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!

Monday, March 21, 2016

HOPE Fuels Me

Throughout all the bad, Hope has fueled me ~ to Believe in God's promises.

I feel like he has brought me Through ~ all the struggles, all the hardships and all the heartache for a Reason.

I am on the other side of the chaos and I look around at the Present and Peer into the Future with HOPE:

~ That I am using all my experiences for the Good of Others

~ That what I am doing here on Earth is Making an Impact

~ That I am doing the very best I can for my son

~ That all the negatives of the Past will someday have a reason

~ That God will grant me a relationship with a wonderful person, a true partner ~ someone I can share my life with, and be a great role model for my son.

And each day I wake up Hopeful, that my purpose is being fulfilled!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Love Letter

There are people who get into your soul!  You know you were destined to be together.

The time together may have had its challenges, but the connection was undeniable.

There was love, laughter, heartfelt conversations, difficulties faced together, a family created, and a future talked about.

So many interests tied us together ~ Sports being the biggest ~ games attended and watched, stadiums visited, and players talked about.  Football season was the best as we rooted on the Dolphins, the Giants and Bucs.  College football we drew sides and I chose Florida State while you chose "The U" of Miami.

Food and travel kept us planning the next restaurant and trip, while our DVR was filled with cooking shows from the Food Network.  Music kept us singing and me guessing 'name that artist' for a nickel.  Holidays spent with family, summer weekends in Connecticut, and days at the lake.  

Raising our son together and seeing how he pulled the best from both of us.

Zack and I so loved how you joined us at church......and all the friendships we made together.

Happy Birthday Honey ~ I know you are happy in Heaven ~ We Send you our Love!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Inspiration and Messages Abound

If you pay attention and live in the moment you can pick up messages all around you. They could be messages of guidance, providing direction, or just confirmations that you are right where you're supposed to be.

This weekend, playing on the movie channels were Movies of Hope, Stories of people fulfilling their Purpose, defying the odds against them, and fighting through the fear and doubt.

It started Saturday night when the I had taped the Peaceful Warrior.  I wasn't sure what it was about exactly, when I taped it, but it sounded intriguing.  As the movie continued on, the title and the name of the main character sounded familiar. I had heard of a book years before, written by a Dan Millman called the Peaceful Warrior.  Come to find out this movie was made in 2006 about his experience in college as a world champion gymnast.  

Dan had a spiritual encounter, which led him on a 20 year spiritual quest, that he has expressed in a series of 17 books and lectures entitled Peaceful Warrior's Way.

Now I am a movie buff, so I find it interesting that I have never seen this movie before.....but messages sometimes come to us when we are ready to receive them!

The next message was seeing the article in Parade magazine in Sunday's paper entitled 'Do You Believe in Miracles?' Which is about the new movie coming out entitled "Miracles From Heaven." I loved how the article states 80% of Americans Believe in Miracles. And Marianne Williamson states "people know there's more going on in this life than just what the physical eyes can see." 

She also goes on to state, "Obviously people are looking for Hope today because the world is so filled with fear and chaos. But something even deeper.  We are looking for Meaning."

The last two movies, that again I taped, and watched on Sunday, was Blue Crush about a girl surfer who had tremendous talent, but was gripped by fear, and it was holding her back.  Until finally her desire to succeed pushed past her fear, to follow her talent and achieve her goals.

And the last movie was October Sky, which I had seen a long time ago, about Homer Hickman.  He was a 17 year old high school student when he had an idea to create a rocket.  He defies all odd, coming from a coal miners town, ends up winning a National Science Fair and becoming a NASA engineer.

There is greatness inside if we tap into it, allow it to push us and Never Give Up!!  Listen to the signs.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Reality Hits

In March, two years ago, as I drive into work a Realization Hits Me.  I can't get over how sick "my husband is" between the meds, the doctors and the tests......and lately I can't understand what he's trying to say a good portion of the time, due to the last surgery.

"I have a sick husband! How is that possible?" I shout in my car.

What is causing these falling episodes again? The dilantin? I hadn't had time to contact Jeff's anti-seizure doctor about his medicine.  Could it be another tumor?  It's too quick.  It hasn't been 2 months since his last surgery.

This whole time, over the last 14 months I hadn't really thought of my husband as sick.  He was always having surgery....cutting out the problem....going for preventative treatment, or having another surgery to take care of the latest problem.....then more preventative treatments, and on and on....I am a positive person and always looking for a solution.  

I kept focusing on the solution, not on his current medical condition.  I did that as I tended to his daily care, but my focus was always on..........what are we doing next for him to be free of this issue.

I arrive at my office and before I go upstairs to my work area, I call Dr. Beyerl's office.  He wasn't available so I spoke to his medical assistant and told her to relay a message, "Jeff had his MRI yesterday but he had a falling episode that was reminiscent of the ones he had back in December and January.  Could he please look at the MRI results today and see if he sees anything."

I felt sick all day, checking my phone to see if the doctor called.

That evening, while making dinner, Dr. Beyerl calls me back on my cell phone.  As soon as I say hello, the first thing he does is apologize, and my knees begin to buckle.

"I am really sorry to have to tell you this but the tumor is back.  I didn't think I would be telling you this so soon........

I get off the phone and turn to see Jeff standing behind me, listening to the conversation.......and our world drops out from underneath us.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Next Shoe Drops

             The next day is not any better.  I had to work, so I asked our 

friend Mike if he could bring Jeff to get an MRI.
 After getting home from work, picking up stuff around the house and throwing in a load of laundry I realize over an hour had passed and I am beginning to get worried, why isn’t Jeff home yet? So I called Mike on his cell to find out where they are.

Mike tells me that Jeff was disoriented.  He had dropped him off in front of the entrance of the hospital, parked the car and went to where the MRI is located only to discover that Jeff wasn’t there.  A few minutes later one of the security guys escorts Jeff in and told Mike that he got lost.
He said that they are on their way back now, and should be at my house in about 15 minutes.
I keep glancing out the front window, waiting to see Mike’s car pull up.
A little while later Mike drives up and parks in front of the house and Jeff climbs out of his truck.  As I watch him shuffle down the drive way, towards the steps, I see Mike drive away, and my gut tells me to meet him on the front stoop. 
Sure enough, just as I open the door, he starts to walk up the steps and begins to fall.  His legs buckle underneath him as I lunged down and grabbed him underneath his arms just as he was going to slide down the stairs.  But I can’t lift him up and I’m crouched on the stairs holding on to him so he won’t fall down.  He is too heavy for me.
Luckily, I see our neighbor Beverly, drive her car up the street and pull into their driveway across from our house. As she got out of her car I called out to her to get her husband Manfred to please come help us. She sees whats going on and dashes inside.
Manfred comes running across the street and grabs hold of Jeff under one arm, as I grab underneath the other arm, and we both help get him up the stairs, into the house, and then up a few more steps to our main floor landing where we sat him down on our stoop.
Manfred is shaken to see Jeff like this, to me it has become second nature, unfortunately. He wants to help Jeff get into the living room to sit on the couch but Jeff is also shaken and he waves him off, saying he just wants to sit there a minute and regain his balance.
I explain to Manfred that Jeff should be ok in a few minutes. He has had these episodes before, throughout the whole month of December and into January, before his last operation.
He assures us that he is right across the street if we need anything else. I thank him so much for his help, as I accompany him to the front door to let him out.  Without his help I wouldn’t have been able to get Jeff up the stairs by myself.
A little while later Jeff was able to walk on his own from the stoop over to the couch and he planted himself there for a while.  Luckily considerate people from our church had brought by some food so I heated up dinner, helped Zack with his homework and then went to relax on the couch before both Jeff and Zack went off to bed at the same time.

I went into the kitchen and made myself some tea.  I hadn’t ate much at dinner, and couldn’t seem to eat anything substantial the last few days.

I got an immediate twist in my stomach.  We are scheduled to go see Dr. Beyerl on Monday, after getting his MRI today, and Jeff is scheduled to have a PET scan next week.  Why do I get the feeling that the situation is heating up! I feel like a passenger on a runaway train and I can’t stop it and get off ~ I am stuck RIDING it as it barrels out of control. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Following the Dates Back in Time

From the middle of January, until the beginning of April, life had been a crisis every day.  Each day brought a new set of problems, issues to resolve, and answers to be found.

But once March hit, it seemed that everything went from bad to worse.  

Each date that I see on the calendar, has me reflecting back to the slide towards the end.

Jeff's birthday on the 15th was definitely a turning point, but the week leading up to it was filled with signs of things to come.  

I think Jeff knew in his mind that it was not going to be good. I had been trying to convince him a few days earlier to go away for Zack's spring break the beginning of April down to Florida to see family.  I had already contacted his cousin in West Palm Beach to see if we could stay with him.  The weather that winter had been the worst, and I felt that getting away, soaking up some sun, and spending quality time as a family would be good for everyone.

It had been 6 weeks since Jeff's brain surgery and his doctor said he could travel.  In my mind I figured now was the time to spend time with family and give us a break from this nightmare.  But Jeff told me to wait until after his latest MRI.  

My statement was, "you heard what the doctor said, you should get away, heal and spend time with me and Zack."  I knew he hadn't seen his grandparents during all of this and I felt that would be good for him too.  But he wanted to wait.......

That week Jeff started with the falling incidents again.  When we went to see his cancer doctor to figure out the next strategy, my brother-in-law drove him to the hospital and I met him there after work.  Dave called me on my cell as I was driving over to the hospital to let me know that when he dropped Jeff off, he seemed sort of disoriented.  

When I got to the waiting area and walked over to where Jeff was sitting I could see he was scared.

I sit down next to him, “How are you doing?” I whispered, “Dave said you seemed kind of out of it. Are you really tired?” I can see concern in his face when he answers, “I don’t know. I stumbled into the office ……...I’m concerned the tumor is back.”

I grabbed his hand, “Honey, I’m sure you’re just exhausted. You haven’t slept well in weeks. When I’m exhausted I stumble around too. It doesn’t mean that the tumor is back.” I try reassuring him, but I have my own doubts lingering in my head.

While this is going on, I am also getting pressure from Jeff's work to file for disability, and get him set up on disability retirement. But I knew in my gut that was not the right thing to do. 

He was currently using his sick days, personal days, and vacation time, which were paying him his full salary. Why should I file for disability and have his pay cut by 40% when he still had a bank of time to use up?

I knew there would come a time when I would have to make that decision, and I was counting the days, playing strategy and hoping I was playing the odds correctly. The day I sign him up for disability retirement I LOSE his life insurance money.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Childhood Memories at the Park

After school it was a perfect day outside and Zack wanted to go to the park ~ see some friends and play baseball.  The beauty of the day was calling me as well ~ to get out of the house, away from my computer and into the sunshine with my son!

When we arrived and walked out to the baseball field I took in all the sights, smells and sounds.  The smell of the grass on a warm day, the sun shining down, the sky so bright blue with wispy white clouds hovering above, it was a feeling like nothing else.  

There were kids climbing trees at the playground and I broke out in a big smile as it brought me back in time to when I was young and loved to climb trees. I was a tomboy and spent a lot of time sitting in a big willow tree in my back yard, out in nature, enjoying a birds eye view of the world.  

As I glanced around I noticed a girls lacrosse team out on a big open field and I immediately reflected back to when I was in middle school and I would practice cheerleading in a similar field, getting ready for tryouts......practicing, hopeful, determined and passionate!

Those moments can bring such a calm that settles over you, to simpler times, memories in life that are precious and easy.  Life should be like that every day.

As for yesterday, I enjoyed a perfect afternoon, and all was good in the world.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Spring ~ A Season of Hope

This world can be very difficult and sometimes Hope is hard to find.  There are seasons when we don't know how we are going to make it through ~ then when we are on the other side, our Hope is depleted.

I believe Hope is God's spirit infused in each of us, for inspiration, to keep us going when the times get tough.  

When our Hope gets low or feels non-existent we have to rekindle that spirit so it swells back within us. Giving into the hopelessness is not what God wants for us.

After my husband passed away I felt hopeless.  I didn't understand what God's purpose was in taking away a great dad from my young son, or a man who had been striving to be a better husband.

It took a long time to get my well of Hope replenished again.  Healing was required, and time needed to pass.

But as I look towards Spring, I am hopeful.  Hopeful that bright opportunities are around the corner.

I feel like God has taken me this far and there are rewards for all the bad that was endured.

Over the next month I want to share ways to Tap into Your Well of Hope.

God sends us inspiration through books, movies, nature, friends, family and sporting events!!  Within each sport there are underdogs who strive and succeed against all odds.  Those stories give us Hope that we will succeed as well.

With Spring upon us, all the signs around us remind us that Hope is there, we just need to tap into it.