Facing Death Taught Me...

1) Big Girls Do Cry and sometimes it is okay to be damn proud of it. Holding in feelings can destroy
you. It’s so cathartic to let them out and it’s very healing. We don’t have to wear our emotions on our
sleeve but we have a right, men and women to express our emotions. Passion and sensitivity is a gift. My older sister use to tell me when I was a little girl that I was blessed with sensitivity. Most of my life, I saw it as a curse. Many times, even my kids, have teased me for it unless they needed it tapped into towards them, their hurts and hurdles through life. Crying is part of life, Jesus cried. Let the tears flow, happy tears, sad tears, and moving tears.

2) As Milton Berle said and the first thing I saw on my first day of chemo on a sign next to my chair, “Laughter is an instant vacation” and we all need an escape. You can’t laugh without smiling and smiling puts you in a happy mood and others. Smile frequently and laugh as well. If you find yourself with others that can’t take smiles and laughter, maybe you are in a down crowd. Life is meant to be enjoyed not dreaded.

3) Little moments in life are those to be cherished the most. When you are flat on your back, your goals are simple, walk to the mailbox at the end of the driveway. Be able to eat a meal. Watch a movie from start to finish without falling asleep. Too often we are so busy and so easily disappointed because we can’t travel to Europe, buy the hot car, or put the kids in everything they want to be involved in that we forget about simple things that truly matter. I was reminded of the joy of decorating cookies for Christmas, you are never too old to use colored icing on cookies and have bragging rights! Kids love it so try doing this instead of taking kids shopping for new toys. Sit on the porch with a new book instead of going on a shopping spree. Take the kids out to feed the ducks crackers and watch your kids go from being scared to you being frightened by how close the children go to the wild animals!

4). Forgive those that have trespassed against us. Harboring ill feelings and not letting go of what you can’t control is like a cancer growing inside of you. However, give yourself permission to divorce drama from your life. I learned to take a personal inventory of those around me. Evaluate who is bringing value to you, who is building you up and accepting you for who you are and making you feel good as a person. If they are not, as much as you may love them and cherish them, you need to consider letting them go. Life is about loving others, but also about loving you. If someone is constantly badgering you or subtly putting you down and making you feel less of yourself, this is not a good way to finish out your life. You must be whole and be able to give to those who love you the love you have for yourself. That love won’t be complete without wholeness inside.

5) Hold to your belief system. If others shun you for staying true, perhaps they are not meant in your inner circle. God created us uniquely but with a goal for us to attempt to follow in his footsteps. Our perception of those footsteps may vary and we may be at different steps in the journey than others. If others are lagging behind, don’t allow yourself to be pulled back into an unhealthy unjust unholy place. Evil and contempt breeds unhappiness and resentment. Always maintain your character, integrity and values. Christianity and faith must be your stronghold and foundation.

6) Life leads to death. And death leads to life, life everlasting. It is imperative that you stay on the path of faith, prayer and development of your Christian journey for you know not when it ends. It is so much easier to accept your death and others that will die before you if you have reached some sort of acceptance and understanding of the passage of this life to the next. It also aids in helping those
around you to accept yours. Peace will come with our crossing over if we have faith in God, in Jesus’s words. But to truly comprehend we must continue and be committed to a higher level of our spiritual development. This is defined by each of us differently. But in each of us, it must be a higher priority. I have faced the reality of my mortality and accepted it.



Special Dance for Nashville Strides 2016

American Cancer Society hosts the one of largest Breast Cancer Fund Raising Drives in major cities across America every October, Making Strides against Breast Cancer. Ever since I was diagnosed in 2007, I have been advocating for people to get involved. Debbie Thomas has been leading the charge of Strides in Nashville for several years. My involvement has encompassed several areas. Debbie has given me opportunities to bring some new ideas to the event also. This year I am thrilled to introduce participants of Making Strides Nashville to a special performance on Oct. 22nd as a way of saying thank you for all the donations you have raised and to inspire others.

Several years ago I met Justin Jenkins. He use to dance with Southern Movement, a dance
Justin & Taylor Jenkins of Diamond Academy of Dance
crew that had competed on MTV’s hit show America’s Best Dance Crew,  produced by Randy Jackson of America Idol fame. Justin was raised in Memphis and went to MTSU for college. He toured with the group Southern Comfort and eventually landed up staying in Nashville and finding a home here.

Justin could not leave his incredible skill sets behind and innate talent thus began teaching in dance studios. He finally started teaching at what he learned was one of the top dancing studios in Nashville, Diamond Studio of Dance in Mt. Juliet. Its standard of excellence was most definitely only improved with Justin on staff teaching hip-hop.    

The owner, Taylor Corlew has built a life devoted to dance, from a young age, winning many awards for all styles of dance and getting certified as a teacher in Chicago.  Taylor has been
Mr. & Mrs. Justin Jenkins
touched by cancer in her own family. The two of them, Justin and Taylor recently married this past May!  Their entire staff is committed to their students, young and old.  Emphasis is the importance of good health, which is not just exercise but a strong mental attitude. The studio embraces prevention of disease and stress by being positive with their students and encouraging them in all their live pursuits.  Their values emphasized are the same that the American Cancer Society knows decreases not only cancer but all illnesses. 

Justin is a natural fit for working with Making Strides. He is compassionate, enjoys working for a cause that affects so many others, and feels strongly about healthy lifestyles.  Justin has said realizing large numbers of women of all ages are getting diagnosed with breast cancer is even more concerning since he works with so many females at the studio. Last year he and his close friend from Southern Movement, Kemmian Beard of Bearded Productions, choreographed and produced a Dance Flash Mob downtown at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville.  This performance brought local dancers and the Titan cheerleaders together with local media to highlight our event and the importance of Breast Cancer Awareness.

This year, Justin is coming back to raise the roof the day of the event on center stage!  To show the importance his studio and he personally has towards decreasing cancer risks by exercising to maintain a good healthy lifestyle, he will be performing with two very special young ladies and members of Diamond Dance Studio’s Dance Team. 

Amira Domenique Doss (14 yrs) and Morgan Elyce Doss (12) are both hearing impaired
teens, raised by their single mother Regina Smith-Doss, a speech pathologist at Rutherford Schools.  The girls attend Rocksprings Middle School. These girls have been intimately touched by breast cancer, having an aunt and a grandmother that are survivors. We need young people to stand up and take notice of this issue and get involved.

Amira and Morgan dance, as they did last year in the Flash Mob, but this year with Justin Jenks, their teacher and mentor on stage. They will again be joined on stage to give a show-stopping performance. The purpose of this dance it to celebrate Making Strides for all in the field of Breast Cancer and to encourage others to care. These girls are kind-hearted, bright and great students. They could do many things with their talent but are committed also to wanting to step up and show their grandmother this cause matters to them and her life is a blessing in theirs. Their dance is also a lesson to show, yes, even those with challenges facing adversity can persevere with faith and accomplish their dreams. You can make it through a breast cancer diagnosis just like these girls can learn to dance without perfect hearing!

Regina Smith-Doss
Regina, the girls’ mother has been having her daughters’ dance and compete for Diamond Academy for several years now.  She is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to breast
Amira, Regina (Mom) & Morgan
cancer progress.  She also has two sons she has raised that have added so much to her life!  Regina has a profound faith and believes we all are called to do what we can to help each other and so shining a light on this event, to her, is a chance to pay it forward for the lives in her family that have been saved. She also was chosen this year to attend Lobby Day at TN State Government to help promote cancer-friendly legislation with American Cancer Society employees and other delegates asked through-out the state.  She recently volunteered to participate for Look Good Feel Better program for the American Cancer Society.

Cancer can be scary and all who have faced it will say it knocks you initially off your feet. But with major hurdles in our life, taking on an attitude like Amira and Morgan, we can survive and, we can do more.

Justin’s choreography is upbeat and entertaining, it is about a celebration of life!  This dance is proof we can all dance, we can all dance during our lifetime, and we just have to have the
Justin Jenkins & Morgan 
will. All of his dancers celebrate not just dancing but joy of being together, of helping others in this cause and being a part of something bigger than just the dance.  Justin believes that coming together is about building his students up so that they are better people, so that they learn to build others up. Making Strides believes this is the nature of Nashville also; we support each other and we come together.  We are stronger people, and we can beat this nasty disease breast cancer eventually. Each year, Making Strides Nashville’s donations go up and participant numbers go up.
I hope you all will contemplate the meaning of this dance and not just the quality of their dancing when you attend. We can overcome if we donate, volunteer and walk this year. And definitely, plan on supporting these three as they hit the stage. Make noise for all the other students that perform as well knowing that are equally excited to be a part of this event! Show the love for a young man with amazing talent who freely shares it simply because he wants the future of his students brighter and is devoted to a cause that matters, strides in breast cancer. 

The girls & their Grandmother (Breast Cancer Survivor)
If you wish to support Regina Smith-Doss & her daughters & team this year  please Click
here PINKED. and search on her name. Use this same link to sign up to walk or start your own team!  #igotpinked

Facebook: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer -Nashville
Twitter - IAmStridesNash
Instagram - IAmStridesNash

Missing Woman

It was all I had hoped for
or maybe not
But it was a reunion.
of sorts.
I had waited years to meet her
and so it was
I found myself looking at what was someone I should know well
and yet felt like a stranger of sorts.

Time had not treated her well
or maybe it had.
She had led a rigorous life
of sorts
Hard partying catches up with us all
And being with a slew of Mr. Wrongs
in the hopes of finding a Mr. Right
or maybe just in the hope of new excitement
possibly around the corner
but never quite finding it lasting
no matter who or where she was.

And so here I stood
watching, looking and wanting
To see what I wanted needed and craved for years
Some semblance of what I had dreamt up in my mind
but somehow knew not to be true
But we girls have our dreams
even when we ourselves grow old.

What stood in front of me was an older woman
who may one day remind me of myself.
But for now it was a faint memory
of something I had wanted to hold dear, tightly to me
but was always more than a phone call away.


Fate Is Under-Estimated

We all face hurdles in life. It is part of the growing process at all stages of development. The difficult part is understanding how to process these issues. Deciphering which ones you can affect directly and which ones you can’t is one of the keys to creating harmony in your life.

I remember taking a class in college called Adult Development. I was somewhat miffed to learn, after going through all the stages of development as a child that now,  I was entering  adulthood,  I had  all these new phases of changes to face.  Hadn’t I gone through enough growing pains already?  Does this adjustment period never cease?

 I think in our youth we think at one point in our life we will hit the stage where we have somewhat mastered life! As we age, we learn that plateau does not exist. What’s more, it should not exist for if it did, one of the best parts of life would be gone, learning and growing.

Facing issues most of us that like to be in control want to fix things immediately. Creating solutions comes naturally to Type A personalities, it is innate, part of their chemistry. The lucky Type B’s seem to have it easier in my mind, they can roll with it. My type tends to obsess, look at problems from every angle, make lists of ideas, bounce it off of others, research the problem and then circle back around.

The reality is we need to always, when confronted with problems step back.  The types of issues I am referring to tend to involve emotions. Recognize, with issues you are facing, if they are truly under your control. In these cases, it is really worth your efforts?

I have come to find out, from seeing friends die of cancer, too much time in our lifetime is wasted. We do not spend enough time rejoicing in the beauty of life.  Those issues, when they pop up, ask yourself, can you send the request up to God and move on?  If you can’t control it and tomorrow is not promised should you perhaps let it go?  Sometimes life’s problems don’t get solved. And then, fate will intervene, and when it does, the situation is taken completely out of your hands. Do not try to force your will, give fate a chance.  


Mother's Love Stone

The ring was a gift. It was one that I always wanted. I had seen so many older women with those mother rings with all their children’s stones lined up so beautifully in a row. I could see the gleam in their eyes when they proudly looked down on them, each stone representing a little life they had brought into the world. Each stone held all the memories of a life’s worth of laughter and tears shared.

Then one year, several years ago, on my birthday, my two kids surprised me.  My daughter came to town and I got that gift I always wanted, that ring, a mother ring. Mine was unique, specially designed by my daughter. It was more than just the stones; it was beautiful and represented to me more than just my two kids, it represented years of memories with my children, something I hadn’t been able to experience with my own biological mother who had left when I was young.  I was raised by my step-mother and had always felt cheated. My children gave me that chance to have a biological relationship like I have never had, lifelong. Reconnecting with my mother now, as an older adult is not quite the same.

The ring was beautiful, it has a scroll design. Their birthdays, one in May and the other in Jan were stones that made it look like a Christmas ring, one being a garnet and the other emerald green. It was a stunner and for a long time, I never took it off. Wearing it with pride, I showed it off every chance I got. At some point, I started switching out the ring with others I owned.

Three years ago, my daughter quit speaking to me and cut off all contact with me and disallowed me to have any communication with my grandson. From then on, I quit
wearing the ring. It was a painful reminder of a relationship that wasn’t there anymore. It reminded me of those feelings I had growing up of not really being part of a real family. I have friends with adult children enjoying those relationships and their grandchildren and here, with a grandson Kaleb at age 5, no longer was I allowed being a part of his life. 

One day, after prayer, I begun to think, maybe just by miracle, she would realize she loved me, that I had given her all I had to give and she would want me in her life.  I went to my jewelry box, where I kept that ring in safe keeping.  I had always planned on bequeathing it to her in my Will as it was her stone and her brothers so I thought perhaps it would mean more to her when I was dead. When I pulled it out, I let out a sob. To my dismay, the stone was missing, only hers.  I knew immediately what it meant.

I went outside looking for my husband. I held up the ring and said aloud that a stone was missing with my eyes full of tears. I told him I knew what it meant. She was gone permanently from my life. I knew, after all my prayers that was a sure sign.  The ring had never ever left that jewelry box and the stone is gone.  He came in the house and I sat down in the kitchen and sobbed. He feverently searched in the box but I knew what the outcome would be without a doubt.  He came out of our room, shaking his head and saying he had no idea what happened but the stone was gone. I let him know it was okay, I understood.  I slowly put the ring back, incomplete, like my heart. A piece gone, but knowing I had the beauty of it once.

I still have the ring, minus the stone. Little did I know in just a few short years, the phone
would ring and my son be on the end of it and a similar scene would play out.  This one too shocked me as he knew how hurt I had been but it did not matter to him.  He pushed me out of his life without a so much as good-bye Mom.  Gone now are my husband and I’s wonderful close relationships with our dear three other grandchildren. I went in the bedroom a few weeks later; the green stone is still there, the one for my son, for now.  I thank God for that. Whether it will remain or not remains to be seen. God answers prayers but not always in the way we want but according to His plan.

We must always learn to recognize our blessings while they last, Hold those loved ones close while you can. Not everyone will see a blessing the way we will. Not everyone will accept you; some will judge you and you must not let that control you or your life. You may have to let go or they may push you out and then you need, no, you must move on. Life is a forward progression. Continue with God’s purpose and plan for your life. This is what faith in action is, walking with the light of God.  The incompleteness you feel will be a blessing of sorts because it will develop into a higher level of passion and a deeper understanding of faith.

My ring may be missing a stone, and in the future, maybe God will take away the other, but it will remain circular. This is a reminder to me that my love is complete; it always was and will always be unconditional towards my children.  It is far more painful to not feel loved by a parent than to feel rejected as a parent.  I may not be perfect but I was the chosen one by God to have them and have always been there for them even when it is unrequited love. For that I feel peace, more joy than in the stones.  


Marriage Minus an Affair

Affair-proof marriages are possible. Affairs are also possible in marriages in any situation, whether you have been married only a few years, have a crazy life, many children or appear on  social media to have what epitomizes perfect marital bliss. It has more to do with the daily rituals of your life than the passion and love you share with your spouse.

Too often people make the assumption that pre-arranged marriages have a zero chance of being happy. How in the world can two people who never met, forced into marriage ever fall in love?   What allows that to happen?

In comparison, ask yourself how in the world marriages by choice can withstand the changes that occur when a child dies, a troubled teen in a blended family, one is diagnosed with a debilitating disease, both partners are forced to work and one hates their job as it becomes demanding, money becomes scarce, their neighborhood develops issues, school problems develop with their children? It is as much of a surprise a marriage can last even with a self-made choice!

Granted many pre-arranged marriages are in not ideal circumstances in underdeveloped backward countries.  Infact, 11% are under the age of 15 according to Statistic Brain’s website. But also listed is the overall whooping worldwide divorce rate, 6.3! Oh and arranged marriages are also done in America too. This compares with US non-arranged divorce rate of somewhere between 40-50%. Some say that rate is too high and could be as low as 3.7 out of 1,000 but keep in mind the number of marriages in the US is 2,118,000.

I am in no way advocating pre-arranged marriages but have to consider what is it that makes marriages work and not work. In reading about the reasons why affairs occur, observation and talking to people that have cheated a few things stand out. Top on the list is the regular needs for affection and attention were not being met.

When we date, we take time to communicate loving messages, give undivided attention, date, and foster a friendship.  We try to win each other over.  These are human needs. Most people want to marry the person that fulfills these needs the most, someone who will meet these needs for the rest of their life. Others will be drawn to eye candy, someone they see a fulfilling their fantasy mate and thinking this will satisfy all the other needs, and even if not, they can live without the other with this awesome looking spouse because no one has it all.

Somewhere between the I do’s and day to day living, life gets in the way.  Gone are some of the things you craved and loved the most about the person you married. We sense red flags, often subconsciously.

Do you know many are surprised to find their spouse is cheating with someone they consider beneath them, someone younger, less accomplished or someone less attractive?  See it usually isn’t about the person’s stature at all, it is about the need they fulfill, the need their spouse once filled. Gone is the spouse’s accountability or feel for responsibility to fill that need. There may be signs all over that the marriage is on the rocks and pushed aside for the kids, the job, the finances, but it is ignored as less important as the challenges in day to day life. And yet is it the glue that holds everything else together. 

Too often, divorce is not even considered at this point. No one really even usually thinks about cheating. They sort of fall into it, by chance.  Slowly someone starts sensing something missing in their life. And someone else starts slowly but surely fulfilling it, maybe without knowing and maybe by capitalizing on it.  Incidentally, of both sexes 66% believe you can cheat online. 

The need most attribute to cheating is quite similar. For men they characterize it by describing it, as I said about, being dissatisfied with their relationship in general and most likely sex.  Women feel emotionally deprived. Many statistics can be found on many websites but all concur that half of cheaters feel guilty but more than half don’t regret it.

Knowing the reasons is the first step towards having an affair proof marriage. The solution is within your marriage, your relationship. No one outside can tell you exactly how to fix it because each of us is unique thus our relationship is. However, fostering our initial relationship as a deep abiding friendship and dating scenario is always important.

In prearranged marriages, they must court a process of getting to know each other and continually work, if they are to create a bond and fall in love. Their goal is create a family that loves and cares for each other. It is very much possible by learning to respect each other and sharing things together, being attentive and meeting each other’s needs. Perhaps that is why, in developed countries their divorce rates are lower. I am not talking about countries where marriage are forced on children under-age!  

Happy older couples will tell you they can easily walk away from their kids and house chores and spend time with their spouse. It matters not what they do. They don’t need an anniversary, or an excuse to get out and away.  This is their marriage and they want to keep it alive and exciting.  We need to take a page from their book, from their history and let our history repeat theirs.  No matter what is going on in life, we need to be that co-worker that stops working to listen, that friend that will take our spouses hand and invite them in for a cup of coffee. If you aren’t willing to find the time, someone else will. You deserve it and so do they.  If a car needs a tune-up and you take time to care for it, certainly take time to do it with your relationship with your lifelong mate!

I believe in the institution of marriage but I also believe divorces are needed. Some make hasty decisions and aren’t ready for the commitment. Some marry, quite simply, the wrong person. But there are many that let the relationship fall by the wayside when it could have easily been fostered. It is like neglect, something not fostered doesn’t feel beautiful or appreciated.

If you can say I do, you must say I will, find the time to love the one I want to be with, and then do it!


Florida Is Becoming Home

I found ice cream paradise and had to do, a few weeks back, without our usual weekly protocol the
dollar cone night at the local Tasty Cone stand. I kind of missed all the regulars and teens working there. It is a fun bunch, not to mention the best custard at the best price!  

But, much to my delight, in St. Pete’s city we found a quaint shop that has homemade fudge, candy, cotton candy and ice cream flavors that change weekly. Advertised as a special that day was Peanut Butter Pie ice cream calling my name. So in we went me without hesitation. Was it as good as it sounded? Hell yeah! I tried to get Jim to try Mackinaw Island Fudge & Vanilla Cream Ice Cream but he thought that was too rich. Too scared to go outside his comfort zone, that far anyways, he did get some bizarre mix.

Shopping in Florida in the summer minus air conditioning is insanity. Only vacationers do this. You can tell by the sweat streaming down their face as they pretend to enjoy this.  Now I am beginning to realize I am a Floridian and no longer have to pretend that part is fun. If I go in a store and it isn’t working my ass is out the door. They could be giving stuff away and I still leave.

Oh did I mention our community has a hot tub? Here is the real kicker, people use it! Yep, I have
gone in it one time, at night. But dang is that hot! I don’t know who sets the controls but I bet if you
didn’t have a suit on your underneath sections will be boiling red! My grandson came down for a visit
and if I didn’t know any better I would have thought his slight burn spots on his little torso area about his waistband were from that. He insisted on walking in there and just went down one step till I made him get out. That was his only portion that hit the water uncovered. Even that little tough guy said “Grandma that is too hot for me!”

Chihuly Gallery
Back to our trip to St. Petersburg area, it had beautiful beach!  The town is what I call artsy fartsy.  And pricey for sure. I would never stay in that area, too many other places to stay cheaper and you can simply drive up there for the day. But wow, so much art to see that is so unique. I am still am in awe of how many different directions we can go to experience so many varied things where we live. And people told us we would hate living in Florida. When does that happen?
St. Petersburg, FL

When our grandson Jake came down, his main fascination was the golf cart. Jim had to take it out several times a day and take scenic routes around the community. Even neighbors were taking Jake
on rides. He would flag them down and make them. He can be quite bossy and left them no choice.
How do you say no to a cute face that kinda looks like a big ole tear will trickle down his face if you say no. 

My granddaughter wanted to go to the ocean while she was here. However, going into the water was
not her top priority at all anymore.  She wanted me to insure her there were no sharks in the area we were in and that none would come near. And then, she would only go in for a second and tell me, while we were out there, she was certain they were going to come around us and encircle us in a big pool of blood and then eat us up by attacking us and eating off our limbs. Such a pleasant thought she had me following her inshore, rather quickly. 

Any of you that are Catholic and wondering where all the American priests are, come on down! We found them, they are all in Florida! No longer are Carole Robinson we listening to priests with foreign accents we can’t understand! Yep, we have three where we attend and every single one we can understand. What a blessing from God!

And we have found a wonderful place to shop I have mentioned before except one little tidbit that is so cool. Apparently turtles, we have learned,  are a sign of good luck. Why:  Because they can only go forward, never backward. Thus every time we shop there we are given one at this one chain. 

Thus, if you visit us, we are getting quite the collection. Be sure you leave with one of ours. If you don’t, know that in our hearts, we wish you a lifetime of only forward progress!