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Influence Positively Interview - Lizzie Mead

Lizzie Mead was born in 1973 and raised in Tucson, AZ. She has quirky parents (Lloyd and Alicia Mead) who own a motel on the wrong side of the tracks where there are many at-risk animals..and they pretty much run a cat rescue on the property. Her mom raised her with a love for all critters and instilled in her a desire to help animals in need. Her dad is the voice of reason and taught her to not have 20 foster animals at a time.

Silver Sea Jewelry has been open since 1993 in Tucson, AZ Lizzie takes great joy in being self-employed, even if she'll never be rich. She volunteers with assorted animal rescue groups, and is a "Beading Diva" a group which raises money for animal rescue groups with beautiful handcrafted bracelets. Lizzie is an animal welfare advocate for dogs, and her life goal is to see the end of racing in the state of Arizona and one day, across the country. She also works with homeless and at risk youth in her area, helps them with their dogs, and mentors kids transitioning off the streets into homelife. For Lizzie, life got much sweeter once that life went to the dogs.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? My perfect idea of happiness is a balanced life in which I get to spend much time with my furry children, have awesome relationships with family and friends, help others and the animal kingdom, and successfully run my little jewelry business that I love. A bonus is a little quality time lounging on my porch in front of my orange house. Most of this I already get to do! That's fun!

If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be & why? If it would be possible to come back in my next life as a dog that belonged to someone awesome, I would totally want to do that. Dogs rely on us so much, and we are their best friend. We are their protector, nurturer, food and water bringer, and primary love giver. Not everyone is up for this challenge and so many are abandoned or ignored and thrown in a backyard to spend much time alone. I feel like people who get a dog to have in the yard are really missing the point. They are also cheating themselves out of the full experience, not to mention cheating the dog as well! So, though I am a big-time dog person..I'm going to have to go with CAT. They are more independent and better equipped to survive when their people fail them. I'm not saying cats *should* have to fend for themselves, they are simply better at it. Independent, prone to bouts of tearing through the house at top speeds, distracted by shiny objects That sounds like me!

What is your pets most treasured possession? My pets definitely have favorite objects, which can change from time to time. "Bird" who is a tuxedo black greyhound-the supermodel-type with an overbite-is a little wacky and her all-time fave is her red rubber squeaky devil ball, but she also has a squeaky octopus that she spends much quality time with. She's the music lover of my pack and will squeak it in time with the music on in the house. When there is no music on, she makes her own.

Opal the greyhound loves her teddy bear and carries it around with her on outings and snuggles with it on the couch. It's not technically a dog toy, it's a build-a-bear that someones ex-lover gave them and is no longer fun for the human to have. I went ahead and took out the voice box proclaiming abject love and devotion. Shoutout to the ex of my friend - Opal loves this thing! Thanks!!! She's the cuddle-bug and requires 3 hours of cuddles and pets a day.

Rider the greyhound loves anything that looks "real". Realistic bunnies, skunks, otters, etc. He shakes them to pretend to break their necks. He also likes to remove the eyes, maybe he doesn't like them lookin' at him. Luckily, he sticks to toys and leaves the cats alone! Mariposa the foster calico enjoys tin foil balls - batting them all over the house. Orion the Pixie bob who is 17 now, mostly enjoys my bed - which he surely feels is *his* possession.

Your proudest achievement so far? I think it's very healthy to be proud of who you are and what you do! We all should run out and do something that we can feel good about. So...yeah. I have many things I am proud of, some are kinda mundane business type things. When I think about the things that I am most proud of, it's the things that emerge from adversity and challenge. Things you don't think can't be overcome, and then you somehow DO. I think it's important in the moment of "Boy this really, *really* sucks" to remember that we choose how we handle negative things that happen to come our way. It happens to everyone, and we can wallow in freakish misery or we can have the sweetest lemonade the universe ever created. I feel this way about my hit and run car accident. Suck-fest, certainly. The positive things that have emerged from the horror have been AMAZING though, and I am forever altered by the experience.

We were hit by a car, a Bronco going 65 mph in a 35 mph zone at around 10 AM or so. My greyhounds RAN away from the scene, horribly injured. 25 people stopped their day to look for them, two beautiful strangers took them to the vet separately. Neither good Samaritan knew about the accident or even that there were two dogs, they just saw a dog that needed their help and they carried my bloodied greyhounds to their car. The greyhound rescue coordinated with the strangers and everyone went the extra mile for us.

I had this credit card that used to charge their care on, with no real way of paying it back. This credit card had a sticky note that said "Save for pet emergencies-no touchie for stupid stuff". This card was reserved to save their lives. $14,300.00 and weeks later - I had happy greyhounds again. Rider was the most hurt with countless stitches, internal damage, and spleen removal. He was in ICU for a week. When all the meds were done, all was fixed. I was thankful to have my furry kids alive and well. Between the damage to myself, the vehicle, and the dogs...I was pretty sure I was about to be filing for bankruptcy. I was thankfully wrong.

My greyhound rescue friends got together and decided to help me by getting donations to help ease the burden of the vet bills. In my pride, I really wanted to have something to give to people if they wanted to help me and the dogs. We made Opal and Rider bracelets and they went flying off the shelves. Between donations, bracelet moolah, and some insurance-the vet bill was gone in no time at all. What amazing friends,huh? Here's what may surprise you...as close as we all are now, we barely knew each other when the accident happened. We volunteered together, but for the most part we were acquaintances. Six people I sort of knew, went out of their way to help me - big time. People came to help me change bandages, babysit the dogs, bring me food.. I have never experienced anything quite like it. I was even more proud of what came next...

We continued making the bracelets to help other dogs. My pair was saved, so we picked a boy and a girl greyhound on the island of Guam. Senior dogs, BBD's (big black dogs-harder to adopt) they needed medical and a ride on American Airlines to Arizona for a new life. Guam Animals in Need (GAIN) got all their needs met, and we raised $1600 with the bracelets to get the monetary portion taken care of. "Charlie Adore" and "Stands Bright" live together in Yuma now, living the life of the pampered couch potato. The life every rescued greyhound deserves. We are now "Beading Divas to the Rescue" raising money for the rescues, and volunteering our hands and hearts with the bracelets two years later.  We have raised over $35,000 for animals in need. It's not the adversity that makes us or controls us, it's what we do with it.

Who are your heroes in real life? I'm certainly a fan of the comic book variety, personifying my dogs as their own brand of superhero - "The Phantom DewClaw" dah, da,dumm...

My real life heroes are first off my mom-my mother is one of the sweetest most compassionate people going. She does cat rescue, and who knows how many cats are saved due to her efforts. That, and she puts up with my Dad, who like myself, is a bit of a handful.

Animal rescue people are wonderful, they are my heroes. Fellow Beading Diva Karyn Zoldan and Christine Dorchak and all of Grey2K USA,working to "stop the insanity" of greyhound racing. Northcoast Greyhounds is my fundraising idol, and the stuff they sell to benefit greyhounds is pretty awesome as well. I own a silver and costume jewelry shop so if I think the jewelry is awesome, that means it's SPECTACULAR. Also, people who live life on their own terms and are compassionate and wonderful about it. Artists, authors, musicians, positive and creative people in general all rock my socks. I love people, and I never get tired of seeing what they will do next.

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