Member Feature: Jen Collins

Editor's note: Each month we'll be featuring a member of the illuminate community so that we can all get to know our writers better. We're excited to "meet" all of you and cheer you on with your writing goals. Give a warm welcome to Jen, our featured member this month.


Who I Am:

Hi there! I'm Jen. I live near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I have been married for 18 years to my own personal superhero named Mike. He saves the day over and over again. I have two children. Kalea is 12 and Kade is 11. They are the coolest kids ever! I am the daughter of the best Mom in the whole world and my Dad who watches over me from heaven. I am blessed with a close circle of awesome friends.

I owned child care centers in my former life and worked as an early childhood trainer for many years and I loved every minute. It was my passion. Then, I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and my perspective changed in an instant. I let my businesses go to focus on my family and friends and all the little things that matter. I don't know how much time I have left but I am going to enjoy every minute.

I am an avid reader and I bake the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Outside of writing and baking; l love calligraphy, morning walks, being outside, and making homemade cards and gifts. I do not love crowds, miserable people, or drama of any kind. I love rainy days as much as blue-sky-and-puffy-white-cloud kinds of days. I love hot tea, flowers, and all things chocolate and peanut butter.

What I Write About:

I write an inspirational blog about navigating life with a terminal illness. I write about the life lessons I have learned and about enjoying every moment. I write about my faith and my family. Outside of the blog, I write short stories and poetry. I also freelance for my local paper. I would love to write a novel one day, but my patience and my attention span need improvement if that is going to happen.

My Favorite Piece of Writing By Me:

Here is an excerpt from "Look, Mom" (click here to read the whole post):

We took a trip to Lake Erie this weekend, squeezing the last drops out of our fleeting summer. My kids were older now and invited friends along for the trip. They took a break from the water to build in the sand. I watched them from my beach chair, working together to dig a deep hole and build a moat around it. Their structures were more sophisticated these days. My daughter was nearing 13 and I was surprised that she readily joined in building with her brother and their friends. She didn’t enjoy doing much other than hanging out in her room these days.

“Look, Mom, …” my daughter said happily waving to get my attention and then pointing to the wall she built. I smiled and told her it looked great and commended them all on their awesome job. I looked at my daughter. That familiar quiet smile momentarily flashed across her face, the one that made her eyes light up; then she looked away, but not so quickly that I missed it …

Where You Can Find Me Online:

-My blog, LifeConfetti:

Sarah Hartley