The Bravest Thing

img_2437Today marks the 8th year anniversary of Carlleena’s passing. Eight years ago, I would have NEVER imagined my life as it is today.  I am forever grateful for this journey.

To love again…when you are growing through the loss of a spouse and someone asks “when are you going to start dating again,” literally sounded like a foreign language to me.  I remember being asked that and thinking…huh, excuse me…no way.  I’m never going to love someone as much as I loved Carlleena.  No one is going to love me as much as she did.  That was all logical talk in my mind at that time, but the reality of it was that I would at some point date again.  I was 32 when she passed.  I was at the age of being young enough to still have kids but not quite qualified to be an old widowed lady for the rest of my life.  I just didn’t want to embark on that road because I was holding onto a promise to love Carlleena for the rest of my life.  What my mind and heart couldn’t separate at that time was that I could still love her for the rest of my life and fall into love with someone else in a new relationship.  To allow my heart to reopen to receive the love of another and for my heart to give love to someone other than the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with…That is the bravest thing I have ever done.  Some might say that me going through cancer treatment and living in grace through it all is the bravest thing I have accomplished thus far.  Maybe in some ways it is, but in my heart, the bravest thing I’ve ever done is allow myself to enter that vulnerable space and love again.

I felt guilty for loving someone new.  I know the wishes Carlleena and I shared should one of us pass and we both agreed that was to love full force just as we had done with each other but I NEVER thought I would have to honor those wishes.  No matter the occurance of your heartbreak, wether it be death, divorce, or your own choice for releasing a toxic relationship, it still hurts.  Some people have an extremely difficult time allowing them selves to love again for the mere fact that they don’t want to go through the pain again.  That’s an understandable thought process but it’s not fair.  It’s not fair to yourself or to the person on the receiving end of your love.   It’s scary to try and explain to someone why you have fears associated around the death of a spouse.  It’s not something that you obviously want to go through ever again, but finding a  partner that is willing to listen and understand your fears birthed from your spouses death can be a scary chapter.   I personally have fears surrounding car/accidents, and when someone is not feeling well and has symptoms like Carlleena did.  It freaks me out a bit.  Getting someone else to understand the legitimacy of your concerns is important.

Before you get into a new relationship, go ahead and release all expectations of the hopes that this new relationship could love you just like your previous relationship.  Stop it right now.  No one is ever going to love you the exact same way that your deceased spouse did. That’s impossible.  Love isn’t always built from the same deck of cards, but what your soul requires should follow suit.  (You should have a list of soul requirements.  If you don’t have a list, make one.)  That does not mean that their love won’t be as powerful or as meaningful.  They will love you differently and that will open your eyes to more.  You may find that you are more open to sharing your love because you know the value and impact of it’s loss.

If you are navigating the journey of new love after the loss of a spouse, my advice to you is to make sure you are healthy mentally and healing in a positive manner before venturing out for new love!  Make space for new love to arrive and invite the feeling that they are creating a shared space with you and not taking the place of your deceased spouse!  Stay true to what you feel is a reasonable form of honoring your departed spouse if you so choose.  New found single life is awkward and uncomfortable and down right scary.  Some people may try to compare widowhood to a divorce and tell you that it might be weird if you talked about your ex-spouse and shared stories about them occasionally.  One might get the impression that you aren’t “over” your ex.  Widowhood is on a completely different spectrum than a situation of divorce. An ex spouse and a deceased spouse are not comparable.  Divorce didn’t end your relationship, death did.  Your current love should be comfortable with you talking about memories, stories and aspects of your life with that person.  Move forward with honesty with yourself and with that new love.  Explain that there may be days that you are emotional and it could relate to your departed spouse or a memory may trigger some emotion.  It’s important to remember that grief is a lifelong process but that doesn’t mean you have to wait a lifetime to move forward.  There is an understanding person out there waiting to love the parts of you that you thought were shattered.

What’s amazing in this universal design of my life is that my husband, Philip, knew Carlleena.  We all grew up together, so he isn’t at all intimidated or threatened by me sharing stories of my life and time with Carlleena. He understands.  My wish for all the widowers out there on the dating scene is that you walk in your truth and find a partner that will allow you space to honor the past without hesitation.  Make that a soul requirement that your partner holds.

-Be Resilient

Reunited Through Loss

I’ve been told that my love story with my husband is like something you’d see in the movies.  I’d have to agree.

He loved me before I even knew what love of the romantic type really entailed.  He was my childhood friend who became one of my closest guy friends in middle and high school. He was patient and honest, he could make me laugh and feel safe in his embrace. I remember him always being there as a protector of sorts.  Throughout school,  I grew to know that his feelings for me were more than just a friend although he never expressed it like I knew he wanted.  Our lives traveled different paths and it wasn’t our time to nurture a romantic relationship in high school.  Our sisters are best friends and although he and I had not spoken in 16 years, we kept up with one another through our sisters.  A few years ago, I prayed and manifested for a love that understood my dynamic life, honors my past, celebrates my present and enchants my future!   I did not expect that when this love finally made its way to me, that it would be my childhood friend, Philip.

The last time I saw him was when my mom passed away in 1999.  Fast forward to December 31, 2015,  his mom passed away and I knew I was going to her funeral to support Philip and his family.  His mom knew how he felt about me and I’m told that she always believed that he and I would end up together someday.  Philip and I probably should have gone to junior prom together but we didn’t.  He made me promise to come and see him before prom so he could see me all dressed up.  Even us going to prom together wasn’t meant to be because had we gone together, I might not have had the amazing journey I did with Carlleena and Val may not exist. Trust the Universe and your instinct.  I remember the look on his face when he saw me in my prom dress,  which is actually pretty close to how he looked at me when we got married. Even more so, I remember the look on his mom’s face as she watched us interact and I glanced toward her and smiled. She was a woman wise beyond belief with a heart of gold and a fiery spirit. She and I share the same birthday.

About two months before Philip and I reconnected, I wanted to date someone and when I asked if they would consider dating me, that someone said no.  I was surprised at his polite reply of No and his explanation because he had expressed years earlier that he could have seen us dating and being in a relationship. I saw it too but the Universe was working on us both.  I am grateful for his No.  I remember when I received a friend request from Philip.  I saw his picture and put my hand over my heart and said “that’s my Philip.”  I let him know that I would be there at the funeral.  I was anxious.  My heart felt as though it was trying to escape from the protection of my chest long before our eyes met!    For those that know me well, know that I am not the anxious type of person.  When I’m angry, it’s best to let me take a walk and know that when I reenter the room, I will be more of my calm, level headed self…but I don’t usually experience this level of anxious.  It was a foreign feeling.  On the solo drive to the funeral home, I literally had to pull my car over in the Piggly Wiggly  parking lot, get out of the car and walk around to calm myself down.  I think I actually asked myself out loud, “What is wrong with you, get it together Marcy!”  What I didn’t realize during that brisk walk around my car was that my spirit already knew what I was going to experience in the next half hour.

I delayed walking into the funeral home, sitting in my car pretending to look for something trying to distract myself from what the Universe designed.  The moment our eyes locked in the midst of this room filled with grief and pain at his mother’s passing, my world stood still.  It felt as though I was in a peaceful vortex full of emotion and memory and future visions somehow.  I knew at that moment in his arms that life made sense.  For the first time in so many years, my life made sense.  The boy that loved me so long ago…I still saw the love in his eyes as a man.  He felt like home, like all the things I ever lost have come back to me and were represented within him.  We were inseparable the next day and I hung out with him and his family until I headed back to Charlotte.

We talked to each other every night from that day on.  We spent the next 11 months taking turns traveling to and from FL and NC to see each other once a month.  We were engaged in March, we bought a house in September,  I moved to FL in November and we were married in January of 2017!  It seems like a quick transition to some, but to us, it couldn’t get here quick enough.  We both were so ready to start the rest of our lives together!  Although we celebrate the memory of his mom and the wonderful woman she was, today for us, we also celebrate the beginning of our romantic journey into our future.  Mama Sue’s passing brought Philip and I together.  When my sister, Becky,  told me what Mama Sue wanted me to know before she passed, I knew it when I locked eyes with Philip after 16 years of not seeing each other.  I now know he has always loved me Mama Sue…I know.  What a magical journey it has been!

Hark Back

Like most people on the last day of 2018, I am reflecting on the year and setting intentions for 2019.  I had a hark back moment which returned me to the origin for a large chunk of my hurt this year.  I have grieved a friend who is still alive.  I am grieving a friendship that has ended or maybe has just hit a roadblock.  Whatever the outcome or finalization of this once deep and true friendship may be, I am letting it go.   The friendship is deeply rooted to my high school days and I honestly never thought it would be a friendship that landed where it has, at the end of this silent road.

This friendship is no longer an active part of my life and at no fault of no one in particular.  Well I guess maybe it’s perceived to be my fault because my friend does not support my decisions.  I don’t know but I’m no longer trying to figure out something that I cannot control. What I can say is that I’ve been honored in the knowing and crossing paths with this person and I wish them happiness and love.  Truly.  Maybe one day we will reconnect but I cannot hold on to the possibility of a maybe and rest assured in the knowing that it will flow like it once did.  I’m not certain that it can ever be the same again.  It is so very hard to say goodbye at the end of this road.

I’m excited for 2019 and growth in many aspects of my life.  I’ve got a few intentions written down so that I can turn them into a goal but I choose to keep those private.  I’ve never been a big resolution person.  I’ve always just wanted to grow and give more of myself each year and experience something new or different. Different, Better, More.  I hope 2019 brings you abundant love, happiness and good health.  Do something different, grow into a better you and give more of yourself to those that value your being.



Today, May 24th, would have been Carlleena’s 39th birthday.  Something that goes unmentioned often in public is the realm in which you should honor or celebrate a deceased spouse.  Like…what is acceptable and what is not an acceptable form of honoring.  What time frame should you continue to honor? Everyone’s route through grief and mourning is different because the relationship to the deceased is unique to each person that knew her.  For me, I will always honor Carlleena in some way on the day she passed and the day of her birth. There is no right or wrong way to honor someone who has passed and there is no time frame.  Some might think you should only maintain that gesture for a few years or until you’ve moved on with a new love.  You may feel differently, but that’s not so in my case.  My belief is that while yes, Carlleena, is no longer here in the physical, I still feel her presence and I think of her daily.  She and I were part of each other’s lives since we were in the 8th grade!  We grew up together and grew in love and learned how to navigate life together.  I honor my mom and my nephew on their birthday’s also, so why wouldn’t I continue to honor Carlleena?!

That is not a relationship that just ends and is forgotten about since she is gone.  Some might wonder how my husband, Philip, supports my honoring her life and passing.  Does it make it uncomfortable for him? No it does not because he knows me, he believes in our love, he honors the symbolism and the woman I am because of my relationship with Carlleena.  The relationships I entered after Carlleena passed were met with a preface of, a picture of Carlleena will always be displayed, her art will always be displayed and her family will always remain my family.  If you can’t handle that now or if you have an inkling at any time that it may make you uncomfortable, then this is not going to work out.   I know some people who are in similar situations as me and it creates discomfort for the new love for pictures and memorabilia to be displayed after a spouse has passed.  Why would someone be jealous of a deceased spouse?  I know everyone has their own way of grieving and moving on, but there should be some honor displayed for the life that was created, nourished, and shared.  I am grateful to have reconnected with Philip.  His compassion and love are beyond amazing.

Carlleena loved strawberry cake.  She had it most years when she was a child and long into adult hood.    I never actually made Carlleena a strawberry cake for her birthday because her mom would often come visit around her birthday and would bring that strawberry cake along with her!  That was always such a heartfelt sentiment.  I remembered something from this day 6 years ago when we were preparing for Carlleena’s Celebration of Life.  I was in the kitchen that morning making Carlleena’s birthday cake!  I had the strawberries cut up, the flour in a bowl, eggs, and all the other baking necessities covering the island, making a mess.  About 15 minutes into Linda (Carlleena’s mom) watching my madness, she said “Marcy, what in the world are you doing?” I responded with “I’m making Carlleena’s strawberry birthday cake.”  She said “you make it from scratch?” and I questioned her back with “you don’t?”…we both busted out laughing at the realization that I thought she made that dang on strawberry cake from scratch all these years and come to find out that she often made a box cake.  It was a good, heartfelt laugh in the midst of a devastating, chaotic moment wrapped with love.

The Unexpected Heartbreak

When I was a little girl, I used to worry about losing my mom and dad.  I realize now that  these worries were bringing my empath nature to light.  I remember having such anxiety about being apart from my mom when I was in elementary school.  Any time I was sitting in class or out on the playground, if I would hear sirens or an ambulance I immediately worried that something had happened to my mom.  Why?  I really don’t know the root of this anxiety.  Maybe it has something to do with being the youngest child. Often times when I would hear the sirens, I would tell my teacher that I didn’t feel good and she would send me to the nurse.  In turn, the nurse would call  my mom and then once I heard my mom’s voice, I was better.  Not that I was really feeling sick in the first place, but I needed to make sure my mom was alright.  I wouldn’t make it a long drawn out story of my ailments, I would usually say that I had a headache and she would ask if it was bad enough that she needed to come get me or if I could make it through the day.  Majority of the time I could make it to the end of the day.
I was accepted to Meredith University for dance/choreography and I never attended after graduating from high school in 1997.  I didn’t want to leave my mom.  She urged me to attend and said that we would figure out the financial aid and paying for that form of education.  My heart changed my mind and I didn’t attend.  My spirit knew something was wrong with her and that she was sick.  I do not regret staying behind in my hometown and being there through a rough two years toward her passing.  I would have regretted not being there when she passed.  Carlleena urged me to go as well because her plans were to join the Air Force at that time.  Crazy how things changed and it makes me wonder if my action shifted the whole paradigm of not only my life but the lives of others.   I remember mom telling me a few times throughout our lives that when she dies, the earrings she wears will be mine.  They were her grandmothers and she inherited them when her grandmother died. They are simple, elegant diamond studs.  I always admired them and the power behind the notion that they were the only earrings my mom ever wore.

On October 18, 1999, my mom passed away.  She was 47.   She had not been feeling well for quite a few days before her death.  Once I learned that she was in the hospital, I called her and she sounded calm over the phone and she insisted that she was ok and the doctors were waiting on test results.  I was 20 at this time and lived with my mom still in the house that helped build me.  Carlleena was staying with me most nights during that time and when I got home from work that evening my gut told me to go to the hospital and check on mom.  Carlleena was hesitant to let me go because there was an impending tropical storm Irene off the coast of NC at that time.  It was messy outside with downpour and gusty wind.  I drove to the hospital by myself, as I wanted to go alone.  Carlleena was furious for that moment until I returned home safely a couple hours later.  My mom didn’t have any real news from the doctors when I showed up.  She was resting comfortably and was slightly upset that I drove in the downpour to see that she was ok.  I told her I only get one of you so I had to see for myself that you were ok. She chuckled a bit and smiled.  We didn’t say much and I exchanged forced pleasantries with her boyfriend who was there visiting.  I tried to mother her and find the one thing she needed that I could get for her.  There was nothing she physically needed.  We exchanged I love you’s and kisses on the cheek.  I hung out in the hall way pacing for another 30-45 minutes before I actually left the hospital.

The next morning  I received a phone call early and the voice on the other line is a nurse from the hospital telling me that my mother’s heart has stopped and they have resuscitated her and she is on a breathing machine and someone needs to get here right away. What?!?!?!!?  I was panicked…I tried to call my oldest sister, Laurie and couldn’t reach her.    I called my sister Becky who lived 45 minutes away at the time.  She was on her way to the hospital.  Carlleena and I drove to Laurie’s house  to tell her the news since we couldn’t reach her by phone.  I assumed she would ride with us but she drove separately and she ended up making it to the hospital before we did.  I’m still not sure how she managed to make it there before us.  There was a little waiting room for family and I remember the nurse coming in and handing me all of mom’s jewelry.  I’m sure I looked dumbfounded as to why she had taken the jewelry off. In my heart my mom was going to be fine and wake up…My heart wouldn’t let me put the puzzle together completely.  My mind knew otherwise but the two were not meeting in the middle.   There was a stranger sitting a few seats away and she told me that it isn’t usually a good sign when they bring you the jewelry.  I listened to her story about how she felt when they brought her the wedding band from her husbands hand many years ago. I’m sure I cried a little bit for her too that day. I walked around outside and when I came  around the corner to where my mom’s room was, Laurie and Becky were hugging and crying and trying to console each other. I screamed NO with all my might and let my breathless self  be anchored to the floor, sobbing and screaming for my mom as if my cry could make that moment my time machine and change it all! Anyone standing nearby stopped and stared.  The majority of the rest of that day is a blur for the most part.  I don’t think we have ever hugged our dad so tightly when he flew in from the west coast. Though my mom and Dad had only been divorced a few years, they went to high school together and were married 25+ years!  I remember friends and family stopping by to express condolences.  Philip was one of them and that was actually the last time I saw or spoke to him until 2016.

I remember being the one to volunteer to pick Mikey up from school that day.  To delay the pain in him learning that his Granny had passed away, we made a stop to clean out my car.  Completely random and I’m not sure it really even needed to be cleaned. He liked to help me clean my car though.  Nikki was in pre K and I remember watching Laurie give Nikki a big hug when we picked her up, unaware of what her mother had just endured hours before. I guess although I’ve always been preparing my whole life at that point for my mom to be taken from earth, I truly wasn’t expecting that heartbreak that soon.  None of us were.  My mom died of Pneumonia with Septic Shock although her health was failing for many years prior.  Death isn’t something you can prepare for even though you may be aware of the impending fate.  Maybe that’s what they mean by the saying “expect the unexpected.”  She has been gone for 18 years. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her or wish for her to visit in my dreams.

My mom’s earrings are the only earrings I ever wear.  To wear anything else makes me feel like I am missing something much more grandiose than my memories can replay.

The Momentary Deafness to Life

On May 20, 2012, the universe was preparing an unknowing me for a life that  would pull the rug out from under me and then roll me up in it.  The universe made me a widow.   I was gifted the opportunity to write the obituary of my best friend, my life partner, my world and plan her celebration of life on her 33 birthday.  I consider this opportunity a gift because I was blessed to know her, love her and be loved by her.  Carlleena was my world for 16 years. I often think about all that I experienced during her immediate passing and compared those emotions to where I am in the Now.  This comparison makes me appreciative of my growth and strength.  I am thankful that I have chosen to live in my strength.

Imagine for a moment that you are engulfed in a state of complete happiness.  Whoever this person is that is giving you complete happiness, embrace them and feel the utter bliss and love and longing and the warmth. Now blink. This person is slowly fading off into the distance in front of you and you are reaching and reaching and reaching and reaching, trying with all your might to catch up to that person…you feel as if you are being physically held down with the strength of an army and your heart, arms, legs, head, toes, stomach are flailing around like a fish out of water. And then you are overcome with a shiver of coldness and then extreme heat from momentary anger.  My soul screamed and echoed in my hallowed being, sending tidal waves of disbelief through my body.  I was sure that everyone could hear my pain.  My heart felt like it was being strangled with a cord attached to memories and future dreams.   That is only the beginning of what I physically felt like when the doctor and nurse came to tell me …”I’m sorry, Carlleena didn’t make it. We did all we could do.”

My heart stopped, literally. That next heartbeat I knew would never have quite the same beat again. That next heart beat was deep and hollow…It physically felt like how a kick drum sounds.  I clenched my heart and I remember shaking my head hoping I was in a dream and I said “what?”…and the doctor repeated what I heard correctly the first time. What I remember after that are random and I’m pretty sure out of order moments. I am lucky to have had Uncle Kevin and my cousin, Andre, there with me when I got the news.  They are forever my teddy bears.   The phone calls I made… I remember most of them but some I don’t recall. Her mom was the first call I made. No words will ever be able to describe that moment. The wails, screams and no’s from the other end of the phone calls were devastating and to this day they are extremely vivid in my mind.  My tears were constant and in denial. I needed to see her to know it was real. It was real. I’ve read somewhere that when someone passes away, their hearing is the last sense to fade away…all I could whisper in her left ear was something we said to each other many times a day for the past 16 years…”I love you, I love you, I love you.”I would occasionally look around the room at people coming in thinking that I was in a dream and feeling numb.  Once I saw Carlleena and knew what happened, it was like I was in a momentary deafness to life.  It was like I literally heard nothing for hours…Just faces and slow motion movement.  I held her hand until the hospital staff told me that it was time to leave only letting go when I felt strong enough to stand to give someone a hug.  The stillness. The momentary deafness to my life.

I questioned every move I made from the date of her accident to her death.  I wondered if there was something I could have done better and had guilt for a very long time for it being Carlleena that passed away and not me, even though I wasn’t even in the accident with her.  I retraced my steps everyday but I didn’t miss a step.  I slept on the floor beside her for 19 nights (minus a couple when family visited and made me sleep upstairs) to help her up off of the couch or be there for whatever she might need.  Every night she told me to go sleep upstairs, but I refused.  Her studio was temporarily set up at our kitchen table until she was comfortable navigating into The ColorLab (our garage) by herself.  I remember returning from the hospital and walking in the house for the first time without her.  I vividly remember looking at the door knob acknowledging that this was the first of many emotionally torturous days ahead.  This was the first of many firsts without her.

When I arose from that silence, shaking off the negativity that wanted to linger, the world seemed so much bigger.  As odd as it may sound, I remember feeling more alive than ever before.  I carried her spirit within me and this energy aided in my journey.  This aliveness was from the understanding that my future dreams with her were universally depleted.  Our story (the whole book in my mind) within the book was already written but the last half of the book now had the pages ripped out!  Thoughts of “what am I supposed to do now” crossed my mind and I remember having feelings of confusion, disbelief and a complete aching in my heart.  I felt like I didn’t know who I was without her by my side. Even with so many beautiful family and friends around me, I felt so alone.

The momentary deafness to life continued until I realized that I had to move, move forward, move around, move on with life and I had to start stepping out of the comfort of the sanctuary that was our home.  I had to stop coming home from work and walking into the studio to see what she was painting.  I repeated that motion everyday for over 6 months to open the door to an empty studio.  I remember the day that I walked to the studio door, had my hand on the knob and I said no to myself and told myself out loud that Carlleena is not in there, she is only in my heart now.  I hit the door in anger, turned around and let my back and the door guide me to the floor.  I broke down but I did not open the door that day.  I had to live in my strength.  I had to move on.  In some ways I felt like I was the only one that had to move on in a sense of loving again.  No one was going to try to fill the void of losing Carlleena by finding another friend, sister, aunt, daughter, cousin, granddaughter, but I had to find love again.  That was a terrifying thought.

It was my task now to mindfully participate in life and add new pages to that book.  I’ll admit, there were many days when I literally did not feel like getting out of bed, but I always did.  I could hear Carlleena’s voice and her “can do” attitude kicking my booty out of the bed and back into life.  Plus, I’m a foodie, so I knew my chances of surviving too many hours with out food were slim lol.  To say I am grateful to have loved and been loved by such an amazing person is a grandiose understatement!  I still think of her everyday and I don’t think that will ever change.  To sit here five years after her passing I can honestly say that I know she is proud of the woman I’ve become and the life I’ve created.  What she and I created as we coexisted in this world together, will be carried with me always, as it is the foundation of so much love.  That love I now share with Philip and I am blessed that he is just as excited to honor Carlleena.

Live in your strength.  Be Resilient!




I’ve been in a reflective mood lately.  I am enjoying my happy place and trying to comfort those in pain and uncertainty.  I realize that the key to making a change in your life is backed by the willingness to be vulnerable.  It’s not just about being vulnerable with others, but being vulnerable with yourself.  Think about that for a minute…

Vulnerability is the ability of being physically or emotionally wounded.  I believe we all are destined to be vulnerable beyond our own will at the feet of the universes plans.  If we choose to accept the vulnerability, we cannot change the outcome, but we can change how we live through that pain and how it shapes the rest of our lives.  I’ve been forced to feel vulnerable at the mercy of the universe by it taking away people that I never thought I’d lose in this life and even more so at a young age.   Those assaults to my vulnerability have created a giant of myself that I didn’t realize existed until it was literally shoved in my face.  I struggled to find my place in the world after back to back tragedy, but have emerged stronger, more grateful and surrounded with a knowing of peace and certainty.

Through my vulnerability I have uncovered a deeper self-love than anything I’ve known.  You have to lay the groundwork of self-love before a sturdy foundation can be built by a relationship, otherwise it may crumble.  I feel to be vulnerable is  an art form of sorts…being able to pull the deep roots/pain up toward the surface gives you the courage to stand in the light of humanity and say: here I am, this is who I am, this is what I’ve been through and walk in that strength knowing, without hesitation, that the potential for harm could be lingering because someone else doesn’t understand or can’t mirror your strength… But you will never know if you don’t give love another chance.  It’s hard to find someone who loves like you do if your doors are always locked.

Vulnerability takes a deeper meaning for me as having been a widow.  On one hand, I love harder because of being involved in the full life cycle of an amazing relationship…and on the other hand I am afraid to experience the pain of losing a partner again.  Then you throw in the empath aspect and I envision the pain that my partner could feel should I depart first and that creates a messy, emotional Marcy LOL.  I know people will say don’t worry about those thoughts, nothing is going to happen, but the honesty in me knows that all of these thought are valid.  These emotions stem from my personal experience and spiritual essence.  Those were moments, so I embrace them and I dance above those thoughts and remind myself of exactly how much life and love I have left to share with some other human being.  Why should I put my fortitude on the back burner to spare the heart possible pain.

This past year has been a beautiful whirl wind of trust in self and trust in others.  I exposed myself in honesty and purity holding the hand of vulnerability like best friends.  I took a leap and trusted the knowing in my spirit and I now am loving to a once incomprehensable degree.  I moved from NC to FL, got married and now am a bonus mom to an amazing 8 year old little lady! I will post more on how all of that came about in a later post.  Had I not been willing to share my vulnerability, I would not be where I am today.  This serves as encouragement to those that may be in a situation where your vulnerability is overwhelming and uncomfortable, that if you don’t embrace and share your vulnerability, you could miss out on some phenomenal moments.

Be Resilient!


Ana Ono

In May, 2015, I had the privilege to model in a lingerie show by a designer that creates for breast cancer patients, survivors, and non survivors.  Dana’s line is truly amazing.  It is sexy and supportive.   The intricate detail I love most is that she is a survivor also and the craftsmanship of the product is stellar.    I remember seeing a post on Facebook in the Young Breast Cancer survivor group I am part of stating that they are in need of survivor models.  I read the post way too many times before I reached out to Dana of Ana Ono and expressed interest.  After doing so, I was nervous but felt liberated.  I was going to be walking in lingerie in front of a crowd of people that I didn’t know, with the exception of some very dear friends…I thought to myself, what have I agreed to lol?  The whole experience was amazing!  The drawn out process of waiting to get in to hair and makeup, learning how we will line up and strut our stuff was so exciting.  There were tears, nervous jitters, connections made and strength built upon as we walked in our courage and vulnerability. There is an unspoken sisterhood amongst survivors.  It truly was a memorable night.   Proceeds from the event that evening were donated to  I encourage you to visit the website and support.  Also, please check out Dana’s creations at

Ana Ono featured me as one of their survivor guests a while back and posted my story on their website:

I am Marcy.  My name means “War Like” so I guess I was predestined to be a warrior!  My journey through breast cancer is not only one of survival, but one of reconnecting with myself.  I was diagnosed with stage 1 triple positive breast cancer on May 29, 2013 at the age of 34.  This diagnosis came 9 days after the one-year anniversary of my wife of 16 years passing away unexpectedly.  My diagnosis was generated from an instinctive feeling that something just didn’t feel right.  Lying down on that side or my stomach felt different…I never felt a lump.  As I embraced my diagnosis and continued to pick up pieces of my shattered heart, I felt a momentary sense of defeat…but only for a second.  I remember asking myself “why is all of this happening to me?” and then immediately answering myself with a why not?  It was at that moment that I decided to take these challenges as a compliment and that I may have cancer but cancer never had me.

To have lost someone that I deeply loved and grew with for over half of my life felt like I lost part of myself.  Knowing I was going to face cancer without her was undoubtedly the most heart wrenching part of this journey.  My treatment consisted of a biopsy, a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection, 12 rounds of chemotherapy, 20 accelerated radiation treatments, Herceptin injections and I refused to let any of them knock me down.  The road wasn’t easy but I know it could have been much worse. There were many tears, as crying is important in letting out the thoughts and feelings that float around as private literature in my spirit.  Some days are just filled with crying.

Even though I was able to “save” my breasts, there is a physical difference between them that causes a slight interference in my confidence.  Shopping for clothing that makes me feel sexier became a challenge. Shirts that reveal cleavage sometimes show my dimpled biopsy site and scar and I’m sure no one really notices it, but I know its presence.  Shopping for bras was a disappointment because one side fits perfect while the other could use a little more support. I am in love with the AnaOno bras that I own and the passion behind this product makes me feel more empowered as a woman and as a survivor!

Side effects from treatment linger and while some may be temporary, others could be life long.  I have always been a healthy and active person that enjoys running, yoga and all things outdoors but these activities after treatment remind me to be patient with myself…really patient.  I tire more easily and deal with peripheral neuropathy and healing pain associated with scars and scar tissue, and for someone who loves to run, clumsy tingly feet literally keep me on my toes.  I battled with food and the decisions of should I eat this, is this bad for me, I shouldn’t have too much of this or too much of that.  I still battle with those thoughts, but I remind myself that I find joy in great food and I will allow the not so healthy foods to provide comfort in moderation.  Reoccurrence anxiety is something that can take hold of my emotions and cause stress in an unexpected capacity some days.  While I don’t fully accept reoccurrence as my reality, I don’t deny it as a possibility.  Instead, I embrace what life chooses to do through me while remaining gratefully humble.  Life as a young widow and a young survivor creates a class act of self-doubt and a potentially sabotaging thought process for me when it comes to dating.  Here I am, with beautiful scars wrapped in an unfamiliar desire to share my vulnerability in trying to figure out the dating scene in my thirties…definitely a work in progress.  Obviously I maintain my sense of humor within this dating territory because some days all I can do is laugh.

Bonds were found and molded together through my breast cancer journey and the authenticity of family and friendships remain unbroken.  Their unwavering support is priceless.  I found a young breast cancer survivor group, Carolina Breast Friends, here in Charlotte that provides a heartfelt connection.  The strength and courage of these women is truly inspiring. It is important to maintain a sisterhood of shared experience and the comfort through similar pain reminds us all to breathe. Some days that’s all we need to do…just breathe.

So my survivor skills are on point and through all of this I found a new artistic avenue and a restored spirit.  I collage random items like tables, bowls, frames, and cigar boxes and have found therapy in the whole process.  My art reflects the dynamic layers of my life infused with healing energy.  My diagnosis was a catapult of a grand spiritual reconnection to myself in which I continue to nourish daily. I became a Reiki practitioner after receiving Reiki as part of my therapy before undergoing surgery and I have been amazed.  I have dreams to remember and fulfill…and who knows, I may get all this private literature out for the world to read one day.

Through cancer, I was shoved out of a familiar place within my grief only to emerge for the world to see my strength for the second time around.  It has realigned me to my purpose in life and I feel as though I belong to myself again because I now understand the capacity of my fortitude and resilience.  There is too much war in the words of my silence, so I will continue to share my story by walking in my vulnerability, nurturing a stronger side of myself, and hoping to inspire those open to receive.  I love my scars and will let them serve as a reminder of my resilience in this beautiful kaleidoscope life as I continue to live in my strength.

I will be walking in another fashion show for Ana Ono here in Charlotte on September, 24. I hope you can make it out to support!

The Most Important

There are a plethora of amazing friendships, sisterhood, connections, memories and events that I experienced in Charlotte since my move here in 2007. The most important moments engulfed in my time living in Charlotte are undoubtedly having my niece,Nikki, live with me these past two years. She is my oldest sister, Laurie’s, daughter.  She is both sugar and spice to its highest degree. A woman, now 20, with a sense of humor for miles and a heart of titanium.  She is honesty and love learning through life everyday.

Nikki moved here after graduating high school in June 2014 while growing through the death of her brother Mikey who passed away in February 2014.  At an age where navigating an unfamiliar territory of freedom after high school is challenging in itself, Nikki had to do all of that transitioning with the death of Mikey 6 months fresh on her spirit.  She is engulfed with the loss of her older brother…her only sibling and has left the town that swallowed him up. When I say “swallowed him up” I don’t mean any disrespect to my hometown, but moreso reference to the situation Mikey was in.  Some will get it while others won’t. I love the town that helped raise me.  I am genuinely a mindful person and I wanted to assist Nikki with embracing all the emotions she was feeling.  I wanted her to know that what she was thinking and feeling was normal.  Grief bursts will happen at the most random times but she needed to embrace them.  I was aware that her emotions were still fresh, as were mine about losing Mikey. He was my initiation into Aunthood and more like a little brother when he was growing up.

I remember the day Nikki texted me to ask if she can come live with me.  She texted “hey I have a question” and I said “what is it?”  Nikki then replied “I want to come live with you” in which I replied “that is a statement not a question and of course you can come live with me” lol.  I laid down the rules: she will pay rent, buy her own food and not let anyone in my house while I’m not there that I haven’t met and approved.  There was a rule about keeping her room clean and she did pretty good.  She knew it was time to clean her room when I told her that it looked like her clothes hamper threw up lol.  We have a running joke in the house that we both need to fire the maid next time we see her lol.  She did all of this with respect while working full time at Target and going to CPCC full time.  Oh, and did I mention that she made the Dean’s List!  Had to brag a little 😉  My sister, Laurie and my brother in law have done an amazing  job in teaching her about hard work and that money truly doesn’t grow on trees.  She is probably the most responsible 20 year old I know.   She knows she cannot buy a new outfit if her phone bill and insurance aren’t paid!  Her priorities are in check and I am so proud of her.

Her certain Leo self and my certain Capricorn self  butt heads a little in the beginning but we worked it out.  There was an incident with keys left in the door, a broke down car,  threats to take her car away, and incident with blue hair dye and I think that was really the only issues we had…(you know I had to mention that Nikki) lol 😉  I needed Nikki to harness the attention to her surroundings that she may not have had in our small hometown of Swansboro due to comfort of familiarity.  Charlotte is so much bigger than Swansboro and I needed her to be safe all the time.  I wanted to love and protect her like a mother but offer her the carefree freedom of an Aunt.  I hope I did just that!

I wanted Nikki’s time here with me to be full of knowledge  and exploration with a backing of independence.  I didn’t want to smother her with adult supervision and I wanted her to enjoy her time in Charlotte and grasp handling this change through life.  She handled it very well.  It took her a little time to warm up to gathering friends but now she has found a great group of friends here in Charlotte all while keeping her crew of old friends.  It can be difficult making new friends after living your whole life with the majority of the same friends. Now she was presented with the self challenge of stepping out and making new friends.  Bravo Nikki!

Getting to spend so much time with Nikki and watch her flourish out of a layer of youth into part of her adulthood has been a gift.  She and I have had plenty of laughs, hugs, tears, silence and random sounds as forms of communication.   I learned to identify her mood by the tone of her greeting.  If that greeting was some sort of sound that resembled a grunt, then I knew to not press and ask if she was ok…that is our understood language lol. There were reiki sessions and tarot card readings, talks about life, the good stuff we can’t physically see, soul requirements, TV shows and food!   Some days we conversed through random silence and others we talked for what seemed like hours at a time.  She is my first niece and I have adored getting to share a house space with her.

I remember chatting with her one day about the changes going on and moving and how much we both have grown these past two years.  She said that the thing she learned most about being here in Charlotte was how to be alone. At first I thought oh my gosh did I not spend enough quality time with her…but once she explained it, her sentiment was amazing.  Having spent most of her life always having friends right around the corner, living with me provided that alone time that she was ready for.  This time alone provided her with a sense of independence she needed to build more confidence in her self and her decisions.  Being able to be alone is important.  It is very important.

My move to FL obviously means she will be moving.  Of course I offered for her to move to FL with me, but she has made another adult decision and will be moving to stay with one of her best friends in Greenville.  She will attend the community college there and then transfer to a university.  This chapter for us both is a little scary but we have agreed that everything will work out fine.  New friends will be made all while keeping the old.  New environments will teach us more about life and embracing change. It will give us an opportunity to share our powerful energy where it is needed and wanted.  Life is about change, evolving, compassion and knowing that you matter.  I hope she knows just how much I adore her!  I love you endlessly Nikki and will miss you tremendously!


The Mural

Because my essence is not typically one of displayed physical anger, when I felt breezes of anger during my immediate mourning of Carlleena, there were a few moments in my mind when I destroyed this mural with her paint supplies.  One by one I opened all her paint containers and began throwing them at her mural to make my mark in the universe for my grief.

There were times when I felt the need to throw something to make it seem-engulfed by the deepest pain experienced in my world.  My anger wasn’t at her mural or any part of its creation, but more so because it was the largest physical reminder of her outside of our house that I could inflict the most damage.  A month before she passed, we had a photoshoot at her mural and those moments there were all so fresh.  I felt that the mural would understand my actions.  Doors, walls and pillows can withstand my fist without blemishes, but I wanted to see a physical display of my hurt.

Obviously I never did this in the physical but admit to this playing in my mind.  I never would have acted out these thoughts, but it made me feel better to visualize them in those moments.

Carlleena completed this mural in 2011 and it took her a couple of months with scattered hours throughout the weeks setting out to get her masterpiece on that approximately 15 x 72 wall.  It was amazing to be a witness and a participant.  To watch people walking by stop and chat or just admire in silence.  When kids approached, she offered them a paint brush and let them add their mark.  It was important to Carlleena that children participate in art.  Not just the color inside the lines kinda art, but the get your hands in the paint and get messy kinda art. The sharing kind of art and the universal connection it creates.  Her trademark was Life=Art because she believed that one could not exist without the other. That’s truth.

The mural has became sort of “my go to spot” when I need to think something out and want to be alone physically but not emotionally.  I visit her mural frequently and last year I noticed that the paint began to look really faded.  After a couple of signs I needed, I enlisted the help of some amazing friends and family to help me retouch her mural.  We would leave the foundation just as it is, but add our own energy and love with the same colors.  I knew there was a reason I saved all her original paint cans LOL.  The capricorn in me totally could have done it alone, but I didn’t want to be selfish with this project 😉  Not to mention that it would have taken me forever LOL.  I wanted to have hands that knew and hugged, love, admired and appreciated Carlleena to help me.  I wanted their energy to be added into this masterpiece that Carlleena left for Charlotte.  I was particular in my choosing and  I chose an amazing group of artists and friends.  I knew what Carlleena felt for them and I was pretty sure I knew how much they loved Carlleena.  So with the help of some unforgettable people, we repainted the mural in pretty much three days.  I am forever grateful for those hands, hearts and energy that assisted.

There were a plethora of emotions during the touch up to the mural.  It was a healing process, not only for myself, but for those that loved and admired Carlleena artistically.  She was infectious in spirit and her artistic comrades soon became  friends and I felt it was important for them to know how much they meant to Carlleena.  What other way to show them than to invite them to assist me in tackling this project!  As I was out there at the mural painting and reminiscing, I had to do some impromptu art…there was a blank space where The Charlotte Art League took down a sign and it left a huge blank space.  I knew I couldn’t leave it blank…so I added something important.  Something that Carlleena began adding to her paintings toward the end of her painting career…a red equal sign.  It is appropriate and understood by those that knew her and what her art represents.

During the revitalization, I realized standing on that ladder, that sometimes it takes gargantuan leaps mirroring themselves as a million baby steps to get to a point in life where you can breathe and walk with peace in your heart because you understand.  I am grateful to have been a participant in friendship, love and life with Carlleena.  Carlleena’s mural is located at 1517 Camden Rd, Charlotte, NC 28203.

Today, June 26, 2016, would have been our 20th anniversary.  I thought it fitting that I finally finished putting the protective coating on her mural today.  So, I spent some time reminiscing today feeling undoubtedly grateful and proud at the journey I’ve traveled thus far.  I am humbled at my past and anticipating the amazing future.