Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cancer Comfort Pillows: What do they stand for?

Cancer Comfort Pillows: What do they stand for?

          Every day someone else is stricken with Cancer and the aftermath of the diagnosis is devastating. You have to think of where your life goes next; Do you fight it? Do you give up? How sick will you get? How will it affect my family? How much will treatment cost? So many questions to face and that's not counting coming to terms with the idea that you even have the disease.

        When my mother was diagnosed and lost her life to Stage IV Cancer in 2014, we asked ourselves these very questions. During the visits back and forth to the Radiation Doctors (it was the only treatment really worth doing as it would relieve the pain she was enduring), she asked me and begged me to tell her why this was happening to her. 
         It was heartbreaking. In May 2014, just a month and seventeen days after the Doctor diagnosed her, we said Goodbye. It was while watching her go around the room, telling everyone she loved them by name, that I realized I wanted to do SOMETHING to help others who have to face this dreaded illness.
          First, I signed up for Relay for Life. I was familiar with races and fundraising, as in 2012 I joined Team in Training in San Diego and raised over $1600.00 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma organization. And then participated in the ½ marathon at the end to celebrate not only life but fighting Cancer. But, it was a struggle. 
         Back then, my heart really wasn't in it. I will be honest, I'm one of the ones who think there may be a slim possible chance that there already IS a cure for Cancer (at least a better one than treatment now) but, I have no proof. However, this isn't to say that raising money to find a cure is a bad thing. I pray it really does help.
         My mission isn't money driven though, it's wanting to help others find comfort while waiting for the cure. There are people who kick-ass at fundraising, but I don't. I hate asking people for money, ever in any circumstance. But, I'd like to think that I can help others feel better by offering kind words, a helping hand, an ear to listen and....Comfort Pillows.
        Shortly after my mom died, my aunt (her sister) underwent treatment for Breast Cancer. Seriously? Right? Hadn't our family been through enough? Anyway, like a champ, my aunt bravely fought it but her daughter told me of how uncomfortable the chairs were they had to sit in. How cold it got in the treatment rooms. Just how uncomfortable it was. Bing! Idea.
        I love sewing and don't get to do it enough, so I felt it was perfect to put two things I enjoy (sewing and helping a cause), together and that's how I came to Comfort Pillows. I don't seek money for them at all. I'm not raising money, I'm giving comfort.
       Each pillow is handmade using fabrics that I purchase from The stuffing inside is washable so each pillow can be washed a few times in case of sickness, simply use your washer and dryer. :). Best part? I include MATCHING pillow cases for each one.
       I've just started really doing this, and the batch of pillows pictured in this blog post are going to be personally delivered to the nearby Naval Hospital Pediatric Oncology Unit later this month. I'm only hoping it's a hit.

     Thank you for reading this post, please share only if you feel it in your heart to do so. I'd love to find other hospitals looking for a small set to add to their unit, not just those here in my current home state of Virginia. So RT away if you're on Twitter or any of the social media options below.
Thanks again and remember, no matter how you choose to fight Cancer, fight how it suits you best.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Forward....Always Forward


         With all of the attacks happening around our world today, it's hard to stand strong and walk forward...but we have no choice. Over the last year, I've had to take a hard look at my own life. Where I came from, how that define's me today, and if I want it to be what brings me into my future. One thing I've realized is that I am beyond every means possible just flat out exhausted.

* I'm exhausted trying to please other people. Worrying about if anything I say, or how I say it will hurt their feelings, or make them question their relationship (friend or family) with me. I'm tired.

* I'm exhausted thinking so much about other people's happiness so much so that I've allowed my own to fall and  I've turned into a negative person. I'm tired.

* I'm exhausted trying to make things work to everyone else's picture perfect version of myself that I almost have forgotten who I am. I'm tired.

        For those of you who don't know me, or who have recently started following the blog...I lost my birth mother 3 years ago. Her death changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. It was tragic. That bastard Cancer swooped in, covered her body in Cancer so much so we still don't know which one actually killed her. She was diagnosed on April 7th, 2014...and in the early hours of May 24th, 2014 (a month and 17 days later) I used a stethoscope and heard the final thump of her heartbeat.
         What you also might not know about me is, my birth mom didn't raise me. In a weird twist of fate, my dad got custody of my brother and me when we were toddlers. I love my dad and respect him so much, but growing up without the mother who gave you life? That's tough. I held onto years of resentment, bitterness, and hatred because I felt she didn't fight for me. I felt abandoned and it left me with issues that still affect me to this day.
           I learned that final month I got to spend with her (very lucky for that btw...) that she lived her ENTIRE life depressed. I learned that she was SO strong because she didn't allow that to take away from the bit of happiness that did come her way. She did live to please other people, I'm like her in a sense that way because when someone entered her life, she it a friend, loved one, meant something to her.
          With her death though, I learned in the toughest way possible how short life really is. Before she died, we talked, made amends, we had begun to build a relationship. Then, she got sick and went down quickly. It's been three years and I'm still gasping for breath.

          The point of all this rambling is, I'm DONE trying to please other people. I'm a really great person. I give my all to every one of my relationships and I do it because that's what I want to do. I enjoy bringing happiness to other people. If it's telling a joke (I'm bad at those ha!), cleaning their home so when they come home from a long day at work, cleaning is the last thing they have to worry about, or sharing a positive quote I found because I think it's something they need to hear.

Life is short, and we only get to live this one once. Either we can spend our days worrying about walking out our front doors, worrying about hurting someone's feelings; or, we can have fun.

                                                                  LIVE. ENJOY. BREATH.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Happy Father's Day ~ A Reflection

It's the time of year where kids Give Thanks to the man (or men) who have given them life, be it literally or by being there no matter what trials have come and gone. Today, weeks before Father's Day, I thought I would dedicate the blog post to the man who has done both for me. With the help of my mother; he gave me life, during a difficult childhood; he supported me and even as an adult with children myself; he's the one person I know I can call on when I need an ear to talk to, a shoulder to cry on or a place to call home. 

34 years ago (gah! I can't believe that's how old I am), I nearly entered the world in the floorboard of my Aunt's car. At the hospital, my dad hardly had time to get the hospital gown over his street clothes before I made my way into the world. From how I hear it, he was the first one to hold me. 
Over the past 34 years (36 if you count being a dad to my brother before me), my daddy has weathered a lot of storms. 

A divorce from my mom, custody battles, and working hard to build a business for himself. He's stubborn but strong. He's hard of hearing but gives great advice. He's set in his ways, but lets you make your own decisions. 

When I was 17....I ran away from home and got married to the bastard who is now an ex-husband. Daddy knew, of course, but told me firmly that if it was what I wanted, then it. I hurt him. But, I respected him even more because he allowed me to make my own mistakes. It's a life lesson so seemingly effortlessly handed down that I'll never forget it. 

So, Daddy, thank you for being a strong, amazing and often times the most humorous support system I have ever had. You're an excellent Father and I don't think you are told that enough. 

Happy Father's Day! 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Things I've Learned....

I've just come from doing a new bedtime routine with my kiddos. God, how did I get so lucky with two forgiving children such as those? I don't deserve them...but I'm feeling so blessed that I get to be their mother.

I wanted to take the next 7 months to really channel my thoughts, feelings and everything else thrown my way...because I know change needs to become a part of my life. Especially after this past year, change is important. I've been discovering what I want out of my life, who I am; even though that mold still isn't much clearer than it was yesterday, and honestly, what I deserve.

I try not to come across as a selfish person, I even feel guilty when I think even a moment about myself. That's one of the many things I've started to learn let me lay it out. If you read this, you're an angel already....this blog is my personal reflections....back in the 80's journals such as these had fancy locks and were considered hope they reach someone who just needs to hear that someone else is going through something similar. If that's you, then thank you for reading. <3 I hope these reflections help.

Things I've Learned: 

* Thinking about yourself isn't selfish. No matter what anyone else says, in order for you to be the BEST for someone else (a loved one, a stranger, etc), you have to take care of yourself. Mind, Body, and even Spirit. You can't give your best to someone else, if you aren't at least trying to bring the best out of yourself.

* I'm not the Judge. None of us are put on this Earth to judge others. This is a hard lesson for me, and one that I may never fully master. It goes along with never judging a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes. Lately, I've been feeling ignored. I'm not one to give up on someone, but I do feel there comes a point where I feel like maybe I'm being annoying, and the person or people simply don't want to or know how to speak up and say...."hey, give me room to breath." I'll admit, I've gotten my feelings severely hurt by this because of my caring nature. Unless someone flat out says, "Hey, I appreciate your care and concern, but I just need a bit to myself. Thank you for being here, but I need some time," then I will always in my nature want to check in. It's almost like a force that I can't really control.

Example: There is a special family member that I've had MANY ups and downs with. I know that my actions from my past have hurt her horribly. I'm just as guilty as ignoring as she is. I've reached out a few times saying..."I'd love to talk, if you're interested." I won't give up though, because if someone really means something to won't ever give up on them. One day I hope she sees my message as a sign of an offer of apology and will reach out. Until then, I'll be here....waiting. People deal with things in their own ways, and who am I to judge how they do that?

* The cycle doesn't have to continue. Recently I took my mom self to the movies and watched, "The Shack". One message I got from that movie was that not only am I not the Judge, but how people act stems from their past. We fight so much to keep the past behind us, where it belongs that we sometimes forget that it's so easy to allow it to leak into our present and become our future. The cycle can end with you. Or in my case, with me. Growing up I felt like I didn't have very supportive parents. At least, growing up they didn't seem supportive.

Example: I remember clearly staying after school one year in High School to try out for the Flag Corp. The girls/people who twirled the flags at Football games. I don't have many talents and I was excited about doing this. I wasn't given the support that I envisioned I should have gotten, nor to the level that I would give my own daughter should she choose something like that. Instead of getting, "I know you can do this, put your mind to it....practice and know you got this," I believe I got a, "I'll pick you up at 5:30 pm". When I came home that day complaining about how bad the mosquito's were, I was told, "either suck it up or don't go back," and that was the end of that. I never tried out for another activity again. Some days I see the cycle leaking into my own daughter's life. The hurtful words that come out before I can even stop them from lashing out. I'm learning to try and stop the cycle. It ends with me. I don't want my daughter to grow up and repeat my mistakes...including the things I've said to her.

This blog post may need to be in parts....I'm a writer so the words pour I'll end this post here. Life has a funny way of sliding in daily reminders and lessons without realization, and it takes just one moment to realize you need to stop and listen.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Book Review: Dancing at Midnight: The Life of June Parker by Rebecca Yelland

Once again Twitter has yet to fail me when it comes to finding amazing reads. A rare encounter with Author Rebecca Yelland blessed me with another wonderful story to lose myself into. 'Dancing at Midnight' really hit close to home for me, and for personal reasons made the story much more enjoyable to read than it would have if I had no connection to the characters. 
'Dancing at Midnight' intertwines two stories of a mother and daughter who struggled to connect as a normal mother/daughter relationship. Growing up, I faced the same issues with my own mother, which is why this story had me sucked in from the beginning. 
After the recent death of her mother, Carolyn goes home to take care of the last few business and estate issues of her mother's, and in doing so stumbles upon a story that would answer so many questions from her own childhood and the missed connection she had longed for with her mother. 
As a reader, we go along on the journey of the heart ache Carolyn's mother, June, had to endure during her own childhood that led to the struggles she faced after having her daughter. 
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good history story. As a writer, I love the way this story was laid out and I felt myself travel back to 1942 and on with Carolyn as she discovered secrets from her mother's past and answers from her own childhood. 
I cannot wait to read the sequel to this story as at the end of this book, I was aching for more. Check out this book, and if you haven't, let Rebecca know what you think after you read it. I found my copy on Amazon at a very reasonable price. Comment below when you finish it, I'd love to have a book discussion with anyone who is interested! 

5 stars because I'm not allowed to give more than that! 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Solo Mom Date...*Photo Overload*

So as a mom of two sometimes it's good to just get away. Today I decided to take some time for myself, hired our incredible sitter, and grabbed my camera. It's been pretty nice outside so I attempted a skirt but the wind tried blowing it up to my neck so I opted for jeans. I found this pretty neat park nearby that had trails, water and a cloudy day...some of my favorite things. Below are some of my favorite shots with my new camera....Enjoy!

For those of you who have no clue who I ya go! Head phones in...Sam Hunt's 'Body Like a Back Road' playing in my ears....perfect day!

Now to get to the good stuff....

This shot is actually edited slightly of the sun hitting a puddle in the marshy-type area...I miss the days of going down to an area like this back home, barefoot and feeling the ick on the bottoms of our feet...

I found a trail and doesn't it look so inviting?? I decided to take this shot before I began the hike (in flip-flops no southern girl thing there) I began the journey...I prayed I'd find no dead bodies...(too much CSI no?)

I saw this and thought it looked like a dog caught on a wire....maybe I'm weird...? haha!

 I found these three tree cloud photos to be my most favorite. The angles of the trees, against the backdrop of the clouds and sunlight...ahh, I could have stood there all day (or until the sun went down...). So peaceful!
 The photo to the left here I really liked because it just felt like there was so much story in the photo. The vines, the two trees together but dramatically separating and then trying to come together again....I love it!
This last photo is one of my most favorites of the entire day. A reminder that the days may become dark but there is always a little bit of sunlight that will always push it's way through. Either it be a person who makes your life better, a job, a hobby....whatever it may's just have to look for it. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

'You May Just Be A Dinosaur' by Heather Macht: BOOK REVIEW

I LOVE Twitter and the connections it has given me. Recently, by the very grace of God, I met an author named Heather Macht who followed me on Twitter. Heather is a children's author and in 2015 released the children's story; 'You May Just Be A Dinosaur'.

Curious, because my kids LOVE Dinosaur's, I checked out the trailer for her book. I had NO idea that trailers for book releases even existed!!! You can check it out here: You May Just Be A Dinosaur Trailer

Watching that video prompted me to go onto Amazon and purchase the book for my kids. I knew it was something they would enjoy.

'You May Just Be A Dinosaur' is an adorably crafted children's story about trying to discover if YOU could be a dinosaur. As you read the story to your child you can ask them questions about what they eat, how they go to school, and more and see if they compare closely with being a dinosaur. It's a funny story all while learning new facts that even myself knew nothing about in regards to dinosaurs.

I encourage to check it out and broaden even further your child's imagination and their love of the creatures that once roamed our earth. Don't take my word for it....choose for yourself!

You can find this book by the multiple links found on the authors website.
or follow my example and purchase from Amazon

If you're interested in following Heather on Twitter, I'm sure she would LOVE to get to know you and share many of her works that are sure to come.

*I obtain nothing for this review, I'm simply doing it out of the kindness of my heart and my love for this story. This will be front and center on our bookshelf and a nightly family read.*

I'd also love to point out the illustrations in this book are suburb. The amazing art work is done by: Jason Gillard