Friday, November 6, 2015

Proud Mama!

      My daughter Amy just learned that she passed the New Jersey Bar Exam.  We have been waiting for months for the results. She has been unable to pursue certain jobs until passing,  and our family really needed some good news after a very difficult year.
       I am ecstatic!  I wouldn't care one iota if she passed or not.  I know she's brilliant, capable,  ambitious,  but I wanted her to have this success, the reward due her, after all her many years of  hard work.
       Praise God!  He has answered my prayers!
 Congratulations my darling girl!   Now,  may God bless you with a wonderful, meaningful and fulfilling career wherever He leads you! 

When she got her Masters from Montclair University
her future looked bright!

Then, last year Amy got her law degree at Rutgers School of Law!
Amy is so creative!  She knows I like the saying,
" Live well, Laugh often, Love much!"
 She made me these pink pumpkins  and helped me every way
she possibly could with her steadfast love and support! 
She enthusiastically cheered me on, and celebrated the successful
completion of each and every phase of my breast cancer treatment.
 She and her sister even gave me a big surprise "No Mo Chemo Party"
 and started a facebook group page called Love for Linda,
which I continue to add cancer info, important links,  and updates to.
 I hope it's encouraging and helpful to others, as everyone's support
 means so very much to me!
She's always there to help with my grandkids, enriching their lives
Fun times, and filling in for me when I am unable to mind them.
 They adore her!  She is such a loving, doting aunt and a wonderful role model.

Just one year ago,  when we attended a big gala event together,
I was beginning my fight against breast cancer with chemotherapy.
 I was wearing  my brand  new wig because I completely lost my hair.
 Throughout the  year,  Amy gave me many special gifts and treats, took me to
movies and other outings and went to some doctor appointments with me.
I was trying to show grace, but actually I was being spoiled,  and my daughters
 made it all  so much easier for me!
So I did what I could to help my daughter, all along the way, and I always prayed for her, even if I could do nothing else, and God heard my prayers and gave her strength, and ability.  We have been through a lot together.  Our family has weathered my divorce, cancer, the recent loss of my son and Amy's grandfather, and many years of tough schooling and many moves. But  Amy's been strong and resilient. She's persevered and stayed positive. She's become a  very dear friend as an adult to her mama, and I'm so proud and thankful I am blessed with her in my life!

    I am so grateful that God hears the pleading prayers of a mother for her child's wellbeing. He sends the right people to us to help us, protects us, provides us with all we need,  and is always there with us!  He shows me that all things are possible with God!

                I guess a mother is allowed to brag a little! 
Couldn't contain my happiness, had to share this! 
Love. Linda

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pink Stuff

I am posting vintage pink stuff on my facebook page, because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am recently finished with my treatments, it's been a long year, and now I am determined to live my life in faith, not in fear.
Since I sell vintage treasures on Etsy, and I thought it would be fun to ask everyone to post pink vintage things. But I am discouraged, because no one has participated.
Maybe you will enjoy it.
And please, get a mammogram and see your Doctor if you notice anything unusual.  Don't be stupid,  like I was,  thinking it's just a cyst, or it will go away.  Early detection will possibly save your life, and certainly make any necessary treatments easier, or require less treatments!

These are just a few of my favorite things, from my Etsy shop!

                                                                             Love, Linda

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Music is Love that Heals

Two months already, but I feel like I lost my son just yesterday. 
Why is nobody talking about him?  I want to talk about him, every day.
I want to see comments on his online obituary, but there are no new ones.
I reread the sympathy cards,
 and I tell complete strangers that I lost my son recently.
 I'm supposed to be depressed.  According to the Stages of Grief ......

I may be..., just a little.

I comfort myself with songs, like this one below.

 Music is so powerful.   I think  Gary would like this song.
 We talked about music all the time. He was going to teach me to play guitar.
 We battled over the heavy metal that he liked in his youth.
 I thought it was really bad, rebellious, angry music. I tried to guide him,
steer him away from things that I felt weren't good for him.
 In the end, I don't know if I was right or not, but I just did what I believed
was best, like a mother should.

   But he did broaden his musical taste as he grew older. I broadened mine too.
We liked a lot of the same  rock artists, and he liked classical and hymns too. 
 Sometimes he would sing to me over the phone, some lyrics he had written
  or a song that was meaningful to him.
 "Music is love that heals",   I once heard at a Guided Imagery Through Music Seminar.
 I told Gary that there are certain kinds of music that can improve your mood and calm you.
I was introduced to Pachelbel, and using it during meditation., What peace it brings!
 And Vivaldi-Four Seasons also impressed me, great for background while studying.
  I told my son, there is some music that can disturb you, and  you should make
 good choices and fill your head and mind with good sounds.

My mother and I still sing "Does Jesus Care", each night over the phone,
and I've come to depend on this simple reassurance.
 I listen to K-Love , a Christian  Rock station on my car radio.
My little way of making daily worship time.
 Amazing Grace, and God Will Take Care Of You, are two old- fashioned hymns
 that always help me.
I believe  God can speak to you through music!

I sing lullabies and Mother Goose rhymes to Emilie who's 17 months now, and she sings along and it's precious.  Tommy thinks that the new Chipmunks movie's music is great, and hums the theme songs of Star Wars, Batman,  and Spiderman!  We have eclectic taste!

 You can find all categories of music on You-tube.
 Some grieving songs I like are:
            Breathe-Amy Lee and David Hodges
            Missing You-Jem    
            A Better Place-Leah West
            Heaven Got Another Angel
            A Broken Life-Courtney Shane recommends  a list of songs that will help you when you're feeling down!

           I Believe I can Fly- R. Kelly
           Unwritten-Natasha Bedingfield
           Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay- Otis Redding
           Great Day To Be Alive- Travis Tritt
           I Can See Clearly Now- Johnny Nash
          You've Got a Friend- James Taylor
          Beautiful Day- U2

Keep a song in your heart!  Sing like no one is listening, it'll make you feel better!

Love, Linda


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Good grief!

I know there are stages of grief, that we must go through to heal. 
I think they overlap, maybe even cycle and return, when we think we are past a phase. 
 But still we will go through the steps to healing. 
 Four, Five or Seven -  Denial, Anger, and a couple more,
 depending whose books you read, and finally Acceptance.
 The reality of the loss sinks in slowly, and I don't think it ever goes away.
 I just have to learn to live with it.

Kubler-Ross Model  Stages of Grief

 So,  I guess I'm in Anger Stage. And depression, aren't they related? 
 Ugh!    I don't like myself having bad thoughts, but I do admit it. 
 I reread my last post, and looking back  now I see I was in denial  
 ("No, no..., no..." ,     "I still can't believe it",    
 "I wish I had more time with him", etc. )  
     And I suppose I feel a little angry. Because it's not over for me, 
although it seems like everyone has stopped talking about my son. 
 It's old news.  They've  moved on  to the next drama, It seems they don't  remember him
 or realize that I am still stuck grieving.  It's not their fault.
 There are birthdays, weddings, school and work, health problems, life is complicated.
  Life goes on. 
    So I have to forgive them, and I really do, because they just can't possibly know
 what I'm feeling..  I feel slight anger to the people that didn't respond, or come 
to the service at church, or call.  Don't they know I need them?  
 (A lesson here!  From now on,  I know I will always call,
even if I don 't know what to say
 There is nothing worse than indifference.)  
I know I am being  unreasonable, and I don't dwell on it, 
 I understand people are busy, or they had something else to do, 
  Just feel a fleeting irritation,  or disappointment usually.  
  I'm not saying my feelings are justified or rational, 
  I'm just explaining how I feel sometimes, and I think it's probably common
 for a bereaved person to have these thoughts. .    
    I am also sometimes angry at the one that may have caused the death, or didn't stop it from happening. Angry one minute, hen the next, I feel so sad for them and their heartache. For surely,they must be feeling horrible and guilty and ashamed. 
     In my son's case, there are enablers, misguided friends,disinterested family members,  and a drug dealer. Lots of people to be angry with,  who failed him.  Even his mental health providers counselors, who didn't know how to help him.   It wasn't any one person's fault, but many who  played a role over many years that contributed to his death, are targets for my resentment.  I know there is no sense in trying to figure this out, and nothing can bring him back. 
    Also I feel momentary guilt, anger with myself.  Should I have done something, could I have stopped it from happening?  I think any parent would feel this way.

   Then I remember God's grace, and ask for Him to give me grace and He does, and I'm fine.
 "Please God, don't let me be angry or depressed." 

 So I move on to thinking,  "How can I  make his life  and his death meaningful?"
 I don't want his life or his death to have been I vain.  That's why I must write about it.
 I must share the drug abuse hotlines, suicide warning signs, scripture verses for healing.
 I have to learn more about my son's problem, so I might help someone else's son.
 Everything I've learned about trusting the Lord for strength when I am weak,
knowing there is hope for a future, I must share what I can, as I move on.  

 I feel so many different emotions.
  I've read that I should allow myself to feel, then let it go.  
 Sad, then glad, sometimes grateful, then ungrateful,
 wanting someone to blame- then feeling compassionate. 
 Crazy roller coaster ride.  
 But mostly, just feel like everything has changed and a part of me is dying.
 I'm in a bit of a stupor, but I'm trying to act normal. 
 Going on living, working, playing, loving, laughing. 
I wonder, how did I do that?
  And I get through another day, and another. 
 Somehow, life goes on,
 and I find  goodness, purpose, and joy.

 I found  this poem.  The author seems to get it. 

Those of you who know me, heard about my trip to the beach last month. Just a couple  weeks after Gary died, and  I thought I should be feeling sorrowful.   I thought I would go and meet God there,  and start letting myself mourn, have a big cry, a meltdown. Then I sat there and nothing happened, but pure serenity, and calm.  It was the most beautiful peaceful time. I sat there a long time. I repeated this four times, each daybreak, I watched the sunrise, when no one else was around.  And still no crying, just total tranquility.  I think that's weird.  Or maybe God giving me comfort, and hope.  I did  ask for that, after all. 
I prayed, "  Dear God,   Help me I can't do this alone. I can't bear this alone."

But God assures us we are never alone, and I am not alone, He is always right by my side.
  In  the midst of deep sorrow, in the shadow of the valley.
  He's my strength. my defender, my refuge. 
 Listen to this song, which helped me so much through my cancer treatments, and now.  

You've got to hear this song, "I Am Not Alone"  by Kari Jobes
I am not alone, I have the Great Comforter by my side and I will be okay.
 I have so much living and loving to do!
Love, Linda 

US Nat'l Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK
  mental health issues?

Friday, September 4, 2015

My Son Went To Heaven !

 It is one month today, since I lost my son.
 It is not quite real to me.
It happened. My worst fear, that one day I'd get this call.
The call no mother should ever have to get,  that your child, your son is dead.
My son died from a heroin overdose.
 I still don't know what really happened.
 I will never know the truth, probably.  It doesn't matter.
 It's just such a sad, senseless thing.
 "My dad died, Grandma ", my 17 year old granddaughter screamed into the phone.
Four times.  I just said, "No.......!
 I couldn't believe what I was hearing.    I still can't believe it.
 But an hour later at the hospital ER,  as I stood over his body,
I knew he really was gone, knew his suffering was over,
and knew that he was with Jesus.
 In perfect peace and feeling God's love surround him!
 And I have had to keep that picture in my mind,
 that picture of gentle Jesus, holding a man, welcoming him into heaven.
And oh, what peace that image has given me.
I am so very grateful for this assurance.

This one thought, this promise, this belief---It's all I can do, all I need, all I want.
 It's over, this troubled earthly life, and all his struggles and hurts.
 But also no more chances, his wishes didn't come true, all his plans are changed. 
My heart aches, it just is so terrible.  I wish I had more time with him.
I will miss him so much, his phone calls, our long talks.
 His tender concern for me.
 But he has a better life now, carefree, he's free of mental anguish.
In time I will be able to speak about it, more intelligently.
 Maybe share links that will help others.
For right now, I can't do more than keep up with each day's chores,
focus on the grandbabies who bring me such delight.
Do my jobs. Go on, keep living life as fully as possible.
I'm confused, but not alone. A little lost. but I'll find my way.

Cape May, New Jersey

I am being lifted up,  I am in good hands, my girls are sticking close.
Friends and family are loving me,  spoiling me!
Even treating me to very nice outings.
My daughters and I went to see a funny movie.
Then, my little sister took me to a Tim McGraw concert!
Liked his encore song!  "Live like you were dying..." It touched me.
 I have been "down the shore"  for a few days,
met God at sunrise on the beach each morning while there.
Daily- " I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses.....".
I am taking care of myself,  being extra careful.  Have to concentrate harder.
Slowed down, being cautious, but keeping very busy.
Everything seems more intense, like even simple things have some
deep special meaning to me.  I am changed.
Acutely aware, extra sensitive,  I am deeply grateful, pensive.
 I am confident, God is caring for me, He will never leave me alone
and I am going to be fine.

his prayer card
his obituary can be found at
My precious little boy, age 4

High school graduation photo

USNavy picture  1993

I'll see him again,on the other side. 
"I'll See You Again" My song for Gary

 Love, Linda

Sunday, July 19, 2015

New do

Okay, I flipped the wig.
Still wearing it in public though. Tommy wasn't shocked, just a little amused.  I feel cooler, and just a little self conscious.
My sister Bett , grandaughter Emilie, and me

Excitement building for Tommy's 5th birthday party. So cute how he's counting down the days until his special day.
We just used his "Spiderman and friends" toys and dollar store stuff  for the  party mantle decorations.

 Other than the recent storms in South Jersey, we're having a nice summer. We lost power and cell phone for a few days and lots of friends had fallen trees, and property damage.
 But basicly we're having an easy-going summer, just hangin'out, with no school buses to catch, Simple laid-back summer living, Tommy pretending with his superhero playthings, lots of  backyard water fun, coloring , reading and cooking together.  He is eager to harvest the radishes he planted and waiting for his sunflowers to bloom.
  My daughter and her hubby enjoy the firepit on weekends and making s'mores, groovin' to nostalgic tunes and sipping wines. We have several good local wineries nearby, and the kids have visited and are trying new wines.

Lots of Jersey-fresh produce nearby too . For supper we made Zucchini Pizzas last night.

Cut your zucchinis in half , place in baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil.

You just need pizza sauce, cheese, peppers, onions, pepperoni

Spread with pizza sauce or tomato sauce

Top with chopped green pepper and onion, and pepperoni slices. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
Then top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes longer.

Yummy and healthy! ( I stole this picture because I forgot to take one!)

Emilie is running all over the house now. All giggles, cuddles, and cuteness.

She has some strong allergic reactions to mosquito bites. We just learned that Johnson's  Creamy Baby Oil acts as a safe repellent.

 Life is good!  I am feeling strong, and happy. I am grateful for each day and taking care of myself. I'm finding a good balance of work and play, getting a good night's sleep and enjoying the little things, which are really the big things, ya know?  I'm catching up on projects that were put on the back burner during the months of  treatment.  I still have loads of work to tackle and feel pressured, like there is never enough time, and I am being pulled in too many directions. But I can let go of all my cares, and feel most comfortable when I am  here with the children,  focusing on taking care of them and not trying to solve all the world's problems.
 It's the best job in the world!

Love, Linda 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Moving On, Celebrating Life Beyond Cancer

   I always said, "I want to live to be 100."   Well, why not?  My grandmother did!   Two years ago my grandmother died, at 100 1/2.  I wrote about losing her, in my post July 1, 2013. I feel it like it was yesterday.
   Now, living with breast cancer, I realize I may not reach that goal.  Cancer hit me with the reality that I am a mere mortal.
Wow, this is serious, this could kill me.  But so far, I have made it.   I want to live as long as I can.  I will be careful to listen to my body, as Dr Bapat, my oncologist instructed.
  I will learn to thrive, and think of my self as a thriver, not just a survivor.  I must begin a fitness program, join a support group, "eat clean", get back to working like I'm used to.
I'm gonna live my life to the fullest!

         My plan to thrive:
  •    Exercise    More than ever, I need to get myself in the best possible condition, so I can lower risks of heart problems, and ease  bone and joint pain.  These are all part of the aging process, but now radiation has increased my risks . There is also evidence that exercise helps you live longer, lead a more productive life and lowers risks of breast cancer coming back . First I'll complete breast rehab and lymphedema prevention.  The physical therapist will show me what I need to do, and I will follow through and continue the program. Then i will be joining a cancer fitness group.
  •    Support groups-   I know it helps to share information, learn from others going through the same thing and encourage each other. I need to make time because I need this support.  I've joined groups on line, and at my church. My nurse navigator hooked me up with a local breast cancer survivor group too. Please get a nurse navigator if you ever get a diagnosis of breast cancer. She is invaluable as a resource person, and patient advocate, helps with everything, every step of the way. 
  •    Eat right-  I must treat my body to the right nutrition, so it works better,  Keep my weight down, so I can  look my best,  have energy for work and grandkids  and  make sure I get the nutrients I need to keep well.   A nutritionist's perspective-   , Cookbook - Betty Crocker Living With Cancer Cookbook and a great book The Whole Food Guide For Breast Cancer Survivors
  •    Work  Smart - Make wiser choices, delegate the jobs that are too hard, pursue the most enjoyable,  worthwhile jobs.  I must learn to earn enough money so I can support myself better and eliminate a lot of stress.   Manage my time better.  Say no when I should! 

I am  really struggling with the fact that I successfully completed 16 rounds of chemotherapy,
 a lumpectomy and lymphadenectomy, and 35 radiation treatments,
but they will not pronounce me cancer-free!

 "Think of it as, you have a chronic disease," two of my  doctors told me.
  "You are done your treatments, now go out and live your life!  Let us know if you have any symptoms, any changes."  

  I don't like this.  I am determined to be rid of cancer. I want to live, and live abundantly.  I have faith that God is healing me, but strangely, it is harder for me, now that I am done fighting so hard doing so much- hospital visits, procedures.  Mixed emotions, relief,  but fear. Joy, but an underlying concern a certain apprehension. But I am told this is totally normal.
 Joan Lunden said she had the same difficulty. After treatment ended was the hardest time,  she said, because you are no longer fighting, there's no more to do but wait.
 See her new streaming television network, devoted to breast cancer,health and wellness,
 Alive with It's a big help to me.  Hearing others stories and  medical updates,

     I am working on getting my life back to normal.  I am looking forward to taking off my wig now that I  have a little hair.  I was worried about Tommy , my 4 year old grandson discovering my baldness and asking questions. I didn't want to tell him I had lost my hair, I've had  cancer or anything about it at all.     I slept over and yesterday morning, when he awoke, he caught me without the wig.  As I scrambled to put it on, he asked, "Grandma,what did you do with your hair?"   I said "I am putting it on, it's okay"   He was satisfied for the moment,  then  quickly distracted and I am waiting for more questions when he thinks of it later.  I just want to look normal to him.
    So I will tell him, I am going to wear my hair very short this summer, then it will keep growing longer.
   I think I'm ready.  Well, almost.   First I must see Miss Clairol.

 There are so many adjustments!

Moving on........
I went to the community college, a program for People in Transition.  I wanted to explore my future,
Should I prepare for a new job, train for a new career?.  In the end, I figured out that I should keep doing what I am already doing.  The counselor said "I think you should grow your business, sounds like you've made the choice to keep taking care of the kids,  and you don't want to take a 9-5 job, so why would you go back to school? "   I already have the best job in the world, caring for the children, Then I have a couple other businesses that I can run on off hours, and while the baby naps.
       At  Selective Residential Services,   I am changing some of the job descriptions - less heavy, dirty jobs  and more enjoyable work, like murals.  No more pursuing big clean-outs, because I am losing my warehouse and no longer have a large van.  But  I am continuing with apartment turnovers, and cleaning.  I will still do special projects, like cleaning our attics, basements, sheds, for some regular clients.
        Here are some past projects,  and I hope to have some new ones to show you soon.
part of a mural I painted at St. Isodore's Pre-school

a  Cape May beach scene that I painted on some beach house furniture
part of a golf scene  from a mural I painted in someone's den
A section of a mural of scenes of Italy

Selling Vintage-   While I was in all those months of treatment, I spent a lot of time building up my vintage collection for my shops!  I recently reached a landmark of listing over 1000 items on my Etsy shop!   I am posting more vintage treasures each time something sells, almost every day!

Vintage Treasures in my Etsy shop!  Libbey glassware

Lovely teacup in my Etsy shop

       I finally got  into a booth at a new antiques and art mall in my town. I am very excited about this venture!  The booth is shared with a few others, and we've  crammed as much as we can into it. Even the drawers are full of linens and goodies!

       I love decorating the booth.  Later this month, we are having an event, "Christmas in July", so I'll get  some vintage holiday decorations out and decorate  the booth for my favorite holiday!

 A small booth at a local antiques and collectibles mall, which I share with several others.  

  Life has it's celebrations too!

 I am so happy and proud that my first grandson has graduated  high school, with honors!  He is a bright young man, pursuing a nursing career!  Congratulations Gary!
I celebrate you and your achievements!
My first grandson Gary graduating  in the Class of 2015,
 Gloucester County Institute of Technology

I thank God for my grandkids and for the pleasure of watching them grow up, loving and guiding them, enriching their lives in whatever small ways I can.  I am so grateful for the chance to help them learn about life, God, and their heritage.  With a bursting heart full of great pride I wish Gary a bright shining future and all the best that life can bring!  May God bless him, protect him, and guide him.

With Love,  Linda