Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Gift of Gratitude

Last week, I read a post on Beverly Diehl’s blog addressing the word “gratitude.”  You can read her entry here:  Beverly’s writing really enabled me to look past some recent events in my life (mostly to do with relationships within my family) and reflect about the impeccable gifts God and the Universe have kindly bestowed upon me instead. 

Around this time last year, as my family was preparing for Thanksgiving, I was preparing a eulogy for my love…my soul mate…my everything…my mother.  On Thanksgiving day, my mom was rushed to the hospital due to complications of a decaying liver.  It had failed on her just one year prior to Thanksgiving in November, 2011.  The doctors had given her one year to live because once the liver fails, there is no medicine nor holistic healing that can reverse or cure it.  Liver failure ultimately leads to death unless a new liver can be provided by an organ donator. 

My mother ordered my sisters and me to not come to the hospital on that frigidly cold and untimely holiday.  Even in her most lonesome and dreaded hours, she would have sacrificed more time spent with us for our own personal pleasures and obligations.  As much as we fought with her to spend mere moments in the hospital by her side, she insisted that we enjoy our Thanksgiving with my step-father, Daddy P.  My 84-year old grandmother, however, did not budge.  She held her daughter as a mother would hold their infant child in her arms while the hands of time crept slowly over the hospital windows.  My mother’s condition made it seem like she was an infant again; unable to speak in full sentences, go to the bathroom on her own, and think cognitive thoughts because of the toxins infiltrating her head.  Since her liver had deteriorated so badly, it was hard to understand even the simplest gestures she tried to convey to my grandmother and the nurses that day. 

I remember sitting there in the family room of Daddy P’s house and looking around at everyone.  Some were laughing and exchanging stories with each other while others were glued to the television watching an array of Christmas movies.  I started to reminisce about all of the irreplaceable memories I had of my mother and my step-father growing up.  They always seemed to make the holidays unforgettable for us and moments like this were kindred remembrances of the way things used to be before my mom had started drinking.  Life wasn’t perfect but there was always something beautiful and meaningful about my childhood.  During the holidays, I’ve learned to let go of the dark and horrible past and instead, be grateful for the wonderful times we did share as well as the future ahead.

But it was also during this time that I had started to write a eulogy for my mother.  I still have it filed away in one of my notebooks right next to my desk.  This tribute was an epic story about my mom and all of the love and adoration her life and her kind heart always intended to give to others.  I wrote the eulogy to serve as a dedication to my mother and everything that made her such an inspiration to me; both as a child and woman today.  I wanted it to be a constant reminder to everyone she didn’t just consume alcohol but alcohol consumed her.  It provided an escape for her and unfortunately, her tired and beaten soul wasn’t strong enough to fight back and shake the demons off of her shoulders. 
I mentioned this before in one of my posts about a stereotype in which alcoholics are mean, self-serving and filled with hatred and unkindness.  Although sometimes, this can be true (I know because I have seen it in others), my mother was nothing like this.  She was always trying to please others by putting her needs aside.  My mom was the type of person who would literally give the last dime in her wallet to purchase things we needed for school or after school activities, even if it meant she would be broke.  My friends have always adored her because they have seen the good in her which was only numbed by her alcohol consumption.  There were times when she would “change” into a different persona when her drinking exceeded well passed a quart of vodka.  But when it came down to it, she would have died for my sisters and me and given anything to make sure her family would always be taken care of.
After Thanksgiving passed, Christmas quickly came and my mother was very sick during this time.  She could barely walk on her own but somehow, her will to spend one last holiday with us overcame the odds of her being in the hospital for one last time.  She looked like a zombie, unable to hold a conversation and so yellow, she could have dressed up as a banana for Halloween.  Her belly was extremely bloated and appeared as though she was going to give birth to triplets.  My mom was also so horribly ill on Christmas that ultimately, she had to be rushed to the hospital the very next day. 
This was my mother on Christmas Day, 2012
You can see how decrepitly far from normal her appearance looked.
I didn’t see the following epiphany back then but it resonates throughout me now.  My mother was granted two wishes last year:  one; to be with her loved ones for a final time on her most beloved holiday of the year and two;  the miracle liver transplant she would need to spend many more holidays here, with all of us. 
When I read Beverly’s post and took out the eulogy and started reading it to myself, gratitude came banging down my incredulous walls.  After pondering and bickering to myself about what was lacking in my relationship with both my biological and step-fathers, I quickly mustarded up the fortitude my heart always contained but recently, forgotten.  Why was I so caught up on people who obviously weren’t as caught up on me when I had an amazing gift right here, bubbling all around my body?  The gift of gratitude was something I never asked for so I simply overlooked this eternal power of praise and glory.  It was literally shining through my windows with every speck of sunlight and view of a sky full of time which was handed down to me from the grace of God.

There are so many things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.  First and foremost, having my mother here with me for however much more time God is willing to share her is invaluable.  Even though she has some complications and a prognosis that doesn’t seem promising, God seems to have his healing hands laid kindly upon her.  None of us know when our time will come but until then, let’s be thankful for the things we do have instead of beating ourselves up over the things we have no control over.

I won’t list every single thing I am appreciative for within this post.  I’m going to save those for my grateful jar; thanks Beverly!  I will, however, say this… speaking to others whether they are children when I’m visiting schools or helping to spread awareness to adults about the disease that almost killed my mother have been two gifts which I am proud to say I am grateful for.  I am so excited my mother will not be spending another Thanksgiving in the E.R. or Christmas week in a hospital bed, waiting for another liver transplant.  I’m happy to say that life isn’t so bad and thank you Jesus for blessing mine with the beautiful people in it as well as the wonderful ones I am so lucky to meet here. 
This is my mother now.

How do you feel about the word “gratitude.”  Is there anything you are grateful for?  How has your attitude changed over the years when thinking about the things you should always be thankful for?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sunshine Blog Award!

I recently received the Sunshine Blog Award from author, Chrys Fey.  Woo woo!  You can visit her blog by clicking on the following link:  I am truly honored, Chrys!  Sending many thanks and positive vibes your way.  I’ve never received a blogging award before so I am thrilled to be sharing this with everyone!

The Sunshine Blog Award is passed on by bloggers to other bloggers who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”  There are a few rules that every blogger nominated for this award have to follow:

1.       Acknowldege the nominating blogger with a link and post about your award.

2.       Share 10 random facts by answering the questions the nominating blogger has created for you.

3.       Pass on the Sunshine Blog Award to other bloggers (up to 10) of your choice and let them   know you nominated them.

4.       Post 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer on their blog.

Questions Chrys asked me:

1.      When/Why did you create your blog?  I created my blog so I could use my own experiences to help others.  Whether they are struggling with addictions or trying to find their way in this world by realizing their potential and making their dreams come true, I wanted to contribute my part.  My journey as a writer began as a small child and then was lost when my mind was persuaded and controlled by my recluse decisions.  I reclaimed my talents and ambitions of being an author when I no longer was impacted by those entities. 

2.      What is the one blog post you feel is the best one you have ever posted?  I actually have two favorite blog posts.  The first one is the very first piece of writing I posted called, “Where Do I Begin?”  This is where I found myself at the most vulnerable time in my life when my mother had received a life-saving liver transplant just seven months prior.  It took me some time to let all of my emotions and days of self-reflecting settle within my writing.  I knew I had to share my mother’s story in order to help save others from making such incredibly dark and desolate mistakes.  My second favorite post is the one I most recently wrote, “Only If For A Night.”  Not only do I want to help inspire people through my blog, but I also want to illuminate my passion which is my writing.  I love composing poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and children’s books. 

3.      What are some of your favorite blogs?  Some of my favorite blogs to read are Message in a Bottle ( Writing With Fey ( Love, Life, and Everything Else! ( Rachel in the OC ( and Anthony Otten (

4.       When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?  When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.

5.       What is your biggest accomplishment to date?  My biggest accomplishment so far has been the release of my first children’s book which I published under a pen name.  I absolutely adore all of the wonderful kids I am privileged to spend time with during my author readings and presentations.  It is truly an honor to visit with them and know how much of a positive influence I can be on their own unique talents and creativity.

6.       Do you have any pets?  Because our condo association does not allow pets, unfortunately, we do not own any.  One day, we’d like to rescue two dogs.

7.       Where do you live?  I live in a nice little town nestled in between New York City and the mountains of northern New Jersey.  We have the best of both worlds here because every morning when I wake up to do my writing, I have an impeccable view of the skyline over the hills and trees.  It is truly magical.  If we feel like having dinner or even taking a walk or stroll in Manhattan, we simply hop on the train and are there in less than an hour.

8.       Favorite Books?  My favorite books are older historical and romantic fiction like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Little Woman.  I also love to read poetry and have recently gone through Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks which I really enjoyed. 

9.       Favorite Movies?  I have so many favorite movies but if I had to choose, I would list the ones that I could watch over and over again.  They would include Thelma and Louise, Braveheart, The Last Samurai, House of Flying Daggers, The Goonies, Coming to America, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Painted Veil, Machine Gun Preacher, The Vow (newly favorite), Trading Places, Willow, and Finding Nemo.

10.   Favorite TV shows?  American Horror Story: Coven, The Following, Two and a Half Men, Last Man Standing, Two Broke Girls, Modern Family, Game of Thrones, Piers Morgan, Chelsey Lately, Golden Girls, Rosanne, and Law and Order.


My Nominees for the Sunshine Blog Award (in no particular order)

·         Anthony Otten (  Anthony’s writing is very eloquent and brings peace and solace to the reader’s soul.

·         Paul ( Paul’s blog is very raw, articulate and honest.  His experiences are inspiring and readers are sure to be moved by his metaphoric writing and endearing stories. 

·         Dawn ( Dawn’s blog is warm, funny, and straight from the heart.  You can’t help but to laugh at some of her stories and at the same time, cope with her recent pain and loss of an amazing and unforgettable person; her mother. 

·         Chrys Fey ( I know I was nominated by this wonderful author and fellow blogger, but her posts deserve a great amount of praise and credit.  Chrys dedicates so much of her time and passion into helping other writers with their writing so I can’t help but to pass the torch back to her.  Her writing is extraordinary, and I can only see endless possibilities and success for my friend!

·         Beverly Diehl ( Beverly is so openly honest, dedicated, passionate, and has such a wit about her that I couldn’t help but to nominate her for this award.  You can tell she puts a lot of time and effort into her posts and I am always left with something to take away from her writing.  Always entertaining and meaningful whenever I pop over there!
  • Brenda Moguez (  Brenda's writing is quite intriguing as she navigates her way through life by the means of her passion and pen.  I always enjoy reading whatever is on Brenda's mind!
  • Quanie Miller (  I know Chrys nominated her, but I had to give her credit as well!  It's always a delight to swing over to Quanie's blog and read her writing.  She also has a new book out called, "It Ain't Easy Being Jazzy."  Be sure to check it out!
  • Claudine ( Claudine is such a sweet and kind soul and you can see how much she adores both reading and writing just from glimpsing at her blog.  She is always sharing such wonderful reviews, stories, and important information with her audience.  
  • Rachel (  Rachel is such an inspirational author/blogger that I couldn't help but to include her for this award.  She is always posting such incredibly honest and useful posts, not only about her own writing, but tools to help other writers reach their potential.  She also created the hashtag #Mondayblogs on Twitter which is super awesome of her as she is constantly helping others by retweeting their blog links.
  • Kelly Hashway ( Kelly is an astounding author and blogger who always has something going on over at her blog!  Whether she is sharing her daily dose of Kelly's world or helping others by hosting magnificent reviews and blog hops, Kelly's website is the place to be! 

I would truly nominate every blogger out there because besides the ones I have listed, there are numerous others who I visit each week.  I laugh, cry, get inspired and acquire the help I need within my own ventures in writing as I read their posts.  If I didn’t list you here but I usually leave comments on your blogs, that means I highly enjoy your writing=)

The 10 Questions for My Nominees

1.       Why did you decide to create your blog?

2.       What do you enjoy most about blogging?

3.       Tell us something about yourself that most of your fellow authors/bloggers do not know.

4.       At what time of the day do you do most of your writing?

5.       What is your favorite cuisine?

6.       What are some of your favorite books?

7.       What are some of your favorite movies?

8.       If you could travel anywhere right now, at this very moment, where would it be?  Why?

9.       If you could have an intimate dinner with six people who you will probably never meet in this lifetime, who would they be?  Why? (they could be celebrities, famous icons, bands, etc.)

10.   What has been your best achievement to this date?

Congratulations everyone! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Only If For A Night"

Today, I wanted to write an ode to my late grandmother.  I reflected off of my own experiences and Florence and the Machine's lyrics to "Only If For A Night."  I had the privilege of seeing Florence perform live and I must admit; she is one of the most mesmerizing and intriguing artists I know of.

“And I had a dream about my old school” She was standing behind my sophomore English professor in a white, tattered dress.   Her skin; porcelain white, reflecting off of the decadence of dancing dust bunnies fading into the sunlight streaming through the classroom window. 
“And she was there on pink and gold and glittering” She took my hand and walked me through dark halls until we met corundum gems in pink skies...and a sun so strikingly golden and bright...inevitably blinding my judgment as we continued to walk toward the old church behind Alumni Hall.
“I threw my arms around her legs” When we arrived at the church, we were suddenly thrusted into her backyard where a cemetery once haunted my dreams as a child.  I was no longer a young woman but a frightened little girl; wrapping myself at the seams of the bottom of her torn dress.
“Came to weeping” (came to weeping) As I fell to the ground, tears poured into the graves of my loved ones, including hers.
“Came to weeping” (came to weeping) She wrapped her ceramic white hands around my face and lifted my head toward her captivating rapture.
“And I heard your voice as clear as day” It pierced through my veins like a thousand climatic echoes thrashing through the Himalayan Mountains of my most beloved memories of her as a child.

“And you told me I should concentrate” I knew I was throwing my education away because of my addictions and every other demon college had provided my tortured soul.

“It was all so strange” She stood before me; silken and cold, yet, warm and bounded by the blood and comfort of our home. 
“And so surreal” I felt her pain straggling to take hold onto all of my senses; almost to scare the darkness out of my confused inhibitions and longing for her to stay.

“That a ghost should be so practical” As sorry and desperate as I had been, I knew in my heart I should have always listened to her. 
“Only if for a night” I wanted to stay lost in her existence so I clung to my remembrances for as long as I possibly could.

“And the only solution was to stand and fight” I stood up as my rage banged against the hands of time trying to take my apparition away.
“And my body was bruised and I was set alight” Only to be thrashed back by an angry force; suppressing my fight for her to stay.

“But you came over me like some holy rite” Her existence appeared over me, white and sapphire silk covering the flames that engulfed my aching and crumbling body.

“And although I was burning, you’re the only light” Throughout my life, I knew she was the angel who saved me when I was beaten and left for dead by my sins.

“Only if for a night” I lost the fight as she picked up my burned body and wrapped me in the safety and coolness of her silken rapture.

“And the grass was green against my new clothes” After my body reconciled with my sin and His Greatness, she carried me to her old house among the meadows; the grass beautifully woven against my dress as we moved toward greater pastures together.

“And I did cartwheels in your honor” I praised her presence and danced in the light of my awakening.

“Dancing on tiptoes” I circled around her; my everything.

“My own secret ceremonials” I felt afloat as my feet glided against the grace of the green grass and conjuring of my newfound judgment.

“Madam, my dear, my darling” My nana, my love, my grandmother.

“Tell me what all this sighing’s about” Why are you sad, grandmother?

“Tell me what all this sighing’s about” You’re sad because I have to go back now, aren’t you?

“And I heard your voice as clear as day” Don’t worry nana, I will listen from now on.

“And you told me I should concentrate” I kneeled and nodded as I held onto the last moments I had with her.

“It was all so strange” She faded into the fires against the sky which brought us to this place of peace.

“And so surreal” I knew she wouldn’t be back this time.

“That a ghost should be so practical” My grandmother always knew how to make a point.
 “Only if for a night” Even if it meant ripping me away from my dreams into a realm of furious serenity.

You can visit the following link for a live performance of this song: