The Non-coincidental Coincidence

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Life has a funny way of presenting coincidence.  There are some who say coincidence is just irony, I on the other hand beg to differ.  Coincidence in my mind is God’s way of putting ‘pieces’ of life’s complications together.   Tonight I attended a long time friends nuptials.   For someone who has never been married, the process of a ‘wedding’ is priceless.   It was beautiful, lovely and a great time for all.  The thing I find as the irony or God’s coincidence is the ‘random’ couple who sat at our table.  With unassigned seating anyone in that room of one hundred people could have sat with us.  The couple that did however, had a common denominator with me that is undeniably my mission and role in this world.  Their son is battling cancer.  They apologized for having to leave early to get home in time for their daily call to their son.  I understood completely and even sent my love.  While I thought my mission tonight was to show my love and support of my longtime friend who finally found ‘the one’, it was about the couple who sat next to us who is struggling, hurting and hoping for a brighter tomorrow.   None of us has a crystal ball on what will happen next.  All we can control is this moment and even that is limited.  I always am amazed by God’s master plan as he sends me in the direction that I am needed most.  I learned yet again, that all we have to be grateful for is this right now, this moment and this second.  Everything else is really just a waste of precious time!

A New Group of Advocates

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For the past 11 years I have worked with a core group of dedicated volunteers on my pet project The Honeysuckle Foundation for Children with Cancer http://www.honeysucklefoundation.org. While initially formed due to Alicia’s wish to help other kids by my than 7-year-old cancer warrior, Honeysuckle has persevered. We have outlasted many things that should have sidelined us. We are still here and still helping.

A new chapter in Honeysuckle history is beginning and for that I am extremely grateful. Alicia and her new group of friends at University of Florida Innovation Academy are about to embark on a new adventure. With the help of longtime friend and soon to be academic advisor Maureen, this new group of pediatric cancer advocates will soon be meeting, planning, and working on fundraising to help. They will learn first hand how to educate and inspire others as well.

Pediatric cancer is one of the most unrecognized and unsupported cancers. Kids with cancer are not a demographic that is very marketable to businesses and companies. There are more ‘attractive’ causes with more marketing reach then kids with cancer and that is where support and dollars go. With this new group of volunteers the hope and eventual goal is to change that. Make ‘gold’ the new ‘pink’. Have September be recognized as the month for Pediatric Cancer Awareness and let the world know that kids get cancer too!

Thank you to University of Florida and the Innovation Academy!

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Everyone is pretty much the same…

ImageI blog, I tweet, I stumble, I Pin and I Facebook.  I spend hours ‘connecting’ with the world through my computer.  Friends from yesteryear as well as new ones, the internet has given people an international audience to promote causes, share lives, seek new friendships and reconnect with old ones.  The things I write about have been written about before, there are no new messages that haven’t been spoken already.   The triumphs and struggles of people, the loss of loved ones, the excitement of new things, all part of the human condition.  My words, while to some may be annoying others may find enlightening.  The thing I find most fascinating is it really does not matter where you are people are pretty much the same.  We laugh, we cry, we celebrate, we mourn and we face challenges with the same apprehension.  We have families, friends, colleagues and co-workers.  I was recently asked to write some words to be printed with my book Alicia’s Updates, addressing the people of Japan.  Words of encouragement and hope to families dealing with pediatric cancer.  I thought long and hard trying to find the words that might resonate with people a half a world away.  I came up with the following because we all really are very much the same.

Life is a gift with the hope for tomorrow, but without any guarantees. Cancer can strike anyone at anytime and it knows no international boundaries. Whether in the United State or Japan people are diagnosed with cancer each and every day, for children being diagnosed that is the most devastating.  We all know those who have battled cancer successfully like Alicia, and also know those who did not.  Cancer should never define a person, but how they handle their cancer should.  Determination, strength, unrelenting optimism and a great sense of humor are universal earmarks of a successful cancer experience.  The journey through cancer affects not just the patient, but everyone surrounding them.  Education and inspiration come from everyday people and everyday things; the challenge is to recognize them.  I never would have wanted Alicia to get cancer however, her journey through treatment and beyond, the people we have met, the experiences we have had and the road we have traveled has been an inspiration and motivation to truly embrace and be grateful for the gift of today!

A Secret Adventure Called My Life

family wedding photo

I dropped my youngest daughter off at college this week. My ‘baby’ is gone and after 24 years of chaos and kids, I finally have gotten a moment alone. My life has been filled with laughter and tears, hopes and disappointment and more drama than I personally care for. I got married only to have my husband divorce me. I gave birth to three children only to have my son renounce me. I gave my eldest daughter away at her wedding yet I gained a new ‘son’. I have struggled and triumphed. I fought my daughter’s cancer and founded a not for profit to help others do the same. I learned what ‘love’ really is and also learned who my friends really are. I wrote a book, had it published and went international when it got translated into Japanese. I am a speaker, advocate, teacher, real estate agent and president of a private company. I am passionate about what I do and wouldn’t change a moment of my life. For with each struggle there was an invaluable lesson to be learned. I appreciate everything in my life because of where I have been and the prospect of where I am going. I will soon have a baby granddaughter enter into my world and am ecstatic about welcoming her, loving her and letting her in on a little secret adventure called my life!

Happy New Year….Hello 2014!

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Another year has passed and what have you done?  Have you achieved all you hoped for at the beginning of 2013? Are you happy or sad to see this year go and a new one begin?  Welcoming a new year is part of life.  Days turn into weeks, into months and into years and they seem to just fly by.  As we welcome 2014 it is a chance to ‘reboot’ our lives and start anew.  There is something refreshing about getting to restart all over again.  Goal setting and looking to achieve specific objectives are part of this annual ritual.  It is great if you can follow through on all those promises you make to yourself, but the fact you would even entertain the idea of reorganization, reflection and a redo means you still have hope.  Hope for a better tomorrow and hope for new things.  The fundamental condition that makes everyone happy and feel purpose is hope.  A new year and a resolution means you have hope and for that you should be the most grateful, for without hope there isn’t much else.

Happy New Year!

Living with the truth…..

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Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world of people acting respectfully and responsibly; a world where people spoke the truth instead of distorting it? Wouldn’t it be nice if your relatives were role models and nice people? Wouldn’t it be nice if those who supposedly loved us actually showed it to us with their actions instead of just saying they do? Wouldn’t it be nice if people got over things and learned compassion? For those who don’t like me………guess what, I don’t like you either. The difference between you and me however, is I actually have a life and am so over your drama, self-serving agenda and narcissistic ways. I am blessed, I actually got over things many years ago and I thank those who also have moved on and now have a meaningful loving place in our lives. We adore you and you know who you are. For those who cannot and will not move on, it would be admirable if as role models you could do what’s best for the kids who are now adults and learn to keep your distorted views of life to yourself. Show the kids how compassionate, respectful adults behave. That is how loving, mature informed adults act. Since you cannot or will not behave in a way becoming of a kind person, I guess it is safe to say you really don’t have a life of your own. When put in that context I guess all any of us can do is pity and feel sorry for you. You are missing out of so many good things. I also pray for you because what a terrible way to live one’s life.

Happy Birthday Mom!

The bride and her grandparents!

The bride and her grandparents!

October 24th is my mother’s birthday. She turned 85 years old today and my family is very blessed to still have her and my dad with us. My mother is suffering from issues and at her age she is not alone, but generally she is fine. How do you celebrate a birthday when you turn 85? What gift is appropriate and what wishes mean the most? The gift of another day is one only God can give. The gift of time with loved ones is one that family and friends can give. I have taught my girls to seize the moment and make that memory. You can replace things and possessions, you never can get back lost time. I feel bad that my son has missed out on not only his sisters and me, but on his wonderful grandparents who have so much to offer. My mother asked about her grandson today on her birthday. Forgotten was the fact she hadn’t seen or spoken to him in eight years. Like the innocence of a child she asked how he was. I wish I could give my mother the gift of her grandson. Some time spent with the woman who helped raise him and who still holds onto the memories of his childhood. He chose not to attend his sister’s wedding and now he will be missing out on the birth of his niece or nephew but most importantly he is missing out on his grandmother.

My mother turned 85 years old today and I pray to God I get to celebrate many more birthdays with her, her grandchildren and her great-grandchild! Happy Birthday Mom!!!