Wednesday, September 24, 2014

More than just a piece of jewelry

For whatever reason, I have been bitten by the running bug. Ha, never in a million years would I ever say that. I initially started running because I wanted to run The Gathering Place's 2014 Race for the Place 5K the first Sunday in June (National Cancer Survivor's Day) in honor of my dear friend, Kris Stefanac, who passed away from triple negative breast cancer at the age of 35 this past January. Memorial Day weekend, another dear friend, Julie Duellman, passed away from her second battle of breast cancer. So the race took on a whole new meaning. I wasn't planning on doing well at the race, I was running it "just because". I surprised myself how well I did and it kind of inspired me to keep running. I have been horrible at any sport I tried and finally found something I can do and am not too bad at so why not, right? I did another 5K at Holden Arboretum a month later, and signed up for a couple more 5k this past summer.  Because I did so well at the Race for the Place, my husband, Paul, and my brother-in-law, Eric, said I should try a half marathon. At first, I laughed. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it. So this summer, I have been in the process of training for my first half, the Northern Ohio Marathon, scheduled for Oct 12.

Running has become more than just something to do. I feel like every time I run, I am running with a purpose or mission: to honor and/or remember those I care about who have been diagnosed with cancer... the fighters, the survivors, and the taken....sadly, the list is long and seems continue to grow every day. Those warriors inspire me to keep going when I feel like I can't run any more...Kind of hard to explain but perhaps there are some who know what I mean. 

After I started training for and officially signed up for the half marathon, I made it a personal mission: I am running this race and will finish it, come hell or high water, in honor of my dear Papa D; my dear, sweet father who is currently waging the war against lung cancer. Papa D, this one's for you!!! ;-)  

Typically, when I've done my long runs as part of my half training, I've worn something to "inspire" me if that's what you want to call it; a shirt, a headband, etc. I thought a necklace would be perfect for any run, long or short, and even on days I’m not running and need some inspiration.  I contacted Karen, the owner of Aviron Jewelry, with my idea and in a few short days, she made my dream a reality.

Because this necklace would be more than just a piece of jewelry to me, there were several elements I wanted to incorporate into the design. I shared all of my ideas and thoughts behind the elements and Karen so beautifully pulled them all together in a way that made sense. I couldn't be happier:

The silver chain

Silver represents strength and has also been said to be the beacon of light in the darkness. Goodness knows there's been some dark days in my life and the "beacons of light" were at times the only things that kept me going. And during those dark days, heavens knows I needed strength. The silver chain's strength holds it all together…

The cancer ribbon

This represents the family and friends who have been afflicted with any form of the horrible disease. Having a silver ribbon also signifies the strength each one of them have/had through their journeys.

Copper disks

Copper is a healing metal and teaches of living life to it's fullest. Healing is much more than just a physical one. Sometimes we need mental healing, too. Since we aren't promised a tomorrow, we should all try to live life to the fullest, like each day is our last. 


This is the color of peace. The night my brother was murdered, he was wearing a peace sign necklace. I wore a similar necklace for years after his death in his memory and still have it, even though it's broken. There is a Bible verse that has become an important one with all the trials and tribulations my family and I have faced in my life: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6, 7)


Blue is the color of the sky and sea.  It is often associated with depth and stability.  It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.  The blue enamel used sparkles like the sun reflecting on the ocean. Not only do I love the ocean/beach, but I have a strong faith (thanks to my parents) and believe that this life is not the end. Because of my faith, I will see my loved ones again in heaven one day.


The word "hope" was one of the most important elements of this design. "For I know the plans I have for you, plans for peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope."  (Jeremiah 29:11)  This has always been a  favorite verse of mine. I even referenced it during the speech I gave at our reception the day I married Paul. Without hope, we have nothing and it's something we should never give up on.

So that's my story. Short and to the point it is not. But something this special and so near and dear to my heart deserves more than just a sentence or two. Thank you again, Karen and Aviron Jewelry, for making this a reality. Your work of art will always be more than just a necklace to me….

You can find Aviron Jewelry on Facebook and Etsy

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thank you, Customized Girl, for making these dirty girls very, very happy!

Team "Get Dirty and Just Keep Swimming"
When I heard that the Dirty Girl 5K Mud Run was coming to Cleveland on August 9, I decided I wanted to form a team. Since my matra throughout my breast cancer journey has been “just keep swimming,” it was only fitting that my team name for the mud run should be “Get Dirty and Just Keep Swimming." I was so excited when a friend and her friend and two of my coworkers signed up to be on my team! Oh the fun we were going to have!!!  I already had a storefront named Just Keep Swimming on the custom t-shirt design website Customized Girl, so it was a no brainer that I would have them print the shirts I designed. I won't go into all the details since the controversy with the Dirty Girl Mud Run was all over the news but right before we were set to order our shirts, we learned the Cleveland event was canceled. Bummer...big time!  In the days that followed, the new organization that took over the event were trying to decide if they could still make the Cleveland run happen.

Some very happy dirty girls!
So my dilemma was whether to order the shirts for my team not knowing if the event was going to happen. Even though we really wanted the shirts for the event, we were running out of time to order them and had no idea when the decision about the event would be made. With a little over a week to go, it was finally announced that Dirty Girl Cleveland was back on so now we had to figure out how to get our shirts on time. Customized Girl saved the day! When I explained the situation to their customer service department, they kindly offered to work with us on the expedited shipping charges. We never would have received our shirts on time if it wasn't for Customized Girl. Thank you, Customized Girl, from the bottom of these Dirty Girls' hearts, for saving the day and helping us complete our costumes with your awesome shirts!