10/26/2015

Gratitude Letter to Dan

When you give, you shall receive. When you lose something, give something back to see it multiple.

I have always believed this to be true but thought heart ache and pain sometimes struggle believing it. Today, amidst the tears streaming down my face, am reminded just how true this is.

My blog shall be simple and to the point.  I am not in much of a position to write more.

Many know that after my step-son, my husband Jim’s only son, Dan 
Bronold died we set up a memorial scholarship in his name, The Daniel 
Bronold Memorial Scholarship Fund. This money was donated to an organization to help offset costs needed for young men to attend Midcourse Correction Challenge Camp in Brighton, Michigan. So many your teens are turned away each year because they can’t afford the fees.  The fee is set at a minimal amount to cover simply the costs as this organization is a nonprofit. Many of  the employees were past graduates of the program who have gone on with their lives, gotten degrees and returned later on in life to work there.

This is a no nonsense camp full of a weekend of tough love, team building, and goal setting.  For many troubled teens, this is the last stop to try to get them on the right path. Most are on a collision course with self-destruction and many don’t care or know how to turn it around.  Sometimes the parents don’t either and need the help also.

The program is Christian based, which is something we liked and knew Dan would approve of also.  We wanted to pick something we felt Dan would be proud of and enjoy having his name associated with and this seemed perfect.  This fund would give some guys a chance before it was too late that might not  be able to attend otherwise.    And since the years of Dan’s death, the Executive Director, Richard Woods, lets us know each year the donors, amounts and the number of folks that benefit from the funding.  We are privileged to hear some of the stories without giving enough information to breach anyone’s privacy.  He also shares Dan’s story as an example of why it is best to turn your life around before it is too late.

Today, we were blessed beyond belief. A single mother asked for our name and wanted to write us directly.  I don’t feel comfortable sharing her letter as it was intimate.  It was forwarded to use through the Executive Director as he  is not giving out our contact information to anyone either but the essence of the letter was to thank us.  She wanted to let us know that without our money her son wouldn’t have attended camp. With his attendance, his life has completely changed.  Their relationship has turned in ways she never thought possible.  She feels like God has touched him in a very special place and turned the light on in her son.  They have reached a new level of understanding, her joy and gratefulness is so heartful in the letter.  She wants us to know that her and her son will never forget Dan and the Fund and us.  Her letter shows us that Dan is touching lives in a way that we can both indeed can be proud of.

There have been times, over the months and years, we have been disappointed that we can’t raise more money that we are many times, and the only one donating to the Memorial we set up. But we remind ourselves, if all we do is save one teen, if it was just one Dan that would be enough!  If one parent is spared the pain, if one person is not dying as Dan did, that is enough so our donation, several times a year will suffice.  We want to be sure we are doing what we can also to spare a parent from the pain of being on the receiving end of a phone call, from wondering if they did all they could and of not having any holidays left to celebrate with their child ever again. 

This letter confirmed our conviction that the Memorial Fund was the way to ensure we are making a difference in people’s lives, in children’s and in parents. Dan’s name is helping kids turn their lives around and get a new lease on life.  It was and is the just and right thing to do. As long as there is a memorial fund in his name, Dan Bronold’s legacy lives on!  And as the mother said in the close of her letter, her and her son will forever be grateful to Dan, dead or alive to them, he is always alive!

God bless you Dan always in heaven for what your spirit is doing!   Love always!  

If you would like to learn more about Midcourse Correction Challenge Camp, visit http://www.midcoursecorrection.org/

To donate to the fund, Send donations to:
Midcourse Correction Challenge Camp
Attn:  Dan Bronold Memorial Fund
833 E Grand River Ave
Howell, MI 48843

10/19/2015

Sister Girlz Make Getting Pinked Cooler




It is so cool to see other teams take the time, after Making Strides Nashville, to be creative and create some lasting memories to look back on the days event! So many that could not attend would like to know what they missed, especially those in treatment that need to know and see what others were doing the street to show their support or those at home hurting because of the lost of a loved one to breast cancer.

Those of us that attended love having the chance to relive the moments through another team's eyes.  It was impossible, with 35,000 people in attendance to capture it all. Thus, seeing it through another Team's eyes, Sister Girlz's Team is just wonderful and shows you the heart of this team.

They have spent the majority of their time just getting ready for the event and doing what they do, giving do causes that matter. Take a few minutes, if you
enjoy the video and believe in the group, to consider visiting their page and perhaps donating at Great video made was memories of Making Strides for Breast Cancer by Team Sister Girlz out of Nashville, TN! Team Captain Melanie Burnett and all her team members did a fabulous job spreading the word around. If enjoy this, please consider donating to this team. They decide with all the work they did increasing awareness! Go to www.makingstrideswalk.org/nashvilletn, search on the team name & select Donate. Give a donation, whatever you can give,  to their team. At least, share the video to others affected by Breast Cancer. I think you will find, like me, a Survivor, it is very uplifting!

Click here 4 Sister Girlz Video

10/15/2015

Making Major Strides in Nashville!



Most of us are alone when we are told we have cancer. We are scared because we never envisioned hearing that word said to us. How do you prepare for being told you have breast cancer?  Where do you get a handbook on what to do if you are told this kind of information? If it existed, who would want to read it? It would feel like a death wish or a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts.   Thus, it is one of the most isolating moments in your life.

Afterwards, you can be in a room full of caring friends and have moments when you feel alone, isolated, as if no one else truly understands how you feel.  This feeling, even while in treatment, while in surgery, recovery will come and go.  It varies from person to person but cancer is unique to each and every individual. But one thing remains constant, the day you are diagnosed, the moment, is never forgotten and at that slice in time, you are alone.  Your world is surrounded by only your own thoughts and feelings for a few moments in time while you try to absorb the enormity of what was just said.

Because of this, one of the most beautiful things about Making Strides Against Breast Cancer sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS) to me is the concept of togetherness. We are not alone. We are in this together.  Breast cancer, beating it, ultimately, is everyone’s responsibility. Yes, individually we need to take treatment and try to overcome our individual pathology case, the side effects, if a re-occurrence occurs, metastatic breast cancer, etc…  But the community at large has a responsibility to help prevent others from getting the diagnosis to begin with, continuing doing research to find better methods of prevention, easier treatment plans and cures so that women and men are not dying from this disease. 


Making Strides is the coming together of all types of people, young, old, various religions and walks of life just to support this one cause that affects so many lives, breast cancer. In a world full of hate and violence, to see a symbol of love and life in a sea of pink is precious.  To see children and men wearing a color that to a cancer survivor means I lived another day to wear pink reminds me I am not alone ever, I never was and never will be as long as I live.    

This Strides season began this summer with Montgomery Gentry starting a Band of Pink, a commitment to donate $1,000 and promote their loyalty to the cause. When Tory Gentry’s wife Angie got diagnosed with it, rather than let the news come out through the media, he broke the news to his fans himself.  Troy and Angie then decided to do something positive about the disease choosing this venue, Making Strides for Breast Cancer. They challenged others to hop on board the Pink Band and donate too. This added incentive made me particularly proud of be an integral part of the social media piece this year. I thought this year could be, potentially, a huge year for Nashville.  

At the event, there were over 35,000 registered walkers this year on Oct. 10th.  We know that many
walkers simply showed up without registering so we are not sure of the exact count.  The donations at the close of the day totaled more than $900,000 but with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month more donations are rolling in for teams and individuals to ACS the entire month of October so that number is rising.  But what is so different and so cool about the Strides event that some folks don’t get without knowing it inside out is there is little overhead.  

Making Strides budget doesn't allow for much money on promotion at all. That is perhaps why social
media is done often times by people like me, a volunteer, as in unpaid.  This way donors can be assured as much as possible the majority of donations  go to what is promoted.  There is not vendor booths held to have giveaways because that is not the focus of the Strides event for ACS. This is simply about Breast Cancer only. It is not a health fair, not a convention, not a buyers paradise, just exactly what it is called a show of support for Breast Cancer, a way to Make Strides towards the mission of obliterating breast cancer.  And it works, ask the 35,000 in attendance.


Walking with them all, standing in a sea of people, all smiling, none of us are alone in caring about breast cancer and the issues surrounding it. So remember, if you are ever faced with the diagnosis, the one moment in time you feel alone, it will pass and you will soon feel the love of us all, all of us that come in pink to the streets in October to Make Strides!    Video Link Here

For additional information about breast cancer or any form of cancer, visit ACS's website at cancer.org or call the 24/7 hotline# at 800-227-2345.

10/14/2015

Snapshots of Change

Changing seasons as the months go by,

Changing voices as the years can’t lie,
Changing desires as our bodies become needy,

Changing goals as our minds become greedy.
 Some of the changes we embrace are good,
Some are totally misunderstood,
As long as we get back on track,

When, in life, we fall astray,   
And continue to grow
Being humble to God in every way.
Our growth will continue until we are called to come home.


Years ago I reconnected with a dear friend of mine I had made when our children were little. We were both young married couples, part of a Catholic parish in the area. We were both highly involved, both stay-at-home moms at the time so it was a source of social involvement, giving back and showing our small children Christianity at work.  Our relationship developed into so much more than a typical friendship, more like a sisterhood. The amount of time we were together is immeasurable. We saw each other through kid’s first communions and both went through divorces. We shared quite a bit over many years of our changing philosophies towards everything including religion, faith, child-rearing, marriage and life. Oh yes, even towards ourselves as well.

Both being in unhappy marriages, I think God planned for us to meet. He gave us each other, that human connection so that we could see in each other what unconditional love felt like, the comfort of looking into someone’s eyes and knowing, no matter what you said or did, they would still love and accept you.  We both needed and deserved that in our lives.  And, honestly neither of us had that in our young marriages.  We had children who looked up to us and should have had a better example of what a healthy marriage is.  Somewhere along the line our relationship splintered when we both moved away from the area and we lost contact. 

As luck would have it, or rather as God would plan it, we reconnected several years ago at a time when, once again, we were both going thru some life changes.  Yes, she was in the process of going from empty nester with her wonderful husband and being a grandmother to a small grandbaby to adopting her oldest grandchild with her husband!  It was a lengthy troublesome heart wrenching court proceeding. It was made even more agonizing as they had been raising him since he was a small baby. At the same time we connected, I had finally put my cancer treatment behind me, noticed some long-term effects of that treatment were beginning to show but was trying to acclimate to life after cancer.  Ah, looking at a life ahead being a grandma now not fighting cancer and embracing a new future! 

Here we both were, at a crossroads of sorts, reconnected at a special time in our growth period again, as women, sharing our thoughts, feelings, and fears about where we were and what lies ahead.  We wondered aloud how best to prepare for it, what steps to take and what to simply put in God’s masterful hands. 

Life was good but naturally had some pitfalls also, new anxieties for both of us but that unconditional bond was there between us, that magic we shared. However, this time, we both had a lifetime mate, we had each found a man that provided us with what we had so longed for all those years ago. We were so happy for each other and yet realized what we had was a different dimension of our womanhood that also needs nurturing from time to time.

With time, those issues sailed away working their way through change. Her and her husband/best friend received full legal custody of their darling son with absolutely no visitation of the mother with major issues.  My life also seemed to be coasting along merrily.  We, this time, made certain, even with distance, we stayed connected feeling certain God made this re-connection for a reason, some divine plan or maybe just because it was pleasurable!

Well, just when the boat didn’t seem like it was going to rock too much anymore, a storm blew through.  It hit both of us, equally hard, but in different
ways. She lost her riches, so much financial backbone they had as a cushion to enrich their life in a few disasters was gone. And I in another horrendous experience lost what I thought was one of the richest things in my life, my relationship with my firstborn grandson, the one born within days of my cancer diagnosis.   At the same time, my trust and relationship with my daughter blew away like a flame on a candle, blown out and all the sudden it was dark never to be light anymore. 

Both of us went through major heartbreak, pain and making adjustments. These were changes thrust on us that seem harder because the older you are, change is not quite as easy but still important to undertake as it is part of learning and growing. Learning to let go of what you can’t control and moving beyond is important, even when it hurts.  Everything you do, as you age, sets an example for those younger than you, it is your legacy.  We simply must show what you can’t control you must accept and change only what you can, yourself. 

We have heard each other’s hurts, each other’s disappointments and each other’s revelations during this time much as we did in all the other times in our lives. We will listen again when more changes come our way in the future and will gladness in our hearts knowing change is, overall good, a sign we are living one more day of God’s overall plan before he brings us both home.  Through the change, the pain, the upcoming winds of change is that pervasive knowledge that I will hold her as a very dear friend tightly, if she needs me and throw her extra oars, and she will toil my line if I need her too.  She has a lifeline and I do too in our husbands. We know we are survivors, in so many ways and stronger for having known each other and tapped into each other’s strength. 

I think many feel the same kinds of winds of change we experience throughout our life at various times, the why me, the you have got to be kidding me’s, the where is this going? But in the end, you have no choice but to button up your
bottom lip and deal with it. As another friend says, shit happens. Good relationships matter, not several, not many at all, just quality ones.  Decide where and who they are and foster those relationships!  And remember you are one of them, yourself!  Take care of you.  When a wind of change attempts to blow you over, reach for a lifeline if you need it, pray to God for added strength and remember always, someone else out in the ocean, just beyond the horizon is going through exactly the same thing.   You are and will be stronger and closer to God’s image if you grow with it!  



10/02/2015

Are You Lonely Tonight?


Do you feel alone?  Do you feel like you are the only one that feels this way?  Well 
don’t feel like that any longer.

Statistics show we are a nation full of folks suffering from loneliness. When the 
National Science Foundation did a study on this topic, 1 in 4 people stated they 
were feeling lonely. When they were asked to rule out family, the numbers went 
up to 1 out of every 2.

The effects of loneliness can be devastating on our society. It causes depression. Depression can easily lead to mental illness. Depending on the severity of mental illness, other issues follow.   Potential issues are anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and impaired immune functioning.

Furthermore, there have been studies showing impaired immune functioning can lead to increased risk of arthritis, diabetes, and overeating. In general, the studies bear out that this decrease in immune functioning directly correlates to decrease longevity of life.  Also, at the top of the list of probability when encountering loneliness is suicide. Professor John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago found in his study in 2014 that loneliness was twice as bad for older people’s health as obesity and almost as great a cause of death as poverty.   

Loneliness is not reserved as an issue for simply elderly aged adults. Actually it has become a major issue with young adults these days.   The Mental Health Foundation 
found out through studies that it is a greater concern among adults aged 18-34 years 
old.  This age was much more likely, when questioned, to state they were feeling 
lonely and often.  They also worried about feeling all alone and feeling depressed 
because of being alone much more so than those over the age of 55.

There is such a close link between loneliness and mental health as stated before  that 
it bears repeating the incidence of increased stress levels go up when someone feels loneliness.  Thus these young people become more depressed increasing the  likelihood 
of paranoia, anxiety, addiction, with a cognitive decline.  These all are factors that 
can lead to suicide.    

Thus we have a society with a great deal of adults functioning, to some extent with a silent secret.  The secret they have is impeding their happiness and their ability to experience life fully and enjoyably.  And they need help but have no one,or so they 
feel, to help them. How did this happen over the last twenty years?

First, we have become a technological savvy society. Everything we do, we do through automated systems, through the internet. We talk to our office mates through instant messaging, we talk to family through emails or Facebook and we talk to friends through texting.  We make friends through Facebook or Twitter and Instagram.  Gone are face 
to face chats where verbal and non-verbal skills are used. No longer are we getting the direct feedback that gives one a sense of well-being, a general sense of acceptance, 
for those that need that.  This can create a world where some folks feel that they are unworthy of others’ time anymore.


Yes, you can have an online presence but is that really you? Having an online presence 
is not the same as having a real relationship. That persona people put up on their pages, their profiles, you have no idea if it is true, even that they look like the picture you are
staring at or if it is some stock photo they bought.  And let’s face it, no one is as good 
as they project online. No one is always happy, always faithful, that incredibly wise, 
so incredibly witty, comes up with the best answer for everything, and is never down-trodden!   

Thus, many people do not feel comfortable putting their loneliness out there on the internet, a so perfect world, to get the help they need.  They do not want to risk the criticism or rejection from the phony society they are a part of.    So even though 
there are helpful sites out there for those lonely souls seeking help , there is not 
clear evidence to show which sites are legit from which ones are facades. 
  
The job market is very demanding and seldom is a work week 40 hours. Many have few hours left to seek outside intervention, slash counseling.  Some still see counseling as a weakness, a strike against them.  They believe the old wives’ tale that no one else needs to know what goes on in your house or in your head even if it means it will clear up the cobwebs and straighten up your thinking to a clearer path.  So they will just work their butts off and keep their loneliness to themselves letting it eat away at them in the stillness of the night.

Family breakdowns more and more these days have caused deterioration in the family network. Thus no longer do we have families connected where they support each other through thick and thin. Some families don’t even speak anymore to each other.  New families can be a network of friends or non-existent thus making someone feel totally isolated until a new network is established creating a placebo family.   Until that is done or if not done, there is a hole inside a person, a void that is left which can make someone feel empty, thus alone.

Whatever the reasons or the issues for feeling lonely, real or imagined, the solution is 
get help.  The consequences are great, to you as an individual and to us as a society.  
The options are as varied as we are as people.   We mustn’t be shy about reaching out 
our hands to help others and point out ideas of paths to take to aid others on ways to improve their condition.  Or we can become part of the solution.  We should never try 
to become the only solution, as that would be self-defeating, becoming a crutch for another person.  They need the tools so they have the sense of accomplishment and
 the ability to go on with or without you.
  
There really is no excuse for noticing someone is lonely and not offering a helping hand, pointing out resources or extending some friendship.  It could be a matter of saving a 
life. And one day, that life saved might be yours!