people younger or older by what we do, and what we say.

I sometimes forget that someone is always looking to me for either guidance, advice, even perspective. It’s the same with you especially if you have children. They are watching you. They are learning from you. What are you teaching them? What messages are you sending? It’s the same for your friends and family. They are watching too. What type of lesson are they learning from your words and actions?

I grew up in a very small town in South Carolina. The young girl talked about in the following email is growing up right now in a small town, and she’s got BIG dreams. I did too. I feel truly blessed to be a part of her journey even though we have never met.

Here’s the email from my friend…..
I just had to share a story with you. This past week the Seniors at Frank’s school had Class day where they do this slideshow of them growin up….their wills…..and they also do prophecies. During the prophecies….this one girl came out and they predicted that she would be crowned Ms. USA….and win all these pageants and so on. While she was on stage I noticed she was holding a book….that looked very familiar. I zoomed in on the book with my camera and noticed she was holding your book, Catching the Crown. I about died. Afterwards I went up to her and told her about my friendship with you…the author of the book. She was excited!!! She had heard that you and I were really close growing up. I just thought…what a small world. So, just know…and I’m sure you already do….that your book is being read all over…even in little towns like Kingstree.

I’m attaching a picture of the kids on stage…notice the girl with the crown on…and the book in her hand.
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Posted by on May 30, 2009 in Inspirational, Miss USA 1994

 

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Dark side of my Job

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As a journalist, I have seen a lot of bad things up close and personal. I have been on the scene of deadly shootings, and I’ve witnessed bodies covered in white sheets just a few feet away. I have had to run from flames at a fire, and have even been threatened by angry protesters on live shots, but last night stopped me in my tracks for a bit.

I had been assigned a story near downtown Los Angeles, but got a call from our news desk around 6:45pm that there had been a major accident involving a big rig truck. I needed to relocate. My photographer, Carlos Cortes and I quickly jumped in the news van and headed to the scene. It took us about 20 minutes to get there. While driving, I gathered as much information as possible. What I knew was a big rig had lost control and had slammed into a bookstore/coffeshop. One person may be dead, others injured. On our truck radio, I could hear our station helicopter pilot stating that cars were strewn all around the intersection.

It’s a typical scenario. I am used to having just a small amount of information prior to arriving. It’s breaking news, but it’s then my job to gather additional information from witnesses and police once we arrive.

Carlos and I jump out of the van and walk towards to crowds of people and fire trucks. We could see the trucks, and hear the sirens. We push through the crowds of people, and find our way to the yellow tape. As we approach, I miss looking to the left where the truck had hit the building. Carlos yells to me, “there it is.” As I turn, it looked like a set for an action movie. Something unreal. The entire big rig was INSIDE the coffee shop with only the back tires visible. That’s when I turn to look at the intersection and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. At least five cars were there. One small red car was split in two, another flipped on it’s side. I was about 15 feet from the red car, and couldn’t even tell the make of the vehicle because it was so messed up.

There were firefighters everywhere. Some were working on the people inside the car, others near the coffeeshop and big rig. Even though there was noise everywhere, I heard silence. Just for a moment, I had to walk up the sidewalk and collect my thoughts. This was bad!

Moments later, we were interviewing a firefighter. I also found two witnesses. One man told me the truck flew past his car going 50 mph. He was lucky. Another woman, who was in the coffeehouse when the truck slammed into it, told KTLA she was in shock.

We were the lead story for the 10pm news. My Story We left around 11pm, but I took this story with me. It’s rare for me to hold onto a story in my head and heart. As journalists, we often say, “let it go. Don’t get emotionally involved.” This morning, I learned a father and his 12 year old daughter were in that red mangled car. My worst nightmare.

Prayers go out to their family. Another reminder to live each day like it’s your last…xo

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2009 in Journalist

 

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What will you do?

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Ever wish you could reach out and help someone? Why not Mother Nature? It’s simple, fun, and will make you feel great about yourself, and this beautiful planet we live on.

April 22nd is less than one month away. Plan now to get involved. It doesn’t mean you have to take time from work, or even change your schedule. You could do something easy like:

Recycle your plastic bottles. (You’d be surprised at how many people throw them away.)
Carpool for one day.
Plant a tree.
Take your own bag to the grocery store.
Eat vegetarian for a day.

Don’t smoke for a day.

Those are just a couple of ideas I thought of as I typed. I’m sure there are hundreds more creative ones we could all do. Please share with me if you have an idea? As a group, we can do big things!

If you want to take it a step further. You can:
Participate in a beach clean-up, or organize your own beach clean-up.
Pick up trash in a park.
Attend an event.
Donate to a great cause.

EARTH DAY is Wednesday, April 22nd. I found a site that has some cool information on it. Earth Day Info Once you click on, there is a section to the left where you can find events in your area.

If you have more ideas, please share here on the blog or at My Facebook Page

U ROCK and so does Mother Earth!

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2009 in Fun Stuff, Inspirational, opinion

 

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