one fit widow

It is that time of the year again. The time when we send our children off to school to learn, to grow, to socialize, to develop mentally, physically, and emotionally. School is not a replacement for the personal growth happening at home, but we would be short-sided if we didn't believe that eight hours of their day didn't shape who they are or who they will become.

Because of the importance we all place in school for our children, it pains me to say what I'm about to say...

This year, more than any other year before, I'm scared, no I'm petrified to send my children off to school.

I think I speak for a large percentage of American parents when I say, sending our children off to school has become a terrifying proposition.

Why????

Well, accordin...

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The WORLD LOVES Mango!!

Did you know that MORE fresh mangos are eaten every single day around the world than any other fruit??? As an American that blows my mind. Our country sees to be obsessed with bananas and apples but are we missing out on the mango love???

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It seems like yesterday that the doctor placed you in my arms and I fell in love.

You were, and still are incredible.

So tiny

So innocent

So perfect within your newness

I didn't know that less than three years from that moment, I would have to look in your sweet and beautiful blue eyes and tell you that your Daddy would never be coming home again. That moment is forever engraved in my mind and while I can't change the past, I can continue to support you, love you, and teach you as you grow through this life without him.

So, as you close out grade school and head into junior high, here are a few things I'd like you to know.

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You are the sum of the people you spend your time with

Pick your friends wisely, and never settle for negativity, drama or a poor attitude. Your community and your tribe will push you to reach for more and become better, or they will drag you down to the lowest common denominator. Rise up baby, and surround yourself with people who want to rise also.

Do work

You can go anywhere in this life if you work hard and never give up. Don't expect anyone to hand you anything. Work hard, be humble, kind and live with intention. You can't beat the person who never gives up.

Be patient

Most good things in life take a lot of time. Don't expect overnight success with anything from your fitness, relationships, grades or future business endeavors. Expect to do the work consistently and then be patient for things to click. Working hard and patience are the true key to a life of unstoppable success and happiness.

Love yourself first

Regardless of the topic, you come first. Don't put off your fitness, your health, your nutrition, your sanity, or your happiness for another day or another person. If you don't take the time to love yourself, then don't expect someone else to do it. You have to take personal responsibility to make this life what you want it to be and that all starts and ends with self-love.

He's not worth it

That boy who will break your heart. He is not worth it. If someone someday doesn't see the incredible awesomeness that is you, walk away, take a few moments to mend your heart but keep your head high, and realize you don't ever want someone who does not want you in return. You are worth so much more.

Be involved

Do every sport, run for student government, join clubs, take chances, be loud, make your voice heard and remembered the most significant way to learn is to FAIL (first attempt in learning). While you are busy being involved, don't forget to sit back, watch and listen. You will not only learn from those moments you failed, but you will also learn from the things others do and say. Observation is your friend and the quieter you become, the more you will see the world, and others for all that they truly are.

Exercise every single day of your life for a better life

I've got a very important secret to tell you and this one I truly want you to hear. Fitness and exercise are game changers for all that you are. Everything in life will improve if you take the time to sweat and empower yourself. It's not about the size of your body; it's about the size of your life. Don't do it as punishment for food, do it as a reward for being healthy enough to move.

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It's the end of another year and time for those time-honored New Year resolutions.

We do it every year.

We promise to drop weight, get healthy, fix our lives in one way or another and we swear to begin in one fell swoop in just one day. What I've learned in my forty-five years of experience is that often changes are that dramatic and what works better is a baby-step approach to forging forward with better goals that can last.

Maybe it's not what you need to add to your life this year but rather what you need to let go of that will make your life improve.

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"Mommy, tell me about my Daddy please."

She looked at me with her big blue eyes, and she didn't falter.

It was the evening of her eleventh birthday, and the first time in eight years she had ever asked me to sit down and tell her about her Father. We talk about him often; he comes up in conversation, we talk about his likes and dislikes, his personality, and his life.

This time was different.

She was focused, serious, and so curious about a man she didn't get to spend enough time getting to know.

I sat down on the side of her bed, and I said;

"Oh baby, he was incredible. He was the kind, gentle, charismatic, funny, and larger than life. He loved you and your brother more than words can say."

Her eyes filled up with tears.

"That's what I figured,...

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Tomorrow I send my babies back to school....again.

It's an exciting night for homes across the country, as kids prepare for a new year and parents trust their chosen school and teachers to help guide their children for a few hours each day. Outfits are laid out by the bed; school supplies purchased, and anticipation looms for both kids and their parents.

For many, however, it's a night of mixed emotions as the duality of life beyond loss cuts deeply and the solo parents, tackle another year of doing it alone, without the person who was meant to help raise and shape their children.

For the family, the parents, the children, living beyond the death of a parent, the hardship, grief, and challenges don't end at the funeral or after the first ye...

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He was one of the most important parts of my life for more than fifteen years.

We traveled, we explored, we lived and loved.

He made me his wife, and I made him my husband.

We welcome two beautiful kids into the world, built a house and lived our dream.

He held my hand when I cried, and he kissed me softly every morning.

It wasn't just him, it was us, and it was supposed to be forever.

It wasn't.

In fact, he was gone too young and with so much to live for.

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Nearly three years ago I married my now husband Keith and added two amazing kids to my life. Keith, of course, added two kids to his life as well and we became a blended family of six. It's complicated, as any mixed situation can be, with widowhood and divorce, but we opted to make the most of it and combine our families. We are like a modern day Brady Bunch, and two weeks of every month we have six and two weeks we only have four. My kids, due to widowhood are always with us and we split custody with his kid's mom. Keith and I moved two miles from their mom and most days we do this blending thing pretty well, although we are far from perfect.

For the first two years, I pushed the "family" thing and figured the more we could show the kids...

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The past few days I spent in my old town, just a few doors down from the house we lived in when he died. This was also the house we brought our babies home to after their birth and the house he loved and adored. I sold that house about a year after his passing, it seemed too much, and I needed to live with less so I could live more.

My trip back to my old stomping ground included spending a few nights at one of my best friends homes, who happens to have the same floorplan of that old house. My kids and I walked into my girlfriend's house, gave them hugs and then we went and talked in the kitchen/living room. The fantastic kitchen was why we had picked that layout and his favorite part of the home. We laughed about a few things as we caug...

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Please just stop.

A few weeks after my late husband passed away was my first preview into the competitive world of, whats worse, death or divorce? and it made me infuriated. Here I was, a newly grieving widow, dealing with the end of life stuff, shock, two tiny children and tons of grief and someone said to me:

Now you know how I felt when so-in-so left.

I was tongue tied.

I will be very honest. That sentence pissed me off in ways I could not put into words. My one and three-year-old children WOULD NEVER SEE THEIR DAD AGAIN, EVER so how in the heck could she compare my husbands death to their divorce?

The rumblings continued from family and friends.

I heard stupid comments like:

At least he died loving you.

or

At least you dont have to s...

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