Friday, November 13, 2009

WNC Foster/Adopt Fall Festival in Asheville

Tomorrow I have the honor of participating in the WNC Foster/Adopt Fall Festival at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and tomorrow, Novmember 14th, is the Annual Fall Festival from 3-5 pm!

Please join me, HeartMommy, The Heart Gallery of WNC and many other agencies as we share the need of many children. Children in foster care who are ready to be adopted into forever families are waiting.

We will be there as their advocates and their voice!
Please come and support the children.

Thank you,
HeartMommy To Garrett
The Heart Gallery of WNC/Asheville

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Days and Life

GMan on Valentines Day
Originally uploaded by HeartMommy
November is National Adoption Awareness Month!

Each year there are ceremonies and events held in November to celebrate the joys of adoption. My son is adopted and he is my heart and soul.

Everyday we have a choice to be happy. Look at this little boy and you can see the joy in his face. The joy of childhood and pure love. This is certainly one of my favorite photos of my son.

Today, I allowed myself to get mired down in the negativity of another person. They have chosen to be negative and unkind. After being a part of their experience, I decided to step back. I purposely went to my photo collection to get back into my own Happy Day.

I wrote a poem to express what it is that I have in mind for my life. Enjoy.

a flicker
a flame
so fleeting
this game
the time that is wasted
never again tasted
less bitter and anger
best spent on sweeter
and wondrous things

Creamsicle and the Rebound

As a child, I have vivid memories of things. Often of little significance and yet they have stayed with me. Growing up in Florida included a lot of hot days. We were usually in our bare feet running around, playing in the sprinkler to stay cool and if we were lucky the ice cream truck would come around.

We would scamper to the truck and carefully review all the choices, only to pick the same thing everytime. Mine, a creamsicle. It is like a popsicle, but is made with orange and vanilla ice cream. The joy of the creamsicle!! No matter what deviations I may have taken at certain points, there was always the rebound- the creamsicle.

Life is like that in some ways.

We are happily living our lives and then something exciting happens. We scamper about and rush to see what is offered. More of something we love and less of things we do not want. At times we deviate from what we know we love and try something entirely new. It is lovely and we are happy, for a time.

But, when that truck of life changes comes again, we will most often go back to our original choices. Creamsicle and the Rebound. It is what we know.

Not Vanilla or plain Chocolate for me, thanks. I prefer the perfect imbalance of the creamsicle.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunnyside Up and Pistachio

Recently, I was challenged to describe myself using a word starting with each letter in the alphabet. Today, I wrote my weekly column for the newspaper on the topic and challenged my readers to do the same. It sounds easy when you first think about it, but actually using one word to describe yourself is not. We are a weaved fabric of descriptive words and actions.

My first thought for myself was the word Adaptive. All my life, I have been faced with the realities of adapting to many things; we all have. Mine include family experiences, moving, marriage, losing a baby during pregnancy, financial issues, infertility, adoption, career changes, divorce, losing everything, and starting over. You get the point. Being adaptive is a way to change with less pain or more joy. Being adaptive is a coping mechanism that keeps us going.

Since making a decision on a one word descriptive was so hard for me, I enlisted two of my dearest and oldest friends.
Vicki, a friend since high school is the friend who gives me the softer side of things. She is very thoughtful, not answering on her first instinct, but rather probing her mind for the right word that is the complete answer. She is hysterically funny, is a sunny side up egg in life. Her way of looking at the world is how good it is and what the next great adventure will be. My new nickname for her is Sunnyside Up.
Kristi has been my friend since college, whether attending school or on sabbatical, which was a normal in our world at the time. She is raw, edgy, has a bawdy laugh that fills the room, can hang with the boys or enjoy a girls weekend of pampering. Kristi is nearly 5 ft tall with shoes on, yet her roar is fierce and can move most anything. For me, she is the down and dirty provider. She says what she means and says it without a second thought. I call her Ouizer Boudreaux from Steel Magnolias. Today she earned a new nickname, Pistachio. She is a tiny little thing that holds so much uniqueness. She is indeed one of a kind.
Imagine the words they used to describe me using the letter A. Seriously, I laughed so hard I ached. If I am anything it is a chameleon. Their descriptives were opposites and yet both captured who I am. There was not one word, but a string of many. I cannot use some due their off color nature, but suffice to say, there may be a new word in the dictionary with the definition- See Nancy.
Again, I start. I apologize for not writing as much as I had in the past. I am adapting to my new life. Again.

Friday, August 21, 2009

HeartMommy Goes International- No Kidding!

HeartMommy is my name and my company.

We are now HeartMommy International too!

As an adoptive mom, I have been given the honor of being a mother. My son, Garrett is six years old. He is an amazing angel on earth. He is the most important person in the world to me. I adore and love him endlessly. His birthmother, Kim, asked that I be called his HeartMommy and the she be called his TummyMommy.

And so it is, I am Garrett's HeartMommy.

We have an open adoption and have contact and visits with both his birthmother and birthfather's families. Our family tree is in fact a Banyan Tree, with one trunk and many branches, vines and new growth at all times.

HeartMommy, the company, was started quite by accident and has grown into a 'baby' business. We are growing and it has been a wonderful experience seeing the joy when someone receives a piece of HeartMommy jewelry.
Jewels That Dance and designer Paula Dawkins of Asheville, NC took my doodle and created something so simple, elegant and beautiful. As well, they carry my line in their store and promote HeartMommy with their clients.
It was with sheer delight that I received a call and email from Marlene at Jewels That Dance letting me know that a client had come in looking for something special for a friend in London. She shared that her friend was trying to conceive a child with infertility treatments. After showing her a HeartMommy piece of jewelry, she knew it was the perfect gift for her friend.

And so it is; the baby business based in Asheville, NC is HeartMommy International!

I am overjoyed when someone receives these small gifts of love and knowing that the one will travel across the ocean to be worn by a "Woman of Grace" makes me very happy. As we grow and expand our product lines; including a HeartDaddy line, I will continue to blog here and on my website.
Visit us at the HeartMommy website. Become a Fan on Facebook and Twitter. Please contact me directly at or call me at 828-329-7047.

Yeah for HeartMommy!! We crossed the ocean blue to warm the heart of someone who wishes to have the honor of being a mother.

"a person who loves with their whole heart"

Nancy McCullough
HeartMommy to Garrett
Founder of HeartMommy

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lessons Learned -A Dolt

How do I begin a story of me being a dolt?

Definition-dolt-(pejorative) A stupid person; a blockhead or dullard.

Now, having admitted that I am a dolt about many things is an interesting concept.
As we travel through this experience we call life, often we think we have mastered something. We feel as though we are an expert at one or more things. Perhaps it is a hobby or work or being a writer. Maybe it is being a parent, friend or sibling. If we did not have this feeling of having mastered something, does it somehow negate our knowledge of a subject or action? The saying "Jack of all trades, Master of none." is used to express the idea that we may dabble in many areas and never really narrow our expertise to one thing. And by what standards are we a master of something? Is it that we emmulate another whom we feel is the best as something? Do we create something new and therefore are the master of it by default?
Well, I certainly fall into the category of jack of some trades...and then there is the Master of Dolt.
Several months ago, I was asked to fill in as the running buddy for a friend's daughter in a 5k race. This request came after my friend could not run due to an injury. She is a mom, nurse and avid runner. Her daughter is 8 years old and was running with the Girls on the Run program. The grand finale is a 5k the girls and their running partner have trained for and run together. Most often it is a Mother/Daughter or Father/Daughter team. Me NOT being an avid runner; recall the "Jack of some" and perhaps only being a mediocre runner comes into play when I was asked to be the stunt-double for the event.
Remember, stunt doubles are called in so the star does not get hurt, they take the punches, make the falls, usually at their own peril.
To be a runner, you must have one important ingredient; running shoes. To be a runner you must be willing and able to run in said running shoes. To be a runner it helps to have running attire so not to be injured anymore than is necessary. All of these things are usually ready and used prior to the race in which the runner is running.
So, fast forward to the DOLT moment.
Upon learning that I will be the stunt double, accepting the challenge, and then 'running' out to buy the required and supplemental supplies, I made my way to Jus' Runnin'. This is a local running store that does this amazing test to show you how your feet hit the ground, what shoes would best work for your foot type and what other attire would compliment all of the rest of it.
Naturally, I am whining about the fact that I will be running in a 5k the next day, having never run in a 5k before. Whining that it will hurt and I must not show this weakness to my running buddy. Whining that since I cannot show this to my running buddy that I will certainly be in more pain than is even expected and therefore, I may in fact die. The very nice young lady helping me was a runner, gave me great advice on my shoe and attire selection. She was a college student and works at Jus' Runnin' and runs every evening with the running club that leaves from their location. How do I know all of this?
Well, lo and behold, as I am trying on running shorts, I hear someone asking her about school, running and if she plans on running that evening. I think to myself how wonderful it must be to really be an 'expert runner' to feel so confident that running is second nature. She is an expert runner, I decide and I am happy that she is the one helping me with all my life-altering decisions.
And here is where the DOLT part comes in...the next question the person asked her was about how she was feeling. Her answer. "I feel great, the chemo is almost over and I have not been too sick this time. I am going tonight, it makes me feel better."
It then dawned on me that she was wearing a headband/scarf. It then dawned on me that she was bald. It then dawned on me that she was so pale and thin and frail. It then dawned on me that I had the audacity to complain about the fact that I may get a blister. It dawned on me that I was complaining about my perceived pain. It dawned on me that she was there doing her job and she was then going running for the fun of it; after chemotherapy.
Me, now the Master of Dolt. If anyone would care for lessons, I am available at all times.
Lessons learned; I am one of the most fortunate people in the world and that given the opportunity to run for any reason, at any time, and to have such a beautiful attitude, would certainly be the icing on my cake.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pure Heart

Pure Heart
Originally uploaded by bearzimages
As a member of the flickr community, I have had the distinct honor of seeing some of the most amazing images!

Please know that I take photos of Hearts In Nature all the time, but when I came across this one, I stopped and stared.

HeartMommy loves all things Heart! This is truly one of those lovely images that will be with me forever.

Imagine the soft waters trickle as it gently flows over each stone; together creating something more magical than if each were alone.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Just being Me

As I move through life, I have gone through many iterations, changes and transformations.

I was the super shy awkward girl who spent a lot of time alone, reading, writing poetry and sketching. I was the super-tomboy who raced remote control boats with my Dad. I was the studious teen, who would cringe at the thought of breaking any rules. I was the late teen who could think of nothing better than to break all the rules; just because.
I was a college student, I was a college drop-out. I was a waitress, a flight attendant, a secretary, a legal assistant, a college graduate, a graduate student, a teacher, a corporate trainer, a worker-bee, a manager of teams, and always a writer.
I was married and not married.
I live on the right side of town. I lived on the wrong side of town. I lived in comfort. I lived in squalor. I lived.
I was poor. I was rich. I was poor.

I am now a mother. I am a writer. I am a photographer. I am a business owner. I am a friend. I am a lover of life. I am me.

Me, the person who cries easily. Me, the person who protects fiercely. Me, the person who cares deeply. Me, the person who forgives. Me, the person who lives peacefully.

Just Me.

I have grown and changed and transformed and I can finally say, I love just being me.

I love that I went through all the things I have, to come to the place I am. I love the idea that there will be many more changes, transformations and versions of me to come.

Just Me.

I will become something different each time, but lose nothing of what I was or what I am now.

I will become something more. A richer version of me. A more intensely layered me. A more colorful me.

Just me being me.

Friday, June 5, 2009

100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces For 2009

In 2002, when I became a Mom through adoption, having a company that was adoption friendly made the experience less stressful in several ways. I worked for Accenture, LL.P., a large IT Consulting firm. As an employee, I was treated just as any new parent. One of the ways that Accenture assisted me was through an adoption program giving adoptive parents up to $4,500 towards adoption expenses.

Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's Hamburgers, was adopted at six months old and is remembered not only for his restaurants but for his commitment to adoption.

The 3rd annual Dave Thomas Foundation - 100 Best Adoption Friendly Workplaces was released and below are the top 10 companies.

1 Wendy's International, Inc.
2 Citizen's Financial Group, Inc. / RBS Americas
*3 way tie*
3 Liquidnet
3 LSI Corporation
3 United Business Media LLC (UBM)
6 Subaru of America, Inc.
7. Bowen Engineering Corporation
8. Timberland
9. Barilla America
10. Time Inc.

You can read more about it at:

It is hard to believe that adoption is so costly. However, the hard truth is that a private/agency domestic adoption costs in the range of $15,000 to $40,000 depending on the agency and the circumstances of the adoption. There is no simple formula used and as a person who wants to be a parent; having tried all the other options, adoption is often the only and best choice, regardless of the costs.

Becoming a parent is so amazing and when you have become one through adopton, the costs pale in comparison to the joy you feel with your child in your arms. The costs nearly dissapear from your mind and yet, as a new parent, the costs of having a child change everything.

Being provided the adoption benefit with Accenture deferred some of the costs and thus the stress associated with the that process. Many companies offer adoption benefits. If you are in the process or considering adoption, investigate these options. Ask your Human Resources department about what benefits are offered and understand the laws regarding your rights as a new parent.

It is imperative that you be proactive in the search for adoption related benefits, whether through the company you work for or through other sources. Dependant on your personal circumstances, there are many ways to defer costs, have a leave of absence and other options specific to your employer.

For more information on adoption, the laws and benefits of adoption, please visit The National Center for Adoption Law and Policy at

Now, six years later, my son is a vibrant, loving child who changed my world forever. He is part of me. There is no other option than knowing he is my son. All that was before him is of little consequence. He is my child and I am so grateful for my joy in him.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Diamonds Are A Moms Best Friend

Today is BirthMothers Day.
Sunday, May 10th is Mother's Day.
This is the All Diamond Eternity Pendant offered through or by visiting Jewels That Dance in Asheville, NC.
Remember, it is never too late to say "I love you"; and with diamonds, no words are necessary.

Happy Mother's Day!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

True Love- My Son and His TummyMommy

BirthMother's Day-May 9th

In the midst of many life altering experiences, I have had the opportunity to stop and relish in all that is my life. There are so many things to be grateful for and yet there is only one True Love.

My True Love is my son.

And in turn, my True Love comes from his TummyMommy.
Without the grace and courage of Kim, my son, my True Love, would not be part of my life.
He is part of the fabric of me. It cannot be explained in words how much I love him. Putting words to it would limit it; adding boundaries on my feelings that do not exist.

On Saturay, May 9th, I honor and graciously thank his TummyMommy, Kim. It will be Birthmother's Day.
On December 26, 2002, Kim gave birth to my son. She held him, stayed with him in the hospital for four days, took in all of his features, sketched him while he slept, and then on December 29, 2002, she bravely handed him to me. She said "Thank you."

How do you answer? I had no words and hugged her for as long as I could. My True Love was with me and his TummyMommy was going back to her life. Pure love and surrender on her part.
My son is now six years old. He is smart, funny, artistic, and he is my True Love. Life without him, it seems impossible. For that, I am truly grateful.

To all Birthmothers, I am humbled. In their surrender, they completed a family; created the experience of being a Mom.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Shop Now-Mother's Day and Birth Mother's Day-Celebrate

May 9th is Birthmothers Day and May 10th is Mothers Day; celebrate your Mom, Birthmom, HeartMommy and Nana!

As a member of the Mompreneur Group, I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing women, all who own their businesses and offer amazing gifts and services. On May 4th, we are having a Twitter party to give you the opportunity to see all the wonderful things offered through these businesses.

Please see the invitation below. Remember, you can shop at the Co-op Shop now at your convenience!!

Shop for Mother's Day at The Mom Entrepreneur Co-op Shop and party with us on Twitter to celebrate! Join The Mom Entrepreneur on Monday, May 4th from 10:00pm - 11:00pm EST for a twitter party celebration. We will be announcing our Mother's Day line up of offerings at the Co-op Shop, sharing tips for balancing motherhood and running a company, and giving away some amazing prizes. Pour yourself a glass of wine, and chat the evening away with dozens of mom entrepreneurs. For complete details, click here…>

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Banyan Tree and it Grows

As a 'non-traditional' family, my son and I are more than a family tree. We are a banyon tree.

A Banyon tree is one that grows from one tree trunk, has branches that reach out and then the tree grows hanging vines. After hanging and growing over the years, they reach the ground and start a new tree trunk.

In essence, the tree continues to grow and spread, not just by the branches alone, but by the many new trunks that are formed.

My son is adopted. He has a birth-mother and her family. He has a birth-father and his family. He has a HeartMommy and my family and he has a HeartDaddy and his family.
These are four trunks that have already grown from his existence; amazing and beautiful. Imagine all the lives he has touched by being a part of each of our lives. And each time he touches one of us, we start to grow a vine that eventually hangs down, reaches the ground and a new base is formed. Everlasting.
I thank God everyday for the gifts he has given me. He has created new life in through one soul. He has brought together so many people who may have never known each other.
Thank you to my Banyan Tree Family.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On Being a Mom and All That It Implies

Being a Mom. Being a Mom. Being a Parent.

When we are chosen or chose to become a mother, it changes life is ways that are never known until we are experiencing them. It is like riding a roller coaster for the first time. We know it will be scary, exhilarating, intense, perhaps painful, rough, bumpy, up and down. We know it in our brain but the actual experience is something quite different. Being a Mom, it changes who we are to our core. Never again do we exist only for ourselves, there is always and will always be someone who depends on us. We are a we and not a me. We are teachers, guidance counselors, healers, comforters, disciplinarians, protectors, and promoters.
We must choose to be the Dreamweaver and not the Dreamsquasher.
We must choose to put ourselves first but at a very small margin, which often turns to second or third. We must learn to hold on and let go. We must have love that rejuvenates everyday and grows in ample supply to store for a rainy day.

A true balancing act that requires grace, patience, energy and true love.
Being a Mom and all that it implies...
And in this time, being a Mom does not exclusively mean being a woman.

The definition of a parent: One who begets, gives birth to, or nurtures and raises a child; a father or mother.
And as a Mom, I am in awe of other parents. How do they do what they do? How do they accomplish all the things they do in one day? How do they keep their schedules, their friends, their relationships, there lives, themselves? It is a miracle that continues to astound me.

Before being a Mom, I was me. A career woman, traveling five days a week to climb the corporate ladder, to earn more money, to have more things, to be bigger, better, and prove to myself and others that I was just as driven, focused, ambitious, just as any other who was on my path.
After becoming a Mom, I was a we. Still a career woman, not traveling, climbing slower, earning less, taking less to give more, and yet, being bigger, better, proving to myself and others that I was just as driven, focused, and ambitious, as before, just on a different path.
The balancing act of being and seeing what is and all that it implies; being a parent.

Part Two of this post, 3/17/2009.

When I wrote this post last Friday, I was set on the idea of it being about Moms, but knowing that there are a lot of fantastic Dads out there doing it all too. Even in the best of relationships and marriages, there are often certain things one or the other parent is good at and they take on the majority of that responsibility. And as I wrote, it turned into another thought process, the idea of being a single Mom or Dad and how even the slightest change in our lives creates an even bigger change in the lives of our child. A small ripple, spreading and growing, energy that changes everything for them. The choices we make, the focus we have, the intensity in which we have decided to dedicate to keeping those ripples small, for their sake.

I am the first to admit, I am no perfect parent or person. My life has had many changes that have created ripples so huge that there is no way to know if they are rolling into a Tsunami that will come crashing at some later date. I hope not. I pray everyday for the strength and knowledge to get it now, so it makes life more fun for my son later.

I want to be his Dreamweaver! I want to be an inspiration to him. I want him to be a great man; loving, kind, generous and always exploring; and all that this implies.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Peaceful Flight Into the Unknown

After attending a wonderful weekend in the Florida Keys for my sister's wedding, I was offered the opportunity to fly on a private plane to Tampa, Florida. My plan had been to rent a car, drive about 6 hours to Naples, Florida to visit a dear friend and then drive back to New Smyrna Beach for my original flight home to Asheville. When my sister called and said that the private flight, with a colleague, was available I jumped at the chance to go! Upon arrival at the airport in Key West, I asked to fly co-pilot. This was so thrilling, being in the front of the plane, wearing the headset, helping with the pre-flight check and flying the plane for a bit. Jerry, the pilot and owner of the plane was wonderful. He explained things as we went along, let me bank the plane, showed me how to fly using the instruments and we seemingly floated above the turquiose waters of the Florida Keys.

About 10 minutes into the flight one of the other three passengers tapped Jerry on the shoulder and was pointing. It quickly became evident that there was something seriously wrong. An oil leak had erupted through the right engine, near the propeller and oil was flying off the wing and back into the air. Jerry quickly called the Miami Tower and declared an emergency. Having the headset on allowed me to hear everything that was being conveyed. It was incredible!

One minute floating gracefully through the air and the next in an emergency, looking for clearance at the nearest airport. We were completely over the water, no land in sight. Jerry handed me the emergency procedure booklet and had me answer 'check' to all his instructions. He explained that the engine would freeze up if we did not 'flutter' it down-turn it off completely. We would be flying on one engine and one propeller. I carefully followed his instructions, watched as the oil gauge went to zero, the lights for the engine were shut down and stared at the now silent and still right propeller. *The photo is of the plane, after the propeller is turned off, while we were in flight. I was on the right side... see the amazing water and sky beyond. WOW!

What was my reaction? What were my thoughts? Was I afraid? I was as peaceful as I have ever been. I was not afraid. My thoughts turned to the idea that this is what life is about. We are not in control. We are not in a safety net with infinite time. The risks we take, the decisions we make and our actions are all something that we have a choice about, but in the end, we are truly at the mercy of God. My life did not pass before me as if I were watching some movie, but the thoughts of what, where, when and how I had lived my life did. My son Garrett was of course my first thought. If this plane went down into the waters surrounding Florida, would he be proud to have had me as his Mom? Yes, he would. That is all that mattered.

I was joyful in knowing that I had come to Florida to be a part of a wonderful weekend, spent time with family and friends, was back home-Florida and now over the water where I grew up. If it was my time, there would be no better place than to head to heaven here. I began taking photos. Just my eyes vision of what I was feeling. Light, peaceful, rested, safe, and grateful for all I had in life. My son, family, friends, and nothing short of an adventurous life...

As seredipidity seems to play a significant part in my life, the nearest airport was Naples, Florida. The city where I wanted to be and was planning on driving to all along. Amazing how these things work out. I told Jerry, it was my lucky day!

We had about 15 minutes of flying left on the one engine, all the while talking with Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and the Naples airport towers on clearing the area and the runway. We flew at a 35 degree pitch to keep the right wing up; avoiding a downdraft. As we approached the Naples airport, the emergency crews were waiting at the end of the runway and we landed on one wheel, slowly leveled out and taxied into the airport. Perfect execution! The tower called to the plane and asked if we could taxi to the hanger. The answer from Jerry- "No, Go!" and just like that there was a flurry of emergency vehicles, ambulance, people and we were surrounded.

As the consumate photographer, I began snapping photos of all the activity, called my friend to explain I had arrived early and she picked me up at the Naples airport. It was so surreal and yet so peaceful. I feel blessed to have had the experience.

Life is an amazing series of chances, choices and experiences, all bundled together to create our existence. Life IS good!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Short and Sweet

It has been a bit since my last post. Given that I have been diligently planning HeartMommy, HeartDaddy, adding new products, writing my NEW column for the Biltmore Beacon, traveling to Florida for a wedding, and the list goes on...

This is short to say Hello and sweet in that I will write about a new death experience next.
Fearful, no. As calm and peaceful as I have ever been. It is something worth writing about.

Have a wonderful day, weekend, week.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Pearl-Beautiful Pain

Some of you may know and others not, that I am a SINGLE mom.

This was not the plan when I got married in 1996. Right after graduating with my Masters Degree and weeks after turning 30 years old, I was married in a wonderful ceremony in Tallahassee, Florida.

Part of the vows, in addition to the norm, was a line that said this. "I promise to be your best friend and to make you laugh for the rest of your life." As with any person getting married, it is that feeling of love, a sense of we, a start to a beginning of a life of dreams, hopes and goals.

Friends still say, "It was the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended." And it was beautiful.

Outside on the deep green grass of an October day in Florida. A string quartet playing as I rode up the long drive of a garden home in a horse drawn carriage, with large magnolias and the long moss of the deep South making natural decoration.

The wedding went off perfectly...the marriage; not so much.

We know that, with any relationship, it takes deep faith to work through impossible times and it takes growth, compassion, compromise; and did I say intense growth? Growth in the same direction. Growth that involves sharing everything, good, bad and beautiful to create and build that promised friendship and laughter.

It takes more than two people to make a marriage flourish. Mathematically speaking, the equation looks like this: 1+1=infinity

I believe that the combination of two or more things can create something so much more powerful than if done with only one. The combination of two people who are fully aware, committed and ready to have intense growth will have amazing results.

If there are any other ingredients added or removed from the relationship recipe, the beautiful recipe will fail. The sweetest intent cannot make the dessert be sweet. The sweetest notes, flowers, gifts, and other tokens will not make the friendship flourish.

For me, it has been the creation of a pearl. Dare I say, a string of pearls.

The lesson of the pearl is something I learned just recently. Not that I had not heard it before, but I really learned it, understood it, and put it in perspective. Becoming a pearl is beautiful pain. Becoming a pearl is intensity of the highest level.

A small grain of sand gets inside of an oyster, who by nature is relatively still. It filters water, small food sources and the inevitable sand to nourish it, keep it alive and growing. At times the sand gets stuck; it becomes an irritant. To stay alive, the oyster builds a little shell around the sand to make it less painful. Over time, the oyster creates layers upon layers of protectant around that one small grain of sand; a pearl is born.

The pearl, a beautiful, iridescent, perfect, coveted jewel that we string together and wear as adornment. And yet, each of those one pearls was created by one small grain of very painful sand. Strung together those grains of sand become something bigger than one or even two oysters can handle; they will eventually die.

Just as in any relationship, a friendship or marriage, there can be that one small grain of sand; the painful irritant that can become a beautiful pearl or the death of the relationship.

A trusted friend said this. "Every day, give thanks for the pearl. Painful, and yet you are more beautiful for having had it in your life."

Thank you, pearl. You have taught me that the most intense growth comes over years of one small irritant, one small diversion from the relationship recipe, leaving out the"laugh for the rest of your life", and a slight deviation from the mathematical equation of infinity.

Thank you for allowing me the painful growth I needed to become more me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui!

On Friday, January 9th, 2009, Garrett and I had the wonderful opportunity to host part of the Australian High School National Basketball Team.

Garrett's school was part of their USA tour stop and asked for family hosts for 2 team members. After putting our name on the list for volunteering, we were contacted to see if we could host 4 of the Australian students. Sure, what are two more worries.

We arrived at the basketball game and received a list with the names of the four boys that we would be hosting. Garrett was estatic! Four boys, all 17-18 years old; on their summer holiday, traveling the USA promoting Aussie Basketball.

When the game started, we had the list with their names and jersey numbers; 8,9,11,13-Garrett was on each of them with his 'detective eyes'.

Earlier, Garrett said he did not want to go to the game, but only pick up the boys after it was over. BUT, once we got there and he saw them, the crowd, the excitement of the game; he was transfixed!

Garrett was dressed in his school's Chess Club t-shirt, and we were sitting next to the girl's team who had just finished their game. Everyone was cheering, chanting, screaming and stomping for Garrett's school. All except Garrett; he had found his loyalty belonged to these four boys; strangers at this point. He said they deserved to have someone on their side and he was nearly on the court on several occasions screaming, chanting, stomping and cheering. Hilarious!!

I filmed and photographed quite a bit of the game, trying to focus on the guys we were hosting. Garrett, my trusty side-kick, was yelling at me- "Did you get that, did you get THAT?"

After the game, the host families met the players and we took them, packed into a Suburban to our house. When I say packed, I am serious. They were all over 6'4" and had GIANT suitcases, travel bags, game bags, and I thought we may burst out of the car on the way home.

When we got home, well after 10:00 pm, they were exhausted, freezing, and so grateful that they each had a bed to sleep in for the night. After settling in and creating the most gigantic mess I have ever witnessed, they all took part in playing with Garrett. Dinosaurs of course!

Envision this; Garrett the 6 yr old leader, explaining to four extremely tall 18 year olds, the names of all the dinosaurs, their herds, groups, categories, and so on...these guys were troopers.

Garrett was in his element and they all went along with him. Each one of the boys were so gracious, polite, kind and thankful.

One of the players; Rocky, had Garrett close his eyes and brought out Australian tourist gifts that he had brought along to share with the host families. A koala bear, a kangaroo mom and baby, a boomerang, and best of all they taught him the true Aussie cheer.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui!!!

By about 11:00 pm Garrett and the 4 boys had watched NBA basketball, discussed dinosaurs extensively and cheered loudly over and over.

Garrett and I turned in at midnight and the boys stayed up; still watching NBA basketball.

The next day they went on to their next stop, new host family and eventually would end their USA tour back in NYC.

Garrett cried, was mad that they had to leave, wanted them to stay and play, and was truly heart-broken that they were leaving so soon. That night, we drove to the town they were playing in so that Garrett could say Goodbye; again.

At this game, the team had their entire school cheering for them. And then there was Garrett;

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui!!! Cheering as loudly as possible. He was the cheering section for them. During the half-time break, Garrett went over to say goodbye, high-fived each one of the team, and cheered for them each as he went along.

I am certain this will be one of those experiences that has changed his world.

For me, the cyclone of disaster that awaited my attention was unimaginable. How can 4 people create so much mess in less than 8 hours? It was fascinating and made me realize that having one boy; who will probably be at least their height as a teen, is certainly enough for the long term.

I am so happy that we had the chance to meet these amazing young men. They were great ambassadors of their team and Australia.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Well Built Structures

People say, "things aren't built like they used to be." In fact, this is true. Things, whatever 'things' are; are not built like they once were. Does this make them better or worse?
Because things are built differently, are new, innovative, something that we have not experienced or are experiencing for the first time may, in fact, mean that they are well built structures.
For instance, houses were built by people with cut down trees, placed together with something binding and had a roof for shelter. They were built for a specific reason and were not built 'like they used to be' either.
Today, houses are built by people with machined wood, bound together with mortar, drywall, tile, etc. and have a roof made of shingles and so on. And, they too are not as they used to be, because they serve a different purpose, in a different world.
As life and the world change at a quickening pace, with new people, new experiences and new things, it is our brain that must also change. We must remember the past for what it was, hold on to memories for what they are and really experience the present for what it is.
This thing we have is a well built structure; life as we now know it. Amazing!
I am so happy that things are as they are, my memories are dear, what life has brought to me is well built, my brain is changing and growing, and the present is something spectacular!
Having well built structures, new or otherwise, is a state of mind. It is what we make of them and how we enjoy them. Although there may be a few dents, cracks or other imperfections, these walls are something to be joyful about.
Life is "not what it used to be" and yet, it is just as it was meant to be all along; A Well Built Structure.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Liza Needs a Forever Family

Good Friday to everyone!

Recently, a friend sent me a posting about a Russian orphan named Liza.
Liza is part of a group of orphans being hosted in the US with the hope of being adopted into forever families.

My first instinct is to drive to Atlanta, pick her up and be her HeartMommy. As I have processed everything, it may be that I was contacted to be a voice for Liza.

Please click on the link below to read the news story and watch the video about Liza and the other orphans who will return to Russia next week.

To learn more about New Horizons and how their organization helps children in need, please visit their website

As we think of our world, the intense need of love for children, and the many people who want to be parents, please consider passing this along. Or if you are one of the people like me who wanted to be a Mom, consider alternate options when it comes to adoption and the love that you have to share.


Friday, January 2, 2009

HeartDaddy- the Answer in 2009

The Sky knows no limits.

As HeartMommy gets a bit of exposure, I am asked on a regular basis about the idea of HeartDaddy. And here is the answer...

In May of 2008 my son came to me and said, we must have "HeartDaddy" too for all the Dads in the world. Of course, we must, I agreed.

On that day Garrett and I sat down for our first business meeting. Across our makeshift desk we shared; Garrett exlpained the finer points of his idea, business plan, and drew the HeartDaddy logo for me. It is lovely indeed.

After the meeting ajorned I purchased the domain name- and put all the important documentation in the newly labeled file for HeartDaddy.

Isn't fun to know that my son loves HeartMommy handing out my business cards more than I do, and that he has the smarts to come up with the idea, the branding, and all the details for HeartDaddy too.

My ideas are small in comparison to his imagination and fearlessness. Garrett knows only what is possible.

And with that, I give you, HeartDaddy. Created in May 2008 by Garrett Cushman for all the Dads of the world.

All the great ideas I get from Garrett, friends, family, customers, Dads and Moms are noted, reviewed, and are 'in development' for the next phase of business.

With HeartMommy just out of the incubator, HeartDaddy is being carefully cared for as we grow.

In 2009 we are expecting amazing growth and expansion of HeartMommy and the launch of HeartDaddy!

Please send me any and all thoughts, ideas, wishlist items and I will add them to the executive meeting agenda for next week. Garrett and I hold our meetings at our now makeshift desk in the kitchen, where most great ideas and stories are shared.

I am sending an email to my web designer to add a new link on HeartMommy.

Look often and spread the word about HeartMommy and HeartDaddy so we will continue to grow as 2009 becomes our banner year!

Thank you to all the amazing people who have and continue to support us.
We are the Little Engine That Could and Will!

HeartMommy on behalf of HeartDaddy 2009