about gilenaAs a young child, Gilena Simons—a self-proclaimed overachiever—always had a very clear idea of the life she wanted to lead. She was certain that she’d need a solid education and a strong sense of self in order to achieve her goals. Although she has always held the firm belief that she was the architect of her own destiny, Ms. Simons is now living the life not even she could have imagined possible.
Having earned a degree in economics from Mills College and an MBA from Pepperdine University at 24, she believed she was well on her way to achieving a life beyond her wildest expectations. Then the unimaginable happened when her beloved husband Barry died prematurely at the age of 28 of a brain aneurysm after just nine and a half blissful months of marriage.
After a period of profound grieving and soul-searching, Ms. Simons was able to slowly put things into perspective—as only a loss of such magnitude forces one to do. Through this painful process, which included coming to terms with the depth of dysfunction that existed in her family, she was able to receive her greatest lesson: Life is but a fleeting moment. Plan for tomorrow but live today as if it’s your last. Be thankful for what you have and give of yourself always.
Today—with Barry’s presence still touching every aspect of her life—Ms. Simons resides in Southern California with her current husband Gary, a loving, compassionate, and inspirational partner with whom she shares her greatest accomplishments: her two beautiful and healthy children, Graydon and Elodie, and a relentless commitment to living a meaningful and honorable life.
A philanthropist and budding collector of contemporary art, Ms. Simons served two years on the Board of Directors of OUR HOUSE—the nonprofit organization that provided her with grief counseling following Barry’s death and the place where she met Gary—and is an active member of the Photography Committee and the Architecture and Design Council of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art.
Ms. Simons’ blog—an extension of her as-yet-unpublished memoir A Life Imagined—will resonate with anyone who has dealt with loss of any kind and is seeking the courage to dream the life they dare to imagine.
NOW IN PAPERBACKGet your copy of A Life Imagined. All proceeds from the first printing directly benefit OUR HOUSE, providing grief support services, education, resources and hope.
(paperback, 342pp., ISBN# 978-0-615-20961-6)