You Are Here For A Reason

Vision: The faculty or state of being able to see. The ability to think about or plan the future within the imagination or wisdom.

Wisdom: The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

Purpose: The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

I have defined three powerful words. Three words that we all need or should get familiar with. Three words that have changed my entire world: not for bad though, but for good. Because these three words have helped define my life, and helped me understand my being or as Sarah Jakes says, “My must be”.
Let me break it down for you.

Lets start with Wisdom. We all have heard it from the time we were little tiny boppers from our parents or grandparents. We all have associated that word “wisdom” with being old. But I am here to tell you that being old doesn’t make you wise or have wisdom. Just like the definition says, it is about having experience or knowledge and being of good judgment. It doesn’t say anything about being old. And I am not saying you per se are wise either.

Our experiences that we have in life from the time we come out until we die is what makes us wise, but only if we learn from them. For example, when we first learn to ride a bike, we are taught balance and if we don’t balance we will fall. This is a life lesson that will stay with us forever. You now have gained some knowledge and will make good judgment when it comes to riding a bike and staying balanced.

Life is a huge lesson that we are supposed to learn from and take those learned lessons as we get older and apply them to our life. Mistakes give us room for trial and error. But you can not make the same mistake over and over again by doing this apparently you are not learning that lesson and you are failing at having the proper knowledge therefore you are not gaining the wisdom you need to carry on in your life. I hope this is making sense. If so let’s move on.

In order to have a purpose you must have a vision. Visions usually come from God. But if you don’t quite have the knowledge or wisdom to grasp the vision God is giving you then you will never find or understand your purpose in life. Let’s use my life as an example. God blessed me with my beautiful baby boy at the ripe age of 15 years of age. Why so young? This is a question or conversation I have also had with God. Now at 39 that answer is becoming clearer, although I sometimes think but dang 15 LOL. But to be honest my son might have saved me from something that I could have never come back from if he would have never been conceived and born when he was. Ok let’s move on.

At 19 years of age I had a prophetic word spoken over my life, which then I didn’t understand but now it makes so much sense. Whether you believe it or not, our lives are already planned out from the day we are conceived. The life lessons and the knowledge that we gain is how we come to understanding those three words, Wisdom, Vision and purpose. My son gave me my purpose. To be able to be the voice he never had, which the lady who spoke the prophetic word told me that I would have a voice and when I speak people would stop and listen. Now when I share my story, people stop and listen along with chills and tears. But that word she spoke over my life was a vision that she had from God…my vision came that God gave me came from starting Qute Cosmetics along with Their voice of greater Cincinnati which both are platforms to raise awareness and funds for families affected by Cerebral Palsy. Which is my way that I am able to be the voice for my son and other families. When people inquire about my cosmetics or non-profit they listen genuinely. Why because I am passionate about it. Because it is my story, my testimony.

We all have a story, a purpose and we all are given a vision: throughout life we should gain knowledge, which gives us our wisdom. So stop going through life not learning. Start paying attention. Take 10-20 minutes and sit by yourself in total quiet, pray or meditate. But listen because I promise you will begin to hear, but don’t just hear, ACT on it. You are still here because YOU MUST Be____________!

I Got Very Luck!😍2 Loving Dads

On my 21st birthday, my birth dad, Big Daddy, was dying from cancer, we all knew that his day was number… One of my gifts was a dress that my dad's handpicked out for me, he had made me promise him that I must save this dress for something extraordinary and not for his funeral. A year and haft later, the first Mob-Con cocktail party took at the Mob Experience at the Tropicana was coming up. It was a perfect occasion to wear the dress. While there I met a man by the name, Ronald Fino, who later on give me a home when I need it. Now, I am proud to say that he’s my Dad, getting ready to adopt me as his own daughter, Amanda Fino. To me, my Dad did have a hand helping me beating my demos. Dad helped me embrace my cerebral palsy. He had sat me down, one day, to really explain what my cerebral palsy was and encourage me to be who I am and what I am today.  To me wearing that dress, as my Big Daddy told me, was some kind of sign because I’ve met the man that God gave me as a Dad for taking my real dad to heaven too soon.

My TWO dad has been my greatest strength in my life. Happy Father's Day to both of my Dads! You guy's made me the woman that I am today! Like in the song by Will Smith ‘Just the Two of Us’ being with this dear and a beloved statement from Smith's son, Trey. Before the song starts, Trey says, "Now, dad, this is a very sensitive subject."


Vacationing with Jaylen

Going on vacation was very hard for us, one moment we are ready to go, and the next we are changing our minds. We changed our minds because we weren't ready to deal with the staring that came with my son Jaylen and his dad whose and amputee.

Often I talk with other families who have the same fears about going in public with their loved ones who are different. The commonality is, we would rather stay home and avoid the drama of being looked at funny by those who are ignorant.

Now that I've jumped off the ledge and decided that I would no longer live in fear, my family and I enjoy family vacations. I know use my experience to show other families that it's ok to take your loved ones out in public without fear.

It was about three years ago when we started going places. I’ll never forget our first vacation. We went to the Great Wolf Lodge in North Carolina. This place isn’t very accessible but there is plenty to do. We decided to go here because our kids love water especially my son and it’s an indoor waterpark. I hate being outside! (lolol)

Unfortunately, we still got the stares, however,  when we were in the waterpark the attention wasn’t on us which allowed us to enjoy ourselves. The experience was amazing, and we have gone there every year since our first visit.

Our second vacation was at the beach. The experience was not as good. We quickly found out how the beaches aren't the best for wheelchairs unless you have a chair with wheels that can tread sand. To get Jaylen and his chair to the beach near the water, we had to carry him and that heavy ass wheelchair to the beach. By the time we got there, we were bombed. You know how the sand can take a toll on you when you’re walking through it. Well, imagine walking through it carrying a sixty-pound boy in his wheelchair.

hen we got by the water people were staring at us hell we just carried a wheelchair with our son in it so yeah getting looks was inevitable (lolol). We just focused on enjoying ourselves and not on the people wasting their beach time looking at us.

Now, in current times (lolol) some beaches now have beach wheelchairs that you can rent when you go to the beach and there are a lot more accessible beaches.  So, You can also purchase wheels that will handle sand so that you don't have to change chairs.

My overall advice would be, when looking for places to visits don’t think about what others may think, don’t think about how people may look and you may even run into some problems HOWEVER don't let that dictate the fun and memories you will create with your loved one with special needs.

Life Isn’t Over! It’s Only Just Begining

Sometimes we often think that once we have a child or inherit the responsibility of caring for a loved one, that life is over!  That is so not the truth.  Your life is actually just beginning.

Children and those with (dis)Abilities have a different view of life. They don't take everything seriously and they are transparent. We have diluted everything down as well as made everything stressful. We've stopped living and allowed the thoughts and perceptions of others to drive our lives.

The beauty of caring for children or someone with (dis)Abilities is seeing the world from a different perspective.  The perspective of love, peace, tranquility, harmony, and more importantly HUMANITY.  We are in a world that's built on microwave lifestyles and we forget about the human piece of life. We are popping pills to stay sane, driving ourselves crazy and blaming others for our own insanity.

We've ignored the beauty in what's around us. We argue over the difference in cultures and which is better than the other. We are focused on building lives on quicksand and not concrete.

We are so delusional about life. We don't respect what this life has to offer. We want things the way we want them no matter what.  We don't give things time to organically blossom.

Children and those who are (dis)Abled understand that it takes time to build something solid and organic. They enjoy each and every moment life has to offer. We are the ones that put the limits on life when certain situations arrive.

Make sure to live each day fearlessly. The more you submit to life the more you enjoy the experience. We only get one chance at this experience, make the best of it.


Balancing Parenthood

People always ask me, how do I do it?  How do I care for Jaylen and make time for his siblings? Of course, it isn’t balanced HOWEVER,  I make sure our girls know they are loved just as much as Jaylen. When I was pregnant with Jada, people wondered how I would care for Jaylen and another child? All I knew is that I was going to do it. There was no other option. At first, it was hard because Jaylen was in and out of the hospital often. I relied on my sister and Jada’s godmother to care for her while I cared for Jaylen. I was very thankful to have them but I also felt like a bad mother. I recall crying at times because I felt as though my baby wouldn’t even know I was her mother but at the same time, I knew she was in great hands.

Luckily hospital visits became less and Jaylen got better. Which helped my relationship with my daughter Jada and made us inseparable. Now the us today is amazing. My family is actually very tightly bonded because we’re always together.

My girls actually are very understanding of their brother needs and even helps out. When we go on outings they always ask if Jaylen will be able to participate. They genuinely enjoy spending time with their big brother. When we’re home it’s not just my husband and I keeping an eye on him it’s the girls too. They know when to redirect him when he’s doing something he has no business. They can tell by his screams what he want or needs. Jada can actually tell when he isn’t feeling good. I always say he has three mothers because the love they have for him and the affection they show him is the same as me.

Parents have asked me, ” how did I get my girls to interact with Jaylen the way that they do”? I’ve heard how some siblings don’t acknowledge their brother/sister that have special needs and that really breaks me. Those parents don’t realize that you can potentially cause a wedge between them. If you’re not spending time with your kids collectively and individually you aren’t able to show them how to include their sibling with special needs and to be there for them.  Hell even I’m guilty of that at times but when I catch it I correct it. If I’m cuddling and kissing on Jaylen I can do the same with my daughters.  Anything to let them know they are just as important as Jaylen is to us.I love my little family!

Why Me?

I just met a little boy while at work, who is 3 years of age and has Cerebral Palsy. He was crying. And the cry reminded me so much of my son D’Jonte when he used to cry at that age. It was a non-stop type of cry, and me rocking him with my knee or taking him to sit outside would always calm him down. Seeing that little boy and when his momma picked him up made me miss my son that much more. Before my son became so big I would carry him everywhere, man I wish I could just pick him up and hug on him right now.

I was touched so much by the little boy and his mother that I couldn’t stay around them any longer, I had to walk away.

I went back downstairs to where the children I was taking care of and I started to cry. Not a little tear but honey hardcore tears streaming down both cheeks, eyes hurting afterward crying. Not knowing why I was crying, I began to realize that I am so full of hurt, what ifs, regret, and guilt. I wanted to scream. I thought about texting or calling my husband or mother, but I am still shy or uncomfortable when expressing my feelings regarding my son and I knew that would only make me cry harder. So instead I pulled out my laptop and started typing away.

I love my son with all that is in me and I made sure he knew he was loved! But because I lacked the support and resources, therefore I wasn’t equipped with everything I needed to care for him medically.

I started a non-profit Their Voice of Greater Cincinnati last year and it wasn’t by my doing, it was all God. But it is my way of being able to equip those who also lack the resources to make sure that they are able to care for their loved ones at home and just in general. I want to make sure that they don’t lack the mental, physical or emotional support that is needed to care for your loved one with Cerebral Palsy or disability in general. I want them to have a place where they know that they are loved and that someone else gets it and understand what they are going through.

But knowing that this is my purpose it still brings me to my question of Why Me?

Working as a full-time nurse who takes care of kids who have disabilities is hard in general. Having this non-profit I have realized that I will be meeting a lot of families with kids just like my Tae and how am I going to be able to deal with it? Am I going to cry every time I meet a kid who reminds me of Tae? Why did God choose this as my life’s purpose? Am I really strong enough for what is about to come? He must have thought I could handle this or I don’t think he would have me doing this and he definitely wouldn’t have blessed me with my son. So all I can say after crying a river of tears is, I am ready Lord and I trust you.

These tears are what make me. Every time I shed a tear I feel that much more determined to help others. My son gave me my testimony and although at times I feel like I failed him, I promise I will not fail him again!

Please go to my website to learn more about Their Voice and if your heart leads you to, please donate to the cause, no donation is too small. It is greatly appreciated.

It’s Okay to NOT be Okay!

It’s okay not to be okay!  A lot of parents who care for children with special needs suffer from depression and anxiety.  The stress that comes from taking care of a child with special needs causes high anxiety, depression and sometimes PTSD.

Parents sometimes will not speak up about what they are experiencing in fear of their children being taken as well as the stigma that comes with the potential diagnosis.  Parents may not even tell their family and close friends because they don’t want to be judged.  Sometimes family and friends may think you aren’t stable enough to take care of your child.

Here’s great news, you are not alone. You are not the only one that suffers from anxiety and or depression.  I try to explain what’s going on inside of my head, however, it’s difficult when you are explaining this to those who don’t walk my journey.  This lifestyle that I lead is very stressful and the emotions are unpredictable and are a moment by moment thing. We could literally be ok and the next moment something could go left. 

It’s hard to make plans while in this particular type of lifestyle.  If you are able to keep plans, that’s considered to be a HUGE accomplishment lol. Typically, we have to depend on others in order to conquer the plans we’ve set and unfortunately, we all know how that is relying on others!  Typically when we aren’t able to keep plans, it’s due to someone else not coming through or the child becoming suddenly ill forcing you to stay home.

Sometimes folks don’t understand why I have to cancel so soon and sometimes that causes me to shutdown. It’s not like I do not want to go out and enjoy myself, however, there are times when it just doesn’t permit.

What people don’t know is, each time Jaylen gets a new diagnosis, it sends me into a blank space and I am forced to work through it.  What I’ve come to realize is, those feelings are okay to have and I should allow them to send me to a dark place. Now, I don’t stay in the dark space I just acknowledge what I am feeling so I can move forward with healing. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to be NOT ok.  

It takes me time to remember that I have been chosen for this task and I have no right to quit as long as long as Jaylen isn’t quitting. Jaylen doesn’t allow his diagnosis to stop him, I will not allow my anxiety and depression stop me. I know with professional assistance I can conquer depression and anxiety. I encourage anyone that has depression and anxiety to seek medical attention so you can get on track and led a peaceful life. 


Grief, what is it?

Grief is a feeling of deep sorrow, especially that is caused by someone’s death. Why do we have to acquire so much pain from death? It comes from knowing that a loved one is gone. You will not be able to touch, hug, kiss or talk to them in the flesh. I could imagine the pain but I never quite understood it or truly knew what it felt like. That it was an unbearable overwhelming, can’t breathe type of pain. When I met my husband I learned more about it than I ever could imagine. And didn’t realize God was preparing me for that pain.

When we started dating in 2007, it had been 6 years since he had buried his 5-year-old son, who also had been diagnosed with Cerebral palsy. He would sometimes break down in tears, saying how much he missed his son. Of course, I would comfort him, but in my mind, I was thinking, “Dude really? It’s been 6 years why are you crying”? I am just speaking my truth because I didn’t understand that something so painful as the loss of your son could go on forever. I had never lost someone that close to me so I was oblivious to his pain. This is why it is so important for me to touch on this subject.

At one point or another, we will all go through grief. There are 5 stages of grief and they can come at any time during the grieving process. Grief doesn’t follow a timeline that is one thing people who have never grieved don’t quite understand.

-Five Stages:
1) Denial
2) Anger
3) Bargaining
4) Depression
5) Acceptance

Everyone grieves differently, but at some point, we will feel each one of these emotions. Although I don’t know if I ever felt the denial stage, then again maybe I have. I never could form my lips to say my son is “dead”. That just seems so final or made it seem real. So instead I always say that I loss my son. Just recently I have started saying he has “passed” away. 3 months after he passed away, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I remember looking at my mom and husband and saying, I have no idea where this little baby is going to sleep because she can’t have Tae room. I was in denial; I refused at first to move his things to make room for another baby. Moving his items would feel as if I was forgetting about him. As if I was trying to erase his memory and I couldn’t do that. Eventually, as my due date got closer I was able to rearrange his room for her. One side had his name on the wall and I refused to paint over it, so one wall had his name and the other wall had her name on it.

A lot of the anger comes from wondering what could I have done differently? Why did God take my son away? Why me Lord? And for me, I feel angry because at the time of my son’s death he was in a facility. I had told him in December that he was coming home soon but January he passed away and never made it back to our home. So I hold a lot of guilt, which can turn into anger for me.

Months later after feeling fine and going through life, the grief process hits you again. And don’t let someone who doesn’t “get it” come in contact with you when you are feeling any of these emotions, then they start to say the dumbest remarks, like. “ “He is in a better place” or “he was sick right”, or “Its been 6 months you still grieving”? “Think about the good times”

I get it you mean well, but sometimes being silent is more helpful than those comments. Seriously, and it’s not me being mean or sensitive it’s me being real. We don’t want to hear that our loved one is in a better place when we prefer him/her to be right here with us. We know we have great memories, but we want to make more! I want to hug and kiss on my son and tell him in his ear how much I love him.

People think that you only grieve right after a death and then it should be over. Negative! My son passed away 8 years ago and it feels like yesterday. That day replays over in my mind more than I want it to. The pain/ grief hits me when I least expect it. I can be driving in my car and bam, tears start rolling down my face, and then depression sets in. I can be cooking dinner for my family and then an overwhelming feeling of sadness hits me.

I cry, scream, pray and then the acceptance that my son is gone sets in. For me, bargaining usually comes around the same time as depression and acceptance. I ask God, “ Why couldn’t my son be here for me to live out my purpose”? “Why couldn’t he be here with me”? “Why did he have to move on for me to have a testimony?” “I wish his sister could have met him” etc.

So I am saying all this to say, grief has no time limit. I will always feel the emptiness of my son not being here and the pain in my heart. What I can say is, as time goes on those who have dealt with a loss, will learn how to deal with the grief better. Every day gets better, and you may go without any feelings of grief longer than before. I just want people to understand that they should always be careful with their words and be more sensitive to those who are dealing with a loss. That pain of a loved one is strong and it never goes away, some of us learn how to cope with that pain and others allow that depression to set in. We are all different and we all handle situations differently, so please be kind. You never know what we are feeling, just because we are smiling on the outside our insides are crying. Try to understand. Call us. Check in on us, especially on their birthdays, holidays and their anniversaries.

Grief is a forever process, don’t you forget that. The better you understand it the more you can help us. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but do be afraid to say dumb remarks like the ones I mentioned above because we just might snap. LOL

GRIEF will forever change a person. Never expect them to be the same afterwards. 

To learn more about how I have dealt with the loss of my son or my husband please order a copy of our book, “Life Before and After Cerebral Palsy, We Are Their Voices”
Available on Amazon, Barnes& Noble, Google Play or iTunes