Transforming Your Relationship: The Space Within the Moment™


Anthony Adragna & Stacey Martino – 20 years later <3 A friendship created within the space of a (heated) moment.

“Extraordinary relationships are not built in the good times, they are built during the tough times.” ~ Stacey Martino

Have you ever had this experience? You are at your worst, lashing out, feeling ugly and not deserving when suddenly in that moment someone shows you KINDNESS in return?

It’s rare.

If you are fortunate enough to have had this experience….what happened next? What did you feel?

You probably melted right? Came to your senses, apologized, let them know “it’s not you, I’m just upset about XYZ”.

And how did you feel about that gracious person?

You felt loyal to them forever, right? The bond that cannot be broken!  If you have not been blessed to have this experience, imagine what it would feel like. As I shared in the opening quote, “Extraordinary relationships are not built in the good times, they are built during the tough times”.

I want to share a story from my personal journey that taught me this powerful lesson.

Twenty years ago, I was coming home from my stressful corporate job and picking up take-out on my way home. I called in my order, just like always, “Chicken Steak Sandwich – NO cheese!”

I had placed the same order probably 30 times that year. And about 15 of those times when I picked up the sandwich guess what was on it?  Yeah, CHEESE. (You see where this is going?)

On this particular night, I was stressed from work. On the drive home, in my mind, I was having an imaginary fight with my department manager. Thinking things that I couldn’t actually ever say or I would probably get fired. So I had all this pent up “pissed-offed-ness”.

I picked up my food, and because of my state, I forgot to CHECK my sandwich before leaving and driving home. I get home, open my much needed dinner, and what do I see?  Yeah….CHEESE!! Freakin’ Law of Attraction!

So I pick up the phone and call the place. And they say “we are sorry, just come in I’ll make you another one”. But they are not going to drive to MY house and bring it to me! No, I have to go all the way back there! I was fuming!

I walk into the restaurant, the guy behind the counter says “Miss, I’m sorry. Look I’m making you a brand new one, no cheese” and then he said the words that caused me to do something I have never done before and never done since…..

He said “Keep that sandwich for free, it’s on the house!”


“Are you NOT listening to me!? I cannot eat this because it has CHEESE on it! This sandwich is WORTHLESS to me!” I yelled….and then….

the sandwich flew through the AIR!

Yes, I threw the sandwich at the guy. I admit it wasn’t my finest moment. The sandwich nearly hit him in the head, but he caught it.

And what this man did next is the entire point of my story.

He SMILED at me. He chuckled. Not in a way that belittled me, but in a way that calmed me.

He said “Stacey, I’m sorry. You have every right to be mad. This is entirely my fault. And I’m going to make it right for you. From now on, when you call in, I will personally make every sandwich you order myself. I promise you Stacey.”

That man was Anthony Adragna, the owner of Café Antonio in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. His reaction in that moment created a friendship that continues 20 years later.

Paul & Jake Martino Cafe Antonio’s

After Jake was born….Anthony was there for family dinners at Café Antonio’s. Jake’s first time eating pizza was with Anthony, at Antonio’s.  Gracie’s picture is on the Café Antonio Facebook page!  And every year for their birthday’s when we ask our kids where they want to go for birthday dinner, there is only one answer…..they want to go to Antonio’s and see Anthony. During the years that Paul and I were dating, we ate dinner at Café Antonio’s every Sunday night. And every Sunday night, Anthony made my dinner. Paul surprised me for my 30th birthday with a party at none other than Café Antonio.

And our relationship wasn’t built in the good times, it was built during a tough time!We love Anthony.

Grace Martino Cafe Antonio’s
Grace Martino Cafe Antonio’s

There is a brick foundation to our friendship with Anthony. A loyalty formed in the kindness he showered on me when I didn’t deserve it.  While we are grateful for the turn of events that resulted in such a rich friendship of life experiences, this situation was not just LUCK.

How people react or respond in a moment is not luck.

When you react or respond to a trigger, in that split-second, there is something that Paul and I call the SPACE within the momentTM.

It doesn’t feel like there is a space there, but there is. When someone triggers you, you react so fast, you don’t feel the “space within the moment”. You have conditioned yourself over the years to react to that trigger a certain way. So much so that you almost feel like it’s not possible to react a different way. But there is a choice being made, in the space within the moment, where you can CHOOSE how to respond.

“Your choice is to react from fear, upset or pain, or to respond in love.”

You are free to choose any response you want. It’s your life.  Just know, that whatever your choice, your actions will ALSO trigger the person on the other side! Every single time you act, you are someone’s trigger.

We have a saying around here at “You may not be the cause of their behavior, but you sure as hell are the trigger!”  Anthony chose to smile, take personal responsibility and show kindness to me. And in response, I melted. I apologized for losing it and let him know that I really had a bad day and I was so sorry.

He could have just as easily said “Get out of here you crazy bitch and don’t come into my restaurant again.”

And if he had, ohhhhhh, back then…..Stacey, aka “The Ice Princess”, would have had some very choice words for where he could put his sandwich! And it would have changed the trajectory of our lives and 20 years of precious moments with our friend Anthony never would have happened!

Even in the middle of the Kerfuffle, your reaction or response has the POWER to shift the entire result! Luckily for me, Anthony a mature masculine Italian man with a beautiful passionate wife and three girls at home! Now you see why he smiled when I threw the sandwich. I’m sure I’m not the first feisty woman to cross his path! 😉

Anthony chose to respond with love. And it shifted me in a huge way!

Love will transform the people in your world.

What is your choice?

You may think you chose love…. philosophically or even as a value.

But in the space within the moment, when you are HURT, TRIGGERED, WRONGED….what do you really choose?

With your partner?

With your kids?

With the people you work with?

With the important people in your world?

Are you loving them, even when they don’t deserve it?  And darling…. that includes loving YOURSELF, even when you feel like you don’t deserve it.

How can you create more of this in your world?

You can sit around and hope that the people you interact with, like Anthony, will show you love even when you don’t deserve it.  OR, you can decide that YOU will be “the Anthony” in people’s lives!

You are wildly powerful! You have the power to decide that, even when the people in your life don’t deserve it, you will respond in love and CREATE the shift you want to experience in the world!

Go out there, and transform the world through LOVE!