Archives for October 2013

An Inspirational Quote

Here is a quote from one of my favorite famous inspirational preachers, Billy Graham.  Wise words to remember when life is getting you down!





Fighting the Big C

I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine. She has cancer. Life is not always easy for her. I know it scares her, but she is too darned brave to really admit it. I would be scared, and I’m sure you would too. But this is not a sad story, or a story written to make you feel sorry for her. It is a story of bravery and courage and determination. She has given you an abbreviated version, but realize it all goes much much deeper. I always remember her saying, “well, I’m not dying today, and I’m probably not dying next week, so I guess I will just keep living! ” Heather is a single mom raising her daughter without much family around. I know she does have some amazing friends who are very supportive. When you say your prayers, offer up a little one for Heather. She is fighting a very tough battle right now, and I really want to see her win! The Big C needs to GO!!











August 1998. “May I please use your phone?” The doctor had just dropped the “C” word on me and I wanted my mom. She worked in the hospital across the street and I knew she would come right away. I know what the doctor said, but I wasn’t sure I was hearing her. I’m 33 years old with a 2yr old and I’ve just been told I have cancer. I was definitely in shock. My mom got there and she asked the doctors to repeat what they had told me. Yep…that’s what they said…cancer. Three days later, I was in surgery for a modified radical mastectomy on my left breast. It all happened so fast. After having some time to recover from surgery, I started my first round of chemotherapy. I was certain that I was going to die soon. That had been my experience with friends & loved ones in the past…you die. I was living in Oklahoma City at the time, close to my mother, and decided that I would leave my daughter to my older brother, Dan, who had 2 kids close to her age. Thing is, he lived in Michigan and I felt like I should get her there as soon as possible so she could get to know him and his family. So that’s what I did when my chemo was over with. I moved from Oklahoma back home to Michigan. As it turns out, I had a good, clean 10 year run with no cancer. I found my dream job and even got married again. Then, in the spring of 2009, I began to feel excessively tired. I acquired a cough that I just couldn’t shake. I started with my family doctor…no help there. I was referred to a pulmonologist…no help there. After running from doctor to doctor, I decided to go to a bigger and hopefully better hospital. I went in through the emergency room, told the ER doc my history, and he sent me for a CAT scan. About 4 hours later, the results were in…cancer again. This time, it was found in my lungs, ribs, spine, and pelvic bones. They kept me for a week before letting me go home. I thought for sure I was going to die this time. This is really bad! Soon after my hospital stay, I would begin my second round with chemotherapy. I didn’t lose my hair the first time, but this time I did. I was so proud of my hair…it was a big point of vanity for me. Try losing your hair one time and see if it’s not a point of vanity for any woman. I slipped into a very deep and dark depression. I imagine I cried for almost a year straight…this time includes the 8 months of chemo. One day, when I started to feel a little better, it occurred to me that I still wasn’t dead and I probably wasn’t going to die tomorrow, or the next week. I didn’t actually know how much time I had to live, but I decided that day that I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for death anymore. I decided that I was going to live everyday to the fullest and to the best of my ability. Since then, I have had radiation on some of the bones involved and my lungs are completely clear of cancer. I am still fighting the fight, but on my terms. I have cancer-it doesn’t have me. Today’s date is October 28, 2013. I am still living!

An Inspiring Weight Loss Story

I have known Annemarie for almost 3 years now. We both started Weight Watchers at about the same time….one of us has achieved our goal and the other has not…lol, I guess you can guess which one, since the story is about her!! (I do have a pretty good story myself, but that’s for another time.) Annemarie and I were pretty much neck in neck in the weight loss for quite awhile. And then one day, it was like she sprinted ahead of me like a gazelle!! The difference at that time was what she did for exercise. She poured her heart, soul and energy into it, and as you can see, it worked! That larger woman in those pictures…well I really don’t know her. Annemarie had already had quite a bit of success before I met her. She has given you a short version of her story here, but I can tell you, she has worked HARD at this adventure. And even more, she shares and inspires other people. She is a cheerleader, a coach and a player in this game we call weight loss! Enjoy her story!




At 48 years old I was in constant pain and felt like a prisoner in my own home.  Just walking around my house caused my feet and heels to ache and I was afraid I was going to end up dying young.  I had tried every diet out there and I had even thought of getting gastric bypass surgery but was afraid of the recovery and complications, not to mention the cost of the surgery.  At over 376 pounds I was sure that I just couldn’t do it on my own. I ended up in the ER one night after watching the movie “2012” and the Dr. told me I had a heart murmur and was pre-diabetic.  He advised me to begin taking better care of myself and losing some weight.  It was so overwhelming when I thought of how much weight I needed to lose.  But I was so tired of popping Motrin like candy and my stomach was constantly hurting due to the overuse of pain relievers.  

A few weeks later while watching “The Biggest Loser” on television, I saw that the heaviest woman they had ever had on the show was almost as big as I was!  I thought to myself if she could do this I had to at least try one more time.  So I began by getting on my recumbent bike and watching the Biggest Loser only when I was on the bike.  Needless to say it took many days before I could watch the entire episode!!  After losing about 16 pounds I joined Weight Watchers for the 6th time.  It was the only program that had ever worked for me and I felt right at home after arriving for my meeting in January 2011.  I continued to increase my exercise and began my journey to success.

 I can’t say it was easy but I was determined to be healthy by the time my 50th birthday came around.  I began exercising more and actually wore out my recumbent bike finally!  Then I took my exercise outdoors again and began walking and wearing a pedometer to track my steps.  I reached my goal weight on Christmas Eve of 2012 and made my Lifetime status on February 4, 2013.  Not only did I lose over 206 pounds but I was finally able to fulfill a lifetime dream of mine of working as a Leader for Weight Watchers and inspiring others to be their best and healthiest self! 

I am now leading meetings in Croswell at the Aitkin Library on Thursday evenings and I also help out in Port Huron and Sandusky and have several At Work meetings as well.  I just turned 52 last month and not only am I healthy and pain free…but I am constantly inspired by my Weight Watcher members and am enjoying life like I have never been able to before. 

Sometimes I don’t recognize myself when I see a picture but I sure do like who I see now.  I am constantly amazed that I was able to lose so much weight and I now realize that I can do anything if I put my mind to it and I am a strong and beautiful woman.  I am no longer afraid to reach for my dreams and am no longer a prisoner in my own body.  Weight Watchers isn’t a diet it is a way of living…a lifestyle choice that with successful planning and daily activity, anyone can be successful on for life. 

I still attend weekly meetings (number 1 most important part of the program in my book!!) and always wear my pedometer which keeps me motivated to be active and constantly set new goals!  The joy of being “normal” and being able to fit into regular clothing, chairs, cars and airplane seats  brings me happiness every single day that I get out of bed!  If I could do it, anyone can!  BELIEVE in yourself and all of your dreams will come true! YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

Annemarie 3 Annemarie 5Annemarie 1Annemarie 4

Annemarie 2

Furry Friends Are a Gift From God!

Luis and Tuesday furryIf you haven’t already met them, I would like to introduce you to Captain Luis Montalvan  and his service dog Tuesday. Luis is a 17 year Army war veteran serving many tours in Iraq. Luis and many of our military men and women  coming out of service  are facing PTSD. PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It happens when someone has suffered a severe trauma. A person with PTSD suffers with nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety. Luis suffered all of these and life was not easy for him. That is “Until Tuesday.” Tuesday is this gorgeous golden retriever you see pictured above. The unbreakable bond they have formed is amazing. As a mental health worker I have dealt with many people with PTSD. Luis’s book “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him” gave me such insight into what a person is truly feeling during their anxiety or panic attacks that I have been much better equipped to deal with my own clients who are suffering. There is so much more to this story than I could ever share here, so I strongly encourage you to read the book, check out their website, and his Facebook page. Luis and Tuesday travel all around the country lecturing about their written work and advocacy. I have personally seen what a dog trained in just anxiety can do for a person. I had a client last summer who had one. I love dogs, I love this dog Tuesday and I love the work Luis is doing. If you want to be inspired, read about this man’s story and also the dog’s story – he has a pretty good one of his own. These two are truly inspiring, and Luis quick sense of humor and talent with a camera will definitely make you smile!! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Until-Tuesday-Book-Cover furry



My Mother, My Hero, My Inspiration!

Mom and kids

I would like to introduce you today to my most inspirational person ever….my mother. I think my mom is one of the best ever. My mom has been through a lot in her life. My dad got cancer when he was only 50 and died when he was just 57. My mom was barely 50 when he died. Seemed old then, but oh so young now! My sister was still in high school when he got sick, my brother away at college,and I was out on my own, married and in serious denial of my dad’s illness. My mom was there for every appointment, treatment and care of him at home.  I sometimes wonder how she did it. I was so in denial of his illness that I know I didn’t help as much as I could have. Mom never complained though…she just did what had to be done.  After my dad died, the care of the house was up to my mom, as by this point my sister was also out of the house. [Read more…]

Steven Curtis Chapman – An Inspiring Musician

Today I would liSteven-Curtis-Chapman-fundraiserke to highlight inspiring Christian musician, Steven Curtis Chapman.  Many of you may be familiar with his music, which is awesome, but you may not know about his work in the world of adoption.  One of the reason we initially sought out the adoption agency Bethany Christian Services, that eventually brought us our youngest daughter, was because I  read that Steven Curtis Chapman had used this agency.  He and his wife Mary Beth are strong advocates for adoption and started a charity organization called Show Hope (formerly called Shaohannah’s Hope).  One of the many things Show Hope does to help orphans, is to offer grants to families that might not otherwise be able to adopt.  Show Hope has expanded to provide surgeries and medical care to special needs orphans and works with churches in setting up their own adoption funds. [Read more…]