Two weeks ago, Argyle Empire and many others within our online community were devastated to learn that Terry Aisenstein (aka @TerryTheNurse), had lost her long battle with cancer.
When word began to spread of Terry’s death, our social media timelines filled with expressions of love for our dear friend. It was clear that many were saddened. It was also clear that many wanted to do something to celebrate Terry’s memory.
With that in mind, we decided to plan a fundraiser in her honor. Like the rest of us, Terry was an avid reader and so Argyle Empire began reaching out to authors within the community, requesting donations to help us launch our #TeamTerry campaign. Simply put, the response was tremendous!
Additionally, some have stated their intentions to contribute to Covenant House, a charity Terry was a strong supporter of.
Having chosen these two organizations to benefit from this effort, we are overwhelmed and excited to announce that we have 9 fantastic giveaway packages to offer to participating donors.
In total, there are more than 40 items on offer from a talented and generous group of your favorite authors. All we ask of you is the following …
Donate a minimum of $10.00 to either Fox Chase Cancer Center or Covenant House in Memory of Terry Aisenstein, (if at all possible, please consider splitting your gift between both charities). Afterwards, email a copy of your receipt to us at email@example.com and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway:
The giveaway will go live on June 8th and remain open until June 19th. It is open internationally.
While we grieve for the loss of a valuable Argyle Empire contributor and beloved friend, we take comfort in our ability to help others in celebration of her.
Please donate to two very worthy causes and join us as a proud member of #TeamTerry.
With Our Deepest Appreciation,
Cran, Cuppy, Iris and Mango
“I had my own idea of grief. I thought it was the sad time that followed the death of someone you love and you had to push through it to get to the other side. I am learning that there is no other side. There is no pushing through anything, but rather, an absorption. Adjustment and acceptance. Grief is not something you complete, but rather endure. Grief is not a task to finish and move on, but an element of yourself, an alteration of your being, a new way of seeing and a new definition of self.”
~ Gwen Flowers, Wings of Hope Living Forward
Ten years ago, I was 30 years old and carrying my second child. I arrived at an ultrasound appointment, fully expecting to hear that our child was healthy and hoping to learn whether we were expecting a boy or a girl. Instead, I was informed by my doctor that after 21 weeks of pregnancy, the baby had passed away.
On the morning of April 20, 2004, my husband and I arrived at the birthing center of our local hospital. I was admitted and induced into labor. That evening, with Morgan at my side, I delivered our child – a son we named Eric Jacob. I struggle to describe that day with any one word. Those who came to offer solace had difficulty hiding their fear and concern for me. The day was agonizing and sad, but it was also precious. I can’t bring myself to call it the worst day of my life, although I doubt anyone would slight me if I chose to say that it was.
The unexpected loss of our son is likely the deepest grief we will ever endure. It would have been tempting to surrender to it, but we were already parents to a 7-year-old son. Before we returned home, I spoke with my husband. Together, we decided we would find a way to move forward with life. We didn’t want our son to shoulder the burden of our loss. In the days and weeks that followed, we did our best to return to a normal routine.
It wasn’t easy.
My physical recovery was hampered by emergency surgery, followed by a bout of pneumonia. Emotionally, I struggled with depression. Many nights, I had trouble sleeping. Outside of work, I found socializing more of a chore than a pleasure. The people in my life offered sympathy and kindness, but it was clear that they were navigating unfamiliar waters. While I was struggling to accept my grief, they were struggling with how to treat me. At times it was obvious that people didn’t always know what to say or what to joke about or what to do when I was around. And I found it mentally exhausting to maintain a brave face.
A few months later, on a Friday afternoon in August, I was working in my office and realized I needed a file from a cabinet behind my desk. Without thinking, I spun in my office chair and rose from my seat to approach the cabinet. Almost immediately, I became lightheaded and the room began to spin out of control. I froze in my stance and rode out the incident, hoping I wasn’t about to hit the floor. When I recovered from the dizzy spell, I quickly understood what it meant. I was pregnant once again, and whether I was ready or not, life was moving forward.
The following April, just days before the first anniversary of Eric’s loss and after a pregnancy free from complication, we returned to the hospital. After twelve hours of labor, our daughter was born. She was in perfect health and she completed our family. Some believed this signaled the end of our grieving process, and I wish I could tell you they were right. But nothing is ever quite that simple. However, our daughter’s birth was the most important and tangible milestone in our recovery.
It has now been 10 years since our son’s loss and the anniversary falls on Easter Sunday. I’ve been thinking about this weekend for some time and mulling over the significance of observing this milestone on this particular holiday. I’ve reflected on where I once was, what I’ve been through since that day, and where I find myself now.
Today, I am 40 years old and a full decade beyond that moment of tremendous loss. I’ll be honest … thinking about Eric can still bring tears to my eyes within seconds. The sadness over his death has been absorbed as best as I think can ever be expected. I have fully accepted that it will always hurt me to think about our son. Regardless of this, my life is a good one. And if there’s anything I want you to take away from this post, it is this – I believe that many of my happiest days have occurred in the past 10 years.
Overall, we are content. Our son is now in high school, our daughter just celebrated her 9th birthday, and our marriage has thrived. When Morgan and I committed to moving our family beyond our grief, we also discovered a deeper connection to one another. In the past 10 years, our bond as husband and wife has only grown stronger. Despite the shock and pain of what we went through, we fell even deeper into love. Several years ago, we discovered a mutual passion for writing and through this we have found great fulfillment and happiness. We discovered an incredible online community, developed strong friendships with people from all around the world, wrote and shared some fun stories, and together we will publish our first novel this summer.
What is important to us now is to assist others who are enduring their own loss and grief. Locally, we became donors for our local hospital, primarily allocating our gifts for the benefit of women and children in our community. Online, we have become dedicated supporters of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a charity based in Colorado. The mission of the organization is “to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture.”
When we lost Eric, this was not a service available to us. Knowing how fleeting those moments with him were, we understand how important it can be to a grieving family to receive this opportunity. Our experience also taught us that people often feel compelled to help a family after the loss of a baby, but they don’t always know what can make a difference.
If you have ever wondered how to help a family, Morgan and I strongly encourage you to become involved with this organization. You can donate, or you can help bring their services to your local area by raising awareness in the community or by connecting a photographer and your local hospital to the charity.
We encourage you to look more into NILMDTS, by visiting any of their sites:
“Time is ungovernable, but grief presents us with a choice: what do we do with the savage energies of bereavement? What do we do with the memory – or in the memory – of the beloved? Some commemorate love with statuary, but behavior, too, is a memorial, as is a well-lived life. In death, there is always the promise of hope. The key is opening, rather than numbing, ourselves to pain. Above all, we must show our children how to celebrate existence in all its beauty, and how to get up after life has knocked us down, time and again. Half-dead, we stand. And together, we salute love. Because in the end, that’s all that matters. How hard we loved, and how hard we tried.”
~ Antonella Gambotto-Burke, sayinggoodbye.org
American Heart Association – Go Red For Women
Mission Statement: Go Red For Women encourages awareness of the issue of women and heart disease, and also action to save more lives. The movement harnesses the energy, passion and power women have to band together and collectively wipe out heart disease. It challenges them to know their risk for heart disease and take action to reduce their personal risk. It also gives them the tools they need to lead a heart healthy life.
Heart disease is rampant on my mother’s side of my family.
My great-grandmother died from it at a relatively young age.
My grandmother lived into her early eighties, but suffered multiple heart attacks. Eventually her heart gave out on her.
My mother has suffered from high blood pressure since her forties.
This year I turned forty, and by coincidence things became hectic in my life. I received a promotion at my job and my workload (although rewarding) provided new challenges. Both of my parents are now in various stages of decline and since they’re divorced (and I have no siblings), I find myself having to run back and forth between the two of them, depending on who needs me more. Beyond this, my seventeen year old son is engaged in his own health battles, having been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2011. As a woman with a full-time career and a family to look after, it was no surprise when I noticed my level of stress was on the uptick.
Last spring, I experienced a medical issue that resulted in a visit to the doctor. During that visit, it became apparent that my blood pressure was running a bit higher than normal. But my doctor wanted to give me a little time to see if my short term medical issue was the culprit for that.
It wasn’t. Over the course of several weeks, I noticed ongoing symptoms of hypertension, including mild headaches and jaw pain. Plus, it became apparent that once my stress level hit a certain high, I found it quite difficult to bring it back down. I would get worked up over something and then found it impossible to relax or shrug it off.
Keeping my family’s history of heart disease in mind, I saw my doctor again and we decided to take treatment to the next level. I had blood work drawn and I monitored my blood pressure three times a day for several weeks. When I met with my doctor again to go over all the results, we determined that my blood pressure readings tended to skew toward the higher end of normal and I learned that my cholesterol was slightly elevated. It all means that I’m not hypertensive yet, but there are indications I’m headed that way.
Whether or not this is due to genetics or lifestyle is what we have to figure out next. So this meant that I needed to commit to some changes in my lifestyle. I’ve been focusing more on my diet and making sure I take time each day for some light exercise. I joined Weight Watchers in October and I’m making headway, having lost nearly twenty pounds in the past four months. In Weight Watchers, we celebrate certain milestones and for good reason. Just by losing 5%-10% of your total body weight, your health can be positively impacted. Just this amount of weight loss “can reverse or prevent diabetes; lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels; and improve sleep apnea and other sleep problems.” It can also bring about positive changes in your mental outlook. Many people notice a reduction in depression symptoms and experience increased energy.
Chances are, one or more women in your own family has suffered from heart disease. And these are the facts:
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.
- Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, but is often undiagnosed.
- Cardiovascular disease kills more women than men.
- Heart disease affects women of all ethnicities.
February is National Heart Awareness month in the United States. Eleven years ago, the American Heart Association launched it’s Go Red For Women campaign with the goal of raising awareness about women and heart disease. Women are asked to commit to a healthier lifestyle and to wear the color red to signify a united front in the ongoing battle against this silent killer. Much progress has been made spreading the word about heart disease over the past decade, but the truth remains that nearly 1,100 women die from heart disease each day.
Women who are involved with the Go Red movement live healthier lives.
- Nearly 90%have made at least one healthy behavior change.
- More than one-third has lost weight.
- More than 50% have increased their exercise.
- 6 out of 10 have changed their diets.
- More than 40% have checked their cholesterol levels.
- One third has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
When you join Go Red and share your story today, more lives will be saved tomorrow.
On January 20, Americans will observe a federal holiday commemorating the birth of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As an added element to this holiday, a call to action requests citizens to dedicate their time away from work with a day of volunteer service in their community.
So, rather than focusing on a specific charitable endeavor this month, I thought I would write a bit about my own personal experiences with volunteering.
I first became active in community service during my adolescence. The town I lived in was fairly new to me. I had moved there when I was twelve years old and had come from a situation with less than stellar circumstances. I arrived in a new place, knowing no one and having to adapt to a new home, a new family situation, and an entirely new way of life. I was tentative and anxious, but realized rather quickly that I was glad to have an opportunity to start my life over with a clean slate. I was fortunate enough to be welcomed into my new community with a kindness and compassion that I was largely unaccustomed to receiving.
Within a few months of arriving in this new place, I no longer felt a like stranger in a strange land. I made wonderful friends (many of whom remain friends to this day) and I thrived in my new school. I excelled in my studies and, as a result of this, I was inducted into the National Honor Society at my high school. One of the requirements of NHS membership was to volunteer a certain amount of time to community service. I started out by participating in local food drives and beach clean ups, and these hours spent helping my community sparked something within me. I enjoyed the work immensely and felt a sense of accomplishment every time I gave up a bit of personal time to do something important for the town that had nurtured me.
When I graduated from high school I did so with honors, and left for college a few months later having secured enough scholarship money from several local funders to fully cover my university expenses for five years. Once I began college, I had limited free time to spend on volunteer service, but I always kept thinking of ways I could eventually utilize my degree to serve others.
As I neared graduation, I made up my mind to return to the community that had, in many ways, saved me. Simply put, I wanted to offer my thanks for the town’s investment in me. The town itself is not a large one. The location is rural and often struggles to maintain a booming economy, making secure career work difficult to come by. Some considered my decision risky and made it clear to me how they felt about it.
Once again, I was fortunate. I returned home, and landed a job working in fundraising and development for one of the region’s largest non-profit facilities, where I’m proud to say I still remain today. I work with a dedicated crew of volunteers on a daily basis, some of whom are so eager to donate their time and talents to the organization that they will commute for hours from other parts of the state to do so. They will accept any task with alacrity and are constantly a source of inspiration to me.
Over the years, I have continued to volunteer my free time to several local causes – volunteering for the American Cancer Society, mentoring teen parents, promoting the performing arts, fundraising to develop ocean literacy programs for school children throughout my state and working to obtain affordable healthcare for women and children in my local area, among others. I have found great joy in donating both my time and my dollars to various organizations, and know that my life would be incomplete without these experiences.
There are so many worthy causes and so many needs to be met in our world. At times, it can be difficult to understand how one person can truly make a difference. But if nothing else in life, I have seen time and time again how just one action can radiate through a community and bring about life-altering change for those in need.
It truly is an amazing thing to witness, and something that never fails to remind me how much goodness there really is in the world.
The beauty of the National Day of Service is that everyone can participate, benefitting any cause they connect with and volunteering their time and talents in just the way they wish to. If you’ve been thinking of volunteering and are looking for a place to begin, this is a wonderful opportunity to do so.
For more information, you can visit the following Martin Luther King, Jr. Day sites:
I can think of no better way to begin the New Year than this.
Enjoy and Take Care,
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
My husband and I became personally involved with World Vision in the summer of 2011 when we made the decision to sponsor a child. At the time we set up our account, we weren’t sure how to go about selecting one child over another. The prospect was daunting, so we simply decided to sponsor the first child presented to us by the website.
This is how we were introduced to Nsondo.
Nsondo is currently 10 years old and lives with his parents, 1 sister, and 1 brother. His parents struggle to provide for the family.
Nsondo is growing up in a poor area in Zambia. The HIV and AIDS crisis has severely damaged the social fabric of the entire community, leaving many children without parents. Many families live in small homes made of bricks and mud with thatched roofs. A typical diet consists of maize, vegetables, fruit, and fish when available. The climate is tropical though the area is prone to dry-spells and drought.
Nsondo is in primary school and he enjoys studying the national language. He helps at home by caring for the animals. He likes to play soccer. He is in satisfactory health.
My husband and I have been pleased to receive communications from Nsondo over the past two years. We’ve smiled as we looked at his drawings, read about his progress in school, and received the occasional photo of him. What has pleased us most of all, however, is knowing that our sponsorship commitment radiates out into Nsondo’s community. Our monthly donation has not only contributed to Nsondo’s basic care needs, it has also provided his community with improved healthcare and support, emphasizing assistance to those affected by HIV and AIDS. Our support ensures that children will attend school and farmers are offered seeds and training on new farming methods, improving their health and incomes.
We felt so blessed by our involvement with World Vision that this past Christmas we decided to experiment. We took the money we normally spend on small (and most likely forgettable) gifts for numerous people and instead donated to several projects in their names. Specifically, we gave a custom-fit wheelchair to someone in need along with an additional gift for resources for people with disabilities; we provided art and music instruction and supplies for impoverished children; we donated one small business loan for an impoverished woman, which will be paid forward to fund future loans for other women; we gifted a beehive and beekeeping supplies to a family who can now generate sustainable, year-round income with their bees and honey; we gifted Bibles printed in the recipient’s native language to nourish souls; and we provided vaccinations to protect infants and children from killer diseases. Our relatives were thrilled with their gifts, and some of them were even moved to tears over the gesture. My husband and I were pleasantly surprised in January when one family member joined World Vision and donated livestock in our name to a family in need.
In the months since we’ve joined World Vision, our eyes have been opened. We have come to realize just how significant our modest gift is. Although we live comfortably, we are by no means wealthy. The amount we set aside each day isn’t even enough to cover my daily coffee habit, and yet it’s ability to deliver tremendous good to this little boy and the place he calls home cannot be denied. While we are more than happy to make this contribution to Nsondo, we are also sobered by the fact that there are still 390 children within Nsondo’s community waiting to receive this same support.
We’re sharing our experiences with World Vision with you today because this organization in now providing critical relief efforts for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The storm affected more than 35,000 sponsored children in 21 development project areas where World Vision works, and in response the charity has undertaken one of its largest relief operations in five decades of ministry in the Philippines to help nearly 400,000 people affected by the disaster.
If you’ve been looking for a way to contribute to the humanitarian efforts in the Philippines, please click on this link and read more about the work World Vision is doing in this particular region.
Jennifer and Morgan
American Diabetes Association
Mission Statement: We lead the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fight for those affected—by diabetes.
We fund research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes.
We deliver services to hundreds of communities.
We provide objective and credible information.
We give voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes.
In the spring of 2011, our son was winding up his time in middle school. He was nearing the end of eighth grade and was growing non-stop. Over the course of the school year, he’d grown several inches, was eating and drinking everything in sight and became enthusiastic about cross country running. Over a period of weeks, we noticed he was looking taller and leaner, running up our grocery bill and sleeping in every chance he got. We concluded that he was your average fourteen year old boy.
We left home for a week’s vacation and ventured into the mountains of northern Idaho to enjoy some time together at a lakefront resort. While there, our son seemed out of sorts. He slept a lot, and didn’t have energy or interest in suggested family activities. Halfway through the trip, he began feeling ill. We assumed he had contracted food poisoning and began treating it as such. By our final night at the resort, he seemed to be perking up once again. The vacation was a bust as far as he was concerned, so we prepared to leave for home the next morning and called it a night.
At about three o’clock in the morning, our world changed forever. Our son woke up extremely ill and nothing we tried to do for him helped. We watched his condition deteriorate rapidly and by sunrise we knew he needed emergency medical attention. Morgan and I put him in our car and drove sixteen miles to the nearest hospital. Along the way, our son had trouble staying alert and coherent. By the time we reached the ER, we didn’t know what to think, but within minutes the diagnosis was made.
His blood glucose reading was nearly 500, and we were told our son had Type 1 Diabetes. Before we could even process this news, other complications arose. He was transferred by helicopter to a larger hospital and admitted to a pediatric ICU. We saw him taken away, and then made the slower journey by car to join him. Once the urgent need to stabilize his condition receded, our family spent a week at the hospital learning how to take care of our son under this new reality.
We learned how to count carbs in the food he received, and how to calculate the proper dosage of insulin to administer for those carbs. We learned how to give him shots of inulin and glucagon and monitored our son as he learned to do the same. We watched our son carefully as the reality of life as a Type 1 diabetic fully settled into his consciousness. We spoke with doctors, nurses and counselors. We took classes and we received resources from the American Diabetes Association, which we held on to tightly as we learned to navigate along this new path. Without this assistance from the ADA, we would have felt lost and uneasy about what to do.
When our son was able to leave the hospital and we all returned home, it felt a bit like becoming a parent all over again. He needed to put on weight after having lost essential body fat over a period of months leading up to his diagnosis. Our son had to be sure to eat every few hours in order to help regulate his blood sugars. We were all up in the middle of the night to make sure his blood glucose readings were not dropping too low as a result of his insulin dosages. We had to educate our family and friends on exactly what it means to be a Type 1 diabetic and make sure they knew what signs to look for to help identify when his blood sugar might be running too low or too high.
Two and a half years later, we have all found our way again. Our son manages his own care as much as possible and he’s inspired us all with his determination and commitment to live his life and thrive despite the condition. Although some days are better than others, he rarely complains about the constant routine of finger pokes, the numerous daily shots of insulin, the relentless monitoring of his carbs at every meal and snack, and the inevitable moments when his blood glucose falls too low or runs a bit too high, wreaking temporary havoc on his body.
As parents, there is little doubt that the preparation and education we received from the American Diabetes Association and the medical community has played a vital role in this critical time of transition. Now that we have learned how to manage our day to day lives with diabetes, we look to the ADA (and other organizations with the same mission) to develop a cure for our son’s condition. It is generally believed this will happen during his lifetime.
Type 1 diabetes is not an illness caused by eating too much sugar. Our son didn’t become diabetic because of his lifestyle or eating habits. It is a complicated autoimmune condition that renders the pancreas incapable of producing insulin. The condition is partially genetic and partially environmental. Although the medical community is still trying to fully understand the triggers of Type 1 diabetes, it is clear that many factors have to fall into place in order for the immune system to target the beta cells in the pancreas for destruction. In order for our son to stop injecting himself with insulin several times a day for the remainder of his life, doctors and researchers will need to find a way to regenerate the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin naturally.
In the months since our son’s diagnosis, we have heard some very encouraging news in this field, and feel strongly that continued support of the American Diabetes Association will not only benefit our son in the long run, but will also help the 300 million people worldwide diagnosed with the same condition.
November is the month of our son’s birth. It is also the international observation of Diabetes Awareness Month. Chances are very good that you know someone in your life that has been diagnosed with diabetes. Take a few moments to think about how there is never a remission from this condition. There are no days off from diabetes, and in the long run complications from this condition take their toll on the body.
Please take the time to remember those in your life who deal with diabetes every day, and honor them this month by supporting your local diabetes association.
Thank you and Take Care,
Jennifer and Morgan