Category: Uncategorized


I am thinking pink, forever praying for a cure, and all about the self-checks. But sometimes the best thing we can do to move mountains is to think of the people who stood on them, strong and proud, battling until their last breath. I didn’t know Julie, but I knew of her. And in this month of Breast Cancer awareness, I think it only fitting that we keep gratitude, grace, and generosity at the forefront of our causes and a commitment to a cure.

Julie Anne Neville, 40, mother of four was beloved Grand Island teacher and coach

July 24, 1978 — Oct. 16, 2018

When Julie Anne Roth of Grand Island started playing on an all-boys Little League team at age 10, the other parents thought the small girl was cute.

But after years of playing sandlot ball with friends of her older brother Jeffrey, Julie was more than cute. She was both tough and talented.

“After a while, when they realized what a fierce competitor she was and how good she was, they started hollering at their own sons, ‘Why can’t you catch the ball like Julie?’ ” said her mother, Jean Roth.

Julie Anne (Roth) Neville, an athletic standout and longtime teacher and coach in the Grand Island School District, died on Oct. 16, 2018, in Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Center after being diagnosed in January 2017 with breast cancer. She was 40.

She was born on July 24, 1978,  the second child of Jon and Jean (Pino) Roth of Grand Island. Her father, the athletic director of the Grand Island Central School District, encouraged both their children to play and enjoy sports. And competition showed a new side of their daughter’s personality.

“She was the sweetest girl in the world,” said Jean Roth. “She never fought with me – you know how some mothers and daughters don’t get along? Well, that never happened. However, if she had a tennis racket in her hand, and you were her competition, she was very fierce. Even if we played Monopoly, she wanted to win.”

“No drama, no nothing,” said her father, Jon Roth. “I don’t even know if we ever had to raise our voices to her.”

Mrs. Neville graduated from Huth Road Elementary School and in 1996 from Grand Island High School, where she was both an exceptional student and three-sport athlete. In basketball, she played point guard and was the school’s first female 1,000-point scorer. She still holds the school’s record for wins in tennis, and was all-WNY in softball, where she played shortstop.

In 1996, she accepted a tennis scholarship to Xavier University in Cincinnati, where she played Division I tennis and earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 2000. “She loved the game of basketball better, but she had scholarship offers in tennis,” her father said.

In his annual Top 10 ranking of local women tennis players, News columnist Charlie Garfinkel singled her out several times. In 1997, he said she “may be the best all-around athlete in the Top 10.”

In 2000, Mrs. Neville began teaching fifth grade at Huth Road Elementary School on Grand Island. She also coached girls junior varsity basketball and high school tennis.

“She loved the kids and the kids loved her,” said Mrs. Neville’s mother.

“She was really a gem, one of a kind,” said Dr. Ami Alderman, principal of the school. “Her influence was so far-reaching, as a mother, a coach, a teacher and a friend.”

She married James Neville on July 8, 2006, in St. Stephen’s Catholic Church on Grand Island. They had known each other since childhood through their families; there is a photo of James and Julie together at a family party when they were toddlers.

They have four boys: Jonathan, 10; Jayden, 8; Jameson, 6; and Jaxson, 4. Mrs. Neville was a devoted mother.

After her diagnosis, several of her former players, now adults, scheduled themselves to care for her boys so she and her husband could enjoy a night out together, her mother said.

Mrs. Neville was an avid fan of the Buffalo Bills, New York Yankees and Grand Island Vikings and Lady Vikings.

To the end of her life, “she was still worried about her fantasy football players,” said her father.

Mrs. Neville rooted for the Xavier men’s basketball team and returned to see some games. On New Year’s Eve 2017, her parents, husband and sons went to Xavier, where a friend had arranged for her family to go onto the court after the team’s informal morning practice. “After the shootaround, everybody on the team and the coach came over and gave high-fives to the kids and Julie,” said Jon Roth.

Besides her parents, husband, sons and brother, she is survived by many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Oct. 20 in St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church, 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island.

Memorial offerings may be made to the Neville Boys Education Fund and sent to the Roth family at 6839 Ava Lane, East Amherst, NY 14051. Online condolences may be shared at


I Don’t Know If I’m Any Good


The title says it all. It’s a writer’s plight. We’re filled with doubt. We’re ripped apart by the fear. We lay dormant. Then we rush. This vicious cycle is infuriating, intoxicating, and elusive.

I’m not chasing publication or notoriety. I’m longing for consistency and relevancy. The latter is priceless. To be told the work is worthy is the ultimate reward. It far exceeds monetary value and replaces feelings of inadequacy with freedom and pride.

Join me on the journey. What’s the thing you don’t know if you’re any good at? Go do that and then write to me. Guys, there’s a fika about this going down real soon and I can’t wait to share more.

All In


I spent the last week buried in nostalgia while simultaneously focused on the future. And while I love to sip from the fountain of fantasy, it’s time to get moving. This week is dedicated to tackling lists, finally podcasting (equipment issues are officially resolved), and savoring summer.

As I get older I am less fearful of asking for help, judgment, and failure. So in the spirit of these things and just because, here’s where I’m headed.

I’ve been going hard at this fika thing for a while now. It’s clear to me that it has legs and what’s even cooler is that other people think so as well. For this, I am grateful.

I decided to kick it up a notch and go all in.  I’ve been contemplating what this looks like, how I’ll manage everything and everyone in addition to all the other responsibilities and obligations on my plate. And after months of consideration I’ve come to only one conclusion: I haven’t a clue.

Here’s what I know: we spend hours obsessing over the big picture without thinking about the splices. We analyze, plan, and worry while the timer ticks. And in the end, passion and productivity are sidelined by panic.

But if we don’t make the move because of fear, we already fail.

So I’m going all in. You’ll be hearing and seeing much more from me. To begin, look for Something to Talk About, the new monthly flash fiction newletter available on September 7th. It’s the start of something special and I’m happy you’ll be a part of it.

What’s your week look like? I hope you’ll go all in.




Last week I hit the local playground with my favorite threenager for a preschool playdate. While the little ones were busy getting messy, a fellow mom and I got to talking and it came up that I’m originally from Buffalo, New York. The mom mentioned she had recently attended a wedding where the groom was from Buffalo and that there was something special about those “Buffalo people,” specifically their love of Buffalo itself.

I am so proud of where I’m from and at least once or twice a week a Buffalo reference is made in our home or to others in our community. It’s safe to say that Buffalonians are a proud people.

Tonight I’m writing from one of my favorite places, Spot Coffee. A local chain, I’m a big fan of the Elmwood location because it’s where I used to go to feel cool even when I wasn’t. And while I still don’t think I’m cool, I’m at least much more comfortable and self-aware than ever before.  This place is perfect for writing, observing, and all sorts of delightful distractions.

Whenever I’m home I get to thinking about my snarky 18-year-old self who thought there wasn’t much to see or do in her hometown. I had grown disenchanted with the city and romanticized other locations or destinations.  I had dismissed the place that shaped me and for that I formally apologize. The truth is I didn’t know enough about the many backdrops that comprise the city to label or judge it. Only a few short weeks into my freshman year of college, I knew that Buffalo was unique and I had taken it for granted.

It’s been 18 years since I left home, which means I’ve officially been gone the same amount of years I lived here. And while I returned home for a “I just graduated from grad school and have no money” ten month stint in 2006, it was a placeholder move and I knew it.

Occasionally I beg my husband to move back. And sometimes he indulges me with an eye wink and ear to listen. He likes Buffalo. We were married here, he spent an entire summer here, and loves coming home with me, even in the colder months, to enjoy the sights and people.

But much of our story is rooted in New Jersey, which is where we currently reside. And while I often joke about the congestion, expense, and stereotypes of all things Garden State, I do love it for reasons that require another blog post or fika.

Coming home is bittersweet. It’s where I’m from, but home is also elsewhere now, and I’ve got two Jersey girls to prove it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop talking all things Buffalo and I’ll surely never criticize it again. This place is special. It’s worthy of greater exposure and exploration.

Buffalo, stay golden. Until next time.

Homeward Bound: Buffalove


I’m headed home this week. Going home in my 30s is so much more enlightening and exciting than in my 20s. Maybe it’s because I have a better grasp on gratitude. I see and understand the perks of places much clearer as I age.  I’ve come to understand what’s been given to me and how it shaped and continues to shape me throughout daily endeavors and adventures.

I love Buffalo, New York. The obvious default for most people is to talk snow or football. And while I’ll happily oblige and listen or partake in said conversations, there’s much more to the city of good neighbors. Buffalo is a place of rich history and deep tradition. The lack of pretentiousness is unparalleled, especially in a culture of consumption and status.

I am always inspired within the walls of where I was raised. My childhood home still holds the magic of innocence and the promise of adventure.  But I also like to visit the places and people who poured passion into me through their own experiences or examples. Which is why I’m headed to Spot Coffee on Elmwood, my original escape for creativity. Here, I learned to wander in thoughts and skip through scenarios.

If you’re curious about fika and the possibilities it holds for you, then join me on Thursday, August 16th at 7:30 p.m. for a cup of coffee and conversation. Until there, here’s to all things Buffalo.

Tribe Things


I have a ton of tribes in my life. I don’t want to sound all egocentric and dramatic, but I’m kind of obsessed with the volume and depth of my tribes. My family, forever the first and most important tribe, is rock solid. From the biggest branch to the tiniest twig, I am certain of their constant commitment and confidence in me. But the tribe I’m always most amazed and inspired by is the tribe of friends from various walks of life, who are rich in experience and generous in advice. Their unyielding love is special because it comes to me after we’ve connected or collaborated on whatever or whomever it is that brought us together.

My friendships sustain me through bouts of homesickness, insecurity, and experimentation. I am reliant upon the strong personalities and palpable passions within my tribes. Their own successes, failures, or lessons drive me to think differently, explore freely, and dream deeper. And what’s most important is that no tribe is the same. Each comes from a point or place in my life that reminds me of my roots, wings, or wanderings.

I’m a firm believer that there’s something to be said about diverse portfolios of people and projects.

As I sat down to think about upcoming meetings that are set to unfold I recognized that many are with strangers or distant acquaintances. And while I absolutely love the chance to conspire with new people, I need to rely on my tribe for their steadfast presence and purpose in my life. They keep it real and they make it interesting.

For this and all that remains, I’m grateful. Time to think tribes with me.

To Piggy-Back​ Off Yesterday: My People.


I’ve been thinking incessantly about this since I wrote it last night. I am so overdue for a fika with some of my people. “I haven’t had the chance” is a go-to phrase of mine. But it’s littered with self-absorbed undertones and/or mismanaged moments. Ultimately, I am the creator and consumer of my time, and I haven’t exercised my freedom of choice correctly.

I have a long list of chats that need to take place and an even longer list of “more than coffee” conversations to follow. And while I’m wealthy in friendships, I’m a big believer in adding more to the people portfolio. After all, collaboration and connection are key criteria for fika and fellowship.

Any takers for fika albeit traditionally or virtually? If you’re on the fence and/or totally clueless then start here!