Transfusion Survival Guide

My childhood was full of doctor appointments. I basically lived in the hospital between the ages of 3 through 14.

The experience was painful and unsettling, but through it all I definitely learned a lot.

What’s really amazing is that I was able to pay close attention to and remember the techniques I used to break through my suffering.

Now all of the lessons I learned can be found in a book that I just published called “Transfusion: A Patient Survival Guide.”

Here’s a look at the book’s chapters:

You can purchase the book now on Transfusion: A Patient Survival Guide on

Here’s what people are saying about the book:

“Josephine Bila’s words of wisdom and compassion are like having a guardian angel with you as you enter the sometimes cold and clinical world of needles, transfusions, and doctors. This book will keep you safe. Carry it with you at all times.”
– Dr. Neil F. Neimark, M.D. & Medical Director

“Josephine’s experiences, mixed with her personal stories and powerful yet practical suggestions for shifting your mindset are invaluable to anyone facing transfusions as part of their medical therapy.”
– Stephanie Chisolm, PhD, Senior Director, Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation

“Transfusion is essential reading for any patient or parent of a patient facing a challenging medical issue.”
– Elaine Wilkes, Ph.D. and author of Nature’s Secret Messages: Hidden in Plain Sight
About the Author

I hope that you enjoy the book and let me know if there are topics that you think I should touch on in the future! You can always reach out to me via email at

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To your amazing health,


Cooley’s Anemia Conference for Patients and Friends

I’ve been working really hard on building a brand new website for my blog. We’re talking loads of customized features. I really love how it’s coming along and can’t wait to show it to you! For that reason, I’m going to keep the next few blog posts really short and simple, because I just don’t have that much time to do all of the work that I’m doing plus my full-time job!

Here are some pictures from the Chicago conference where I just gave a presentation. Hope you like them. See you in two weeks!

My sister accompanied me on the trip. :D

Continue reading


30 Day Happiness Challenge

Ever notice how most people socialize by talking about the things that are going wrong in their lives?

Concentrating on negative ideas gives us little time to focus on the positive aspects of life.

That’s why I’m creating a 30 Day Happiness Challenge. Let’s shift your mind away from bad thoughts in order to concentrate on what we adore about each day. You can share in the comments section below or create a calendar of happy days.
Continue reading


12 Steps to Stop Depression

Stop Depression Baby PicI think I’ve struggled with bouts of depression throughout my entire life. This probably isn’t unreasonable, since I’ve lived with medical challenges from infancy to adulthood, been bullied by teachers and kids, watched childhood friends die, dealt with difficult family members, experienced a terribly painful divorce, and lived with all the typical burdens regular people experience.

The problem is, when you’re scarred so deeply, the memories live inside your mind and replay themselves as if they’re still real. People say, “get over it” or “you just need to chill.” Easy to say when you haven’t experienced a lifetime of trauma.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t have to keep my mind in check and stop myself from Continue reading


Why Patients Don’t Challenge a Doctor’s Diagnosis

challenge a doctorI found an interesting article about patient wellness in the Wednesday, April 13, 2014 UK Metro newspaper while vacationing in England. The article was called, “Why patients don’t challenge a doctor’s diagnosis” and was based on research done by the medicalaccidentgroup.

I’m going to display the answers patients gave along with my response to each. Let me know if you agree with Continue reading


The Virus That Shall Not Be Named

Scarlet Letter

Present Day Scarlet Letter Stands For Something Else

Several weeks ago, while having brunch with a friend in New York City, I overheard two late twenty-something women talking about a mutual friend who was undergoing treatment for cancer. The blond girl in the seat parallel to me (and one foot away) said, “Yeah, and I think she had to get a Continue reading


8 Ways to Improve Your Life

I’m writing this blog post at 3:26 AM EST because I can’t sleep.

I can’t sleep because I woke up wondering if I’ve been making good decisions lately.

My self-talk sounds something like this Continue reading


Why Go Vegan: A Sweet Story

Beans, the French bulldog

Beans, the French bulldog

Why go vegan? That’s a statement that I used to Google, because I wanted to know why anybody would choose to stop eating meat.

The results of my search were usually pretty gruesome. I came upon videos detailing the horrors of factory farming and learned that meat has lots of negative impacts on health like cholesterol, bacteria, and carcinogens. But for some reason, every video I saw and article I read didn’t really stop me from eating meat.

Then, four years ago, I had an accident that completely changed my life for the better. Watch my video to see how Beans, my French bulldog, got me to stop eating meat for good.

If you watched the video, you’ll understand why people asked me if I put the dog to sleep after what happened. Can you believe that that question was the first thing people said after asking me how I was feeling? My life would have never transformed the way it did if Beans wasn’t around to see me through my recovery.

Beans comforting me during my recovery.

Beans comforting me during my recovery.

In case you’re wondering where Beans is today — he’s happily living with my ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend Lesa. They both give him oodles of love and I’m very fortunate to say that we’re all friends, so I get to see Beans every once in a while. That makes me so happy!

Is there an animal in your life that you love unconditionally? Tell me about him or her in the comments below. And please share this story if you like it!

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Peace and happy Beans,


25 Things You Don’t Know About Me

gym selfie

A picture before heading into the gym.

The inevitable “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me” post is being brought to you by my own sheer laziness and inability to focus.

When I was 32, a Psychiatrist told me that I have attention deficit disorder. He prescribed me with Adderall. I took the drug for one week and thought it was the worst thing I’d ever been prescribed. The stuff made my left eye close halfway and made my brain feel numb. I felt so lethargic I could drool. I tossed the pills in the garbage and never saw another Psychiatrist after that. I’d rather live with my intense energized personality than a listless indifferent version of myself. Guess I could count this as one thing you didn’t know about me, but I won’t. :-p

Anyway, lately I’ve had a lot of work to do. My website is being rebuilt and my upcoming book is getting designed. I need to write a lot of copy for both. I seriously can’t wait to show you them, because they look insanely spectacular. I’m so excited! Just a few more months and we’re off!

But, now, without further ado…. here’s my list:

1. I have played a variety of instruments, starting with the piano at the age of four, then the viola, then the clarinet, then the guitar, and finally DJ turntables. I also owned a set of drums as a kid. Unfortunately, I never stuck with any instrument, so I can’t play any now and I regret that.

2. Out of all the instruments that I’ve played, piano and viola were my favorites. I also know for a fact that I would have been a killer DJ if I had started younger. ;)

3. I hated playing sports as a teen, so I became the manager of my high school’s varsity field hockey team and earned a varsity letter the easy way. Ha

4. My spleen was removed when I was eight years old, because it was enlarged. I almost got left back in school that year due to my frequent absences.

5. I received special help in math for the entire duration of my formative education, but got straight A’s in my college statistics classes without any additional help.

6. One of my childhood math tutors was the older sister of my best friend. Today, she’s one of my closest friends and a professional writer/editor. She’s also the editor of my upcoming book!

7. I consider myself to be a pretty big geek who used to play a ton of video games all day long (I mean ALL DAY), until life became too hectic and I got an Apple computer. Real games are meant for PCs. I was never a tremendous console gamer, but Nintendo will always hold a special place in my heart.

8. At the age of 19, I sang in a competition that took place in a mall. It was my first time singing in front of an audience, so I was petrified. Something went right, because I was asked to perform in the next round of the competition, which took place in Los Angeles, California. My dad didn’t let me go because I was too young, so that was the end of my professional singing career.

9. I was also the lead singer in an electronic band when I was in college.

10. I truly dislike roses. The only flower I dislike more are lilies. I prefer tulips or any other flower that has a delicate appearance and comes in a rainbow of colors.

11. I don’t watch any television shows. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

12. The only sports I enjoy watching are boxing and ultimate fighting championship. Other sports I can tolerate watching include soccer, tennis, football, basketball, and ice hockey. Fortunately, I don’t turn on my TV, so this is a non-issue.

13. My ethnic background is Italian and Puerto Rican. I’m first generation Italian and second generation Puerto Rican.

14. The last movie I saw in a theater was “This Is The End.” I loved it.

15. The sexiest features on a man are his haircut and his mouth, unless he has stunning green or blue eyes.

16. I absolutely love indoor cycling and weight training.

17. Someday, I’d love to own a French bulldog, a Boston terrier, an exotic shorthair and maybe a Scottish fold. I’ll be the Angelina Jolie of international pet breeds.

18. When I’m not working on my wellness efforts, I work in the entertainment/media industry. To date, I’ve worked in radio, film, publishing, and television.

19. My media career has introduced me to a variety of actors and musicians, from Diana Ross to Tom Cruise. The crazy thing is, I’ve met bloggers with bigger egos than some of the A-list celebrities I’ve met. Cracks me up every time.

20. I prefer city tours over beach vacations, unless it’s a romantic getaway.

21. I am not a fan of Los Angeles or Las Vegas.

22. The best food I ever ate was in Sicily.

23. I’m a morning person.

24. I eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Fuji apples are my favorite.

25. I love building things, from toy models to jewelry. I’m also really into drawing and painting and would love to increase my skills in these areas.

Thanks for being patient with me as I work on my various other projects.

I always like to learn more about people, so if you feel like telling me a bit about yourself please do so in the comments section below!

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How to Find Comfort in Times of Stress

There are times when my dizzying array of responsibilities seems so daunting that I wonder how I manage to keep up with it all. Work, life, family, friends, romantic interests, hospital appointments, health insurance wars, blogging, social media, my personal business, etc. Needless to say, it sometimes feels difficult to find comfort in times of stress.

Comfort at home

No stress, only comfort, at home.

When life feels chaotic or I see that I am beginning to put too much emphasis on any one area of my life, I know that it’s time to slow down and do something to rejuvenate my spirit.

People tend to think that taking time for themselves is a huge undertaking that is impossible to achieve. What they don’t realize is that there are really simple ways to decrease stress. The problem is, in order to achieve comfort in times of stress, we have to be fully present in the experience.

What does it mean to be present in an experience? It simply means that if you’re worried about paying your bills on time or you’re worried about whether or not you said something to make your friend angry, you put those worries aside and concentrate on what is happening in the time and space that you presently occupy, using your senses.

Comfort can come from feeling safe, loved, connected to others, or by expressing yourself creatively. As you take action in something you find comfort in, ask yourself if you are fully experiencing the moment of whatever it is you’re doing.

My comforts come in many forms. Below are my top five. Share your favorites with me in the comments section below!

Drinking tea is my primary go to when I feel a bit stressed. There’s something peaceful about taking slow sips of tea, allowing it to warm the body from the inside. According to research done by Steptoe, Gibson, Vounonvirta, et al. (2007), “6 weeks of tea consumption leads to lower post-stress cortisol and greater subjective relaxation, together with reduced platelet activation.” In other words, a decreased stress response in the body. You can read about their study here.

Lately, I’ve been drinking this organic blueberry rooibos tea because it 1) tastes good, 2) is caffeine-free, 3) is high in antioxidants, 3) has minerals that are good for bone health, and 4) improves circulation.


When I have more time to spare, I turn on certain movies that I’ve seen numerous times but include sounds and visuals that I find very comforting. The American Psychological Association’s annual “Stress In America 2009” report states that of the 1,568 adults surveyed, 36% cited movie watching as a stress reliever. You can read about the study here.

Here are a few of my favorite movies.

  • Lost in Translation

    Lost in Translation

  • Garden State

    Garden State

  • 200 Cigarettes

    200 Cigarettes

  • Sleepless in Seattle

    Sleepless in Seattle

Over the years, I’ve had so many great animal friends. Petting an animal is a really easy way to reduce stress. According to research done by Anderson, Reid, and Jennings (1992) “Pet owners had significantly lower systolic blood pressure and plasma triglycerides than non-owners.” You can read about the study here.

Here’s a picture of me with my favorite dog friend, Beans.


Nothing can be more comforting than a chat with someone who cares about you and has been by your side through good times and bad. According to Berkowitz (2002) “Study after study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.” This is especially true for women. When men are stressed, they prefer to be alone. Read more about this research here.

I’m fortunate to have lots of people who fall into this category. Here’s a little collage of the people who make me feel safe, loved, and happy. :)

stress relief support network

Left to right, starting with large image: My cousin Kelly, me, and my sister Gloria. Bottom row: my friends Alicia, Bryan, Stefan, Catherine, Steve (with Kelly), Lori. Going up from the bottom: Me with my friend Christina, me and my grandma, my dad, my aunts Betty and Christine with my mom and myself, and me with my friend Jamal.

I enjoy being creative. If I find myself stressing out about a project that I’m working on, I stop working on the project and throw myself into an artistic endeavor. According to Curl and Forks (2008) “Art making provided the participants of their study with a significant decrease in stress.” You can read more about t he study here.

Some of my favorite creative hobbies include jewelry making, singing, and drawing.

jewelry making

If you know someone who is going through a stressful life event, please share this post with him or her. Show them that there are lots of easy and scientifically proven ways to resolve the stress in their life.

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To your comfort and happiness,


13 Ways to Stop Feeling Unloved and Unwanted

This is a story about me feeling unloved and unwanted, but it begins with what I call a “God Complex.”

18th Birthday

Balloons for my 18th birthday from my then boyfriend.

Most people I know who have thalassemia (including myself) have a “God complex.” We like to frame ourselves as unshakable pillars of strength to our family members, we try to prove our physical stamina by partying harder than our healthier friends, and because our medical needs feel so out of control, we fiercely try to control all other aspects of our life.

A “God complex” ironically comes from a place of complete insecurity. There’s a darkness that lives inside me that says I am absolutely and utterly unlovable. After all, what guy would want a woman who needs blood transfusions to live, has scars all over her body, and might die before him?

And because that belief lives in me, my brain/ego tries to keep it alive by attaching itself to men who have little to no ability to make me feel loved. This is usually because they don’t love themselves and/or have chaotic life situations that render them emotionally void. I’m rarely ever anybody’s first thought or number one priority.

My preference for unhealthy men began when I first started dating at the age of 17. Fortunately, meeting guys has never been a problem for me. Unfortunately, if five guys want to date me, I always go for the one who has the least capacity to show up for me in mind, body, and heart.

Why? Because I grew up believing that I am completely unlovable and that deep rooted fear is hardwired into my brain’s circuitry.

And no matter how many people tell me that I am “beautiful,” “wonderful,” “intelligent,” “amazing” or whatever positive reinforcement they might use, deep down that painful negative self belief still exists.

So, I hurt myself over and over through my poor relationship choices. And I cry. I cry a lot when I think about how many times my heart has been catastrophically broken by choosing the wrong men.

Can you relate to anything I’m saying? Tell me in the comments below – they keep me going.

Consistent Meme

But it’s getting better, because I’m on a healing journey. The nine year old girl who once believed she was such a horror that she should live under her parents’ staircase and get fed by a stick (yes, I really thought this) is evolving.

I still occasionally find myself with men who are unworthy of my time, but on the rare occasion when that happens, I acknowledge the negative feelings that get stirred up in me and find the self-love to kick them to the curb.

Most of the time.

Well, after several months of painful recognition that I’m slowly torturing myself.

Amazingly enough, things have gotten better because I’m finally learning to love and concentrate on myself more.

My relationship anxieties have greatly subsided over the years, but they still re-emerge when I get mixed signals from a guy.

If he says something like, “I think you’re incredible, but I don’t know when I’ll be ready,” or “Just keep living your life,” or my favorite one: “I’ll probably end up marrying an average girl, but think of you when I’m with her” I know I’m probably in for a bad time. Deep down, I know these aren’t mixed signals. They’re fog horns telling me that these guys don’t want to be in a relationship with me and I should leave before they drag me through hell.

Unfortunately, I can’t stop myself from hoping that time will change his heart. I can’t stop myself from living in the fantasy that “he’ll come through for me… for us” and I hate that I am this way.

If only a boxer would appear out of nowhere and punch me in the face whenever a guy drooled those words into my ear, because that’s exactly how I feel when he finally breaks my heart.

You're the one Meme

Sometimes it’s very difficult to ground myself in reality. My creative mind has helped me cope with a lifetime of physical pain and trauma. What I’ve learned is that my imagination is no place for a relationship. And, frankly, I’m just as tired of my “happily ever after” fantasies as I am with my “what if,” “why hasn’t he,” “what does he mean” fantasies.

Part of my fantasy comes from a need to control. I can’t control my health, so I try to control anything else that I possibly can.

My mind needs to know that someone loves me and will be there for me, which leads to a dependency on certainty, but that certainty is not based in reality. It’s just a fantasy built on a desire to control an outcome.

No one ever has certainty. How many people are married for years only to be blindsided by a person’s behavior down the line? How many people wake up healthy and die the next day. Nothing is certain. I just have to learn to relax and feel comfortable with not knowing what might happen.

I’m not someone who tries to mind read and I am very good about giving people space to be who they are, but I lose my cool as soon as I feel he is behaving out of sync with his words or his present words don’t align with what he’s said in the past. I can’t deal with uncertainty. I hate it. But I need to remember that control is a figment of my imagination.

So, I work on my mind. I get closer to God. I meditate on my thoughts and breathe. But my decades old anxiety hides very well and hasn’t been quick to resolve itself.

That’s why I take even greater action using these steps.

  • I watch my fears as they bubble and brew, then force myself to snap out of my mind’s fantasy and return to the space that my body occupies.
  • I tell my partner how I’m feeling and if he can’t handle it, he exits himself; if he can handle it, he walks alongside me and helps me understand the difference between my fears and reality.
  • If I’m not in a relationship, my insecurities lay dormant. That’s just the truth. I can’t feel insecure about losing what I don’t have.
  • I talk to my therapist and we work on resolving the childhood fears that still live inside of me.
  • I do breathing exercises: three deep breaths in, one deep breath out and stay present in the room that my body occupies.
  • I remind myself that I can only ever truly know and control myself.
  • I remind myself to not compare the new guys that I meet with the terrible guys I’ve met in the past. This one’s hard to do, especially if they use the same words.
  • I allow myself to feel my feelings and not hold them inside.
  • I remind myself that every relationship presents me with a unique opportunity to evolve, heal, and become a stronger person.
  • I remind myself that there’s always another dude waiting right behind the last.
  • I create space for someone new by removing artifacts that remind me of past relationships.
  • I forgive myself and remind myself of the abundance of love that I have from my family and friends.
  • I explore all that I am curious about and work on creating an even better life of my own for myself.

If you know anyone who has ever had a broken heart or felt sad about his or her relationship status, please share this with him or her.

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To believing we deserve a better kind of love (and finding it),


How to Be Lazy and Find Your Purpose

Is it possible to find your purpose in life by being lazy?

There are some days when I seriously drag myself everywhere because I don’t want to do anything. Productivity goes out the door when I get into this physical/mental state.Lazy Meme I just want to vegetate on my couch, play video games and order take out for lunch and dinner. Trust me, I know how to do “lazy.”

Whenever I feel this way, I allow the feeling to be expressed as big as I can. I don’t force myself to do any task that I don’t I really want to do. Heck, I don’t even answer text messages or phone calls (unless I really want to or it’s an emergency).

What are your hobbies/interests? Share them with me in the comments below!

I think it’s really important to give yourself time to engage in activities that you feel are fun but useless. Of course, this is difficult to do when you’re responsible for other people, but it’s always important to do things for yourself and take at least a few minutes to completely zone out. This is the absolute best way to recharge and ramp up enough energy to focus on things that really need your time and attention.

The same kind of rational should be used when creating lifestyle changes (a.k.a., dieting, exercising, etc.). You don’t want to force yourself to eat kale when your dying for a cookie. Allow yourself to have one cookie! ONE is the keyword here.

When I feel lazy, I give myself ONE full day of playing video games for 10-12 hours straight. I can’t stand TV, I don’t like movies much, but I do adore video games. My single day of total zone out allows me to recharge so much that I’m able to have several consecutive days of working for 12 hours straight.

If I didn’t allow for that time, I wouldn’t get half as much work done. So, in the spirit of letting go of the absolute need to work, work, work without any play, I want you to think about an activity that you absolutely LOVE, then give yourself time and permission to do it.

What’s interesting is that the activities you love have a lot to do with your life’s purpose. If you’re like me and you love video games, but you know you have absolutely no talent to make a career of your passion, don’t deny yourself of it’s pleasure just because there’s no money in it.

Create space for your passions, because some are meant to revitalize you while others are meant to give you a career. Participating in the things that you adore gives you energy to spend time on activities that may be more lucrative.

If you know someone who feels guilty their passions, share this with article them. Help them alter their expectations of themselves.

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To zoning out,


Forget Goal Setting, This Will Change Your Life

Jo at Age 14

From left to right: me, age 14, our friend Helene and my sister.

Being an overweight teen was no fun at all. I was made fun of, looked down upon, and had the lowest self-esteem imaginable.

I had no idea how to lose weight on my own, so I ended up asking my best friend who was a vegan to teach me how to eat.

I remember the two of us sitting on the couch in my parents’ living room. She asked me a series of questions about my food intake and wrote down ways to modify my diet.

To be honest, I don’t remember specifics of our conversation, but I do remember that I lost weight by reducing the portions I consumed, adding exercise, and removing my daily intake of potato chips. I lost 35 pounds over the course of one year.

I didn’t turn veggie at that point, but I do remember that I made a conscious decision to not just create a goal to lose weight. I decided to learn how to live differently in order to affect a lifetime of change.

What does that mean? It means I knew that in order to lose weight for good, I had to make systematic changes to my lifestyle.

The dictionary defines a system as “A group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole.”

So, in my example of wanting to lose weight and keep it off, my complex whole was an overweight body. The elements that created my overweight body were my poor self image, a family that overate, lack of exercise, bad snacking habits, and a lack of self discipline/vision.

I knew that I had to forever modify the elements that made up my complex whole in order to sustain my desired weight. In other words, I changed the things in my life that I felt made me fat.

  • First, I asked my mom to stop buying me potato chips, as they were (and still are) my greatest vice. To this day, I do not keep any munchies in my house, because I know I’ll eat them if they’re available to me.
  • Second, I modified the way I viewed meal time. Instead of it being a source of pleasure and community (because I always ate with my family or friends during school hours), I viewed food as a source of fuel for my body. An energy source, rather than a faithful stress reliever. I then challenged myself to view exercise as a source of pleasure and stress relief – and it worked.
  • Third, I recognized patterns at meal time that kept me unhappy with my weight and changed them completely. I stopped overeating, eating fried foods, eating too many sugary foods (breads, pastas, flour), not eating any fruit or salad/veggies.
  • Fourth, I started paying attention to calories on packages and didn’t allow myself to eat more than 1,200 calories each day. Here’s a calorie calculator to help you figure out how much energy you need to eat each day (if weight loss/gain is your desired change).
  • Fifth, Each time I recognized that I had an increased desire to eat, based on self-esteem issues or some type of internal stress/anxiety, I made a conscious decision to move that negative energy into action through weight lifting.
  • Sixth, The most important part of this was that I was absolutely determined to never get made fun of again by the crappy kids in my school. The vision of success that I held for myself helped me hold all of these elements together in my mind.
  • Seventh, If you’re feeling very brave, share your desired outcome with someone you respect and trust. Social pressure helps us stay on track, follow through on tasks, and stimulates others to be interested in your progress.

As the elements in my system changed, my life changed for the better…forever.

Now it’s your turn to create positive changes in your life.

I’ve created a .99 cent homework plan for those of you who want more in-depth help.

I’m also offering one-on-one coaching for those of you who want my expert guidance.

My coaching clients are also permitted to send me questions via email during our time together. I like being available to help them every step of the way!

All sales are final, but your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed. If you’re not happy, I don’t want your money.

**Please don’t forget to send your contact information so I can get in touch within 24-48 hours.

Take a look at the packages below for pricing information.

This offer will only be available for the next eight weeks, ending on March 5, 2014.

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Please share this post with anyone who has a desire to change his/her life through goal setting.

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To your future,


2013 Gratitude – Review in Pictures

NeverEnding Story

Empress and Bastian

Have you ever seen the movie “The NeverEnding Story?” It’s not a holiday film, but it was a film that I loved as a kid.

In the film, a child empress loses her kingdom and planet due to an unseen force that causes all but herself and one grain of sand from her empire to crumble and disappear.

The reason she and one grain of sand survive is because the hero of the movie, Basitan, a young boy who skips school to read “The Neverending Story,” a book about the empress and her planet, believes he is a part of her adventure and finally participates in it to save her.

The movie comes to mind whenever I hear from you, my readers, whether it be via email or through social media. You are a part of my story and you keep me inspired and eager to Continue reading