Wednesday, October 27, 2010

99 and Counting...

We are at 99 registrants for the Rock Your Bottom concert, which is still 10 days away.  Click here to reserve your spot. Registration is quick and simple.

We will have a free tricky tray raffle with prizes from:
If you want to co-sponsor the event and promote your business, there is still time. Email me at alifeunexpected.jtm@gmail.com for more information.

Over 100 diapers have already been donated to the concert. It is sure to be a great time for a good cause.

We are looking forward to seeing you there!



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Friday, October 15, 2010

A Truly Great Love Story... Happy Anniversary!


Our journey began quite a while ago – you were the cute guy in the bar during grad school. I was the bartender supplementing a non-profit salary. You were three years younger than me. I said I’d go to a party with you, but you took me to a jazz bar instead. We shared stories of our families, our goals and dreams. We ran home in the rain, running from awning to awning holding hands. That night had all the makings of the first chapter in a truly great love story.

A few years later, we decided to “make it official” and to celebrate our relationship surrounded by the people we loved the most. Under the autumn trees, just as the sun was ducking down behind the mountain, on the most beautiful of days, the next chapter began with these words…
“I choose you to be none other than yourself.
Loving what I know of you.
Trusting what I do not yet know.
With respect for your integrity and faith for your love for me.
I choose you, in the certainty of my soul.
I will love you, honor you and cherish you all the days of my life.
With this ring I marry you and join my life with yours.”
Today, I celebrate the five years since we exchanged those vows. The days between then and now have been full of love and laughter. There have been sacrifices and tears, as well, but my goodness has my life been sweeter with you by my side. Five years ago, I read you the words below. Today, I don’t think I would change one word. I love you – here’s to the next chapter.
Dear Jason,
I’m marrying you today because I can’t imagine spending one day of the rest of my life without you by my side. With you, I truly feel that all things are possible and all storms can be weathered. You provide clarity when I cannot see clearly, comfort when I grieve and support when I struggle.
I have thought long about what has drawn me to you and I have come to the conclusion that my love for you rests on one of the most basic tenants of any successful relationship – respect. I respect and honor all things about you – your generosity, your wit, your compassion for animals, your dedication to school and career and your commitment to family. You are everything I could have ever hoped for, but never believed existed.
You are the most amazing man I have ever met. You possess such a strong sense of character and unparalleled understanding of commitment. You love me unconditionally, in spite of my flaws, and at times, I believe you may even love me more because of them. Your love has shown me a world painted brighter than any I had known before and I love you more intensely than I ever thought possible. I like to think of myself as a good person, but I realize that I am at my best when I am with you. For that reason, it is comforting to know that I will spend my life absorbed in the warmth of your love.
I know that as long as you are in my life, I will be loved and cared for and our days will be full of laughter, and honesty. We will create a family that will be beautiful and strong. In fifty years, I believe that you and I will be the couple our grandchildren idolize.
I am honored to be the person you have chosen to marry. I am so in love with everything about you. I look forward to sharing my life with yours.
I love you,
Bell
photo by Photography by Rebecca
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Tribute to Bell

I’m constantly amazed by my wife. She is so involved that it’s hard for me to recount all of her commitments. On any given day, she juggles multiple balls and wears many different hats. In addition to her full time job, she:


It isn’t enough that she is just involved. My wife is passionate about what she does. I often envy her because she truly loves her work. And she makes a difference. I still vividly remember a few years ago when one of “her women” (as she calls them) described her as a messenger of God. I can’t help but agree. Her motivations are pure. She has sculpted an intentional way of life that serves a purpose – a selfless devotion that betters our world.

I can barely keep her schedule straight and I constantly drive her crazy when I repeatedly ask her, “Where are you going again?” I have mnemonic nicknames for all her friends to help me associate where she knows them from. How else can I even keep them straight? On top of all that, her most important priority is her family – her 4-legged children, her son, and me.

October happens to be my wife’s busiest month. This month, in addition to her usual commitments, and the annual programs she coordinates in honor of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (which just also happens to be on our wedding anniversary), she is also helping to lead the charge for breast cancer awareness – a disease that has intimately affected her own family. Her nights and weekends fill up fast with events, webinars, and even work. However, this month also happens to host my wife’s birthday, which can fall victim to her selfless ways. This year in particular, our plans for her birthday family-building adventure were cancelled due to our son’s ill-timed cold. This month while she works diligently to promote awareness and solidify our future, it’s my priority to celebrate an extraordinary woman. October is many things to many people…but for my family, it is a celebration of my wife.

I know that she often struggles with her identities as a mother, wife, and professional. However, above all else, she prioritizes us and truly values her uninterrupted family time. Society may tell her that she can’t have it all. I disagree. Society doesn’t know my wife. Anyone who knows my wife understands that she doesn’t accept social norms. She is constantly evolving to make a better life for us. Thus, for her birthday, it is my main concern to let her know that she is a great mom, who is raising an incredible kid. And importantly…he knows it too.

Despite that the fact that our birthday plans were interrupted by the unpredictable nature of a 2-year old’s immune system, our celebration of “mom” is always constant.

Happy birthday, Bell. We love you! I hope you enjoy your video gift!


video

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Where Will You Be 33 Days From Now?

The flier for the Rock Your Bottom concert is here! Click here to download it or even print it out to send to your friends and family.

Click here to reserve your spot. Registration is quick and simple:

There will be some great free giveaways from our sponsors for the concert. Attendees will have a chance to win products and services from some of these New Jersey's very talented businesses: 
If you would like to be a co-sponsor for the event, please feel free to email me at:
alifeunexpected.jtm@gmail.com





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Friday, October 1, 2010

My Life with Boobs

by: Hungry Dog Heaven

I've spent more than a decade submerged in the politics and practices of Public Health. I’m comfortable talking about bodies, health disparities and statistics. But…I do this work because it's personal. So today, the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am blogging about my boobs – perhaps the most personal blog I could write.


***

In the familiar tradition of family folklore, there’s a story that’s been passed down that tells the tale of yours truly, at the young age of six, insisting that my maternal grandparents take me to get a bra because I needed one for school. The reality is that now, even at the age of (almost) thirty-four, I could probably survive just fine without a bra and in fact, my biggest reason for wearing one is to take advantage of the miracle Victoria puts in her outrageous little numbers. ;)

But, also when I was six, my paternal grandmother was confronted with the reality of her breasts. The reality that, despite having seen the doctor many times, her cancer had gone undetected until it had spread and required aggressive chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. While I was pining away for a pink, frilly, little training bra, my grandmother was coming to terms that her new bras would be lead-heavy prosthetic-filled contraptions that bore emotional and physical reminders of the loss of her own breasts.

For eight years, my grandmother battled against the disease that took her breasts. During that time, it also took her hair. And her strength. And her ability to travel like she loved to. And eventually, it took her life.

Another eight years passed before cancer invaded my world. This time, it was my mom. My best friend. The woman I called when I was scared, angry, heart broken and confused. The woman who answered the phone when I had good news to share and made my favorite dinners when I came home from college. I wish I could say that I remember all of the details, but I don’t. In fact, I remember very little. It’s a coping mechanism.

I took a semester off from school and drove down to South Jersey to accompany my mom to a couple chemo treatments. I remember that we watched General Hospital on the TV in the sterile treatment room. I brought us lunch from Wawa and picked up a few magazines. She lost her hair – her hair that had been so beautifully straight and thick was turned to patches of peach fuzz covered by chic, stylish wigs.

A few months into her treatments, I remember visiting her in the hospital, rather than a treatment room. Her immune system had been depleted by the aggressive chemicals she was receiving to fight the battle against the enemy inside. The very drugs intended to save her life were taking a tremendous toll. She lay, more defeated by the chemo than the cancer, in a stark isolation room unable to enjoy the warmth of my hand or the caress of my kiss on her cheek. I visited her in this room for many weeks and feared that every visit would be the last. She confided in me that, if she were to be diagnosed with cancer again, she would not choose to endure the pain of treatment again.

Thankfully, she eventually left the hospital and returned home and tried to piece together a familiar life under new realities. The reality of gray, curly hair where shiny, straight hair once grew. The reality of emotional/mental/spiritual wounds that would take a lifetime to heal. The reality of the physical scars that serve as daily reminders of her courageous journey.

I don’t clearly remember the first time I saw the scar from her mastectomy, but even now, thirteen years later, I can recall the image in my mind’s eye. An uneven line of scar tissue and concave flesh where a breast used to be. An uninvited battle wound from a victorious war. Unlike my grandmother, she seems to have beaten this thing. For now. That’s the thing about cancer - you can never really rest assured that the war is over. The fear of the enemy lurking in the dark shadows of cells and tissue is always there - the impact of her isolation-room-confession weighing heavily, even as we celebrate over a decade of "life after cancer".

I know many of us dream of a cure for breast cancer. I do, too. But, I also dream of finding the cause of breast cancer, because finding a cause means less physical and emotional scars, less fear and more smiles. Because, selfishly, finding a cause means that someone like ME might not have to fight the same war so many before me have fought. Finding a cause means there is the chance that cancer might elude me and never make me confront the fear of leaving my child and husband behind.

For this reason, I have joined the Army of Women (AOW) – a non-profit breast cancer research organization which provides an opportunity for men and women to take part in breast cancer research studies aimed at determining the causes of breast cancer – and how to prevent it. The AOW is a groundbreaking initiative that connects breast cancer researchers, via the internet, with people who are willing to participate in a wide variety of research studies. The goal of the Army of Women is to recruit ONE MILLION MEN AND WOMEN of all ages and ethnicities, including breast cancer survivors and those who have never had breast cancer.

So, with Breast Cancer Awareness Month upon us, I ask that you help my dream become a reality. Sign-up for the Army of Women. There is no cost to join and the AOW is not asking for donations, just for volunteers who agree to receive information about a variety of breast-cancer research studies.

Be one in a million to find the cause of breast cancer and help us get closer to reducing the number of millions impacted by breast cancer.

To sign-up: https://www.armyofwomen.org/getinvolved

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