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He lost his true love and found himself. Now Bernard's family is closer than ever.

"I'm a better father when I'm living an authentic life."

He lost his true love and found himself. Now Bernard's family is closer than ever.
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Hallmark

For 10 years, Ann Marie and Bernard Shondell were the loves of each others' lives.

Together, they welcomed three children to the world: Allie, Nick, and Joey. They were best friends and partners, devoted to their family.

Then one day, tragedy struck.


Allie, Ann Marie, Joey, Nick. This photo was taken shortly before Ann Marie passed away. Image via Bernard Shondell, used with permission.

Ann Marie was diagnosed with cancer. She fought valiantly against the disease for five long years, but ultimately, she lost her battle. Bernard, Allie, Nick, and Joey were on their own for the first time.

Losing a family member is devastating at the best of times. Losing a matriarch is even harder. Fortunately, the Shondell family was tightly knit, with family members and friends surrounding them to ensure they felt loved and cared for as they grieved. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that.

Having a tightly bonded family and support network for his kids helped Bernard, too. About a year after Ann Marie passed, he made a revelation: He was gay and always had been.

Bernard Shondell. Image via Hallmark, used with permission.

The decision to come out wasn't made easily. Growing up in the 1970s, Bernard watched a lot of people face discrimination and alienation after they came out. But ultimately, he knew he needed to be true to himself.

"I'm a better father when I'm living an authentic life," says Bernard.

Rather than alienating him, his family — including his wife's family — embraced him.

"I was scared when I was deciding to come out, " he says. "I was worried that my kids could be taken from me. And when the time came to tell my mother-in-law, she greeted me with a hug, and with love, and she said, 'You know, we're going to raise these kids, and it's going to be fine.'"

Since coming out, Bernard is the first to acknowledge that he's been the recipient of much love, generosity, and care — especially from his children.

Image via iStock.

"My kids have shown their love and support to me in just so many ways that it's almost hard to pick individual things," he says. "My daughter asked me to do the 'No Hate' campaign with her. I was so proud that my daughter wanted to do that with me, and it meant a great deal that she was in support of marriage equality for everyone."

Last summer, after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Bernard's youngest son brought the family's pride flag to a televised game where there was a moment of silence in honor of those who lost their lives. "He was the only person in the end zone who had a pride flag," Bernard added.

As his children become adults, Bernard is confident that the values of care and generosity that he and his wife instilled in them are here to stay.

A happy ,devoted family. Image via Bernard Shondell, used with permission.

"I always taught my children that they could never use the death of their mother as an excuse to not do something because someone else always has it worse," says Bernard. "I think teaching them to care about what other people are going through is very important."

"My heart swells that they turned out OK and that they're going to go on to build great things for themselves and for those that they love," he said.

Watch Bernard share tips for sharing care in this short video with his employer, Hallmark:

Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

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via Walt Disney Television / Flickr and jilhervas / Flickr

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When that happens, it's time to stop posting photos of yourself partying it up with an adult beverage. You gotta hold back on some of your saltier takes, and you have to start minding your language. Also, you have to be very careful about the posts you're tagged in.

Model, TV personality, and author Chrissy Teigen has been suffering through a mega-dose of this form of social media stress since January 20 when President Joe Biden followed her on Twitter. His follow came after Teigen made the request.

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Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

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I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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For many of us, the idea of interrupting someone when they're talking is almost always a no-no. Conversation means taking turns—listening while another person talks, taking some time to think about what they've said, and then responding accordingly. Interjecting before a person is finished speaking is seeing as "cutting them off" and perceived as rude.

While this perception may be part of the historically dominant Northern European culture in the U.S., it's not a universal thing. In fact, the opposite is true within many cultural groups.

TikToker Sari (@gaydhdgoddess) explained how conversing works in Northeastern Jewish culture, and how her being "an interrupty person" isn't actually a sign of rudeness, but rather a sign of active engagement in the conversation. This concept is called "cooperative overlapping," and while it may appear to be "interrupting" to an outside observer, it's a standard conversation style for people accustomed to it.

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