Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Miracles

I should be writing my holiday letter. Or addressing my holiday cards. Or wrapping presents (I have not started this tedious task yet)! Or finding my pillow because I'm supposed to wake up early and run. But instead, I felt a calling to log on and just start writing, as I listen to my snoring Labrador pup, lying next to me on the couch.

I have to be honest when I write how difficult this Christmas is for me. I am appreciative and know that I have more blessings than I could ever imagine but there's a sadness in me that I can't shake. This year has been difficult for many of my friends and family. Each day, I read about a new loss of a loved one or a family pet, a new scary diagnosis or the robbery of a friend's house.

And the world is filled with all sorts of bad news. School shooting's, bombing's, hostage situation's, riots, and innocent people no longer with us because of murder-suicides. I absorb all of it.

I imagine what people are going through and what emotions they are feeling. I have dreams at night where I'm in a foreign county and I have to chose which troops to go with because the country I'm visiting, in my dream, is being bombed. My husband says I have an active imagination but I can't seem to let go of the sadness in the world. As a social worker, I want to help those in need. I want to heal those who are grieving. I want to spread kindness. I want to be a peace maker. In closing prayer, during my Mom's meeting at the church the other night, I asked if we could pray for World Peace.

Maybe I am na├»ve?  But maybe, I want to believe in goodnesss? Just like my sweet pup, who wags his tail and gives wet kisses to everyone he meets. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body.

This Christmas, I want to give a virtual hug to those who are lonely, who have lost their job, who are suffering from a disease, who are enduring agonizing treatment, who are fighting for our freedom, who have had to say goodbye to a loved one too soon or unexpectantly, and to those whose homes have been violated. My list could continue, for this just skims the surface of pain and loss and sacrifice, felt by many, whom are close to me. My heart aches for all of you. Maybe this is why I never sleep anymore? My mind is on rewind in the stillness of the dark, as I think of all the pain and suffering in the world.

But with each day, brings a new beginning and hope for a better tomorrow. My Faith is what gets me through the difficult times. I have to let go and know in my heart that everything happens for a reason. One must never lose Hope, even when life appears hopeless. A new sunrise is a promise for a new beginning. As difficult as it may be, seek Joy in your surroundings, Help someone less fortunate than you, say a Prayer for someone who needs healing.

On this Christmas Eve I pray for Peace for all of you.

I Believe in the magic of Christmas and in Christmas Miracles.





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Fitzgerald Family 2014 Holiday Letter

Happy Holidays 2014!


Dear Family and Friends,
We hope everyone has experienced a holiday season filled with Love, Joy and Peace! Our holiday was a staycation! We participated in several days of chillaxin and spent Christmas with my family - my parents, baby sis and brother-n-law, and New Year's Eve, with good friends!


It has been a couple of years since I have written our family holiday letter and mailed out a holiday card. My addresses were lost in cyber space and it has been quite the project to re-do our holiday card address list! One of my favorite things about the month of December is receiving your holiday cards and hearing from you! Our holiday card list is now up to 200! Every year we are continually blessed with new and old friends. As a "military brat" I cherish my family and friends, close by and far away, old and new, childhood and adulthood.

Here is our card from last year that did not make it to the post office last year!


Because of the lapse in time I've corresponded with some of you, my initial thought was to start from where we left off. I tried to be brief but then, as I began writing, this became an impossible feat. Grab a cup a coffee and pretend like this is a catch up coffee date!

Some of the highlights from the past couple of years: Summer 2011, I won a contest to meet INXS and Preston and then we got to hang out on the side of the stage during the show! I was invited to their Baltimore show and after the show ended, my friends and I were invited to hang out at a private after party with INXS, band crew and opening band, Terri Nunn with Berlin! It was such a cool experience!


My love with running continued and I finished my first ultra, the JFK 50 miler race, not once but twice - 2012 & 2013! 


I ran several marathons - NYC, Chicago, Marine Corps, to name a few, and became a Marathon Maniac! Fall 2013, I was the team captain for the sponsored Girls on the Run NoVA DC Ragnar Relay team! What an amazing race and adventure! I hope to run another DC Ragnar Relay soon!

I had a brief acting career as an extra on the HBO show VEEP! I was on "The Running Episode" which filmed in March but aired in June 2013.


I also met Ryan Seacrest twice! The first time was when I took the kids to the Today show for the March of Dimes event and snapped a selfie with Ryan! 


A few months later, I was on National TV with Ryan when his show, Million Second Quiz show, aired September 2013, in NYC! My baby sis was also with me on the set but the joke is that only her nose made it on National TV!


My long time job as an on call trauma social worker at Inova Fairfax hospital was revamped in 2011 and I had to walk away because of the time commitment of the new position. My job was extremely rewarding and there are times I miss the clinical work of helping others during their darkest hour. I still think about the cases I worked on and wonder what impact I left behind? I know when I was called into work, I gave my heart and soul while I was working. I will admit that I don't miss my beeper going off in the middle of the night for a "Code Blue."

I started working part-time for the March of Dimes as a Community Director in January 2012. It seemed like a perfect fit since I had volunteered and raised money for this organization since 2001, after we lost Joshua, our stillborn son at 27 weeks, in September of 2000. I excelled at my part-time job and influential in raising the most money ever for the Northern VA MOD Chapter for Fairfax County Family Teams. I learned the hard way that when you are good at something, people want more of you. My part-time job was eliminated and I was told if I wanted to stay at March of Dimes, I would have to accept a full-time position. After much soul searching, I made the difficult decision to walk away from a job I was passionate about and allowed me to do good things in the community. The most difficult part about leaving the March of Dimes was not being able to work with the family teams that I developed friendships with in the 1.5 years I worked there. I also made the decision to discontinue my own personal fundraising efforts for this organization. Instead of jumping back into the non-profit world, I decided to take a break and figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

Preston's company was bought out by Dell computers and he stayed with the sales team. He enjoys his sales job and continues to master his sales technique! Preston continued to challenge himself with mountain biking and decided to venture into the world of Crossfit. However, he suffered injuries and has since stopped going. I keep trying to convince him to run!

The twins continued to attend the local center school for the Advanced Academic program and are loving it! Caitlyn took several cheer tumble classes and tried out her volleyball skilss. She has continued with Girl Scouts and is a budding artist. Caitlyn also finished her first 5K with Girls on the Run! I was her buddy runner and it was an amazing experience to cross the finish line with her! However, she has decided that she is not a "runner girl."


Connor was invited to join a travel soccer team and loves every single second he is on the soccer field. His team has participated in regional championships! Each year, they continue to improve. 

Connor has also tried out his racing skills and has proven that he is speedy! Connor and I run a local 5K every year. He has placed in his age group in every race!

Kiley followed her big sis's steps and also dabbled in gymnastics and joined a Daisy/Brownie/Girl Scout troop. She attends the same school as the twins and continues to receive speech therapy for Apraxia. She is doing exceptionally well and does not let her disability stop her from accomplishing great things!

We had to say goodbye to our beloved furry family member, Haley "dog" - Summer 2012. January 2013, we adopted a black lab puppy from Lab Rescue and named him Shadow. However, him and his brother were from a puppy mill and unfortunately had rare genetic condition that didn't allow their larynx to grow, as they grew bigger. This resulted in difficulty in breathing. The family that adopted Shadow's brother had to put him down at 3 months of age and we ended up having to do the same thing. It was a heartbreaking experience. We received a call from Lab Rescue about a month later and they said they had yellow lab puppies that needed homes. We took a leap of faith and brought home Lucky "pup" on St Patrick's day 2013! He is healthy and happy and such a joy for our family!

Our summers were blessed with visit with friends and family and trips to the Outer Banks, NC, VA Beach, VA, Blacksburg,VA, Ely, MN, Orlando/Satellite Beach, FL, New York City, and California. In 2012, when the kids were with my parents in Ely, I tagged along with Preston on a biz trip to Cali! We stayed in Southern CA and I was blessed to spend time with my birth Mother and her daughter and visited the town where they live. We then traveled to Dana Point and stayed there for several days. I was fortunate to spend time with good friends/sorority sisters. I loved the beauty of Southern California and could honestly live there every day there. My days started with oceanside yoga and were filled with sun, surf  and sailing, and of course, running in the sand. It was Heaven on Earth! We then traveled to LA for the weekend and immediately asked ourselves why we left Dana Point?! But that thought was put aside when we were at the Beverly Hills Hotel bar and I had a chance meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the worlds most famous soccer player's! I was so excited to tell my budding soccer player son about this experience! Of course, he wasn't impressed. He said I needed to meet Messi. So now I'm on a mission to meet Messi!

(Kid free) Summer of 2013 vacay took us to Satellite Beach for my 25th high school reunion and then to Orlando! It was a Fabulously Fun vacay and I counted my lucky stars to be able to spend time with so many of my besties!



Our holiday card for 2014!

Highlights for 2014 include -
In January, twins turned 11 years old and had a rock climbing party instead of playing the usual laser tag! It was so much fun and we all took turns climbing the rock wall, along with their friends! Our furry family member, Lucky pup, turned 1 years old on Jan 21st and continues to be such a blessing for our family! He loves being with the kids and is the best snuggler!


Connor continues to play with his travel soccer team, adding indoor soccer "fuseball" during the winter. Connor and I ran three 5K races together this year. He placed in his age group at one local 5K. His goal for 2015 is to win his age group! In the summer, he was on the swim team and challenged himself with competing in the breaststroke.


Caitlyn tried her skills at basketball and discovered she really enjoys playing! Caitlyn also participated on the swim team but it is not her favorite activity. She continued with Girl Scouts and signed up for a hip hop class this past Fall and is having so much fun! I had her tested for Lyme disease because she was complaining of re-occurring "joint pain and headaches." She tested positive and started treatment and is currently in remission.

In March, "Smiley" Kiley turned 8 years old! Some days the "Smiley" turns into "Sassy!" We ended up celebrating her Birthday this summer with a pool party. Better late than never! 

She is an easy going child and has 100 BFF's (just like her Mom)! She loves school and is thriving! She has continued with her Brownie troop and decided to play basketball and sign up for a hip hop class, just like her big sis! She also particpated in the swim team but prefers the socialization part vs. the swimming!


Preston continues to work for Dell and travels frequently, usually to New York City and Boston. His hard work paid off and he won a Club trip to Cabo! In May, we traveled to Mexico. My parents watched the kids and we enjoyed this magical time as a couple! One of the highlights of the trip was swimming with the dolphins! 

Preston's love for mountain biking keeps him busy on the weekends and he has been making frequent trips to the gym to improve his weight lifting skills! This past Fall, he bought a guitar and self taught himself. He recently started taking guitar lessons. His evening guitar jam sessions have replaced his video gaming!


I've continued with my running despite my ongoing battle with chronic Lyme disease, diagnosed August 2013. In January, I ran/finished the inaugural Dopey Challenge at Disney World - a 5K, 10K, Half marathon and Full marathon, in 4 consecutive days! The family did not join me on this trip. During my free time, I was able to spend time with one of my high school besties!


In March, I ran the Shamrock marathon and the family surprised me at Mile 16 and came out to cheer! It was a wonderful surprise! 


In the beginning of March, I attempted to run my first 100 Mile race, the Ghostyard 100 in the Outer Banks, NC. It is a point to point to race and I did not have crew with me. There were only four aid stations. I made it to Mile 63 aid station before deciding to call it a race. I was not prepared with cold weather clothing and the temps were dropping, as it got closer to the midnight hour. This was my first race DNF - did not finish. I will attempt to run another 100 miler in March 2015 - Umstead 100 in NC!


In May, I traveled to New York City to run the Brooklyn Half. A race that I ran a few years ago and loved. This year, not so much. It was hot and crowded but the company was fun! I ran this race with a good friend and fellow Swirlgear/Sweatpink Ambassador! Look at us all matchy match! 


In June, I traveled to Annapolis with one of my BRF's - best running friend - and ran the Annapolis Half! Holy hills but finished strong! 

We traveled to the Outer Banks this summer for a two week vacation and enjoyed visiting with Preston's brother and his girlfriend. Our vacay was filled with many lazy days in the surf and sand, putt putt golf, trips to Duck Donuts and John's Drive In. 

I savored my training runs alongside the ocean. 


We joined the OBX YMCA while we were there and Cailtyn took a Zumba class with me! The YMCA also offers free babysitting one night a week so Preston and I enjoyed watching the sunset and a date night at Blue Point Grill!

We ended our vacation in Virginia Beach, VA and visited Preston's parents. I melted while running the VA Beach Half but managed to finish the race!


My last two big races of the Fall season were running/finishing my 4th Marine Corps Marathon and running my 3rd JFK 50 miler. 


Unfortunately I did not make it to the Mile 38 cut off by 4pm so I was pulled from the race. I was heartbroken. It was, by far, my toughest JFK 50 race. The race temp was 17 degrees at the start and I fell hard, twice, on the Appalachian trail. I remember wanting to quit at Mile 16 when I got off of the trail but carried on until Mile 38.

When I am not running, I'm volunteering, fundraising for the Nat'l Capital Lyme Disease Association, blogging, attending networking events, winning contests, dancing the night way at concerts, or going to meet and greets. I also continued to add to my collection of set lists and guitar picks! This summer, I had the privilege of interviewing the lead guitarist for SmashMouth, Sean Hurwitz and meeting the members of the band! I would love to do more of this type of interviewing and blogging with musical artist's who are looking for ways to promote their music.


I am Independent Brand Partner with Nerium International. I fell in love with NeriumAD, an all natural anti aging skin creme, after one of my sorority sisters, who is in the beauty pageant business, introduced me to the product. It is one of the fastest MLM skin care companies and expanding globally. If you are interested in trying a sample of NeriumAD for free or ordering the product (there is a 30 day money back guarantee) please visit my Nerium Independent Brand Partner website or Facebook page, Amy Fitzgerald, Independent Brand Partner, Nerium International 


Another venture I have pursued is to become certified as a personal trainer. I have dreamed of creating a boutique fitness business that incorporates my passion for fitness > personal training and utilizes my social work counseling skills > life coaching. I have decided 2015 is the year my business will happen! This past summer I taught a boot camp class in my neighborhood and enjoyed helping my friend's reach their fitness goals! 


I enjoy writing and need to focus on this more for 2015! My focus for my blog is inspiration, wellness and fitness. I have my own column at examiner.com but have not recently published an article. I'm also still working on my novel(s) and have not given up on my publishing dreams!

This past year, I shared my story on many platforms, including my own blog, about my twenty year battle with Lyme disease and how it was misdiagnosed for fifteen years! In February, I was featured in the inspirational publication, The Platform Magazine. My story about my battle with Lyme disease and fundraising for a cure is on Page 14. In May, I attended the MayDay Project advocacy day in Arlington and contacted Fox 5 news. 

I was interviewed and segments of my interview were shown twice on Fox 5 news! My photo was also in the local paper when I ran the Loudoun Lyme 5K. 

Furthermore, I was interviewed for the "Pace Per Mile" livestream at the VA Beach Rock n Roll Half expo and at the finish line, given a Pace Per Mile medal with the inscription "People Inspiring People!"

I continue to raise money on Crowdrise, to find a cure with each race I run: Running to Cure Lyme Disease I also created a Lyme Disease Facebook page to create awareness about Lyme disease and offer hope and support to those battling a chronic illness: Taking a bite out of Lyme disease, one race at a time

Besides going to the Outer Banks and VA Beach this year, the kids traveled to Ely, MN, and stayed with my parents at their cabin. They always enjoy spending time in MN but this year was special because one of my cousin's was there with her two boys so they had friends to play with! While the kids were in MN, Preston and I ventured to NYC, kid free, and enjoyed the Broadway show, Jersey Boys, delicious meals, late night dancing, socializing with awesome friends and my baby sis! 


In the Fall, we traveled back to New York City as a family to attend my baby sister's wedding! It was a beautiful ceremony and a special evening, as we celebrated Adrienne and Dave's wedding with family and friends, many who we hadn't seen in years. 


The arrival of Fall also brought VA Tech football games. Preston and I and the kids traveled to Blacksburg and watched the Hokies lose to ECU. The highlight of the weekend was showing the Hokie magic with the kids, celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary and visiting with good friends!


We hosted Thanksgiving this year and my parents joined us! 


This holiday letter has turned into something of a short story! I will have to edit some more tomorrow but I will sign off for now. Thank you for carving out the time to catch up on our lives. We are thankful for all the magic moments we get to spend with you! And for those friends and family we haven't seen recently, we hope that will change in 2015! Please let us know if you are traveling our way to Washington DC or Northern VA! We would love to spend time with you!


We wish you a healthy and happy 2015 filled with all kinds of wonderful! Always count your blessings and they will multiply!

Much love, peace and joy from our family to yours! 
The Fitzgerald Fam ~ Amy, Preston, Connor, Caitlyn, Kiley, and Lucky "pup"

You can reach Amy:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/live2runbfree
Instagram: instagram.com/twinglesmomblogger
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amy.p.fitzgerald
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/amy-pope-fitzgerald-msw/9/2b0/34a
Blog: http://www.twinglesmom.blogspot.com
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/100791516031751290754
examiner.com: www.examiner.com/family-balance-in-arlington/amy-fitzgerald

You can reach Preston: (he is not really all that into social media)
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/prestonfitzgerald