Monday, December 17, 2012

A Better Tomorrow...

I thought my next blog post would be about my JFK 50 Mile Race Recap but instead, this blog post was written with a heavy heart at 6am this morning...

I am awake. The entire house is quiet. I am never up this early (unless it is race day).  The snooze button is one of my best friends.  But this morning is different.  Like most every Mom and Dad in America who has a school aged child, I am feeling the anxiety of letting my three babies go to their elementary school. My youngest is 6 years old and in first grade, just like the innocent twenty first graders, who lost their lives on Friday.  My twins are almost ten years old and in fourth grade.   I spoke with them on Friday afternoon about what happened. My kids are not afraid to go back to school. So why am I having a difficult time letting go?  I have tried to keep the TV off and stay away from the news but I realize it is too late and like most of America, I am traumatized by not only what I know has happened but also by all the images/news reports that keep swirling around in my head.  My imagination kicks into overdrive and I relive what I think happened on that horrific day.  I recently read their was enough ammunition found to end everyone's life at the school but the horror stopped when the police came and this is when, a very sick individual, ended his own life.  It is a horrific nightmare that won't end for those families who lost a loved one to gun violence.  The reality is, this nightmare that can happen again if we do not demand stricter gun control laws.

As my kids wake up, I will smile, be cheerful, hug them, love them and to be completely honest, probably tell them to "hurry up" once or twice, to avoid being tardy, as we scurry out the door.  I have to believe that my children will be okay when I tell them goodbye at the front door of their school.

But I have a confession.  As a trauma social worker for ten years, and as a mom, who has had three pregnancy losses, I can't help but imagine every bad scenario that may involve my children.  Ever since my twins began kindergarten, I have always thought the locks on the school would do nothing to prevent a horrific event, like Friday, from happening. Everyday before school, for the last four and half years, I have showered my affection to my babies because I know bad stuff does happen and there is no guarantee that they will come home. There are so many broken people in the world. I have worked with many of them, in my role as a social worker.

While I was an intern at a local mental health center/school, I will never forget the teenage son whose goal in group therapy was to "get along better with his mom." And his mom's goal was "to understand my son better so I can help him." Nine months later, while up late, writing a paper for finals, I was watching the news and saw the horror unfold. The TV news reporter stated that the boy's mom was now dead and her son was the murderer. My supervisor and I had just seen them in group therapy the week before and there was no indication that this 17 year old boy was about to become a monster.  I have never wept so much. My innocence of believing I could help people with mental illness heal, was completely shattered. That day will forever be black. I still had one more year left to graduate with my Master's in Social Work.  I wanted to flee the program and jump into the business world but I stuck with the business of helping people who are floating in this world and so desperately need love, attention and in most cases, therapy and medicine.

For years, I have been saying in conversations, over and over and over, when discussing nightmare situations involving senseless death of innocent victims because of a shooting, that there MUST be a mandated health screening BEFORE purchasing a gun. I could care less about the HIPPA laws.  

We must find a way to screen for mental health issues and make sure the wrong people do not not end up owning a gun.  

The massacre at VA Tech, my alma mater, may have been prevented, as well as, the senseless tragedy at the movie theater in Aurora, CO.  Both of these individual's had documented mental health issues and had guns registered in their name. However, this action would not have prevented Friday's tragedy. But maybe we take it a step further and have a check box that asks if you live with someone that is diagnosed with mental health issues? Maybe include a  mental health check requirement for everyone in the home before purchasing a gun?  Many pet adoption agencies require a home check before adopting! And a home check screening process is mandatory if you are adopting a child! We have to pass a test to drive a car, shouldn't we demand extra vigilance be placed on whose homes guns are brought into? So many senseless acts of violence could be prevented if we take a stand and demand that we want an individual to undergo a mental health screening before purchasing a gun. It won't stop all of these horrific gun violence incidents but it can be the beginning for a better tomorrow.

We must also ensure the people in our country who are struggling with mental illness, get the help they need and that we support their families.

Services are lacking as funding is being cut from local mental health programs. With the right treatment and support, a person with a mental health diagnosis can live a life that is productive and fulfilling. The key to this success is not only an accurate diagnosis but also continued treatment, whether it be therapy, medicine or both.  Many individuals who need this treatment are not capable of working without proper treatment, therefore, they do not have access to mental health therapy because they do not have health insurance.  Many of their families have exhausted their own resources and cannot afford the treatment that their loved one may need.   Unfortunately, some parents may choose to ignore warning signs of mental illness and look the other way because they are too exhausted themselves to continue seeking treatment for their mentally ill child.  It can be a daily uphill battle to live with someone who is mentally ill.  This is especially true if your child is not receiving the proper treatment he/she needs or an adolescent/adult child is not complying with the treatment that has been prescribed.

We must also create a federal database of gun owners or gun purchasers.  There is no federal database with this information, therefore, there is no regulation on who is buying what guns and how many.  The Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986  prohibits the feds from maintaining one.  This is a legal loophole that must be addressed.  It allows a gun owner to stockpile guns and not be detected, such as the case as the individual responsible for the gun violence at the theater in Aurora, Colorado, earlier this year.

But this is only the beginning of the conversation that a brokenhearted, mourning America must have. I am grieving for those 26 precious lives lost on Friday and for their families, just like all of you are too. I want a better world for my children. I want our leaders to make changes because our current laws are not protecting us from senseless, random shooting sprees where so many innocent lives are now forever gone. We need to come together and let our voices be heard!  Please visit this link to take action to prevent gun violence:  

We need more than an outpouring of sympathy, and extra hugable moments with our kids, and makeshift memorials.  We must demand that our children be safe and make America a place of kindness and compassion.  We must want a change and shout it as loud as we can, that we want a Better Tomorrow.  We cannot keep repeating the past scenarios of gun violence.                 

                                         Make your voice heard and be the light in the world.

Prayers for Peace today to all of you and your families and for those families grieving the loss of a loved one taken by an act of senseless gun violence.  The light will guide us all from darkness.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Running for the Babies" ~ My JFK 50 Mile Race

The last month has been a whirlwind of running.  I ran two marathons in October plus a Ten Miler race and became a Marathon Maniac, all in a two weeks time frame!  Never, ever, in my wildest dreams did I see myself running over 100 miles per month but I have consistently met this mileage in September and in October and hopefully, in November!  I will write a seperate blog to spill all the wonderful details of crossing two 26.2 finish lines in a 15 day period but for now, I am focusing my energy and attention towards my biggest running goal to date.  In a mere few days, I will run the JFK 50 Miler race! 

I could say that I have trained like crazy and nothing is going to stop me but the reality is, I haven't been sleeping too well, as the daunting milage of this race is settling in.  However, my insominia has turned into a good thing.  In the middle of the night, I made the realization that World Prematurity Day is the same day as the JFK 50 Miler!  The irony was uncanny for this runner girl who has lost three babies in utero and has also given birth to my three precious, premature babies who are here on this earth!  I knew then, at that moment, waaay after the midnight hour, that I was going to run for my babies to get me to the finish line. 

I eventually did fall asleep and when I woke up with the sun staring at me, I jumped out of bed and went running (my life has been consumed with training for the JFK 50 race)!  As I ran and listened to my tunes, I thought about my plan on how I would mentally tackle 50 Miles.  That is A LOT of freakin miles to run!!  I suddenly wanted to make it bigger than me, to make this race a way to honor to all babies born too soon, a way for me to make this race about "Running for the Babies!"  But how????

I had a fantastic idea on how to make my idea happen!  But I need YOUR help!!  Since I am crunched on time, I need your help ASAP in spreading the word that I am running 50 Miles on World Prematurity Day (THIS SATURDAY) and for each of those 50 miles, I would like to honor a very special baby!  If you, or know someone who has been afected by prematurity or pregnancy loss, please share your story (if you are comfortable in doing this) in the comments section and let me know the name of the baby who you would like me to run in honor of! 

I am also asking for a donation for every dedication - this is where the giving back kicks in!  Every year, since 2001, I have participated in the March of Dime's biggest fundraiser, March for Babies.  It was in September 2000, that I experienced my second pregnany loss, at 27 weeks in utero and it was devastating.  I started participating in the March for Babies walk, as way to honor my son, Joshua Michael and a way to give back to the March of Dimes.  It gave me hope that the March of Dimes was working effortlessly to help ALL babies be born stronger and healthier.  I am asking you to make your donations directly to my March for Babies website.  The walk was in May 2012 but the March of Dimes is accepting donations until the end of this year.  The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. 

To Donate/Dedicate a Mile to a Very Special Baby & read about my own journey of loss and hope, please click here:

I really appreciate your help!  I am excited about my 50 mile journey and it is going to be even more meaningful because I am "Running for the Babies."  These are the babies that the are fighters, the babies that have overcome amazing obstacles, as well as, the babies that we had to say goodbye to, the babies that will always live in our hearts. 

So far, I am running for seven precious babies! 
My Earth Babies
Caitlyn and Connor ~ born Day 1 of 33 weeks and spent 2 weeks in the NICU
Kiley ~ born at 36 weeks but weighing in a healthy 9 lbs, 4 oz)

photo credit: Melissa Macri photography

My Angel Babies
Baby Faith (died in utero on 2/10/05 at 16 weeks)
Baby Joshua (died in utero on 9/17/00 at 27 weeks)
Baby Fitzgerald (died in utero, August 1999, at 7 weeks)

For my friend's grandbaby, Madison Faith Key, born August 7, 2002, who was only expected to live a very short time.  Madison was a fighter and she touched many lives during her short time here.  She sadly passed away, six months later.  Madison continues to make a difference everyday through her mother, who serves on the NICU board at Georgetown hospital.

Thank you for your support, prayers and for helping all babies be born stronger and healthier! 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

Monday, October 8, 2012


This might be my best WINNING story yet!  My most recent radio contest win was a few weeks ago for Lady Gaga tickets on MIX 107.3!  Now I have to wait 30 days before I can win again.  I had thought about switching radio stations to see what other exciting contests might be happening on the air...hmmm, but I'm super loyal and I have met most of the DJ's and they are really awesome people!

This morning when I hopped into the car, there was a new radio station blaring music.  My kids or the hubby must have changed my permanent radio station to something new.  Instead of moving the dial back to 107.3, I decided to check it out.  This foreign radio station was Fresh FM.

I was in and out of the car all day and at some point had heard about the radio station giving away tickets for an exclusive concert at the radio station.  I thought that would be a really cool contest to win but quickly let go of the idea when I realized I'd be at my chiropractor appointment at the same time they were giving away the tickets.

On my way to the chiropractor's appointment, I heard the DJ announce again that at 5:25pm the contest would take place.  I had a fleeting thought that I might be able to be back in the car by that time but didn't get my hopes up.

I arrived at my appointment a few minutes late and was brought back to a room to wait for the doctor. While I was waiting, I decided to call the radio station.  I explained that I was at the doctor's and I couldn't hear the radio announcement to call for the contest and asked how I could try to win the tickets. 

                                        The DJ said to call back ON THE DOT at 5:25pm. 

Of course, the doctor walks in the door and says "hello" at 5:23pm!!  I said "hello" back and quickly announced that I was going to try and win concert tickets in two minutes.  I was not going to be this close to WINNING and give up.  He just laughed and shook his head and began my treatment. 

Then it was 5:25pm ON THE DOT and I called the radio station and it was busy...called again, busy...called again, busy...called again, RINGING!  I announced to the doctor the phone to the radio station was ringing and he gave me this look like "really?" and then...

      the DJ picks up the phone and announces I'm CALLER 9 and the.... 
I really don't know who was more surprised - me or the doctor??!!  After I hung up, he said he didn't know anyone who ever calls in to the radio stations for contests, much less WINS THEM!  I think he just might remember me as the only patient who has ever called a radio station for a contest and WON, while he was providing treatment!! 

On October 18th, me and a friend will be heading to Lanham, MD, to see an exclusive concert at the radio station by these guys...

                              The hubby will be out of town so I will need a concert buddy. 

            WHO's IN for a FABULOUSLY FUN DAY???????

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Punch Card in Life

I am looking at the clock and thinking why am I awake?  I have felt the need to write all week and have denied myself this creative pleasure.  I often think that that when I write, the words must flow endlessly, like a perfect lullaby, when instead, I realize, I just need to let go and type.  I have so much too say and wonder everyday, how much time do I have left to send these messages into cyber space?

For the last year or so, really incredible things have happened to me and continue to do so.  I'm talking about experiences that are once in a lifetime, unique.  But I don't live in a fancy city or have a fancy job or interact daily with fancy people.  I am just a Twingles Mom.  Living the daily grind, in the suburbs.  My life is supposed to be comprised of suburbia activities, like canvassing grocery isles, cooking creative crock pot meals, making dents in the laundry pile, playing taxi driver for the kids play dates, soccer practices, gymnastics and their other endless activities.  However, this doesn't mean I have to turn away an opportunity of play, when it comes my way. 

                          This blog isn't about bragging rights, it is about your punch card in life. 

For so long, I believed that once I became a mom, my life would be complete.  The journey to have a family was filled with Heartbreak, Hope, and finally, Hallelujah x3!  I have not known greater joy than experiencing life with my children. The first embrace with each one was filled with overwhelming emotions and I recognize that each day is a gift.  But something was missing when my youngest daughter began preschool and my twins boarded the bus for kindergarten. 

Once I embraced the idea that I had more to offer to the world than motherhood, I realized there was a whole world to discover.  I literally ran out the door that day and have not stopped running.  I wake up every day with excitement and wonder how I can turn my day into an amazing one?  I opened the door of opportunity and I keep running forward.  However, sometimes, deep inside, I wonder, if my punch card in life is almost complete?  With each new experience, I keep saying, "this is it" - the one moment I'll remember forever, and then, without any expectation, the universe sends me along to another unique life experience! 

I have seen things people are never supposed to see, a lot of death and dying.  Thanks to the endless hours I spent in the ER, as a trauma social worker.  I am uber protective of my kids.  I have said goodbye to too many precious friends who were just beginning to live life.  Each day, I am keenly aware that we can only rely on the very moment you are living and nothing else. 

I know I drive my husband crazy with my endless activities and travel requests.  He doesn't understand why I am not a homebody.  And I know my babysitters wonder why I'm going to endless concerts and to meet and greets with the band.  And my kids ask "mommy, where are you going now?" as I pack for a trip to New York City to go run a marathon.  I know there are people who don't agree with my high energy lifestyle...but I'm not at the age where I really wonder what others think about me. 

                                     I am LIVING life and relishing every opportunity.
It is now waaay past the midnight hour.  So, I will leave you with one more thought to ponder, the most important one of all.  For it is how I strive to live this journey of life and I truly believe "my amazing luck" is instead, only kindness floating back my way. 

My punch card in life has truly been extraordinary.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tears and Tragedy: A Call to Action

I have been riding on the waves of emotion recently.  For the last week, I've tried to hold it together without anyone knowing what was going on.  A typical Taurus, I am.  Earlier this week, when the baby panda at the National Zoo was pronounced dead, my tears finally began to flow effortlessly.  I was heartbroken when I read how the baby panda's mother called out in distress.  I felt a sense of overflowing grief for this panda's mother.  I know the unbearable loss of losing a child.  On Sept 17, 2000, I experienced grief that I never knew existed.  My baby boy died in utero at 27 weeks.  My heart is still healing. 

This past week, I have been struggling.  I have been mopey, frazzled, unproductive, grumpy, no desire to workout or run, lounging in my PJ's, trying my best to engage in conversation, to be social, to interact with my family, friends and co-workers but I believe that I have miserably failed.

And then this morning I read the horrific headline "Family of Four Found Dead in Herndon Home."

The pit of my stomach ached and I felt like I wanted to throw up.  This happened in my very own community.  This family attended the same church as I attend.  I felt like I already knew the story before I read it.  The details are being investigated but a homicide detective is on the case. 

All day I kept thinking about how I have read hundreds of stories like these in recent years.  And every time I ask myself, how can we IGNORE this public health epidemic of families being wiped out by their very own??  When are WE, as a society, going to say "Enough is Enough" and start the difficult conversation that so desperately needs to begin?

Tonight, while sitting in a booth at the Silver Diner with my family, a song started to play on the jukebox that I haven't heard in awhile.  It was John Lennon's "Imagine."  Suddenly, without warning, my tears began to gently flow.  I think it was this verse that got the waterworks going:

I don't have the answers. But I do know a family of four in our community is no longer with us.  Those that are left behind and knew this family are all wondering what went wrong?  How did this happen to our church family?  It is natural to think about what we could have done differently?  We wonder if this family would still be alive, if only we had asked the right questions?  The questions that could have, should have, or the best case scenario, would have, lead this family to the help that they so desperately needed, if this is truly the case of family murder/suicide.

There are so many unknowns and it is difficult to comprehend the horror of the situation.  I cannot stop thinking about the innocent lives lost and their dreams that will never unfold.  Two children who brought love and hope into this world, and now, are forever gone. I wonder about their Mom and her story?  Is there someone in the community that she spoke with that might be able to give some insight on what happened?  No final details are emerging yet but in my mind, I have to wonder if her life and her children's lives are now a statistic of U.S. family homicides? 

Did you know that almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner?  Source: NCADV Public Policy Office
I can't help but wonder how their extended family and our Floris church community will cope in the days ahead and how the children's friends will comprehend this news?  This tragedy will introduce a whole new meaning of grief and trauma into their world.  I will keep my Floris friends in my prayers as we grieve together.

Tonight, on 9/25/2012, Pastor Tom posted this message on the Floris UMC website:

"It is our desire at Floris to minister to the needs of our community. We will be holding a Candlelight Vigil at Floris tomorrow, Wednesday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m. Please invite the community and post this information where others can see it. Our desire is to provide a place where our members, friends, and community can gather to express their grief, pray, and stand in the light of God's love and hope together. I will share more information regarding this service tomorrow."

During this Candlelight Vigil at Floris, I will be praying for the difficult conversations to begin amongst us.  We must not be afraid to ask for help.  We must be extra observant and not be afraid of being too intrusive to our friends and family who appear to be struggling.  If something is not right, follow with your heart and offer a sympathetic ear and a helping hand while putting a plan in motion, whether that is counseling or helping someone to find a temporary safe place.  Your kind word or offer of help may save a life.

For more information or to get help, please call:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK

There are published reports that the husband/father of this family had previously attempted suicide.  This is one of the warning signs that calls for an immediate intervention.

"Recognize the serious signs." Source:

Depressed people do sometimes commit suicide when they experience feelings of hopelessness.  It is important to listen carefully if your spouse talks about suicide and to take it seriously, especially where there is evidence that they have a plan and/or they have attempted suicide before. Be aware of the following warning signs:

  • Threats/talk of suicide
  • Statements implying they don't care anymore or won't be around for future events
  • Give away their stuff; Discuss making a will or funeral arrangements
  • Purchase of a gun or other weapons without a known reason
  • After a period of depression, your spouse experiences a sudden, unexplained cheerfulness mood or is calm
  • It is important to get help right away, if you observe any of this behavior!  To get advice on what action to take, call a health care professional, mental health clinic or the suicide hotline. Call the police in case of an emergency!  Try your best to intervene by talking, and even asking direct questions about their suicidal thoughts. Direct questions are vital, as they can give you an indication of the time you have to intervene and the intensity of their emotions.   Also discuss negotiating a deal with them to stay alive for a set period of time, buying time for the really negative period to dissipate.

We will pray for Peace for all mankind, rely on our Faith to keep us strong, believe in Love to make the world go around, and have continued Hope for effective communication and intervention in our communities so that there are no more innocent victims.  For it is Peace, Faith, Love, and Hope, that will carry us through our darkest hours. God's light will shine through.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Addicted to Life

It has been weeks since I wrote my last blog.  My only excuse is that I have been living Life!  Each night, there is so much I want to share through my writing and then the dream world decides to engulf me.  
Tonight, I decided to write. 
A few weeks ago, while enjoying the sunshine and having a conversation with one of my best friends, she decided to spill the truth.  Matter of factly, she said..."you are addicted to life."  I could not not refute her observant comment.
Her words spoke the truth so elegantly.  Some would have simply said that I am a crazy fanatic, who dives into way too many opportunities.
Each day, I wake up with a zest for life.  I go out into the world, trying to make it a better place.  Some days it is really difficult to do this.  However, I do my best to put on a smile and exhale a postitive attitude.  When the sun sets, I always take a moment to look into the sky above and be thankful for my blessings.  If I waited until midnight when my head hit the pillow, it would never happen.  I am always fast asleep before I can count to ten, only because, each moment I was awake, I was Living Life. 
Living your Life is more than doing what is supposed to get done.  It is about taking an extra step.  It is about surrounding yourself with opportunities, taking chances, and believing in the possibilty of living an extraordinary life! 
Tonight it happened again.  Just it like it did a week ago.  And four days before that.  And this is my life...believing in extraordinary things happening and watching them unfold.  To be honest, sometimes, I am in disbelief, how someone like me, can be so lucky.
I have won numerous contests, experienced incredible, unique opportunities, and have met fascinating people (some famous, some not but all of them are Rockstars to me)!  The pictures are endless, the memories are priceless, and every moment it happens, I do not understand why but I grab the moment and run with it and cherish every single minute. 
I am not a passive person.  Some may even call me aggressive, a bit shameless.  I decide what I want, then I believe in it happening.  The truth is that I am Addicted to Life and I Love Making Things Happen.  When opportunity knocks, I seize the moment.
I realize Living Life is about more than having extraordinary events happen to you.  You must appeciate the everyday stuff too.  Appreciating such blessings as having nutritional meals to eat, a place to call home, a reliable car, a strong, healthy body that allows you to run, a job that you are passionate about, your parents unconditional love, friends who you can be yourself with, a husband who would do anything for you, and three beautiful kids.  If you forget about these things, then the really lucky stuff goes away too. And suddenly, your life becomes empty.
Never forget that Life is a vast colorful canvas.  Go out there and do something!  Anything!  Believe in Possibility!  The first step in making things happen is using your imagination.  Albert Einstein said "Imagination is everything.  It is the preview of life's coming attractions." To live a life of true potential, it is essential to open your mind and allow the opportunity to present itself.  Once this happens, you will be amazed as you watch your life unfold into an endless ocean of rich experiences.
Just like tonight, when I was FRONT ROW with Chris Martin from Coldplay!!  There he was, giving me a high five, in the middle of the audience.  A very kind man, helped me acquire the best seat in the house and I will forever be grateful.  My life stood still as I admired the presence of Chris Martin and the other Coldplay band members as they played right in front of me!!  In an instant, I realized two things.  I had imagined this moment earlier in the evening, even though I had No Idea HOW it would happen.  Then, when I saw the opportunity, I went for it, not really sure WHAT would happen.  Each step closer, and then suddenly, there I was, literally standing right in front of the makeshift stage that Coldplay had set up in the audience!!  I was so close to the stage, that I could reach out and touch Chris Martin and the members of Coldplay!  I stood in awe, soaking up the mesmerizing music and this amazing moment.  It was truly an experience of a lifetime!
Whatever you do today, tomorrow, or the next day, be grateful you are ALIVE and then go out there and LIVE the life you always dreamed of.  The more you give, the more life will reward you, surprising you along the way.  We are only here once to experience Life so why not soak it all in?  Snap, Crackle, Pop!  Explore your imagination, believe in life's coming attractions, and be ready to become Addicted to Life!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Life Lessons from my DAD... #FathersDay

A Father is all about Being There.  Unlike my biological father who ran away like a coward to surf the waves in Hawaii.  He said "good-bye" to me before I was even born, and I promise, he will never say "hello."

I consider myself one of the MOST luckiest girls in the world because it was by CHANCE that I was blessed with the most AMAZING father.

I am not one to brag but considering my fate when born, unwanted, with a foster mother, it is quite remarkable that I was CHOSEN and because of this event, my life was forever changed.

Happy Father's Day to all of you Dad's out there.  But who are you really???  You call yourself a DAD, a FATHER, a POP.  But tell me, please, do you deserve this title?  Being a Dad is a GIFT.

Who i am, a mere Mother??  I am by far, the PERFECT example, but I try hard.  I only ask you to do the same.

But what if you have only THE BEST to compare yourself too?? 

I get it.  Yes, a Father who gives endlessly, who never complains, who only wants to help, who is there for EVERYTHING!

My husband said he simply cannot do it.  He will NEVER, EVER be my Dad.

He is on a pedal stool.  But you only have to meet him once to understand how UNIQUE he is.  People remember him for his kindness, the ability to carve out time to simply ask "how are you?" TO REMEMBER YOUR NAME.  To give, to unconditionally love, to PROTECT your family, even if that means withholding information to protect YOUR feelings.

OK.  Yes, I wanted to order him a white and shining armour suit for Father's Day.  It is really the only appropriate gift.

My Father came into my life at 2 months of age.  Get comfortable, sit down.  I have life lessons that I want to share...

He scooped me up and never looked back.  He accepted me for who I am.  He never excluded me even when my two sisters were born.  In his eyes, we were always ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY of FIVE.

He even said I had "Grandpa Pope's eyes."  Silly Dad, I am not from THERE.  I am part Dutch and Spanish and my last name was supposed to be Sanchez.  But how quickly you forgot all that and you just ACCEPTED me into your family.

Did I mention how BLESSED I AM???

My dad has taught me so much about LIFE.  A huge part of who I am today is because of him. 

There is an old age argument about nature vs. nurture.  I am living proof of nurture.  Because of my Dad I am able to live life in a very unique way.  I am giving, accepting of other's faults, careful to pass judgement, supplying kindness to those who I encounter.  This was not innate.  This came from a role model who has always beeen Dad. 

Endless examples of his unselfishness, his willingness to give, his quench to make this world a better place without him even knowing it.  If I am able to do this, then I will consider myself a success.

Lesson One:  You begin with the person you are speaking to.  Be there entirely.  Hang on to every word.  Never look bored.  Consider them the most important person in the world.

Lesson Two:  It is NEVER about You.  The minute you think about how this will benefit "me" is when you have lost everything.

Lesson Three:  Pick your battles carefully.  In my short lifetime, I could have consulted many lawyers but because of my father's advice, I have been given insight and an understanding on what you must devote your energy towards.  If you fight every battle, then you have lost the energy to fight for the most important things in your life.

Lesson Four: Everyone is EQUAL.  Be Geniune.  My dad always knows everyone's name.  He always asks about you and family members.  He remembers the important things.  He is not trying to impress you.  It is because he truly cares. 

Lesson Five: Be Grateful. Growing up in a miltary family, we never lived in the biggest house or had the fanciest car but I never knew the difference.  If I expressed an interest in gymnastics or diving or modeling, my dad would find a way to make it work.  On the flip side, I would always know to consider each lesson "a gift." 

Lesson Six: Be Involved.  I still giggle about the mustache/motorcycle boy that I dated for a brief time in high school.  My dad nearly had a heart attack.  He always met EVERY one of my friends and whoever I was dating. He wanted last names, phone numbers and a time when I would be home.  This is why I am still here today. 

Lesson Seven: Be Happy.  Whatever life throws your way do not take it out on others.  Be appreciative of what you do have and call it a day.  Ugliness settles in the moment you decide your life is not enough to satisfy all that you want.

Lesson Eight:  Never Give up.  Strive to be appeciative while being productive.  My Dad always encouraged me to live out my dreams.  He believed in me and my sisters.  He made sure we had college funds.  He listened, even after my accident.  The world shut the door on me and told me to forget about college, to go home, and that I'd never go to grad school.  Because my Dad believed in me, I overcame amazing obstacles and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Creative Writing and a Master's Degree in Social Work.

Lesson Nine: Your friends are a part of who you are.  My dad always jokes with me that I have a hundred Best Friends.  The irony is that I learned from him that cultivating friendships is immensly important.  Each friend that I meet in this journey called "life" brings new meaning to my world.  I make huge efforts to stay in touch because I believe each friendship makes up a part of who I am and I am better person for knowing you.

Lesson Ten:  The Most Important one of all...LOVE Unconditionally.  Do I need to say More?  My Dad did this from the beginning and continues to do this today.  With his unconditional love, I have learned that, yes, we are human, and that yes, we can mess up but if you love me through the mess, I will ultimately be a better person.  This is because I have learned from my mistakes and realize I can only rise up, from unconditional love, instead of passing judgement, which is only a guarantee of falling down.

If I was not adopted, who knows who I would be, where I'd be, or what I would be doing with my life.  I am ever so thankful for my life circumstance, a moment of chance, that ultimately changed my fate and my very being.  I have been wrapped in unconditional love since two months of age and only want to give back to the world what my Dad shared with me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stay Calm and Carry On

"Stay Calm and Carry On" is one of my favorite life mantra's.  Tonight was one of those evenings were I had to reflect and realize I MUST REMAIN CALM.  I knew what needed to be done and had to diligentaly go about the task, when all I wanted to do was freak out.  It was one of those moments when you dream your worst nightmare and then wake up, only to remember it was reality, the day before.  I know this is what will be happening to me when the sun rises.
This will have to remain a mystery post for awhile.  I cannot disclose the actual event, until, maybe, a year from now, when it is only a distant memory.  It all had to do with a letter I received and enclosed was the kind of news that makes you think there is no way this is happening. 
I immediately had to begin planning my course of action, getting the entire family involved.  Later at 11pm, I joked with everyone, that a family that goes through this together, stays together!  Our evening was dreadful but somehow we all managed to stay positive and not allow this sidetrack event in our lives ruin a moment of happiness.
I am exhausted.  Emotionally spent.  Too tired to move from this computer to go to bed.  Truth be told, I have about a hundred loads of laundry to do and may stay up all night just to finish it.  Too Much To Deal With tonight but that bowl of New York Super Fudge Chunk sure did the right thing!  My husband asked me twice as I was scooping the ice cream into the bowl, "you do know it is 12:30am???"  I knew it would help me stay calm and remain focused so I really didn't care what the heck the clock said. 
I reflect back and I might have got a little upset, somewhat impatient, maybe once, okay, maybe twice?  I certaintly had a lot of questioning going on, wondering out loud sometimes, "why? why? why?"  does it seem like life likes to kick you in the teeth, when you have already received one too many TKO's already?
Stand up again.  Don't whine.  Don't complain.  You must "Stay Calm and Carry On."  I try to be a positive influence on my kids when the tough gets going.  I never want them to feel like they are the victim.  I want to empower them through my example and let them know that they have a choice on how they approach problems that are presented to them.  My philosphy in life is that all of your doors are never shut.  There is a solution if you don't give up.  Researchers say positive people are the "lucky ones" because of this approach in life. 
Tonight I would not have considered myself "lucky" with the situation I was in but I realized things could be much worse and many blessings were spinning around in my mind.  Tonight I knew I needed to write.  It gives me peace and a chance to reflect on what is truly important so I don't fall flat on my face in this race called "life." 
When you wake up, remember to "Stay Calm and Carry On" no matter what is brought your way.  You may surprise yourself what this simple attitude can do when the world seems a little less than cheery.  The dirty little secret is that this attitude is also contagious!  May you have a calm and peaceful day!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Running with Reckless Abandon

My blog posts are sparse.  I wish they were more frequent, as I am inspired by so many occurances throughout my day.  I wanted to sleep tonight.  My mind, however, will not rest.  And here I find myself, once again, writing during the midnight hour.
Today was one of those punch you in the stomach, remind you how beautiful life is, wake up and appreciate every moment because simply said, you don't know when it is going to disappear.
I think I personally went through a whole box of tissues at the memorial service.  I believe I allowed myself to ride in the fast lane and never properly mourned until I heard all those amazing words describing how truly remarkable this person was in his own quiet, genuine, peaceful way.  One of our friends from the inner circle, wrote an incredible eugolgy and spoke at the memorial service.  Scott described Dave as someone he admired, in every aspect of his life, from fatherhood to friendship.  Dave was the type of person who made it effortless to make a connection with him.  Dave was not pretentious and lived an authentic life.  He was the kind of person you would meet once and would never forget.  This was evidenced by the standing room only crowd at the memorial service today.
Dave was one of my husband's best friends who was his roommate at VA Tech.  I lost my best friend two years ago.  Shelly and I were instant BFF's when we were the new kids at the junior high in Montgomery, AL.  Both Shelly and Dave were in our wedding and we remained close to them and their families.  I'm still in disbelief that they are both gone.  With their deaths, I feel like a part of both of us has died too.
Although it was a day spent mourning an outstanding individual, this blog post is not about sadness.  It is about an awareness of how the universe works in mysterious ways.  Another friend and I were talking about why is it, that the good die young?  I was explaining how this is the fourth really good friend to pass away in the last two years.  I explained how these friends never once complained about their situation, or about how unfair life was, and until the very end, they were still concerned for others.  And now they are angels dancing in Heaven.
I know Dave's parents through a support group that I used to run and to see them today, at the memorial service was surreal.  I realized we now shared a sacred bond.  We both had to say goodbye to our son's who left this world too early.  They had the gift of loving Dave for forty three years.  I only imagined a life with our son who we lost 27 weeks in utero.  Pale comparisons I know, but we both have experienced the pain of losing a child.  It is not supposed to be this way.  Nothing can prepare you for the heartache.
Two girls left behind without a Mommy, when Shelly passed away and this week, history repeated itself with two girls left behind without a Daddy.  I wanted to scoop them up and tell them it will be okay but inside my heart, I know their journey ahead is going to be painful. 
I am the master of grief.  For ten years, I helped families process their worst nightmare.  At the memorial service today, watching all of those people grieve and let go of their tears was difficult.  I wanted to offer a tissue to everyone of them and give them a gentle hug.  Sometimes I wish my heart didn't feel so damn much.  Sometimes the emotional stimuli can be overwhelming but there is something inside of me that pulls me towards the grieving.
When I hugged Dave's widow, who is also my very close friend, I didn't say a word.  I wanted to absorb her pain.  I wanted her to know, without saying a word, I was her rock and she can lean on me anytime.
Hours passed at the gathering afterwards, remincing our dear friend and the fond memories and how we would never forget how Dave made us all a better person.  I was emotionally drained.  My mascara was washed away from my endless tears.  As we said goodbye, I thought about crawling into bed and just letting my tears drift me into a state of slumber.  So many memories today of not just Dave but of my other friends who are no longer here to share our lives together.  How does one process SO MUCH GRIEF????
Instead of therapy, I run with reckless abandon.  However, I cannot endorse this for others.
It was just before 8:00pm when I finally got out the door.  I was wearing dark clothes with no reflectors.  I had every intention of a "short run" because my husband was concerned about the "boogie men" lurking in the bushes.  I was listening to my music at full blast, my thoughts drifted and somehow I forgot to turn around at mile 2.  I kept on running and running.  It was my escape from the ugliness. 
The moonlight guided my path.  I was energized.  I swear I think the moonlight makes me run faster.  I thought about my Why Marathon Ambassador teammates and how amazingly fast they are without a worry in the world, I thought about my premature son who won his age group after running his first ever 5K with sub 8 minute miles, I thought about my friend who trained endlessly to finish her first Half IronMan, I thought about my new running partner and how she told me to increase my stride by trying to put only one foot in each sidewalk square.  And I thought about how cancer really, really sucks and I wanted to punch it right back in the gut.  So that is what I did as I ran in the dark, past the bushes with the supposedly "boogie men," getting lost in my music, and running as fast as I could.  I didn't care if I got injured.  I didn't care that it wasn't a race.  I didn't care that is was not the twilight run I had imagined but instead, it was darkness and a moonlight path.  I was making a point to myself to LIVE in that very moment and to push my limitations.
While running back home, I came up with the title of this blog post but today was so much more than about my run.  Today was bigger than life.  It was the universe speaking to all of us at that memorial service, telling us to focus on the positive, and to take away the goodness we learned from Dave and spread it out into the world so he can live on.  We must live our lives with reckless abandon, to not be afraid to try new experiences, we must chase after our dreams because if we don't, a little piece of us dies while we are supposed to be living and appreciating and soaking in all the wonderment there is to discover Every Single Day.  Just like you did Dave.  May you soar like an eagle in Heaven. 
                                              ~ Rest in peace, Dave Tobias.~

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Embracing the Gift of Life

Tonight I wanted to put on my running shoes and run underneath the midnight sky.  I wanted the stars to shine down upon me.  I needed healing energy from Above.  This scenerio, unfortunately, was not a possiblity for me this evening.  Instead, I will let my thoughts pour onto the screen.

I thought my next post was going to be all about birthdays, and celebrating for weeks on end.  After all, I have had a fabulously fun two weeks plus celebrating my "22nd" bday.  I had the words for my blog post already written in my head.  I also had visions of sharing the celebration of life and the human spirit and goodness in the world, after the completion of the March for Babies walk this past Sunday that I helped to orchestrate.  But I just couldn't find the time to get the words out of my mind.  The last two weeks have brought on a significant decrease in my running and my writing.  My focus has been narrow minded but it needed to be done, in order for me to be a witness to my first successful March for Babies walk and to celebrate my birthday properly.  I was going a hundred miles minute and I had to gently remind myself several times to "just breathe and enjoy the moment."

And then life came to a crashing halt. 

Our elderly dog was not doing well throughout the night.  My husband and I had talks about how this weekend might be her time.  Call it denial but this talk is a repeat and we always convince ourselves that she is doing better.  But this time I see the pain in her movements.  She is experiencing a new level of wanting to sleep and not wake up, for anything.  And just when I'm thinking of how inhumane it is to let her suffer, I receive an e-mail from a dear friend.  Her husband does not qualify for the experimental treatment because his body cannot process the lethal chemo.  It would be considered unethical and a form of assisted suicide.  Instead, the decision has been made to start Hospice with injections of Morphine.  One has to ask what is the quality of life when you are so drugged up in your bed, living out your final days, as your loved ones surround you with tearful goodbyes?  Do you understand the irony here??  Our elderly dog will be put down to end her pain and suffering.  There is no Hospice or morphine involved.  Why is it considered "unethical" to try an experimental drug and offer hope for a miracle to our friend who has already been given six months or less to live? 

Maybe I should have waited to write this post?  I am still processing it all.  My heart is heavy for our friend and his family.  I keep asking God when the ugliness will end.  Why do the good, really, really good people experience the most suffering?  Is it so that we can learn from them?  They are an example to others how they handle pain and agony with grace and a giving heart.  You never hear them complain.  A certain acceptance takes over and they are given an understanding of what it is in life you should appreciate.

In less than three years, I have been a witness to death with several of my best friends.  I wish I could somehow forget the ugliness that they were each faced.  Instead, I stayed close and their struggles have forever changed who I am and my approach to life.

Some would say I need to slow down. They ask how I do it all.  For me, it is not a choice.  I embrace my life.  I live life without regrets after seeing death knock on the door too soon, too many times, to some of the most wonderful people. 

In a moment, your life can change forever.  We cannot take anything for granted.  We must appreciate our blessings.  We should celebrate every moment.  New experiences must be checked off the bucket list.  We must understand that we are all in this together.  We must treat each other with kindness.  It is important to always accept an opportunity to be with cherished friends and family.  You never know if it will be the last time you are with that person.

We must demonstrate grace.  We must accept one another.  Ugliness will always be present in our lives but it is up to each one of us to strive for goodness.  Our time is limited so don't wait until tomorrow, your moment is here and now, to bring goodness into the world.  Life is truly a gift. I am mindful of this and make my best effort to live life each day to the fullest. 

As I blew out my birthday candles this year, I thanked God for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me.  And I made it my birthday wish, to dissipate the ugliness in life by striving for ways to help make this world a better place. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Running the Distance

Life is all about love, laughter, surprises, and disappointments.  When life smacks you with disappointing news, you can choose to be angry or choose to turn it into opportunity.  All day I had anxiously awaited the arrival of GOOD NEWS.  When I confirmed that my dream of running the ING New York City Marathon was not going to happen, I wanted to let the tears flow.  It sounds silly, I know.  I'm even a little embarrassed to admit how much I wanted to be "IN."  Who the heck prays every night for months on end to be accepted into a race where you pay entirely too much money for an entrance fee and then shed blood, sweat and tears to run 26.2 miles, only to cross a finish line and receive a medal that will end up collecting dust?
However, you have to understand the MAGIC of this marathon.  It is simply amazing how the magic unfolds and changes your very being.  To run the ING New York City Marathon was simply one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I had not been able to properly train because LIFE kept happening.  My longest run in the previous 12 months was only 13.1.  I knew I wanted more than anything to cross that finish line but wasn't quite so sure if that was going to happen.
I traveled to NYC and knew I could defer in person.  When one of my forever friends, heard my idea of deferment, she quickly put that idea to shame and told me to just go out there and DO IT.  I couldn't travel all the way to NYC and then not run the NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!  Once I walked through those expo doors, my decision was made.  I would do everything I could, to cross that finish line.
And I did!  One of the most unbelievable parts of this marathon was that I didn't even realize I was running 26.2 until Mile 15.  The crowds were out of this world.  Everywhere you looked, for miles on end, there were crazy fans yelling encouraging words to complete strangers.  I have never given so many high fives in a race before.  I had the time of my life!  I met complete strangers who become friends because of the stories we shared on why we were running.  It was a celebration of the human spirit overcoming obstacles and achieving goals, that had once upon a time ago, seemed unimaginable.  I wanted to experience it all over again.  I really, really did.  But today that dream came to a crashing end.
I tried not to dwell on it.  I thought about how thankful I was for the gift that I CAN RUN.  However, I knew I needed a replacement goal, to keep me striving to be the best runner that I can be.  I have secretly imagined running an ultra marathon.  I have only voiced this dream to a few people who understand the significance of such a race.  When I accidently spoke out loud while imagining how I could make this dream happen, my husband's response was "those people are crazy." 
I made a conscious decison very quickly and turned my disappointment into opportunity.  This year, I have decided I will run two marathons and a 50 Miler!  On October 13th, I will run the Rockway Beach marathon in New York, as a sponsored WhyMarathon Team Ambassador, then the Marine Corp Marathon on October 28th and finally, the JFK 50 Miler on November 17th.  If I can cross the finish line for all three races, I will achieve not one but two dreams.  I will have run an ultra marathon AND I can apply for Marathon Maniac status.  It will be more blood, sweat and tears than I can ever imagine but I want to push myself into unknown territory and aspire to achieve this new goal.  I know the majority of those who know me will be in agreement with my husband and will wonder why a person would subject themself to such torture?
"Some may ask why I am running such long distances. There are reasons. During the ultras I come to a point where my body is almost dead. My mind has to take leadership. When it is very hard there is a war going on between the body and the mind. If my body wins, I will have to give up; if my mind wins, I will continue. At that time I feel that I stay outside of my body. It is as if I see my body in front of me; my mind commands and my body follows. This is a very special feeling, which I like very much. . . It is a very beautiful feeling and the only time I experience my personality separate from my body, as two different things."  ~ Yiannis Kouros quote     
I am excited to begin this new journey in my life and the possibilty of opening myself up again to the magic and wonderment of turning a dream into reality...


Monday, April 23, 2012

I have a dream...

I have a dream...

A dream of of kindness filling up the world.  A dream where greed disappears.  A dream where selfishness is exchanged for all good for mankind.  A dream where ugliness is destroyed and all things beautiful flourish.  A dream of harmony.  A dream of peace and love. 
Why is this world so difficult to create?  In the the headlines today I read about how a nation wants to destroy it's neighbor.  I wanted to vomit.
I can't understand all of this smashing that is going on.  Crashing in all around the universe.  This is why I look forward to meteor showers.  My escape from the world.
If it was this simple, would our lives be riddled with boredom and simplicity?  Instead we are challenged by the black snake that gives us no warning when it wants to rear its ugly head.  Each day we have to be mindful of how our actions affect each other.  It is a simple concept but so many of us, simply forget.  We are rushing out the door to get our kids to school before the tardy bell or to work, before the boss gets in.
Just STOP.  Step back.  Think about it.  How can the scenerio be changed?  Especially if your kids are watching you.
Every single moment we are teaching our kids how to interact with their world.  What kind of adult kid do you want sitting at your Thanksgiving table?  One that has been launched into the world with a caring heart, a thankful attitude or one of greediness and full of entitlement?
My challenge to you is when you wake up, be thankful for the gift of today and embrace your very being, step out into the world fully conscious of every word or action and how it affects others.  You might be delighted how the world reacts and with an element of surprise, minus the gift bow, you will relish the moments when the gifts of your kindness, are delivered back to you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A little bit about this "Twingles Mom"

I am a twingles mom.  A mom, to 9 year old boy/girl twins and a 6 year old daughter, living in the suburbs of Northern Virginia.  I also call myself mom to a yellow lab, our first furry baby who is 14 years old and battling arthritis and Cushing's Disease.  I am also a wife, married for so many years, that I've forgotten how long.  We met in college as Hokies, then dated five years before getting hitched.  My hubby had to make sure that I was the stuff that fairy tales are made of.  I can only remember our wedding anniversary because we adopted our furry baby, the summer before we celebrated our first year of marriage.  I have hopes, dreams, and aspirations to do big things besides living life in suburbia.  I ignore the fact that my birthday is creeping up on me and screaming "you are too old for these types of thoughts to be floating in your head!  You should be thinking about how you are going to strategically get rid of those ten laundry piles and planning your meals for the week instead!" 

I am very good at ignoring the negative thoughts.  So good actually, I tell myself that I can do these crazy things, like run a marathon.  And then run another 26.2.  And another...My goal this year is to be inducted into the "Marathon Maniac's" club.  I have to thank my fellow WhyMarathon Team Ambassadors for this idea.  I thought I was a nutty until I met them.  There are twenty plus WM Team Ambassadors and each one of us has a passion to RUN.  Their stories are inspiring and only make me want to run faster and better and farther.  One day a 50K race will be in my future.  To read their stories, visit  Some of us are still working on the WM Team Ambassador paperwork (like me) and aren't official on the webpage yet!  I'll be sure to post when my "WhyMarathon" story is published on the webpage!  Some of my friends say I inspire them to run or to focus on being the best they can be.   I have a hunch that their significant others probably do not like me so much because of the ridiculous amount of hours a runner has to put into training in order to consider themselves an endurance athlete.

So about those crazy things I tell mysef I can do.  A life coach would say those are POSITIVE thoughts entering my brain.  I even tell myself such things as go after your dream job, even though you have never been employed as a fundraiser.  My parents paid good money for my Master's degree in Social Work.  My speciality is crisis therapy and grieving.  For ten years I devoted myself to working at a local Level One hospital in the Emergency Department.  I have put in many hours of overnight shifts and weekend mornings, helping the families of trauma patients, piece life back together, after their world came apart in one instant.  As I became more skilled, I soon realized it is not the words you say but it is the mere fact that you are present and letting the family grieve and just BE.  And now here I am, three months into a complete career change, working for an organization I feel passionately about, The March of Dimes. 

I have been a guest blogger for for almost two years now!  My blog is posted right now on their website: "Confessions of a Trauma Social Worker."  Check it out: 
I also have the official title of Herndon Family Balance Examiner at the

But tonight, I write past the midnight hour, my very first official blog, for the world.  I'll be honest.  I'm a little terrified.  I am totally, completely, utterly, exposing myself.  But heck, I'm adventurous like that, so I hope you will join me on my blogging journey. I have always wanted to write since I was a little girl in pigtails.  I've been writing short stories, poetry, journal entries, ever since I learned cursive.  I now have two novels in the works.  Writing is my way of dealing with the world.  Analyzing, twisting, spinning, until the words jump out of my soul.  And then I discovered running two years ago.  How blessed I am that I have not one, but two outlets to figure out what this thing called "life" is all about.  All the money I save from not having to go to therapy, I donate it to my March for Babies family team.

I am passionate about my life, compassionate for those less fortunate, gravitate towards helping others find a path to healing, believe in kindness, friendship and love, and participating in fabulously fun activities with friends and family.  I have a weakness for sunsets, rainbows, and full moons.  I am a Taurus and very connected to the Earth and the vast sky above.

Oh!  And my friends think I am LUCKY because I win a lot of stuff.  Just not the mega millions lottery, even though I bought ten tickets in VA and five in DC!  I should have saved my money for a cute running top.

Since I am new to this blogging thing, please be patient!  Feel free to give me suggestions on how to make this more fun for you!  (I am wondering how I post pictures?) And I'd love to hear blogging suggestions!  So let's give it a whirl and see what happens!  And if you want come along for the ride, hit the button that says "subscribe."  I'd be super appreciative!