Thursday, May 27, 2010


"I did my best but I guess my best wasn't good enough...."

La-la-la-freaking la!

Okay, the 'More Magazine' beauty/essay contest is officially over and now the judges have the 'difficult task' of picking the winner.

This contest ran from March through May and is now officially closed while we wait for the 'verdict'.

The idea was for women over 40 to send in a photo (non-professional) with an essay of 150 words or less recounting why this is the best time of their lives.

I saw this more as an opportunity rather than a competition. An opportunity for us women of a certain age to shine and to present ourselves honestly and as we are in exchange for literary recognition with first and second prizes in the thousands -- plus a trip to New York to get published in 'More Magazine'.

"I should have been a contender."
~Marlon Brando from "On The Waterfront"

I doubt that my campaign approach of an "honest face of forty" will hold merit compared to other entries such as these below (but just a few samplings):

The rules stated that the photo submitted must be non-professional:

"Photo must be .jpeg or .bmp image format and cannot exceed 3 MB, taken at entrant's direction and with entrant's permission, non-professional, and must not have won any prize or award."

With that said -- and the rules of a 'non-professional submitted photo' clearly broken by many of the contestants (again, the above is just but a sampling of the many discrepancies I found with other entries) -- do I think I'm anymore beautiful than the other entries?

Nope. Not at all.

In fact, I think of myself as quite ordinary -- but I also happen to think that 'ordinary' women are the ones who sparkle. Us gals who know that true beauty comes from our life experience, intelligence, compassion and hearts -- and not from the make-up counter.

I stand at 14 votes and am immensely proud of every single one of those votes and of the people who voted for me -- and I thank you.

They were a vote for honesty, integrity and more importantly, a vote for MS as 10% of my earnings would have gone to the MS Society.

I suppose this is a case of where I "shouldn't count the chickens before they're hatched." Okay, so I don't eat chickens but you get the point for my lack of a vegan friendly analogy.

As I've said before, I don't begrudge anyone to do what they feel necessary to make themselves feel better, all the power to them (rock on sisters!) -- however, I would compare their entries with a professional dancer or singer entering an amateur contest.

So, thank you to those of you who saw it in you to support me and my cause and take the time to vote -- I'm hoping that if it's not me who wins, that it's someone who indeed presented themselves without the smoke and mirrors like some of the other entries who garnered thousands of votes due to lingerie, sexy posing and professional photographers.

Otherwise, there's something rotten brewing in Denmark and every woman over 40 who entered this under the assumption of honest tallying is perfectly entitled to drown themselves in the savoring taste of bitter grapes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


In a rare second post of the day (see my post below this one which, coincidentally, can serve as a companion piece to this post), I just found out that today is 'World MS Day' -- how this fact escaped my attention is beyond me. Unlike other illnesses and afflictions that get their own months and much more recognition (not that they aren't deserving of such, so, please don't misunderstand me) Multiple Sclerosis isn't one of them. I'm hoping to help change that.

I am proud to be an activist and fundraiser for MS and encourage all who read this blog to get proactive.

This is something I've been involved with for about three years or so now after having met someone whom MS has robbed of everything but his spirit.

Through my journey in the MS cause I have learned that there is only so much we have control over -- while there are medications that can slow down the progression of MS, there is no cure. While MS can sometimes (but not always) take away our cognition, memory, dexterity, use of legs and limbs -- it cannot rob one of their will and sheer inner strength. I have met so many people who live the day to day fight against this affliction that it inspires me to thrive in my own life.

It would indeed be an unnecessary serving of injustice were I -- or anyone -- to do otherwise.

I fundraise for the MS Walk in my area and volunteer on the day of the Walk at the MS Walk site. I also attempt to get local businesses involved by donating gift cards and such for the raffles at the Walks where 100% of the proceeds go to fund research for a cause and cure for MS.

There is much still to be done and much you can do also.....

Through my involvement, I have been very blessed to get to know the staff members of my local National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) chapter where I see first hand their hard work, humility, dedication and integrity. They have invited me to work at the camps they hold once a year in Crestline, CA. where people with MS get to enjoy a mountain getaway (thank you, "Till and Jodd"!) complete with talent shows, crafts, swimming, workshops, yoga, meditation, food, lodging, etc. -- it's all inclusive and they even provide scholarships to those who cannot afford to attend.

I encourage you to visit to find out more about MS and what you can do.

The MS walk season may be over, but as I've said before, fundraising and awareness for MS never is.


I became -- and stayed -- involved with the MS cause in October of 2007 when I was working in an assisted living community.

Mid October of that year, a fifty one year old resident moved in. Curiosity got the best of all of us working there wondering why someone easily 30 years younger than the other residents was moving in.

One male resident, in his eighties, very matter of fact told me one day that when he moved in at the A.L. community, that he knew it would be the last place he would live in his lifetime. Many of the residents had simply come to accept that they come there to die.

This stuck with me.

I was then told by a higher up that this fifty one year old new resident has MS. I also learned that a few years before, his wife of thirteen years had left him when his MS became too much to handle and she was off to 'greener pastures'.

I later learned through him that she is now married to the man she left him for who could provide her with the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed being married to this new resident when he had a substantial income and was able to earn more than a good living before his MS progressed to the point where he simply couldn't anymore.

His name is Scott -- and he and I became fast friends.

Scott opened up to me telling me that one day his wife simply got up one morning and announced; "We're getting a divorce." He asked her if they can please discuss this and if there's anything he can do to make things better, and she simply repeated her sentiment of getting divorced with no explanation.

They had no children.

Scott was diagnosed with MS in 1989 when he was 33 years old and newly engaged. He then told his fiancee` of his diagnosis and explained to her that he doesn't yet know what this will mean for their future (remember, this was well before the age of the information era known as the 'World Wide Web') and that he would understand if she would rather not go through with their life together. In essence, he gave her an 'out' in which she then chose to stay by his side and proceeded to take the vows of: 'For better for worse, in sickness and in health'.

Thirteen years later, she had forgotten those vows.

Having had to retire early from his position as a Hospital Administrator (for which he worked very hard for in the eighties and nineties after years of schooling and getting his masters degree), Scott was now left with little choice but to call his parents who lived here in Riverside and asked if he can come home.

His parents, a retired doctor and nurse, made their home wheelchair accessible for Scott lives his life in a power chair unable to walk due to the progression of 'Secondary Progressive MS'.

His mother was riddled with cancer and died shortly thereafter. His father then died a few years later from heart disease, leaving Scott's older siblings with no choices of their own now but to place him in assisted living, with Scott's blessing and clear understanding, of course.

Scott shared with me a letter his Dad wrote to him a few years before his death where he stated to Scott that as a doctor who practiced medicine and healed patients for over fifty years, his one heartbreak and regret was that he was unable to heal his own son.

Scott is simply unable to care for himself without the need of caregivers and neither his older brother nor his older sister had the capabilities in their home and busy, working lives to care for him the way he needs.

They provide him with everything he needs in his new home there, visit him frequently (even though his brother lives about eight hours north of here and his sister about two hours south) and pay for his VERY high cost to live there to have the 24 hour care he needs.

Scott needs the use of a hoyer lift and caregivers to get him out of bed, into the shower every morning, on the toilet, dressed and into his power chair. He cannot simply get up and do these things on his own, if he needs to use the restroom, he has to push a button and wait for a caregiver to come in and lift him out of his chair via hoyer lift and back in again.

He once told me that he doesn't find this to be demoralizing to him nor undignified. Before moving into assisted living he told me that he would attempt these things for himself at home, but then said: "There was nothing dignified about me lying on the floor in the bathroom, unable to get myself up and back in my chair."

I got it.

From there I became proactive and participated in my first MS Walk, raising funds for a cause and cure for MS.

As of now, this is what we know:

*There is no cure for MS

*The only known cause -- which is not exclusive -- is that it is genetic (not hereditary, but genetic). This was just discovered about a year and a half ago through research but there are still many theories that have yet to be tethered down

*More than fifty percent of women than men get MS

*Each research project takes anywhere from three to five years and costs hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars each

This is why I do what I do.


*Loss of gait/balance

*Decreasing dexterity

*Tingling and numbing in limbs, hands, feet and fingers

*Double vision/eye sight worsening

*Memory loss/lack of focus and concentration

These are just a few of the symptoms for MS -- there are no two cases alike.

Since befriending Scott and joining the cause of MS, I have since made many new friends through the MS Society in my area. I just got back this past Sunday from my third consecutive year as a camp counselor/caregiver at the MS camp that the MS Society holds for one week in May up in Crestline, CA. at a camp for the disabled called 'Camp Paivika'.

I'm supposed to lift their spirits but find more often than not that it is the other way around. It is the most enlightening thing I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of.

I also embarked in April my third year of the MS Walk in Scott's name and honor.

I've been blessed enough to raise over $10,000 the past three Walk seasons -- but this year fundraising has been more like a slow crawl with the economy being what it is.

When I send out my fundraising E-mail's every Walk season with the link to my MS Walk page, I just simply ask that people give what they're able to -- I would never ask, nor expect, anyone to put themselves in financial dire straits. I explain that if everyone gave just five, ten or twenty dollars, we would more than exceed our goal.

I also understand that many don't have that to give -- I know there have been times when I sure wasn't able to.

With that said, if you're able to give, kindly allow me to say that I have seen first hand what the MS Society does and, therefore, I can and do support and get behind them wholeheartedly because I know where the donations go and what good is done with every dollar.

Below is how you can help if you're so inclined and able to. I tell the people I solicit from that I as well as anyone understand if they're not able to contribute -- again, I would never expect anyone to go beyond their means, only to do what they're able, if they're able.

Following is how you can help. If anyone has any questions or problems navigating the site getting to my MS Walk page, or would perhaps like to donate via a check as opposed to on-line -- please contact me at and please be sure to identify yourself in the subject box so as your E-mail inquiry doesn't get confused with spam and accidentally deleted. I can also send you the direct link to my page via E-mail if you'd prefer but the following should get you there also.

I hope Scott's story has touched your heart as it did mine. Thank you.

"Blessed are those who give without remembering. And blessed are those who take without forgetting."
~Bernard Meltzer

To make an on-line donation:

1) Go to

2) Click 'Donate/Pledge' on the left hand side in the green column

3) Then click 'Donate' on the next page

4) From there click 'Search For Participant' and type in my name: Jo Anna O'Hara

5) You should then be led to my participant page where you follow the directions to donate--this is a secure site.

*You may have to search by my Walk date/location which is: The Quake Stadium in Rancho Cucamonga -- Inland Empire -- on April 17th, 2010 and then follow the instructions above.

Many thanks, appreciation and a continued blessed 2010.

Peace and serenity,
"You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering."
~Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Swiss poet and philosopher


Hi, all. I'm back from camp. I made it down the mountain Sunday afternoon by the skin of my teeth. The sky was angry that day, my friends (enter George Costanza). Okay, not really but the roads were icy and slushy and amidst a flurry of snowflakes and panic (yes, that would be ME), all's well that ends well.

I went on prior to leaving Thursday morning. Weather was supposed to be quite nice all weekend, mostly in the high 60's and low 70's. Thursday was indeed lovely then it went cold quite quickly and I found myself ill prepared. No coat. Only a light jacket and sweater. What a nincompoop! I know better and yet nonetheless neglected to pack accordingly 'just in case'.

Other than competing with Frosty for the coldest (NOT coolest) entity, all went well. I'm always so happy to see Ed, B and my 'other kids' when they pick me up on departing day. While it's nice to get away and focus on others, it's always nice to come home, too. Although, I came home with a swollen inner right ankle -- for my birthday, Ed and B went in on a new pair of vegan friendly tennis shoes for me (all man made materials -- no leather) which I needed for my walks. Unfortunately, I hadn't broken them in completely and ran around camp like a crazy person not realizing until the last night of camp that the tennis shoe had rubbed the inside of my ankle causing it to swell three times it's size. How did I not realize this????

So, in addition to having 'cankles' (Hillary Clinton anyone???) I also had to recuperate before returning to my walking routine which I am doing this morning.

To re-cap: this is a camp held by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for people afflicted with MS. The NMSS are just kooky enough to hire me to work as a caregiver in one of the women's cabins and I'm only too pleased to be a part of this experience.

Normally camp is five nights, however, due to budget restraints it was only three nights this year. It was a smaller crowd but they're hoping next year it will go back to five, budget allowing. Everyone is feeling the crunch.

It was a good time, but very busy with activities and we were all pooped! One caregiver is required to attend the events whether it be crafts, workshops, yoga, etc. Personally, I avoid the craft room like the plague as I'd rather stick needles in my eye than do crafts so I attended everything else instead. There's always other caregivers on hand that do enjoy crafts so I gladly leave it to them.

It's always an interesting dynamics -- as with anything there's people you connect with and people you don't but it's always fun, busy and I enjoy earning my keep.

One thing I participated in was the journaling workshop. Public speaking is not my forte, I typically do better on a one on one basis but found it quite easy to speak to the campers about my blogging experience and why I began. As everyone who reads my blog knows, my blog is very personal and I encouraged those who don't blog or journal to do so as it provides a cathartic outlet. Todd is the regional program manager of the NMSS for my area and asked me to co-manage the journaling workshop and, again, although I was hesitant to speak in public I found it nice to share with the campers on what they can do to get their story out there about their personal experience with MS. One camper really touched my heart as she and her husband like to travel but one of the symptoms of having MS is memory loss so she would like to start a memory/travel blog which I am happily going to help her set up.

I wish I had taken pictures but....alas, I have none. One of the attendees was nice enough to E-mail me this group shot. Sorry it's so small -- I couldn't figure out how to re-size it. I'm the second one in the last row on the right hand side of the picture.

I hope everyone had a great week and I'm looking forward to visiting all of you. I'm off for my walk with my friend, Nikki, in a bit so will stop by to see as many of you as I can before I have to start getting ready. If not, tomorrow it is. I know it's been a long time coming and again, I apologize. Between my birthday, B's birthday, Mother's Day and camp -- life has been full but I'm slowly getting back to my routine, including an appointment with my therapist on Friday. And so it is that life simply goes on.

Thank you, again, for your patience and tolerance. I've missed you all.

Peace and serenity,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


It would seem I'm in need of recovery -- of which one method is following steps. One of those steps is making amends and being accountable.

I'm not an alcoholic or a drug addict, nor do I gamble. However, what I am guilty of lately is neglect, for which I need to atone.

I have taken some much needed time away from blogging (and visiting others -- again, my heartfelt apologies to my loyal and lovely blog friends) to breathe, organize and to feel better about my day to day existence.

I've done a little redecorating and revamping my home: I figure since I spend so much time here I need to make my home a place I enjoy being at and a place where Ed wants to come home to every night after being away for 15 hours a day, six days a week.

I repainted a wood panel on my garage door that was replaced due to termites and left unpainted by the landlady. I removed things from my living room to let in more light. I planted some flowers out front. I cleaned the mess that was on my bedroom floor (*see also Jo dumping worn only once clothes instead of hanging them back up or placing them back in drawers) and I bought a foam mattress pad and new pillows so Ed can sleep better (he's been tossing and turning on our old, worn out mattress and waking up feeling more tired than when he went to bed). I've been making my bed every day now ("It sets the tone for the day") and making sure the house is always picked up and clean. Something I, sadly admit, wasn't to keen on before.

The boys also recently cleaned up the garage (where we added an acquired free pool table and a dart board) and cleaned up the backyard, too, where we now have horseshoe pits, courtesy of my 'oldest son', J.

All this makes for a nicer environment as this is indeed the proverbial 'waterhole', where people gather. Mostly this is where we landed and for however long we inhabit it, I needed to make it more livable and enjoyable to be in.

So, this has taken up much time, plus I'd been getting things ready for B's 20th b. day party which was this past Saturday in which things never seem to go as planned. I found myself once again too overwhelmed to cope and no matter how organized I think I am, I never feel like I spend enough time with this person or that. Food is never heated up in the timely manner I assumed it would be, etc.

Then...something strange happens and everyone tells me they really had a nice time and enjoyed themselves. B, especially, was very happy with the turnout and events. How did that happen? It's simply beyond me.

In my haze of exhaustion and mania, somehow joy slipped in.

Next up is MS Camp this Thursday the 20th through Sunday the 23rd (courtesy of our local National Multiple Sclerosis Society) in the mountains of Crestline, CA. This will be my third consecutive year there hired by the NMSS and is something I always look forward to. There's always that one person to whom you feel a difference was made and I come away feeling enlightened and inspired by these brave people who live with this affliction. My cabin I feel particularly blessed to be in with my spirited gals with whom there is never a dull moment.

Last night, however, I was feeling not so into it as I have in previous years, with my not wanting to leave my exhausted -- and not feeling so well -- husband behind. I began to cry saying that I didn't want to go this year, in which he quickly reminded me how much I always enjoy myself there and that it will no doubt be the same again this year. And he's right. I just have a big case of 'cry-baby-itis' lately. "Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda" anyone? From the 1993 camp reunion film, 'Indian Summer' (GREAT movie!):

So the remainder of my time these next few days will be getting things in order here before I leave.

But before I do, let me say in particular to W.O.W., SITS (and the featured bloggers of late that I've neglected to come and say hello to), Steven Anthony, Meeko (missed you on Saturday), Elle, Herrad, Allen, Ms. Bibi, Navqee and Andrea that I'm so sorry I've been so neglectful of late -- please know that you're all on my mind and upon my return I vow to get back to visiting you all more regularly.

To all of you who have become new followers and who were kind enough to visit me on my W.O.W. day last Wednesday -- I so appreciated all your kind comments; they truly lifted me up and helped me get through the next few days events. I'll be happy to come and visit you all soon and look forward to that.

All my friendship, peace and serenity,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Hi and welcome to those of you from W.O.W. I feel unworthy of being today's 'BON' (Blogger Of Note) seeing as I've been an absent blog friend as of late.

I was given notice about two weeks ago that today would be my day, I nonetheless, in typical fashion, waited until the last minute to do this as I seem to work better in 'panic mode'.

Anyone else do this???

Welcome to my neurosis. Try not to be afraid -- just go with it.

For those of you who don't know, W.O.W. stands for 'Words Of Wisdom' run by Pam and Sandy for anyone who likes to read -- and write -- good blog content.

You can get to W.O.W. from my side bar by clicking on their button under 'My Favorite Blogs'.

I'm Jo, by the way. To sum up me and my blogs purpose, I am a 44 year old wife and Mom to two grown children; my son, 'B', will be twenty this Friday and my daughter, 'C', is 23. B is a full time college student at our local junior college and looks to be a child therapist one day. Our daughter...well, we've been estranged for quite some time; she has Asperger's Syndrome but works part time in retail and lives with a roommate nearby. If any of you are praying people, please just kindly pray for her.

Ed is my husband and one I am grateful for. I actually still really like him, which any 'married for eons' person can tell you is quite vital and healthy.

I am a stay at home wife, vegan and an advocate/fundraiser to find a cause and cure for MS (Multiple Sclerosis). Having a friend with MS who got me pro-active in it's cause, it's difficult for me to now remember what I found so important in my day to day trivial tasks before learning about this debilitating affliction.

We are also recent filers of bankruptcy, after losing our home of 16 years, which is why I began this blog; to vent, whine, bemoan and otherwise negate. However, we came out of it in tact after a horrendous year and a half, and are now fighting our way back to 'normal' -- or a facsimile thereof. Anything closely resembling normal at this point, I'll take it.

In light of this, I noticed I began having issues with joy which seems to be elusive and not in places it was before.

So, with the help of a therapist to guide me with my depression and anxiety diagnosis, I, too, am attempting to fight my way back to a healthier state.

Maya Angelou says: "You do the best you know how to do and when you know better, you do better."

I am immensely grateful to my blog friends and supporters for being patient and tolerant of my neurosis which sometimes consist of week long absences. Occasionally I just need to not think about things and my good blog friends such as Elle, Ms. Bibi, Steven, Meeko and Andrea (just to name a few) have been terribly kind and empathetic propelling me further into unworthiness.

All is not doom and gloom, however, as I try with all my might -- as we all do, I believe -- to hold onto a perpetual state of hope as that's simply one thing that no one can take away.

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise”
~Oscar Wilde

I'm only too happy and pleased to make new friends and want to thank Pam and Sandy from W.O.W. so kindly for thinking me worthy -- and I thank you for stopping by.

Peace and serenity,

A few posts to catch you up:


I don't even know where to begin. I simply have little or no joy, I'm easily irritated, ungrateful, impatient and tired. Plus I'm starting to get tremors in my left hand so I don't spend much time on my computer. I miss my blog friends: Andrea, Elle, Ms. Bibi, Herrad, Meeko, and Steven Anthony --whom I owe a heartfelt apology.

This is all I have to give right now, my friends, but it has nothing to do with my love and devotion to you. That's right -- it's the 'ol: 'It's not you, it's ME' thing. For example: I'm supposed to go walking this morning with my friend, Nikki but if I don't I know she'll think I'm making up excuses -- which is partially true: I do have things to do this morning (for B's birthday party on Saturday -- order the cake, buy the food...) that if I don't get them done now and wait until after I walk, my frustration and anxiety levels are going to be sky high and the later I wait, the more people I have to deal with out there and won't feel like going which I HAVE to do today. However, maybe walking will calm me but right now I feel anxious about walking! I need to walk, I just would rather not sometimes and today is one of them. I'm somewhere inbetween needing to and not caring. I would much rather right now just sit down and have a cup of coffee with Nikki (whose company I enjoy immensely!) to find out how her Mother's Day was and to catch up...

I stopped by her house on Thursday as I was out running some errands and her and her daughter (one of B's best friends) were swimming out back when I came in -- both noticed I was out of sorts and kept commenting that it was because 'I was out of my element' (outside of my own home). They were right -- and it showed as it simply takes a toll for me to do things that other people don't bat an eyelash at.

This is where I'm at.

I had an appointment with my therapist on Friday, which went well. We discussed my relationship with 'C', my daughter. You read the previous post, it's enough said. Nothing's changed and I doubt it will anytime soon. I'm somewhere inbetween relief and acceptance, grief and hope.

My birthday was Saturday in which Ed came home from work around 2:00 in the afternoon and then went out to do some shopping to make me homemade vegan cupcakes (I have a vegan cupcake cookbook) in which I didn't get a cupcake until 10:00 p.m. Why? Because it took him that long -- 8 hours to shop and bake. EIGHT HOURS. He made such an effort and tried so hard that I was somewhere inbetween being grateful and pissed. I sat mostly by myself all day waiting for something, anything...while he and B were running around 'for me' when I would have rather simply had their company. 9:00 p.m. we finally ate dinner then it was waiting another hour for cupcakes to cool and be frosted and the gifts (which were really nice and thoughtful -- and Ed decorated the table with 'Tinkerbell') when all I really wanted was sleep and to call it a day at that point.

Sunday we were gone for eight hours for Mother's Day to spend the day with our Mom's -- we had dim sum and went to see 'Iron Man 2' -- I didn't see the first one 'cause I rarely go out to movies but it wasn't about me, it was about my Mom and Mother-in-law who wanted to see this film which was enjoyable, I was just a little lost on the whole thing since I missed the first one. I was somewhere inbetween entertainment and confusion.

Ed was home from work yesterday and the refund we've been waiting for in regards to our taxes hasn't come so Ed got on-line to find out what the hold up was and discovered that they claim he entered something incorrectly. He then became enraged so I left. I had to confront the lesser of two evils: the big, bad, mean outside world or a pissed off Irishman. I chose the former. I was somewhere inbetween "Glad he's home for an extra day" to "Next time, Ed -- go to work!".

So, I know, I know -- apologies, shmapologies. I don't blame you for not wanting to hear it anymore -- I would feel the same way if I were you. I really am sorry...

I miss you all.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Once again, I'm teetering between heartfelt apologies to my blog friends and feelings of being overwhelmed.

We all have one: that proverbial wall we throw ourselves against, bloodying ourselves in trying to make something/someone what it isn't.

This has been my life for five years with my daughter, 'C'. C is 23 and has 'Asperger's Syndrome' -- a high functioning form of autism.

We have been estranged and during this time I have reached out time and again to her: usually this is through E-mail's where I'm asking how she is, if there's anything she needs or wants, etc. I also frequently send her gift cards to buy groceries, personal items, etc. as she only works off and on in retail and is often out of work having to rely heavily on her roommate/best friend for food, shelter and such.

Most of the time my reaching out goes unacknowledged and I only see her once a year or so and that is usually at the behest of my Mom or Mother-in-law. They'll plan an event around trying to mend the much badly in need of repair fences between C and I.

In spite of her cool exterior and behavior to me, I'll take anything I can get -- and it's not been much.

In spite of her rejection and pride, my pride takes a back seat to the love I have for her with my just wanting to make things right between us any way I can, much to the chagrin of Ed and B, who sees it as futile and advising me to step back.

While I've known all along that they were right, for years now I couldn't tell myself to stop trying.

Most everyone has advised me that one day she will come back around but that it has to be in her own time and her own terms, not mine.

Many have relayed stories to Ed about going through similar situations with their adult kids who, at around the age of 30, finally grew up and realized the love of family -- and that things aren't as black and white as they once thought.

Sometimes it's not until they have children of their own that it finally hits them.

I have fiercely held onto this as it gave me immense hope. That is until yesterday.

On Friday, May 14th B will turn 20. C wanted to see him on his birthday and via a message through my Mom, we started making arrangements for lunch on that day via our usual form of communication; E-mail. I conveyed my great joy in looking forward to seeing her and that B felt the same, as did both of her Grandma's which were going to join us that day.

But C, holding onto bitterness and convoluted thoughts and memories, declined wanting to see Ed and made that clear in response to my E-mail.

For the record, C was my daughter from a previous relationship -- I got pregnant when I was 19. Her biological father out of the picture since her infancy, Ed raised and then legally adopted her after we were married. C received a new birth certificate and Ed's last name. She was loved. IS loved still.

Sparing you the private and painful details of mine and C's correspondence, I'll only say that I wrote in reply to her that I think this estrangement has been going on long enough and that whatever it is she thinks about Ed and I, she is mistaken. She has polluted her own memories as a need for attention and sympathy. I also spoke of her Asperger's as a need to get her to understand that all she is feeling may not be entirely of her own doing, which didn't go well.

She spat venom calling me vile names and saying to never contact her again. "We're done and this time it's for good."

I fell to pieces.

I then spoke to Ed, my Mom, B, Meeko (who gave me the kick in the pants I needed) and received a lovely, supportive E-mail from Steven Anthony. And just this morning I briefly spoke to my friend who has MS.

During the latter conversation I relayed that after my initial reaction of pain, that I then felt a sense of serenity and -- dare I say? -- relief.

I couldn't quite figure this out: What was wrong with me? Could I truly be the monster she seems to think I am???

My friend said; "No, Jo. When you beat your head against a brick wall for so long, it simply feels good when you finally STOP."

An epiphany hit me as hard as that wall I've been battering myself against.

So, while hope for her and for us remains inside of me, no longer will I bloody myself.

Instead, I will learn to swim in the new calm that has washed over me with gentle waters and the wisdom to know when to let go and let be what needs to simply be.

Thank you, my friends.