Early morning perspective…

For the past few weeks I’ve been getting up a little earlier each morning and running.  I’m not going to lie, it’s not been easy.  Every time my alarm goes off, I gain a whole new appreciation for those who get up that early (and earlier) because they have work or other obligations pulling them from their beds.  However, the minute my feet hit the ground and I wash the sleep from my eyes I become filled with determination.

The other day I sneaked quietly down the stairs, careful not to wake my four sleeping children, and slipped out the front door into the chilly air.  The dawn was just peeking up over the edge of the hills and the sun’s rays had not yet spilled over them to warm the cold shadows of the valley below.

It was so very quiet and peaceful.  Birds chirped happily as fog rose from the trickling river.  My feet quickly found their pace.  My breath huffed out, crystalizing with each exhale as my heart pumped hard, pushing blood throughout my body.  It was not long before my legs ache and my lungs burned, but I continued to push myself further.  Working to steady my breathing, I thought, “Breathe. Evenly, in and out.  Just Breathe.  You can do this!”

And for some weird reason that simple thought was so profound to me…  I CAN do this.  There is no reason for me not to do this.  I’m out of shape, but my lungs are healthy, my heart is healthy, and I have nothing preventing me from doing this.  Even with my body pushed to its limit, I am able to get up early and run or walk.  I am not filled with cancer; I do not suffer from disease, depression, anxiety.  My body gave birth and fed four beautiful children.  I am so blessed.

As I thought this I began to think of others who are sick, who are dying, who are not able to walk, run or get out of bed. And my heart ached for them.  Tears filled my eyes as I thought of all of the suffering and sadness that people have in their lives. And I ran harder, because I can. I realized that my body would adjust, it was my mind that had to overcome the idea that it was hard, that I couldn’t do it.

As I ran; as I pushed my healthy body, I realized how blessed I was and prayed for those who are not.  I thought of their families who are left with holes in their hearts as they watch the people they love suffer.

Although my legs ached and my mind wanted to stop, walk, slow down for a little bit… I refused.  I thought of my beautiful niece who, not long ago, stood on the very step of Death’s door.  Emaciated, with no muscle, and no lungs she walked for her life, with the help of eight people, to qualify as a candidate for a double lung transplant.

I thought about the light-weight, pink sneakers that her father bought her- to champion her on as she fought to prove she would survive.  I thought about how she could barely wear those sneakers, because they felt like lead weights strapped to her feet.

I thought about her sister whose constant, chronic cough wracks her tiny frame as her body tries to rid itself from the ever-growing bacteria in her lungs.

My lungs are healthy, my legs will carry me without the help of eight people.

So I ran and will continue to run, to walk, to take care of my health body.  I do this because there are so many who cannot.  I do it for those who are sick, suffering and dying.  For those who are sad and heartbroken.  Their fight, their suffering has shown me how blessed I am.

It was an awful lot of perspective and emotion for so early in the morning.  But sometimes, in the quiet hours of dawn, the simplest thoughts can be the most profound. I have never been more inspired to be a healthy person and I wanted to share it with you.  Not because I’m looking for accolades, but because I think maybe my inspiration might motivate you as well.

Do something good for yourself.  Be grateful for your health. Put down your cigarette, grab a carrot stick; go for a walk.  Do it, because you can.



The green shoes…

This story is not a story at all.  It is, what I believe a vision, of events to come.  An event so special and so amazing that it has change my family forever.  This is the story of the green shoes, told to me through a dream on the morning of October 8th, 2016.

“This m12360154_10153279026768848_4974086390827894271_nay sound a little crazy, but if you know me well, you’ll understand this completely. You’ll also understand why my husband calls me and my sisters- The Witches Dwyer

I had a dream last night that lingered long after I was awake. I do this sometimes- dream vivid, life like dreams that are full of symbolism. Last night in my dream I was at a fall festival type of event with an old friend from school- Arkport Central- whom I’ve not really seen or spoken to in some time. She and I were walking around this little festival admiring the pumpkins, cornstalks, and other autumn wonders when a strong storm struck. Lightning flashed and rain began to fall hard. I told my friend we should escape and find refuge at “my neighbor’s house.” So we ran to their house (which wasn’t really their house) and found my neighbors drinking hot rummed cider and partaking in the fall festival by doing intuitive readings for people.

Holly and Steve (my neighbors) greeted us and gave us cider. In my dream I felt happy and light hearted, something which I have not felt in several weeks. As we sipped our drinks, Holly told me, “You need to see Steve. He has a message for you.” I thought, “Huh? Steve? He’s not intuitive? He doesn’t do readings.” And said so to Holly. She said, “Please just go talk to him, he needs to tell you something.”

So into a backroom I went where I found Steve standing. He pointed at my diaphragm and said, “I see something here.” I was puzzled and said, “Don’t you mean here?” as I pointed to my chest because it felt tight and hurt. Steve shook his head yes and said, “Yes. I see you getting a pair of green shoes shaped like lobes.” Again, totally puzzled, I asked sarcastically, “You mean like leprechaun shoes?” Steve said, “Yes.” I then asked, “Why are they green?” And he responded, “Because green means rebirth and new life.”

I was finished with my reading and left the room and the dream moved on. But when I woke, the scene above stayed with me- clear as though I just had the conversation with Steve in the hall moments ago.

In the shower I thought about how bazaar the whole thing was and wondered why it was replaying over and over and over again in my mind. Then it dawned on me- the message, the symbolism
– a pair of shoes shaped like lobes, green meaning rebirth, new life- they are the new lungs we have been praying for for my beautiful Alexandra.

Please pray that this dream comes true today. Pray for the family that will lose a loved one and hope that the life they save eases their grief. Please hold hope in your heart for Zan.”

*Just a few hours after writing this on Facebook, our hearts were filled with consternation.  My family received the wonderful news that a donor had been found.  Hours later, after surviving a grueling eight hour long surgery, my beautiful niece received her precious new lungs.

Five months post-transplant, Alexandra is back to work and recovering amazingly.  However, each time I look at her I think of her green shoes and the miracle that filled our lives.

I wanted to share this story so that I am always reminded of the power of positive thought, of prayer, hope and love.  I wanted to share it to spread the message of new life and new beginnings, so that we never forget how lucky we truly are.

The golden rule…

When I was in fifth grade, my teacher had a sign that hung above the chalkboard.  It read, “The Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated.”

She introduced this to us on the very first day of school and I remember it distinctly as it was such a logical concept that I was confused as to why I’d never heard it before.   I recall being impressed by this notion of tolerance, so much so that its lesson has stayed with me for the past 27 years.

However, sadly, the golden rule appears to have largely disappeared from today’s society.  It seems we now live in a world where every day social conduct is completely lost.  You’ve probably seen the articles and blog posts addressing similar sentiment’s- parent’s raising assholes, people with their faces buried in their cellphones and iPads… a society whose majority has lost a common civility towards each other.

People no longer move aside when they see another coming toward them. In fact, if you can get them to look up and even acknowledge you’re there, it’s a big deal.  Professionalism and collegiality barely exist, if at all, in the workplace.  Entitlement and self-importance has become a plague on humanity.  An epidemic of extremism haunts us as people fight over whose diet, fitness, political, religious, and race agendas are better or right.   We no longer have the ability to ‘agree to disagree’ with people or find a common ground on seemingly any point, regardless of what it is.

When I write, I typically avoid controversial topics such as politics and religion. Largely because someone once told me, “Write what you know,” and those topics are not areas in which I consider myself particularly knowledgeable.  In addition, I’m typically bored to tears with people and their endless, all-knowing pontifications.  Plus, my mother has always told me, “It’s better to be assumed a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt.”  However, when it comes to common courtesy, respect and professionalism, I can be rather loquacious.

The basis of the golden rule comes from the Bible, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  But let’s take the religion out of it and keep it simple… don’t be an asshole. (Sorry, mom)  I recognize that this may seem like a dumbed down, Mary Poppins outlook. But we all know that simplification leads to a better understanding of situations.

A little dose of perspective and humility never hurt anyone, right?   And in my unsolicited opinion, the golden rule is needed more now than ever.  Our society is crumbling around us and soon we’ll be no better than the great Roman Empire… which no longer exists.

Granted, I am not an exception to this.  In fact, as many of you know, I have little to no tolerance of people. However, my lack of patience stems from the fact that the majority, not everyone, but a large amount of people are so enormously lacking in social graces that it makes me want to take a tazer gun to their temples.  Repeatedly.  However, I frequently remind myself of the golden rule (Thanks, Mrs. Mac) and try desperately to be tolerant.  It’s not easy.  But they say practice makes perfect…

So practice the golden rule at home, in school classrooms, the workplace, grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, hospitals, yoga class, and yes, even church.  Can you imagine the world if we (most of us) practiced the golden rule?  What an improvement that would be!

Keep the ones who tell you…

A series of recent conversations about “Would you tell me if…” got me thinking about the truth behind friends who say they’d tell you if you had a big booger hanging from your nose, if you smelled like B.O., if your breath was rank, if you had crap in your teeth, etc, and those friends who actually do tell you.

You see, I’m the friend that would really, actually say, “Yeah I’m happy to hear your story about the co-worker who stunk up the bathroom.  But I can’t concentrate on what you’re saying because you’ve got a giant green thing in your front tooth.”

In fact, I’ve been known to even tell fellow male co-workers, “Barn door’s open.  Close the door.”  (You know who you are)  And have also offered gum to folks with horrifically offensive breath.  Note:  should I ever emphatically insist you have a piece of gum… take it.  Your breath is going to kill someone.

So recently when someone asked me, “Would you really tell me if…”  I had to explain to them that I was the one person out of many who would, without hesitation, let you know about any potentially embarrassing, arrest worthy, appearance demeaning situation that could befall you.  Typically I will do this with a humorous approach, because there is truly no better way to overcome an embarrassing situation than with laughter.  However, don’t be alarmed.  Should the situation appear to be more serious, I will handle it appropriately and with far more delicacy.

However, the important thing to take away from this is to know full well that should you want an opinion, or have a booger in your nose, I’m going to be the friend that doesn’t just say “Of course I’d let you know.” I will, in fact, be the very first to inform you.  These are the type of friends you should keep.  You may not always like what they’re trying to get across… but wouldn’t you rather know?

Chrystal Mae…

It’s been a long cold day, starting at 7:30 this morning with the internal temperature of my house reaching a balmy 50 degrees.

I’ve been working around the house all day doing laundry, cleaning and feeding children.  Each time I leave a room clean and in order, I return moments later to find it a complete disaster.  After having a “bit of a chat” with my children- which I’m not ashamed to say involved the threatening of their lives- I moved on to fold more laundry.  I left said laundry in neat, orderly piles on the living room floor while I ran to the kitchen to take care of something quickly.

I heard commotion in the living room and turned to see what was going on when the doorbell rang.  As I came around the corner to see who was there, I noticed the kids- in the span of 5 minutes- had not only ripped all the blankets out and tossed them all over the room, but they had also lovingly redistributed the neatly folded laundry everywhere.  By this I mean, it was no longer folded in piles but strung about wildly as if I’d just dumped the basket and kicked the pile everywhere.

Trying to ignore the mess, I stepped over additional piles of newly tossed around toys and made it to the front door where my children chatted amiably with a man holding a large bouquet of red roses.  Being that it’s Valentine’s Day and my husband has been working for three days, I assumed they were for me.  However, I was a bit confused as the man was accompanied by a smiling woman standing ready with her phone up as though she were going to take my picture.

I shooed the kids away and asked, “Can I help you?”

He smiled and replied, “Chrystal Mae?” followed by the click of the woman’s camera on her phone.

Caught off guard by the name I responded, “Excuse me?”

The man again smiled and leaned forward as he tried to hand me the flowers and again asked, “Chrystal Mae?” Again, the woman’s phone clicked away.

Trying to hide my frown, I responded, “I’m sorry, I’m not Chrystal Mae.”

He pulled the flowers back slightly, “Are you sure?”

“Yup.  Pretty sure.  There’s no Chrystal Mae here.  I think you have the wrong address.”

The woman’s smile faltered a tad as the man said, “This is 157 Dennis Avenue, right?”

“Yes, it is.  But there is no one named Chrystal Mae here.  Sorry.”

Visibly disappointed the woman turned around and began to walk down the front steps as the man apologized.

I smiled at him and wished him good luck and closed the door in preparation to call my husband and thank him for not sending me roses.

As I walked in and stared at the mess in the living room, my sweet little Kian said, “Mom are you a little sad that those weren’t for you?”

I smiled at him and said, “No honey, I’m not sad at all about the roses.  I just wish that lady had not taken my picture.”

He patted me on the back and said, “Don’t worry, I think she was deleting them as she was walking away.”

Here’s to yet another romantic Valentine’s Day and to Chrystal Mae… I hope you get your flowers.

PS- my husband better show up with some too.

A brief moment of satisfaction…

Few things in life are as satisfying for me as pulling out a big, black chin hair.  You know the type.  They’re black, coarse and extremely difficult to get with normal tweezers.  It drives you completely crazy.  It’s all you can think about.  You pick at your face in a desperate attempt to find it.  You feel it with your finger as you sit at your desk or lie in bed, but the moment you go to pull it, it mysteriously disappears.  Leaving you with your face pressed against the bathroom mirror while you sweat underneath the thousand-watt bulb you borrowed from the neighbor’s construction work lamp.

When you finally get ahold of the little bastard and pull it, its stubbornly fused root holds on as tight as if it were buried in microscopic concrete, layered deep under the skin.  So you only get part of the hair.  The rest remains poking out- just enough that you can feel it as you pass your finger over your chin.

So, you must wait agonizingly, tortuous days until you can attempt to pull it out again.  And if you get too overzealous and try too soon, you only end up setting yourself back as the hair will inevitably snap off again- leaving you with a prickly little stump that will drive you completely insane.  Concerned co-workers will stare as you run to and from the bathroom, flick on the light and jut your chin out to judge its length… then swear out loud when you know you can do nothing about it.

But if you can wait it out- victory shall be yours and in the right lighting, with the right tool and with just the right amount of torque, you’ll pull the offending whisker free of its cement clutches.  And if it’s a really good day, you’ll pull it from its ancient root, far beneath the derma.  Although you’ll emerge from the bathroom with a red chin and constricted pupils, a sigh of sweet success will pass across your lips.

Sadly, this excitement is not for long.

As your finger takes its victory lap around your chin, you feel a sudden stab.  Your mind reals, “What the hell?  Did I not get it? No!  It’s another damn hair!”  And thus it begins once more.

You walk back to the bathroom, defeat weighing heavy on your shoulders.  All the while you’re shaking your head and thinking it might be time for some electrolysis… before you turn into the bearded lady at the circus.

Supporting the science behind the miracle…


Zan March of 2015

This picture was on the mind of many people over the past several months.  And for many, they are still thinking of her, praying for her and her continued recovery, every night. Few would know how VERY ill Alexandra was at the time this picture was taken . Weighing only about 72 pounds, her beautiful smile and spirited eyes showed only strength and determination- to never let Cystic Fibrosis define her. This determination stayed with her- through indescribable suffering. As her lungs stop working and her body deteriorated, few understood how terribly close to death she was. And now with a new set of beautiful lungs, she has come back to us.

Alexandra’s will to live has humbled us all. Her story is truly inspiring- and because of the generosity of strangers, it is far from over.

I am kicking off the fundraising for the 2016 Great Strides Walk to Cure Cystic Fibrosis a little early this year because I want it to be the biggest and best EVER!  I also want to remind everyone of the importance of organ donation and the need for donors in New York State.


Zan’s old CF lungs vs.her beautiful new donated lungs.

The influence the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has on organ transplantation is fairly substantial.   Because CF is the number two reason for lung transplantation in the country, it is important that donors understand the impact their gift has on the CF community. As you may know, ninety cents of each dollar raised for CF not only goes toward the research to find a cure, but also toward developing new and better transplant medications as well procedures.  It is imperative that the science behind the miracle continues to be supported. This is what saved Alexandra’s life.

This year’s walk will be especially important because of Alexandra and her amazing journey.  Today marks three months post-transplant, one day before she was diagnosed at fifteen months old with CF.

Hundreds of people have been affected by Zan’s fight to live. Her silent suffering and incredible resolve have impacted people across the country, raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and organ donation.  Zan’s story is important because she is a true survivor of CF and now has a second chance.  However, we cannot forget her youngest sister, Carley and the thousands of others, who continue to suffer through chronic lung infection, tune-ups and treatment protocols that Zan will no longer have to do.

Our team, The Argentieri Avengers, has even more purpose.  Zan and Carley’s parents now have three children at very different points on the spectrum- one who has survived a double lung transplant, one who does not even carry the CF gene, and one who must continue to walk in her eldest sister’s shoes- hoping every day for a cure.

It’s so important that people like you understand this and how important your continued donations and support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation truly are. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation relies solely on the support of individual donations.  That means the foundation does not receive federal funding of any kind.  The money that goes towards life-changing research. The research and medication that saved Alexandra’s life and has extended Carley’s, comes from people like you and me.


Zan 8 weeks post-transplant

I am passionate about raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation because I have two nieces afflicted with this disease.  I am passionate about educating people about this disease because my son and I are both carriers of the CF gene.  I am passionate about encouraging organ donation because it saved the life of my beautiful niece, Alexandra.

One day, your generosity will, yet again, change the lives of these girls and thousands of others with CF when a cure is found.  I believe that day is not far away.

Our friends, family and this community, have stood by our family and these beautiful girls for the past 25 years- and I am unabashedly asking you to stand by us again.  Because of your support and generosity you have added years to the lives of Alexandra and Carley and so many others. You have made a difference!

Be passionate; help me continue to change the lives of my nieces and thousands of others.  Donate now and continue to raise awareness!  Until CF stands for CURE FOUND!

Go to: http://fightcf.cff.org/goto/fighttobreath  To register and donate today.