Your Smiles Make Me Smile

If you really want to get the most out of my blog, it's best to start with the first post written in July to the present since some blogs refer back to earlier posts; but any order is just fine... Thanks for visiting! Now scroll on down to the good news! ~Renae~

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I have spent much of my life not minding my own business to the chagrin of those who live in a “mind your own business” kind of world.  Unfortunately, when I see someone in trouble or an injustice, though I desperately attempt to look the other way or keep my mouth shut, I simply can’t. It’s un-Renae like.

What happened today is not meant to share a heroic deed…no it is not – it is to tell you that we can all, in choosing to not look the other way, make a difference, or save a life, or even, the life of a dog.  We are all in this together.

I was simply going into the grocery store for a carton of milk, when I noticed an elderly woman park her car next to mine and roll her window down a few inches before going into the store.  This would have been ordinary except, she left her dog…in the car…on a hot day. Granted it is only 80 degrees outside, but it is well over 100 degrees in a car and dogs don’t have sweat glands and are covered in fur; a known recipe for a quick death or brain damage for any animal.

I didn’t know what to do.  In my mind I was running toward her yelling “Hey lady, you can’t leave your dog in the car! It’s too hot out!” But my mouth wasn’t moving. “What if she yells at me and we get into a screaming match in front of Luckys? What if she’s just running in and out for two minutes and her dog really isn’t in danger? What if…”  I looked at my watch.  11:30 a.m.  Too hot for a dog….in a car…on a hot day.  I decided to give it five minutes.  11:35 a.m.  hotter yet.  I reluctantly called 911, was put into the Sherriff’s emergency line, who transferred me to San Ramon emergency, who informed me this wasn’t the right number to be calling, who then transferred me to Animal Control.  “Maam it’s only been five minutes.”  I was losing my cool, in more ways then one, although now it had been ten minutes.  Too hot for a dog in a car, windows down or not.  “Have you sat in a car for five minutes in this heat?” I pleaded.  “Well I can send a patrol car out but I need your name and number and it is going to take them a while to get there and she will probably be gone by then.”  I responded with “Just forget it, I’ll take care of it myself.”  The minutes were ticking by quickly and much too fast for a dog in a car. I went into true Renae mode of jumping into the fire when no one else will; a mode I’m not sure I like, but sometimes serves a greater purpose. I walked into the store, and to my relief there was a fireman in full uniform.  I rushed towards him.  “Sorry, he said, but I’ll have to put in a call to dispatch and you will get the same result as if you had called it in yourself.”  My fantasy of him rushing out to the car with a superman cape, yanking the locked door open and rescuing this little dog was quickly dosed with reality. If I don’t handle it, no one else will.

Who would have thought rescuing an animal from a car would be so difficult?  And should I really be involved? Yes, I should! Someone has to be!

I spotted the woman standing in line at the check-out, hunched over her cart, looking sweet as could be.  I took a deep breath and decided to handle this with…love.  “Maam” I said gently.  “It’s really hot outside and you left your dog in the car.”  “I rolled the window down” she said, flustered.  “It’s still too hot, even with the window down, I said softly, not wanting to put her on the defensive.  It is hard for anyone to not be put on the defensive when they are approached with the criticism of a stranger.  She left her cart standing there and began to walk towards the front doors of the store, obviously annoyed with me. “Maybe you could leave the dog home next time” I begged.  “I always take him in my car and it’s never a problem!” she replied.  “But it’s much hotter in a car for a dog because they have fur” I tried to explain.  But she cut me off at the pass and said, what I would expect of anyone who thinks it’s no big deal to leave a dog in a car for a few minutes on a hot day.  “I only left him for three minutes!” I pulled out my phone, looked at the time and said “Actually, it’s 11:42. You left him in the car at 11:30.  I know you must love your dog, and you probably don’t know, but twelve minutes is too long…for a dog…in a car…on a hot day. 
I didn’t want this to end this way, not with me ruining an old woman’s day. I had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I had offended and embarrassed a woman who truly did not know.  All I was trying to do was help, and then the idea struck...
“You go get your groceries and let me watch your dog outside”  I said.  She looked at me with distrust.  “Really, I can watch your dog and you can go in and take your time. It's no problem.”
 “You aren’t going to hurt my dog are you?” she asked. 
“Maam, I’m a dog lover or I never would have gone to this extreme, and you need groceries, and I have time.” 
And so, I stood in front of the store, in the shade, with her lovely little dog and when the woman came out of the store she appeared overjoyed.  I told her there are a lot of dog lovers in the world that can help her…but you simply can’t leave a dog….in a car….on a hot day.  Then I gave her a hug and whispered in her ear, “It's okay, we are all in this together.”  
She was delighted, I was relieved, and her dog was happy.

On that note, please, please, please don't mind your own business.  Say something if you see a dog in a car on a hot day.  We all have the power to make a difference. I figure if I truly am out of line, I can always apologize later, but I can never take that moment back to make a difference, if only in the life of a dog.  We are all in this...together.

Sweet Dreams and Always GOOD Dreams,

Friday, June 22, 2012


Renae Wilber
San Ramon, California 

June 21, 2012
Dear Anthem Blue Cross:
I know our relationship must be very difficult for you now that I have been diagnosed with cancer.  I apologize, as it is never fun to have the rug pulled out from under you.  For over 15 years, I was predictable, which made for a good relationship.  I paid my premiums every month, on time and I seldom asked anything of you in return.  I even exercised regularly and never smoked, just as you wished for.  I was healthy, and you were happy.  I never complained even though each year without fail, you raised my rates.  At one point, I was paying over $430 per month just to be with you.  Some months I had to choose between you and extra food on the table, but you were always more important to me.

As the years went by I became weary and struggled to keep you in my life, so I chose the only option I felt I had which was to minimize my payments to you, ultimately maximizing my own debt, should God forbid I fall ill.  You reduced my payment to $250 per month, and I in turn accepted an $8,900 deductible per year. We had an agreement.

Last year, the cancer struck.  I was scared.  I didn’t know if I would live, or die, or how I would pay my bills or keep you in my life.  You say you are there, I hear your advertisements, and I believe you.  But today I found out, you are not, and you have never been.  I am saddened, yet like a person stuck in an abusive relationship, I cannot let you go for fear of a future without hope that I might need you.  I am dependant on you, yet I do not trust you.

Today I received your denial of a wig I purchased in the amount of $40.24.  The wig is in cancer lingo known as a “scalp prosthesis” and I am allowed, in my relationship with you, to purchase up to $400 worth of wigs for medical purposes.  Now I know that to some, that may seem like a lot of money, but after I realized that the average wig runs $250, I decided to purchase “cheap” wigs and be thrifty with your money.  Unfortunately, none of your providers of prosthetics even carry wigs, and so you kindly told me I could go anywhere out of your providers to purchase them and receive full reimbursement, and so I did.  I trusted you.  Today, you changed your mind.  You told me $40.24 was an unreasonable expense for a scalp prosthesis and that I went to a non-provider so you would not pay.  I waited two months for reimbursement.  You say one thing, and you do another, and I am left saddened by our relationship.

You also have a “nurse” that calls me every week to check on me, for my good of course; that’s what you say.  But if you really cared, why did you wait until I met my $8,900 deductible to have her care enough to call?  Why? After all I have been through, she never seems to remember if I have gone through chemo, or radiation, or surgery, and I have to refresh her memory every time, yet I am supposed to trust that she is calling because you care.  She continuously asks me questions that I have already answered, like whether I've had cancer before or if my mother has ever had cancer. She wants me to share all of my experiences through this hell with her as I hear her taking notes through the phone, and yet she never seems to remember during the next conversation. Are you trying to find a reason to get rid of me, now that I am no longer a young, vibrant girl in good health?

I do not sleep well at night dear Anthem, because I have always been there for you, and now it’s your turn and I see you wanting to turn your back on me.  I thought we had a commitment.  I thought you cared.  Please don’t drop me Anthem, I’ve been good to you and now, it’s your turn.  Health insurance was not supposed to be this way. 

The good news is, I will not drop you Anthem, even if I have to scrape to keep you in my life, because for me there simply is no other way. 


Renae Wilber

Friday, June 8, 2012


Her name was Page.  I didn’t tell her my secret desire to change my name to Page; not at first anyway.  We had just met in the dog park, me with my dogs Bailey and Lilly, and she with her dog, Prada; a likely name for a dog whose owner held the coolest girl’s name, ever.

My obsession began with a co-worker when I was 14, while serving ice-cream and popcorn at Andy’s Carmel Corn in the Sears mall in Anchorage.  She was blond with freckles, older than I, and amazingly cool.  That was when I decided that I wanted her name. 

Years later while watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, my theory was reinforced when I was introduced to Paige Hemmis, one of the show’s designers.  Cool, funny, pretty, spunky, and witty, I was again convinced that the coolest of the cool chicks had one thing in common, they all had the name Paige, or Page, no matter the spelling.  Only Paige Hemmis had her own hot pink hard hat, which elevated her to “Super Cool” in my eyes.  And so I made my decision. I too would become a Page. 

Around that time I began conjuring up a reading program for children in underserved communities while simultaneously working on my library credentials.  I spent hours daydreaming about the perfect program which would bring out the passion for books and a desire to read in children from a very young age. I would inspire them with wit, and music, and bring to life the characters on the page through my imaginative reading style.  My "stage" name would be Page. Page Turner.  "How appropriate" I thought.  I started using my new name in little ways, sometimes while joking at the library, and other times for things like when when I signed up for Yelp…and let me mention that if you are ever going to slam a restaurant, do it under an alias in case you ever have to go back there to eat.  To this day I am Yelp critic "Page Turner of San Ramon."  yuk yuk yuk.

But let’s go back to the dog park, just yesterday, where I found myself engrossed in conversation about life and college and child psychology, with a really cool girl with a dog Prada, who by the way, had a hot pink harness.  She was talking about something pertinent, but all I heard was ”…and so my mom said ‘Hey Page’…”  and she continued. 

“Oh my GOD, did she just say her name is Page?” I wondered, not hearing a word she said after that. Unfortunately, at that very second Lillian decided to poop on the other side of the dog park leaving me running to scoop it up just as I was getting ready to exclaim my ultimate desire to also be a Page. I barely got the poop bag in the garbage can when, not being able to contain myself any longer I excitedly blurted out while still half way across the dog park, "Oh my God I LOVE YOUR NAME!” At that she laughed, threw her head back with style that only a Page would have and said, “Oh not me, I hate my name.  Do you know what my last name is?”

“No” I replied, thinking wouldn’t that be funny if…

“….Turner.”  She replied. “Page Turner.”

And at that, knowing San Ramon is much too small for two Page Turners, I decided I had no choice but to real name.  I hear Renae is a pretty cool chick too; and that's the good news, until next time...

Sweet Dreams And Always GOOD Dreams,