Month: August 2017

How to Bring the Sparkle Back into Your Marriage

How to Bring the Sparkle Back into Your Marriage

Guest Post By: Peter Minkoff


If you reached the point where your marriage is in serious danger, it still may be too soon to give up on it completely. Of course, it’s very important to stay as realistic as possible. If your spouse is already set on leading a life that doesn’t include you, you shouldn’t force them or yourself to work on rekindling the old flame. However, in case your partner also wants to give it a shot, there are several different things you can try.

Visit a place that has a special meaning for you

A great way to bring back the old feelings is to go back to where it all started. As a married couple, you probably have that one special place that holds great meaning for both of you. This can be a place where you first met, kissed or decided to get married. You can take the time there to enjoy, talk about the past moments and relive the memories that brought you together in the first place.

Read your marriage vows

If you need a reminder of what your thoughts and feelings were when you got married, it’s definitely the right time to reread your wedding vows. However, just reading them is not enough to do the magic. Create a nice atmosphere at home or at that above-mentioned special place. Read your vows to each other, and try to keep the eye contact – just like you did on your wedding day. In the end, the message you had for each other at the time may turn out to be a message for yourself at present and the spark that went missing along the way.

Do things together

One of the most effective ways to rekindle the old flame and find the deep connection you once felt is to commit to doing interesting and fun things together. Go on an adventure somewhere you’ve never been before; try new hobbies and adrenaline-rushing activities while holding hands; learn a new skill together.

Also, you can try some more relaxing and mindful activities. For example, you can sign up for couples yoga sessions as well as couples massages that can help you relax and meditate enough to peek into your true feelings and desires.

Write down your deepest feelings

If you’ve been experiencing some difficulties in your life that may be the cause of your marriage troubles, it’s important that you let your spouse know exactly how you feel. However, we all know just how hard it can be to talk about our feelings, especially the negative ones. Therefore, it might be a good idea to pour all your feelings and thoughts into a letter for your partner. Explain and describe everything that you had to go through in your mind and how that made you react to other things in life, even when love is concerned. Write about everything that you can comprehend about yourself and point out the things that you can’t. Of course, don’t rush the writing of this letter. In the end, you may be able to understand each other a lot better after reading the entire story without interruptions.

Seek professional help

It can also happen that the two of you simply don’t know where to start when it comes to bringing the old sparkle back into your married life. In cases like these, there’s nothing wrong with asking a professional marriage counselor for help. What’s more, these therapy sessions may help you work out the root of all your problems, not just provide quick fixes for the current situation. Also, when both of you are willing to see a marriage counselor, it’s a clear sign that there’s still love worth saving between you two.

Unfortunately, we often forget that things can be repaired rather than simply replaced, even when our relationships are in question. But if there’s hope to make your marriage functional and the love you share as strong as ever, you should definitely not give up.


Peter is a parenting and lifestyle writer for Voice Boks magazine. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.

Dear Best Friends

Dear best friends of a sad person,

As I sit here typing this, I’m trying to think of the words to say to you. I want to say thank you. Sad people need people to stick around. Sad people need friends more than anyone can know. I want to say on behalf of sad people everywhere you are a blessing.

As a friend of a sad person, you may not know a few things. Everyone grieves differently, but we still need you. We may not reach out to you to console us, but we want you to. We cherish those texts you send us to perk us up. We may roll our eyes at your perky attempts to get us out of the house, but we secretly are saying, “Thank you.”

You may not know this, but you’re a godsend. You keeping us occupied and making us laugh, keeps us sane. If not for you, we’d be lonely and contemplating what we mean to people. You make us do things we really don’t want to do like, go to the gym, stop texting that guy, go to work, put make up on. YOU are the reason we keep going. You are the feet to our legs. You keep us grounded and make us move.

So, Thank you for pushing us. Don’t stop coming around. Don’t stop sending goofy pictures of yourself to make us laugh. Don’t stop pulling us out of bed. Don’t stop keeping us going. You are so much of the reason we make it through, and without you the world would be sadder.

Best friends are underappreciated, so thank you. Thank you for being your spunky, sassy, and persistent self. You make the world less crappy. Best friends are needed, so make us take goofy pictures together. Make us go to the gym with you. Make us realize we deserve better. Make us realize that the world is much more than our sadness.


Without you, the world would be lonely and less funny. Don’t change. Don’t go. Just stay, and be you.




The sad bestie


Photo credit


Baby Names With Meaning for Rainbow Babies

Pregnancy is a time for joy in most cases, but in the instance of loss, pregnancy is riddled with anxiety. Is this baby going to make it? Will this baby going to be strong? Who is this baby going to be? How can I honor my Angel while giving this rainbow baby their own identity?


Don’t fret. I went through months of grueling name searching, and my husband and I couldn’t, for the life of us, find a name that fit. Finally, the name we chose clicked because we found a name that honored our angel, and changed it enough to give our rainbow her own identity.


Just for disclosure, this article is about babies, and gender will play into my writing. This is a very hot topic right now, but I do not want any arguing, hateful words, or anything of the like on this page. Babies are to be celebrated, and yes, I will sort names into gender categories. If you like a name for whatever gender your child is, then by all means, use it.

This is a list to help making something painstakingly tedious and sometimes downright hard, fun. I do not wish to offend, but do not complain or question the way I’m writing my list. If you don’t like it, find another list. If you do, good! Glad I could help. This is a commotion free space, created for parents who have lost, and I do not wish to get into politics or other problems than grief. So, that being said, enjoy the compilation.

—- Girls —-

  1. Olivia – This is my personal favorite because I’m biased. Olivia means peace, originating from the olive branch.
  2. Madison – Gift of God
  3. Cara – Beloved
  4. Lily – Purity and beautiful
  5. Daniella – Miraculously survived the lion’s den
  6. Valerie – Strength and health
  7. Althea – With healing power
  8. Emersyn – bravery and powerful
  9. Arya – Noble goddess (Game of Thrones character as well)
  10. Elsa – Oath of god
  11. Haven – Place of safety
  12. Hope – Faith
  13. Millie – Gentle stregth
  14. Taya – Perfectly formed
  15. Ava Eve – Life or living
  16. Antonia – Priceless
  17. Priya – Beloved
  18. Celeste – Heavenly
  19. Angela – Angel
  20. Ayah – Miracle
  21. Amari – Miracle of God
  22. Eliana – Gift from God
  23. Daneiris is an English variant of “Daenerys” – Rainbow (Game of Thrones character as well)
  24. Mila – Wished for child
  25. Arabella – Answered prayer
  26. Iris – Rainbow
  27. Evie – Life
  28. Raegan – Spiritual strength
  29. Amberly – Beautiful jewel
  30. Riley – Firey and courageous


—- Boys —-

  1.  Cailean – Strong in battle
  2. Elide – Fighter
  3. Lorcan – Fierce little one
  4. Boone – A blessing
  5. Dante Aj- Enduring
  6. Azriel – Help of god
  7. Maddux – Forturnate
  8. Luca – Bringer of light
  9. Andrew – Strong
  10. Nathan – Given by God
  11. Gabriel – Angel
  12. Jude – Praise
  13. Ethan – Strong and safe
  14. Grant – ‘Granted another child’ (play on words) also means Grand
  15. Beau – As in rain ‘beau’ another play on words which means handsome
  16. Simon – God has heard
  17. Denzell – Powerful
  18. Ryker – Superior strength
  19. Ajax – Strong warrior
  20. Connor – Much wanted
  21. Ozzy – God’s devine power
  22. Rylan – Strong but sweet
  23. Terrian – Physically strong
  24. Wyatt – Little Warrior



photo credit to

How to Keep Your Angel’s Memory Alive

When I ask about a topic to write about, this comes up a lot! figuring out how to keep your angel’s memory alive is so important to our motherly instinct. Just because our child died, it DOES NOT mean they didn’t exist and can’t be remembered. It’s hard going day to day with a reminder that people go about their day as if a piece of the world is gone. It’s your duty as a mother or father to make sure the child’s memory is being protected. You ask, “How do I do that?”

Well, it’s sometimes rather difficult to imagine how to incorporate a missing person into a family event or even every day life, and that’s why I came up with this list. This list is what I do to keep my son Callan’s memory alive. At the bottom I’ll even add other suggestions that I’ve yet to do, but want to.  


Family photographs including a photo of your angel – Like the above photo, I had another heart mom take my photo with an actual framed photo of my son before he passed. We use this photo in almost every picture we take to include him in what we are doing now. All you need to do is, pick your favorite picture of your angel, have it printed to an 8×10, frame it, and then have someone hold the frame while everyone gathers around for the family picture. This will keep your child included in all of the photos that happen after his or her passing. 



Angelversaries – A lot of people do not know what an angelversary is, and that’s okay because I’m about to explain it to you. An angelversary is the anniversary of a death. So, Callan’s is February 11th, and every year we go out and set balloons free at his head stone. This date is the day you send messages, send things to heaven, and let the world know today you lost a piece of your heart.



Angel birthdays – Every birthday from after he passed until forever, I vowed to celebrate his birthday. I bake a superman cake and we go visit his head stone. We sometimes also do another balloon release. Today we celebrate a birthday that nobody acknowledges anymore. My son was born, and that day is still special, so I will forever celebrate the day he graced the world with his angelic presence. 



Yearly Christmas Stocking Stuffer – On Christmas, I usually will find a small stocking stuffer sized sock monkey and place it in his stocking to ensure that even though he isn’t here physically, he will still always be a part of the family. I’ve known people to also take the money they’d spend on their angel and use that for the Angel Tree donations. Another thing I’ve known other loss parents to do is, have a toy drive in their child’s name and donate to Toys for Tots or another local charity.



Have a memorial shelf – When Callan passed away, my husband and mother in law boxed all of Callan’s stuff away to help us move forward, but we kept out his favorite things, pictures, his beads, and pacifier. We placed those things on a shelf, along with his photo album, memory box, and soil we took from the grave site so a piece of his new home will always be with us. This shelf has helped me more than words can express because it’s like I have a physical spot to look at and know he was real. When everything else moves on, I have this one sacred spot to look at.



Memorial TattooI have two, so far, in memory of my son. I joke I’ll probably be fully tattooed in just tattoos for him. Tattoos, for me, are cathartic. There’s pain at first, but the permanence of the ink in memory of your angel validates they were real. It validates your thoughts, your grief, your tears, everything. Tattoos are a great way to keep your angel with your forever. I got Callan’s name and his exact EKG strip, one of his last heart beats that were recorded is on my skin. How much more real can one person get? The second tattoo I got is shared, Peter Pan for my son, and the moon for my daughter.



Butterfly Release – I’ve yet to do this, but I’m thinking of using this idea for Callan’s birthday this year. It’s safer for the environment, and to me, more symbolic than just balloons. Butterflies are a symbol for angels near by.



Paper Lanterns – You definitely have to check about burn bans, weather, and all sorts of stuff before doing this one, but I’d love to be able to have a full memorial service after dusk and float the lit paper lanterns to heaven. You’re supposed to be able to make wishes on them, and I’m a Disney fanatic, so I love the idea of tying in the beauty of Rapunzel’s light festival. It’s a beautiful and symbolic ceremony.


If you have anymore ideas on how to keep an angel’s memory alive, please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear your feedback! Also Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest


Lots of love,





Why I chose Doctor Who for My Wedding

A lot of people find it strange for a bride to choose her wedding to show love for a television show, and especially if that television show isn’t quite so mainstream, but for quite a few reasons it was a perfect choice for me. I fell in love with the magic that Doctor Who exuded. A time traveling alien that swoops regular people, like me, up and takes them away from their problems was like an escape to me. I fell in love with the whimsy and comedy each doctor brought to the screen.

One day, I was browsing Pinterest for potential wedding ideas, not that I even had a reason to because I wasn’t engaged, just hopeful and day dreaming. I simply had an idea that would be different than all others, Doctor Who.

I pinned as many blue things that ticked my fancy, and became obsessed with the idea of a Doctor Who wedding.

Once I became a mother to my heart baby, and realized the guy with a thick beard, dusty boots, and snuff rings in his back pocket was the one, Doctor Who became something greater, a symbol of time.

Before my son was born time wasn’t of importance to me; in the after shock of grief, time became everything. It became the whole Alice fell down, it became the anxiety that mocked me, and it became the motivator for my life. Time is everything, and nothing, but time is important.

The planning of my wedding was intricately designed with time in mind. Time was a friend and a foe, but it was still a guest at my wedding.

I chose a few ideas from Pinterest to steal and incorporate into my wedding aside from Doctor Who.

I always wanted my son to have a spot to sit at my wedding because it wouldn’t feel right without honoring his spirit, so I put a bear and his Beads of Courage in the front row, so he knew he was always welcome and never forgotten. That wasn’t enough though, so beside my dad as he walked me down the aisle, I had a locket charm tied to my wedding shoe, with his photo, and he helped my dad walk me down to the wonderful husband I have had for two years.

So, my vows were dedicated in part to my childlike wonder, and my adventurous side, but another, more sensitive side of me, dedicated my vows of time to my fiancé. I dedicated my time to my now husband, and through whatever trouble we go through, we will get through it together, through all of time and all of space.

Get up

Today, I am better than yesterday. Nothing in particular happened today, so far, but I slept last night.

This post is to motivate. Again, this is not a personal journal, but rather a collection of my thoughts, and dare I say wisdom; my hope is to reach the people who have been the mistress or the male version of a mistress of death.

If you’ve lost then you know how bad it sucks. It’s very much like someone punched through your sternum and pulled out your beating heart, might I add, with no anesthesia or pain meds. You can’t truly medicate the pain away.

My face is pretty broke out on my chin, my hair, well it’s a mop, I look sloppy, my right eye is teary, but I don’t care. The reason, much like my ugly post, is this, survival. Today I’m not feeling the pretty thing, at least right now I’m not.

Yesterday was a bad day. Today is better, but I still feel the pain of yesterday all throughout myself today.

This isn’t about my looks today, but rather my spirit, and yours.

It’s 6 months out from being 3 years since I’ve lost my son. I am fairing a lot better today than I was even a year ago, but I still have some crap days. If you are on this journey, then you absolutely know that the bad days are almost impossible to survive, but I’m here to tell you, you can do it!

This post is a motivational snack. Remember to breathe, look at a cute puppy, cry, breathe again, make yourself get out of bed, do something you like, and remind yourself that even though you’re having a sucky day, you can kick ass and take names.

You are tough. You are smart. You are amazing. Finally, you are inspiring.

Get up.

Love yourself.

Keep getting up.


Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am

So guys, I planned a great day today (my day off). I was planning on finally doing something on my bucket list. I was hoping to start the process to get my passport and have this awesome photo shoot with my kid. All these ideas of whimsy and ethereal beauty shots danced in my naive little mind today, almost like sugar plum fairies.

So, let me begin with the beginning of my day. I remember I have to go get parts to make a whimsical swing for a prop in the photo shoot. I was so excited! The hardware store I go to has awesome customer assistance, so I get my wood cut, drilled holes, and find rope to make this gorgeous prop swing. The excitement in me is bubbling all over and harshing everyone’s bad mood with my good one. Then I leave ready to go to my next part of my to do list: fake flowers. Why silk flowers? Ethereal swing. I go and pick out this beautiful arrangement of flowers to wrap around the rope of the swing. It’s going to be so pretty!

Then I go to a clothing store to find another dress, hopefully with lace, to use because you can never use too many costumes at a photo shoot…right?! Anywho, this store had NOTHING, NADA, ZIP, ZILCH, ZERO in dresses for toddlers. They had tuxes for boys, but no dresses for girls…Am I the only one here who still likes girly things? What happened to lace, pearls, and formality?! Aaaanyways, then I go to this really almost kind of expensive boutique, and AHHHH!!! heavenly music plays as I find this gorgeous lace white gown in my kiddo’s size! It’s like God himself said, “Nicole, Reilly must wear this!” So, I snatched it off the rack and bought it!

Cut to me sashaying to my car to realize I forgot the balloons for part of the photo shoot, so I go back to the fake flower store, and find a super cool gigantic balloon, lace, and ribbon. THEN, I decide I should be good on errands for the day, so I pull out of my parking spot to realize, PINK NAIL POLISH! Because no one likes nekkid toes. I run into the gigantic everybody goes here place, and run back out with some paleish pink polish.

FINALLY, I got home, took the dog out of the crate (He hates the crate), and spray paint the base of the swing! I finally can breathe. I wait for the hubs to get home, when he says there’s not enough rope. He heads off back to the store to get what I failed at getting, and then I pass out on the couch from too much sun interaction. It’s now 3:00 and I’m stretching time as far as it can go. 5:00 rolls around and I’m zip tying the pretty flowers. 5:30 I pick up the tot and race to get her ready.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Photo shoot at 6:00. I failed to bring snacks. I didn’t have time to stop and get food. So, the tot and I roll up to the park ready to take some dazzling pictures. First the balloon pops out of nowhere and then BAM! The kid pulls a switch on me. I knew it was coming, but nevertheless it was still embarrassing. She freaks out and doesn’t want to touch, sit, or swing. She throws herself in the dirt and only wants me to hold her. I say this goes on for about twenty or so minutes, but it felt like someone was dangling ice over me while I’m dining in hell. I finally gave up and realized the pictures weren’t going to happen today, so I thanked my wonderful photographer and we decided to reschedule, to when? HAHAHA I have no clue?! The moral of the story is, be flexible and BRING SNACKS! Not everything is going to work out the way you want, but in case it doesn’t you’ll always have some fruit snacks to keep the toddler calm.

Bucket List Series: Part one

What would you do to kill the bleak hole burning inside of you?

What would you be willing to pursue to find yourself again?

Who are you willing to become?

You don’t like the same things.

You roll your eyes at the people who you used to relate to most.

You’re lost.

You’re someone new.

You want a new direction.

You just don’t know where to go.



This is called growth. The person you were when you endured your loss is probably dead. You are now a lump of clay ready to be remolded into something wildly new and spectacular. You now have a wisdom that many others don’t. “Normal people” don’t have this close connection to the looming reality that is death. You probably have a deep appreciation for just how fragile and brief life is.


If you’re still nodding in agreement, then I just want to say,”ME TOO.”

I died the moment my son died. My soul felt gone. My sense of self was obliterated. I was a shell. If you’re a shell too, then keep reading.

What finally fulfilled me? What finally clicked? How long did it take? When did it finally make sense?

I FINALLY felt a sense of fulfillment when I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself I was going to follow through with my plans. Come hell or high water, I was going to impact others.

I really don’t remember the moment I decided I was going to go into Social Work, blog, and counsel, but I remember how I felt when it finally clicked. I was sitting on the bed, in front of my laptop, researching career choices; A monumental weight lifted off of my sternum and I could breathe. I realized it was time to take life by the reins again.

This was a HUGE step in realizing that I had to start working on my goals again, and from goals came my bucket list.

I was starved for content ideas, when last week I got giddy and started getting beyond excited! How do I engage my readers? By showing, not just telling my experiences. I wanted to inspire others like me to dust their butts off and get excited about life again.

Yes, loss is an enormous black hole, but it doesn’t mean you have to give yourself up forever. You can experience loss, and find your path, direction, and whole self again.

It’s possible.

It’s exciting.

It’s fun.

Join me in a journey to fulfill my list, and I encourage you to create a list of your own, and do it! I want you to feel a thirst for life again. I want you to begin living again. I don’t want you to forget the person you lost, but I want you to live like you know how fragile life is. I want you to have no regrets. I also want you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Stay tuned for the first installment of “The Bucket List Series from Atoughmom”


Love Y’all,



A Better Ultimate Guide to Letting Go

You’re on the brink of a mental breakdown because it’s happened. People said it wouldn’t, but of course it did. They promised you wouldn’t have to go through this alone, but in all reality you do. Loss isn’t a road trip with your besties, top down, hair blowing in the wind, and music up loud during a summer day. Loss is a long train ride alone in the dark whilst you wait. Wait for what? Exactly. You don’t know what you’re waiting for, but you’re waiting for something; anything.

Loss isn’t a road trip with your besties, top down, hair blowing in the wind, and the music up loud during a summer day.

One of the worst things about the journey off loss is that inevitably you change, you grow twisted and bent, but you grow, and you grow apart from the people who you were closest to. You see it happening before your eyes, but you cannot change it. You might reach out, but if you beg for them to stay beside you then you run the risk of pushing them further away. I’ve learned recently, that the people closest to you before your journey are more than likely going to fall back after your loss. Why? I truly cannot explain why they go, but they do. Maybe they don’t want to make it worse. Maybe we can’t relate to them anymore so we become unapproachable to them. Maybe they were who we needed at that moment and then they weren’t anymore. We could maybe for hours, but it won’t change the fact that they left. Say it with me, “They left, but it’s okay.” How is it okay? Look at it this way, people part ways all of the time and some reconnect, and some don’t. You cannot hold someone hostage. All this would do is cause harm to you internally. You have to find it within yourself to accept the loss of this person and then move on. It might be a long walk through brimstone and fire, but if you can learn to accept that person chose to stop your relationship and actually move on then you’re on the way to fully letting go and really healing.

Letting go, two simple words with such impact. You have to realize that they are no longer a viable option when you need to cry something out. You have to realize they will no longer accept invitations to hang out together. You have to realize they might replace or even eradicate you from their life. They may sometimes say a quick something in passing, but really not want to reconnect. All of this you have to learn to accept, otherwise you’re torturing yourself and searching for answers. They either can’t deal with being around you or don’t want to. Set your mind straight and allow yourself the dignity to stop contacting them, stop asking them to hang out, don’t invite them, and allow yourself to find peace in moving on. Maybe one day you two can reconcile, but today you need to focus on you. Focus on mending your heart after the loss of someone who was there for you when you were dealing with loss yourself. Focus on moving forward and searching for new friends who can help you find the light in your new new normal. Allow yourself to feel the breakup, but also allow yourself to walk forward in grace. Losing one or multiple people during the grief cycle is a tremendous blow to your already broken heart, but it comes with the territory of tragic loss. Not everyone will stay, and not everyone will go, but for the ones who did bow out, love them for who they were when they were who you needed and gracefully walk with your head held high. You are going to make it through this storm like you made it through the others.