Friday, July 6, 2012


Barbara Ward-Finneran

Laughing and loving...

Saying "I love you", as we are never promised tomorrow.

Knowing some of the greatest journeys have bumps in the road. 

Daring to be your best self and push the limits.

Time to "unplug".

The sun on your face and a summer breeze at your back.

Embracing the moment. 

Believing that when there are no words, that prayers bridge the silence.

Focusing on courage, strength and faith when it's hardest to foster and find them. 

Keeping the promises that you make to yourself!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


                                                            Marion Pellicano Ambrose

Last night, men, women and children all across America had a wonderful time enjoying the sparkle, splendor and excitement of the many fireworks displays. Unfortunately, there were some who spent the night in agony, distress, and even terror.

In the house behind mine, a lone Labrador retriever was locked outside in the yard while his owners went out for the evening. The poor animal cried and howled in fear. He tried to hide or to get back into the house, but there was nowhere for him to go. His moaning became more and more tortured as the evening progressed and the booming, popping sounds of fireworks increased. I’m sure these sounds seemed more like the sounds of a war zone to this unfortunate creature.

My own 4 dogs fear fireworks to different degrees. Dudley, the corgi, is petrified. We keep him inside and he chooses to stay in his night cage (with his Posturpedic pet bed) with several of his soft toys. Gracie, our Sheltie is frightened but will go from her night cage to sitting at my feet all night long. Roscoe, our Yorkie, runs around the family room with his raccoon toy in his mouth trying to keep himself distracted. Finally, he drops, exhausted, in his cage. Finally, my little Chippie, a silky terrier/shiatsu mix, doesn’t react at all. Chippie is 18 years old, blind and deaf but still agile and active. She paces the room’s perimeter, using the wall as a guide. She senses that something is up, but can neither see nor hear what it is.

The point is, we do what is needed to keep our animals calm and feeling safe. When our dog Mello was alive, she was so nervous that we had the Vet prescribe a sedative for her to get her through the holiday. Pet owners have to be responsible and compassionate to their animals.

Here are some tips from the ASPCA to keep your pet safe on the 4th of July or anytime.

  • Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.
  • Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.
  • Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.
  • Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
  • Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.
  • Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
  • Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
  • Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.
Watch this cute 47 second video!



Marion Pellicano Ambrose
When I was a kid, we waited all year for the 4th of July to come along. On that day, we were allowed to have “punks” ( In case you never heard of it, a punk is a smoldering stick used for lighting firework fuses.  It is safer than a match or a lighter because it can be used from a greater distance and does not use an open flame. They are made of bamboo and a brown coating of dried manure or compressed sawdust. Punks often resemble sticks of incense, and in some countries actual incense sticks are used in a similar fashion. Punks are sold at nearly all firework stands and some stands will include them for free with a purchase.) We all felt so grown up, carrying a lit and smoking stick of manure! We all couldn’t wait until it got dark when our parents would herd all the neighborhood kids up to the Knights of Columbus where we would all sit out on the dock overlooking the bay. From the dock, we could see the glorious fireworks display from Coney Island, which was directly across the bay.  As we munched on homemade sandwiches and drank Kool ade,  a chorus of “oohs” and “ahhs” rang out as  bursts of red, white, blue and gold sparkled in the night sky.

Now, kids can go to Disney or one of the other theme parks for nightly fireworks. They can purchase packages with missiles, flowerpots and star clusters to shoot off in their own back yards. Yet even with the convenience and availability of professional fireworks, kids still get a thrill out of the actual 4th of July fireworks.
History of Fireworks
The Chinese most likely gave spark to the first fireworks during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D.). They ignited paper or bamboo tubes filled with explosives to create loud noises that would scare off evil spirits. That ability to create good vibrations quickly made fireworks an essential part of events such as weddings, funerals, coronations and New Year’s observances.It wasn’t until the 13th century that fireworks made their way to Europe. Some credit businessman and trader Marco Polo with delivering the first shipment. Others say it was Crusaders returning from the East.
By the 15th century, Italians had developed fireworks into an arts-and-entertainment accessory by mixing chemicals and shaping canisters to produce showers of sparks that lit up the night sky. Elaborate displays that spun, sparkled and shot became a much-anticipated part of European religious festivals and public celebrations, such as the marriage of England’s Henry VII and Elizabeth Plantagenet in 1486.
In the United States, fireworks have been a part of the Fourth of July holiday since the first celebration in 1777, the year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Types of fireworks
Aerial fireworks are shot into the air by mortars (shells), or use their propulsion (skyrockets). Here are some of the different fireworks and their effects:
Stars: The small bits of explosive that you see scattered across the sky when fireworks explode
Peony: Explodes in a radial pattern, like the flower
Dahlia: Like a Peony, but with fewer and larger stars
Chrysanthemum: Like the peony, yet, leaves a trail of glowing particles as it falls
Crossette: Where a Chrysanthemum’s stars would burn out, a Crossette’s stars explode into smaller pieces, creating branches across the sky.
Willow: To qualify, the glowing limbs must stay in the sky for 10 seconds or more.
Palm: Like a willow, but with slower-moving, slower-burning stars, resembling the limbs of a palm tree
Spider: Like the Chrysanthemum, but with longer-burning, droopy tails (like a spider’s leg)
Fish: Creates particles that wriggle like fish across the sky.
Rings: From a spherical shell, they explode into rings like the planet Saturn. Often combined with Peonies.
Time rain: Created by big, slow-burning stars that leave trails of sizzling, sparkling stars
Multi-break/Bouquet shells: A big shell containing smaller shells. The first burst scatters them.
Fireworks are a fun, festive, traditional way to celebrate our country’s birthday. It’s important that kids be supervised and adults be extremely cautious. There are always tragic injuries and sometimes even deaths attributed to fireworks, not to mention wildfires that can be sparked in dry conditions. So, have fun, enjoy, but please be careful this 4th of July.


Endless thanks to all who 
have served and do serve our country 
- lest we forget - 

HAPPY 4th of JULY! 

Monday, July 2, 2012


Marion Pellicano Ambrose

It’s 2 in the morning. You hear a noise. Someone is trying to break open the sliding glass doors in your bedroom. Your hands are cold as ice, your heart is pounding in your chest, and you can taste the fear on your lips. What is your first reaction?

Call the Police!

 Your elderly mother has fallen. She’s unconscious and bleeding from the mouth. This woman who means the world to you is seriously hurt. What do you do?

Call for an ambulance.

 You wake to the smell of smoke. Your children and pets are your first concern. You wake them and get them out of the house. Your husband was working in the study and he hasn’t come out. Flames are shooting from the windows and roof. Who will go in to save your husband?

Firefighters will.

 Foreign enemies threaten our shores. They are prepared to kill and maim. Who in their right mind would step forward to protect us from such a threat?

Our Military, that’s who!

 The people who put their lives on the line each and every day deserve our thanks, our respect and our admiration. We sleep easy because they are willing to keep watch.

When the tragedy of 9-11 made Americans aware of the threats we face and the dangerous world we live in, they saw the bravery and determination of the Police, Fire Fighters, EMT/Paramedics and our Military. They all acted quickly and with great courage and skill. Afterwards people cheered them and proudly flew the American flag. They put USA flag stickers on their cars and smiled and waved at police as they drove by. But we are fickle. Time passes and we become complacent once again. We take our heroes for granted. We forget that they still face death and danger in their daily work. We forget the sacrifices made by their families, especially in the case of a hero who dies in the line of duty.

Some people will never forget or forsake our first responders. Some still clap when the Veterans pass in the parade, or thank a soldier for his service when they see him. And some do more tangible things to show they care.

 Families of the Shield, Inc, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, that exists to assist the families of officers killed in the line of duty. The organization also provides emotional and financial support to any First Responders and their families, who are in need. Food baskets, toys, rent money, a visit to the hospital, a shoulder to cry on – they’re there to help.

 One of the latest projects of “The Shield” is a Charity Fund Raising Gala. They call it “THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOLLYWOOD AT THE FIRST RESPONDERS’ GALA” At the gala , which will be held in the prize winning Hilton Rialto in Melbourne, FL, guests will walk the red carpet and enter into a time and place of romance, music and good food. The Rat Pack of Central Florida will bring back the sounds and skits of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.  There will be dancing, silent auctions, and a specially made signature drink called, appropriately, “Shield of Honor.

But perhaps, most importantly, there will be a tribute video that will honor our first responders. Local Police, Fire, EMT/Paramedics and Military will be highlighted and appreciated. There will also be a memorial table to honor first responders who gave their lives in the commission of their duties.

 I know many of you who are reading this can’t travel to Melbourne to attend this Gala, but if you were to simply thank a soldier, smile at a police officer or firefighter, and make sure that flag is flying high on July 4th; I think it would show that you care. We all need to appreciate and validate our heroes, because after all, who you gonna call?

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Marion Pellicano Ambrose

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

The pain and fatigue associated with this disease can be crippling. Constant pain and lack of sleep,along with this fatigue often leads to depression. The fact that this is an invisible disease also causes much distress. Family members, coworkers, and sometimes even medical personnel tend to ignore or downplay the effects of this disease. Unless one has experienced the horrific effects of Fibromyalgia, they should not judge. This goes for scoffing at people using handicapped parking or devices that “look perfectly healthy”.

Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help.

The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache, typically arising from muscles. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by additional pain when firm pressure is applied to specific areas of your body, called tender points. Tender point locations include:

·                                 Back of the head

·                                 Between shoulder blades

·                                 Top of shoulders

·                                 Front sides of neck

·                                 Upper chest

·                                 Outer elbows

·                                 Upper hips

·                                 Sides of hips

·                                 Inner knees

Fatigue and sleep disturbances
People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is frequently disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea, that further worsen symptoms.

Coexisting conditions
Many people who have fibromyalgia also may have:

·                                 Fatigue

·                                 Anxiety

·                                 Depression

·                                 Endometriosis

·                                 Headaches

·                                 Irritable bowel syndrome

Doctors don't know what causes fibromyalgia, but it most likely involves a variety of factors working together. These may include:

·                                 Genetics. Because fibromyalgia tends to run in families, there may be certain genetic mutations that may make you more susceptible to developing the disorder.

·                                 Infections. Some illnesses appear to trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.

·                                 Physical or emotional trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder has been linked to fibromyalgia.

Why does it hurt?
Current thinking centers around a theory called central sensitization. This theory states that people with fibromyalgia have a lower threshold for pain because of increased sensitivity in the brain to pain signals.

Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain's pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals.

Risk factors for fibromyalgia include:

·                                 Your sex. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed more often in women than in men. Female reproductive hormones may play a part in how women experience pain.

·                                 Family history. You may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia if a relative also has the condition.

·                                 Rheumatic disease. If you have a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia generally doesn't lead to other conditions or diseases. But the pain and lack of sleep associated with fibromyalgia can interfere with your ability to function at home or on the job. The frustration of dealing with an often-misunderstood condition also can result in depression and health-related anxiety.

Because many of the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to various other disorders, you may see several doctors before receiving a diagnosis. Your family physician may refer you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

What you can do
Before your appointment, you may want to write a list that includes:

·                                 Detailed descriptions of your symptoms

·                                 Information about medical problems you've had in the past

·                                 Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings

·                                 All the medications and dietary supplements you take

·                                 Questions you want to ask the doctor

What to expect from your doctor
In addition to a physical exam, your doctor will probably ask you if you have problems sleeping, and if you've been feeling depressed or anxious

In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) established two criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia:

·                                 Widespread pain lasting at least three months

·                                 At least 11 positive tender points — out of a total possible of 18

But fibromyalgia symptoms can come and go. And many doctors were uncertain about how much pressure to apply during a tender point exam. While the 1990 guidelines may still be used by researchers studying fibromyalgia, less stringent guidelines have been developed for doctors to use in general practice. These newer diagnostic criteria include:

·                                 Widespread pain lasting at least three months

·                                 No other underlying condition that might be causing the pain

Blood tests
While there is no lab test to confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, your doctor may want to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. Blood tests may include:

·                                 Complete blood count

·                                 Erythrocyte sedimentation rate

·                                 Thyroid function tests

In general, treatments for fibromyalgia include both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health.

Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common choices include:

·                                 Analgesics. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may ease the pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia. However, its effectiveness varies. Tramadol (Ultram) is a prescription pain reliever that may be taken with or without acetaminophen. Your doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others) — in conjunction with other medications.

·                                 Antidepressants. Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella) may help ease the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. Your doctor may prescribe amitriptyline or fluoxetine (Prozac) to help promote sleep.

·                                 Anti-seizure drugs. Medications designed to treat epilepsy are often useful in reducing certain types of pain. Gabapentin (Neurontin) is sometimes helpful in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms, while pregabalin (Lyrica) was the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia.

Talking with a counselor can help strengthen your belief in your abilities and teach you strategies for dealing with stressful situations.                                                             Many have found acupuncture and massage therapy helpful in controlling the pain and fatigue of Fibromyalgia.

Besides dealing with the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, you may also have to deal with the frustration of having a condition that's often misunderstood. In addition to educating yourself about fibromyalgia, you may find it helpful to provide your family, friends and co-workers with information.

 Living with fibromyalgia

Even with the many treatment options, patient self-care is vital to improving symptoms and daily function. In concert with medical treatment, healthy lifestyle behaviors can reduce pain, increase sleep quality, lessen fatigue and help you cope better with fibromyalgia.

Here are some self-care tips.

·         Make time to relax each day. Deep-breathing exercises and meditation will help reduce the stress that can bring on symptoms.

·         Set a regular sleep pattern. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Getting enough sleep lets your body repair itself, physically and mentally. Also, avoid daytime napping and limit caffeine intake, which can disrupt sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant, so those with sleep problems should stop smoking.

·         Exercise often. This is a very important part of fibromyalgia treatment. While difficult at first, regular exercise often reduces pain symptoms and fatigue. Patients should follow the saying, "Start low, go slow." Slowly add daily fitness into your routine. For instance, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park further away from the store. After awhile, do more physical activity. Add in some walking, swimming, water aerobics and/or stretching exercises. It takes time to create a comfortable routine. Just get moving, stay active and don't give up!

·         Educate yourself. Nationally recognized organizations like the Arthritis Foundation and the National Fibromyalgia Association are great resources for information. Share this information with family, friends and co-workers.

Points to remember

·         Look forward, not backward. Focus on what you need to do to get better, not what caused your illness.

·         As your symptoms decrease with drug treatments, start increasing your activity. Begin to do things that you stopped doing because of your pain and other symptoms.

·         With proper treatment and self-care, you can get better and live a normal life.

It's also helpful to know that you're not alone. Organizations such as the National Fibromyalgia Association and the American Chronic Pain Association can help put you in touch with others who have had similar experiences and can understand what you're going through.