Sunday, September 18, 2016

Walking In Faith

When you are young,  you feel like you have the world at your feet.  You can take risks because you don't have a lot to lose.

As you get older, more responsibilities come along and people begin to count on you.  The risks become greater to step out and walk in faith.

I have learned A Lot in the last 30 years since I started my first business at 19.

Hard lessons that I think can only be learned by putting yourself out there and trying your best.

I have heard numerous times that the most successful people have lost everything a couple of times before they found the formula that worked and finally brought them success.

Following a Dream is Risky ~ if you win, you're a hero, if you lose, your considered a failure.

I have gained a unique perspective through my adult life as I have won, and lost, and then won big.  Then I had my life stolen from me and I had to start over with nothing, but my creativity and courage.  I have become a wife and mother.........and I have walked with my husband as he battled cancer and lost.

Life teaches you that with every ending, there is a beginning.

But the endings are hard, and the beginnings can be a challenge!

The one thing that keeps me going is my Belief that God is supporting my efforts.  And I listen more closely these days to his direction.

Because through it all, I have realized that he is Ultimately in Control and I am her to serve!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Shedding Emotional Baggage

Emotional baggage consists of all the hurts, all the pain, the disappointments and all the bad that we have gone through in our life up to this point.

A good friend of mine was sharing her childhood pain with me and how certain times of the year it still hits her hard.  All the negative memories, the rejection and the feeling of less than come swirling back to her.  

How many of us are walking, talking functional adults with dead holes in our soul and our heart?

We are great actors and actresses, wearing happy masks for the world, only to come home to our quiet space and lick our wounds at night.

Many times we don't even realize that we have accumulated all these hurts into a big sack that we carry around.  It gets heavier and heavier each day......until we can barely breathe, and take one more step from the sheer exhaustion of carrying that load.

I hit that point recently.  And realized how unhealthy it was for me.....and for my son.

I had to Let it all Go!

But maybe without even knowing, we cling to the emotional baggage like a blanket that we don't want to release.  We know it, it's become part of us, and it may feel scary letting it go.

Meeting yourself in that moment and making the conscious decision to acknowledge that part of your life is over.  

You aren't that person any longer!  You are a survivor who made it through and learned a lot along the way.

Look at who you are today and love that person.  It's time to be Free.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Searching For Inspiration

There are days then I find myself searching for inspiration!  I want signs to come across my path reaffirming that I am not walking this journey alone.

When I was on vacation 2 months ago ~ away from my daily life ~ several messages came to me, bringing peace and the assurance that I was being supported from above.

I even had a weird encounter with a Turkey Vulture, flying up off the side of the road and slamming into my car windshield as it tried to fly in front of me.

I had been on my way to meet a friend for lunch and I was so shaken.  Happy I didn't kill it and wondering what that was all about.

Later I pulled up the spiritual meaning for Turkey Vulture and I learned a lot.  What I found is that it is a symbol of soulful cleansing, reaching a higher spiritual place, overcoming obstacles that we may encounter when trying to fly, but then soaring like an eagle when we get off the ground....cleansing the world bit by bit, day by day, offering ourselves in service.

Two months later I pulled the meaning back up again as I saw a whole flock of Turkey Vultures on a walk I took yesterday to clear my head.  In the past I may have seen a few hovering over a dead animal on the side of the road, but yesterday there must have been 20 - 30 of them all grouped together near a pond I walked past.

As I reflected on where my thoughts have been lately -- I acknowledged that I have been trying to shed the emotional baggage of my  past.  I felt like I have been carrying around so much extra weight, a huge bag full of burdens, It was wearing me down to where I almost didn't recognize myself anymore.

So I guess I have been working on cleansing my soul.

I have also been overcoming one obstacle after another to achieve my goals, and that has been very tiring!

I pray that my next phase has me taking flight and soaring like an eagle........when I finally get off the ground.

Living in a world that can be so challenging, by searching for inspiration, sometimes it can be found in nature.

Go out and take a walk and see what comes across your path. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Backstory

We all have a backstory ~ it makes us who we are. All the good, all the bad........the relationships we've had, our family and our friends, have all played a part in who we are today.

Some people carry their hurt.....and their heart, on their sleeve.  Other people have accumulated so much anger for all the disappointments in their life, it seems to permeate off them.

And there are others, you may never know by looking at them, or talking to them, all the sorrow they've experienced and the pain they have gone through.

Before I moved, I went to visit with Pastor Fred, and he said that there will come a time when people will look at Zack and I and never have any idea of what we've gone through.  That we will just be a mother and a son, and not a widow and a son who lost his father.

At the time I found that hard to believe.

But today, as I sit out at the football fields, among the parents, and I interact with the coaches while watching Zack play......we are at the point.

These people don't know our back story.  They probably think that I'm divorced and Zack's father is not an involved dad.

Which makes me sad. Because he would have given ANYTHING to be here, cheering on his son as he plays in his first big game, and then talking it through afterwards. He was always supporting his efforts.

I watch Zack out on the field, listening to the coaches, taking in their compliments and praise, and I know how much he has needed that interaction and that outlet.

Over the last year, I have handed out snippets of information on our back story because there are always questions when people first get to know you. Especially people that are interacting with us on a regular basis. Right up front I try to nip them in the bud with 'my husband being deceased,' so they aren't wondering how come Zack's father isn't around.

When Zack played basketball in the fall and winter last year, and soccer in the spring, I didn't share our story with those coaches.  He wasn't that committed.

But these football coaches should I see them having an impact on my son.

I guess it's time for another conversation.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Change is Constant

There is one constant in life and that is Change.  Just when we think we have something figured out, it shifts and changes.

Life is always evolving and we have to evolve with it, or get swept away with the tide.

There are times when I feel like all I'm doing is trying to balance on a surf board as wave after wave of change hits me.  It can be a exhausting, constantly trying to maintain balance on those waves.

My latest wave is what to do with Zack once school starts, to get picked up after school, so he is taken care of and I can work?

When we first moved to Tampa, I had signed him up for an after school program at our club.  But it wasn't right for him at the time.  He was coping with the move, dealing with the tough transition of a new school and grappling with the culture shock of the kids he wasn't used to.

So I decided on having a sitter pick him up every day from school and bring him home to chill.

Sitter after sitter moved through our lives over the last year.  Each one leaving for different reasons, with a couple of them not being the right fit, and I let them go.

The last sitter quit the day before we left on vacation.

This was extremely frustrating, because if I knew I wouldn't have  her for the rest of the summer, I would have signed Zack up for a couple of camps before school started.

Now I had to regroup after arriving home, and take him with me everywhere while I got things done.  I even brought him to one of my meetings because I had no one to watch him.

I needed a new crop of sitters to call one!  One high school girl we liked a lot just graduated and went off to college, and another high school girl went overseas for a month during summer. I was out of sitters.

After a week, luckily I found a high school boy to hang out with Zack for the last 3 weeks of summer.

But what happens when school starts?

I had reached out to so many people to find a part time sitter for school, preferably a college student who had classes in the morning, could pick up Zack from school and watch him until early evening.

But no one ever materialized.  And I was trying to figure out the time complication of Zack having to be a football practice by 5:45pm 4 nights a week until September and then 3 nights a week until November.

Balance ~ Balance ~ Balance ~ What is the answer?

I kept playing out scenarios in my head, and asking for an answer.

Then it hit me.  Zack was Now ready for an After School program.  

A place he can engage with other kids, make some new friends, and a get help with his homework.  Then I can pick him up before football practice, take him there, and limit any late day meetings until after football season.

It has been a year since we moved.  He is happy to be living in Florida now, and he is very happy to be playing football.  That is a positive change.

Now I just have to find the Right Program for him and pray that it is the right decision for him! 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Feeling the Void with Football

I am a Big football fan and my nickname for Jeff was "Sport Boy."

So when we had Zack ~ football was in his blood.  Plus, he was brainwashed at an early age when Jeff hung a University of Miami mobile over his crib, and a signed Limited Edition Framed Lithograph of Dan Marino over his changing table.

I also watched football games every Sunday with the NFL Sunday Ticket, while Zack ran around with a small football, in the living room pretending he was one of the players on tv.

But when Zack was able to play tackle football in 1st grade I was hesitant.  Growing up, Pop Warner tackle football in my town didn't start until 4th grade, and I had that age in my mind.  1st grade seemed too young to me.

I would have preferred to have waited a couple of years to have Zack play organized football, but Jeff wanted to present the option to Zack and see what he wanted.  He was gung ho from the beginning, even after we thoroughly explained the time commitment.

As practice began Zack was so excited to be out there practicing and playing with the other boys, and he had such an aptitude for the game that they made him backup quarterback in 1st grade.

Looking back, even though that was a very tough time for me, juggling Zack's practices, games and Jeff's sickness ~ the time that they were able to spend, sharing that football connection was priceless.

Jeff made it to every practice and every game, and was so proud to see Zack play.

For the last 2 years Zack and I took a break from football.  Playing in 2nd grade, months after Jeff passed away was too hard, and last year before 3rd grade started, we moved down to Tampa.

Zack has been hounding me to play this year and I felt it was time.

As I sit out at a 2.5 hour practice, watching him work on conditioning, running, throwing and handing off, tears fill my eyes.

Zack is in his Glory!  After the first practice, his coaches saw the same qualities in him as his previous coach and started him at quarterback.  This time he will be the starter!!

He is ecstatic, and Jeff is probably grinning from ear to ear as he watches from above.

Meanwhile, I feel the void of doing this alone and juggling this huge commitment.  It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Messages On Vacation (Part 1)

I have always had interesting things happen to me when I step away from the daily grind, and get out of town.  This latest vacation was no different.

The time away provided an opportunity to open myself up to messages and allow a different perspective on life to seep through.

Zack and I went up north, back to visit family and friends. And it felt like we stepped back into our old lives, after being away for a year.

It felt a little surreal as we landed in Newark, rented a car and drove over to a friends house to stay overnight.  The next day we drove from New Jersey to Connecticut and it ignited flashbacks to when I first met Jeff and I was driving back and forth to NJ, as I stayed at my Aunt and Uncle's house over the summer.

Arriving at their house, to stay over the 4th of July weekend was like coming home.  I had spent so much time with them, at their house, over the years, even during my childhood.

The flashbacks came again, of all the summer weekends Jeff and I had shared around their pool, with family, grilling sausage and spending time.

My Aunt, Uncle, and I were reminiscing about Jeff, and how he had this joke with my Uncle Larry that he would say each time we sat down to eat lunch by the pool.

On Sunday, the day before the 4th, my two cousins arrived with their kids and significant others, to spend the day.

As we get ready for dinner, Gina and I are setting the table outside on the porch, overlooking the pool.  She hands me the place settings and I go around the table putting each one at a chair.

I counted the people......and counted the place settings....twice, and it seemed like it was off.  So I counted it again.

I counted 9 place settings and there were 10 people.  So I asked Gina to bring me out one more.

"Ok," she responds, and goes back inside to grab another complete set.

I count again to make sure I was right, and then I put down the 10th place setting.

We then get busy, gathering everyone to the table, herding the kids out of the pool, getting them situated, loading the table with food, and handing out the drinks.

We all grab a chair, sit down, and begin getting the kids plates ready as Uncle Larry lays down the big platter of sausage and chicken in the middle of the table.

Just as he sits down, my cousin Cindy says, "who is sitting here?"

We all look over at the empty chair between her and Gina's husband.  

It was set for one more guest, #11 ~ right across from Uncle Larry.

Everyone looked at each other, and I felt him immediately as I stared at the empty chair.

"I guess Jeff wanted us to know that he was here with us." I softly announced.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Spreading Hope and Love ~ Not Violence and Fear

This past week it seemed like the world had gone crazy. I tried to block as much of the negative as I could and not get become paralyzed by all the stories.  There is a tendency, like a bad accident, to want to stare at the disaster because you almost can't believe that it happened.  

That is what happened to me when 9/11 hit.  I didn't leave the house, shock paralyzed me.  After reaching out to loved ones to make sure everyone was ok.  I spent the whole day sitting on the couch, with a pit in my stomach, staring at the television, watching the events play out on the screeen.

Now, what I do watch is the outcry that comes from a tragedy.  People are in shock, overcome with sadness, and aghast at the horror and they feel an overwhelming need to do something.  And that is the Wake-Up Call, a deep desire swells up inside of us and we feel a need to Do Something!
In the case of Orlando, an outpouring of people stood in line to give blood, and immediately people started donating money to a GoFundMe account that was set up.  As of Friday, I saw in the paper that the account was up to $5 million dollars.

Just as in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, an overwhelming amount of money was raised through OneFundBoston.  I think the total was close to $80 million dollars.
While money is important and will help the victims and their families move forward from the tragedy, money is not the answer.  It is the easiest thing to do ~ send in a donation and a thank you prayer that it wasn't anyone in my family.

More importantly, something needs to change!

The culture in the U.S. and across the globe needs to change.  We have almost become desensitized to all shootings and the violence that plays out on our streets on a daily basis.

Since the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the gun violence has only escalated. That event should have caused major legislature to change to make parents feel safer by taking guns away.  Instead kids in the north are now doing lock down drills at school and fear is prevalent.

Whatever was done by our government to make a change was meaningless.  More people have guns now than they ever did, based on their own fear, and many of those people haven't been trained properly on keeping those guns safe and secure in their house, causing numerous accidents leading to fatalities because of it.

I feel as if the movie Tomorrowland is playing out before our eyes.  Negativity and Evil seem to broadcast far and wide and the signal is only getting stronger.

While I truly appreciated that outpouring of people this week, to oust the Judge who only gave that college student a light sentence, for the attack he committed on a female college student. What I saw instead was a loud demonstration of negativity again.

How can we as a culture Broadcast Hope, Love and Compassion instead of negativity?

Instead of fighting against ourselves over politics, guns, religion and the differences in people ~ 

How can we channel Hope instead?

I would love to put together a way to Raise the Consciousness of Hope and Brotherly Love by the same amounts of millions of dollars of money that was raised after the 6 different U.S. Terrorist attacks in the United States since 2015.  Because while people come together during the tragedy and stand unified as a group, after a short time has passed, people fall back into old patterns and life returns to the way it was.  

There is no sustainability of those emotions of compassion & coming together as a community.  

My friend, Diane, a positive lifestyle expert, and I have been working on a Hope and Happiness Initiative for Corporations to bring tools of emotional and mental wellness to employees.  Tools that become sustainable in their daily lives.

But after this past week and watching examples of negativity that seem to plague our country on a daily basis ~ I feel a need to develop a Hope and Love Outreach ~ which when embraced, brings  Happiness and Joy.

Creating Positive Energy that can be harnessed and broadcast daily through large groups of people to counteract the negativity and fear that seems to permeate.

I would like to see a positive outcome from these tragedy's, not just have it become another statistic that will be added to our history, the next time this happens again.    

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

On this special day for Father's I want to give a shout out to all the dads out there that are Family Focused, engaged, interested and supportive of their kids.

Having a strong Father in the home providing guidance and direction, love and encouragement becomes a role model for young boys.  It also creates inner strength in girls, knowing her dad will always have her back.

On this Father's Day, I hope all dad's will enjoy a glorious day basing in their family's love.  And may all dad's fall asleep at the end of the day knowing how important a role they play!

Friday, June 10, 2016

God's Timing

When you really stop and listen, God's directions come.

They kept me going in the darkness......and when I felt like I was drowning.

I kept pulling myself out of bed each morning, putting one foot in front of the other, taking deep breaths and living life one day at a time.

He showed me a future ~ way out in the distance.......that I had to make my way towards.

So many things to do and take care of along the way.  I kept prodding forward. Closing down one chapter of my life and opening another.

Helping my son make the transition from all he knows and the dad he misses, to a new town, in a new state, with no friends.  That was a process.

The transition was bumpy ~ but I landed.....and ran right at getting us settled ~ creating a new home, and working on building a future.

I felt the clock ticking!

With each step, each meeting, each piece I created......I was running a race against time.

But when is God's time?

I have been going non-stop for over 3 1/2 years.....when is there rest for the weary?  When does the path open up and the burdens are lessened?

When does all the hard work, dedication and hardship get answered?

The vision in my head, the dream in my heart ~ all placed there by God ~ what he doesn't share with me is timing.

Hope can start to falter, Faith can grow dim, and Confidence begins to waver.  Wondering whether the vision will ever become reality?

God places people along our path who are interested and excited and they ignite our passion and our fire ~ and keep us going.

Step by step, day by day until Finally He opens the door and allows me to walk through!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Gone But Not Forgotten

I knew today would be difficult for me, as it is my wedding Anniversary.  So to get through it ~ a few weeks ago I booked a massage and a facial, and planned on easing through the day.

Then I get up this morning, check my e-mail messages and click over to Facebook as I have notifications there, and this pops up in my Facebook memories:

A post from Jeff to me from 4 years ago ~ the year before he got sick saying ~

"Happy 9th year of marriage in this lifetime!  My love and admiration for you is stronger each day.  I love you."

And I am hit with sadness and longing to hear him say those words to me ~ to wrap me up into his arms in a big warm embrace, allowing me to feel as if everything is right in the world ~ for just those fleeting minutes.

But I won't, ever again ~ see his smile or hear his laugh.

Although this past weekend I could just hear him talking to me, after Zack and I visited his grandparents in St. Augustine.

There was definitely a void without him, during that visit, but his spirit was present.

Maybe Jeff did send me that Facebook Memory to my phone today to let me know that while I will be thinking of him on our Anniversary, he's thinking about me too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Being a Catalyst

Over the years I have tried to stand up for the people I cared about.  I have tried to do the right thing and my word means everything.  I think about what is important in life and that is to try and be a catalyst for others.  Someone that makes a lasting impression on the people in their lives.

You can be a catalyst within your family by being a positive role model.  

In the life of my son, every day I am shaping, guiding, directing and providing the support and love that he needs.  

With Jeff, I feel like I was a catalyst in his life; providing unconditional love, consistency, my spiritual faith that he admired, my close knit family values and my inner strength that he relied on.

You can also be a catalyst for your friends ~ sharing your values, your strength, your faith and your love.

How you help, how you show up and give of yourself.  How you listen when someone needs you and how you share your talents to help others.

These are all ways you can make a difference, and be a catalyst to the people in your world.

But what about outside of your immediate family and friends?  

Could you be a Change Agent in your community, your town or on a larger scale?

In every corner of our world, people are looking for inspiration, a helping hand, and strong individuals that they can look up to for a sense of assurance that there is good in the world.

It can be very easy to get caught up in the negative, buy into the craziness of the world and believe the fear that the media pushes out!

It takes Faith and Hope to live in the positive and rise above, for the sake of what is good and right.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What is God's Plan?

One thing I have come to understand is that I have no real control over my life.

God is ultimately in Control.

In the past when I was pushing, pushing, pushing my agenda, looking back I can almost picture God laughing at my efforts and saying to himself, 'On My Time.'

When Jeff was sick I felt like he was given a Wake-Up Call ~ to make changes in his life. I never believed that it was terminal.

Towards the end, I came to realize that God had another plan.  One I didn't understand ~ but one I had to accept.

Acceptance is extremely hard!

I wonder whether we know the amount of time we have, and our purpose on earth ~ while we are in heaven......before we are ready to be born?  Do we accept our mission then?

Did Jeff realize he was only going to be here long enough to marry me, bring an amazing son into the world and make an impact on Zack's life, my life and the people he knew?

I keep looking for the bigger piece to connect.  A reason for his passing.

I have observed over the years, the Positives that get created from the Negatives ~ A Catalyst for Good -- or for Change emerges and brings a reason for the heartache.

Only God knows his plan and I have to wait on his timing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Life Can Change in an Instant

17 years ago I walked into Carmine's in New York City and my life was forever changed.

Some couple's celebrate their first date ~ Jeff and I always celebrated the fateful day that we met, on May 25th.  I had just landed at my aunt and uncle's house 10 days earlier, for the summer and boom, everything changed.

After that night we would get together every couple of days.  This continued on throughout the summer and then in October, we moved in together.

I have been reflecting a lot lately on how life can change in an instant.  There have been so many situations where one day changes everything.

In the early 90's I told my business partner that I wanted more business, so he cold called Sears Tower in Chicago and because of that call, we flew to the Windy City one January day and closed a multi-million dollar deal that sent me on a career whirlwind.  

It also proved to me that Anything is Possible!

Timing also plays a factor.  You can be trying and trying and trying and then boom......out of nowhere it works.

Jeff and I were trying to buy a house in Ringwood a year after we got married, and two failed attempts and almost a year later, we go to see a house with our realtor, that had just come back on the market and it was perfect!!  

That lake community was a saving grace for me.  I have always said if I needed to live in New Jersey.......Ringwood was the best place to be.

During that period of time Jeff and I had also been trying to get pregnant.  After 2 years, with no success, and after getting settled into our new house, we decided to go see an infertility expert.

3 failed attempts and 1 successful IVF treatment later and I get pregnant! Timing.  Just when you feel like there is no answer.....suddenly one appears.

Each of those experiences took my life down a new path.

Last year, I can remember stressing over finding a rental house in the community I wanted Zack and I to live in within Tampa.  But the houses were being scooped up so quickly.

Then the end of May I got a call from my realtor about this house.....that was Exactly what I was looking for......and we got it.  Securing that house allowed all the other pieces to fall into place to transition us down to Tampa.

Another new path opened up.

I am curious to see the people and the plans that God has in store for me, each day as I venture out into the world.  

Something extraordinary can happen in an instant!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Moving Meditation Elicits Answers

I have never been the kind of person that can sit and meditate ~ I usually need to be moving and doing.

I used to be a runner years and years ago, but I found I wanted to be 'Out in Nature' longer than my normal run, so I started speed walking instead.  While outside moving and communing with nature, I could clear my head, process issues going on in my life, get positive affirmations out into the universe and tap into answers.

I did that for many, many years.

Then my brother wanted me and my sister to run a marathon with him for his 40th birthday.

So I began running and training again.  I had a Reason to go for hour long runs on a regular basis and even longer runs once a week.

Those runs kept me sane!

With just me and road I could step out of the craziness of my life and find perspective and clarity.

But to me running is just as much mental as it is physical.

There was awhile after running that marathon where I just didn't have the heart or mental capacity to get back on the road and commit to the run.

But with time and healing that too changed!

My siblings couldn't believe that that I ran the half and full marathon without listening to music.  To me running gives me the time to think ~ no phones, no computer, nobody needing me......just me and my thoughts.

Those runs are now my moving meditation.  When I'm feeling anxious, or want to sort out a problem, or look for another avenue to accomplish a goal, I throw on my sneakers and head out the door.

It is a way to tap into the spiritual force in the universe and the peace I need to ease my soul!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Keeping Their Spirit Alive

When Jeff was really sick the guys from the Meadowlands approached me about doing a benefit for him and was hoping he could attend.

I know that feeling, when you feel powerless in a situation like an illness, to make it go away, but you have to do something. So I understood the guys wanting to do a benefit......and their desire to Do Something!

I agreed, but I told them I didn't think he would feel up to coming, but I would show up.

I can personally relate to that deep desire of needing an outlet, a way to recognize someone who means a lot to you.  After my cousin Margo passed away at 35, I was heartbroken and wanted to keep her memory alive somehow; but it never came together.

At Jeff's Celebration of Life, I was surrounded by a circle of so many of Jeff's friends from the Meadowlands and they wanted to still do this benefit, now more than ever.  Such anxious faces looking at me for approval.

I took a deep breath and agreed because it was what I wanted to do for Margo ~ a fundraiser in her name.

The other day, after attending the luncheon in Beth Dillinger's name, I thought about a conversation Jeff and I had near the end.

He wanted to talk about 'what happens if he dies', and I didn't want to hear it, because I was not giving up, I was still expecting a miracle.  But he had my attention.

One statement rang strong, "Go and do Daisy Button."

We talked about my Daisy Button characters when we met early on in our relationship, and I carried them throughout our relationship. He wanted them to live on!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Channeling Grief for the Greater Good

Last week I went to a fundraiser luncheon called "Value Me," put on by the Beth Dillinger Foundation.  I knew about the foundation through "Beth's Closet" they have created at Ready for Life.

This is a closet set up not only for kids who need clothes, who have aged out of the Foster Care system, or who may be homeless, but also for the 90 little kids they have brought into the world.

Ready for Life has created a Mommy and Me program supporting these young moms who have had no real role models of their own. And due to this program, and the support from the Beth Dillinger Foundation, their needs are being met and they are keeping their children.

They are breaking the cycle and parenting these children the way they wish they were parented!

The luncheon showcased this closet, and 4 other locations they created, to help kids in need.  They also have a Nourish to Flourish campaign to help feed the chronically hungry in Pinellas County, as well as a scholarship fund to help kids with tuition to go onto college.

But when I dug deeper, what I found were 2 loving parents that were challenging their grief for their beautiful daughter Beth, who was a cheerleader, homecoming princess, University of Florida graduate, and engaged to be married when she passed away at 31 years old.

Beth was so focused on helping anyone who was sick or hurting, "she was the queen of the dollar store, getting something little for someone to know she was loved."

Today, although Beth is no longer here, she lives on because of her parents and the organization they created to help others in her memory.  And there are so many grateful girls and boys who wouldn't have been helped without the Beth Dillinger Foundation.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mother's Day for Kids and Pets

Just like any holiday there are good experiences and tough emotions that I go through.

Mother's Day mornings used to include sleeping in, then breakfast in bed put together by Jeff and Zack, and then presenting me with sentimental cards with handwritten love notes that I cherished.

And usually Jeff went with Zack the day before to our local florist to order flowers that they would then bring home and give to me together.

Zack misses not having his dad to do that's a huge void for him, and for me, missing that tradition, and because I loved that bonding moment of "my men."

But on Sunday I also had another rush of emotions that tugged on my heart.

Jeff and I were together for many years before we had Zack, and when I first met Jeff he had a one year old brindle boxer named Jasmine.

Jasmine was his princess and I wasn't used to big dogs.  I hadn't had a dog since I was a kid and that was a miniature doberman pincher.  It took me a little while to get used to her rhythm ~ but soon she became my "Jasmine girl."

Living in New Jersey was very difficult for me and Jeff was involved with the Meadowlands A lot .... so Jasmine provided the comfort and unconditional love that I needed.

After we got married and we were trying to get pregnant, to no avail, Jeff was craving another boxer puppy.  One dog was plenty for me but he wanted another, and I was up for the challenge.

Aspen was a white boxer male that was so full of energy and excited to join our family. That crazy puppiness never left him! Jasmine became the big sister and our house was suddenly busy with 2 dogs.

When I did become pregnant and Zack was born, Jasmine slept by the crib, guarding and protecting the baby, and Aspen was all love, so excited to see this little baby grow up.

The Mother's and Father's days before Zack were spent exchanging cards from "the dogs." After Zack there were cards from him and from "the dogs."

Jasmine passed away at a ripe old age of 11 and it was a very sad day in our household.  Aspen was just as lost ~ losing his sister.  He wasn't the same for six months.

Right before I lost Jeff, I also had to say goodbye to Aspen.  And it seemed like I was losing parts of my heart as they all went up to heaven.  My doggie kids and my husband.

Today Zack would like to get another dog, but I'm not ready for that commitment ~ time, love and my heart!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sharing Hope, Guidance & Direction

God has always directed me into struggles so I would be able to relate to the challenges of others.

When I look back on my life, I sometimes wonder how I made it this far?

So many disappointments and loses in business.  Starting over from scratch a couple of times.  Marrying later in life.  Struggling to have a baby and get pregnant.

Having my husband get cancer and become his primary caretaker.  Then finding myself a widow with a young son at 47 years old.

I now have a wealth of experience to share with others.  Is that my role?

Years ago, when I was contemplating my next career move, I continued to have people stop me on the street and ask for directions.  At first I thought it was odd ~ considering that I was fairly new to New Jersey.  But I figured people thought I looked approachable and felt comfortable asking me.

It wasn't until one day, when I was speed walking near my house in Edgewater, when a car came barreling down the hill, jumped the curb and almost hit me. As it stopped, the driver rolled down his window and asked me for directions.

At first I was stunned and had to gain my bearings before I directed him back up the hill.

As the car sped away and I went back to my walk, a statement rang in my head, "everyone is looking for guidance and direction, and it is your job to provide it."

It was after that experience when I pioneered the first Family Coaching practice in the country, out of a holistic chiropractors office.  We did some great work over the years helping kids and their parents, providing tools, guidance and direction.

At that time if kids were having issues like frustration, anger, stomach problems, feeling depressed or anxious, parents would take them to a psychologist or a therapist.  And those are great avenues, but what I found is in most cases these kids felt powerless, or misunderstood, and what they needed were tools to equip them for life.

Now God has me bumping into Hope these days and how it got me through, propped me up.........and kept me going.

I have been at the bottom many times in my life ~ Hope and God moved me through!

It seems like life gets harder and the world is getting crazier ~ it will take a lot of Hope to get us Through!  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Widow's Club

I find myself at an interesting juncture in my life.

I'm not married any longer, but I didn't get a divorce? I had plans on being married for the rest of my life.

Jeff said he would love me for the rest of his life.........I thought it would have been longer than this!

An odd predicament ~ single without agreement.

I remember a conversation I had with my Pastor several months after Jeff passed away.  He said that down the road people will look at me.....and Zack, and have no idea what we've gone through.

I realize how true that is more now that we have moved back to Tampa.  As I am meeting new people, they assume I'm married.

The odd thing is, after I state the fact that my husband has passed away........I am encountering more people who are part of the Widow's Club.

This is a club that no one wants to belong to ~ but unfortunately it has a lot of members.

And I seem to have run into more than a few.

All of the people that I meet that are members, are older than me ~ I seem to be the youngest ~ and they all have their own sad story.

I try not to go into mine.  I would rather make a statement and move on.  Rehashing the horror puts a damper on conversations.

But the most interesting part is the Moving On aspect.  After the grief, at some point people move have to.  I get that.

So several of these people, men and women, have started woman got remarried again......and another just stayed single.

What a club to belong to?

The concept of dating today seems so much different than when I was in my early 30's.  I had a different mindset back then.  I also didn't have a little boy to think about.

Starting over on this front..........

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Readjusting my Mindset

There are days when we can have an "aha moment" that can totally change our perspective.

I have always felt that life can fall into 2 categories ~ perception vs. reality.  And if the perception is wrong, it can have an adverse effect on your reality.

In my case, I had come so far and made so many positive changes in the last year, but my brain was still clinging to all the negative experiences ~ all the pushing to get to a happy place.  And I suddenly realized that where I am TODAY is different from those experiences, but yet I hadn't let them go emotionally.

I liken it to walking through the desert for a long time ~ searching for an oasis, then finding myself lost in a dark valley for several years, until I came upon a mountain I had to climb.

For the last year I have been climbing and climbing, with my focus on the top ~ reaching the sunshine and breathing clear air.

But during my journey ~ all the negative experiences and emotions got filled up in my backpack......and I've been carrying them up that mountain.

The other day it hit me ~ I may not be at the top of the mountain yet, but I have reached a Plateau and if I stop and really look around ~ the view is pretty nice!

I dropped my backpack on the rocks, took a deep breathe and scanned the view ~ it's been a long climb!!

But I am No Longer in the valley, or stuck in the desert.  

I can see them far away in the distance ~ but that's not where I am today!

Release the baggage that has been dragging me down and Realize where I am at TODAY!

There is so much opportunity for happiness at this plateau.  I can rest here a bit.........because the top of the mountain is so close.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Utilizing My Talents For Good

I have always had a passion for helping kids in Foster Care!
At 26 years old I started volunteering as a Guardian Ad Litem, representing kids in the foster care system. I then got on the Board of the Guardian Ad Litem Guild to help recruit and retain more Guardian volunteers.

But I continued to see so many needs for kids in foster care going unmet. About a year later, I decided to create a non-profit to fill those needs. It was called For The Children.

Over the next 5 years we did a lot of great work to get kids adopted out of foster care, to provide backpacks filled with necessities for kids who are immediately placed in foster care, we assisted in building a clothing closet and held a clothing drive to fill it. And with a partnership with the Junior League, we created a Basic Needs Fund.

When I was planning my return to Tampa, I wanted to get back involved with helping this population. ~ But I didn't want to create another non-profit.  I believed there were some great organizations out there that were already doing great work.
I wanted to see how I could get involved, maybe rally some people to collaborate, and assist a non-profit in making a bigger impact.
Shortly after arriving in Tampa I saw an article in the local paper about an organization called Social Venture Partners that was doing just that!
SVP is a national organization that started in Seattle in 1997.  The chapter in Tampa Bay was fairly new, only forming in 2013, but it joined a global network of 3500 partners aligning passion and purpose.  It sounded like my kind of group!
What I loved was their business model and their focused areas of assistance being kids in foster care, homelessness and education.
I immediately reached out to them to learn more.
After a few meetings I decided to join ~ just as they were about to decide on the second non-profit they would help.
Out of the 3 organizations that presented I was drawn to Ready for Life - a non-profit that helps kids aging out of foster care, provide them with services and tools they need to succeed.
I wasn't the only one impressed.  It was a huge landslide of the partners voting in favor of Ready for Life.  
After the vote, while sharing cocktails and celebrating the decision, the Executive Director of SVP approached me about taking on the role of Co-Lead for Ready for Life.
I was hesitant at first because of the time commitment, but my heart kept pulling me towards a "yes." 
I also could see the impact that I could make by taking on that role.
Several months later, we have put together a Work Plan/Set of Goals for this year and it is going to be exciting to see what gets accomplished!
The Executive Director of Ready for Life is amazing, the two founders/board members are entrepreneurs so I  clicked with them immediately. I liked all the members of their Passionate Board and the staff is inspiring!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Recharge With a Staycation

Have you ever been pushing so hard that you realized you never took a vacation to recharge?

Last year I was so focused on getting away from my house in New Jersey any chance I got, that during many of the holidays I would figure out ways to "get away."

Then once I came back from Spring Break last April and put my house on the market, it has been non-stop every since.

I spent the next three months organizing all the pieces to move us down to Tampa.  I packed up our whole house by myself, and handled all the details of bringing in a renter instead, and then made time to say good bye to all our friends and family.

By the time I got into our car, after the moving van was loaded up, Zack and I were ready to go!!  

I then drove us all the way down to Florida in a couple of days.  

When we finally crossed over the border into Florida, and I turned over my car keys to the valet at our hotel I was exhausted.  It took me three days to just decompress and then another 3 days to gear up for driving another few hours to our rental house and going through the whole process of settling in.

Our rental house is so comfortable and has a pool that it hasn't even felt like I needed to get away.  And with family visiting we've enjoyed spending time with them.

Several times Zack and I planned to head down to the beach for the day but we were either too exhausted or didn't feel up to it.

It was only last week when I totally hit a wall and didn't feel like doing anything, that I realized I haven't had a break since last Spring Break.

While hanging around the house can be relaxing and is a way to regroup.  My problem is that my office is there and I have a tendency to check e-mails, go follow up on something or start working on details.  Also, being at home there is still laundry, dirty dishes and items to be picked up. 

I can never totally "check out."

So Friday morning I dropped Zack off at school, grabbed a coffee at Dunkin Donuts, and my beach chair, and I drove down to the beach.  

I suddenly realized how much I loved that drive, almost as if my body sensed that I was heading to the beach and a calm started to over take me.

Once I dropped my chair on the white sandy beach, right near the edge of the ocean, I felt relieved.

I spent all day staring at the waves as they lapped up on the shore, heard the caws of the sea gulls on the breeze and allowed the sunshine to penetrate my soul.

While I was sitting there communing with the ocean I had an idea and called over to a local hotel in Tampa that I love. I wanted to book an overnight on Saturday, after Zack's soccer game. 

Come to find out I had enough points accumulated that the overnight was FREE!  Didn't that reconfirm to me that it was Exactly what we needed to do.

After soccer, I threw our clothes in an overnight bag, drove down to have lunch by the water at Bahama Breeze and started enjoying our Staycation!  

At one o'clock we pulled up at the hotel and even though we probably could not get our room until 4:00, I was hoping my luck would continue and we could check in early to then change and head out to the pool.

Sure, Mrs. Serebin we do have a room available with a Bay view right now for you!

Thank you so much!!

Zack and I spent the rest of the afternoon out by the pool playing football and having cocktails.  Later we took the elevator upstairs to the hotel restaurant that night for dinner, and didn't get back into our car until we left the next afternoon. (after more pool time of course!)

Getting away from the chores, the responsibilities and the computer, while spending quality time with my son was priceless.  It also helped me clear my head and give me that recharge that I so needed.

Before we left, my son stated that it was his "favorite hotel!"

Everyone wins.  

Friday, April 22, 2016

Where is God?

After the announcement of the Death of Prince yesterday, his lyrics about the After Life peppered social media.

Reflections are also given to the fact that since the beginning of this year we have witnessed so many famous singers and musicians all passing away before their time. Some have suggested, is God forming a rock band?

According to a survey taken by PEW: 55% of Americans said they think about the meaning of life at least once a week!

When we stop occasionally, and look around at our crazy world and how, at times, it seems to become more negative and fear based, those thoughts have us looking to God for answers, for support and for some sort of confirmation that He knows what's going on.

We Hope that He Has a plan for all this.

Maybe all the craziness and the fact that we are losing loved ones at earlier ages......has us drawing Closer to God for answers?

I was watching the National Geographic channel the other night as they have a series running right now called "The Story of God, with Morgan Freeman." I love Morgan Freeman as an actor and I'm sure most people can name at least one of his 45 movies.  The Bucket List, with Jack Nicholson pops to mind right away. So I was intrigued.

When I looked up this program online the reports say that The Story of God is one of the highest-rated programs in the history of the National Geographic Channel!

And what about our books and movies?

Where faith based movies were only produced by smaller studios and didn't get much attention, now we have big production houses releasing movies like "War Room" and "Miracles From Heaven," which are getting a lot of media attention. 

One book that has topped the Best Seller list in non-fiction since the middle of January, "When Breathe Becomes Air" is a memoir about a doctor with Stage 4 cancer, who ultimately passed away.

Christian Faith books have experienced the most growth at 11.3% between 2009 and 2014.  

People are looking for answers, inspiration and Hope.  What is our purpose here on earth?  

And when our loved ones leave us ~ do we.....go to the "After world.....A world of Never Ending Happiness?" 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Give Yourself a Break

2 1/2 years ago I ran the Marine Corps Marathon with my sister and brother.  Five hours without stopping.  Then after I came back from Washington, DC I got caught up in Jeff's health crisis again, as well as starting a new consulting job.

So running got put on the back burner.

Then during that first year after, running and speed walking would happen in spurts because for me, running is as much mental as it is physical.  I couldn't seem to muster up the energy.

My body, all fit and lean from training for a year was No Longer.  

And I got so busy packing and moving us down to Florida that my energy was sapped up.

After getting settled in Tampa, I started working out with a trainer to get back into shape.

But with the pressures and stress of building a foundation for mine and Zack's future, it drained most of my energy!  Although......I continued trying to push through.

Right now I can see where I can make improvements on my physical.......and I will!

I just have to remind myself that it's OK to go through this phase......Be Easy on myself ~ I can't do Everything!  But that can be hard for me to accept sometimes.

I keep saying......The physical will come.....and mentally I will get back into that training mode.

To motivate myself, my sister and I signed up for a Half Marathon in October to celebrate my birthday.  It is a worthy goal, and it gives me enough time to train.  

All in good time! 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

I'm Coming Out

Yesterday when I was in the car with Zack, driving back from a Tampa Bay Rays game, Diana Ross's song "I'm Coming Out" came on the radio, and it had me reflecting.

My journey of life has been very interesting.  

When I think about my life in Tampa years ago, I was so entrenched in business, building up the non-profit I created to help kids in foster care, and constantly entertaining clients.

Then after moving up north, due to many different dynamics, I almost wasn't the same person I used to be.  I have looked back over time and felt like I lost a big part of myself.  And now I realize it wasn't lost, just maybe hidden away.

As I have moved back to Tampa, I find I am rediscovering aspects of myself that I haven't seen in a very long time.

When my friend Diane, was here visiting in February, she said I am this new and improved version of the Tracey she knew.  And this is probably true.

Even during my previous life in Tampa there were parts of myself that hadn't had the chance to bloom ~ some negatives even then were holding me back.

I feel like I am in the blooming stage of my life right now.

I'm Coming Out! 

As if layers of an onion are being pulled back to get to the heart of the real me.  

Even the other day, another piece of me unfolded and I was like "Wow! I remember that part of me ~ it's been a long time!"

I still see aspects that are fertile and ready to grow, to become stronger and shine.  In another 6 months or a year.........I look forward to seeing who I become!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Stop Looking Backwards

I know all about Leaving the Past behind, Living in the present and keeping my eyes towards the future.  Those statements do resonate in my brain as true.

But yesterday, I had a Realization hit me that resonated with me Emotionally.  And the emotional side is what has to buy in to believe it, and achieve it!

I flipped over to look at pictures of Jeff on my phone and I stopped myself........a thought hit me ~

Stop Looking Backwards ~ There is Nothing There!

I kept looking at a ghost ~ remembering good times ~ wanting the other parent to help me with Zack ~ and envisioning a partnership.

But that doesn't exist any longer.

I am HERE ~ he is not ~ and if I want a personal relationship, someone to have fun with and possibly help me parent Zack.....I have to look in the present and towards the future!

The Past is Gone......

And again ~ Mentally I know that ~ but emotionally it had to sink into my heart.

It's time to put the ghosts to rest. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Release the Negative

I believe that trauma can attach to your body and become part of your DNA, and must be released.  I have known so many people who held on to negatives from their life, or kept emotions bottled up and those negatives ended up manifesting physically.

I feel that is what happened with Jeff, when he developed melanoma. He had a lot of issues from his past that he never seemed to let go of, and when he stuffed them, those emotions found their way out in different ways. 

The doctors told me that his case of melanoma wasn't passed down genetically, and he was rarely in the sun.  When he was in the sun he was usually wearing a t-shirt.   

When you are running like a maniac with no time to stop, no time to think of yourself, or make time for yourself, and you are constantly stuffing the stress, it will catch up to you.  

I can remember sitting in the hospital at the end of Jeff's bed, a few days after checking him into Hospice and staring at him laying there, acknowledging that he will never wake up from the medicine they were giving him.......each time they tried, he would start to seize. So now he was resting.

But for me ~ My whole body was on fire.......I sat there realizing that everything I tried to do and all the efforts that we made, had not changed the outcome and NOW there was nothing I could do.

I couldn't sit there any longer, I had to leave!!  My body was screaming for help. I had ignored myself for too long.

My body needed relief, immediately.  I began running through my mind, where could I go to get a massage, and try to eliminate at least the top layer of pain from my body.  

I left Valley Hospital and drove over to the Fountain Day Spa, walking in to the reception area, almost in tears, and asked if they had someone.....anyone who could give me a massage.

Luckily, one of their massage therapists just had a cancellation and she could take me right then.

Thank you God!

On her massage table I broke down in tears........I had been holding in so much....for so long.

When I left, my body wasn't on fire any longer.......but I was still in pain.  I bought a hot healing neck pillow to put in the microwave and wrap around the area that seemed to hold on to stress like a vice.

Over the next six months I made a conscious effort to get a few massages and release the pain, stress, anger and sadness from my body.  I could not allow my body to break down, my son needed me.

The other day I went for a 90 minute hot stone massage to have the hot rocks penetrate deep into my tissue. I asked the masseuse to massage my scalp and release all that I have been holding in my head.  

Those massages have helped me clear my mind, provide me with the self-care I need, to do all that I have to for my son and for our future.

Are you taking care of yourself, and releasing the negatives from life, so that they don't manifest physically?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Anniversaries Are Hard

Whether the Anniversary was of a good day together or a bad day, both are hard to deal with.

Memories of both swirl through my head.

Yesterday, it was a mix of both ~ thinking back to 2 years ago and all of what we went through when Jeff was so very sick........and the end.  Each hour, and event, plays like a movie in my head.

But then I reflect on the fact that he is NOT sick any longer ~ He is free and happy in heaven and wouldn't want me dwelling on when he was sick.

Then my thoughts flip over to when we met......the good times we had.....and so many memorable times that we shared.

I also think about the times Jeff has reached out to me to let me know he's here and he's always around us!

That brings me comfort.

It doesn't eliminate the sadness, but it does ease the pain.

Today, I pulled Zack out of school because both he and I needed a mental health day.  In my heart I wanted to head to the beach and commune with the ocean, but after a fitful sleep and a couple of bad dreams, both of us didn't have the energy for the drive.

Its better to ease through the day rather than fight the emotions.....or the memories.  Hanging out by the pool and being together is what matters. Sometimes you just have to check out!

We loved him and he is missed!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Now Is The Time

I have spent Many Winters up north cooped up inside, while my soul yearned for running outside in the sunshine, going to an outdoor Super Bowl party, sitting in the stands of the Phillies and Yankees Spring Training games, and walking around the many festivals and outdoor fairs that were going on in Florida.

I would watch my friends and family having a life ~ Living and Laughing ~ while I got by........until the Spring and Summer, when the weather would soften up and welcome me outdoors.

My son would run around in the house diving for balls and pretending he was playing football outside.  That energy needed to be unleashed outside, on the grass, in a wide open field......all year long.

No more time to waste.......time is of the essence.  It is time to live, experience, enjoy and blossom into who I am supposed to be.

When I think back on all the conversations I had with Jeff about places we wanted to go, things we wanted to do, or events that were 'put off until another day' I feel sad, because those some days will never happen.

Life is too short for regrets.  It is too short for 'what if's' and it is too short to let fear stand in the way of what could be.

A lot has been accomplished in the last two years.....I no longer yearn for Florida because I am here.....running outside, going to the spring training games, attending that outdoor super bowl party, Zack is playing basketball outside on our driveway, football and baseball at the park, and swimming in the pool.  We are living, we are laughing and we are building a new life.

I believe there are more adventures ahead.  I just keep walking forward and allowing God to show me the way. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


As I walk around my rental house I continue to give thanks!  

Thanking God for carrying me through to the other side of all the negative.  Thankful that I was able to move Zack and I back down to Florida, where I feel at home and Zack can run around outside all year.  Thankful for the New Life I am building for us and the Peace I have found.

I am thankful for my old, longtime friends, and family I get to reconnect with, and new friends that are coming into my life.

There is so much to be grateful for, and by expressing gratitude my soul feels light and happy.

Even when my life was in chaos I tried every day to focus on the positives that presented themselves.

We had great friends that were helping me with Zack. We had loving people at our church providing meals to carry us through. Jeff had great doctors that were fighting for him. I was excelling at my job and there was positive reinforcement there. And Zack's teacher, and school were caring and compassionate through it all.

People would show up to provide the answers I needed, and God gave me the strength and wisdom I needed every day!

I can't claim to know God's plan or why he allows life to unfold as it does.  But I do know that he is walking alongside me every day, providing what I need next on my path.

And for that I am eternally grateful!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

An Ode to My Family

My cousin Renee re-posted a memorial piece that she had written on Facebook a few years ago, remembering all our family members that passed away too soon, and it got me thinking.

Over the years I have reflected on the pain of loss that my family has endured and wondered why so many lights went out so young?

Is it because we have a big family?  My father has 6 sisters and 1 brother, and each sibling has two or three children.  That is a lot of cousins to grow up with, and we are a tight knit family, growing up in Connecticut together.
Over time, bright shining stars have left us behind.

My cousin Kurt in a car accident when he was 18 years old, my cousin Lori in a plane crash in her early 20's, my cousin Morgan in her sleep in her mid 20's, my cousin Margo in her mid 30's, my cousin Colin in his 40's, my cousin's husband in a car accident, leaving behind a young daughter.  And two Uncles who went way too soon.

Is it because our family has such a strong faith ~ are we supporting and raising kind hearted people  to then go on to help God in Heaven.

It is so hard to understand God's plan and why he chooses to take the people he does. So often we hear that 'God takes the good ones.'  In the case of my family, I would say that statement is True.

What I do know, is that if it wasn't for my family's strong faith and role modeling their inner strength, the left behind may not have survived their losses. 

Love, Faith, Family and Strength -- it is what gets us through the challenges of Life!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rediscovering Myself

I think through the challenges of life, and the dynamics that play out, we tend to lose parts of ourselves.

I have discovered, with me ~ when I moved up north, I had to dig deep to rebuild all that I had lost.  And that was a very difficult time for me.

Then, because I had been so focused on my career in my 20's and early 30's, I wanted to also spend time on the personal, getting married, buying a house, having a child.  But a big chunk of me got lost during this period of time.

I can remember, after a year of my life got put on hold, as I juggled Jeff's illness, taking care of Zack, working, and managing the this particular time my strength was faltering.

A local pastor I have become friendly with saw me sitting at Goldberg's one morning with my coffee and he came over to offer me some encouragement.

As tears slid down my face, I softly whispered, "I thought I would be making a bigger impact through my work by now, instead I don't know what I am doing."

Jack smiled and said, "God sometimes has other plans.  Whether you know it or not, you are making a huge impression with all you are doing to help Jeff right now.  All the guys here (the coffee clutch group) see what you are doing and have nothing but positive things to say.  They hope they can take care of their spouses like you are, if they were in the same boat.  So how you are handling this situation is making an impact on others."

I wiped my tears and took in what he was saying.  It was an interesting viewpoint.

My girlfriend gave me a term recently I hadn't heard before.  I realize that after Jeff's passing I had gone through post traumatic stress ~ but she said some people go through Post Traumatic Growth.  Where the experience had been so intense it forces you to grow exponentially.

When I went through my healing phase, I realized that I had to Rediscover who I was "before" and who I wanted to Be.

"Settling" was not acceptable any longer ~ time was too short for that.

I had lunch the other day with someone who remembered a project I created back in the mid 90's to get kids adopted out of foster care.  It was the first marketing program ever for that population, and it paved the way for other projects making an impact today!

When I came to Tampa I jumped in to a non-profit, to go back to what I was passionate about ~ helping kids in foster care.  And in this case, those kids aging out of the system, and ending up on the streets.

I didn't want to create a non-profit again myself, instead I wanted to utilize my talents to help an organization already doing great work.

To tap into other people's talents as well, and work together to make a difference.

I believe that when you dig down to uncover what your passionate about, and put your talents to use, your purpose is discovered and amazing results can happen!