Category Archives: In This Issue

Always Family, Not Always Friends

By: Amanda Sullivan-Samuel

Sullivan, AmandaI come from a large, blended family. My mom divorced my father when I was 3 and remarried my now stepfather when I was 5. He brought along two sons to add to the family which consisted of me and my two brothers. They were all older than me so you can imagine what that was like. Four older brothers and one younger sister. Wrestling moves were practiced on me, which included being thrown across the living room, bugs were tossed in my face and on my bed, and I may have even pretended to be the manager of their fake band as they lip synched to Aerosmith into a hockey stick wrapped in ties. (There is video proof of this.) All in all it was a great childhood and exceptionally fun with such a large family. But time moved on and little sister grew up to be a woman. My brothers all got married, starting families of their own, and I followed suit having a little boy and getting married. Granted, my first marriage was pretty awful and my brothers, being as protective as they are, didn’t approve. I fought it off as I knew you were to stand by your husband, and in the meantime, I lost myself as well as my family as they decided they didn’t want to be around the situation. Looking back, I absolutely understand their decision. I honestly didn’t want to be in this situation either but I stuck in it for as long as I could. I finally got the courage to leave the marriage and one of my first phone calls for help was to a brother that I hadn’t spoken to in nearly a year. His first words were “You’ll come here and stay with us.” Right then and there, I saw the power of family, that no matter what, you take care of each other. It doesn’t matter what the past held, it was the present time that was important.

We all started over again, as a new family, all back together again. We had family dinners once a month and each time, we went to a different family member’s home with them making the main course and the rest of us bringing side dishes. It was perfect. I don’t think you could have found a more ideal situation. It went on like this for months, however, as they say, all good things must come to an end.

Fast forward to today. Things in this family have changed. I have remarried and brought another precious little life into this world, more babies came in as well for my brothers and their wives, another separation for another brother, my parents are moving out of state, and half of my family won’t speak to the other half. Why you ask? You’re guess is as good as mine. See, when you come from a large family, opinions on life are different from one person to the next. A parenting style of one is completely against what another practices, politics and religion-don’t get me started on that one, and spouses clash with one another. Not everyone will always get along and that’s actually fine. I’ve learned that just because you are family, doesn’t mean you have to be friends. Some agree, some disagree. I do know that if the time came and one of us needed help the way I did before, we would always open our hearts and our homes to one another. It’s what families do. I’ve come to peace with this and realize that I won’t always make everyone happy. All I can do is take care of my husband and children the best that I can and love them unconditionally the way they do with me.

We just had a going away party for my parents this past Sunday at my home. I was nervous about how everyone would get along. I was shocked to see the amount of love and happiness filled the rooms with every single one of us under one roof again. I decided to do a chili bar, serving chili with all the fixings and different options such as baked potatoes, macaroni, and hot dogs for the chili to go on top of. It was very casual, nothing fancy that would cause us all to have to sit around the table and engage in conversations we may or may not want to have. Instead, we ate, we drank, and watched football like any other family would. The kids played outside and it was blessings to see them be so carefree, not knowing their parents don’t always get along. The night ended with everyone saying their goodbyes, not knowing when we would all be under the same roof again but at the very least we were able to send my parents off right and with the love that was once so familiar to us all when we were all younger.

Chili Bar


1lb ground beef or ground turkey
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
3-4tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried minced onion
A few dashes of hot sauce, your choice
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat in large pan until done. Transfer to a large slowcooker. Combine all remaining ingredients into slow cooker and mix well. Cook on low 8 hours.

Serve your chili with toppings such as sour cream, shredded cheese, diced onions and diced tomatoes.

To make into a chili bar, serve chili alongside of baked potatoes, hot dogs, macaroni, corn bread, crackers, and corn chips.

Amanda Sullivan-Samuel is a rare native to Loudoun County, born and raised in Sterling Park, VA and currently resides in Leesburg, VA. She comes from a family of blue collar workers along with four older brothers, three of which are Loudoun County firefighters. She started off in the medical field as a massage therapist when she was 20 years old and continued for 13 years. She now works part time for a Physical Therapist as the Marketing Director while also raising two amazing children, Derik—born in 2007 and Delila—born in 2012. She was married in 2007, then divorced and has since remarried in 2012 to her husband, Benjamin who is currently active duty Navy.

Amanda’s hobbies include cooking, dancing, exercising, spending time with her family at the beach and doing mud runs throughout the area. Her husband is also a triathlete, competing in various Ironman triathlons around the country as she accompanies him as his “support crew!”

Divorce Corner: Dear Cynthia

by Cynthia Battino

In this column Cynthia will answer your emotionally based and general questions about divorce. Cynthia is a life coach and energy worker who specializes in working with people considering, going through, or stuck after divorce. To ask Cynthia a question about divorce, you can email her at: You can also email Bliss Magazine:

Dear Cynthia:

I have been unhappy in my marriage for many years. We have been to marriage/couples’ counseling without any positive, long lasting results. I would like to learn more about the divorce process and find out about my legal rights. I don’t know where to start. Signed – Sad & Confused Partner

Dear Sad & Confused Partner:

I honor your desire to do your research before you jump into the messiness of divorce. The first thing I would do is go to the closest Second Saturday panel in your area. Second Saturday is an organization that has a panel of professionals that volunteer their time to teach you the process of divorce. The panel usually includes a divorce attorney, divorce financial advisor, therapist or life coach and realtor. Some panels even have mediators, insurance advisors, and custody specialists. I currently speak on three panels locally and have been volunteering my time with Second Saturday for four years.

At Second Saturday you will receive a plethora of information about the divorce process. It is a place you can ask questions. Their goal is to help you so make clear decisions about your divorce. You will also find professionals on the panels that will be perfect people to hire and be on your support team during your divorce. I would recommend you go to a couple of different ones if you can – or go more than once to learn as much as you can – for a minimal cost. Knowledge is Power.

Dear Cynthia:

I am in the middle of my divorce and am very confused. I have hired an attorney that was recommended to me by a business associate. The information I am receiving from my attorney doesn’t match the advice I am getting from my family and friends who have also gotten divorced. Who do I listen to? My bills from my attorney are getting to be ridiculous. Signed – Too Much Conflicting Advice

Dear Too Much Conflicting Advice:

One of the mantras I have for my clients is to not take legal advice or look for emotional guidance from family and friends. Every divorce is unique and even though you think that your friend’s divorce is just like yours – I am sure it is not. You need to trust your attorney. Hiring your attorney is the most strategic decision that you will make. It is also a decision that is made for the wrong reasons and can be financially catastrophic.

Let’s start with some important questions: Did you interview two or three attorneys? Does your attorney appear on any of the Top Family Law lists in your local area? Does your attorney ONLY practice family law? How long have they been doing this work? Did you hire this attorney based on the fact that you liked them and they were the least expensive option? Did you hire this attorney because they would be able to strategically work with the bad habits of your soon to be ex? You said that this attorney was recommended by one business associate. Did this same name come up with anyone else you spoke with who has gotten divorced in the recent past? After answering these questions you might want to consider trusting the one you have hired or looking for another attorney. Just remember – the more you contact and question them the higher your bill become.

Family and friends tend to fuel the drama, trauma and cost of divorce. Hire a great attorney with a great reputation who has been practicing for a long time. Yes, this attorney will be more expensive per hour, but they will also get you through the process quicker and cost you less in the long run.

Redefining Agelessness

 By: Dr. Dima Ali

AgelessnessAs a doctor in the field of Aesthetic and Anti- Aging Medicine, the overwhelming concern we hear in our office is anxiety associated with aging. However, by definition, does aging have to imply chronic disease, suffering, dementia, frailty and debilitation? Could it be possible to live to 110 years of age and still have the vitality and energy to enjoy our great-grandchildren without collapsing from shortness of breath, a fractured hip or forgetting entirely who we are? Whether we admit it or not, besides fear of being old we are also afraid of looking old. Can we take the fear out of wanting to look more youthful without worrying that we’ll look like a Hollywood freak show? Is it possible to reduce the gap between chronological age and biological age?

Anti-Aging = Becoming Ageless?

Longevity (or Anti-Aging) medicine is not about achieving immortality and it is certainly not about looking 21 when you are 92. It is, however, about learning what can be done to live a long, healthful, more productive life. It is about focusing on disease detection and prevention rather than the treatment of symptoms of age-related chronic disease. It is a clinical medical specialty based on innovative, peer reviewed scientific research and a sensible model of preventive medical care.

Let us redefine the term “aging gracefully” to “aging gracefully and healthfully.” The truth is that with rapid advances in high-tech medical treatments we are all going to live longer, whether we like it or not. Given the choice between spending the last years of one’s life debilitated and in a nursing home with three or more chronic diseases of aging being managed by the traditional multi-drug approach vs. leading a vigorous, productive life well into our 90s, the choice is a no-brainer. Today, the average American consumer is realizing this. In this estimated $30 billion industry, sales of anti-aging supplements are estimated at $1billion — in the United States alone.

So, what can be expected from an anti-aging evaluation and treatment plan? At our practice, this may include:

  • Anti-Aging endocrinological assessment and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy
  • Anti-oxidant analysis and appropriate supplementation
  • Evaluation of the bio-markers of aging
  • Cardiovascular and Immune protection
  • Cognitive function assessment and repair
  •  Metabolic and DNA repair
  • Aesthetic procedures and skin rejuvenation such as laser surgery, skin tightening technologies, non-invasive body contouring, fat grafting, varicose and spider vein non-surgical removal, botox, chemical peels, fillers and skincare formulations.

The Latest in Anti-Aging Research

The future of this burgeoning field is remarkable, to say the least. The average lifespan, now estimated to be at about 80 years of age could conceivably be 130 years by 2030. In fact, 10 times as many people are expected to reach their 100th birthday today as in year 2000.

Here is a sampling of what current research is focusing on today and what can be expected in the next decade and beyond.

  •  Advances in genetic will allow insulin to be administered via skin patches or nasal inhalers, making the need for injections of insulin obsolete. Moreover, with the completion of the Human Genome Project, cures for chronic diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer will follow suit.
  •  Laser treatment for vision correction will become more commonplace and more affordable. On the horizon: Surgically implanted contact lenses and light sensitive microchips for age related blindness.
  •  Vasectomies will become outdated as advances in male contraception are made with sperm-neutralizing vaccines.
  • Advances in infertility will include the gestation of an embryo in an artificial womb that mimics the natural womb environment.
  •  Replacement parts for our aging body will be available, from artificial eyes, ears, hips and knees that last for 50 years instead of the present 10.
  • In 50 years, it is conceivable that limbs, joints and even faces will be “grown” or replicated replacing the need for artificial parts. This includes lab grown breast tissue to replace breasts lost to cancer.
  • Intellectual immortality will be possible through the development of multiple memory chips that will store an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and memories.
  • Gene therapy, stem cell therapy, growth factors as well as advances in laser technology and skincare will make wrinkling and sun damaged skin obsolete. An oral sunblock will be likely be the standard of care for UV protection.
  • The future of anti-aging medical therapies is already here. Start living a healthy life now so that you can take advantage of these emerging and exciting anti-aging technologies. Always remember though that true health and real beauty first begins within.

A Journey of Separation

 By: Leigh Green

separationI never thought I would end up with a broken marriage. Years ago I resigned myself into believing that the way it was, was as much as life and marriage had to offer.Yet as my children aged, life was beginning to look bleaker.  Did I want to continue to live feeling unhappy, unfulfilled and stressed out?  Or was I brave enough to make a change? After 25 years of marriage and headed toward my 53rd birthday, I decided it was time to take control of my life.

I realized I had to change

In looking back I can see that the first step in my journey is when I sought therapy for myself.  My family had been in turmoil for many years and we had tried family therapy, but it didn’t work because I was the only one fully engaged.  My spouse didn’t see himself as part of the problem. When I started I was sad and depressed, but soon realized that I didn’t have to make any big decisions. I took baby steps. I began to reconnect with myself and learn that it was okay to have boundaries. I found my voice and learned that you can’t change someone else; you can only work on changing yourself.

I found support

The stronger I became, the less tolerant I became of bad behavior from my spouse and the more I began to disconnect emotionally from the marriage.  This past January I began to work with a life coach, even though at first I didn’t know what I wanted.  I knew that I was very unhappy, but not why I remained.  Slowly, we began to peel back the layers and I was finally able to admit to myself that it was time to make a change.  I had given it everything I had and it was okay to leave.

But with this realization came great fear. How would I take care of myself? Where would I live?  How would I manage?  What about the kids?  My pets?  My finances? How was I going to do it?

My coach helped me get informed and prepare a plan.  First, I attended a local divorce workshop. I wasn’t 100% positive I was going to file, but I wanted information and needed to educate myself if I chose this path.  I was told to compile financial information, accounts, tax returns, passwords, safety deposit box, personal bank accounts, etc.  Next, I met with a divorce attorney. I brought the gathered information and a list of questions.  He gave me clarity and ease. My coach was right, knowledge is power and helped minimize the fear.

I worked on fnding my wings

I had been in a home I loved for 19 years. But the house was too big for me and would require a lot of money and upkeep.  Would I be OK leaving? One scary yet liberating weekend I decided to find out and went searching for an apartment. I found one that was beautiful, would take pets, could accommodate myself and my youngest child (my older two were already living on their own) and was manageable on a small budget. It was time to leap. I put in an application and planned a move a couple of months later so as not to disrupt my child’s school term.

Suddenly, my world began to open up.  It became impossible to stay in the relationship and I broke the news to my spouse and children.  It was painful and probably the hardest day of my life.

A few months have passed. I feel happy, peaceful and finally free.  Daily challenges arise, but I work through them with the support team that I’ve created: my coach, attorney, family and amazing friends.

I chose to share my experience publicly because I have heard from others who are unhappy in their relationship and are not sure there are options. There are. Don’t give up: Surround yourself with a support team and do your homework. It will be painful. It won’t be easy. But, like me, you probably will never go back. The journey continues and I am ready to fly.

‘Leigh Green’ is a pseudonym used to protect her family. However, her experience is very real. You can reach her c/o