1. Fran Stekoll says

    After struggling many years, balancing the roles of wife, mother, employee, and college student, I finally got my BA in Social Services/Gerontology at the age of 44. My first job was Managing the Fremont Retirement Inn. I felt I’d
    finally arrived. I stayed for two years and created a new position for myself as
    Community Services Manager. Loved it; but an opportunity to move to Santa Cruz arose. I left and accepted a job Managing La Posada. They had a day care center on site which allowed Retired residents the opportunity to be Grandparents. We housed both private pay and HUD residents. I found out the owner was co-mingling funds and allowing the affluent to qualify for HUD by re-structuring monies . I turned him in to the authorities. I was fired from the job of my dreams in the area I loved , Santa Cruz.
    After months of deep depression I received a loud message. “Go Home and
    start your own company” I returned to San Jose, opened Crossroads Staffing Services with 8 offices in the Bay Area and ran it successfully for 28 years. I often liken this to the law of gravity. What goes down, must come up. I’ve always been a positive person and have instilled in my friends and family, Never say never. My philosophy for a balanced life has been the five P’s. Persistence, Patience, Positive Attitude, Perseverance, and Prayer.

    • beverly boyd says

      I love your:
      Positive Attitude
      Perseverance and
      Thank you for your inspiring share!

    • Ilana says

      Wow! What an amazing story. I love your twist on the law of gravity. “What goes down must come up.” Can I quote you on that one?



    I had lost count at 20 the times I had been hospitalized for my mental health issues that savaged my mind. As I laid in my twin bed letting the sun warm my body I thought of all the years I had spent trying to stay out of the hospital. Once again I had fallen prey to the mounting anxiety, paranoia, depression, and a sense of being in a bubble far away from friends and family.
    As a tear trickled down my face I knew for the first time in all the torturous years I had lived through that no one would make my mental illness go away. Not Dr. Chagi or the doctors at Behavioral Health had the answer I was waiting to hear about. My cure. Then I could live like others I knew. I could be normal. I could go on to be something. I could have friends, and family would love me. My tears flooded my eyes, and I wiped them away fiercely. I couldn’t let this moment defeat me.
    I had searched for cures, and read books about the Rockefellers’, and Vanderbilt’s to see if I had what it took to be successful. I kept trying, and trying, and was diligent about my therapy, but nothing worked. My mind was mush, and gave way to the demons inside my brain. In an instant my dream of being just a regular person was all taken away.
    I thought of the friends I had lost due to my illness. The lack of family who thought my hospitalizations was a way to get attention. It was my home away from home my mom said cruelly.
    I knew my three children suffered, but they never complained. My heart wrenched, and I constantly worried about my children making it difficult to recover from the depths of a pit too deep for anyone to imagine
    There I was on this beautiful Sunday morning my sadness running deep as I thought of a way to keep myself out of the hospital. This was not living or even surviving. I had to think of a way to manage my illness, and never return to the hospital.
    I plotted my life ahead of me, and if I took a wrong turn I could end up right back in what was comparable to a dungeon with crazy making people suffering with their own demons.
    Then it came to me, and the flood of tears stopped, I could see clearly what I needed to do. I quickly dressed, brushed my teeth, and washed my face. It was a new beginning. There was freshness in the air, and spring had taken on a whole new dimension for me.
    I smiled broadly as I walked into the living room. The counselor busy organizing chores in the halfway house looked up at me, and asked what I was smiling about.
    “I’m going to go graduate school, and become a social worker,” I announced. The excitement rose up inside of me like phoenix free to finally soar.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Gillian, Thanks so much for this story. I hope you give yourself lots of credit for what you’ve done, as you look back. Thought I’d tell you that I know the hospital environment as well. I also got to deciding if being in hospital for depression or suicidal feelings was all there’d ever be for me. Turns out, my soul and brain ached for, and craved, books and education I admire you very much for your accomplishments and I’m sure your children do too. You’re amazing.

  3. Ilana says

    “Not pregnant. Not pregnant. Not pregnant.” My mind chanted all night long. The self inflicted torment swirled around me. It held me like a net of pain that I had carefully wrapped around myself and was clinging to for dear life. I was determined not to fall out of it. As much as it hurt to constantly remind myself of the loss, it would have hurt much more to wake up having forgotten and be hit with it all over again. That, I could not bear. It was hard enough to say good bye the first time. I never wanted to go through that again. So I continued to chant all through the night and the next morning as I woke up. “Not pregnant. Not pregnant. Not pregnant.”

    My baby was dead. After six months of pressuring my husband for sex, six months of praying, hoping and waiting, I had finally gotten a positive pregnancy test. Truth be told, I had known something was wrong from the start. It just didn’t feel right. I had tested once and gotten a negative result. Then, when my period was a whole week late I tested again and found that the first test was incorrect. Doesn’t ‘ept’ stand for ‘error proof test’? Not if the pregnancy isn’t viable. But I hadn’t wanted to believe it. I just wanted to be pregnant and the test said I was. So I pushed down my fears and celebrated that I was finally pregnant. Look where that got me. Three weeks later; sick, bleeding and saying goodbye to a child I had somehow already fallen in love with.

    I’ll never forget the moment it was all over. We were in a hotel room, having put off our trip one day because the flight was canceled. Rather than settle back into the house, we decided to spend our first night of vacation at the local Embassy Suites, where we’d had our wedding reception. Our trip had further been altered to include a visit to the emergency room but the news was good. “Look, Ilana. That’s your baby’s heartbeat.” So there I was, 9:30 at night with our 18 month old daughter, asleep in the next room. My husband and I were lying on the bed, trying to watch television as we worried. Suddenly, the pain stopped and I was left with just the nausea. “It’s over.” I told him. “Either the baby just died or everything is going to be okay.” I went to the bathroom and delivered a piece of tissue, the size of a quarter into the toilette. Sobbing, I fished it out, held it in my hand and said goodbye to my baby. At that moment, my daughter started screaming. It was as if she somehow knew what had happened. I washed my hands and took my live, healthy child from her father. Then I held her in my lap as we cried together.

    We canceled our trip because the doctor didn’t want any chance of me having complications while I was out of town. His examination revealed that I had had a complete miscarriage and no surgery was necessary. “Your body did what it needed to recover.” He was very clear with me that there was no way that the miscarriage could have been my fault. I appreciated that but it only dealt with one aspect of my pain. For two weeks I walked around feeling like I was dead inside. My vision was blurry. My ears rung constantly and nothing seemed to matter. Thankfully, my husband and our parents were able to help me take care of my daughter while I was at such a limited capacity.

    Slowly, I fit back into my old life. I was in a MOMS club. Holy shit! Unless you have heard them you cannot imagine the cruel things other moms will say to you after you’ve lost a baby, especially those who are pregnant. No one had known I was pregnant, besides the club president. I was her administrative vice president. So for some reason she felt the necessity to make an announcement to the entire club that I had had a miscarriage. I was crushed to return to find my loss had been treated as entertaining gossip. Still, I had to find a way to get over it and go back to living my life.

    The doctor had told us that it was unsafe for me to get pregnant again right away. I had to wait through two menstrual cycles before having unprotected sex. Condoms?! After six months of trying to get pregnant I had to use condoms?! You can imagine what that did for my libido.

    I did whatever I could think of to sooth myself, even talked to a rabbi. I learned that According to Jewish thought, the ‘neshama’, or soul, enters the body at the first breath of life. I clung to this line of thinking and built a story. My child was up in heaven watching over me. “Mama.” I could hear her saying. “I don’t want that body. It is sick. Please make me another one.” When I got pregnant again, it would be the same child. She was not dead.

    It took a long time for me to get up after this fall but I remember the minute that journey was complete. I had to go to the washroom. When I pulled down my clothing I saw a drop of blood in my underpants. I heard my response as if someone else were speaking. I had no idea I was thinking it. “Oh my God. I’m a woman again.” All that time I had felt supremely unfeminine and not even known it.

    I got extremely lucky. Two and a half months after my miscarriage we began trying again and I got pregnant instantly. The result was a beautiful baby girl. I have always thought of my second pregnancy as “the first time I was pregnant with Adriana”. Now I have three beautiful children. If I only knew then, what I know now, perhaps it wouldn’t have been so difficult for me. But that’s not the way it was meant to be. I remember how I prayed after my miscarriage. “Please, God. Give this loss some meaning. Make it so that it happened for a reason.” I was not disappointed. Two of my friends suffered miscarriages after mine. As a result of my suffering I knew to do less talking and more listening. I knew that a hug and fresh homemade bread was far more helpful than any advice I could have given them and when I said, “I understand.” I really did understand. So here I am, seven years on the other side of that loss and it has turned into a blessing. For me, that is truly the way I got up after falling down.

    • Terry Gibson says

      I felt so much reading this. I was with you all the way. Also, I’m so happy you got your little girl!!

  4. MaeMae says

    I love this story! There really is a deeper level of Life that we rarely tap into…only through such very extraordinary “awakening” experiences.
    This revelation is a great gift you have to give…bringing the sacred back into our every day lives. We are each Saints without the job title or recognition…but WE ARE.
    Many Blessings to you & your family of Saints!!

  5. Bobbie Anne says

    It’s tough to stay standing and trying to stop the violence before it occurs. It’s literally hard to get up again. I’m sharing this with you:

    Walking on eggshells
    such a delicate balance
    so none of them break

    This one is for my brother. He’s still around today.


    Had to watch my brother
    only two years younger
    went outside to play
    we jumped off the stoop
    looming large back then
    he wouldn’t stay still
    had to climb up high
    had to reach the
    tippie top too
    smaller than me
    convinced he was
    bigger and could
    do whatever I did
    then he fell flat
    on his face
    sidewalk gravel stuck
    on angry red gash
    on his forehead
    rushed to his aid
    knowing I’d suffer
    much punishment
    then I felt down
    had to get back
    on top of things
    felt like running awy
    but couldn’t
    held his small hand in
    mine and went home
    to face our parents
    told them what we did
    they hit me and they said
    it didn’t matter
    When I mentioned it
    to my brother years
    later he had no idea
    about what happened
    no memory at all

  6. Rachel Staples says

    I remember as a little girl my sister, friends and I would play wedding. I was the bride, but mostly the groom because my sister had to be the bride. I would also get to be a justice of the peace, wedding coordinator, bakery owner and jewelry storeowner. The most fun was when I was the honeymoon travel agent. The games we played as children became expectations as we became young women.

    As a young girl about to graduate high school, I was deeply in love with my high school boyfriend and thoughts of the wedding swirled around my head. Alas, the relationship never quite worked out as our childhood games. There was love, but there were also tense moments, unexpected actions and passionate emotions good and bad. I remember the day he left me when I was seven months pregnant with our third child. I was devastated and the only thing I could think clearly through my pain was that my circle was broken and I would never have the one thing embedded in my brain that I thought would be forever.

    As time passed I stood up, dusted myself off and decided that I would never put myself back in the position so I dated quite frequently as I fought custody for my babies. My professional life was moving quite quickly and I was a rising star at work. Then one day I met a man that was wonderful but I had my doubts as far as anything permanent. That is until my mother stated to everyone that would listen that God had sent him to me because she had prayed for someone to save me. Save me? I couldn’t understand what was so wrong that I needed saving from. So after time and convincing, I married him. Yep, after two years that did not work either. I still pray everyday that he has the greatest life blessing that God can give him until the day he dies for getting caught up in my family mess and drama.

    Again, I had to start anew. Dusted off with a new place to live and a new life to lead with the professional life moving faster than a speeding bullet, I continued on. After a year and quite a bit of push back I finally accepted a date from a man that I had known from playing softball for the prior fifteen years. Yes, this date turned into my third marriage a year and a half later. Professional life getting stronger everyday, money coming in and with my encouragement and planning his was too. Ten years to the day, it was over. With quite a bit of life changing baggage, emotional turmoil and finally the result of a little girl lost, me.

    I didn’t even know where my dustpan was much less where the dust was this time. My children were grown, out of school and living there own lives, so no one to care for this time. My professional life took a hit and was beginning to unravel this time. My emotions were in such disarray that I felt I couldn’t control anything this time. I asked God what was wrong with me and why now?

    Then one day it happened, the rebuilding of the war zone that had been my heart began and I found my one true love. Me. It has been four years and today I can see me again. I found the dusting brush and have finally stood up strong, ready and waiting for my professional life to rebuild too. In the midst of this rebuilding, my Sweet and I found each other and have no plans of marriage, just us being we and we being us. We are travelers, I love to cook and bake for our enjoyment and the jewelry? The best part of not being married is the commitment ceremony he enjoys setting up for me when we are on one of our trips. This time the childhood games are a distant memory and as I look back, I focused on the wrong part of the game that we played. No one can make me whole, so with a lesson learned, life is good this time.

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