Archives for September 2014

The Middle Years

small_2142478943Time To Wear A Tutu

I was sitting in a light filled room, on assignment for an article I was working on, gazing at a dozen ballet students as they moved to the music and listened to their teacher’s direction. Not sure if it was the music, the light, the energy or watching these young girls that stirred my intense desire to put on a tutu and challenge myself. I could see some of the girls struggling with their positions. Ballet is hard and even at that age I was as flexible as an iron pipe and still am. Yet, I’ve always loved to dance, although most of my dance moves were developed in discos, just moving put a smile on my face. I thought maybe I would enroll in a class. Why not?

As I watched the girls experience the highs and lows of their exercises, the intensity, frustration, pain and pride, my mind wandered off to the possibilities of my own life at my age. Part of a generation that did not automatically get “signed up” for an array of classes, I always reveled in most of the classes my children took, especially anything creative. I want to engage in new endeavors before it’s too late.

I’m no fool. I know where I stand, sandwiched between my growing more independent children and aging parents – in my case in-laws and one parent. I also know what it’s like to never reach these years, my mother dying at 45. As I think about my mother’s untimely death and watch my father’s descent into dementia and in-laws ailing health, my despair has turned to desire. I can feel it intermittently, during assignments for my work as a writer but also during college tours or watching my son read a classic I haven’t found my way to yet.

Perhaps I’m naive but I don’t feel the middle years should be anything but exploratory, our offspring are moving on and so should we. These are our years, as the demands of childhood wane, to do the “things we’ve always wanted to do” even if it means delegating to handle elder care or liberating yourself from laundry. We all know the laundry isn’t going anywhere.

I want to paint, dance, love great literature and write forever. What do you want to do?


photo credit: <a href=”“>cybertoad</a> via <a href=”“>photopin</a> <a href=”“>cc</a>


Hannah Is All Of Our Daughters

small_5982590252I was grabbing a coffee and a banana at a hotel in Pennsylvania last weekend, when shivers went up my spine. We were visiting a lovely college and it also happened to be parent’s weekend, so the hotel was buzzing with families, many wearing smiles and sweatshirts emblazoned with their alma mater’s logo. A large flat screen TV, centrally located for viewing, hummed in the background. The Hannah Graham story came on and soon the morning rhythm seemed to suspend in time. I arched my neck to listen, see and hope that this story was now brandishing a happy ending. There was a young mom who halted somewhat as she sipped her coffee and eyed her two young daughters. Another mom, with a daughter closer to the college years, winced at the news shaking her head. The tone was mournful, all passed in a newsroom minute. I felt fear and longed to shout “what are we doing about this” but I needed to rush off. I believe we were all thinking the same thing.

My thoughts were with Hannah’s family but also drifted off to my daughter who just started college four and a half hours away from home. I felt my eyes well up because no matter how much talking we do about safety and traveling in pairs – stories like this surface and I felt an overwhelming desire to turn back time and whisper in Hannah’s ear. Hannah is all of our daughters, though I don’t know her, I see my daughter in her face. Perhaps she was more sophisticated or more daring but she was in the prime of her life, attending a great institution and learning about life. She made an error in judgement, going off alone, if indeed that is the case but that misstep should not cost her this unfortunate situation. It’s not over and I hope with all my heart she is back enjoying her life again.

I look at my teenage son and I say something that jolts me as sexist. I’m surprised since  the remark jars me as I’m as opposed to a double standard. I tell him “girls need to be more careful.” He looks at me and says, “Boys get kidnapped too” although I can tell he doesn’t really believe this statement. He’s old enough to hear this so I say “girls are targets for sex crimes.”

Truth is most of these young girls on campuses around the country are intelligent but have likely grown up in leafy, green communities where they have been embraced and loved and have always felt safe. Danger seems far away, the truth is it isn’t. On a daily basis, we all read about kidnappings, rapes, domestic violence, finding bodies – all mostly young women and girls.

The media, the economy, testosterone driven entertainment, video games, alcohol, drugs, mental health, a bad start in life – they are no excuse for what’s happening to our girls. Domestic violence, treated as a slap on the wrist, for football players and entertainers. The type of men young boys in this country admire. I recently read about a group of high school seniors who spelled out the word rape on their T-shirts as a joke. The incident received press and the boys showed remorse. The incident is inexplicable.

America’s rhetoric touts we are the land of the free but dare I say, fear runs through my veins a little more every day. How free are we when according to The Campus Sexual Assault Study between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years. The president just started his own campaign against campus sexual assault dubbed “It’s On Us.” I couldn’t agree more. Hannah needs to be our wake up call. She is all of our daughters and we have failed her.

photo credit: <a href=”“>Noukka Signe</a> via <a href=”“>photopin</a> <a href=”“>cc</a>

So You Made It To College!

IMG_0437Now What?

My daughter graduated from high school this past June. A new beginning and the end of four years filled with many ups and downs. As I ponder my years as a mother and the 18-year-old I once was, here’s a little advice I’d like to impart to all of the 2014 graduates embarking on their first year of college.

Be Bold

Whether you were the head cheerleader or newspaper editor, dust yourself off and start fresh! It may be tempting to preserve your high school persona but it will serve you better if you seek out new opportunities! Try something you always wanted to do.

Mix It Up

So, in high school you played it safe and though you were polite to that boy in your art class you never bothered to develop a friendship. I say mix it up, seek different kinds of friends, take off your blinders. Diversity is what makes life interesting, don’t waste the next four years of your life making friends with people just like you!

Stay True To Yourself

It may be tempting to follow the crowd, for fear you won’t fit in but don’t bother. If your experience in college starts to feel like high school, it’s time to reevaluate your situation.

Lose The Panic Button

You hate your major or feel your college choice is wrong – so you’re hiding under your covers for fear the world will think you are a loser. You are not a loser, you are experiencing life and sometimes it takes several detours to find your destination. Now is the time to figure out what you are really made of by evaluating what went wrong and mapping out next steps.

Fill Your Emotional Tool Box

Ditch the panic button and start filling your emotional tool box. These are the skills you develop when your major isn’t working out, Romeo has turned into a Lothario or you’re alone in your room and something fuzzy with a tail is staring at you! Remember you can tell more about a person when something goes wrong in their life, so start building those skills.

Don’t Go Overboard With The Partying

I know, you’re finally free and it can be tempting to party all the time but this is the fastest ticket home  Don’t be afraid of hard work, it will make your next stop in the real world easier.

Build Your Character

A favorite Einstein quote: “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” Wisdom can be found in all of us despite bank accounts or degrees.

Like Real Life

Take time to walk away from social media. Stop checking your “Likes” and posting every event – this all takes time away from real living.

Learn And Keep On Learning

You don’t know it all and you never will. We spend our lives’ learning – and those that embrace that concept are far more successful.


If you are attending a fine institution in our country, it’s safe to assume you have parents who have sacrificed, saved and planned for you. Remember to thank them, remember there are many who will never have the opportunities you now have.




College Move In Day

IMG_1637Behind The Scenes

Instead of basking on the beach in early August, I was scurrying around from store to store, washing, packing and becoming acquainted with space saver vacuum bags – it felt like nesting! The last time I nested I was waiting for an arrival and this time a departure loomed ahead.

Though it seems counterintuitive, preparing for the send off reverberated memories of being a new mother. I remember going through the motions of buying cute little onesies, folding them neatly and thinking I had it all together when I was paralyzed with fear. How would I know how to handle a newborn? Would I have what it takes? For some strange reason, many of those feelings were reoccurring. Have we prepared her for the challenges ahead? Overtaken with worry for how move in day and the college year would turn out I got sucked into the vortex of dorm shopping. The last time I encountered so many unnecessary items was when I had my daughter – remember the bumpers you have to take off the crib and the comforter you never use. Dorm shopping is not so different. I let the insanity take off, scrutinizing the merits of a backrest versus throw pillows and the best under bed storage system.

All the while, tears would flow sporadically. I’d like to say the last few weeks have been glorious with my daughter as we bonded and shared the love but since I’m as truthful as a two year old – it’s been rough. We’ve butted heads over the impracticality of a duvet versus a comforter, disputed the merits of purchasing a planner and bickered over what should stay and what should go. My daughter did her own dance of avoidance by interrupting this process for friend send offs including her own, creating a museum quality photo collage and wrangling with a last minute Staples order  – all taking precedence over packing.

I steamed like a well boiled kettle all the while wondering how we would make it there in one piece and dreading the “goodbye.” I worried that we squandered this special time bickering over nonsense. I took a stand that I would not cry when saying goodbye, well at least not in front of her. Somewhere between the search for twin xl sheets and laughing at a mix up at the Staples copy center we found the time to laugh.

I’d read all the empty nest articles streaming on social media and I was sure I would cry all the way home. Well, life can be surprising! We practically pulled an all nighter packing and the next morning was chaotic resulting in a space management tour de force to get everything in the car. I then spent over four hours with a Sterilite bin on my lap eating peanut M&Ms. We settled into a hotel and the next morning began our journey. It was hard work but all was well and despite a reoccurring dream that I would return with most of the items we spent hours packing she had plenty of space in the room. The day of dread was fun. We laughed and organized and the entire family worked as a team. The energy was positive, current students were great and new students seemed so eager – I couldn’t help it but I was bursting with excitement for her. A new beginning with so many possibilities I was flooded with emotion, despite some tears most of it was pure happiness.


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