I'm Begging You - Please Stop

A letter to every person in the United States,

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. Our children are dying and we’re wasting time. My kids are asking questions about their safety. My husband, who works in the news business is stressed out beyond reasonable capacity, and all I keep asking myself is “how can I fix it?” Because really, thoughts and prayers only go so far.

I don’t know about you, but I’m angry. My Facebook news feed is full of argument when it should be full of solution. The latest that has me fuming is the debate about the accuracy of the actual number of school shootings. Is it 18, or is it not? That all depends on how the data is presented. You know what WHO CARES?? Who cares, because guess what? ONE IS TOO MANY. One. And because most of us have the ability to be reasonable, I ask you to stop obsessing over this tidbit, because it doesn’t matter (because one is too many, lest we forget) - and obsess over helping contribute to the solution.

I don't know about you, but I'm sad. Judgement of others without knowing one thing about them is sad. I think that’s really what burns me up the most. Our society is so quick to judge and jump to conclusions. Because I like to think I’m an objective person, I’m not offering judgement or scorn, yes, I’m angry but that’s because no one has provided a solution. So as far as I can tell, if we spent more time on what actually matters like working together to find a solution rather than finger pointing, blaming and judging - our energy wouldn’t be wasted on the bad, it would be contributing toward something good.

My job is to help people. So naturally that’s what I want to do in situations like this. I want to understand the issues and find a way to help, to be part of the solution. The epidemic of shootings in our country is unfathomable everywhere else in the world, and yet, when it has happened in other places, they’ve been able to find a solution.

There are a lot of issues surrounding shootings but as I see it, three of them keep popping up in conversation. Gun control, mental health and bad parenting. Let’s break it down.

Gun control - First and foremost, gun owners, no one is trying to take your precious guns away from you. As someone who had a police officer for a father, I was raised around guns. I’ve used them and I’m actually a decent shot. I can see why someone would be interested in owning guns. I cannot see why someone would be interested in owning a banned assault weapon. The gun laws in this country are antiquated. They need revision. We need better vetting processes. So how about we stop kowtowing to the NRA and we start putting our loved ones first? I mean, I don’t actually know anyone in the NRA personally (or maybe I do and just don’t know it), but the people I know, who are gun owners, are not afraid of some checks and balances being introduced. Oh, and my loved ones are way more important than the NRA. I mean, the NRA isn’t paying my mortgage or putting food on my table or celebrating at my kid’s birthday parties, so I have no use for them. We need better laws. Period.

Mental health - This is a big issue that instead of being addressed is being defunded by our government. I’m confused. I mean, if the government is not interested in gun reform, and they keep blaming shooting incidences on mental health, then why on God’s green earth would they defund mental health programs? Head scratcher. Here’s the thing, mental health is a thing and it can be addressed quite simply if you ask me. How about this - how about instead of being afraid of someone with a mental health issue, we try to understand it? How about we start including them in the conversation? How about instead of telling our kids to stay away from the “weirdos” (I’ve actually seen this happen), we tell them to be kind to them? I’m not saying we all have to be besties, but making an effort to help another human being is a good place to start. NONE of us knows what others are going through. We have to learn how to be better at practicing grace. By offering our compassion and kindness and making an effort to better understand mental health issues I bet lives could be saved.

Bad parenting - This is my favorite because I have a lot to say here. Again, I’m going to state that no one knows what happens behind closed doors, unless you are actually behind the door. Parenting is hard enough. I’m willing to bet one hundred percent of us don’t know every single thing our children are doing. I bet one hundred percent of us don’t know every person our children interact with on a regular basis. I bet one hundred percent of us don’t know what is going on in our children’s heads. We can try, sure, but we will never know all of it. Ever. So hear me out on this. A mother calls the police on her own son, and nothing is done about it. And then, that very same mother later dies, leaving her son in a fragile emotional state. While I do know what it’s like to lose a parent, I was not an unstable child when it happened, and that was hard enough. So now we have a child of questionable mental health with no parents to care for him living with family friends. I can appreciate him being taken in, that’s selfless on the friends part, and for that I say thank you. I imagine the family that took him in was doing their best to include him while also trying to give him his space. I don't have the answer, it's a difficult position.

Most of us work really hard to provide and care for our children. To encourage them, protect them and be active in their lives. Some of us don’t have the luxury of all of that, which makes me cry just thinking about it. Some of us have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, therefore sacrificing time with our children. We have to rely on others for help. We have to put basic needs like food and housing before the emotional needs of our children. That’s wrong.

Instead of blaming the parents how about we find a way to help them. Perhaps parents with some time on their hands could find a few hours a week to organize a community outreach program. Perhaps local law enforcement could create a program for troubled youth that is productive. Perhaps you can work with your neighbors to find a solution that’s right for your area. Boys and girls clubs, YMCA’s, Big Brother/Big Sister organizations all exist for mentoring and companionship. Stop pointing fingers and start working on a solution.

And don’t say “it’s not my kid, it’s not my problem” because that statement is exactly part of the problem. Take a good look around you, be grateful for what you have and that your children are still alive, and find a way to be part of the solution.

Look how easy that was! Instead of me writing a letter blaming everyone and everything for the problems, I’ve managed to offer up some suggestions to help. I’m just as frustrated as you are. I cry every time I see one of the victim’s beautiful faces. I hug my children tighter. I anger at the fights happening on social media. And so I will work to help find resolutions. I will with my local educators to bring discussion to schools, to our children, to let them know they’re loved and appreciated. I will make it a priority in my already over extended life because humanity is my priority. I hope you will at least consider it too.


Find Your "It"

I haven't been able to stop thinking about the notes Patrick Turner, age 16, left for his parents, friends and teachers before he took his life last week. On the outside, Patrick seemed like a regular kid. Active in sports, worked hard in school, lived in an affluent community. On the inside there was a different story going on. One that is playing out more frequently these days. One that has made me take pause at my "why" to focus on my "it."

When I started coaching, the popular marketing thing was to find your "why" - your reason for why you do what you do. I started coaching because I wanted to make an impact on other people's lives. To help them find their own "why," to have my own business, to have a better schedule for my family, etc. As I was reading Patrick Turner's notes, I realized it shouldn't be about "why" it should be about "it." 

I recently created a presentation for Tween and Teens - it focuses on five key foundations we all need to help create our life path. I started it with women, and based on feedback I got from some of my clients, they wanted to share the content with their own teenagers. One of them said to me "for as much as your content is helping me, I think my son needs to hear it too." I was humbled and excited that she wanted to share it with him. Please do! That led me to making a few updates to the course I originally created and now I have a version for our children. 

In the presentation I focus on things like why it's important to have big dreams and how to work for them. I talk about diversity, inclusion and the importance of focusing on your "it" - what are you good at? What do you love to do? You see, not all of us are built to be top academic achievers (Lord knows I wasn't). Not all of us are gifted athletes or musicians or artists. Not all of us have a way with words. But we all have something. We all have an "it." The key now, especially with our children is to encourage that. Encourage "it." Support "it." 

I worry all the time about my boys. Are we being too demanding of them? Are we putting too much stress on them to be "well rounded?" We recently started touring high schools in NYC - talk about pressure. You want to know what my husband said to my son as we toured a top school? He said "Wyatt, I want you to know something. I went to high school, your mother went to high school. We both went to college. We both tried a few different jobs before we decided on what we wanted to do. We got married, had a couple of kids, built a life we both wanted together. I'd say we've been pretty successful. I'm saying all of this because the most important things in life are not based on a grade you get or a school you go to. As long as you're happy, that's what matters. That's what we want - for you and your brother to be happy. And whatever that is, we will support it." 

He's a smart cookie that husband of mine. I've been telling my kids the same three things everyday since they were born - be happy, make good choices and I love you. You guys, we have to be better for our children. The amount of pressure we are collectively putting on them is too much. What happened to letting kids be kids? Letting them play outside in an unorganized fashion? To allowing them down time that's not scheduled? Why are WE being competitive for them? 

I'm going to a high school in Massachusetts in March to talk to 400 kids about finding their "it" and I can't wait to tell them how amazing they all are. I can't wait to talk about having big dreams and working for them the right way. About supporting their passions and empowering their friends. About learning the power of mindset and communication and that not one of them is less than the other. We are all equal. We should all celebrate that.

What's your "it?"

My heart is broken for Patrick Turner's family and community. I pray that this tragedy can be turned into something more, but what that is, I don't fully know. We need more dialogue and less shame. We need more support and less criticism. We need more optimism and hope and love. 

I found my "it" after a few tries, and now I'm sharing it in ways I never thought possible. I'm privileged to be able to do what I do. Share motivation and optimism with the world. To help others find their "it." The world needs your stories, we need your "it." If you're struggling and don't feel like you have someone to turn to - find me. Find a friend. Call someone. Talk to a stranger. But please, don't give up. 


Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255



Learning From Failure

You guys. This was originally going to be a very different post. It was going to be primarily based around a recent experience of mine, but instead it's going to be related to the shooting in Las Vegas, because I can't stop thinking about it. Because most of us can't stop shaking our heads and fists about it. 

So here's the deal: our congress has failed us. They have failed us on so many issues but especially on the issue of gun control. It's monumental. I want to start off by saying this: I believe in the right to bear arms. My father was a cop. I've been around guns, I know how to shoot guns. If you want a gun to go hunt for recreation within limits of the law - please go ahead and do that. If you want a handgun that holds a few bullets and you have a permit for it and it's registered - fine. If you feel the need to have an assault weapon that can house multiple rounds of ammunition then no. Just no. That's not okay. 

It's unconscionable to me that we have to take a test to drive a car, and yet we don't have to take a test to own a gun. Someone will undoubtedly say "cars kill too" and yes, I suppose they do, and (most of the time) when a car kills, it's an accident. But when a human being walks into a hotel with bags full of illegal weapons and ammunition with a calculated plan to terminate the lives of innocent people, that's not an accident. That's murder. That's terrorism. There's a difference. 

We need stricter laws. Stricter gun laws do not mean taking guns away. They mean being smarter about who gets the guns. They mean (hopefully) educating others about proper use and ownership. They mean being smart and vetting candidates that are mentally sound enough to use guns responsibly. I truly believe that if we institute a test process, a better vetting process, we can reduce (not eliminate) the gun issue in this country. 

So how do we learn from this? It's unfathomable to me that we're still having this conversation, but it's necessary.

We MUST learn from this as a society.

We MUST stop this.

We MUST have our voices be heard.

Here's the thing people - this government WORKS FOR US. We are their boss. We get to tell them what we want. We need to change our mindset to believe that we will make a difference. How do we do that? We communicate. We call and write to our elected officials and if our officials are on the side of reason, then we reach out to the ones who aren't. Don't be afraid to call a senator in Nevada, for example, to let them know where you stand on the issue of gun control. We cannot stay silent. We cannot allow more of this to happen. 

When will it be enough? When will you stand up and speak out? When it's someone you love? When you're affected directly? Guess what? YOU are being affected directly. Our children are watching. They are seeing how we respond to these tragedies. None of us deserves to live in a society that normalizes events like this. We shouldn't be afraid to go to events, to get on planes, to enjoy ourselves. That should be the norm. It's changing - and we have to stop it before it keeps going. 

Here are links to find your elected officials, take action and learn more about gun laws - educate yourself and please use your voice, it' matters. 









Back Together

So I was gone for 6 days last week in Dallas, Texas working on a project that unfortunately has come to an end earlier than expected. It's okay though because while it's disappointing, it's not the end of the world and during my time there, I connected with some amazing people and made some new friends. So thanks, Texas, you're not all that bad. 

While I was gone, my awesome husband took the lead at home with the boys. It was the first full week of school which in my mind made it easier for him - at least the kids were accounted for during most of the day's hours. He still had to usher the little one to school and pick him up (earlier than he typically comes home), move the car for alternate side parking days (non NYC-ers, look it up), to which he bitched and moaned about wanting to sell said car. He had to make (order) dinner every night and make sure our children were bathed and presentable. He had to schlep to soccer practice, games and figure out how it all gets done in the span of 12 or so hours. I got one email telling me how tired he was to which I responded with the ridiculousness that I was in the middle of and gave him suggestions for dinners to make during the week. 

It's not easy being the one who does it all, I know because I'm typically the one. It's a good thing to pass along the responsibilities every once in a while. Usually we're a two parent household with him picking up the slack, but when one of us isn't there, well then, there's no choice and you have to get it done. It also raises awareness...often times we forget just how much goes into daily life organization, especially when there are multiple lives needing to be organized. Luckily, I'm a professional organizer. Prior to leaving I posted little reminder notes all throughout our apartment for all of the boys (you're welcome!). 

I arrived home to one husband with a full beard, he was too exhausted to apparently shave his face, two kids who could not stop hugging me and telling me stories about the days I missed and best of all - our five year old can now wipe his own ass which made the entire trip worth it. 

Welcome home - I missed you guys...(when's the next trip?).


We Are All Human Beings

It's taken me a few days to collect my thoughts. There's been a lot of time spent reading, a lot of tears, and a lot of time trying to make sense out of something I'm now resigned to believe I will never understand. 

I look at my beautiful children during the carefree days of summer, playing with their friends, including everyone in their camp games. There are no limitations with regard to skin color, gender, religion or status. They just play. Whether they're splashing in the community pool, building castles in the sand, singing songs or cheering for one another during organized games. I well up just thinking about it - the simplicity of it all. I long for it to be that way for all of us.

But alas, I'm smarter than that. I know nothing is going to change unless we all - every single one of us - acts on it. I have marched in the streets of NYC with my children, and I'm sure I will again. I donate to causes that focus on humanity. I give my time to my children's schools. I work to make sure my kids know what all of this means, why we are so passionate about being kind, respectful and considerate toward humanity. Why there is no place for hate toward others in our home and throughout our community. How they need to know that when we witness it, we will not ignore it, we will address it. I want them to know that at the end of the day, in this great big world, with all the people in it, we are all essentially related. That's the easiest way for me to explain it to them. We don't have to be related by blood to have something in common with everyone. 

The last few days I've been having my little guy point out similarities among his friends and people we don't know. He says things like "we're both boys" or "so and so has brown hair like I do" or "our moms are friends." I'm trying to teach them that at the end of the day, we can find something familiar in one another. A grand idea? Perhaps. But one I will try to foster none the less. It seems so simple, find a common ground, a similarity in our fellow human beings. Oh wait, here's one - WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS. That alone should be enough to get us through. That alone should cause us pause. That alone should create a bond. 

I don't have any of the answers, but do I have a long list of things I would like to see change. So tonight, as I listen to my children laughing and playing games on our back porch with their grandma, I will commit to continuing to educate them and talk out loud about doing the right thing, no matter the consequences. I will make sure we are showing compassion and consideration to people we don't even know without expecting something in return. I will find a similarity in everyone I meet, because at the end of the day we are all the same. We are all human beings. 

God bless.