Luke and J9: The Beginning

I watched him step out of his red and black Toyota 4 Runner. A tall, dark, and handsome man in a long black coat walked into TGI Fridays. My sidekick, Lisa, nodded her approval, and so I limped toward the entrance to meet my blind date.


Two days earlier.

I finished my evening shift waiting table at Grandma’s Pie Shop on Central Avenue. My plan was to head over to my blind date’s townhouse for a party he and his roommate were having. I had yet to meet him, so this seemed the perfect opportunity. I still lived at home with my younger sister, Michele, and my parents. At age 22, I was in that in between stage of teen and adult.

The weather turned ugly, so my father insisted on picking me up to drive the 45 minutes home. My chance to meet my blind date was thwarted by a wintry blizzard. We talked briefly and planned to meet for lunch. Two more days dragged by as I imagined what he looked like. I had enjoyed getting to know him on the phone and was excited about the possibilities.

The next morning, in typical De Tillio fashion, I broke my toe, cracked my shinbone, and ended up on crutches. I’ll spare you the gory details of how that occurred! I called my blind date. He despaired, fearing that I would once again cancel.

I explained that I would be on crutches and wearing a brown bomber jacket. Easy enough to spot. Lisa and I arrived early and watched for him in the parking lot. After I saw him walk into the restaurant, I decided to leave my crutches in the car. I needed to make some type of impression.

I opened the door and there he stood, leaning against the wall waiting for me. He was ‘the one’ with his Sam Elliott mustache, chocolate eyes, and nonchalant stance. I knew I would marry him.


We talked about soccer, motorcycles, family, and food. We had so much in common, and I couldn’t wait to see him again. As he followed me out of the restaurant, he said, “Nice limp.” His dry sense of humor has carried us through many of my klutzy escapades!

Riding the streets of Maine. We always wear protective gear now!

Our love was a whirlwind of adventures and dreams of our lives together. We married three years later.


I found my soulmate and best friend on this day 30 years ago. We have had so much joy as well as tremendous sorrow, but we have always stood side by side holding one another up.

Dancing in the Woods, 2018

Luke was warned I’d be trouble. He took a chance anyway. He’s known as the fix it guy, but I think we’ve lasted, because he has always let me be me. What more could a gal limping into TGI Friday’s ask for!

July Month in Review


July began and ended with Nick’s Fight to be Healed events, was packed with writing goals, creating space deadlines, and lots of family fun.

I had so much on my plate. The biggest deadline was getting my¬†Saving Atlantis manuscript done. I had to push back the date and I wasn’t happy about it.

Annual July 4th float

It feels like the July 4th parade had happened months ago. I think it had to do with being very present in most everything I did. I didn’t hand out candy. I watched the teens hand it out and took note of the children’s happy faces.

The best part of July was all the gatherings with my family and friends.


My nephew and his wife drove through and stopped by, so of course a big gathering happened. Family always gathers for the July 4th festivities, and I felt the love and connections.

Good news came for one of our Melodies families. Regan received her last spinal treatment and will be done in September! Karen captured the moment.


I finished Saving Atlantis and got it to the printer and now will wait for the final product! That was probably my biggest stressor. It’s a positive one to have, but the need to get it right adds a lot of pressure on me.


One of my most thrilling moments of July was Stephen getting his motorcycle license and riding with his dad and myself. He has jumped in with both feet and absolutely loves it. He is holding Liam, who will be riding next to him some day.

The month ended with a beautiful fundraiser to honor my son Nick during the 11th Annual pig roast that our wonderful friends hold every year.


In between the foundation events, family moments, finishing a book, and creating space in my house, which I noted in separate posts, I still managed to journal and enjoy the world around me.

For August I will keep: connecting with people who lift me up and break down my goals into accessible parts.

I will stop: booking myself out for so many nights and day appointments and putting so much on my plate.

I will start: reserving Fridays for cleaning and organizing my office and catching up on reading.

It was a fantastic month, and I’m grateful I captured so much of it to remember.

Crossroads & Winding Paths


One of the reasons I journal is to help me make decisions. This is useful when I have a few choices to make and they all are possible and positive options. I feel like I was meant to do so many things in my life, and I often wonder what my life would be like if I stuck to one plan, one choice, one path. Maybe I would have done more in that area, like writing many more books or being a teacher, but I am often called in many directions.

When I look at the photo above, it reminds me that I have many paths that lead to my purpose as long as they don’t take me too far out of the way. And it’s hard to know which was is the correct or best one for me right now. The path toward the sun looks lovely, toward the mountain appears challenging, and the road to the left is certainly unknown. Then I have all these signs pointing in all directions, but not really giving me guidance.

JanineBike-0005When riding a motorcycle, it’s important to not only look directly ahead of where I’m riding, but also as far as I can see. In order to anticipate my actions, I must have all the information, and I need to give myself time to absorb any challenges or obstacles in the way. Even though the road looks like it’s heading straight, I don’t know what will be over the next hill.

Photo by Elizabeth Fox Photography
But as long as I keep my eyes open, I can see what is coming toward me and be prepared.

This is like the crossroads and winding paths that my life is always on. I’m currently at a crossroads in my life, and no matter which path I choose, other people may not be happy with it. But if there is one lesson I have learned in life, I have to listen to my gut, my intuition that keeps my on my path. In addition, I have to know my path.

I have worked long and hard in my life through a great deal of self-inquiry and journaling to know what my purpose is on this earth.

I’d like to help you do the same.

Make a list of what you are passionate about, what you love to do. Don’t worry about whether you can get paid for it. This is something that when you do it, nothing else matters, and you feel a deep sense of joy in your mind, body, and spirit. These are activities that you feel lost without.

Now write down what you value, is important to you, and matters the most in your life. With at least five or more words describe what you love about yourself. What are your positive characteristics?

Let this sit and stop back to continue the roadmap to your purpose.

If you’d like a hands-on workshop for this, check out my website for local events.