Lesson from 2016

A new year is upon us! What I have reflected on more than anything this past year is that my life has not played out as a fairy tale.  Many times, I did not like the story line at all wishing I could change many of the chapters and characters.  Yep, sometimes I had a one on one with God requesting a do over but then realized, mid-prayer,that would be too exhausting knowing what I know now about living. So 2016 cemented the knowledge that I am indeed, like it or not, walking God’s plan not my own.

Taking responsibility for my own actions but with the knowledge it is all part of a Master plan gives me a greater sense of purpose.  I had two choices to make, roll with his plan or fight it. This year showed me that rolling along with His plan, praying more to understand it, gave me a heightened sense of awareness of what it was and a greater sense of peace. Getting in touch with my Master Plan I forced me to make some difficult choices through-out the year. Some decisions were difficult and I procrastinated. Prayers and reality set in eventually making me see God’s vision as I prayed more than this year than in many years and it helped me gather strength.  

Doing what is right is not always easy but is best.  I had to recognize what was and was not healthy in my life.  I suppose I had done this before but needed to do it again as I felt my soul unrest. My son use to remind me of something in the serenity prayer that if you can’t do anything about it let it go. I began to notice a few things consistently causing so much distress in my life, pain and unhappiness that I had no control over.  He was right and so was the answer to my prayers let go. If it is meant to be, it will come back and if not, peace of mind is priceless and part of God’s vision for me now. I am in the last few chapters of my life. I do not get do-overs.

The price I pay for being in places unhealthy or relationships over the years was and is too high. If one can’t control a situation, be it a job, marriage, relative, etc.…the stress permeates your being.  . I could no longer let as much stress and anxiety in my life, it affects my health too much and well-being. I enjoy peace and serenity and drama-free existence. That is God’s plan for me now.

I also found God still wants me to use my voice to speak out for others in need or myself, wherever it is best served. Even in writing my blog, at times they seem silly, as if what nerve could it possibly touch?  Then someone writes me privately and I am pleasantly surprised. Each of us have a voice and should use it till the day we die.

2016: My parting advice I learned this past year:
If you desire peace and serenity in your life, walk in the light of God and stay smiling as much as you can. This will help keep you in the happiness mode more often than not. Stay in situations that keep you in the driver’s seat and are emotionally healthy. If your gut makes you feel compromised or unhealthy repeatedly, distance yourself from this people or situations.  Your overall Master Plan is beautiful.

Happy New Year Everyone! Be blessed.

Veronica Gliatti


Christmas with Grandma G

Living in a community for Active 55+ residents has given me a different view of Christmas.  These residents are teaching me more about living in the later stages of my life and what the holidays are about, celebrating being here to enjoy it, pure and simply. 

The way it is celebrated by our neighbors is as varied as they are. There is the neighbor next door who like so many of us, lives on a tight limited income so didn’t really have enough money to travel home to see the kids and grand-kids after making the trip twice in the last 6 months. 3 weeks before Christmas the kids called and said airline tickets were purchased in their name, they would be flying to their kids in PA for Christmas!

We also know there are many with no children or family to spend holidays with so invite others to a holiday party at their home. Christmas Eve they host a huge dinner and it is a family affair for those who need an adopted family for Christmas. We are told it is such a beautiful affair that even some with family sometimes attend!

There are those that go vacationing in groups with other members here or with longtime friends from Florida or elsewhere.  As you age, no Christmas should be taken for advantage as each could be your last. Also some relatives break from their families and unconditional love doesn’t exist so residents, for the most part. Many here refuse to be sorrowful, they are reminded by our community, you are loved by God and accepted as you are by everyone here.  Instead they adopt an attitude that their family may eventually come around and love and miss them. If not, God wants them to be happy not wither in self-pity for what was or was not. Life is not to wasted but cherished for the blessings bestowed on us.

My Christmas was preceded by a brief overnight-er in the hospital.  It was
discovered my main artery was almost completely blocked to my heart. A stint
was put in and I am fine, one week to the day of Christmas Eve.  Those are the times God lets you know whose lives you touched, who you matter to and who

you does not care whether you live or die. And, this lead to a change for the holidays! Sad on one front because our plans for flying to NYC to spend with my husband’s wonderful family were canceled. It opened an opportunity for us to spend with my son’s family in TN as that was driving only 2 states away. And both him and my daughter-in-law opened the door wide! So, God saw fit I saw my son, daughter-in-law and three of my grandchildren this year for Christmas!  Lost one blessing and gained another!

Everyone has prized memories of childhood memories of Christmas. Mine were of going to Toledo, Ohio and spending them with my Grandma Gliatti. So, when I arrived home yesterday, I received the best Christmas gift of all.  To explain, I have to back up; my older sister had traveled to Italy this fall. While in Italy, Terri traveled to the city where Grandma was raised, Bovino. Bovino is a small hilltop t9own in southern Italy at the foot of the Irpinia mountains located in the province of Foggia. She wanted to bring me back something from the city so I had a connection from where Grandma was from. Unknown at the time about the heart issue to her (or me!) but thinking she wanted some item symbolic of our tie to the city, Terri bought a beautiful heart necklace from a shop in Bovino.

Hearing the story in a letter with the gift box when I got home the other day, I knew inside this is a Grandma Gliatti thing, the heart that drew Terri to buy it. Grandma was always prayerful and led by God's word and love of family. When unable to attend Mass, she would sit and watch it on TV going through all the steps as if she were in attendance in accordance with her Catholic faith.  She was watching over me when I prayed in the hospital making sure everything was okay because she was that kind of grandma to all her grand-kids.

Inside the heart emblem is an item that swirls in a circular motion, just like the circle of love she had hoped for our family. Terri took that trip that took her back to where Grandma Gliatti started, Bovino, and Terri brought back a piece Grandma Gliatti wanted me to know was symboic of her heart showing me her love has never really left me. When others may leave my life Grandma's love is always there, uncconditional, watching over me, from heaven. Terri also bought me a pair of 
earrings from another shop keeper who knew grandma’s family, another connection to hold onto and pass on to my beloved Granddaughter who I love as much as Grandma loved me.   When the day comes and I pass into heaven where my Grandma Gliatti resides, I will have let my granddaughter know of my Grandma Gliatti’s unending unconditional love for her grandchildren.  

I had Christmas with my Grandma Gliatti again, in 2016 and my heart is full of thanksgiving.  I got my soft heart from her.  Grandma is with me always on my path of life.  I am who I am, give what I can give and accept there are those who will judge me and feel they are justified in doing so. But I chose to live as my Grandma Gliatti lived, simple, lovingly and trying to live in God's teachings the best I can, though I may stumble and fall from time to time I am ever prayful as she taught me.

Christmas is more than just about Jesus’s birth and giving gifts, it is a time to renew our commitment to living out His word.   Grandma’s heart reminds me true love is everlasting. She has been with me all these Christmases, not just 2016, in spirit.  Love endures.  It is the non-pure type that doesn’t, perhaps that type never truly exists.  Maybe that is why 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (“ Love is patient, love is kind…) was written, it has to be defined for so many weak withe ability to love, shallow in faith.  Grandma wanted Terri and I to stay connected regardless of our differences, to hold on to our bond, because that is what families do. Perhaps that is why, everytime she visits Italy she feels compelled to bring me back something and it is always something that reminds her of Grandma Gliatti for she knows how much she meant to me. 

Grandma Gliatti taught me how to be a Grandma by example. I know I have made her tremendously proud in that I have passed that type of love onto my granddaughter and to my other grandchildren I have been allowed to bond with. I love all my grandkids as she loved all of hers, freely, with all of my being. Daily, I pray for them all,so that God and Grandma G watch over them. 

The heart was telling, the text message I got from my granddaughter's new cell phone the very next day was too "Grandma, I miss you now" I hadn't been gone a full day yet.  And it made me sad and happy to see her words on my screen, isn't that part of the dichotomy of love? My son and daughter-in-law's children for sure will always know that Grandma Ronni will always be with them at Christmas because part of my heart will always reside with them.  Grandma Gliatti taught me to love like that.   Even in heaven, I will be celebrating Christmas with those I love "thee" most....

Dedicated to my sister Theresa Marie


Christmas 2016 Experiences thru the Eyes of Mrs. Santa

Not that often do I read something and literally stop and have to reread 
it a second time because I am so blown away by sections of it! I was so 
touched by this blog/article that I reached out to this long ago friend to 

ask her permission to post the link to the piece here in the hope she would 
say yes so I could share it today, Christmas Eve Day, with all of my followers.  

Giving of oneself and spreading the world of Christian's giving at Christmas is 
what this season is about.  This attitude makes me grateful to celebrate the season with all of you and also to call Genma Holmes a friend. Read this and please be blessed and pass it on. We can all learn some wisdom from this piece.  

Merry Christmas!
Reflections from Ms. Santa and Christmas 2016


I Cried Today

You can call me among the few but I call me among millions. No, I was not a fan of Hillary for many reasons but definately not in support of Trump. I cried today along with several friends as the Electoral College voted, as news of what happened in Turkey came out. Knowing if a World War starts we will be on the side of Russia against our allies and Trump voters will be okay with that. I cried as a dear friend is in Germany and knowing many Americans hate Muslims knowing what media will say and the hateful things Trump supporters will now say. Knowing the Muslims in America that are good people will be living in fear of being victims of hate crimes & the hateful terrorists (Radical Islamist) will not be subject to gun sense laws. So many things seem wrong. Knowing my friend is worrying, not about her liver cancer but her daughters losing their Affordable HealthCare. The list goes on. Reading on Twitter that Trump voters feel, if seniors can't afford Medicare when it is gutted and switched to expensive Privatized plans, too bad. Their rates are too high, their time here is done then. They lived a good life. Also, many of these voters for our new President feel, if you can't afford children's insurance when you lose your Affordable care, you shouldn't have had them. They are not paying for yours as they see their taxes doing directly to you and not to anything else the Federal government does as if that is the only thing tax dollars pays for. Suddenly millions of Americans quit caring about the needs of children and families, like many countries we use to help for this very reason, the core of societies. One of the very reasons we elected public servants to look out for. Now it is no longer important or a hallmark of American society. Millions feel we don't need it.

Millions also say women who don't have abortions are not entitled to free healthcare knowing full well,without it, good prenatal care will not happen nor can they afford deliveries. Irregardless of rape, it is their responsibility to pay for healthcare. Social media mocks the disabled, those less fortunate, and rejoices in the fact their benefits are cut so as to provide more money for other needs they deem more important than those less fortunate. Millions feel it is anger that fuels blacks upset with the few police officers targeting minorities rather than try to find compromise and understand noone is condemning the honorable profession.

We are a one party nation, no system of checks and balances. We are hateful and angry as a nation, condemn leaders that others have voted for in large majorities and discount any actions they have taken that have had positive results if we did not elect them. We are no longer States united and the voice that triumphed cares not what the other voice says, in fact the direct opposite, wants them to suffer because of their needs. It actually seems to delight in their discomfort.

This is not the America the rest of the world looked up to as exemplary. This is not the America that was a nation of brotherhood nor why Arlington is lined up with gravestones as wide as the eye can see with a soldiers who died fighting for freedom for civil rights for all, not for a group like the KKK to be marching down a main street broadcasting condemnation of blacks years after Abraham Lincoln gave blacks freedom from slavery and Martin Luther King Jr. gave his I Have a Dream Speech. This is not the America my father worked tirelessly for during the Cold War to keep Russia at bay and our allies close at hand so we could be unified with the world. No, this is but a shadow of who we use to be. We are a corrupt nation.

I cried today, I will cry tomorrow, and the next day.
But I will use my voice, today, tomorrow and the next day because I have faith
And because I believe one voice makes a difference.
And I believe my voice will blend with millions of other voices that believe
one day we can make a change.



Excellent Workplace Violence Prevention Consultant - Felix Nater

Many of you that follow me know that from time to time I like to spotlight someone who is inspiring. Such is my blog below on Mr. Felix Nater of Nater Associates, LTD. Security Management Consultant helping organizations implement and manage workplace security with a specialty in workplace violence prevention and violence response. 

There is so much violence in our society, anger and turmoil that it naturally carries over into the workplace. When I was working, I had major issues when I was running independent office locations. What I quickly learned is that, even though I took extra security measures, I never felt completely safe, nor did my employees. Today there are far better resources available if you know where to look and who they are. If I had known Mr. Nater, I would still be running at least one of those successful businesses instead of leaving. See, in the workplace, even managers deal with bullies and that situation can escalate also.  

One of the best I have seen in the field I actually met in a serendipitous way, through social media. I have a close network of business friends I interact with on Twitter who are independent business owners. Many months ago, one of them told me about a gentleman named Felix Nater. I began reading his tweets and quickly learned he has a passion for diffusing workplace violence and issues surrounding workplace bullying and harassment. His expertise extends well beyond this. His mastery of the subject matter far outclasses anyone I have ever encountered. Not only can Mr. Nater understand the issues but he can assess collateral damages, recognize warning signs and can create effective prevention steps. Mr. Nater services offered are quite extensive. He is the real deal, the expert in this field. Mr. Nater humanizes the delivery of a difficult subject. 

In addition to his professional career, I have found Mr. Nater to be a caring family man with a heart of gold. Honestly, any introduction or explanation I can give of what all he does and who he is as a man would be an injustice compared to what you would learn following him.  Viewing  his website and reading some of his articles gives you a taste of his experience and ability to apply and master this field. I strongly encourage you to take the time to review it and pass his information on to professionals in the field and academia, basically anyone who has an interest in this area. He is a reservoir of knowledge and is the type of gentleman who believes in learning  we further our own education. Let's face it, bullying, violence and safety is of utmost concern in society to us all. 

Truly it has been both an honor and a blessing to interact with someone of the caliber of Felix Nater.

Twitter: @FelixNater                             http://www.naterassociates.com/


Sign Yes for Medicare!

In 2015 there were 53.8 Million Americans on Medicare (seniors + disabled) The numbers are even higher in 2016. Trump was committed to not cutting this plan. Getting rid of Medicare was always on Paul Ryan and many of the Republicans radar. However, several Republicans in Congress are opposed to switching Medicare from its current form to a Privatized system. Seniors that go from a single-payer health insurance to having to shop on a free market for medical insurance is risky. Aging seniors and disabled persons unable to work may lack the abilities to gather the necessary information or cognitively decipher complicated health insurance options from various companies.

A universal healthcare plan was put in place Medicare, 1965, to help address this issue and because many were flat out not able to obtain insurance. At the time, only 1 out of 4 had even adequate hospital insurance for a demographic group that prone to heart attacks. Face it: insurance companies DO NOT want elderly people on their policies or sick/disabled people either. They want to make money! They can either refuse them coverage or make the rates sky high. Medicare helped regulate those rates.

Medicare helps the most vulnerable, elderly, disabled & those on fixed incomes at the tail end of their life.  These are the people who are over 65 and worked their entire life. This program is also for future generations when they age.  The notion that Medicare is going broke due to Obamacare is false. The ACA extended the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by over a decade. Medicare has been better able to control medical costs than private plans because it negotiates its massive leverage of users to keep the costs down. That is partly why the program works. Medicare is separate from Obamacare though people want to throw it in the same basket. When Obamacare was written there were mentions of Medicare, including preexisting conditions not being allowed to be excluded, which is why Paul Ryan is now using the opportunity to say Medicare must go also as if it is part of Obamacare.

It is important to know that those who have worked most of their lives or until they became disabled have paid into Medicare with each paycheck. There are deductions on each paycheck for Medicare. This is not a benefit that is a totally a free hand-out no American has ever worked for or given anything towards. Revenue is continually generated for Medicare for now and for future generations to care for elderly health needs. The fallout from a healthcare program like Obamacare that Republicans want revamped should not be removing a program that is working. Also, having a voucher given to a senior accomplishes nothing when insurers set rates 5-6x higher than normal because of the aging population having a greater propensity of health issues. Fixed income for the poorest demographics of the country can’t make these types of premiums, copays and medications and then live. Let’s not forget, this is the population that has the highest rate of health issues.  Many will be without insurance if Medicare is privatized. God bless.
                                                Clink to Sign Hands off Medicare Congress


Parenting was Your Choice

Too often children are forced to conform. Parents have a preconceived idea of how their kids are supposed to do everything, exactly by the developmental charts.  The pressure begins early for kids to conform and the comparisons with everyone else’s child and individuality is thrown out the window. Parents easily begin the process of having expectations of how children should look, how they should act, and present themselves.  They must be dressed a certain way and they must always be perfectly groomed lest they look unkempt, like children, God forbid.  These lessons tend to stay with children through their teens, and for life as some parents consider it a direct reflection on them if their offspring is not nearly perfect.

Parenting is too often set on some unreachable bar and that goal is then pushed onto kids. Often too it is based on “I am in charge” period and you must obey. In today’s busy world, it can easily be about wanting a child to make a parent’s live easier though the child has needs and didn’t ask to be here. Morality is suddenly not being taught in the home and when not captured, it’s blamed on schools and society as the culprit. Why isn’t this a parent’s responsibility anymore?  Why would a parent want the value system of a teacher to be the basis of their offspring’s value system?  Society’s value system also is up to interpretation in a developing mind. Why should that be a child’s learning tool for morality? Also ignoring your child’s needs and avoiding giving them attention can directly cause  kids to become either hostile or low-self-esteem causing depression and in worst cases suicide.

Children should not have to dress like everyone else. Being able to express oneself by dressing a little bit different is okay. Their benchmark for success should not be defined completely by society. Parents should be familiar with what they excel in, what their passion is, what their weaknesses are and not rely on a teacher conference to learn about their own children. Yet, I have learned many do.  Allowing creativity with your children will instill confidence in a young person, and attention shows they have value.  Nothing takes the place of time and attention from a parent.

Too often, parents think their children that are perfectly well-behaved at home because nothing is array have no issues.  Yet how many parents are truly paying attention?  How many kids are hiding things from their parents?  The ones that seem perfect are the ones that could be the most troublesome away from home, especially if they have literally nothing going on in their lives.  

Be in touch with your children from early on to adulthood. Allow them a leaning post and to let some steam off at home, to vent.  Home should be where the heart is. They should be free to make mistakes at home and be open about what those are to get reinforcement and advice. It can be a cold world. Don’t be a parent that expects the world from your child when the world expects even more.
No one is hardwired perfectly. Parents need to allow their children to be human; home should be a free zone.

Freedom of expression should be taught at home. Abandonment of holding in feelings should be permitted in one’s home with family without fear of retribution.   Naturally this should be done and taught with restraint and respect. There are boundary lines that need to be taught and enforced with children of all ages. This is where boundary lines are taught and set the tone for all relationships to come.

There should be positive reinforcement if someone feels inclined to express themselves creatively, perhaps differently than you, personality be it artistically, in dress, or some other fashion.  Conformity is over-rated. Many of the greatest in history were non-conformist. Allow your child the opportunity to be one. They could go down in history for what they set out to accomplish.  The alternative is a humdrum live full of regret. And resentment over you, the parent, and the one thing that stood in the way.. 


Cruising for a Bruising!


Some people are just made to find laughter no matter where they go. I suppose I am one of those folks as I boarded the Norwegian Epic a little over a week ago, that is after standing in line almost 2 hours till I was finally on the ship. Luckily in line my husband and I met this younger adorable couple who just made things light and humorous so we could pass the time as if this was the best part of the vacation, barely moving forward for two hours.

Things progressed well, once we boarded, wandering around aimlessly as very little personnel were visible to anyone so we all were at a loss as to where to go, how to get there and what there was to see. Everyone was asking each other as if someone actually knew on a newer revamped ship.  Seemed like everyone we ran into spoke a different language, many no English which made it interesting, and counter-productive!  So we settled where most folks do, the hottest place on a cruise ship, no, not the pool, the sundeck but the bar!

During the course of our trip, we met the most diverse group of people, one of the neatest things of cruising. Personal highlight of mine was meeting a woman traveling single at a
So thrilled to even see recognition
to breast cancer in Nassau!
show the first night. It turns out she was a breast cancer survivor who has finished treatment one month prior, having had the same type of pathology report as me. She was celebrating her end of treatment by herself as none of her friends could go. As a hospice nurse, she truly understood how lucky she was and was a beacon of light and hope.  We shared stories, hugs and blessings.

As the days past, my husband was quick to point out several women on the ship that had obviously been in a hurry to buy swimsuits and neglected to buy the correct size or had borrowed their teen-age daughters. He did this more as the cruise winded down as my eating was causing my waist line to feel as if it was doubling in size. This was to remind me some ladies certainly were having trouble keeping their bottoms up. Or as one passenger said to me on an upper deck, I have seen more butt cracks on this ship than in my entire live!  I never knew there were so many female plumbers these days.

On one of our stops, I found myself admiring one of the vendor’s wood working. He was
This merchant on Tortola hand-makes all her items.
After having had a baby 2 wks prior, back to work. 
quite persistent in feeling I needed one of his talented pieces and that they would fit perfectly in my home decor. I assured they would most certainly not. He was quite the
charmer and I was extremely polite and courteous looking at the pieces he was placing in my hands. When I told him about 10 times, no thank you, he then began to berate me, loudly in front of several people. At first I found it mildly annoying. My husband had casually wandered away a booth or two. He then proceeded to get even louder attracting more attention. Now my husband was listening and looking over as were several others. He then was saying “Geez lady, I was even very nice to you, spent time with you, paid you compliments and you can’t even give me one dollar.”  My husband walks over to me and says “Wow, he is really angry at you.” I look at him and say “Oh you think so” by this point, quite angry myself. Needless to say, I booked out of that area to the sound of him practically yelling at me at this point. What an odd way to get someone to purchase items!

We loved that this ship has free time dining meaning you can eat anytime you want. For about two hours there were wonderful two food lines on the top deck. The food options were scrumptious and everything tasted great. However, several of the passengers made these lines feel similar to Black Friday!  It began to feel as if I was back on the basketball court playing defense, elbows up, swing them to the side and cut right and left not letting anyone in to the basket, in this case, the food trays in front of me. This may sound funny but it was fishy, e.g. one night an obnoxious lady slipped in and grabbed all the luscious shrimp on the platter right in front of me. I wanted to take the tongs and pinch her but my husband said that would be an automatic foul!

Why so many cruise ships have trivia games is beyond me. I think it is filler time that is cheap. They use their cruise directors to run these games. On this ship, there was one from China. The hardest part of the game was seriously understanding what he said. One we sat through, a preacher, of all people, felt God sent him a message to stand up and be the mouthpiece to read the answers as no one had the foggiest of what the young man was saying. The second go round, we happened to meander by when answers were given and got a bad case of the giggles watching several strain to make sense of answers that made no sense.

This was the only cruise we have been on where the free entertainment on the ship you had to run to your room and pre-book or you could not see the shows. If it filled up early, oh well,
Cirque Dreams & Dinner which you
pay extra for & have to book early!
no show for you! Many missed shows due to them reaching capacity. We tried on the second day of a 7 day cruise and were apparently much too late for several!  I have no idea how all the others got booked so quickly. I suppose maybe they knew the routine better than first times on the epic experience of being on the Epic.

What is the deal with Germany? When we went on our last cruise, we booked a private excursion not associated with the ship.  Off we go to snorkel for an entire afternoon, so excited.  Not too long on the boat, we discovered that we were the only tourists on the boat that spoke one word of English. All others on the boat spoke solely German. The crew spoke English and we, and the passengers were lousy at charades so it made for an interesting 3 hours!

Fast forward to this trip, most of our excursions were ones that we booked with the cruise-line with the exception of one. This one event was an afternoon tour with several stops with a talkative tour guide who asked many questions requiring avid listeners. There was only one problem, we were once again, as we quickly discovered, the only ones who spoke English. And what are the odds everyone spoke German in this entire group. Not good but yes, it happened again!  The only thing that seemed to be understood was the word, boat, stick shift and good bye!  I suppose, before we cruise again our friend Detlef must teach us a few German words because the next day, we landed up on the forward part of a glass bottom boat with another couple who only spoke German! She wanted desperately to communicate with me using her hands as in charades like I did the day before but I quickly grew weary of the game. 

I must say one of the highlights of my cruise experience will forever be etched on my brain
or rather my knees. Many times my husband has mentioned the beauty and majesty of the Baths at Virgin Gordas on British Virgin Islands. This is a beach area that has huge house-
B4 my fall
from 'grace'
sized granite 
boulders with water housed between them you can wade through and climb among the rocks. You walk through a hike to get to this area and then proceed on a 15 minute hike through forest like area and many rock formations where there are crevices and cave like formations to literally climb through, on top of and water to wade though. It can be rather treacherous in spots.

 I did fine until the very end. I bumped my head in a closed area and then my sandal, which had no tread on it slid out from underneath me. As luck would have it, the area I was sliding was a rock that dropped practically straight down that was quite rocky. As my face went down first I had no way to grip and pull myself back up. I felt my chin scratch  slightly  on the rock, my right hand smarting and my legs sliding forward and I  knew I was done for. Screaming I yelled grab my leg, hoping my husband was close behind. He grabbed it but yelled back I can’t hold you. I wasn’t sure if that meant my hero was going down with me or if I was in for a Dateline special!

 Then another hand on the other leg. Relief! Nope, that person said, I can’t pull her up
Actual image of part of the hike,
down on your knees tall folks!
without her hand. As my hands are sliding forward, this man yells give me your hand. Now, the real dilemma, as I look face down, with only my hands in front of me, I am supposed to put my hand behind me with no way of seeing if someone can actually reach far enough over this rock I am sliding down and grab it. Not even enough time to pray, he screams put your hand back now and I do. He got it and pulls and I am up to safety! Immediately someone from the front side runs up and asks if I am okay. At this point, I am looking at the guy like are you freaking kidding me? Hell no, my legs are killing me, my shoulders feel out of the socket, and I just about died and you want an answer now? Can you give me a few minutes to recover dude? 

The rest is history. It was beautiful there, the man was my angel along with my always hero, my husband. And once back in town, my sandals were pitched for a pair with tread!  Do visit this place, it is so worth it!  But don’t cruise down the rocks; it ain’t a fun way to see your life flash before your eyes! 


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
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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!