Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

IMG_4918Today and everyday I am thankful for my family, my friends and my readers. One of the best parts of my job is getting the chance to meet my readers from time to time and talk about books, life and even the writing process. Not too long ago I had the chance to have lunch with Babette Gilles and she was kind enough to share some of her poetry with me.

It’s not easy to let someone read your work. I remember the first manuscript I shared with my friend. It was exciting to have finished my first novel and I couldn’t wait to find out what she might think, but then later that night as I lay awake imagining her reading my book, I was terrified. I wanted to go over to her house, get my manuscript and lock it up where it might never see the light of day. I felt exposed and vulnerable.

I’m glad I didn’t take it back. Putting my work out there for the first time was scary but it changed my life. My passion became my job. My words found their readers and a whole new family of friends began. I have met so many generous and fearless people, like my new friend, Babette.

Babette is eleven years old and loves to read and to write poetry. We met after she read my book, Play On and we talked about my work and her own. As soon as I read some of her poetry I knew it needed to be shared with my readers. I wanted to give Babette the chance to see her work published online and so I offered to include it on my blog. She gave me a big smile and said yes. I know you will embrace this young poet with the same warmth and love you continue to show me. So without further adieu it is my delight and my privilege to offer you Babette’s poem, a Thanksgiving gift to all of us.

Don’t be scared.
When the sun sets
And the night falls
The stars come out
To shine over you
And to protect you from harm;
Don’t forget that I’m your friend,
I’m your family
And I’m your other protector.
I’m here for you
And I always will be.

Babette Gilles

Living The Dream

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Victoria_Emotions_Basic_StandingSometimes no matter what you do it seems like you can’t win for losing. Yesterday morning I thought we were running a little early. How civilized I thought as we made our way to the car to go to school. Feeling a little smug about how clever we were I opened the garage door. There blocking every way out was an oil truck. Really? Who thought it was a good idea to schedule deliveries during rush hour? Is it a conspiracy? I was so close to getting out the door stress free and even on time.

Okay, no problem. Oh how woefully naïve I was. I head over to the driver and explain I need to take my kids to school, so I’d appreciate it if he would move the truck. This should have been easy right? Wrong. He says he’d be glad to, when he finishes up in about twenty minutes. Did I mention I was early? I was, but now being early is just a pipe dream. Now I am wedged into the ever-closing window of leave now and you can be just on time.

I explain twenty minutes won’t work when what I really need is now. He looks at me with a confused expression and asks if I realize he would have to retract the hose in order to move the truck? Wow. Okay, I’m terribly sorry for your suffering and all, but retract that hose, my friend before I find a place to stick it.

Then he tells me he would need to print a second ticket. Oh the horror! Catastrophe! This is not the customer service the side of your truck promises to deliver. Tick tock my friend, the on-time window is closed, we are now smack dab in the middle of the late zone. My kids look at me and I can see this is more than just a hose and ticket problem; this is personal. My reputation is at stake. Either he moves his truck, or I become little more than a chirping bird trapped in my cage.

Hard to believe I used to be a litigator, but I was actually baffled that this conflict had gone so far. So, I did what any mom would do, I put on my best mommy voice and put my hand on my hip. I quietly informed him that he must retract his hose and move his truck out of my way immediately. In fact I had worked up such a froth by then I nearly added young man!

Then a miracle happened. It was like a glorious sunrise over a bleak and dark landscape. He nodded and moved his truck.

We were inexorably late, but we escaped our garage and my reputation remains untarnished by his challenge. My kids still know they have to do what I tell them or I will absolutely put my hand on my hip.

From The Inside Out

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014


How can we empower and inspire our children in the small moments that link together to make up a day, a year, even a lifetime. We all want to share messages of positive parenting and raise kids to feel safe, secure and even peaceful, but it can be easier said than done. I think a big reason why parents can often feel at a loss is that we might be a little conflicted ourselves.

On the one hand we very much want our kids to be resilient, we just don’t want them to ever need to be. We want our kids to feel strong and secure, but we are afraid to let them feel uncomfortable. We want to raise empathetic adults, but we also want to shelter our kids from the sadness in the world. It’s all quite understandable; it’s just that it’s also quite counter-productive.

I remember taking archery when I was in school. The idea of a bow and arrow sounded exciting and vaguely heroic right up until I held it in my hand. I stood at the line and pulled back the bow, held my breath and let it fly. It soured through the air and didn’t even get close to the target, let alone the bull’s eye. My teacher laughed and gave me some great advice. She said you have to choose your target, keep your eyes open and never give up.

The same is true raising a family. As parents we have to choose a target because no matter how skilled we may be, we cannot give our kids the tools they need to live peaceful and resilient lives, unless we allow discomfort to be a part of their lives and buffer them a little less. We have to keep our eyes open to sadness, ours and someone else’s, if we are to build empathy. There is a price for strength; it must be won by endurance.

Therein lies the big conflict many of us face. We want our kids to have the tools for a peaceful and meaningful life, but we also want to protect them as much as we can. It can be tough to find the balance between building life skills and maintaining the happy bubble we all know and love.

I think the first step might be as simple as acknowledging that we have an inner conflict. We want our kids to build resilience, just not today. That is only natural. No one wants their child to be uncomfortable, but it helps me to think of it like a vaccine. It’s not easy to hold our babies as they get their shots. They cry, sometimes we cry and the whole process can be upsetting; but no matter how scary it is to get your shots, it is far more scary to face a devastating and PREVENTABLE disease. Protecting your health is worth the temporary discomfort.

The same is true for life skills. Protecting your mental health and inner peace is worth the temporary discomfort required to build empathy, self-advocate and become resilient. Empowering our children means slowly allowing them to experience the tougher parts of life while you are there to guide them. It’s not easy, but it is far more generous than leaving them unprepared for life’s inevitable ups and downs or awaiting a rescue that may never come. Giving our kids the gift of empathy, confidence and trust in their resiliency may be the most protective action any parent can take.

Me and Miss Universal

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Moms are our first teachers and mine was no exception. She taught me how to write my name and how to make it stand for something. She taught me that most troubles could be made better with a cup of good tea and that the strong must protect the vulnerable. My mom worked outside the home for most of her life. She was a career woman at a time when that was unusual and even a little frowned upon, but my mom never did worry much about other people’s opinions. She believed in being who you are with no excuses. She also believed that you never knew what might happen next, so don’t wait for joy, do what you love right now. In her case: that meant sit down, relax and have a piece of cake.

I remember going to work with my mom when I was little. We would walk through a part of town that had definitely seen better days. She walked quickly in her high heels and never let go of my hand. As we walked, we’d see a fair amount of homeless people on our way. My mom was a private person, but everyone there seemed to know her. They called her Miss Universal, because she always carried a bag from the Universal Food Markets.

We would spend the day in her office where I colored, or filed and she handled everything else. From union meetings to inventory to human resources, my mom seemed invincible. Then it was time for lunch. We’d go to McDonalds, (shocking I know) and she bought a dozen hamburgers, fries and coffees and of course a Happy Meal for me. Then we’d go to the Square and she handed them out. Everyday she fed at least a dozen homeless people on our way back to the office, everyday, no exceptions. Sometimes the people were happy to see her, but sometimes they seemed disappointed and asked her for cash instead. No matter what they said, she always smiled and called them Love. “Don’t worry Love, better days are coming.” Then we would move on. Me and Miss Universal.

When my mom interviewed a job applicant she made a separate pile of applications she like and marked them PS in the corner. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew the job would be filled by someone from the PS pile. Years later, when I asked her about it she smiled. “PS didn’t mean they had better qualifications” she whispered with a twinkle in her eye, “PS meant poor soul because that was the person who really needed the job.”

My mom taught me we can all do something to leave the world a little better place than when we found it. She taught me that every life has value and actions speak louder than words. She showed me how to love with everything you have and be true to yourself no matter what the world around you says. They are not your judge.

I’ll miss my mom this Mother’s Day, like I guess I do everyday, but her life still helps me live mine and I am grateful. When I care for my family and community I think of her and I’m so glad I got to be the little girl beside Miss Universal.

The World’s Best Source of Renewable Energy; PARENTS

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Powered by salads and requiring little to no down time, these amazingly green energy sources leave virtually no carbon footprint and remain as low-maintenance as most plant life; a little water, food and light and they’ll run for years. Even better, these sustainable powerhouses adapt well to change and are so easy to operate the whole family can do it.

They care deeply, love relentlessly and make a mean macaroni and cheese. They’re the gatekeepers, cheerleaders and motivational speakers, (even if it sounds like nagging, trust me, it’s motivational speaking.) It’s a lifetime position with no pay, but great benefits. It’s a dream come true rife with potential nightmares. It’s exhausting and exhilarating, loud, messy and regularly involves other people’s bodily fluids. It’s also the best thing that has ever happened to most of us.

The adventure begins with a little plus sign and ends when we close our eyes for the last time. Our work is never done and our hope never ends. We are parents.

So, the next time you feel guilty for hitting the drive through instead of serving a home cooked meal, or taking some time for yourself instead jumping every time you’re called, remember this; renewable energy needs time to renew. So do you.