Yesterday I spent a few hours at my son's middle school in Brooklyn, NY. He's in the sixth grade and was selected to participate in their version of the Junior Olympics. Twenty seven kids (out of almost 500) competed in sporting events in front of their entire grade. They were separated into two teams, the red team and the white team. After almost two hours of high energy, lots of activity and some fancy footwork, the red team prevailed by a small margin. I was later told that this was the first time the red team has won the competition in all the years they've been doing the Jr. Olympics at their school, needless to say Wyatt was very excited about that! It was a great day. The kids were excited, there was a DJ spinning all kinds of great tunes and the teachers and staff were dancing around with lots of energy. The parents of the kids competing were invited to watch the festivities, and I was elated to see so many parents show up on a Monday afternoon to support their kids. It reminded me of the pep rallies we used to have in high school on Friday afternoons before the football games. Lots of chanting and singing and cheering. My heart was full.
It's been one week since I was picked up curbside by Kia, one of the Mom 2 major sponsors, alongside other nervous mamas attending our first conference. One week since I set foot in the lobby of the sprawling, decadent, gorgeous Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida. One week since I overcame my fear of knowing no one and seized the opportunity to meet as many amazing people as I could. My life changed last week in ways I can't even explain but I want to take a minute to try. Mom 2.0 Summit was the first conference I attended since starting out on my own as an entrepreneur almost two years ago. I had new business cards printed, stood in front of my closet for three days trying to figure out what to pack and gave myself daily pep talks on how to introduce myself. Here's the thing - while I was prepared, I needed none of that. None of that worry about what if I didn't have my cards on me? Or what if my dress is too bright? Or what if I stammer when I'm chatting up a super cool mom who's been doing this longer than I have? I needed none of that worry because none of that happened.
Mom 2.0 set the bar so high that I don't think any other conference experience can rival it. I dare you to try!
It's taken me one week to decompress and process my thoughts. To sift through notes and business cards although I imagine it will be fresh in my mind for a while. I do know this - I can't wait until next year!
I've had people ask me what my favorite part of the conference was and immediately all kinds of memories come flooding into my brain... there are so many...Perhaps my favorite was:
Meeting Gabby Bernstein in the ladies room before she gave her amazing keynote speech. Chatting with her like we're friends and helping her pin her top closed as to not expose her bra? Requisite selfie below. And buy her book "The Universe Has Your Back". Seriously. Get it.
Or maybe it was sitting next to Michele Ferreri at breakfast, chatting about how much we (weren't) missing our kids and then realizing that I follow her on Instagram and love her insane coolness.
Or was it when on the second night the TODAY Parenting Team took it's contributors (I'm in that super fun group) to Universal Studios for a VIP dinner, a ride on the Jimmy Fallon experience and dessert in Diagon Alley after the park was closed to tourists.
How about when I ran into Mollie at the Sunfest Party? We have a mutual great friend from Brooklyn - small world for sure. New friendship, absolutely!
Could it be Meeting Alice Chase for the first time while we were in a seminar and me exclaiming to her how much I love following her adventures with her family resulting in me doing a video for her o the spot?
What about participating in the Dove workshops? That was an amazing experience. Spending time with the girls from The Girls and Boys Clubs was so inspiring. We talked about the Dove #RealBeauty campaign and the definition of what it meant to the girls. To say I was impressed is an understatement. The self confidence and poise that these young ladies exuded was beyond anything I expected. Look out world - these ladies are gonna rule it!!
Talking books with Nicola Yoon, the author of "Everything, Everything" (which is now a major motion picture coming out on Friday - go see it), and her allowing me to actually say the words "I wrote a book" without laughing, but instead saying, "that's amazing, I can't wait to read it." I think my brain exploded after that conversation!
But seriously I truly can't find one instance in particular because THE WHOLE THING was my favorite. So I'll say this - my favorite part of Mom 2.0 was without a doubt meeting all of the amazingly talented, inspiring, bold and gorgeous on the inside and out people who attended this conference. Not once did I feel like I didn't belong. Not once did I not feel included. I thank you for creating a space where women (and men too!) are celebrated and encouraged to create content, to share stories and to empower one another. This feeling is not going away anytime soon, I'm sure of that.
PS: One thing I would change? I would love to have an extra day - one built without content but for attendees to lay around the pool and get to know one another. A chill day if you will. Who's in for staying an extra day next year?? I am!
The countdown is on!!
You guys, it's 10:30pm, I've been in Florida since Wednesday, it's Mother's Day and I'm tired. I spent the earlier part of my trip at a conference - which I will write more about in a different post - and the latter part visiting my Mom for her birthday (she turned 70!!!) and Mother's Day. This year is different. My Dad is not here. It's the first birthday celebration she's had without him since she was fifteen (let that sink in). The first Mother's Day without him since I was born twenty something...just kidding, forty four years ago. It's been an emotional and celebratory weekend filled with well wishes from friends and family. She's still trying to figure out her new normal, I have no idea how long that's going to take. We spent the afternoon at the pool where I had the opportunity to listen in to several different conversations between a few groups of women. The recurring theme of them all was whether or not they had heard from their children for Mother's Day. I myself got my phone call during breakfast since my boys are not with me, they're off the hook this year! As I sat and listened one woman was talking about how she had yet to hear from her kids, and another told me that her daughter had to call her son to remind him to call their mother, I looked at the clock and it was well into the afternoon. Wait, what? You haven't heard from your children yet? Are they incapable of picking up the phone and making a call? What's going on?
Here's the thing people - call your mother. It's that simple. She's not looking for anything extravagant, perhaps a card in the mail as an added surprise, but the very least you can do is make a phone call. TO YOUR MOTHER. You know, the woman who brought you into this world. The one who, regardless of what you think, loves you more than anyone else on the planet. That one. Her. Mom. And don't wait until the day is over - especially on Mother's Day. Call her first thing, this way she can have a smile on her face all day long instead of having hurt feelings until you do get around to it. Make her a priority.
I have a friend who calls his mother every day. Even if it's for ten seconds to say hi, how are you, he calls. Every. Single. Day. I've heard him tell his friends to call their mothers. His reasoning is this: why not? Why not call your mom every day to say hi. To check in, see how she's feeling, find out what's new and all that stuff. Sometimes the call will be longer than others. Sometimes she won't be available to take your call, so leave a message. I promise you every time it will be appreciated.
I call my mom every day - has it always been this way? Admittedly, no. Prior to my dad passing away, I would speak with my mom once maybe twice a week. We have a standing call on Saturday morning at eight o'clock. Now that my dad is gone, I make the effort to check in with her every day. To hear which friend reached out to her, to see what she had for dinner the night before. To find out when her next visit to the doctor is. Sometimes she tells me the same story she told me the day before, and that's okay.
My kids are still young. They want to talk to me (well, maybe), they have to talk to me because they live with me and I'll harass them until they do, but for those of you who don't, give your mom some consideration and love. Give her a call. Tell her you love her. Make her day. All the things you remind your kids to do for their mom, you should do for yours.
Being a mother is the most thankless job - our kids want and take from us every day and we comply without complaint (for the most part). We anticipate, we organize, we facilitate, we comfort, we nourish, we teach, we love without expectation of receiving anything in return. It won't kill you to form a new habit and call your mother.
So to all the mom's out there I hope your children did right by you and made that phone call. And that you got to do exactly what you wanted to do today - because you deserve all of it and more. Happy Mother's Day!!
I have a few mantras that I live by - guiding principles if you will - for when I feel like the going is getting tough or if I need a dose of optimism. "Go big or go home" is one of them. I don't remember the first time I heard it, probably during my childhood if I had to guess, but it's been a phrase that comes in handy in a lot of situations. For me it means to rise up, focus and put in all I have to whatever I'm doing. It means there's nothing I can't accomplish. You see, I wasn't always like this - optimistic, driven and unafraid of what was ahead in my journey. I was thinking about it the other day, when did I become this person? HOW did I become this person? The answer didn't magically appear for me either, I had to do some digging until I could remember back far enough.
I can remember being in my 20's and having ideas about what I wanted to accomplish in my life. Things like travel the world, be a successful businessperson, and help others in need. I can also remember people telling me things that made me doubt those ideas. Things like "you don't really think you're gonna do that, do you?" or "that sounds impossible." Until I realized I was responsible for making the choice to rise up to live my own life, I was going to be limited by what others said or thought of my abilities.
The day that all changed was the day I decided to throw caution to the wind and change the course of my life. The day I decided to pack my bags, get in my car and drive over a thousand miles to a new place because I knew it was where I was supposed to be. It was October 1997, I was living in Florida and six months earlier I had met the man I was going to marry. He lived in New York City (I'm originally from NY and always knew in my heart I would move back), was the exact opposite of every other man I had ever had a relationship with, and I knew in my bones from the day I met him that we belonged together. Against all of the naysayers, I did it. I got in that car and I drove to be with him, I left my entire life behind, except to me, my entire life lied ahead.
I realized then, at the age of 24, that I was the one calling the shots - ME. I was the one responsible for my happiness, my well being and my future. It was a valuable lesson and one that I use every day in my work and with my family. I wasn't going to fall into a life I didn't want because it suited others and made them happy. I was going to create the life I wanted with the people I chose.
My story to rise isn't about overcoming a major challenge or a sickness or a difficult parenting situation. My story to rise is a daily reminder that I have a choice. That's something I preach to my children every day. We always have a choice, no matter what the situation. My story to rise is one of strength in believing in myself that I could make it in a new place with a new person. That even though it wasn't always easy, that the bumps in the road would be more difficult than I ever anticipated, I would be able to navigate them and create a life that I WANTED to live.
Have there been days of doubt? You betcha.
Have there been times of trial and tribulation? Absolutely.
But there has never been one day where I thought I was making the wrong decision.
It's 20 years later, I married that guy, we have 2 beautiful boys and a life that hasn't always been easy to manage. I started a new business not that long ago. It's tested our limits in more ways than one, but it has strengthened our resolve to one another and to my belief in my choices.
I tell my kids four things every day:
- Be happy
- Be kind
- Make good choices
- I love you
I see them observing how we choose to live our lives to the fullest through example and experiences. I notice them watching us make decisions for our future. I listen to their concerns and answer their questions. Every time my answer is directed toward one of the four things I tell them every day.
Go big or go home - do your best and consider your situation and you will surely rise up to the occasion.
You guys, I was thrown for a loop yesterday. I guess that's the way life is, seems to be moving along in a good way and then BAM! Something happens. I'm being interviewed as a guest on a podcast on Monday and the interviewer sent me a list of questions to look over for our chat. The one that got me really thinking is "how do you want to be remembered?" I was still thinking about it a few hours later when I got the notification that a friend from my childhood had died tragically and somewhat unexpectedly. How do you want to be remembered suddenly took on a whole new meaning. Here's the thing, I spent some of my formative years living in Florida as a kid, I'm still friends with a lot of the people I went to school with. My parents and brother still live there (I escaped!). We go back to visit twice a year, I keep in touch with and run into friends from years ago every time we're there. I try to keep up with stories of who's doing what through other friends and family along the way. Just this past Christmas my brother and I were talking about our friend Steve, he had moved back to Florida after traveling the world as a chef. He also had a history of substance abuse that so many of his friends and loved one's tried to help him fight. At the end of last year Steve was apparently doing well, had a good job and was focusing on his health, he seemed to be in a good place.
When I found out that he had passed away I can't say I was shocked, but that doesn't make it any less sad or tragic. Steve was so many things: talented at his craft, quick with a joke, lovable in a big guy bear hug kind of way. I can remember him entertaining us at parties when we were teenagers. Visiting me at my college apartment in Atlanta for a weekend, cooking dinner in my parent's kitchen on occasion. I see his smile, his big goofy grin always with warmth and sincerity behind it. He touched many, many lives in a good way and his loss will be felt deeply.
I've been reading Facebook tributes for the last few hours - comments from loved ones from across the world about what a great guy he was. A supportive friend, a mentor, someone who was so full of life and the same time, someone who battled a demon every day. My heart breaks for the amount of pain he must have been in, for the struggle he was facing. As a mother I can't imagine the pain his mother must be feeling. Knowing you tried to help your child for so long, and having to watch their life end so tragically is probably one of the worst things to have to endure. Addiction and depression are awful diseases. They affect not only the person afflicted, they affect so many on their path of destruction. My heart hurts for his family and friends, we will mourn him and celebrate him for years to come.
How do you want to be remembered? Think about that on Pay it forward Friday. It's heartening to see so many beautiful words expressed for a truly great person. Do you want your Facebook wall to be full of kind sentiments and memories for your loved ones to read and feel heartened by? Do you want to be revered for your contribution to society? Do you want to leave a legacy for your children to continue? I'll be thinking about this question over the weekend before I have to answer it on Monday. In the meantime, for this week, pay it forward with kindness. Maybe reach out to someone you haven't spoken to in a while. Spread some goodness in memory of someone you lost.
Rest well Stephen Schoembs, I pray that your demons are no longer and that you are finally at peace.
You guys, if you know me in real life you know I love shiny sparkly things that come in the form of accessories. I've rarely met a jewel I didn't love. And I love to collect trinkets especially when they have meaning behind them. I came across One Thing Lockets late last year and immediately fell in love. Their bracelets and necklaces are fun, whimsical and feminine. I gave some as Christmas gifts last year and got rave reviews! From the One Thing Website: The One Thing brand was inspired by a documentary. "There are places in our world where people live under one dollar per day. If you join these people in the pursuit for life and happiness, you will see that the fundamental things we all care about are quite similar, despite our superficial differences. Essentially, we are driven to thrive because of a few 'one things' that define us - like our children, our willingness to overcome, or our values. This is what makes us human!"
"But when things come easy and we’re not in survival mode, we tend to forget how connected we are through our human nature. And when we forget this, we can’t see that we all have value or that we’re each trying to bring something to the world. We only see superficial differences and opinions. One Thing believes that a connected, more accepting world starts by recognizing that we are all fundamentally similar."
So One Thing asks people all over the world:
"What is one thing you bring to this world?"
It's a great question. Think about it - what IS the one thing you bring to this world? I've pondered this question a few different times. I keep coming back to optimism. Maybe it's because that's my nature. Maybe it's because as a mother I'm trying to raise my boys in a world where I know they can do and be whatever they set their minds to as long as they remain positive and hard working. Maybe it's because I can't particularly handle the negative - and I will always try to find the lining in the cloud. Or maybe it's a bit of all of it. We were trying to teach Elias how to ride a bike today, he kept saying "I can't" until I looked him in the eye and said "what are you talking about? You absolutely can. There is no I can't today. Let's go" so he got on his bike and we practiced. Did he learn how to ride, no, but he did try so that's something. Optimism. You can do it.
One Thing is on a mission to empower and connect, and so am I - which is why I'm such a big fan of their work. AND they're passionate about giving back - proceeds from the sales of specific pieces benefit Post Partum Depression and Suicide Prevention. So since today is the last Friday of Love Month here at Why Am I Yelling? Why not spread some love and give someone you love a One Thing Locket for their next gift. And because they're so badass - they've given me a discount code to pass on to you - when you place your order, use the code whyamiyelling20 for 20% off!! Woo Hoo!!
And then answer the question - because I want to know What is the one thing you bring to this world?