NJ Lifestyle Magazine Winter 2002

Page 29

Nick Valinote, the current owner of this publication, contacted Darla and made an offer to take it over, with the caveat that Darla would work for him as the graphic designer. That conversation was a blessing in disguise. With Nick’s publishing background, the transition was practically flawless. She began working remotely, before everyone else, so she had the upper hand when COVID hit. The hardest change for her during COVID was that her children were now home, going to school virtually. Her two teenagers were self-sufficient, but her 5th grader was struggling and just wanted to go back to school. So here she was, a single mom, amid a divorce, with three children. When her divorce was finalized, it was all done online — our new world. Sadly, Darla lost her dad not long after she moved to the Sarasota area, but through all of this, Darla remained happy and positive. She decided to take a risk, get out of her comfort zone and live the life she wanted. She learned to love herself, love her life, embrace her children, and she found she didn’t need anyone else to live a happy life. It took her a while to figure that out, but when she finally did, everything fell into place. She is very close to her mom, who knows her better than anyone. They see each other often and she leans on her for anything. Always there for her, Darla says her mom is an “amazing and positive influence.” Today Darla feels like she is living a dream. She lives in paradise with warm weather all year, a pool in her backyard, three happy children, many great friends, and even a happy new relationship. Those are the things that she dreamed of for years, and she finally has them. She still has bigger dreams for the future and believes all of us should. Heather Gleason At the age of 22, fresh out of St. Joseph’s University, Heather Gleason landed what many would consider a dream job. She was an executive

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LIFESTYLE | Winter 2022

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