Sunday, December 4, 2016

The 3 Great Loves In Your Life

I came across this article on how you fall in love with three people in your lifetime, after a friend shared the writing by Kate Rose on Facebook. I found it to be a pretty incredible read - a pretty true-to-life account of the three types of love I've encountered in my life. Kate says:
"Often our first is when we are young, in high school even. It’s the idealistic love—the one that seems like the fairytales we read as children."
"The second is supposed to be our hard love—the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved. This is the kind of love that hurts, whether through lies, pain or manipulation."
"And the third is the love we never see coming. The one that usually looks all wrong for us and that destroys any lingering ideals we clung to about what love is supposed to be. This is the love that comes so easy it doesn’t seem possible. It’s the kind where the connection can’t be explained and knocks us off our feet because we never planned for it."

When I think back to the three gentlemen I've had significant feelings for in my life, her description is pretty accurate. Though we had our share of struggles, any time I look back on that first love, I do so with a smile. With him lie the memories of school dances and Friday night football games, goofy folded-up love letters scribbled during class, long conversations about nothing, and those big future hopes and dreams created in the minds of high schoolers. 

The second is just as Ms. Rose said: the tough one. The one that started as the fairy tale I was looking for - with roses and grand gestures - and ended in broken promises and unforgivable words from both sides. I think we spent more time fighting than we did talking, both of us trying to be ourselves and someone else at the same time to appease the other. The one that shattered my heart almost so completely that I thought I'd never feel anything again.

And then hubs came along. That third love. The one I didn't even want to think about considering, because I felt too broken to be such a burden on anyone else. Somehow, without trying, he found his way around the wall I'd put up and slowly eeked his way into my heart. I hadn't looked at another guy in the year since love #2 and I had broken up. I couldn't fathom the thought of another human's fingers intertwined with mine as we set forth on the rest of our lives. I couldn't even relax enough to let someone hug me - girl, boy, family, friend. No one. I was lost. And by the second time I'd met hubs I knew; my heart had decided before my mind could object that this was a man worth taking down a brick or two for. I hadn't planned on loving anyone else, but that's the thing about life: it often goes exactly the opposite of what we have planned.

When I look back though, each one helped me to understand a little better what love was - but more importantly, what love was not. Every day, when the kids have been chauffeured to activities and dinner is done and we have a moment to breath, I have the opportunity to take a look at hubs and feel exactly the same way I did in those first few meetings: like my heart cannot possibly love him any more. We don't have folded-up love notes, and we certainly have our share of fights, but there is no one who makes me feel more loved than he does.

I've always been a sucker for romance stories, which is probably why everything I write contains romance. But no better story has been written than the one I'm living. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Some Chances Set You Free

"Some choices hold you down, some chances set you free.

And right outta nowhere
You open your heart and that changes everything,
And you're going somewhere
And all you need to know, is that you're free to go."

Those are lyrics to a song by one of my mom's favorite singers, Christine Kane (you can listen to it here). I found myself listening to that CD tonight after years of not hearing it. My fingers had danced across it on a cupboard shelf the other day, the dust of years gone by painting my fingertips. There was no question it has been a while since I heard the tunes that had brought both smiles and giggles to my wonderfully funny mother.

To me, music has always been a soundtrack for life. I guess maybe that's the writer in me. I grew up dreaming about writing plays and novels and movies, and each time I'd dream up one of my storylines, the emotion of my characters would come to life in my mind through the music that wafted into consciousness. 

And somehow, music has always had a way of speaking directly to my heart. When I'm stressed or sad or just searching for answers, the melodies that stretch out around me somehow convey an answer to whatever question is plaguing my mind.

Lately, I've been feeling sort of lost. My dad isn't feeling well, and it breaks my heart to see him so down. I always miss my mama around the holidays. And between work and coaching and trying to be a good wife and mother, I'm finding myself somewhat overwhelmed. Which is why this particular lyric stuck with me tonight. I've been so focused on the unknown and what lies ahead and feeling so flustered about everything that this lyric comes at the perfect time.

"Some choices hold you down and some chances set you free."

I've been lucky that in life; whenever one door closes, another opens. It hasn't always been a great door, but it's always been something -- and that's the key. There's always a new adventure to be on, and some of the best adventures I've had have come when I stopped trying to be in control and instead just let life take the lead.

"Leap and the net will appear."

Well, maybe that's the key to life sometimes, isn't it? 

Now, if you need something lighter, check out this - my mom's fave song by her which coincidentally, she used to sing as I got ready to go out during my college years. ;)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

History is Made

We are a baseball family.

A little after 11:40 p.m. last night, the Cubs won the 2016 World Series. 108 years, 10th inning, 8 runs. 108 is a magical number it looks like.

I didn't have tickets to the games (because, well, my kids need to go to college someday) but I was able to watch the games with my son, a die-hard baseball fan who lives and breathes the game all year long. He wasn't really a fan of any given team until the start of this season when he found a love for the Cubs, quite possibly breaking the heart of his die-hard Sox fan father. (Even though I dressed him in Cubs gear to sway his decision early on.)
The Cubs/Sox rivalry started in our home long ago, while hubs and I were dating. We had a Cubs/Sox themed wedding complete with a blue and black cake. He refuses to believe my old adage, "There are only two teams in Chicago: the Cubs and whoever they're playing."


And my Chicago-loving Sox-fan husband even rooted for the Cubbies this post-season. As a Sox fan, he knows the tremendous pride of seeing your team in the World Series; he knows the absolute excitement at watching them win it all. And more than anything else, he is a fan of Chicago and was proud to see his city back on top in a sport.

The last seven games were the best to watch with my son. Seeing him get fired up over errors by his favorite players, only to jump and scream for joy the next inning after the same player cracks a home run (we're talking about you, Baez and Ross!) totally redeeming themselves. And, in a moment of hilarity (and probably parenting gone wrong), watching him yell "GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!" before he covered his mouth because he realized he'd just swore in front of his mother, brought a moment of a stern face followed by a twinge of joy that he'd used the word in the correct capacity and said exactly what I was thinking.

I know some people think it's silly to get that invested in a sport, in a team, in a bunch of players who have no vested interest in you. When we look at the Cubs, though, we see the history of a game that has brought people together for generations. We see something that we can share with our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents; the love of a team that represents your city. We see a place where you can gather with complete strangers and for nine innings, feel like you've been friends forever as you cheer on your boys.

I wondered last night if the parents of all those players on the field remember a moment sitting at home, watching a game with a son who loves baseball. Or on a dusty old diamond at a ball park watching their 10-year-old learn how to make a double play. Did they know then that their son was destined for such a historic moment? Did they know those hugs and flowers on Mother's Day at a youth ball park would turn into ecstatic hugs on a major league diamond in front of hundreds of thousands of people?

For the rest of my life, I'll remember where I was when the Cubs won the World Series: snuggled up with my little baseball fanatic and biting my nails with two outs in the 10th. 

No, I didn't get to see a game in person this post-season. Hopefully one day I'll get to watch a post-season game from the stadium, and maybe - just maybe - it will be his.   


Monday, October 17, 2016

Book Signing!

We are so excited to be hosting a local book signing! Join four local authors this Saturday!

Denise M. Baran-Unland is the author of the gothic vampire BryonySeries, cofounder of WriteOn Joliet, and features editor at The Herald-News. She is a former freelance writer and features writing teacher at a homeschool cooperative and current instructor for a small monthly writer’s workshop. She has six children, many grandchildren, and four cats. Visit her at

Ralph Carey
Former ironworker Ralph Carey was born in Joliet and raised by a single mother. After 40 years of addiction and a criminal lifestyle, including a stints in both federal and state prison, he has turned his life around and authored Life's Wisdom: Overcoming Addiction. When not writing he is making the most of every day, spending time with his children and grandchildren, and expanding upon his writing.

From 1982-1990, Sue Merrell worked at the Joliet Herald-News under her married name, Sue Wallace. After working for the Grand Rapids Press for almost 20 years, she retired in 2009 to write novels. She has written a memoir, Laughing for a Living, and a mystery series inspired by her years working in Joliet. She has one grown son. Visit her at

Allison Rios is the author of the Healer Series, as well as co-author of a book on several caregiver’s journeys with brain cancer. In between a full-time job, chauffeuring kids and shopping for high heels, she spends her free time creating new worlds with her imagination – a hobby she likes to share with her two children. She is currently working on the next book in the Healer series. Visit her at

Friday, October 7, 2016

Simple Joys

You know what one of the best things is that has come out of this blog?

Reconnecting with friends, old and new. I love catching up with people I haven't seen in forever, finding closure where it's needed, making new friends, saying the things I've always wanted to tell someone, and hearing what they've always wanted to say.

So if you'd like to brighten a day, send me a note ;) I promise to send one back!

Monday, October 3, 2016

October, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

I will never forget that October morning. We were moving our work office from one building to another, and I was carrying files all morning back and forth. Six weeks pregnant, I was ecstatic that hubs and I were finally going to add another little one to the family. (That's me, on a work trip to DC, taking my first monthly photo!)

The cramping started and I didn't pay much attention. Then the bleeding. Panicked and in tears, I called the doctor's office from the pristine white-tiled work restroom. A soft voice on the other end told me, after consulting with the doctor, that I could be having a miscarriage or it could be bleeding that some pregnant women experience. I should go to the hospital for an ultrasound.

I left work early that day, unable to halt the waterfall of hopes and dreams cascading down my cheeks in sorrow and worry. I waited for that appointment, waited to call my husband. I wore a baseball hat to the hospital because I worked there and didn't want anyone to know it was me. And once there, in a cold, white sterile room, I learned our baby no longer had a heartbeat. Crushed isn't a strong enough word to describe what I felt.

I called my hubs, who still didn't know what was going on, and between sobs begged him to come pick me up. He did, shocked, and we went home in relative silence (aside from my crying) and tried our best not to discuss it. The doctor told me what would happen: I'd essentially go into a mild labor and may potentially have to undergo a D&C. I wanted to throw up every time I thought about it.

I had told everyone we were pregnant right when we found out. I was excited! We'd already had one healthy baby during the most stressful time of my life (when mom passed), and so I thought this pregnancy would be a breeze. We'd been trying for months to get pregnant and I couldn't wait to shout it from the rooftops.

When I told people who excitedly asked how the pregnancy was going that I was no longer pregnant, some would say, "at least it was early," or "at least it wasn't a baby yet." I understand that people don't know what to say in these situations, but those words stung. He or she was a baby, our baby. And yes it was early, but my heart wanted that child so badly. My poor husband - I asked him to tell everyone. I told a few people, and asked them to leave me alone. I sobbed. I sulked. I hid. I felt ashamed and could barely look at my sweet husband, who did everything he could to comfort me. I'd let him down, I thought. My body failed to make a safe home for this baby. No words otherwise could reach me; I was broken-hearted.

It was around Halloween and I can remember getting our son ready. That's me and the cutest Batman ever, as I try and somewhat hide my tummy. I didn't want any pictures of me that day, because the slight bump of my belly would just remind me of our loss.

I ignored the doctor's advice because it had taken so long for us to get pregnant that time, and I figured it would be the same once we began trying again. But somehow we ended up pregnant right away. Like, immediately.

Again, I was so excited. We couldn't wait. I took a first month photo. We were a bit scared, but feeling like this was the one. We were on our way to baby #2! We didn't tell anyone (well, I told some close friends, but no family) and I comforted myself in the belief that lightening wouldn't strike twice.

Then on a cold December day, again, I noticed blood. We were eight weeks along and I was at a department holiday party at work, feigning smiles and laughs. I had begun bleeding that morning; I called the doc; they said the same thing. I already knew though, before the cold ultrasound wand touched my stomach.

Same thing - I went to the hospital, but this time hubby came with me. I watched the screen and there was no movement, no heartbeat, no nothing. In a small little patient room, I was told again there was a loss, but I wasn't crying. I was just...not believing it, I guess. We went to the doctor's office where she hugged me. I love our doctor - she has such a big heart. She talked with me, gave me medicine to induce the labor, and then hugged me some more.

I stared at the medicine for hours. I'd take it in an hour; in two hours; tomorrow, I told myself. I couldn't let go. Turns out the medicine was unneeded - the next day, early afternoon, I began cramping. I had a holiday party with friends to go to that night that I swore I wouldn't miss. No one had known I was pregnant, and I didn't want to raise any flags. I sent my husband out with his friends. He didn't want to leave me, but I told him I was going to the party and wanted to just go on and celebrate the holidays. I was cramping again and knew what was coming, and I didn't want him to be there for it. It was embarrassing and awful. This handsome, kind man wrapped me in his arms and reminded me how much he loved me, and I still couldn't look him in the eyes.

We went about the holidays, and I put a smile on my face for my family. That's us on Christmas Eve, and me trying to hold it all together. When I felt like crying, I'd escape to the bathroom and will the tears away. And I still don't know which was harder: having to repeat over and over to people that we lost the baby, or to be crying alone on the couch because nobody knew.

Just three months later we were pregnant again, and the excitement was overshadowed by fear. Every step I took, every bite of food I ate, I worried if that would be the day that something happened. When we made it past the first trimester I felt a little relief, but the fear was always there in the back of my mind until our precious baby girl was safely in my arms later that year. I think about women who have lost a child at two, five, nine months and my heart breaks for them. Some may wonder how you can love someone you've never even met, but as a mother, it's absolutely possible. From the moment that test said "pregnant," my heart grew, as it does for mothers everywhere.

The heartbreak and disapointment are immeasurable when you lose a baby you wanted. To all the men and women who have lost a child, whether it was at five weeks or 40, my heart is with you. You aren't alone. Sending hugs your way.


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