2020 was truly a year that will never be forgotten. On December 20, 2020, five days before Christmas, my mom received her Angel wings and rejoined her beloved husband of 45 years.

My mom, born to Prince Albert and Bertha Howard, was the oldest of eight children, the mother of five children and the grandmother of seven. Back in January after returning from a 21-day cruise through Asia my siblings were blindsided to learn my mom was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) that infiltrated her left breast. Leaning in to find the best medical team to support her journey, my siblings and I left no stone unturned.

Throughout, the next several months there were countless doctors visits and hospitalizations. There were days where I watched her in unbearable pain and discomfort. But, there were also welcomed days of laughter and the sharing of happy memories. Over the course of these twelve months I was able to connect with my mom in a more intimate way then I believe I had throughout my entire adulthood. I recognized the silver lining in the otherwise disheartening situation.

I celebrate my mom today as someone that if you meet her once you would certainly never forget. I could personally vouch for the fact that she’d be certain to remember to pray for you at least one, if not two, days out of the year. But, you also wouldn’t easily forget her uncanny ability to tell stories that weave seamlessly like a historical tapestry. She effortlessly could recount dates and events that she was a part of that many of us have only experienced through books, newspaper articles or documentaries.

I’m grateful for all she was able to teach me. Some of these lessons truly shaped the person I am in many ways. My mom was the first to recognize my artistic talent at the ripe age of 11. This gift made room for me and afforded me numerous awards and scholarship opportunities, a degree in Art, and for a short while, a blossoming commissioned art and mural business.

My mom was one to always live unapologetically out loud with her faith and her love for life. Though many times my mom and I had differing approaches on several things, one being politics, it’s likely that I got my preserving, tenacious, and at times, stubborn personality from her.

I’m thankful for all that my mom taught me. She was one to always see the bright side in a situation where sometimes I could not always relate. As I learn to adjust to life without her physical presence, I will look for opportunities to practice seeing the bright side. Thank you, Mom!

Love always,

Your youngest daughter, Praise

This special time of year has always been synonymous with gift giving. Though beautifully wrapped presents and holiday packages can be found under most trees during this time, the greatest gifts we really can give are our time and talents.

Most of us can agree that this year has been unlike most. In many ways it’s brought us closer together, at least for many that live in the same household. For those that don’t, it’s created a distance as a result of COVID-19 and the social distancing measures put in place to prevent it from spreading. While the elderly, who are considered to be the most vulnerable, have had to limit their interaction with their family and dear friends, our school-age children, and even some college-age, have been forced to have classes online at home due to the pandemic. The effects of the limited socialization our current circumstances have created are likely to be felt for many years to come.

During this season in what has been an unprecedented year, I encourage you to give in a different way that you may have before. Take time to call, ZOOM or FaceTime your family and friends. Reflect on wonderful memories from the past and let them know why they mean so much to you. If you have children, try having them reach out to their older relatives. You’d be surprised at the wonderful conversations that can be created between generations.

Sharing our talents with those we care for is another gift we can give that doesn’t cost us too much. That could mean creating homemade cookies, replacing a store-bought holiday card with one you designed from home, creating a video of you playing an instrument or singing a classic Christmas song and sending it out as a video text to your loved ones.

There is no better time than the holidays to show those around us how much we truly care. Use this opportunity to think outside the box and give in a creative or different way this year. Reach out to a relative or friend you haven’t been in contact with for years. This may feel like a different holiday season in many ways, but if you get creative with how you approach it, it could turn out to be one of your best holidays ever. I’m sending peace and blessings to you and your family. Happy Holidays!

The air is a crisper, the leaves have turned various warm color hues and we’re starting to introduce sweaters and boots into our wardrobe. That means Autumn is officially here! What better time than now to give yourself permission to fall in love, and in this case, not romantically? Instead, fall in love with yourself, a new concept, a book, or even a new recipe.

So often we are expecting to find love with and within others, but the deepest love comes from within. When we embrace seeking out the things that bring us true fulfillment and joy, we’re left with a fullness that allows us to spread love to others. While it’s a great feeling to be in love, creating these opportunities to fall in love have to be sought out; and it starts with determining your likes and interests.

I have an infatuation with fashion and I find that I come alive anytime I’m able to soak it in, whether it’s in magazines, on TV, social media or while just admiring a well put together outfit on someone I pass by. Through fashion, a person is able to be the lead of their very own movie, and as the audience we’re the spectators. My favorite part of my day is deciding what I’m going to wear. Generally, this starts with what mood I’m in. Do I want to dress sophisticated, flirty, smart, sporty or sexy?

Once I determine what I wear, I slowly start to visualize pieces from my wardrobe that will pull together the perfect look. My process of selecting my outfit is an adventure all on its own. I always feel rewarded by the outcome - a look that showcases my personal style and my mood. The reason fashion speaks to me is because of my love for the variation of fabrics, textures, silhouettes and colors in my looks.

Everyday, I get to fall in love with fashion over and over again. For you it may be cooking or another interest. Whatever it is, I encourage you to embrace what you love wholeheartedly. You should find as many opportunities to fall in love as often as possible. I officially give you permission!



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