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.