Episode 213: Creating Magic - Cynthia Zordich's Heartwarming Children's Book Story

your next stop Dec 12, 2023

Today’s guest is Cynthia Zordich, wife of former NFL Safety Michael Zordich (Jets, Cardinals, Eagles) and mother of former NFL fullback Michael V. Zordich (Carolina Panthers). Cynthia is recognized for her founding role in NFL Thread, takes on a new creative venture as the author of "A Bee in a Matchbox," a heartwarming children's book. In this latest endeavor, Cynthia showcases her storytelling prowess, weaving a touching narrative that explores the unlikely friendship between her son's Italian Mastiff, Chuckie, and a bee. Through her book, Cynthia brings to light the endearing tale of this unexpected bond, drawing readers into a world of warmth and connection.


You can find more about NFL Thread on their Website and Instagram.

You can check out Cynthia’s book on Pegasus Publishers, Barnes and Noble and many more places.


Remarkable Quote:


“Sometimes friendships are very unlikely. And sometimes you make friends with somebody that you've been warned about, or somebody that you thought was different, or somebody that you were afraid of because of who they are.”


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Welcome back to your next stop. This is Juliet Hahn. In this episode, I speak with Cynthia Zordich. You guys might remember Cynthia as the founder of NFL Thread. We also have our segment of YNs Live with NFL Thread.

But Cynthia is a new author. She wrote a children's book called A Bee in a matchbox. It is an unlikely friendship between her son's dog, Chucky, who is an italian mastiff, and a bee. And it literally unfolded in front of her eyes. And then she went and wrote it down.

It took her like ten minutes. She takes us through the whole journey how she found her illustrator. Now that they're out there, you can find them on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Walmart and Pegasus is the publisher. It is this just really wonderful collaboration that came together because of this unlikely friendship between a bee and Chucky. So you guys do not want to miss this.

You can find Cynthia at NFLtread on all socials. You can also go to nfltread.com for information about the book. You can also go to Amazon, Barnes, Nobles and Walmart. And again, it's called A-B-A matchbox by Cynthia Zordich.

Welcome back to your next stop. I'm Juliet Hahn, and I have a really special guest, Cynthia Zordich. You guys know Cynthia from my yns live with NFL thread, but we are having her here because Cynthia is a new author. Welcome, accidental author, which is so exciting. Which is so exciting.

So if you are new to this and you're like, I don't know what she just said, and I don't know what she's talking about. Cynthia is the founder of NFL Thread. It's like the LinkedIn for the women of the spouses at the NFL. Cynthia's husband, Cynthia Zordich, was a safety for eleven years. Right, Cynthia?

Yeah, 1212 years. Twelve years. Twelve years in the NFL. And then Cynthia has already, I mean, has done amazing things. You were episode 99.

Isn't that crazy? You were my episode 99. So if you guys want to go back and hear, we're like, I think in 200 and some. And then with yns live with NFL thread, I think about 100. I mean, we have a lot of episodes, but so you can go back and kind of listen to Cynthia's kind of journey and why.

I had her on the podcast when we first, because of just this incredible entrepreneur spirit, but this incredible creative, warm heart mind. Like, Cynthia wants to help others as she's bringing people into what she's doing. Not only are you the founder of NFL Thread, where, I mean, we do events, you do events, Super bowl, draft the hall of Fame, where you bring the ladies together to network, show what they're doing. It's beautiful. Beautiful.

If you guys have not seen, you can kind of go to NFL thread on Instagram. You can kind of see the stuff that we're doing. But you also are the editor in chief of the Playbook, which is a huge passion. That's been about five years. Right?

I know. We're working on volume six already. I can't believe it. Can't believe it. And that's another one of your passions.

And what I love is all of a sudden, I remember when you told me about this book, and it's called a be in a match box, and it is by Cynthia. You can get it on Amazon, Barnes and nobles. You can also get it at Walmart. And then you are published by. Is it Penguin?

You have to say Pegasus. Pegasus publishers. But what I love about so much of this is it all started with Chucky, who you guys know mean. You know how I love dogs. And so this is Cynthia's granddaughter, right?

Yes. But now kind of your dog. Wait. Oh, I wish I could spin it. He's right there looking out window.

I mean, he is this big italian mastiff. Yes, italian, massive. And I've gotten to meet him a couple of times, and he is just a beautiful soul. Can you tell us how it all unfolded, this gorgeous story of this bigger than life dog and this bee? Yes.

It's funny because, of course, my kids laugh because I do adore Chucky. He is with me constantly, and I think I'm going to steal him someday. I think it's going to happen. I think you already kind of did. But don't tell Alex.

I love all the dogs, though, because all my kids have dogs. There's six dogs altogether. It's just that I just am with him so much, and he's just so funny and he is so big.

We were just kind of hanging out, and I was watching television. It's a hardwood floor. And I kept hearing this pouncing on the hardwood. And so I looked over and I was like, what is he doing? So he was playing with this little bee, but it was kind of big.

It was a bee. And just tossing it in the air and then flopping down, and the bee was going everywhere. And I'm like, alex, get in here. Look at know. Look at Chucky playing with this bee.

And all of a sudden, his paw clipped the bee, and it took this spiral. And I was like, alex, get in here. Chucky, here. The bee get in. So you know Alex.

Everybody knows Alex. He's like, one. In the summers, we used to have to, like, in the spring, the tadpoles would go into the swimming pool cover, and we would want to open the swimming pool every year. But Alex would scream that we were killing all of the tadpoles. He's got a heart.

Bucket out the tadpoles and bring them into the backyard. And so in the summertime, you would hear the frogs mating. It was like jungle in my house. Jungle. Because he saved all these frogs.

It was like we were killed with frogs. We couldn't even talk. We're like, what frogs? The mating sounds of the frogs were hilarious. And I've heard the frogs.

I mean, I've been there when the frogs really is beautiful. But, yes, they are very loud. He pulls over on the side of the road if there's a dead animal and gives it a proper burial. My aunt caught a mouse with a mousetrap, and it was stuck. And he literally took paw by paw of this little mouse to free it and set it free.

It keeps crazy like that, and we just always have love. Such a sweetheart. So Alex ran in, and I had matches on the coffee table with candles. He just threw my matches out of the matchbox, and he scooped the bee up, and he put it in this little matchbox, and I'm like. I'm like, oh, my gosh, that's so cute.

That's like a little bed for the bee in the matchbox. That is adorable. So we left it at that, and we were watching the Bee, and we were looking up, how do you save a bee? And we found out that it's with water and honey and flower petals. So we did this whole thing.

So the next morning, I sat down to go to work, and something about this little thing that happened was just in my head, and I was like, damn, was that cute? That was just the cutest thing ever. What happened last night? So I just kind of wrote it down, and when I was done, I was like, this is really cute. This is a really good story.

But then it ended up having a special meaning outside of the fact of what happened. Besides documenting what happened in front of me, it really did have a message. And the message was pretty clear to me. And I like to take things just for they are sometimes. But sometimes things hit you and it's like, wow, this was like a little gift.

And sharing this message is really important. And really, it was just about like that. Chucky, everybody knows that a bee will sting you. And everybody knows that a big dog will bite you. And the two of them should never been playing together, but they were.

And the message was just clear that sometimes friendships are very unlikely. And sometimes that you make friends with somebody that you've been warned about, or somebody that you thought was different, or somebody that you were afraid of because of who they are or how big they are. Come here, chucky. Because he's big. So I just wrote it down.

And it is about unlikely friendships. Come up here. Come and say hi to Juliet. Oh, hello, buddy. Oh, my God, I love him so much.

And he is a big heart. Like, when I met him, he brought me his football and we played, and he's just a big snuggle. And my listeners know I have boxers and so big. Kind of goofy dogs that are misunderstood. Sometimes they're misunderstood because they're so big.

And he's got a big bark and he wants to, like. So people are like, a little nervous, like, oh, my gosh, this is a big dog, but he is just such a heart. So I love that you did this, and I love show it. Yeah. There's so many wonderful illustrations.

Wait, Chucky, here's the book cover. Okay, now you're going to get down.

This is the paperback version, which is great. And there's a hardcover, too. And I love that there's like, this is one of my most favorite illustrations. Oh, my goodness. Gorgeous.

Because you had this. And then this is what I love about this, and this is also what I love about you, is that you are yelling out the window at someone. But the thing I love about you is you have this creative drive. I mean, you really do. You are such a creative being.

But then you're like, okay, what can I do next with this? This is an idea. But then you take it to the next level because, you know, others can enjoy it. And then you also are like, wait. I want to think of someone that can draw in it, and I want to give some of the opportunity to put pictures to what I'm thinking about.

And that's what's so wonderful about you. That's how you got me involved in yns live with NFL thread. We decided to do a podcast together. And you're like, you know what? Wait.

I want to take you here and take you there, and I want to expose you to different things so you can see and that embodies who you are. Mean, your know, your kids. You do do that. And that's a beautiful thing about you. So I love that you put all of this down right and then you're.

Like that because you do know that that is my intention for you to be the next Sawyer. I'm like, Juliet, you're coming to super bowl, you're coming to the jobs you're getting on and you handle those interviews. So, you know, people just love to talk to you and you get right to it with them. And I do. I appreciate things in your future.

And that's why I was saying yes. I'm not agreeing with what you're saying, but do. I did want to grab you. And when I did go on your podcast, I did leave going, wow, we could really do know. I love sharing stories about the NFL women.

I love breaking those perceptions. And in a case, this is a similar situation. Chucky's big and people have a perception of what he is. Little bees sting and people are just afraid. People.

Sometimes people think that NFL women sting, but they don't. They're just women and they're just thrown into a situation. And sometimes when you go out, guys that are big, they just get harassed by other guys. Other guys get their chest up, like they're going to want to mess with them or they're going to fight. Sometimes they're just like teddy bears.

A lot of times they are. A lot of times they are. Right, exactly. And I love that you said that. And one of the things that we say, and we say it together, that stories connect us, and they really do.

And I think that's so wonderful that again, we bring these stories for the NFL. And you're right. Women in the NFL, men in the NFL, professional athletes, people put the story about them. And it's just like Chucky, there was a know he's a big dog when you see him. I mean, you told me times, the FedEx people, people dropping things off.

Oh, there's this big dog and he's just a big goofy dog. And then when people are scared, a dog's going to react. And so, as you said, like a bee, right? You tell your kids, don't go near the bee, and everyone's scared of bees and everyone's screaming with bees. So the fact that you were able to look over and watch him just kind of do this, and then also you have fallen head over heels.

Yes, you love all your dogs, but because, yes, he's there and you're protective of him, too. I feel that, that way about him because I feel like I do need to protect him in that situation. Right, exactly. I mentioned that you say that on the website. I did see that.

That's so sweet. And that's the thing. You always want to share your good fortune, and you are so wonderful at that. And you really, really are. I mean, that's one of the things.

You're the president of off the field, which is the off the Field Wives association, which is the 513 c for the NFL. And people know that about you. You're a safe space. People know that when you help, that you're truly helping. You do not have an ego at all.

And all of the lives that you've had, all the good fortunes. But as we always say, we all have trauma and we all have tragedy and we all have lives and we all have lived stuff and you embody all of it. And where you kind of really, though, and bring it out where you're like, listen, I see you. You let people know that you're seen and heard, and that's what people. So again, and I know you hate when I go and talk about all the good things about you that's uncomfortable for you.

So, listeners, I know that's super uncomfortable, but I think it's really important as we're talking about this, because what you did is you sat down and then you called your sister Tina, right? You wrote this book. I'm really excited that you're going here because Anna Demalo, I mean, honest to God, and my sister, like, my sister, she's incredible. And when I shared it with her, the story, she's like, oh, my gosh, I have the perfect person for you to illustrate a bee in a matchbox. And that is so typical of my sister.

And she's very much like that as well. She's always just reaching out to others, and she's so talented. The reason I am excited about this is because my sister has a children's book inside of her and so does my daughter. And so at first I was like, don't be mad at me when I tell you guys, but I heard from a publisher, and this is good for you guys. This opens the door for you guys and the books that I know that you have in here and they're know, I'm going to kill you.

That's so true, though. But in the end, my sister found Anna Demalo and she went to high school in, you know, now she's in Cape May. And from the very first conversations that I had with she, she was lighting up the pages with color that I never even work with. And I didn't visualize it like that. But I always like, what do you see based on this story?

What do you see? And so she took it to a different direction that I loved because it became this magic. Like, there's one in particular page that I want to show you of Anna that it just kind of. To me, it's my favorite. It's one of my favorites.

But, yes, it's gorgeous. This is in the evening when the bee was recuperating and Chucky would not leave the bee side. And Anna has the moonlight coming in. The stars are in the window, the moonlight's shining. You know, it's just like at night.

The big dog never left the little bee side. And they talked about the life of bees and the life of dogs and learned so much about each other. She has, like, the little bee here in the matchbox, and it says, and when it gets really hot, we hide underneath the daisy petals. I love how she did that all about their life. And when we had these conversations and I would say, you know, I want the kids to get lost in the page.

I want them to find things that they didn't necessarily see the first time and everything that we talked about, she'd go, that's so cool. Yeah, let's do that. And then I can add this. So everything that we did was complete for her. Just like joy.

This is, to me, total joy. That's just Chucky. It's a tornado of bees. And mean, it really is such a special book. I mean, it really is.

Again, you guys can find that everywhere. You can find it. Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Walmart, and Pegasus Publishing is a publisher. But again, that's what's so beautiful. But one of the things that I want to talk about is that you called your sister, right?

And I want people to think about in their lives when they have an idea and who they go to. Because your sister built you up. Right? Even though, yes, she has a book in her head, even though she doesn't know it. You could have a relationship with someone where they are like, you're not a writer.

That's so dumb, and you leave it there, but you went to a person that always lifts you up. You guys lift each other up. And it's so important that people find that person. And some people don't. Some people really don't have that person that lifts them up.

And it could happen. You have to open yourself up. You have to kind of give off the energy of, I want to do that, too. Because if you just keep yourself closed, you're never going to find that person that's going to help you. And if you would never do it, for someone else, it's not going to happen to you.

So the fact that you guys can support each other so much is beautiful, and I think it's something that everyone really should strive for and kind of just opening themselves up. But I remember when you had said to you that, you're like, I have this idea, I'm writing it down. I was like, oh, my God, I love that. Because you are also a take action kind of person. Because, again, someone could come up with an idea and just be like, oh, I'm not a children's book writer.

Now, you have written books in the past, so you are an author, but that doesn't matter. We all sometimes have these paths that we don't go down because we let limiting beliefs or we let our own, like, oh, I'm not good enough for that. I can't do that. And it's so important to stretch yourself and go out so, and to have these conversations. So you meet Anna, you speak with her, and then it's like, okay, then the book comes to life.

Can you take us through the next stages out of that? And as you guys talked, how did that kind of look and work the whole process? Yeah, it was a long time, actually. You just have to take your time and make it right. And there was little things that I wanted to add.

I never changed the text once. Isn't that crazy? I never changed one word. And you did that so quickly. I love that.

It was ten minutes and I never changed one word. I sent it right to publishers right from there. I'm so happy that Pegasus took it and they recognized it as a story worth sharing. And for me, that was exciting because they're in the UK and then Juliana is in the UK. So I looked at it like that was a little omens because that's kind of neat.

And, of course, and they do a lot of all their connections are here in the US. So finding the publisher was really like, wow, somebody's interested. This is so know, I can't believe this is actually going to happen. And then from that point, it was know, find Anna and start getting the illustrations done. And that's when we had just conversations about, well, here's how I see this and could you do that?

And this how I envision this to be. This is how Alex, I want him to be, and this is how recreating some of the scenes, actually, because it was like, this is how it happened, and she was just taking things and making it, her spin on it was so magical. It's almost like this magic land that she created with pinks and yellows and colors and everything. So from there, getting all the illustrations done, Pegasus takes you from here. You are with your producer now.

You're in production, and then from there they say, congratulations, you just finished, and now you're going to go on to publicity, and then you go on to publicity, and then they just work with you from every phase. And I also have to mention that my daughter did the COVID text font. Yeah, I love that font. Yeah, I love everything that she does like that. And she did the back as well.

And so she did a fantastic job with that. So I just felt know I got a little bit of everybody in, just. But really and truly, like with Anna, I say to anybody, if you have a story inside of you and that you would like to see it unfold and see somebody take it to that next level, I have it on my website for be in the Maxbox. I have all Anna's information that anybody can reach out to her. You can reach out for Anna.

You can see the information about the book. You can reach out to purchase the book or write a review, and you can also fill out a form. If you have, like, a school or library or nonprofit and you would like to purchase a bulk amount, there's a really great price for that. And then you could price it at what you want and then possibly raise funds for your program. So I'm talking to the Philadelphia Eagles about something right now, which is great because they have an amazing initiative going on.

So we're talking about bringing in the matchbox for their inclusion initiative, which is, I was like, yeah, that's perfect, right? I love it. And the thing that's also kind of fun is that you're a new grandmother, soon to be another. You have two grandkids right now, one on the way. And so also sharing your book, reading it to them, they're going to know, oh, this is grandma, Nana, Cindy, whatever they call it.

This is yours. And that's so fascinating. But that also gives little kids hope, too. Like, oh, I see what someone else has done. And they can see that right there because they're reading it right.

And it's like, oh, wait, my grandmother wrote this. And it gives people, your grandkids, your kids, the ability to dream and the permission to dream and the permission to say, you know what? I'm this age. It doesn't matter that I didn't do things at this age. There's a reason why we're here, and there's a reason why we should do things.

And again, it's that whole curiosity thing and just going out and kind of exploring. So what a beautiful message that you can also share with them. Stories. I mean, you know how important stories are to me, and I know that they are to you. And when we started the podcast, one of the things that was really fun that you said, and now I just see also this children's book with the pictures is the stories are written, and then we give voice to the stories.

Now you even have something where you have the pictures to the stories. And so one of the things that I love about your book also is I remember my mom always saying, and you know, with my dyslexia, reading was tough. And so when little kids are looking at something and they say, oh, I can't read, but they can read pictures. So my mom would always say, there's two ways to read, people read two ways. You can read the words, or you can read the pictures, and one day you'll read the words, but you start by reading the pictures.

And the illustrations that Anna did are so wonderful that even a little kid can sit there and look, and even if they can't read the words, they can put their own words to those pictures. And those were some of my favorite Kids books. I didn't even think of that. I mean, honest to God, photo for can, you can just talk about what's happening. You can see it unfolding.

I really love that. And I think it's important where I. Make Alex a villain.

He's like, mom, anybody knows. I would never do that. I'm like, you need a villain. I did. I did it on purpose.

Right? To torture. I mean, it's such a beautiful relationship, all of it, but it also just shows the heart. And I love how, as you said, some of your children are a part of that, but really, everything you do, you always kind of include the people that you love, and that is something. They want to or not.

Right, exactly. That's the truth. You're right. You're so true. This weekend, of course, with Duns, and Duns is like introduced.

They went to college. Yes, college, back in school. And God bless him, he is one of the owners of four star restaurant group, and they have eleven restaurants in Chicago, and one of them is Crosby's kitchen. And it's all about kids. And so we are doing a signing.

I'm doing a signing and reading in Chicago at three avenues bookshop, which is right around the corner from Crosby's. And then we're going to head over to Crosby's afterwards. But they're doing this thing where if you bring your book to Crosby's, you get one of those skillet.

Oh, my God. Ooey gooey skillet chocolate chip cookies. So he's so excited, and so are all my friends. So excited. And I'm excited.

For me, this little book is like, it was seriously an accident or gift, I should say, because to share the story and the message is probably why it happened. Because I think right now, in the world today especially, the message is so important, and that is forge those unlikely friendships. Say hello to the person next to just stop whatever you're doing on your phone for a second and just look up and say hello. And you never know what it could lead. And that's what the message really is.

I love that. And you know what? I'm going to end on that because that is beautiful. I mean, really, that was such a beautiful way to say. And thank you so much, Cynthia Zordich, for joining your next stop for the second time.

And I know I'll see you on our podcast, YNs Live with NFL thread. But you guys go and check out. You can go to nfltread.com. You can also go again to Barnes, Nobles, Amazon, Walmart, and leave a review, share it with people because you don't know. You don't know who's almost having a baby, who needs to hear this story.

Because as much as it's a children's book, it's also, as Cynthia said, it's a message. It's a message for all of us that we should really embody and go for. So again, thank you for joining your next stop. Thank you, Juliet. So appreciate you.

Keep it up. Thank you. Thank you. And you guys know what to do. Like rate, review and share.

Share with as many people as you can. Because, again, you don't know who needs to hear this. We'll see you next week for another episode of your next stop. I hope you liked this episode of your next stop. Please subscribe to my channel, share with your friends, and join in each weekend.

My focus is entirely on helping you follow your passion, even when you feel like you've got stuck in crazy town. There is a way out, its me helping you. You don't have to ditch everything in your life that is making you feel overwhelmed and stuck, you just need some help to navigate it.


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