Florida is within a few days of being hit with the largest hurricane we have ever had. The crowds at the beginning of the week were frantic. Having just seen the damage in Texas many people panicked and grabbed all the water off the store shelves. Greedy establishments were charging much higher prices than they should and the lines for gasoline were backed up down the streets. As I sit here with my puppies I wonder, why don’t we have a plan for such an event? Why don’t more people keep a few bottles of water on hand just in case? Why do we not check our flashlight batteries when we check our smoke detector? Why do we panic?

The media has sent us into that frenzy. I understand the need to be safe and cautious. I wish there was a better way to prepare us. Maybe saying…the people who live in this area go get the things you need. You finished? O.K. next area go get your needed things. Given forty-eight hours to get prepared for a storm what would you do? Put all your important belongings higher up? Scan pictures and papers into a computer? Make sure you have food, water, candles and matches?


What about if you didn’t have any warning? When I got the phone call that there had been an accident and my son was dead, I had no warning. No time to say “Don’t go there”. “I love you” or “Good-bye”. What about those people whose houses catch on fire and they must run out with only a handful of belongings. They had no time. We have time. We have a warning.

In my book Unexpected Change, I had a four-step plan. One, talk to people. Your neighbors, your family, your friends. Two, journal. Writing about your fears, the things you are doing and what changes you may make after the storm. Three, do your research. What zone are you in? What happened when there were other storms in your area? Where are the safe shelters? Four, Make a plan. Get what you need to be safe and live without power and water if needed.

Finally, Talk to your families, near and far. Tell them you love them. Keep them informed. The news can sound more frightening that it is. Do everything you can to make yourself safe and realize what you have control over. The storm is not one of them.


What are your Goals?

I nevbookser set out to be a writer. I did however always want to help others. Alongside my senior picture it read “Goal: To be a social worker”. Listening, really listening to others talk about their thoughts, problems, and dreams was something I enjoyed, and still do.

It’s almost like listening to others helped me sort out my own thoughts and develop my own dreams.  What are your dreams and goals? Do they stem from a life lived or a life imagined? Are they based on someone else who is living that dream? Do they come from happiness or sadness?

Writing, for me, came from sadness. Following the loss of my son I wrote letters to Heaven. I would share how we were doing on Earth without him and what we were doing to remember him. When one of my nurses at Hospice lost a daughter, I printed my letters and writings and gave them to her. She found comfort in reading them and we talked many times afterwards. With her support and hospice help, those writings became my first book November Mourning. That was the beginning of my writing career.

Five books later, I am getting ready to launch Growing Through Illness Together. The focus is again, helping others find comfort, learn better communication and coping skills with those fighting the illness alongside them.  With each book my goals may have refocused, but never strayed from the idea of helping others.

It has been nine years since I published November Mourning and my goal of helping others has blossomed into a speaking and counseling career as well. I still enjoy listening to others in a one-on-one session and watching their face as they discover the answers that were hidden from sight before our session.

Did I think I would ever be a writer? No. I remember my father-in-law, an English professor, laughing when I told him I had failed English 101 in college. Determination and sticking to your goals can make anything happen.




Someone I love committed suicide recently. All the counseling I have done for others, all the books I 148766_2951164979294_1266471522_32195042_1967768741_nhave written about grief and loss, and all the degrees I have, did not prepare me for the tornado of feelings I have felt.

I always heard that when it is happening to you, all that “stuff” and logic goes out the window. I am hear to say I am living proof that this is true.

When the call came in I was shocked and needed time for it to sink in. I played denial with myself for a bit. Maybe he’s just unconscious… Maybe they will find a pulse…Maybe…

Maybe didn’t happen.  I jumped into counselor mode, friend mode, family mode. Removing myself from the reality that someone I love was no longer here on earth. I replayed tapes in my head of our last few visits and went through the “if only” thoughts. If only he had called me to talk, if only he knew how much this would hurt those who love him. But all they could see was a need to end the pain, frustration, sadness and hurt immediately.

The shame of having a mental illness problem often keeps folks from seeking help or even talking to others about suffering from depression. But depression is a medical condition, much like diabetes or having high cholesterol, both also require treatment.

Their medical condition is that they suffered with depression. “A mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how one feels, thinks and behaves and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. One may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and may feel as if life isn’t worth living.”

An estimated 17 million adult Americans suffer from depression during any 1-year period and it is reported that treatment is effective 60-80% of the time.

My loved one tried to get treatment but gave into his emotional pain. The sadness I feel, the helplessness to make sense of this situation, and simple fact that a few days prior to this terrible day, they were happy and making plans for the future…gave me reason to publish this post.  We never knew it was this bad. We never saw any signs, and we will never know why.

If you are feeling depressed, seek out help. Journal write, talk to people about your feelings. http://www.suicidehotlines.com/florida.html or  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline    1-800-273-8255

You will always be in my heart

What is Self-Care?


Self-care is a survival skill designed to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short- and longer term health and well-being.


Practicing self-care will help you:

  • Identify and manage the general challenges that all hard-working people face, such as the potential for stress and burnout or interpersonal difficulties.
  • Achieve more balance in your life, by maintaining and enhancing the attention you pay to the different areas of your life in a way that makes sense to you.

Self-care is not simply about limiting or addressing professional stressors. It is also about enhancing your overall well-being. There are common aims to almost all self-care efforts, but each of us may focus on different areas as we emphasize and seek balance among them.

  • Taking care of physical and psychological health
  • Managing and reducing stress
  • Honoring emotional and spiritual needs
  • Fostering and sustaining relationships
  • Achieving an equilibrium across one’s personal, school, and work lives.

Join me on June 26th at 6:30pm at Blue Q Health and Wellness in Largo, Fl for a free one hour class. For information call 727-530-7778

Stress may affect the body in more ways than you think

16729502_10208597226316218_5158479039645014408_nChanges in our lives can cause us to be stressed. Sometimes the changes are positive ones such as a job promotion or the birth of a child. Sometimes the opposite is true. You may be laid off because the company you work for is downsizing. Instead of the joyful experience of your child’s birth you have experienced the death of your child. When these events occurred, every facet of my life was affected from the tip of my head down to my toes.

Cognitively or the way my brain thought about things was altered to the point of feeling like I was going “crazy” at times.  I withdrew into myself not wanting to talk to anyone, for talking made me cry- yell- it made me feel out of control.  I would have given anything not to “feel”. At times, I couldn’t find my keys when I wanted to go out of the house, or I would leave the house and forget where I was going.

Physically our body responds to stress the same way we do with grief. Changes such as this in our lives can cause us headaches as well as heartaches. Headaches can come from not sleeping enough, from fear that life will never be safe again, or tension to resolve the situation. Heartaches or feeling weary due to heaviness in the chest is often experienced as a by-product of this exhaustion and can seem as if one is walking through a fog.

Emotional responses are familiar to anyone who has experienced stress. Although, those suffering from stress may be surprised at the many emotions surfacing. I had bouts of crying, being angry at those close to me, and had a short temper. I did not trust my feelings or the intensions of others All these emotions can come to the surface as one struggles to make sense out of a senseless situation.

Socially those suffering from stress may suddenly retreat inward and not want to be around anyone.  The world they knew and trusted to be the same has now changed. The control I thought I had had become a fallacy. Not wanting to experience the hurt I was feeling now, l refused invitations of support and comfort.

How a person has been raised and their faith beliefs can also be seen in the body. Their spiritually can be a comfort or cause them additional stress. Many have shared that they were angry with God, as they knew him.  For just as many, their faith helps relieve the stress and brought them a sense of calmness that eased some of their pain.

Being aware and accepting that stress affects our body in various ways is important to the healing process and the self care that follows. Finding an activity that can take your mind off of the situation can bring some comfort. Journal writing is one of the activities that can be a helpful tool when one is feeling stressed. As one begins to list the problems, they also begin to formulate options and begin writing out a plan to reduce the stress. To reduce that stress your feeling…jot it down – sort it out…and begin to relax.

Help Over the Speed Bumps in Life

When we sign bump aheadsencounter a speed bump in the road, we are usually given a sign, before the bump, to let us know to slow down and proceed with caution. That doesn’t always happen in real life. In our lives, the bumps in the road are often a surprise and usually unexpected. Having been through my share of bumps, I now help others over the bumps along their own paths.

My life has been filled with bumps in the road that I was not prepared for.  I was the twelfth child born to my parents. Shortly before the birth of my twin brother and myself, my father left the family and moved in with another woman.

My first bump in the road involved being placed with a new family. I grew up knowing I was adopted and somewhat different than others. I also learned at an early age to not only accept change, but to grow from it.

What has helped me over my bumps in the road?

Journaling! Taking the thoughts that are in my mind and putting them to words on paper helps my brain seek solutions. Doing this helps me to sort my thoughts out and begin to make sense of them.

Research! When I was getting my divorce, I read about the laws. How to protect my boys and myself, and how to go about getting the back-child support that my children deserved. Research taught me how to survive on my own and to not be so hurt that I closed my heart to others.

Talking to people! Find people that care and know what you are going through. There are always going to be gossips and nosey people. But the task is to find those people who care about lifting you up. People who have been through a similar bump and can offer advice, education, and empathy will guide you over your bumps.

Create a plan! When I discovered I was going to become a single mom of four growing boys, someone who hadn’t work much in years, I looked for a job. I worked from home to avoid babysitter costs. I considered government programs to help us out for a short time until I could stand alone.  I enrolled in college to better myself.

Optimism is not the naive expectation that everything will turn out rosy. It is instead, an attitude that no matter what happens, you can find something to enjoy. It is the choice to be happy despite obstacles and change. (unknown) 


From Unexpected Change available on Amazon.com and http://www.maryjanecronin.com


We all have a story inside of us

Sitting at my table at a recent networking meeting I looked around the room and was surprised at how many of us had written a book. Some of the books were completed and published, some were in the “work in progress” stage, and some were still being contemplated in the minds of the author. My first thought was “Why are so many people writing books”? Quickly, my next thought was “why not?

We all have a story to tell. There is something inside us that can be shared with others. Maybe it is a personal challenge that we had overcome. One woman in the room had written about her struggles as a child in another country. When she finished telling others about her story, I myself, was filled with sadness and inspiration. My problems seemed so trivial after hearing her speak. One man had written a fictional story that was based on his life as a police officer. Admiration filled my soul as I listened to why he was a second generation officer who believed in the mission of keeping his community safe.

Overcoming the “bumps in the road” of my life included the loss of my son. Writing a book about the experience helped me lessen the tears and pain of his death. My recent book Unexpected Change was written to help others who find life doesn’t always happen the way we plan. All of my books have a self-16729502_10208597226316218_5158479039645014408_ncare and encouraging message but there are other reasons for sharing your story.

One man had struggled to become successful in business and now had written a book to help new entrepreneurs reach success with a little more ease than he had. Writing a book can also be for personal enjoyment and a way to keep your family alive for generations to come. Far too many of our elders are passing on without leaving a legacy. We need to remember them, learn from them, and grow from their mistakes and accomplishments.

What is inside your heart? Do you have a personal story of struggle or triumph? Do you know of a way to build “a better mouse trap”? Take a pen and begin writing what you want the world to know and remember about you.

Mary Jane Cronin  www.maryjanecronin.com

Comforting Arms   http://www.comforting-arms.com