So as I have been hinting the past 4 months, my landlord is selling my townhome. So after much thought, I am leaving Pennsylvania. I never wanted to live here. And I have never truly felt as if I belonged here. Originally both Tavo and I put in for jobs in New York, California, Washington, and Illinois. Washington got back to us first, and we started looking for houses. Weeks pass with not many prospects, we decide well maybe we were going to drop everything and move down there on a whim. Stay with my friend on her property if we had to. We, as a family were all just so over Pennsylvania. I started to tell friends about the Washington move and everyone was excited. Then the worst thing possible happened. His job fell through. We were left feeling hopeless.
But I am a firm believer in what is meant to happen will, and we were offered more money in Chicago. Chicago was also a better choice because here we have my in laws and my kids can see their grandparents. After a few trips back and fourth, we finally have everything in order. Our moving pod arrives in two days and this all is really happening!
I am nervous but excited all at the same time. It means a bigger home and space. Better job, better schools, and the chance for a fresh start that we all desperately need.
I am going to miss my little home. It wasn't so small that we felt crowed. It was warm and snug. It brought us closer together. I was ridiculously proud if the fact the we upcyled everything. All our furniture was second hand. We didn't waste a ton of money on nonsense to make our house a home. I have so much pride for what we put into it and it always made me smile when people told me how at home they felt here. God I am going to miss it!
The funny thing is, when I first thought about making this post, I was going to list all of the things I hated about Pennsylvania and that all that I loved was my family and home. But as I started writing and digging deeper into my thought process, I started to look through old photos I had online saved from our life here in PA strung out over the past 12 years. Not everything was bad. In fact, there is quite a lot about Pennsylvania, especially my little city that I did like. Dare I say love?
So I am feeling inspired. I would like to share some of that with you. I created a list of things that I either loved about living here. OR that happened that are special along with some more images from our life here in PA over the years.
I think that ultimately leaving in this way is far better than leaving on a mad or hateful vibe. So on that note, here is my list in no magic order!
Rocky horror picture show
Philly china town
Harvest of the arts
Farmer's on the square
My secret rock
The Trout gallery
The local pool
Fair grounds fireworks
2 of my children were born here
My oldest grew from child to adult
My last memories with my dad were here
Planting basil with my dad every year, then planting it in his honor with the kids
The old labor house
Coffee on my back porch
Catching salamanders in the back yard
The lung cancer community
Learning my passion for photography
Becoming more politically active
Seeing Bernie Sanders Speak
Now for our next Journey.
We are coming up on the last week in this home. The home you last lived in. The home in which you took your last breath. At first the idea of leaving brought me nothing but happiness... but as the days pass I feel a bit conflicted.
I have this thought in the back of my head that when we die, our souls get traped at that location. Ridiculously silly, I know. And I could see you laughing at me for thinking such a thing. As silly as it is, I think a part of me is going to wonder if you're still at the house on North Pitt. Waiting for us all to come home.
After all, I am the person who stopped burning sage because it chases spirits and I wanted you to stay.
I wish I could talk to you about the choice to leave as a whole. Packing us all up to go to Chicago is overwhelming.
You would have loved to see Poppy-Marie and Justin playing in the snow. It's supposed to be spring, but it doesn't feel like it. Not at all.
I am still struggling through therapy. I say struggle because constantly having to explain how I feel is tiring. I get that it's helpful, but some days I just want to crawl under a rock.
Till next time. Love you. Miss you.
Last years event turned out so amazing. We got to meet some really great people. This year I will not only be walking in the Philly event come this October, but also the Chicago event in Aug!!
Join us as we walk together to raise awareness and funds to defeat lung cancer and raise our voices for lung health. LUNG FORCE Walks are a time to laugh, learn and imagine a world free of lung disease. Our walks promote fitness and help forge lasting connections between participants.
Your support saves lives by funding key lung cancer research and providing people who are impacted by lung cancer with invaluable resources, assistance and information. Get involved today by forming a team, registering as an individual or participating virtually.
Why Do We Walk?
Join us for the LUNG FORCE Walk - Chicago on Sunday, August 12, 2018 at 10:00 AM .
1410 Museum Campus Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
I will post more information about the October event as it becomes available.
So many times I was inadvertently hurting people because I was suffering. I do a lot less of that these days and have inspired people I care about to also get help as they’ve seen how much it’s helped me. I have a lot more work to do.
Despite some really good bonds I have had with friends over the years, I am actually pretty secretive about my current and past life. I tend to only mention things on a need to know basis. It falls into my social awkwardness. So when I was tagged on instagram this morning, I thought that this would make a good blog post. (Since I am on an IG break anyway.) And although I have done these in the past, I thought I would make a real effort to include things that few know about me. Hopefully some might find interesting... so ready! set! go!
1. I am a second generation Italian American. Some people know about my Italian heritage, but what they don't know is when my family migrated here. They came in the 1920s. My grandmother was 8 when her family came to America. My grandfather was 3.
2. Most of my ideas come to me when I am in the shower. I am so blessed to now have a water proof phone because I tend to grab it whilst soaking wet and leave myself little voice notes to try and remember things.
3. I was reading Agatha Christie books in the second grade. I first picked one up when my mother left, and I urged my grandparents to buy me five more books to read that summer.
4. ADHD is the reason why my spelling and grammar is sometimes (ok a lot) terrible. I think faster than I can type. By like... a lot. I also have to blurt things out at people during conversations as if I don't, I will forget what I had to say because my mind just keeps working. It never stops.
5. I was recently diagnosed with social anxiety which probably doesn't come as a huge surprise to anyone. Haha.. but the surprise part is the fact that I actually got into therapy and am working on it. I was also diagnosed with PTSD and moderate depression which are linked to the passing of my father. I am not on Rx medications for it at this time, although I am open to the dialogue in the future. Right now I am doing talk therapy one on one and group grief consoling online. In addition to a bit of alternative medicine through meditation and yoga.
6. The first thing I ever said to my husband was "shutup". Seriously... that was our magic. He left a comment on a social media post I had made talking about Japanese culture and Anime. His words annoyed me, I went right to his private messages and said "Shutup!". Here we are 7 years later. Have you seen our adorable baby girl Poppy Marie?
7. I don't kill spiders. Some might actually know I don't kill spiders. But I don't talk about the reason why. My mother had 4 children. Two of which had passed away. My oldest sister died before I was born at the age of 4. And my mother used to tell me Spiders were my sister's favorite thing in the world. She couldn't say spiders, so she called them "yiders". And that whenever I saw a spider, it was my sister watching over me. Amazingly enough, 30 years later I see spiders and wonder if Amber is there. This is one of the odd spiritual connections I have held on to over the years.
8. I sometimes..... sometimes think a higher power gave me three extra days with my father. I had a blog post about this before, but then it got deleted when I redid my blog. I actually plan on rewriting it along with some fascinating information I learned about the "rally".
9. I google everything and I do it well. It makes me a bit of a know it all because of all the weird random facts that I know. In arguments you will often hear me say the phrase "google it". Yeah, I'm that gal. Sigh... sorry.
10. I cry a lot. A LOT. I would say at least once a day is not an overstatement. I am working on my triggers, and I do know a lot of them. But sadly knowing them doesn't help stopping them. I joked with my therapist "but what do you do when breathing is your trigger". I joke, but seriously.. a lot of things in my every day life causes me to break down. And I know this is part of my PTSD. But it's been hard to accept. I went from 0 to 100. Being an unemotional person to wearing it all out there on my sleeve.
11. I am very anti-smoking. I do not like being around people who smoke cigarettes and in summer 2016 I announced that I would no long allow smoking at my shoots. I have stuck to my guns. Also, I have encouraged and helped 27 people quit smoking over the past two years. If you are reading this and thinking about quitting, email me! I would love to help you track down resources in your area aide you in your smoke free journey. But I am pro marijuana. Even in smoke form. It doesn't contain all the deadly chemicals that cigarettes do and has endless health benefits.
12. I have synesthesia! You're probably like what in the heck is that? In simple terms...I can hear colors. Or when I hear things, they have colors and shapes. Certain sounds in daily life trigger this as well as music. If you've never heard of synesthesia, it's worth a google. Some people view their synesthesia as a handicap. Where as I see it as tool to inspire my creativity.
13. I enjoy life a lot more at 35 than I did at 25. I actually don't mind aging. The only thing I don't like is knowing I will only have so much time on this Earth. There are a lot of things I still want to see and do. But for now, I am loving my 30s.
14. I have been playing World of Warcraft since 2010. I not only enjoy the regular game play, but I have several toons on RP servers. Each of my characters have a deep back story and personality of their own. Dorky, I know. But I love it. I play both horde and alliance and have maxed toons on both factions. I main horde and enjoy pvp / wpvp. I will never roll a human race. Playing a human is so boring and uncreative in my honest opinion.
15. In September 2018 I will have one daughter starting college, and another starting pre-k. If that isn't a terrifying thought, I don't know what is.
16. I secretly enjoy singing country music. And I am actually pretty good at it! I don't know why I can't hold a tune in any other genre. But throw on some brooks and dunn... well I am going to town!
17. I was a very much science dork as a child. I had a microscope and would constantly take samples of things like water from a lake, insect wings, dust etc... oh and I once even paid my friend to pee in a cup to investigate that under the microscope. Looking back I could have just peed in the cup myself, but that would have been too easy. Sometimes the lake water samples I brought home contained mosquito larva. They would hatch out and bite us in our sleep. I must have really drove my dad and sister crazy.
18. My sarcasm and humor get me in trouble sometimes. Same with my over honesty and unwanted opinions. I guess this falls into my social awkwardness. I could be a lot to handle when you're first getting to know me.
19. Although I don't think I will ever get back into it, I really miss working with animals. My dad was a vet tech and I fell in love with it. I got to stand in and watch surgeries on dogs and cats as young as six years old. The experience also taught me a lot about life and death. And how animals to some were as important as people. Like they were a part of their family. Fun fact... My first job outside my dad's vets office was at a kennel in Utah called "Cowboy Kennels". I lasted 3 whole days.
20. I still love doula work, but don't ever think it will be a regular part of my life. I think I would maybe want to take on one client a year to go with my birth photography projects because I love bringing new life into this world. However, besides my photography, I think my passion in life is helping people and their families prepare for end of life with hospice and grief support. I think I have been able to help others in what is my opinion to be the worst thing we will ever have to go through.
21. As my Midwest move inches closer, I am already thinking about what's next. I want to let Poppy-Marie and the boys experience a childhood with a big family, especially their grandparents. But it will not be my permanent home. Eventually I would like to end up in California. I want a tiny home and minimalist lifestyle by the beach. Close enough to Utah so I can take winter vacations to have some fun in the snow.
22. I was married before. For almost 11 years. I got married very young at the age of 18. We got divorced and are on great terms. You could even say we are friends. We work together and co-parent. Admittedly it wasn't always easy, but we are in a good place now. We do most holidays together as one big family unit.
23. My Pennsylvania friends call me Mags. And I um... kinda hate it. I don't know who started it, or why... but I never felt like it was me. Mags? Who is that? My childhood friends call me Margaret, Momo, or Maggie. Thinking about it now it's probably a deeper reason why I have never really felt at home or welcome here.
24. I got to see three front row broadway musicals in my lifetime and they were all before I turned 7 years old. I saw Starlight Express in 1987 or 1988. I really really wish I was older. I don't remember much but really cool lights and costumes. Plus they were on rollar skates! I saw The Secret Garden, in 1991 and CATS in 1992. I had NO idea the value of front row broadway seats. Back then they went for $500 - $800 dollars depending on the show. Now they can be well over $1k! We got to go because a client at my dad's job would give him 2 tickets as a tip when he would board her two poodles whilst when she went on her London vacations. I don't know what she did for a living, but a lot of clients who went to my dads were rich.
25. I love music. I know, who doesn't? But I mean I REALLY love music. Spotify say I listen on average 8 hours a day. That is kinda insane. And despite my love for music, I don't listen to the radio. Call me a hipster, but I just can't do it. Yucky.
"I may not fully understand it, but my life makes sense. I make sense. I can let go of the past and move forward. Today is the first day of the rest of my life."
Something that was shared in therapy this evening.
Time doesn't heal all wounds. Not when it comes to grief and loss of life. Time is simply the space we move through as we use our own trial and error coping systems in an effort to find ways within our lives to move forward. There is no getting over. You do not get over this kind of loss, you cope and learn how to move forward with a life without that person. Please stop trying to fix people who are grieving. Just listen. Sometimes the best way to help someone is to not say anything at all. Not every situation in life calls for advice, wisdom, and accidental opinions.
45 Years is a 2015 British romantic drama film directed and written by Andrew Haigh. The film is based on the short story "In Another Country" by David Constantine. The film premiered in the main competition section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival.Charlotte Rampling won the Silver Bear for Best Actress and Tom Courtenay won the Silver Bear for Best Actor. At the 88th Academy Awards, Rampling received a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role. (Via wiki)
45 years trailer drew me in. A movie about life, love, loss, and human connection? Yeah that has Maggie Lopez written all over it.
It was much more than I expected. It teaches us that grief is forever. And just because someone dies, doesn't mean we ever truly move on. In this story we meet Kate and Geoff. They were married 45 years and to what has always seemed like the perfect love story.
Within the first 10 minutes of the movie we learn that Geoff lost someone in the 1960s. At this point, we do not know much about her other than it's a woman from his past. They found her body which had been frozen this whole time. Whilst researching this movie, I actually found out that this was inspired by true events.
If you have the time and want a heartbreaking but interesting read; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/11832861/The-true-story-behind-the-story-that-inspired-45-Years.html
“It’s a reversal for how it should be, the young man and the old man,” Constantine tells the Sunday Telegraph from his home in Oxford. “Everything I’ve ever written is based on a concrete image – and that young man frozen in the ice is particularly haunting.”
Really sad and interesting stuff. I could not imagine dealing with that. It's a story worth checking out.
So after learning about finding this mystery woman's body, Geoff starts learning all that he can about global warming.
A day passes and Kate starts to push deeper into who this mystery woman was. Geoff lets it known he was her next of kin as people thought that they were married and he had hoped to marry her at some point in his life.
This is heartbreaking to take. So she pushes more as time passes. Some details he shares while others she finds on her own.
I read a lot of comments about the movie with people saying "Why would a relationship from half a century ago ruin a 45 year marriage?" And through most of the movie, I kinda asked myself the same thing because a lot of the clues were really hidden to me. But after watching it a second time it was like wow... I could not imagine living that way.
Kate in her snooping finds out that the woman, Katya, was very pregnant at the time of her death. Geoff had once said he never wanted children. But he never told her that this was the reason why. Kate and Geoff have a Dog as a replacement for Children, a GERMAN shepherd. Katya was German.
When he has made love to Kate in the past, he keeps his eyes shut implying that he is thinking of Katya'......and Kate realizes this the last time they made love and she tells him to open his eyes.
Geoff considers going to Switzerland and trekking up a mountain to see the frozen body of 'Katya' and yet Kate gently reprimands him that he has never even gone for a walk with her. We also learned how well traveled Geoff and Katya were. Going to places and doing things he never would with her.
At their anniversary party, it hits on Geoff that he has been very cruel to Kate. He has been cheating on her with a ghost... and he does actually love her, just not in the deep and profound way that he loved Katya. His toast was probably the first time in their 45 year marriage, he has acknowledged just how much Kate really does mean to him. Gives a beautiful speech.. even cries. But it would seem it was too little too late.
45 years is currently available to stream on netflix.
In honor of international women's day, I put together a list of women I admired over the past year. Some I think were obvious choices if you know me while others might be a bit of a surprise because they don't fall into my political or religious beliefs. This list is in no special order.
Meghan Marguerite McCain is an American columnist, author, former Fox News contributor, and co-host of The View. She is the daughter of 2008 presidential nominee and long-time U.S. Senator John McCain and Cindy Hensley McCain. (Wikipedia)
I have admired Meghan for many years. Whilst she is very right wing, I do not believe she is closed minded. She keeps an mind and tries hard to see both sides of a political story. She stands up for gay people their rights for things such as marriage. She is for marijuana legalization.I don't agree with her stances on abortion. But admire her passion and the way that she stands up for herself. She is currently dealing with her father's cancer, but is putting on a brave face every day and working hard.
Jessamyn Stanley is an internationally recognized yoga teacher and award-winning Instagram star (@mynameisjessamyn). She has been profiled and/or featured in a wide range of media outlets, including Good Morning America, New York, Glamour, Shape, People, and the Huffington Post, among others. (wiki)
She is just beautiful inside and out. She is passionate about empowering women and teaching them to love themselves. She was one of the first people I thought of when I wanted to make this list.
Emma González is an American activist and advocate for gun control. As a high school senior she survived the February 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, and in response ... (Wikipedia)
She is a powerful voice in gun control and hasn't even graduated high school yet. A voice for the gay community as well as women. A voice for America. I get teary listening to her speak. This is the future of our country. Gives me hope that things will not always be so terrible in this world. This is going to be the generation to make real change.
Michelle Robinson Obama is an American lawyer and writer who was First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She is married to the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African American First Lady. (Wikipedia)
Strong woman and mother. Whilst her husband was in office, she did so much for kids including programs to help keep them healthy and get them better meals in school. And even though she is no longer in the white house... She is continuing to stand up for women, children, and America.
Danica Roem is an American journalist and politician of the Democratic Party. In the 2017 Virginia elections she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, winning the Democratic primary for the 13th district on June 13, and the general election on November 7. She is the first openly transgender person to be elected. (Wikipedia)
She has made history in not only the trans community, but our country. I admire her openness and strength. I look forward to seeing where her political career will go. .
Ayesha Disa Curry is a Canadian–American actress, celebrity cook, cookbook author, and television personality. After guest roles in several television shows and movies, she began hosting her own show, Ayesha's Homemade, on Food Network.( Wikipedia)
I like to pretend she is my best friend... no seriously.. haha I adore this women. Classy and beautiful. Has made such a brand from herself becoming way more than "Steph's wife" and gaining her own spotlight. Her whole family is goals. I love them.
Honestly I could go on and on here... but these are some of the ones that when their name pops on my social media stream, I just have to click in and read. I honestly beileve the future is female and women can do anything.
Before closing, I would like to honor the woman who inspired me as a child. She raised me to be strong and opinionated. To question the world around me and to let me know that I could live a life that made me happy. My grandmother, Bridgette Lucy Taylor.
And a special place on this list for the little women I am raising, my daughters Ashlie and Poppy Marie.
Having my first child at 17 was not ideal, but I do not regret a thing. Not one. If I could do it all over again. I would. Ashlie has turned out to be a wonder person. She will soon be graduating highschool and wants to go to college to be a teacher specializing in art and music.
My little Poppy is still growing into her own little person, and at three has enough personality for ten people. I hope that as the years pass they will live the lives they want to live and feel empowered.
Who are some of the women you think about when wanting to celebrate Women's day?
I remember reading an article from 2015 about a woman who took time away from work and friends to focus on her mental health which ended up with her quiting her job, and leaving most of her friends behind. It was one of viral stories that came across my facebook feed. I wasn't looking for it. Just happened to catch my eye.
The reactions were mixed. A lot of people found her actions to be selfish as she completely shutout and stopped talking to people during this break. I remember thinking to myself; "I wish I could do that." But sort of brushed it off as things that sound good in theory, but will never work.
Thinking about where I was in 2015... a year before my father passed. Well, let me say this first. I think about my life like this... it stopped in 2016 when he passed, and the time after has been a major rebuild. I am not even the same person I was then. The way I thought, or felt. Nothing was the same. So taking you back then, I was very consumed in the problems of my friends. So much that they caused problems in my marriage and family because I was always having to stop what I was doing to help someone out. Let it be emotionally or financially. I just wanted to help the people in my life.
Around this time we started family therapy because of my son's social struggles and impulsive habits. It was called family based and they were in my home 3 to 4 times a week for a year. They were intense moments that lead to big family cries. Some sessions had even involved my father. It was great for all of us. And it was the first time my father, husband, and children had an open stage to address my distractions and their opinions on the unhealthy friendships I had.
These past friendships were not faulted on one side. I had role to play. I may not have seen it then, but I do now. I could have done a lot differently... A LOT. I am by no means innocent.
Sometimes a romantic relationship ends and there are no faults. People drift and grow apart. Their lives go different directions. And you have to make a choice to move on and not stay in a place where you are unhappy. You have to. Or you end up destroying yourself, the other person, or both. And what I didn't realize is that this same idea goes to platonic friendships and relationships too.
It's ok not let friends go. It doesn't make you bad, or them bad. You're just in a different place in your life. You aren't selfish for saying goodbye.
When my dad passed, I said goodbye to all those people. Anyone who made me question my value as a person. Anyone who made me feel that I constantly had to prove my value as not only a friend, but as a person too. This expanded not only real life, but internet friendships as well.
I let everyone go and searched for my own worth. I stopped letting others define me, and started to define myself.
Over the next year I kept very busy. Working A LOT. I was shooting 5 days a week. Constantly trying not to think about my dad or the issues I had with rumors and mixed reactions to my life choices.
But then it hit me... this wasn't enough. Sure, the break from friendships had opened up some mental clarity, but I was filling the space with work. I still wasn't healing. I wasn't growing, I was not rebuilding my life.
So I took a break from working too. I just stopped taking clients. And the money I saved from all those extra shoots... well... I took a vacation. I went on a trip alone. I went in search of myself and came home with so much more.
Although our family based therapy has ended, I am still in therapy. I am very active in various grief support programs and am learning new things about myself daily.
I am so grateful that I was able to take this break and focus on myself. Working hard to fix things because without the foundation within myself.. I can't be a friend to anyone.... I couldn't be a good mom or even wife. I had to fix the problems at the core within my soul. It's a work in progress. Something I have to nurture everyday. And I do just that.
That woman in the article was right. Maybe she was selfish. But maybe we all need to be selfish sometimes.
Here is what I have learned;
1. Therapy actually is a good thing. Therapy is important. Having someone outside your friends and family to talk to is priceless. I needed someone in my life who wouldn't just agree with everything I said, or take things personally. I needed to be able to talk freely, open, and honest. It's been such an important part of my life the past year.
2. Self care is everything. Taking time for yourself doesn't make you weak. Self-care is not optional. You have to put your mental health at the top of your priority list. This is not optional. You can not take care of others if you're not taking care of yourself.
3. Don't overwhelm yourself because nothing happens over night. Making goals towards progress, not perfection. I just want to make sure I am moving forward. It doesn't need to be perfect as long as I am trying.
4. Let them go, doesn't make you a bad person. It's ok to let people go of people who no longer fit into your life. Growing apart or your life taking new direction isn't something to feel guilty for. Doesn't mean my life is better or perfect compared to the former friends. Just means we don't mesh as people. There are no faults. Sometimes friendships have to come to and end.
5. Life is so short. Enjoy the time I have with my kids whilst they are still little. Even the small things like potty training Poppy and teaching her to write her name. We only get one. These are the things that are important.
I am trying to use this time away from work wisely and plan on making a comeback this summer. I have a lot of projects I'd like to try my hand at and I am working on writing out a new business plan. Baby steps.... baby steps towards progress..
If you're struggling to hold on to something in your life that you aren't sure is the healthiest, I hope that perhaps my words can help you find the motivation needed to make a positive change in your life.
Whilst the circumstances behind my break were not ideal, I am so grateful for all the extra time I have with my children.