The Night Before Christmas

It is Christmas Eve day….. the hustle and bustle is reaching immeasurable heights as last minute shoppers make the final dash to the malls for the perfect gift.  Some are nursing hangovers from the holiday office parties.  Others are home preparing for family and friends to arrive – dinner cooking (is it fish? or turkey? or ham?).  Kids are eagerly counting down until Santa will arrive bringing gifts for one and all.  While still others are grabbing a quick dinner as they head to church to celebrate the real reason for the season…

Tonight will be dinner with my step-mom and half sister.  A chance to share special memories of holidays with dad. Christmas Day will be spent with mom and Sal, dinner out embracing the special moments.  Just another indication the times are changing.

As I sit looking at our Christmas tree, memories of Christmas Eve’s past flash before me.

The years of trying to get Belinda to go to bed so Edythe, Elsie and I could put presents under the tree. It was really hard carrying things past HER room to get the living room. It always made for a lot of laughs. Waiting patiently for mom to get off work so we could open presents. The early morning calls to wake everyone up. The funny thing was – Belinda wasn’t a morning person so we always had to WAKE her up. Really, on Christmas morning???? Opening presents was a process which took forever because Belinda wanted to play with each thing before moving on to the next gift. We learned games were opened last or at least towards the end or else nothing else would get opened. Great memories of days gone by…

Cherish the moments with family.  Let the struggles of the year go for you never know what tomorrow will bring or if we will even be here tomorrow. There are tears of joy, tears of sorrow for those who are no longer with us and tears of anticipation for what God has in store for our family over the next year.

Merry Christmas to my friends, family, Thirty One customers and hostess and all of my blog fans. You have blessed this year for me in so many ways…

Never Forget

  It is Monday morning and we should be heading to Royal Carribean’s Majesty of the Sea for 5 glorious days of my pink bubble. Irma has had other plans and I am home reflecting on so many things…

It is a morning filled with lots of emotion…as a nation, we honor those who were lost on 9-11.  We continue to struggle with the evil which plaques our nation.  We mourn for those lost and honor those whose lives have forever been changed.   This day is one of few memories which I can clearly remember…  I remember as if it were yesterday.  I was working at Mia’s Christmas Shop in Ocean City, NJ.  We had just opened when I was called into the office by Charlie, the owner, who had the television on showing the attacks.  Charlie immediately started to collect money for those whose lives would be changed as a result of this horrific event.  I got to share the events of the morning with many people who were on vacation and CLUELESS about what was happening.  Those days were filled with words like: Hero, Compassion, Love, Kindness, and Bravery.

Edythe

September 11th took on a new meaning in 2011 when Heaven gained another Weston angel – Edythe, my aunt, my friend  and my mom’s middle sister.  Growing up, I spent ALOT of time with Edythe (and Elsie). When I was younger, they were my babysitters.  As the years went on, they were a BIG part of my support system.  Edythe (along with the rest of my family) helped to raise Belinda. As Belinda grew up, lives changed – the world moved a little faster and we lost touch with the exception of holidays.

The words describing those involved in the September 11th attacks and recovery efforts could now relate to Edythe: Hero, Compassion, Love, Kindness, and Bravery.

Life seems to be full of moments which ask us to let go when we long to hold on.  I don’t know what you face right now, what season of life you’re in, but my prayer for you is simple and from the heart. May you know the comfort and strength of the One whose love will never fail you, and whose mercies are new every single morning!

As we reflect on this day, hug the ones you love, forgive the ones who you believe have done you wrong and enjoy the moment with those you love.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

A Wedding Anniversary

WOW!  It doesn’t seem possible but six years ago today, I married my amazing hubby.  For those of you who know our story, sorry for the repeat but it is a true tale of unconditional love which lasted over time.

Rob and I dated the summer BEFORE high school – I was from OTHS and he was from Neptune. A strange mix during those years, I mean our schools were rivals.  He walked into my house with a friend of the family and our eyes met.  The rest was history.  There are some pictures which along with some stories have helped me to remember.

Opposite schools, different backgrounds – not a great match.  I caved under peer pressure and the desire to fit in my first year in HS.  We broke up and never spoke again. He went his way and I went mine.

In July 2001, I received a note in the mail from him. He said after a year of searching, this was his last attempt to connect with me. The search for me started because of a roadside memorial said “HOPE”. He wanted to make sure it wasn’t me.  The easy thing would have been to reach out to my dad but who does things the easy way, right?

When I saw the note, I smiled but then there was a look of amazement across my face. Belinda was like Who is this? Tell me more? She had no idea who he was nor did she know much about my high school days so she was curious.

I wasn’t looking for a relationship.  I was content for it to be “Belinda and I” (or you and me kid) till she went to college.  Little did I know, God had other plans for us.  Rob and I emailed for over 3 months sharing all aspects of our life.  I shared tales of my past as did he.  We connected but I never let him believe we would be anything more than friends – I wasn’t interested.  My heart was opening up but “love” just didn’t seem to be in the cards.

On October 12, 2001 after working the midnight shift, Rob drove to EHT to spend the day with me at a craft show.  Yes, a craft show.  He knew I would be there all day and it didn’t matter.  He walked in the door and our eyes met – my heart skipped a beat.  NOPE!  I wasn’t looking for a relationship.  The day was busy with lots of kids, I was making American Girl doll clothes back then.  At the end of the day, he helped me pack up everything and we went back to my house for dinner.  Belinda was spending the day with friends so we spend hours talking and reconnecting. He showed me a picture of me from the summer we dated which he kept all of those years.  It was the first of many trips Rob would make to EHT over the next 5 years. He traveled to EHT to spend his days off with us every week.  He traveled to cheering competitions, sat through practices, and went to craft shows.

One year later, at Christmas, Rob proposed and I accepted! Yes, we were engaged for almost 9 years before we got married. He was concerned about Belinda. He didn’t want to change her life as she was in high school – a competitive cheerleader, active in church and EHT was the only home she had ever known.  They had their ups and downs.  This was the first man in her life besides my dad and her best friend’s dad.  He would give her the world. She is the daughter he never had.

When Belinda left for college, I sold our home in EHT and moved to Brick. Not an easy move for me, Miss Independent.  I had been in my own home for about 20 plus years and had built a life there. Once Belinda became a resident of North Carolina and was in her final year of college – the wedding date was set. I was calm and just thought it would be a routine kind of thing.  I mean could a piece of paper and a ceremony really make a difference?

I was a nervous. Why?  It was a simple ceremony with a few close friends and family. As my dad started to walk me down the aisle, the reality hit. This was really happening – I was getting married. I almost passed out walking down the aisle and the pictures show the slight look of panic.  It passed as I saw Rob, just as nervous standing with Pastor and Belinda smiling at me. It was an amazing day – the weather was beautiful, our families were there and we got to celebrate with those who mean the most to us.

I wouldn’t change a minute of the last 16 years. We have had our rough spots but we have worked through them. Health issues about the last few years have taken a toll on both of us.  Rob’s unconditional love has helped me to grow as a wife, a mom and a person. We are definitely opposites but we do compliment each other – opposites attract, right?

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life, my hubby. Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day by definition is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

Today, I am blessed, to be a daughter, a step-daughter and a MOM!

To my mom, the road has been rocky with more than our share of twist and turns. Despite the struggles, you have stuck by me through thick and thin, good times and bad with LOTS of great memories along the way. As a child, you were there to guide and support me.

Our house was always the place where all of your friends wanted to go while I was secretly hoping to go somewhere else. Just because it was MY house and MY parents. I wasn’t a bad kid, I just wanted to be somewhere other than in my parent’s range of vision. Doesn’t every teenager?  My mom lead the charge when my parents cooked breakfast for 300 plus after the Junior Prom.  Our house was open to friends all the time with a stocked frig. At my graduation party, anyone who drank got to crash on the floor of the rec room – no questions asked.

During my years of my addiction, I was not the ideal daughter but despite my craziness, mom stuck by me. She supported me emotionally and financially (when needed) for many years. She believed “that’s what parent’s are for” so she very seldom said no.

When she found out she was going to be a grandmother, it was hard for her because I was a single mom BUT once she saw her granddaughter’s smiling face – her heart melted. She has weathered the storms and the challenges which have come our way. She has taught me about strength. She has taught me about kindness. She has taught me how to be a good mom. She has taught me about cherishing my family. Mom, thank you for all of the lessons. I may not have always appreciated them at the time, but I am grateful for them now as an older, wiser and more mature woman. I am who I am today because you allowed me to grow and struggle through the bumps in the road. I am who I am today because you loved me when I didn’t love myself. Thank you…..Happy Mother’s Day to the BEST MOM in the world. I love you!

To my daughter, Belinda who makes MY Mother’s Day so special. They say you never know what it means to be a mom until you have a child – I agree 100%. I now understand why my mom put up with everything (the good, the bad & the ugly) all of those years. My daughter is my heart.  It was “you and me, kid” for most of her life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Being a single mom had its struggles but with the love and support of family and friends we made it.  As a child, you were a challenge – having your own opinion and questioning everything but you helped me to grow as a person too. You have grown into an AMAZING woman that I am proud to say is “my daughter”.

To those who have lost their moms, cherish the memories. To those who have a strained relationship with them, reach out, re-connect – bless and move on – for you don’t want to live with regrets when they are gone.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms and those who have been like a mom to so many.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

60 Is Just a Number

Another milestone….. yes, believe it or not, today is my 60th birthday!  Do I feel 60? Nope!  Okay, well some days.  Today is going to be a day of reflection and probably some tears. I am blessed to celebrate waking up this morning.  No matter what the day may bring, I know it will be WONDERFUL!  I’m determined to be positive and make the most of it.  I’m excited I get to spend the day with my mom.

Birthdays are milestones in our lives.  As children, they are a day (or sometimes a week or even a month) where the focus is on us.  Filled with presents, parties, family, friends and of course cake and ice cream.  As the years go by, life “happens” and things change.

The past year has been filled with ups and downs.  Ongoing health challenges, giving up my JOB to work my business full-time, more memory loss and most recently the loss of my dad.  Through it all I believe every day is a gift from God with a blessing to be found.

Truth be told for many years “birthdays” were just another day when low self-esteem and lack of confidence and those nasty inner gremlins made me feel like I didn’t deserve a celebration. I have always been great at giving but I’m not very good at receiving.  Today, I am looking at them a little differently – have I grown up?  Don’t count on it!  My dad was all about living life to the fullest and his passing is probably one of the reasons why TODAY is the day I stop saying “it is just another day”.   Today is a gift from God  to be able to spend another day with family and friends.  The celebration doesn’t need to be big, it doesn’t need to have lots of presents (maybe just one or two)

As a child, one of my favorite celebrations was the annual trip to New York City to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus. This annual tradition was a treat from Edythe and Elsie. It included the circus and dinner in NY. I always felt so grown up! Both of them are now our guardians angels in heaven and the circus performed for the last time last month.

I have to admit the tears are starting to flow, tears of joy mixed with some sadness:

  • I grateful for my daughter, Belinda.  She has grown into an AMAZING woman who I am proud to call my friend.  Life was not always easy but she turned adversity into a learning lesson.  God could not have given me a greater gift then to be her mom.
  • To my mom….thank you for always being there.  We are not just mother and daughter, but we are friends.  The miles may separate us but I know you are only a phone call away or a short drive to Mays Landing.  You are always one of my biggest cheerleaders.
  • To my dad….who is now watching over me from heaven.  It was a rough year but through it all, you encouraged and supported me.  You taught me to embrace life, living it to the fullest every day and to chose JOY, even on a bad day so everything will be okay. I miss you daddy!
  • To my bestie, Stephanie. Who would have thought when our daughters met in pre-school, became best friends – we would be besties?  I am so blessed to have you in my life.  We have been through good times and bad but through it all, we were there to support and encourage each other.
  • To my Thirty One family.  An amazing group of women who have loved and supported me in my darkest days.  My team is AWESOME and they inspire me daily.  My hostesses and customers are so much more than just “orders”, building friendships with many of them.   They all hold a special place in my heart.  It is with their help and support I am able to work my business full-time.
  • Lastly, to my hubby (who probably won’t read this)…who is my ROCK!  I know I am not the easiest to live with (imagine that?) but you are always there, standing strong and supporting me.  Your support and encouragement in my Thirty One “business” gives me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone. Thank you for being one of my greatest cheerleaders.

There are many more people I could (and probably should) thank or talk about from this year.  It has been an AMAZING journey for me and I am looking forward to the blessings God has for me in this new year.  I can’t believe I am actually 60 years old – okay, so it is only a number, right?

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Hope you have ThirtyOne-derful day!