Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Bubble of Healing

When you are broken, beaten up and your world is shattered, you need to wrap yourself up in a bubble of protection from the outside world.  No newspapers, no surfing the internet, no twitter, no negative news.

When I was at the gym and on the treadmill during that period, I couldn't listen to the news.  Instead I would put on sports center.

No negative energy was allowed into my space.

I had been beaten up emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.  I was just doing what I needed to for us to get by.

In that bubble I reflected, on the people that had been in my life ~ the people that were there during the crisis and the ones who reached out afterwards.  I analyzed and I categorized people, and I kept a small circle of friends and family close ~ Everyone else was placed outside of my bubble.
I also had a couple of people who had their own issues of anger over Jeff's passing that became directed at me.

That was not acceptable!

I may be able to understand the misplaced anger on some level but I do not condone it, and that interaction got shut down.

I was focusing on self-preservation.  If I didn't make it what would happen to my son.  I had to heal, for both of us.

I worked with a therapist, I wrote and I by day....then month by month.....and then it was a year.  A milestone.

My son had been dreading the day.  He scribbled it out on the calendar and told me he wasn't talking to anyone that day.  I don't know if he thought something else horrible was going to happen.

But at the end of that day.....we were still there.....and he looked up at me and said, "Today is one year since daddy died." I replied, "I know."

His sad blue eyes stared back at me and stated, "We're going to be o.k."

I almost cried, my heart broke inside for him.  I hugged him saying, "Yes, we are."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Creating a Win/Win......In Plan B

I can remember being on the phone with my brother, sharing my plans about selling my house and moving down to Tampa over the summer, so I can get Zack ready for school in the fall.

Him then saying, "you can't move down to Florida without selling your house."

And I responded with, "I am moving down to Tampa this summer. I am not waiting."

In my mind, my house would sell and I would be out of here.

But after a month of not much action I started thinking, "what are my options?"

I could rent our my  house? But I would be living so far away.  I couldn't just have anyone in my house if something goes wrong.......

Then in the quiet of the night, as I lay in bed trying to fall off to sleep, a vision formed in my head and I could see all the pieces fitting together.

I had some friends in our community who had two little kids, and they had really outgrown their house.  But they weren't in a position financially to sell it and move into something bigger right now.

My house was bigger.  If they moved into my house, and then rented out their house, they could use my house as a transitional place as we all figured out the next pieces.  And I just knew their house would get rented right away. It was a block from the beach and quaint.

However, I Really just wanted to sell my house and be done with it.

God had other plans.....

As I kept putting off talking to my friend, hoping an offer would come through on my house ~ the plan kept nagging at me.

"You have an asset, it can help your friends, and you can continue with plans to move away, " like a small voice this sentence kept running through my head.

When I finally shared my idea with my friend.....all the pieces seemed to come together and fall into place ~ as I saw them.

It became a Win/Win for everyone.

Sometimes the thing we most want at the time, isn't what we really  need.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Putting the Past Behind

When I started creating my plan for a new future -- the first two items on my list included selling my house in New Jersey and finding a beautiful house to rent in Tampa.

After spending Spring Break in Tampa meeting with a Realtor and checking out houses, my son realized I was serious about moving.  I could now put a For Sale sign outside in my front yard.  

What I wasn't prepared for were the emotions and grief that hit me once the sign was set and selling was a reality. 

While I knew it was the Right Thing To Do ~ all the memories of our life together came flooding back to me.  Jeff and I had bought this house together and lived here for 10 years.  It was the place we bought to build a life in.  I had gotten pregnant in this house, we had Zack here, and all our plans for the future were now not going to happen.

As I sat inside the dining room, glancing around, all the bad of Jeff's illness hit me like a wave.  All the memories of his seizures, his surgeries, his treatments......I'm sure there were so many feelings that I hadn't processed because I had been too busy tending to all the details after he passed away. 

One thing I had learned over the last year was when a wave of grief hit me, I had to sit down, work through it, and allow myself to feel, acknowledge and then let go.  Otherwise, it can come back in negative ways.

I can't stuff it any longer!!  That isn't healthy for me.

Letting the past GO can be hard......but it is the Hope of the Future that kept me moving forward.

A Better Life is on the horizon.

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Sons Acceptance

During my husband's illness I was very aware of what my son was dealing with.  I was in constant contact with his teacher, letting her know the drama that unfolded at home and my main focus of his emotional and mental well being.

It was harder to do that when I was drowning in my own emotions after Jeff passed away.

But I reached out to people who could help; his teacher, guidance counselor, and therapists.

When I felt stronger and started crafting a plan to move forward, I knew that getting Zack to accept the move would take some time and it would require a plan of its own.

Living in New Jersey was all he knew ~ the house he grew up in, all of his friends, his supportive school ~ and he adamantly told me in February, "I am Not Moving."

I have interacted with a lot of adults that have emotional baggage that they were lugging around with them and I didn't want to create any more for my son.  His fathers passing was enough.

I felt that he had to buy into our move.  And although he may not totally love the idea, he needed to be accepting of it.

By the end of July, when all our stuff was in the moving van and all of our good-bye's were said, he was ready for the change.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Visualizing a New Life

Last winter as I shivered in arctic temperatures, never really getting warm, and dealing with bundling up to go outside and shovel snow.....I was visualizing a new life in Florida.....A life without snow and cold weather.

I knew I wanted to rent a house for a year, get down there and see exactly where we wanted to live, before buying something.

I wanted to be in a golf community....with a club, a gym to work out in, and endless sidewalks to run outside all year long.

A pool was on the list in my head.  I knew it would entice my son,  and I saw myself sitting outside by the pool with a glass of wine, finding peace.  Overlooking a pond would be an added bonus!

I envisioned a nice sized office to work in and create, while overlooking the pool and pond.....I could see it, visualize it and feel myself living there.

I wanted my bedroom a certain way, rooms for my son for sleeping and playing, and a spare bedroom for guests.

I could see a dining room, big enough to hold my whole family for holiday dinners.

I wanted a house filled with family, and friends, and Joy.

I held those visions in my mind and in my heart as Zack and I flew down to Tampa for Spring Break, to meet with a Realtor. She was going to take us around to look at houses currently available for rent.  I shared with her what I was looking for so she could be on the look out and working to find the perfect house.

I believe that God listened to my desires and my hopes for the future and worked things out for me to find exactly what I was envisioning.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Potter and the Clay

Just as books come across our path at the right time to bring awareness and wisdom, so can messages.

I always loved going to Cornerstone Church and listening to Pastor Fred's sermon's because there always seemed to be a message that carried me through the day.

I remember one Sunday Jeff and I walked in, after dropping Zack off at the kids church downstairs, and set up at the front of the church was a Potter's wheel.  We both looked at each other quizzically, found our seats and opened up our bulletin to see what the agenda was for the service.

A traveling Pastor was listed, instead of Pastor Fred, and the sermon was entitled "The Potter's Workshop."

I hadn't heard the story from Jeremiah 16-18 before and I was mesmerized as he worked the potter's wheel, molding and shaping the clay, while sharing the message of Jeremiah, as well as other scripture verses.

He explained how God is the potter and we are the clay.  How through his workmanship we are created to do good works.  While spinning the wheel and molding the clay he explained the shaping process and how through the trials in our life, we are having our faith stretched and tested.  

It is a process, all the stretching, pulling, shaping, and then being placed in the kiln at extremely high heat, for an extended period of time, to burn away the bubbles in the clay and make us strong!

The process may seem painful at times, but the Potter knows what he is doing.  Trust him to make you into the beautiful vessel to do what you are called to do.

Many times over the past several years I have reflected on that sermon and held to the Faith that God has a plan to use my trials for good. Something good has to come from all the hard.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bloom Where You're Planted

Many years ago I was in a drought season.  I couldn't seem to find my happy.  I walked into a book store looking for some inspiration.

I came across Joel Osteen's book `Everyday a Friday' and the title made me smile.

I bought it and suddenly became absorbed in the pages of positivity.

When I came across a section entitled "Bloom where you're Planted," a revelation hit me.

As much as I had been struggling with being planted in New Jersey, it was my role to bloom.

Reflecting back.....God threw me out here with prove to myself that I can make it.  I am resourceful enough to build something from scratch and I have the perseverance to keep going.  

Before I left Tampa, I had believed it was my partner who made the business successful and that was because He had manipulated me to believe that.

In reality, it was because of my efforts that we pulled off the deals that we did.

It took me a long time to Own that.  

A couple of years after arriving, and shortly after the attacks on 9-11, I felt compelled to many kids were fearful and were looking for guidance. (as were their parents)

Through a series of messages sent in my direction, I created the First Family Coaching practice in the country, and pioneered a way to help kids through tools, instead of therapy and medication.

I've had so many parents thank me for providing insight to their kids over the years.

I realized that God planted me in New Jersey for Many Reasons and unbeknownst to me I blossomed.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Facing Your Giants

Being transplanted from Florida and living in New Jersey was very difficult for me  The culture is different, the lifestyle is different, the winters were hard and I missed my network of friends and family.

But I was building a personal side with Jeff.  We had bought a house in a beautiful lake community, we had an amazing little boy and we were starting to create a new lifestyle.

In that lifestyle, I wanted to find a church that I could start going to with Zack.  I hadn't found a Catholic Church I felt comfortable in and I began praying for the right church for us.

Through a series of circumstances we were introduced to Cornerstone Christian Church and immediately I felt like I was home.

One aspect that enticed me were their small groups, where women came together, read a christian book and studied it during a season.  I also loved that there was child care for Zack.

It felt like a magnet was pulling me towards the table to learn more about the choices of groups available.

Throughout my life I have always had books come across my path at exactly the right time to share wisdom that was relavant.

And for this choice, I allowed my instinct to lead me.  I immediately connected with "Facing Your Giants" by Max Lucado ~ Focus on Giants - You Stumble, Focus on God ~ Your Giants Tumble.
A story about David and Goliath.

It was during this course I learned that the story of David and Goliath was the same David as King David.

But what resonated with me the most was David's journey out in the desert, running from Saul, all those years........until finally Saul was dead and David was able to go home and become King.

At that time I had felt like David, having run from Tampa to New Jersey and I was living in the desert ~ learning, growing and waiting to go home.

Now my tine in the desert was over.  I just had to put the pieces in place to get back to Tampa and set up the life I wanted.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Uncovering What you Truly Want

There are pros and cons to starting over.  The pros are, when you've hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up!  And now you can design the life you really want.

The cons are that the world appears totally different than it did before, and it requires some soul searching.

The Artist's Way was great for that.

Tapping into the authentic me -- not the past me....or the Caregiver me, or the wife me, or even the new title of Widow -- that didn't fit me either.  It starts from where I am today and what that feels like.

The one thing I knew for sure is I wanted to be out of New Jersey.  I had been there for Jeff.....and then Zack, because that was all he knew.  But I loved Florida, and Tampa especially.  To me that felt like home, and right now I wanted to go home.

Out of the cold, away from the snow and ice, down to the sunshine and warmth......and be closer to my family.  That felt right.

There were too many memories and ghosts in my house.

I needed a Sunny New Beginning.  

What would that look like? I began to envision.

The rest....slowly was excavated.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Starting Over Again

After the first set of big holidays; my birthday, Thanksgiving, Zack's birthday, Christmas and New Years, I was spent.

I felt like I had to ride them out, endure the grief that accompanied them, and get to the other side.

But once January came, I knew in my heart I needed to put a plan together.

I don't operate well without a plan.  Just coasting along and being carried by the breeze doesn't work for me.

I had been given the best advice when my Uncle told me I should hold off making any big decisions for a year.  And I took that to heart.  He was right.  Mentally and emotionally I couldn't have handled a big decision.  I had an endless list of small details that had to be unraveled and that was enough.

As I wandered around my house, I knew there was an answer there someplace.  It was only when I came to the bookshelf in my office, and zeroed in on The Artist's Way workbook did an aha moment happen.  I felt like the answers would be found in going through the workbook.

A few months after my 30th birthday, a friend had recommended the Artist's Way as an avenue to uncover my creativity.  I thought it was just a book about how to journal, but found it was so much more.

It has almost a magical aspect to it.

It became a portal to my creativity, my writing and my purpose.

This workbook was one I had bought for Jeff years before, which he never started.

With the winter upon me, and a deep need to hibernate, embarking on this 12 week journey to rediscover myself felt like the right thing to do.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Meaning to Life

When I reflect back, I have a lot of pivotal, life changing moments, as many of us do.  My experiences get categorized like "before I left Tampa, after I moved up north, before I had my son, after I had my son, before Jeff got sick, and after he passed away."

In the aftermath of Jeff being gone, I went back to journaling to make sense of my world and my emotions.

I was filled with such anger ~ it was explosive! And such negativity and despair.  I knew it wasn't healthy.

I was also shell shocked, shaky, scared and off balance.

My day to day existence had been rocked to the core and I was lost.

The outside world didn't make sense any longer.  

I had just walked to the brink of death with my husband, at 47 years old, and watched him leave this life, with him fighting until the end.

Going off to work, making dinner and doing homework with my son seemed meaningless.

Where was the meaning to life?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My 2nd Wake-Up Call

A few years later, after my 1st wake-up call, while I had been making changes in my life, a novel was unfolding on my laptop, and my creativity was expanding.  I developed the beginnings of an adventure series for kids and created 3 empowering kits for children.

But I was still involved with the business and a partner I had worked with for a long time.

I know I should have moved on.....but fear of the unknown kept me in the familiar.  I knew I had outgrown the partnership but I was having a difficult time extricating myself and so I lingered there.

But God had Other Plans.....

There are so many stories in the Bible of people being moved where God wants them!

My story was no different.  On April 8, 1999 God thrust me out of my condo, out of my business, and out of Tampa, onto the road to a new life up north.

A place with no contacts, no business network and no job ready for me, and with only my clothes........I had to start over from scratch.

Following my instinct and my heart, I met Jeff 2 weeks after arriving at my aunt's house in Connecticut, and knew we were destined to be together.  

He may have been the reason I was there!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Remembering What I was Meant to Do

Writing has always been my saving grace. When I was young I spent a lot of time alone, and my journal became my best friend.

I would write to God in my notebook because I felt he was always there, listening, supporting and loving me unconditionally.  I could tell him anything.

As I got older and went off to college, writing became more of a hobby and got pushed to the background, as my business side took over.  

I started my first business while still in college and then went on to create several successful businesses afterwards.

Then God sent me my first Wake-Up Call right before my 30th birthday.  A mysterious invitation arrived at my condo for a Women's Writers Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY.

I can remember standing in my kitchen staring down at the paper wondering Why this was sent to me in the mail.

But the more I held onto it, and read the information, the more I felt compelled to attend.

It was during that weekend, when I was away from my day to day life, that my soul remembered how much I missed my old friend ~ writing....expressing.....creating.

It was time to change my focus and move into a new direction!

Friday, January 8, 2016

God's Call Emerges

A few years ago I met one of my good friends for lunch and I was sharing my spiritual view on what was going on in my career.

She stopped me to ask, "with all the workshops I have done nationally, and all that I have written, why haven't I shared that part of me? The strong faith based side?"

I left that lunch and started thinking ~ why had I walked in the middle of the road all these years?  Being mainstream seemed safer.  And with my background entrenched in business for so many years, that environment never seemed to open itself up to include God.

Suddenly I started receiving all types of messages leading me in the direction of sharing my experiences and God's work in my life.

A book started emerging.  I continued writing, being led by God, until I felt like it was almost just needed an ending.

Then Jeff got sick.....

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Power Awakens in the Darkness

Saboteurs lurk in the darkness for an opportunity to strike.

When you are at your weakest is the best time to kick your legs out from under you and send you spiraling into the depths.

It is in the darkness that God shines his light and reminds you of your power and who you are.

It becomes a struggle to rise to the top when all you want to do is give up.

Giving up seems so much easier.

You try to keep your head above water ~ but you keep going under.

That small voice inside you whispers "you are not a quitter ~ you are a fighter and you have more inner strength that most armies.

Remember who you are ~ you are God's chosen one."

The soft voice is there encouraging and prodding you.

"Rise up and regroup for there is a's coming."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Drowning in Emotion

Up to the point of my husband's passing I had only experienced an unexpected loss of a cousin and I thought I knew how I would handle the grief.

But like everything in life, until you go through it yourself, you truly can not relate.

Looking back I now know I was dealing with post traumatic stress.  I had been managing my husbands health crisis and juggling my son, my work and the house for over a year. And during the last 3 months there were several major decisions, challenges or obstacles that I had to deal with and find answers for everyday. 

All I wanted to do was run.....from the stress, the responsibilities, the pressure cooker I was living in, and the nightmare.

But I couldn't run. There was no one else. And Jeff needed me!

I relied on so many people for help with my son and just to keep all the balls in the air.  I am so thankful for my business background to manage it all and treat the situation like a business.  I was able to put my personal feelings aside and push through.

When the crisis was over, everyone went back to their lives.  I was left to pick up the pieces of a world that had suddenly exploded.....

There were a ton of details to tend to.

I was slowly decompressing from all the stress and pressure.

My son was reeling from the loss of his father, his biggest fan and close friend.

And I was now coming to grips with the fact that my husband, the father of my son, and the man I had spent every day with for the last 15 years of my life was gone. A future we had planned together doesn't exist any more.

How did that happen?

It wasn't supposed to end this way!

We were supposed to find an answer!  

The reality overwhelmed me.

I started drowning...akin to a person lost at sea, treading water for hours, with no land in sight and no sign of a rescue boat.  I was trying to hold my son up so he wouldn't drown.  I kept slipping under the water.....trying to pull myself up and kick to the surface....but slipping again and again.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Connecting with Prayer

Through my life God has sent me Wake Up Calls to shake me up and draw me closer to him.

Ultimately, like any Father, he wants a deeper relationship with us.  

He wants to hear from us, singing his praises in the good times, and coming to lay our burdens at his feet during the bad times.

In Jeff's case I knew to Fight this Battle I would need an army of prayers reaching up to the heavens, praying for a clean bill of health and the ability to move forward with life.

I believed that the prayer network, along the East Coast, that I reached out to ~ All felt connected to Jeff and our crisis.

They all spent time talking to God, feeling as if their prayers were making a difference.

We all felt that with all those prayers going up to God, he would surely answer them.

But maybe that was Jeff's role ~ to draw people closer ~ and cause a rippling wake up call to everyone who knew us.

A reminder of how fragile life really is.

To Each a Season

I believe there are seasons to our life....

Times when we are being tested and crisis is all around us.

And there are other times when we are given space to heal and regroup.

We appreciate the peace and quiet so much more, after the crisis.

Thankful that we didn't crack under the pressure.

In 2013 my husband was diagnosed with Melanoma and my life seemed to get put on hold.

I was the problem solver ~ the positive one, and I believed this was a wake-up call maybe, for Jeff ~ to make some changes in his life for the better ~ but nothing life threatening. I became totally focused on doing what needed to be done to keep my family together.

The next year would take us all on a faith journey ~ closer to God, knowing that we would pursue every medical avenue possible, but Ultimately life and death was determined by God.

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Phoenix Rises

Out of the Ashes she rose ~

Her wings fluttered beside her and  her head lifted towards the sun

She is reborn ~

Her wings begin to lift her ~

High above the rubble ~

Stronger than before ~

She soars with ease ~ Looking down upon the ashes

The past is in the past ~

Time to search out a New Future

Happy New Year 2016

It has taken me awhile to get back to blogging.....I had to go into my shell and heal.

Inspiring words would not come, after my world exploded all around me.

It was just me, to pick up the pieces....for me and for my 7 year old son.

But through the crisis and even after my world was knocked off its axis, I still Believed.....

Believed in God, and stood firm in my belief that He Had a Plan.

Something Good had to come from all the bad!

I just wished he would share it with me ~ or was he ~ in the silence.