To My Daughters: The Most Important Choice You Will Ever Make

I want my daughters to know that what they choose to think is the most important choice they make.

I want them to choose thoughts that are kind, compassionate, and forgiving to everyone, including themselves.

I want them to know that choosing positive, happy thoughts is hard and takes a tremendous amount of practice.

I want them to know that I spent half of my life trying to do this for myself and it’s freaking hard.

I want them to know that swirl of thoughts in their head that resembles being on a carousel that never stops has an off button. They need to choose to turn it off.

I want them to understand that others mirror the love and respect they have for themselves.

I want them to choose the thoughts that feel good.

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Reason # 2: Why we can’t get out of the house quickly

My little fashionista can put together an outfit that personal shoppers envy. In a snap she pairs a shirt with pants and accessories the way a sommelier pairs the perfect wine with food. She gets stumped with the perplexing problem of finishing the outfit with…

SOCKS.

Picking socks sparks controversy, debate, tears, and tantrums. It delays our morning routine up to 15 minutes. You read that right, IT TAKES FIFTEEN MINUTES TO SETTLE ON SOCKS some mornings.

Why? WHY? WHY?

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Growing Apart, Together

The romance began 15 years ago. It was love at first sight.

As I sat in the waiting room at my doctor’s office, leafing through Fortune Magazine, I was hooked. It wasn’t a person but a company that caught my eye. They were innovative and on the cutting edge. They were philanthropic. They were changing the world. I closed my eyes and imagined working there. My heart filled with hope.

Fate stepped in. A month later The Company announced its intent to acquire the start-up where I worked. I anticipated the deal closing the same way I had anticipated the first date with my husband: with impatient confidence that this was THE ONE.

As the relationship blossomed I became smitten. Up until this moment I always felt like an outsider. An imposter. The child who stands at the edge of the playground hoping for an invitation to play.  This relationship welcomed me with open arms into an exciting, fulfilling, and safe inner circle.

The harder I worked the more support I got.

This relationship cheered me on when I got married.

It embraced me when I had two beautiful children. It held my hand through post-partum depression. It violently threw me from my graceful entrance into motherhood into the chaos of becoming a working mom.

It supported me through years of therapy to overcome anxiety – and many times was the subject of my sessions.

It forgave my mistakes.

It accelerated my personal and professional growth and pushed me past my personal limits.

My relationship with The Company was everything I imagined it would be. It was everything I longed for. I was part of a team who had a passion for changing the world.

Each day my love for The Company grew. Even on the rare days when I hated my job, I LOVED The Company. Year after year it lived up to its ranking as one of the top companies to work for.

I expected to grow old with The Company.

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Moving Through, Not Moving On

Dreaming.

We were in the car. He was driving too fast.  We started to swerve. My mom yelled. He gasped.  As he lost control I braced for the crash.

Brrrrriiiiing.

The phone rang and snapped me awake.

My stepmom answered it. “Oh hi Pauline. Yes. Oh no. Oh that’s terrible. Ok… Ok…. Ok…Bye.”

She sunk onto my bed. With a big sigh she started to talk. Her words were clear yet they blended together into something unintelligible. I knew what she was trying to say but I needed to hear the words.

She gently put her hand on mine as she said, “Honey I am so sorry. Your mom is in heaven.”

I was 16.

What now? I wondered.

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Why “Tomorrow” is the Best.Song.Ever.

“Tomorrow” is the best.song.ever (not to be confused with my favorite song ever).

A young girl who was left on the doorstep of a drunk, chain-smoking haggard belts this song out with a heart-warming smile. She lives day after day with a woman whose general viewpoint is apathetic at best. She lacks compassion. She despises kids. Her love is bankrupt. Yet Annie is optimistic despite this woman and the circumstances.

“Tomorrow” captures so much about Annie – her mindset, her hopes, her dreams, and her beliefs. Annie’s tomorrow hasn’t gotten better in years yet she still believes things *will* improve if she just hangs on ‘til tomorrow. Her optimism oozes every time she sings it.

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Unspoken Lessons Unintentionally Taught by Unexpected People

Night after night she woke me from a deep sleep. Softly she called “Mama? Mama?” until she got my attention. I groggily trudged to her room while longing to crawl back into bed. As I entered she smiled. Her smile was filled with love, light and happiness. It was irresistible. It was infections. Even at 4am.. As I held her tight in darkness I learned the power of a simple smile.

This is one of the lessons I learned since my kids started arriving on the scene. Some of the most important lessons they’ve taught me have come through our most intense moments together.

When Marlee started being more independent I started to calculate all the efficiency gains. We could sleep later. Get out of the house faster. Independence equaled all sorts of time-saving territory.

Each morning and evening I barked out orders to maintain maximum efficiency. “Upstairs. Get dressed. Brush teeth. Brush hair…”

Day after day Marlee begged me to help her. Day after day I refused. One day as she verged on a temper tantrum she used different words. Instead of asking me to help her she yelled “Why can’t you just be with me while I get dressed?!?!” Her words lingered in the air. They stung. All this time she was asking me to simply be with her. She didn’t want my help. She wanted my company.

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Birth of My Sunflower, Marlee Rose

On 9:15a.m the nurse practitioner exclaimed, “Your water broke! You need to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW.”

My water broke? What? How did I not notice that? And OH MY GOD Josh was hundreds of miles away in Pennsylvania. My mind started to calculate. How long would it take him to get to me? Was there a chance Marlee would arrive without him? Would I deliver ALONE?

(Despite popular belief, water breaking is not always a dramatic gush of liquid that cannot be mistaken for something else.)

I called Josh and burst into tears. “Marlee is coming. I am going to the hospital.” I sensed his smile. He was excited. I was terrified.

He calmly talked to me then hung up. All eyes were on him as he shared, “my wife is having our baby.” His customer quickly jumped up to end the meeting. Josh assured him that he had time to finish the meeting and get to the airport for the next flight. A bold move – his team closed the deal on the spot.

Meanwhile I called my dad. “Dad, go to my house. Pick up my bag. Meet me at the hospital.”

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