Opposites Attract

My eldest daughter (aka the first one I loved) spent (virtually) all of her Christmas money on pens and stationary. I’m talking fancy pens. With all kinds of different tips and ink and weight and texture. Pens from Japan. Pens from Germany. Pens from every corner of the globe have been arriving to our house in the mail.

She has been testing them out, writing little cards for each — just to get the feel for each of her new treasurers.

Here’s what she wrote for me:

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And here’s what she wrote for her dad (aka the love of my life and my reason for living):

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She fully captured each of us in these cards.

You spend so much time thinking about your kids, and worrying about them and fretting over them and praying they’ll find fulfillment and happiness in this life.

You think you know them inside out.

Turns out, they know you just as well.

My sweetheart and I couldn’t be more opposite in so many ways. And yet, he is my Συντροφιά, and I would be completely lost without him in this world.

Opposites really do attract.


p.s. This was evident to me very early on in our marriage. I  told him: “My love for you is infinite.”  He asked me this: “Are you sure you’re not dividing by zero.”

To Thank a Teacher…


My eldest child graduates from High School tomorrow.

There are teachers to whom I am profoundly grateful. I’ve written to a handful of them. But there are so many more to whom I have not yet written. And I’m running out of time…

The words in this post are taken from letters I did manage to write to specific teachers.

So much of what I have to say should be heard by a great many more. And not just those who have taught my child over the years, but those who’ve done these same things for children I don’t even know.

In this very small way, I’d like to express one mother’s gratitude to the extraordinary teachers who share their talents with our children, and shape our future …

To the amazing teachers who have invested their talents in my child,
     The morning I watched my teenage daughter walk into the school building for her very last day of High School, I flashed back to the very first day I saw her walk into a school as a very young child, all those years back.
     You were there. You were waiting, with your arms open to welcome her. My little girl started her journey with you. It was scary. You reassured her. It was hard. You helped her. At every step, you were there. And you are the one who set her on this incredible path.  You set the tone for what her experiences could be like. You helped her understand — and you helped us all understand — what is important. And what just isn’t. In elementary school, you taught my child some of the most enduring lessons that she learned during her years in our school system. I still see the imprint you left on my child so many years ago.
     And those years have gone by so quickly. Before I knew it, my little girl had become an adolescent. The rigor in her academics increased, and so did the expectations. It was a bumpy time. And in that turbulence, we found you.  You were there to share your gifts, and smooth the way. What talents you have! How do you manage to help an adolescent find the excellence they have within, and inspire that child to bring it forward, time and time again? I don’t think my daughter had any sense for what her scholarly potential could be until she met you. She began to blossom with you. Your classroom is a place of rigor and excellence, but it’s also a place that is safe and friendly and kind. You, and the extraordinary teachers that came before and after you, have turned my child into a scholar.
     In High School, she took off. Her ability to reason and to find intersection points between bodies of knowledge that open up new windows of insights have challenged how I understand the world. She can string together a series of words — everyday words — and turn them into something that can take your breath away.  She demands independent thinking, analysis, substantiation, reasoning, context, proof. Her expectations challenge you to elevate the caliber of contributions you make to discourse. Again and again she’s challenged me in this way.
     You have been absolutely instrumental in helping my child achieve this growth. Your standards are those that she now holds herself accountable to. It was your excellence that inspired her to truly find hers.
     Your patience, and your humility, and your desire to understand different perspectives helped her grasp how critically important all of those things are in scholarly work, and in life. She wants to understand the opposing view. She will coax and encourage and demand until she gets it. She will examine and question and debate until she understands it. She has learned all of these things from you as well.
     She was not this person when she stepped into your classroom for the first time. But in your care, and under your tutelage, she has become stronger than I ever imagined she could be.
     The journey to get her there was not easy. The pressure to perform was intense. Stress was very high. It took a great toll. I worried whether this high stakes dynamic would snuff out her love of learning.
     And there you were again. You helped her learn how to manage all these things as well. She never stopped working hard for you. Your class had the rigor and the highest level of expectations she found in other classes. But with you, she drank up everything you taught her with this thirst. With you, she never lost the joy and pleasure and discovery of learning.
     I’ve met you in person just a couple of times. Really, we barely know each other. If we encountered each other on the street, we likely wouldn’t even recognize one another.
     And yet you’ve made such an important and enduring and positive impact on this person that I love so much in this world.
     You are exemplary. Yet society does not appropriately recognize or compensate you for the contributions that you make.
     How does a mother thank a person who has been so important to shaping their child? How can I convey the appropriate level of gratitude for all that you have done?
     My child is so well prepared for what is ahead. The gifts you have given her will pay dividends for her lifetime.
     I have so much to thank you for. Truly, I don’t know how.
     I just know that as my girl becomes a young adult, I can see glimpses of the scholar and the citizen that she will become. And in her reflection, I can see her teachers. In that reflection, I can see you as well.
With profound gratitude,




I think one of the hardest parts of raising kids is to help them see in themselves the greatness that you see. Helping a young person truly understand the scope of their potential is so hard.

I think this is especially true with girls.

When a stranger — who has no bias or vested interest — sees something great in your kid……. And when that person says it out loud…… And when that feedback gets back to your kid…. It’s as if this magical mirror has been held up to your child…. And suddenly their own reflection comes into sharper focus, and they can more clearly recognize the greatness within …. And through this, their assessment of the measure of their potential  expands….
And it’s all because someone else — a stranger — saw it. And they said something.
When this happens for your kid, your heart does a happy dance.
The take-aways:
  • Being a teenager is so hard.
  • If you see greatness in a young person, say something.
  • This simple act can inspire confidence, decimate constraints, and unleash potential.

When a butterfly (or Biden) flaps its wings…

I’ve got a prediction about the 2016 US Presidential Race. And I want to get it in quickly,  so that I can credibly claim “Did I call this, or what?” in about 6-8 months…

Prediction: We will have an independent/3rd party candidate in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Race that will create a disruption the likes of which we haven’t seen since Ross Perot in ’92.

Today, Biden announced he isn’t running.

I think lots of folks on the left were hoping he would. I think the two front runners on the left each have passionate and loyal followings, but both these candidates have issues they  need to overcome if they’re going to win a general election.

Meanwhile, on the right, I think we’ve got candidates appealing (and inspiring a good deal of enthusiasm) among pockets of constituencies, but no one (it seems to me) really appealing to the mainstream in a big way.

I think this sets us up for a third party/independent candidate.

There are lots and lots of people who are right smack in the middle. They want to vote for someone they believe in.

I think what we’re seeing right now is creating the right sets of conditions for an independent/third party candidate to enter and actually have a shot at winning.

That’s how things look from where I sit. Thanks for indulging.



p.s. the biggest problem with my theory is that I don’t have an answer to this question: “Who??”

Got Sisu?

Everyone should have a Finn in their life. Because only Finns can teach you about Sisu.

Sisu (noun) Extraordinary determination, courage, resoluteness in the face of extreme adversity. An action mindset which enables individuals to see beyond their present limitations and into what might be. Taking action against the odds and reaching beyond observed capacities. An integral element of Finnish culture, and also a universal capacity for which the potential exists within all individuals.

I have a friend who’s a Finn.

For nearly a year now, with extreme regularity (and many notable exceptions), we meet in the early morning to exercise. It’s this simple act. But you’d be amazed at how much Sisu is involved.

(My whole strategy is never let her get more than three steps ahead of me. As long as I can close the gap that separates us with three strides, I’m good. Otherwise, I’m toast.)

They say that as you grow older, it’s harder to make friends.

Maybe that’s true. But it’s also true that the friends you do make later in life are just as treasured as those you made many, many years ago.

Friendship is amazing gift in life.

A good friend brings out the very best in you. You’re able to share things with a dear friend that you simply can’t with a spouse or a sibling or a child or a parent. A friend’s ear soothes and heals. Joy is amplified — and burdens are lightened — when shared with a friend.

My Finn has done all these things for me. And she’s done one thing more.

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She’s taught me that I can confidently answer that question.



Point to a mountain and say “that one.”

I’ve had the very good fortune of having lots and lots and lots of really great bosses over the years.

A good boss is like a great parent — you really don’t appreciate them fully until long after they’re done nurturing you.

The thing about this little start-up we’re doing is that I don’t really have a boss anymore.

There are four of us. And we all bring a skill set to the table. And I definitely feel connected to a peer group… and there’s this shared vision… and there’s a lot of really good dynamics in play…

But I don’t have a boss. I don’t have anyone pointing to a mountain and saying “that one.”

And honestly, it’s terrifying.

Until now, I never fully appreciated the incredible risk associated with opportunity costs.

That’s what scary.

Most of the time, you don’t really have the time to reflect on it. You just keep moving and making the best decisions you can with the information you’ve got.

But it’s funny…

When I started on this journey, I never thought that the thing that would scare me the most would be the decisions I have to make about what I’m not going to do.





Boot Camp

I’ve got the most amazing kids. They’re teenagers, so I guess I should stop calling them kids. But they’re still my little munchkins, even though the girls can fit into my clothes and my son is growing taller than me every day.

They are just exemplary human beings and they make my heart sing every single day. I am so proud to be their mother.

We start with that because we’re going to spend the rest of this blog post talking about where we — the kids, me, and that hunk-a-hunk-a-man-o-mine — all are trying to to hop the rails and get on a better health and and wellness train.

We’re spending way (way, way) too much time on screens and not enough time being active. We’re defaulting to eating foods that really aren’t the best choices all of the time. No one is getting enough sleep. The stress level in all of our lives is way too high.

We all have the opportunity to hit the reset button on how we take care of these beautiful bodies we carry around every day (food, water, sleep, fitness, stress management, the whole nine yards).

That’s what we’re doing, and I’m in charge.

(Just to be clear, I’m doing things I know (hope) work with my family. I’m no expert. I’m just a mom trying to make a change in my own home with my own family. Half the stuff I do, I make up as I go.)

We started earlier this summer but we’re hitting a wall….. So for the next four weeks it’s Family Wellness Boot Camp.

I’ve got a plan. I’m focused. I am so motivated about taking this on.

And I’ve got everybody (somewhat begrudgingly) onboard for Boot Camp. And they’ve all agreed (somewhat reluctantly) to let me be Drill Sergeant.

(Except I’m not yelling. I don’t do well with screaming and yelling. And neither do the munchkins. ) :)

Two things to share today:

1. Water.IMG_2721 We don’t drink enough of it. My kids will drink water if someone gives them an icy cold glass of it. I gathered every plastic/stainless steel water bottle we own. I’ve filled them with ice and cleared the top shelf of the freezer. All they have to do is grab a bottle, fill it up, drink. Let’s see if this works….


IMG_24722. We’re hitting the gym. We’ve been exercising (pretty regularly) since July 1, which is when our annual summer “Family Fitness” started. In an effort to make our workouts as as mentally “easy” as possible, I’ve designed a plan that is anchored around three core tenets: 1) There’s absolutely nothing in the world that you can’t do for two minutes,  2) Everyone can run a quarter mile, 3)When everyone gets to choose, everyone is less annoyed.

So we do interval training where we run 1/4 mile on treadmills/ellipticals and then do a strength training exercise for two minutes then repeat, for a total of 2 miles and eight exercises. It’s just me and the kids on the weekday workouts. So we each take turns being “lead” and we all get to be lead twice.

When it’s your turn to be lead, you have to run on the treadmill (it’s harder than the elliptical) and you have to go as fast as you possibly can. You’re trying to sprint the whole time. When you’re done with your quarter mile, you call time, and we all get off the machines. Then we go to strength training. The “lead” gets to pick what we do for the next two minutes. Sometimes (squats, plank, push-ups, etc.) we can all do them together. But other times when there’s a machine/weights involved, we all peel off and do a slightly different thing. The goal is to go fast and keep our heartrate up the whole time.

We go to our community gym — nothing fancy but it has all the equipment we need. The kids get in free and I have to pay a modest fee to workout there. We are indoors because that’s what the kids prefer. Here in Hometown, USA, it is very hot and humid in the summertime. The kids (strongly) prefer air conditioning so I go with it, even though I (strongly) prefer the fresh air outdoors – even if it is hot and humid.

This workout plan was a negotiated settlement. Last summer, the Family Fitness plan I made them do was bike 2 miles, run 2 miles then do the 200-sit-ups, 100-push-ups routine. They all hated it. And it was a struggle to keep them motivated, even though they all saw the results. So this year, I switched things up. The workout isn’t as rigorous, I don’t think, but they don’t grumble about it either. I figured that was a trade-off I was willing to take. :)

So that’s what I’m up to…


p.s.  I’ll let you know if the water bottles in the freezer works in getting them to drink more water…