And Take The Rest As It Happens

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.
~ Epictetus

No one ever told me how emotionally devastating it is to send your child off to college.  I’ve watched it portrayed on television, in movies and I’ve watched my sister struggle through the emotional circus but I just never expected it to feel like this.   There is this quiet understated connection and bond between a mother and her only child.  I’ve never expressed this to anyone except my husband but I knew when I had my daughter those 18 years ago, she would be my one and only.   We would navigate life together.  And we did.

I love our relationship.  It’s honest, sometimes complicated, and sometimes tumultuous but mostly its loving, full of trust, respect and mutual admiration.   Most who know me will tell you I was a strict momma.  I’d like to think I was a fun mom as well but I have to admit, I had rules.  I believe in guidelines, boundaries, cultivating self-respect, self-motivation and self-confidence.   I was criticized at times for those rules and guidelines but in the end it paid off and I’m sending a confident, motivated, kind young woman into the world.   She will make her own way, create her own success, make her own mistakes but I know she has the inner strength to make it on her own and I will be there when she needs a hug and little support.

I can’t keep her at home for forever but there are days I wish I could.  I will miss how she fills every space she enters with light and warmth (except in the morning because she’s not a morning person).  I will miss her sassy personality, her smile, her laughter but I won’t miss her dirty room.

We are blessed, the two of us, because what seemed like a road we were destined to travel alone became a road traveled with a family.   We’re blended and we’re awesome…two big sisters, one little brother and a very cool step-dad.  God gave Aubrey and I each other and life gave us a whole family.

So, despite the fact that I am not ready to let my little girl go, she’s ready and as we face this new road together, I’m grateful for all we have been given and all that will come.

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Graduation Day

Today my baby girl graduates from High School and as with all other moms in this situation, I find myself a mixed bag of emotions.  Wondering where the time has gone and wishing I could have the time back.  I realize many moms before me have experienced this and many moms after me will do the same but when it happens to you it feels different, it feels deeper, kind of like an ache in your bones.  I’m happy she’s graduating and going off to college to experience life and learn new things but the absoluteness of the change is a bit more devastating than I had expected.

I recently poured over old photos to use for her graduation party and saw little glimmers of me in her face.  It reminded me that I am who I am today, because of her and she is who she is today because of me.  This mother/daughter relationship is a bond unlike any other in the world and I feel so blessed to share that bond with my now grown up, but still little to me, baby girl.  I also found pieces of her artwork and poems she created through the years displaying quite beautifully on paper, who she is and a bird’s eye view into her very special soul.  She’s had her fair share of life struggles and disappointments for an 18-year-old, however, she never uses it as a crutch and her sheer zest for life and never-ending optimism amazes me.  She doesn’t let much stand in her way or get her down and best of all, she knows who she is.

I’m proud of my daughter and I’m so very excited to see where she takes her life.  Yes, this is a bittersweet day but I share these roller coaster emotions with the many moms who have gone before me as I now join your special club.

For my daughter, Aubrey who continually inspires me makes me laugh, challenges me,

gives me joy and makes me proud to be her mother


I’m thankful for my little girl

This blue-eyed beauty of mine

I prayed before I saw her

That this our two hearts would find

A love that others may not see

A hope between her and me

An understanding that we are two

Not ever alone, together life will be new

Because we have each other

No matter what the day

We have each other and I will always stay

Right beside her through life and tears

Right beside her through the years

I love her more than she knows right now

I love her more than this you ask me how

Because God gave us to each other

A very long time ago

To walk through life together

No matter how the winds may blow

As time sings its lovely melody

Her inner beauty is revealed to me

So proud of whom she has become

Like a lovely flower reflecting the warm sun

Her laughter lifts my spirit

Her smile warms my heart

I’m so thankful for my little girl

And will always do my part

To lead her and to guide her

To always find a way

To show her what matters most

Is what your life has to say

So know this my precious daughter

I’m forever here beside you

Forever here to guide you

I’ll hold you close

And give you care

For someday you’ll have a little girl

And a beautiful life you will share.


5 Things I’ve Learned From Motherhood that Changed My Life

In my daughter’s eyes, I can see the future,
A reflection of who I am and what will be,
And though she’ll grow and someday leave,
Maybe raise a family,
When I’m gone I hope you see,
How happy she made me,
For I’ll be there, In my daughter’s eyes

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I was on my daily run this week, plugged into my iPhone run mix and one of my favorite songs began to play, In My Daughter’s Eyes, by Martina McBride. It’s just the perfect song for every mom/daughter in the Universe.  It made me think about how much I’ve learned from being a mother, how much it changed who I am and what I want out of my life.

I became a mom and then became a single mom and then became a married mother of four.  None of it was easy and the adjustments were not overnight but what a beautiful gift I’ve been given.  Not a day goes by that I don’t stop to appreciate this gift.  And just when you think you have motherhood all figured out, it changes and you realize this is a continual learning process.  Motherhood has changed my life forever and I am deeply and sincerely moved each time I watch my children live their lives, make new friends, set off on new adventures and navigate life’s challenges.

While I was running and listening to the Martina McBride song, it occurred to me there are some very specific things I’ve learned from being a mother.   Here’s my top five:

1. Always Listen


I’ve learned to listen. I’m not naturally a good listener because I love to talk.  I’m a talker, its genetic, my whole family is like this; we just talk and talk and talk.  But when you’re a mom, you absolutely must listen.  The key is, however, to listen to not only what is being said but also more importantly, what’s not being said.  I’ve learned to quiet my mind, because frankly it never stops, and listen to my children, my husband, even my staff and myself.  As a mother you see and hear many things from your children and if you listen well, you will hear what they are not saying.  You will learn to hear what is in their heads and in their hearts. It takes some time but it becomes an innate sense that develops almost without your knowing.  And suddenly, one day, you hear and see things that are vital to helping your child through a difficult situation.  And learning to truly listen becomes a permanent part of you.

2.  Celebrate Individuality

Every child is different and although I didn’t actually give birth to three of my children, I love them dearly and enjoy watching how all four choose to navigate life’s challenges in their own way.  They are not me, or their dad and that is something I continually remind myself.  They all need something a little different from us and learning this is key to any parent’s successful parent/child relationship.  It also creates self-confidence, tolerance, and patience and allows everyone to excel at their gifts.  I’ve applied this to not only my family but in my professional life as well.  The benefits are endless.

3.  Learn to Pick Your Battles

So, this one is big for me because I’m fairly set in my ways, after all I do have a lifetime of experience, right?  Ha! When it comes to kids, never, never underestimate the zoo like situations that may ensue during your life with them.   Save yourself some time and agony by learning to pick your battles.  I fought this for a while and then realized when my daughter was much younger that maybe it’s a good idea to let some things go, the harmless things, and when needed focus on the bigger issues.  This was such a big lesson for me that I almost ranked it right under “Always Listen”.  I can look back now and say with confidence; learning to pick my battles has served me well as a mother, a wife, a friend and a professional.

4. Unconditional Love

It’s amazing the kind of love you feel when you have a child.  It’s unlike any other kind of love that exists.  I’ve been upset, angry, disappointed but at the end of the day, I love my children unconditionally.  I’m fascinated by the fact that I can love them so unconditionally, so deeply and yet at the same time feel frustration or disappointment.  These feelings coexist and I’m sure they coexist for a reason.  I think this is ever-present to help us as mothers, guide our kids with love instead of judgment or anger.  I think it’s divine design and is the reason humanity always references “a mother’s love”.

5.  The Art of Letting Go

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.  ~Havelock Ellis

Life is a series of events that sometimes requires us to dig deep and let go.  Letting go of hurt, anger, sadness and insecurity is not easy.  Typically a major life event has contributed to one or more of these feelings and as adults we tend to hang on to the bad stuff a bit longer than kids do.  For instance, I’m sometimes taken back by how much kids just want everything to be “alright”.  When they fight with friends or even parents they are much easier to forgive and forget than we are.   They tend to adapt to change, to accept life as it is and make the best of things even when it doesn’t meet their expectations.  I love seeing this attribute in my kids.  They’ve each experienced sadness and disappointment but they’ve managed to get through.  And although it took some time, they subconsciously or perhaps consciously refused to let life’s obstacles get them down.  It’s a beautiful reminder to me that the “art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on”.

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Strained Potential

My Running Partner, Wrigley

I went for a run a few weeks ago, I love to run, and after training for and running in a recent half-marathon, was feeling p-r-e-t-t-y good about my 40 something self.   I started running when I was 14 and although I went through periods where I didn’t run at all, I always came back to it.  Running is a gift to myself.  I feel strong, I feel empowered, I feel beautiful and I feel in control and that makes me happy.

I started on my run with my favorite tunes in my ear, a little Hugo, a little Uninvited, a little Black Stone Cherry and I’m rocking’ the miles away.  I began to feel the burn in my thighs, the heat on my shoulders and the hot wind in my face.  Yes, I’m killing those miles in my big, baggy running shorts, my old gray tank and my lucky Chicago Cubs ball cap.  To complete my glamorous athletic look, I have short hair so if you live in my neighborhood and see what appears to be a young boy with a red face running down the street, it’s probably me.  Nevertheless, I’m still running those miles and mentally patting myself on the back for pushing my body to this level at my age.  My head was high and my spirits even higher.

And then, out of nowhere, in about mile three, with sweat dripping like a water faucet from my forehead and the sound of a horse pulling a plow in a heat wave coming from my upper body; a beautiful 20 something girl with the grace of a Gazelle and the body of a Greek Goddess breezes by me in what resembled a lovely little booty short and sports bra ensemble.  Shit!  Really?  Now?  While I was in my non-glamour power mode?  I believe I then subconsciously lifted my shoulders high and strong, wiped the sweat off my face, took a deep breath and acted as if this was a Sunday afternoon walk.  I ran so hard and fast I thought I might faint.  Miss booty shorts was obviously running my same route so after considering my ever climbing heart rate, I conveniently took a side street detour and doubled back at a slower pace.

I ran another mile and stopped to laugh. I laughed at myself and at how ridiculous I probably looked but inside I felt great.  I’m no longer a svelte 20 something, but I am the 40 something I want to be.  It’s hard work but the benefit overflows into other parts of my life.  I think it makes me a better mother, a better wife and a better professional at my job.  I read a quote recently that in many ways sums this up…

“I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy”, Og Mandino.

Now go find something that will strain your potential ladies and don’t worry about the booty shorts.  Inside you will feel like a sexy 20 year old with the world at your fingertips.  Baggy running shorts and all.


My Finish at the Half-Marathon!

Transitioning With Your Teen

Our relationships with our children follow a natural path of growth and transition as they grow older and frankly as we grow older…oh how I miss those days when my daughter would wake up and crawl into bed to snuggle with me. Her petite face pressed against mine and her tiny arm gently draped across me as if to say, “I love my mommy soooo much”. Well the times are a changin’ that’s for sure.

I miss those days but I completely adore the young woman she has become and though I wish for more snuggles and warm hugs, I understand her need for independence. The affection comes in very different ways now; we talk about school, friends, her future aspirations, getting ready for college, cars, boys, etc. I get long hugs (that I cherish) when things aren’t going her way and only a hug will make it better. It’s a hodge podge of emotions and topics in our house but I embrace all of it trying to pack it into the files of my mind so that I can bring them out to remember when she is off on her own.

I think it really hit me this year when Halloween came and left and we had no little ones to walk down the street in their scary array of Halloween garb and bags rustling with loads of cavity causing edibles. I admit my eyes did get a bit misty over it all but its part of the transition and although my little girl is transitioning, so am I.

I’ve decided to embrace this transition because as sad as I am at losing my little girl, I’m thrilled to be gaining a beautiful new friend; I am blessed to be the one to walk beside her and support her as she follows her dreams and becomes the woman she wants to be.

Hard-Core Happy About Life

I watched an awesome video this week of my nephew, Sebastian, who had just learned to ride a bike.  My brother posted it on Facebook which allowed our family to share in the momentous occasion.  I miss my family and I miss my little Sebas; only just six years old and passionate about absolutely everything and I’m not embellishing, this kid is hard-core happy about life! 

What struck me like a big thump on the head (and the heart) was the way in which my brother handled Sebastian’s triumphant success on his bicycle.  You see, Sebastian was doing fantastic and then, as bicycle riders in training often do, had a bit of a nasty spill and hit the ground hard.  You could hear my brother in the background saying “Doing good, doing good….oh, and there he goes, takes a spill and keeps on going!”  And then you hear my brother yell at the top of his vocal chords…”You go Sebas, good job buddy!”  And off my nephew rides, so proud of himself and clearly thrilled that Dad was standing close to cheer him on. 

What I witnessed in the video was a father so deeply engaged in his child’s life that his six-year-old was able to recover from a disappointing fall, dust himself off and regain control of his bike.  No tears, no tantrums, just a face of determination.   Little Sebastian displayed pure confidence and resilience; two qualities found in children who are taught to believe in themselves and who watch their parents’ daily example of confidence and resilience. 

The bike wasn’t going to get the best of Sebastian and you could see it on his face.  At the end of the video, he looked up with a grin that spread from ear to ear.   It was beautiful and not just because it was my completely adorable nephew, but because you could see the future in that face…hard-core happy about life and the beginnings of a really great man.  

Good job little brother.

I Love The Person She Has Become

I watch her as she handles life, friends, school and responsibility and I think to myself, “I love the person she has become.” 

As a mother, one of our many worries in life is who our children will grow up to be.  Will they aspire to greatness?  Will they know happiness?  Will they be good people?  Will they be the amazing and successful individuals we think they can be?  These are normal parental questions that we all ask ourselves at one point or another.  And, there are times, let’s just get this out there, that we want to simply close our eyes from the sheer exhaustion of it all and hope for the best…especially when they become adolescents!

My sister, who raised an adolescent before me, told me once, “Relax, she’s an adolescent and adolescent means to simply to be immature…you can’t expect someone in the throes of adolescense to do everything you want them to do, it’s just not going to happen.”   Wise words from someone who did it before me and very good advice because I found myself in a constant state of worry that my child would not make good decisions or display some long-term effects from the stress of divorce and a strained relationship with her father.  I worried that every pull away from me was a signal that something was wrong. 

What I’ve learned is that parents who are engaged in their child’s life will innately know when a pull is just a sign of independence or a sign of a problem.  Our children will absorb our guidance and our love even if they do not express it; they pay more attention to us than they want to admit.  I’ve also learned that my child is who she is, she’s not me and that difference is something that a parent needs to consider.  Our children will most definitely approach life with a different view or tackle an obstacle in a way that is completely foreign to us but that’s okay, because they are who they are and that should be celebrated.    

I love who she’s become and I’m even more excited to watch who she will eventually be.   I am discovering there is a fine line to walk, as a parent, learning to allow our children to be whom they want to be while at the same time guiding them towards their potential.   What fun this is, what beauty unfolds everyday; it’s like watering an exotic plant and waiting to see it in full bloom.

A Bitter Pill

One of life’s most bitter pills to swallow is the realization that perhaps you haven’t quite conquered the pain of your past demons.  Sometimes these pesky guys find a way into your everyday life no matter how hard you have worked to overcome them.   At that moment, your heart splits wide open as your mind beats you up for momentarily losing the battle.   And then a sobering sense of reality falls upon you and allows you to acknowledge that you are only human and recognizing the pain from the past makes you stronger as long as you leave it there. 

Waste not fresh tears over old griefs.  ~Euripides, Alexander

Leaving the past behind and learning to get rid of the clutter the past can sometimes deposit into our brains, is a healthy step to keeping a life full of love, peace and satisfaction.  It is not that any of us, including myself, wish to have these moments clutter our lives and make our hearts more vulnerable and insecure.  Most of us just want to move on and feel the freeing sense of peace that enveloped us when we made the decision to move our lives forward in the first place.

Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.  ~James Thurber

It seems the first step to keeping ourselves from having to swallow that bitter pill more than once in a lifetime, is to acknowledge the past for what it was but never allow it to control us, our lives, our hearts or our minds.  Leave it in the past and know that who we are today is a stronger, better version of who we were then.  The second step is to surround ourselves with those who will love us unconditionally; however, will not allow us to fall into the trap of dwelling on the past.  Sometimes “tough love” is the best kind of love for those of us who have worked diligently to leave the hurt behind but find ourselves in a moment of emotional self-destruction.  These individuals, who love us for who we are, provide us with the compassion and honesty that are key to our success.  Sophocles said it beautifully…

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is LOVE.”

If you are struggling with hurt, insecurity or another demon from the past, embrace the NOW and those you love who are in the NOW with you.  Leave behind those things that weigh you down and keep you from living the productive and happy life you were meant to live.  Embrace the beauty of the present and look forward to the joys of the future.

Locked Inside the House of Fear

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.” — Norman Vincent Peale

There are times in our lives when we reach a crossroad before us and we haven’t a clue how to proceed.  We are faced with a challenge, a difficult decision or a painful life dilemma and it lingers around us begging for answers.  We want out of the house of fear but end up succumbing to the safety net of not having to make a difficult decision because we are  afraid of the unknown, afraid of the obstacle and unsure of the path we should take.  We have all been at this point; however, what separates us from the rest is how we overcome the fear and conquer the obstacle that is keeping us from reaching goals or simply moving life forward.

Fear keeps us from success because it causes deep-rooted insecurity, anxiety and low self-worth.  This unfortunately leads to poor decision-making and/or ignoring the inevitable or on the flip side, ignoring the possible.

I was fortunate to be among a group of women at a professional women’s event recently where one of the speakers said something powerful that resonated deep inside, “If you must make a difficult decision, ask yourself this question, am I making this decision out of fear or out of courage?”  – Dr. Deborah German.  Dr. German’s point being, always make your decision out of courage, even if you fail.   The courageous decision will move your life forward, allow you to unlock the door and exit the house of fear which releases you from the anxiety and insecurity blocking your success.

Many of us find ourselves facing obstacles everyday, some more difficult than others; however, as women, as mothers, as friends we have the power within to fight back, be courageous, be supportive of each other and move our lives forward; leaving behind the house of fear and opening doors to finding success and pursuing wonderful new dreams.

To My Four Valentines

My four Valentines are not so little anymore.  They are growing up quickly and finding themselves and their place in this world.  Our children know we love them but on a day like today it is fun to put into words, just how much we love our kids.   So, today I am sending this Valentine to my kids, I hope you will do the same.  This is a wonderful day to reaffirm with your children how much you love them for who they are and how much joy they bring to your life.  Happy Valentine’s Day! 

To My Four Valentines…

I love you more than you will ever know

I love you more than I could have ever imagined

And I forever want to show

In every smile I share

In every hug I give

How very much I care

My heart is wrapped up in your stories

Each one a stunning gift

I wish you many, many glories

As you go on to live

Each of your lives

In your very own way

Following your finest dreams

And seeking knowledge in each new day

For each of you is amazing to me

Each has such beauty and grace

Each of you has found in this world

A love of your lives and a place

A place to express who you are

And who you want to be

I’m so very proud of you

And always want you to see

How grand this world is with you in it

How lovely life truly is

How much I am always there for you

And will always give

My whole heart and my time

My help and my hugs

My advice and my thoughts

And most of all

My unconditional love