The Sound of Silence

Do you know what depression or mental illness sound like? Can you hear depression in a friend’s voice? Do you recognize it in your significant other’s cry? And if you could hear mental illness, what exactly would it sound like? Mental illness has a few different sounds to me. It’s a whisper so quiet that only those paying full attention can hear. Even the ones who are paying attention sometimes miss the whisper, and it fades until it is unrecognizable. Mental illness can also be a yell. It can be a yell so loud that those around are frightened and try to avoid the sound as it pierces the sky.

Whenever I’m depressed, I go silent. My body aches, and I feel like I haven’t slept in far too long. Depression can be draining and so can mania. I once spent a whole year barely speaking to my friends, family and boyfriend at the time. It was easier to stare off into the distance and imagine I didn’t feel as bad as I did. It would be easier to not speak words than to simply say how I felt. Admitting I was depressed was easy. However, trying to find the courage, strength and energy to say any words was exhausting to even think about.

Important to note, I’m not the only one in my household that lives with depression. My mom also experiences depression. Since she is intimately familiar with depression, I asked her what she thought of this blog post, knowing that she’d be honest with me. With her permission, I’d like to share what she had to say:

“First, thank you Kim for asking me how I feel when I get depressed. No one really has ever asked me,  probably because I’ve never shared that I experience depression from time to time. I’ve only shared this with you and dad, and Paul and Katlin. When I think about how I feel, when depression descends for awhile, immediately a song comes to my mind. That song is “The Sound of Silence,” but it’s not the Simon & Garfunkel version that I’m talking about. It’s the remake that the rock band Disturbed did. When I hear the first 12 words,  I feel an eerie sense of familiarity. Those 12 words are painfully familiar to me. It sounds silly maybe. I can’t believe that words alone can have such an affect on me, but they do. If you decide to share my thoughts with anyone, don’t tell them the words. I’d like to invite them to listen to the song, especially those first 12 words. I think the words have a way of getting to the core of silence somehow. In silence, depression resides…”

Silence is not the only sign of mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides a helpful list of signs and symptoms. If you’d like to learn more, click here: Know the Warning Signs. I hope that you find this blog post to be helpful, if not for you, for someone you care about.

Until next time…

~ Kim (1 Daughter) and Stacy (1 Mom)


References

D. (2015, December 08). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Dg-g7t2l4

Help With Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression

Know The Warning Signs. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Know-the-Warning-Signs

Parekh, R., M.D., M.P.H. (2015, November). What Is Mental Illness? Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-mental-illness

 

 

 

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A Tool to Add to Your Family and Friends Support Toolbox: Suicide Prevention

Today, I discovered an educational tool that I’d like to share here on the blog in hopes of continuing to spread the word that suicide is preventable and to provide a credible overview about suicide.  I hope you find it educational and helpful!  Let’s eliminate suicide!  Together we can and we are!

Growing stronger…

To the Callee…A Conversation about Suicide: National Suicide Prevention Week

Caught up in the swirl of a busy life as if each experience, person and event were crisp, autumn fall leaves being kicked up by the breath of life, I almost missed the fact that this week is National Suicide Prevention Week.  When I saw the International Bipolar Foundation’s Facebook status update yesterday announcing National Suicide Prevention Week I found myself discussing with my son Paul our experience with suicide and how it has touched our lives.  I’d like to invite you to continue reading…below I share a moment in time when an individual had great impact on my thinking about suicide prevention.  I share the experience with you in hopes of raising awareness and spreading the word that suicide is preventable.

May 21st, 2010 I found my daughter, who was 20 at the time, within heartbeats of deaths door after a second suicide attempt.  At that moment life changed forever for me and my loved ones.  You can imagine the affects that such an experience would have on an individual and a family.  Let’s just say, we found ourselves on a new life path.  I don’t like to linger long in the past so let’s fast forward seven days after I found her.  I called someone on her mental health team to discuss what to do when she was discharged from the hospital.  At first, I was given valuable and credible information to help us along in the healing process.  For example, I was referred to the Karla Smith Foundation who supports families affected by mental illness and suicide.  With pen to paper I busily wrote down everything I was told.  I didn’t want to miss anything as I searched for ways to support my daughter and also ways to cope myself and to help my family.  After a few minutes and a fading conversation the callee and I hung up.  It hadn’t dawned on me to ask when my daughter would be discharged.  Without hesitation I dialed the number of the person I had just talked to.  And here is how it went, verbatim.  You see, as a mom and now caregiver at times, I keep records and notes regarding my loved ones health care.  I had written down what I was told.

Stacy: “Hello.  I’m so sorry to bother you again, but I have one more question.”

Callee: …..silence…..silence…..

Stacy: “Can I find out when she is going to be discharged?  Her dad and I were wondering when to pick her up.”

Callee: “You need to stop micromanaging this and get educated.  You need to accept that she may complete a suicide attempt.”

You may be wondering how this resonated with me.  Well…of course I quickly got off the phone.  I sat at my dining room table shaking my head in disappointment and questioning the intentions of the person I had just talked to.  I can’t imagine that she has children of her own because if she did I don’t think that she would have uttered those words.  I was naturally offended that someone would talk to a distraught mother who was simply seeking help at a time when she was greatly at a loss as to how to proceed with life after such a traumatic event.  Also, it is interesting to me that I was told to get educated.  That was precisely what I was doing!  Mostly though, regarding her comment about accepting suicide, to me personally that type of thinking contradicts the fact that suicide is preventable.  According to the American Association of Suicidology, “Last year in the US over 36,000 people died by suicide and over a million adults made suicide attempts. Yet, as for so many public health problems, suicide is often preventable” (http://www.suicidology.org/suicide-prevention-specialist-resources).

To the callee…I am educated, and I will never accept the potential suicide of a loved one!  Instead, I will fight for the rest of my life for the support and resources needed to prevent the suicide of my loved ones as well as anyone else!  I hope that by sharing this post that I have illuminated the fact that suicide is preventable and the importance of support no matter who we are.

If you find that you are looking for resources regarding suicide prevention either for yourself or a loved one I have listed below several credible resources that you may find helpful.  May we never give up on ourselves or our loved ones!  We all matter!  And life is worth living for!

Growing stronger…

~~~~~~~~~~

American Association of Suicidology

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

References

American Association of Suicidology. Retrieved from http://www.suicidology.org/suicide-prevention-specialist-resources

The Erase the Stigma Wishing Pond

If you get a moment I invite you to check out the newest page on Stacy’s Flutterings blog.  The page is located at the top of the blog and is titled, “The Erase the Stigma Wishing Pond.”  If you find any inspiration please pass the blog post on.

From the Heart ~ Thank you!

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

I am extremely touched and honored to learn that Stacy’s Flutterings was nominated by Uncovering Life for this wonderful award!  To keep this inspirational and awesome blog award going listed below are the steps:

  1. Thank the giver
  2. Post 7 things about yourself
  3. Pass the award on to 7 other bloggers and let them know they’ve been nominated
  4. Include the logo of the award in a post or on your blog

Thank you Uncovering Life for your nomination!  It is so wonderful that our paths have crossed!  I admire how you advocate for those who are living with the challenges of an eating disorder as well as how you advocate for yourself!  I also admire your strength in stepping outside of your comfort zone and sharing your story in an effort to help others.  Your transparency is beyond commendable!  I am humbled by your honesty.  Your blog is not only inspirational, but it is educational as well.  I love your blog layout and background!  Your caring personality shines brightly through your blog.  I’m positive that you have exceeded your goal of raising awareness and letting others know, that are on a similar journey, that they are not alone.  Thank you from the heart!

Listed below are 7 things about me.

1. I have a cat named Hershey and a dog named Kisses so I always have Hershey Kisses!

2. I have a three year old granddaughter who I adore.

3. My husband and I love to go to Disney World.  We love it so much we went there for our 25th wedding anniversary!

4. I have always wanted to do voiceovers for TV and the movies.  It would be so fun to create and be the voice of a character!

5. I love music!

6. If I could I would have a horse ranch.

7. I love photography!

And now…feel free to sit down, relax, have a cup of your favorite brew in hand and enjoy your journey as you learn about what these 7 blogs have to offer!

Drum-roll please…my nominees are:

Extreme Makeover Home Edition – Ottawa, Kansas: One Year Later and Growing Stronger

A year ago today Bill and I were busy preparing for the trip of a lifetime.  We both had work and school obligations to complete, kids to contend with and family pets to make arrangements for.  I actually had marked in my day planner for last year, “Class at 5:00 p.m. and final tonight!”  At the time, I was a graduate student at McKendree University working towards my professional counseling degree.  I had an awesome professor who allowed me to take my final early so that I could travel later in the week to Kansas with Bill.  So…Saturday, August 30th, 2011 Bill and I began our journey to Ottawa, Kansas.  We left Illinois at 3:00 pm.  We were on our way to help build Gina, Allen, Makale and Dreyson Hill’s beautiful home along with thousands of other volunteers and ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition show.  Little did Bill or I know the life changing impact that the event would have on us then and now.

So, how did all of this unfold?  Well…we learned about the opportunity due to my volunteer efforts with the Karla Smith Foundation.  We were graciously invited by Emily Smith, Mental Health Advocate and former Executive Director of Bring Change 2 Mind.  Bill and I had talked for years about our desire to volunteer.  Finally, the opportunity presented itself, and we couldn’t resist.  I mean…how could we pass up an opportunity to volunteer with the ABC Extreme Makeover: Home Edition show?!  We couldn’t!  So on we went…

Sunday morning, July 31, 2011 at 8:00 a.m. Bill and I arrived on a dusty, scorching hot set along with thousands of volunteers and the t.v. crew.  And the rest…well…I can’t even begin to explain how phenomenal the experience was.  Instead of trying to cover what happened over the course of the 7 days I’d like to share with you a few of the amazing people we met.  Honestly, everyone we came in contact with was pretty darn amazing!  However, there were a few people that we would connect with that would greatly impact our lives over the course of the next year and for years to come!

Before I continue though, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions.  Have you ever met someone before that you feel you were supposed to meet?  When you met that person did you feel like they were a game changer?  Didn’t you feel, when you met those people, that they were going somewhere in life?  I don’t know about you, but I find that these are the people that make you want to be better than you are.  They strike a positive chord deep within your soul.  And in turn you find renewed strength.   That is what happened to Bill and I.  Every person we met over the course of the seven days had that affect on us.  Even my own husband had that affect on me.

So, who are some of these people that impacted our lives so greatly?  Well, first and foremost I have to say the Hill Family including Gina’s parents Loren and Sharon Middlebusher and Gina’s sister Chris Middlebusher.  Bill and I didn’t know them before the home makeover began and yet now we find that they have become incredibly special and important friends.  Life wouldn’t be the same without them.  In fact, due to Bill being shot by gunfire in a horrific drive-by shooting and rampage in Wichita, Kansas years ago we didn’t like to visit Kansas.  That was the last place we desired to go.  But now we feel different.  While in Ottawa last year Bill felt finally at peace with the incident, and we find that we desire to go to Ottawa whenever possible!  We learned that it wasn’t Kansas that we needed to avoid.  It was so amazing to me because my husband has coped silently for years with PTS due to the shooting, and there we were helping build a home for Allen who also lives with PTS.  During the build Bill didn’t feel alone anymore.  It was finally safe for him to talk about it.  By opening up to the volunteer experience in Ottawa Bill and I walked away with a profound sense of healing and new and incredible friends.  We were supposed to be in Ottawa, Kansas July 31st, 2011 through August 7th, 2011.  It was clearly meant to be.  I like to believe that it was orchestrated from above.  Below is a video of the first half of the Hill Family episode.  To watch the second half of the episode you can go to: http://abc.go.com/watch.

 

In addition to meeting the Hill’s, Bill and I had the privilege of meeting Valerie Brown who was just on Late Show with David Letterman last night!  Over the course of that week Bill and I saw Valerie around the set, but I especially recall meeting her at the mental health awareness tent.  I learned at the time that she volunteers with The Mission Continues.  And Bill and I had the privilege of sharing a table with her at the after party.  We knew then that she was going places and going places she is!  Thank you Valerie!  We are so proud to know you!  Your strength and courage to advocate for others is contagious!  We are better people because of you.  To learn more about Valerie and her prior military experience and future goals I encourage you to check out the video below.


I also had the privilege of being introduced to and visiting with Cinda and Linea Johnson.  This past May their book titled “Perfect Chaos: A Daughter’s Journey to Survive Bipolar, a Mother’s Struggle to Save Her” was published and released by St. Martin’s Press.  To learn more about their journey and to purchase a copy you can click here: http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Chaos-Daughters-Journey-Struggle/dp/0312581823/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343236171&sr=1-1&keywords=perfect+chaos.  I can’t begin to tell you how amazing they both are!  Again, I knew when I met Cinda and Linea that they are phenomenal ladies.  They actually took the time to listen to my story.  There we sat in a sticky, hot catering tent with the whir of an exhausted portable air conditioner in the background visiting about mental illness and it’s effects.  Their level of empathy helped me in not feeling alone as we cope with the challenges of having a loved one ourselves who lives with bipolar disorder.  For the first time I connected with a mother who “got me.”  Cinda knew just what I was talking about.  I felt a sense of empowerment as I listened to both of them.  I owe them a huge debt of gratitude because they have shown me, as well as millions of others, that it is okay to talk about mental illness, that we are not alone and that we can heal.  Thank you Cinda and Linea for empowering this Mom!  I am so very proud to say that I know you!  In addition to their book, Linea recently shared her story on the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)  website.  I encourage you to check it out!  From the heart I thank you both!

I also had the pleasure of meeting and working with Nanci Schiman, Program Manager for The Balanced Mind Foundation formerly known as the Child Adolescent and Bipolar Foundation.  I believe that she is in this picture helping with volunteer coordination at the volunteer check-in tent.  When I think back to last summer I remember Nanci and I delivering water to the build crew.  There we were.  We had never met prior to the build, and yet we were driving around in her rental car trying to find our way around the set.  I was so comfortable with Nanci that as we bounced along the road (which wasn’t a road!  It was just an area marked off for cars to drive on!) I laughed and told her she was awesome!  Before we all knew it the time had flown, and she had to leave.  But a life changing connection was made.  I say with great pride that I am now one of Nanci’s volunteers with The Balanced Mind Foundation.  I love it!  It is the most awesome volunteer work!  And I get to pay it forward so-to-speak and help families in a similar situation to mine.  What a gift it was to meet Nanci.  Thank you Nanci!  I am so proud to know you, and thank you for the wonderful opportunity you gave me!

And…as you can tell,  I could keep going, but I’ll stop here for now.  There is no possible way that I can begin to capture in one blog post all the good that happened in Ottawa.  My hope is that maybe a spark will be lit and maybe some of you will be inspired to get involved in volunteerism if you are not already.  In my experience, it is beyond rewarding.  In time I will share more stories about our volunteer experiences and the amazing people Bill and I meet.  For now, I do want to list some other names that immediately cross my mind as I recall last summer: Jayne Rae-Altic, Keith Anderson, Janine Byrne, Ricky Canlapan, Marguerite Davis, Theresa Emerson, Ashley Erlinger, Erin Hazen, Chris Hendrix, Birgit Imkamp, Craig Layman, Shelby Norris, Emily and Kevin Smith, Robin Walker, Stephanie Williamson, Jim Watkins, Tori Wilson and Pat Winegardner.  There are so many more, and I have not forgot you!  I never will!  Thank you from the heart everyone for the volunteer experience of a lifetime!

I wish the same healthy connections and experiences for those of you reading this!  May we all continue to connect, learn and grow from one another.

Growing stronger…

The Good Fight: Advocacy

I recently heard “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes featuring Ryan Tedder of One Republic.  Their video, which you can download and view here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxV-OOIamyk , showcases the inspirational John Orozco, world class athlete and 2012 Olympic gymnast from the Bronx, New York.  I love it!  It inspires me to keep up the good fight, as my friend calls it, regarding mental illness awareness and erasing the stigma.  I may not be an Olympian, but this Mom is a fighter too.  How is she a fighter?  She is an advocate.

As I listened to the song I thought about those that advocate for mental health awareness and erasing the stigma like Bring Change 2 Mind, Karla Smith Foundation, Silent Siren and The Balanced Mind Foundation.  I find that I feel thankful to each of these organizations for instilling a sense of hope and universality as they work diligently to provide free educational materials, resources, support groups, community partnership programs for emergency responders, partnership programs for military installations and so much more.  Simply put – these four organizations are phenomenal for all they do and stand for.  Talk about advocacy!

You may be asking, “What is advocacy?”  According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an advocate is “one that pleads the cause of another, one that defends or maintains a cause or a proposal or one that supports or promotes the interests of another.”

Furthermore, while listening to the song, I also thought about my family and how far we have come since Kim’s battle with bipolar disorder unfolded.  I am so proud of my husband Bill, my children Paul, Kim and Katlin and our parents, siblings, extended family and friends.  I am thankful for us coming together to lift one another up during one of the most challenging times of our lives.  We are beyond blessed to have such an amazing family!  I love all of you beyond measure!  You are my Olympic team!

If you find that you would like to become an advocate and help raise mental illness awareness and erase the stigma or fight the good fight for another cause whether it’s animal rights, children’s rights, elder care, human rights, medical/health or another cause all it takes is reaching out to your community of interest and asking what you can do to help and advocate no matter how young or old you are…

Or as Gym Class Heroes sings:

There goes a fighter, there goes a fighter

Here comes a fighter

That’s what they will say to me, say to me, say to me

This one’s a fighter

What we gonna do?  What we gonna do?

What we gonna do?  What we gonna do ya’ll?

A couple of excellent places to start are:

www.bringchange2mind.org 

www.karlasmithfoundation.org 

www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Inform_Yourself/About_Public_Policy/About_Public_Policy.htm 

www.silentsiren.org 

www.thebalancedmind.org 

www.worldadvocacy.com/  

Growing stronger…

Discovering Hope

This past weekend a friend told me about {Hope}station.   She also gave my family and I {Hope}station t-shirts.  The idea is that on the back of the t-shirt you write your story thus instilling hope and letting others know that they are not alone.  As you can tell by the picture above Kim and I did just that.  What a fantastic way to share hope!  And what an amazing organization.

{Hope}station was actually in Joplin, Missouri last year spreading hope after the city was devastated by tornadoes.  I am so touched by their mission.

We now want to share this remarkable organization with you.   The founder, Stephanie Tillman, exemplifies strength.  She transcended the challenges of addictions and homelessness in a phenomenal way.  She not only found God and sobriety, but she developed the  company  iKros.com.  To learn more about her story and how she is making a positive impact I encourage you to check out {Hope}station where you  can purchase a t-shirt as well and share your story.

Growing stronger…

A Time to Sing: Coping with Mental Illness

About two years ago our beautiful daughter Kim, who is our songbird, almost lost her life when she attempted suicide.  Miraculously, she survived.  Once she got her strength back she started the process of finding a healthier mental health balance.  Of course there are a multitude of ways in which a person can cope with the challenges of a mental illness, but I want to share with you one of Kim’s methods of coping.  I actually like to think of it as an extension of her desire to sing.

To give you a little background, Kim grew up dreaming of becoming a singer.  Throughout the years she sang in school plays and talent shows.  She competed in American Idol tryouts around the country.  She auditioned in states such as Florida, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.  She was a member of her high-school Chamber Choir.  She was also a member of several musical groups such as Encore, Madrigals and Show Choir.  Additionally, she performed freshman year through senior year in the February Frolics annual talent show.  She also played a part in the musical “Beauty and the Beast.”  She participated in a televised singing contest in St. Louis.  In addition to singing she wrote music and poetry.  We have very fond memories of her singing with her family and friends.  She recorded a  few songs and even uploaded them to YouTube.  She had plans to start a band, and then…the unthinkable happened…

By the time she was 19 years old mental illness had made its grand entrance into her life as well as ours in the form of bipolar disorder.  Then on May 21st, 2010 at 7:20 am our songbird temporarily ceased to sing after a second suicide attempt.  And with a humble and graciously thankful heart I share with you that she is once again singing.  This time she sings not only with her voice but through her creativity as well.  And she desires to now use her voice to help erase the stigma of mental illness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) “Coping Strategies for Bipolar Disorder” brochure, “Leading a balanced lifestyle can help make living with bipolar disorder more manageable” (14).  Furthermore, NAMI suggests that one way a person can lead a healthy lifestyle is to get involved in something like a hobby (15).  That is just what Kim has done.  She has found that creating jewelry is a great way for her to cope!  Of course there are other ways that she copes, but making jewelry is now one of her favorite hobbies and methods of coping with the challenges of living with bipolar disorder.

While it is a constant balancing act – Kim has found a healthier mental health balance and recently has started to sing again.  In fact, about a month ago while sitting in my office writing I heard from a nearby room Mandy Moore singing, “Only Hope” from the movie “A Walk to Remember” or so I thought.  As I listened to the soft, soothing voice sing, “There’s a song that’s inside of my soul…
it’s the one that I’ve tried to write over and over again…I’m awake in the infinite cold…but you sing to me over and over and over again…so I lay my head back down…and I lift my hands…and pray to be only yours…I pray to be only yours…I know now you’re my only hope…”  I soon realized it was Kim!  I sat in my office and soaked up her voice – relishing in the fact that she is singing again!  How blessed and thankful we are that our songbird once again sings.  Months before she couldn’t put pen to paper because her thoughts came so fast.  Now, she is singing and writing again.  And she is creating beautiful jewelry.

Regarding Kim’s jewelry, in an attempt to help erase the stigma of mental illness she has created a butterfly necklace that she wants to share with anyone who wants to help her spread the word that mental illness is just that, an illness.  It is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of.  I have included a picture of “Kim’s Erase the Stigma Butterfly” necklace above.  She is selling the necklace for $15.00.  She is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Karla Smith Foundation who supports families and loved ones affected by mental illness and suicide.  If you are interested in purchasing a necklace you can contact me by clicking on the “contact” button above for additional details.  I don’t usually attempt to sell anything on the blog, but as I advocate for my daughter I thought that helping her launch her product and idea would be a great way to support her.  We hope that soon her jewelry line will be on Etsy as well.  Until then…

From tragedy comes growth.  With time, treatment and support a beautiful songbird sings again…

Growing stronger…

~~~~~~~~~~

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.).  Coping strategies for bipolar disorder.  Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/Bipolar1/Coping_Strategies_for_Bipolar_Disorder.htm

I’m Glad You Came…

No matter how old I get I absolutely love music!  It is so uplifting and inspiring.  Music has a magical way of reaching in and touching my soul.  When I hear a favorite song I like to turn up the volume.  When I surround myself with the sound of music life’s stressors melt away like fresh winter icicles dissolving under the hot sun.  And if you asked me what song is my favorite I would have a difficult time picking just one.  I enjoy a variety of genres new and old.  Actually, thinking about the word “favorite” takes me back in time to when I was a little girl.  I remember visiting my grandmother who lived in Spokane, Washington.  I would sit at her kitchen table anxiously awaiting to try a bite of her newest creation like lemon meringue pie.  Each time that she would bake something I would say, “Nana!  That’s my favorite!”  She would laugh and say, “Stacy, everything is your favorite!”  Nana was so right.  The same holds true for music.  I think every song is my favorite!

Currently, one of the songs sweeping the nation is “Glad You Came” by the British band The Wanted.  It is one of my favorites!  The lyrics include statements like, “…all that counts is here and now…” and “…my universe will never be the same…I’m glad you came…”  Every-time I hear the song I think of my amazing husband and children.  I understand that it is written for couples, but I think that some of the lyrics apply to relationships beyond the scope of lovers.

When I hear, “My universe will never be the same.  I’m glad you came…” I instantly think about Bill, Paul, Kim, Katlin and my granddaughter Marissa.  My universe truly would never be the same without them.  I am so glad they came!  I can’t even begin to write how I feel about my husband and kids because there are no words.  My love for them is beyond anything I ever would have imagined.  I can say that with them everything is right in the world.

And in closing, I want to share with everyone else in my universe…family, friends, my readers and newcomers as well…”I’m glad you came.”

Growing stronger…