chores. I grew up at a time when playing outside was the norm and being cooped
up inside was for those that were "under punishment". I chuckle because now they
call it "time out", but I digress. I was always the shy girl who was overweight
and created an inner safe-haven for when I was teased as being labeled the
resident fat chick. I became the clown. The jokester. If you wanted someone to
make you laugh, there I was. I tried masking hoping they'd see the clown not the
Not for one moment did that take away from the image other kids had of me.
Let's face it, when we are young we can't, to save our lives, remember that we
have a term paper due or the exam we were to study for, but every acne pimple,
bulge or hairdo and boyfriend, we had on lock in our memory banks.
I joked my way up to high school thinking that laugher would get me by but
more serious issues were coming my way. I had discovered early on that I was a
very perceptive child. Always knowing when someone needed help or just a kind
gesture, a hello. I loved school and what I was learning because it helped me
to feel like someone special and it taught me responsibility. I would need that
sooner then I thought.
When I turned 16 years old I was taking care of my sister and helping my mom
around the house more. She was a loving soul but neglected her own needs in
order to take care of us kids since our family went through a break-up a few
years before. We had an off-again, on-again love affair with a few buckets we
lovingly called cars and during the down times my mom would walk from one job to
the other and took the bus to assignments too far to hike.
One day I noticed some changes in her. Increased sleepiness, easy to
irritate, not feeling good for most of the time. I took notice, said nothing,
initially. Overtime I noticed her changing her sheets more often and when I
questioned, she would do the classic joke away from the subject but I knew
better. So after much thought I wrote down a plan to help my mother. A step that
changed my life forever but never brought any regret. I was going to quit
As you can imagine she was opposed from the start but as I drew up a
prospectus for her of my pros and cons she tearfully agreed and after talking it
over with her boss, one sunny day in New Jersey I went from school kid to adult,
provider and part-time mom and later caregiver.
I remember standing out on the lawn of my new job, waiting to go home early.
Usually that brought a smile to my face, taking a half day, that is, but not
that day. That day was for sorrow and pain, putting aside for the moment what I
wanted and hoped for and coming to a realization that we all must face at times,
monumental change, no matter the age, color or status.
The phone call at the A. M. of my day came as I made a purchase at the coffee
cart. Getting my usual coffee and donut stick and settling in for a long hard
work day. The voice on the other end was one that I knew well but hoped would
have a lilt in her tone and a pep in her step. No-it was not to be. The call was
to let me know that my mom, my mommie, had terminal stomach cancer. The months of changing sheets was to cover up what her body had been going through for quite some time. I knew it was not going to be good news but as I stood out
waiting on that bus, one of two that would get me home to comfort my mom, I
cried like a baby.
I had held it as long as I could. Getting permission from my boss to leave at
noon due to a family emergency, I set off taking care of this situation. Running
into co-workers wishing me a happy lunch and not making eye-contact because I
knew that one word and I would start balling. So passing the security gate as
each step got heavier, I made my way to that grassy knoll that became my
safehouse, my solace as I awaited my ride home.
A million things run across your mind and then nothing as numbness turns to
grief and then anger, sorrow. I had to regroup and get on this bus. I had to
make it home to my sister and explain this to her so that my mom could gather
her thoughts as she came to grips with what was going to happen to her in a
short span of time and what was going to happen to her little family.
I began signing up for parent/teacher conferences and planning drop-offs and
pick-ups. Doctors visits and hospital stays and keeping this tragic news to
myself as my mom wanted it. On that fateful November day back in 1986 when she
passed away, on a day by all accounts, beautiful, sunny, my sweet mother at the
tender age of 54 was gone.
I dutifully made the painstaking calls back home to our family in
Connecticut, as in disbelief, one by one thinking it must be a joke became
acutely aware that there was no punch line. There was no joy in a moment of
After the funeral and family departures to their various homes I had a sister
to raise that was now my child in many ways. I researched at the library how to
take legal custody and what offices I had to visit to take care of what was left
of our immediate family situation and I dove into an eating frenzy. Being
overwhelmed and allowing food to be my vice.
Still thinking I could handle it all, I visited Connecticut, determined to
get my sister into a better school, better environment but ignoring what I
needed. I worked with the teachers in understanding her situation and made
arrangements for one of my aunts to take her in. Happily she did finish her
education and went on to get her license as a beautician and later after
marrying, divorcing, moved out to California she realized her niche as a
I have not seen her in person since 1998 but I did catch a glimpse of her
when she appeared on Oprah's Sandwich Showdown in 2008. Sometimes I can't
believe this is us. True success stories. I had to re-focus and work on me. I
kept saying it but not doing it. I had moved to Connecticut myself after a few
years and let my weight go over the 300 pound mark. My doctor was furious with
me. I'd straighten up and fly right for a while. Losing five pounds and gaining
it right back. He'd done everything but sit a coffin in front of me but all eyes
were on the sandwich, pies, cookies.
Then one day something amazing happened.
I was experiencing serious stomach discomfort. Uh-oh, here we go. Am I sick
too? Rushing back to the doctor, scrawling next of kin notes in my head as I ran
into the elevator that led to his office, I was relieved. But all of those 6,000
calorie-a-day extravaganzas had finally caught up to me, though. Two decades of
"Can I have the extra-value meal?" had run its course. My body had had enough.
It wasn't the Big C but I had to cut back and for real this time, no joking
around or putting it off. But what to do until the weight loss kicked in and how
could I reduce the pain in the meantime?
Glossing the internet I discovered the benefits of green tea. I had switched
to organic food but was still eating high caloric fare and the green tea sounded
right. I brewed three cups a day and without realizing it, lost 40 pounds in no
time flat. Forgetting about the original reason for the tea leaf intake I was
facing a new dilemma, buying a new wardrobe. I didn't cry. Two birds with one
From mid 2009 to end of 2010 I'd lost 126 pounds! Not bad for the Jersey girl
who was used to touting a Tastycake in each hand. I still needed work.
I had to face whatever it was that made me run to the donut and hide behind the
laughter in the first place. I did. I had to dig way down and pull who I knew I
was up out of that vat of fat, loneliness and pain and pretty much like a person
who has to learn how to walk again after an accident, I had to learn how to be
happy and whole all over again.
You see, its not that we get lost, as much as we bury ourselves.
I had mentally gone into hiding in the stone cold light of day. I lost nine
more family members and as I was salvaging my courage to begin again food seemed
to be my only friend. I needed work. Then it 'dawned' on me. I needed
work but I also needed help. Finally a breakthrough. Friends who had
tried but winced as I built a brick wall around myself saw the outward changes
and took the opportunity to help my insides.
I talked more about how I felt instead of bottling it up inside. I smiled
more as I shed the size 26 and at my breaking point, size 28, slimming down to a
cool size 14. I read more, prayed more and worked on healing and not using
excuses as a crutch nor food as my wheelchair.
After being laid-off in 2010, something that back in the day, would have sent
me into a tailspin, was a welcomed segway. I penned two fictional novels for
Amazon and decided that I wanted to share my story and how anyone who thinks
they can't succeed from the ashes needs to re-think and re-channel. I challenged
myself to offer what I thought could help others and penned my first
motivational guide entitled, MOTIV8. It essentially is eight simple lenses that
I used to turn my self around so that I stopped walking backwards and could see
the bright future I have right in front of me.
I learned that instead of being the yes person for everyone else-I learned
how to say yes to me.
I built a website, did my own marketing. Researched like a mad woman and
learnd what it was to be my own editor, publisher, lawyer so I could grasp
copywriting and copyrights and everything in between. I worked on becoming a
better writer. What goes where and how to brand myself. And yes, I went back to
school and got my diploma after moving to Connecticut. I know my mom would be
proud. I am proud of myself.
What I am equally proud of is that women like the ones I have had the
pleasure of getting to know through the gift of social networking, continue to
Never give up on you and never give up on your realities. Life is too short
to cut back on. We are not coupons, we are living breathing survivors. Being a
conqueror of life is not for the faint of heart so recognize that you have
championed tomorrow by achieving today.
Turn Your TODAY into TADA!
So until next time-All the best as usual-