Looking Back on High School

How did I get here? As my life ramped up to graduation day, the desire to just GO FAST, to feel the wind race past you with out knowing if you were running towards something or away. To just GO. To FLY. The way you feel when the rollercoaster car comes to the top of the first hill where the ride REALLY begins. What you want and what you are afraid to try for. Where you have been and where you want to go.

Yes- It was a VERY long time ago. A couple weeks ago I watched my daughter graduate from college. This time of year you can feel the excitement in the air that surrounds high school Seniors. It still feels like yesterday.

I left the town I graduated high school from the day after graduation. I have only returned maybe 3 or 4 times in the last 30+ years. The longer I am away the harder it is to even think about. I am sure a great many things have changed and yet many stay the same.

A recent wave of nostalgia accompanied  has had me pondering why we sometimes think that what we left behind might contain something vital about who we are on the deepest level. If you feel something is missing in you, and you rediscover that what it is might be the very thing, people, family, culture you ran away from, then you are left with only one choice.

You must be able to create that “home” within yourself, and include both the old and the new, everything which made you then and makes you now, who you are. If you are running away, then you will never be at home but always running. If you stop and actually look at what you took leave from, see it for what it really is, see the people for who they truly are, and neither idealize not reject all of it, you may indeed be able to begin to make the first steps towards a new future that includes a whole and complete “You”.

You can in fact become your own “Home”. In fact, if you don’t, you are going to be a pretty lonely person, even if surrounded by millions.

One of the most important qualities to include during this process is Kindness, for yourself, for those places and people you took leave of, and for the people and places you have chosen to make your new life. Take a step back, which at times is both easier and harder to do from a great distance. Truly seeing the core of what makes the Past the past and your present reality the life you have chosen, and accepting both with all of the faults and parts which cause you to long for what you miss and still rub you the wrong way in your present, means being ruthlessly honest.

Why did I leave? Not just the place, but the people, the lifestyle, the culture and what had always been “Home”? Was it because of the judgments, all of those elements, which felt suffocating, which kept you from thriving and becoming the best you could be? Was it because there was hurt there which was not healed? Or was it simply that you did not ever feel really at home in the place where you were born, grew up,  but where you know you can never be.

I  have traveled to many parts of the world and part of me feels “at home” in each of the places. Iceland, Italy, Austria or Australia. I recall my first visit to  meet family in Alatri Italy. As we drove into town I thought, “Finally, now I feel at home.” It was such a deeply intuitive feeling that I have never lost it. Yet I also realize that part of what I find to be familiar there, comes from the home I left behind. I have been able to take my children with me on many trips. On a visit to Italy with them I realized that the way my children grew up, was like the way I grew up in the US in the 1970s. There is less focus on stuff and more on community. Living in a relatively quiet town in New England the public schools are still extremely good and we are lucky to have a safe and peaceful place where children can play outside, travel across the city with no fear, and where people take time each and every day to live. And back in the place where I come from, old memories have become paved parking lots and the nostalgia I have is confronted with a new reality, which no longer has the texture of what I remember. There are still wonderful people and music and food and a few places, which have understood how to keep the ambiance alive. But yet another strip mall and shopping center do not make for any kind of deep feelings humans are capable of having towards a place. The nature we have been destroying will never be the same again. The history, which loses out to one more commercial venture, cannot be replaced.

There is something to be said for a view with no human interference, no buildings, no huge, waste of air-conditioning homes. Not everything need be a chain restaurant or store.

As my daughter recently said after a trip back to the US from New Zealand, “Dad people are so focused on money sometimes, they forget to live.” I grew up in a place where money mattered a great deal. People defined themselves not only by money but by what money could buy, be it social status, the stuff, the spouse, the lifestyle…When I was back there about 10 years ago, some old friends answered my naïve questions such as “Why did so and so marry so and so?” Their response, “The money!” I just could not believe that many people would actually make major life choices (which I naively still believe should be based on love) because of the money! I know I sound naïve, and I know people all around the world continue to make these choices, but I cannot believe that it makes for a better world. Some people back “home” were living and working in order to “make it” (i.e. make a lot of money) so that they could get on with their “real” lives. What’s the point? Your life is now.

I ran into a friend the other day who knew me while I was living back in NY and said “You walked away from a lifestyle most would die for…most people would not be able to walk away.” It did not feel right to me and I did not feel “at home”. Everything about me rejected all of that. I know a great deal of people who have walked away. People do it all the time. Maybe some call it a mid-life crisis when the man or woman looks around at their house, their life, and it all seems meaningless.

It is NEVER too late to make a difference. To feel the wind in your hair. And maybe it doesn’t matter of you are running away or towards something.

 

 

 

Posted in Advice, Daughter, growth, Son, Travel | Leave a comment

Why They’re Lying About Voter Fraud

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Researching ethics and falling down the rabbit hole. Doing the Right Thing.  AND- 5 Reasons Glass-Steagall Matters 

Right now I have sequestered myself at a cabin so I could finish some writing. I had to work on a lecture on ETHICS. As often happens in my research I get pulled down the rabbit hole. I get too deep and can get side tracked.

In our society there is a lack of REAL heroes. Why is it difficult for people to do the right thing AND when people make the right decision it is viewed as remarkable.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu stood up last week and delivered a moving, bracingly honest speech to explain why he removed four Confederate monuments from his city.

“You elected me to do the right thing, and this is what it looks like,” Landrieu told the crowd gathered at New Orleans’ former city hall. “These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for.”

While it was remarkable to see a Southern politician speaking boldly and clearly about race ― in the face of death threats and protests ― it was perhaps even more notable to see a leader publicly demonstrating the character of his convictions. Landrieu’s speech went viral.

As the country grows ever more cynical, divided and partisan, we’re not used to honesty and courage from our leaders. Seeing a politician stand up for what he or she believes is the right thing is increasingly rare.

Political discourse and civic life has so devolved in 2017 that a man charged with physical assault, Republican Greg Gianforte, was elected to Congress Thursday in Montana with the backing and full support of his party. Just the day before, Gianforte, a self-made tech millionaire, wrapped his hands around the neck of a reporter, threw him to the ground, and repeatedly punched him for asking a question.

Comparing a longtime politician in Louisiana (Landrieu comes from a political family and is a former lieutenant governor) to an upstart businessman-cum-politician may seem like a stretch. But these two men make a neat case study on the state of ethics and integrity in 2017.

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Newly elected Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) has been charged with misdemeanor physical assault.

These days the public no longer expects leaders to do what’s right. We’ve grown accustomed to name-calling and carefully crafted milquetoast middle-of-the-road statements. We’re used to lying, and we expect leaders to put party and their own careers before all else.

“Norms have shifted,” said Gautam Mukunda, the author of Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter and a professor at Harvard Business School. “We expect leaders to be bad, and people live up to what you expect of them. We’ve created a self-fulfilling prophecy of bad behavior and it is profound.”

To many Americans, politics is either a massive conspiracy, a “House of Cards” dystopia, or a playground for craven buffoons, a la “Veep.” We are no longer surprised as we witness leaders live up to these expectations, lying about meeting with foreign agents, changing their stories, and blaming everyone but themselves when things go wrong.

You could see footprints of our lower standards all over the Gianforte incident. Instead of apologizing for his naked act of aggression, Gianforte initially released a statement blaming the reporter, Ben Jacobs of The Guardian. “It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ,” the statement read.

Worse, the statement was false. It claimed Jacobs shoved the microphone in Gianforte’s face and refused to lower it after being asked, but audio and witness accounts from a Fox News crew refuted the claims.

Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan gamely admitted what Gianforte did was wrong, and called on him to apologize, but he also said would support his election if that’s what the people of Montana wanted.

Of course, we can’t actually know what the people in Montana thought of the assault. A majority of voters cast their ballots before the body-slam.

It’s easy to imagine a different politician simply stepping out of the race in the face of such an incident. Remember when Howard Dean appeared to scream in one speech and it doomed his entire bid for the presidential nomination?

Some conservative pundits tried to spin the assault this week as a good thing: “Gianforte, the manly and studly candidate, threw the 125-pound wet dishrag reporter from The Guardian to the ground,” Rush Limbaugh said of the incident, according to an online transcript of his show posted on his website. Laura Ingraham, while gamely allowing that politicians should stay cool in such situations, also tried to cast Jacobs as wimpy for not fighting back. What “would most Montana men do if ‘body slammed’ for no reason by another man?” she asked in a tweet.

As is too often the case in 2017, partisanship blinded us from even distinguishing right from wrong. The increasing divide between right and left and the intensely personal way each side attacks the other means that even ethics are now partisan. Republicans and Democrats call each other “bad” or “evil,” and there is often no higher playing field where everyone agrees to nonpartisan standards and values (don’t hit people, don’t lie, etc.).

“I don’t think Obama was perfect, but it’s hard to imagine more of a straight-arrow person. Not a hint of scandal,” Mukunda said. Yet somehow half of America just didn’t it see it that way. People who disagree with his politics won’t typically acknowledge that he acted with respect for the office. “You don’t hear a lot of that,” Mukunda said.

Yet at the same time, people are hungry for heroes ― men and women with humility who will stand up for what’s right. When former acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to enforce President Donald Trump’s travel ban because she believed it was unconstitutional, many people found it thrilling. When Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) criticizes the Trump administration for its failings, he’s lauded.

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Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to enforce Trump’s muslim ban because she believed it was unconstitutional. She was fired for refusing.

Indeed, we need people like this to set examples, Mukunda says. “The extent that we have culturally deprived people of that is troubling.”

It’s also highly dysfunctional. Integrity is the bedrock of a properly functioning organization, Joseph Badaracco told HuffPost recently. Badaracco has been teaching an introductory course in ethics, leadership and accountability to Harvard Business School students for the past decade. He defines integrity as a consistency between what you believe, say and do. “It all hangs together,” he said.

“There’s a way in which integrity shouldn’t be newsworthy ― we assume it, rely on it and count on it,” Badaracco said. “It’s not exactly like obeying the laws of gravity, but we ought to be able to assume it’s there.”

The ability to know what’s right and follow through on it with conviction isn’t something Badaracco believes can really be taught to people by the time they reach Harvard Business School.

“We don’t teach people how to have integrity. Or even teach the importance of it,” he says. “If someone doesn’t understand that, they have a deficiency in their education or development and we can’t remedy that.”

Badaracco says his focus is on making hard decisions. The grey areas. “Not right versus wrong where a person with integrity will know what’s right,” he explains. “But right versus right where it’s not really clear.”

But civil discourse has devolved from this graduate-school-level thinking. Americans elected Trump, a man whose most original thinking seems to come through in his creative penchant for name-calling. Many mistook Trump’s plainspoken manner for authenticity, and perhaps conflated this with honesty and integrity.

These are not the same things.

 

5 Reasons Glass-Steagall Matters

Source: 5 Reasons Glass-Steagall Matters – Bernie Sanders

NOVEMBER 16, 2015

The Glass-Steagall Act came up as a major point of disagreement between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton during Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate. The Act, which was originally enacted in 1933, separated risky trading and investment from traditional banking activities like business lending and consumer finance.

1933. “Anthony Adverse” and “Magnificent Obsession” were topping the bestseller lists. “King Kong” and the Marx Brothers were big at the box office. What does a law passed back then have to do with the 21st century economy?

As it turns out, a lot.

Bernie Sanders wants to implement a new version of the Act, which was repealed in 1999 after having been in effect for more than 75 years. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is not calling for its reinstatement.

Sen. Sanders is right. Here are five reasons why it is important to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act.

1. Too-big-to-fail banks are bigger, riskier, and more ungovernable than ever

America’s largest banking institutions are even larger now than they were before the 2008 financial crisis. The nation’s six largest banks issue more than two thirds of all credit cards and more than a third of all mortgages. They control 95 percent of all derivatives and hold more than 40 percent of all US bank deposits.

Simon Johnson, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, points out that Glass-Steagall is needed as part of a broad effort to make these banks “simpler and more transparent.” Johnson also observes that

“In the run-up to the 2008 crisis, the largest US banks had around 4% equity relative to their assets. This was not enough to withstand the storm … Now, under the most generous possible calculation, the surviving megabanks have on average about 5% equity … that is, they are 95% financed with debt.”

As Johnson makes clear, these banks continue to pose a grave risk to the economy. He also notes that they have continued to engage in sanctions violations and money laundering – behavior which suggests that they are still out of control.

2. The argument that Glass-Steagall didn’t cause the 2008 financial crisis is wrong.

Hillary Clinton told the Des Moines Register that “a lot of what caused the risk that led to the collapse came from institutions that were not big banks.” This is part of a longstanding pattern, in which she largely absolves the big banks from culpability for the 2008 crisis while emphasizing “shadow banking” in her own Wall Street plan.

Secretary Clinton returned to that theme during Saturday’s debate, pointing an accusing finger at non-bank entities like AIG and Lehman Brothers while giving a pass to Wall Street’s biggest banks for their role in the crisis.

Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s former Labor Secretary, summarized the anti-Glass-Steagall argument as follows (without naming Hillary Clinton specifically):

“To this day some Wall Street apologists argue Glass-Steagall wouldn’t have prevented the 2008 crisis because the real culprits were nonbanks like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns.”

He follows that with a one-word response: “Baloney.”

Reich makes an important point: “Shadow banks” like AIG and Lehman, which largely function outside the normal bank regulatory system, are a major problem. But the 2008 financial crisis became a systemic threat specifically because too-big-to-fail banks were underwriting the risky bets these companies made. And why were the big banks able to do that?

Because Glass-Steagall had been repealed.

3. Repeal of the Act has not worked as promised.

Given the risks associated with the repeal of Glass-Steagall, what about the benefits? Turns out there aren’t many.

We were told that repealing Glass-Steagall would lead to more efficiency and lower costs, but neither of these promises has come true. No less an expert than John Reed, former CEO of Citigroup, now says those claims were wrong. Reed wrote in a recent op-ed (behind a firewall) that “there are very few cost efficiencies that come from the merger of functions – indeed, there may be none at all.”

In fact, says Reed, it is possible that this combination of functions actually makes banking services more expensive.

4. The repeal of Glass-Steagall is further corrupting the culture of banking – if such a thing is possible.

Sanders was right when he said on Saturday night that “the business model of Wall Street is fraud.” The traditional practice of what Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls “boring” banking – opening savings accounts, reviewing loans, and providing other customer services – has largely been supplanted by high-risk gambling and the aggressive hustling of dubious investments to unwary clients.

The level of fraud unearthed since the 2008 crisis is nothing short of breathtaking. (The fact that no senior banking executive has gone to prison for that fraud is, if anything, even more breathtaking.) How did that happen?

Citigroup’s Reed wrote that the repeal of Glass-Steagall led to the “very serious” problem of “mixing incompatible cultures” – which, he said, “makes the entire banking industry more fragile.” He discussed the relationship-based, sociable culture of traditional banking, emphasizing its incompatibility with the risk-seeking, “short termist” mentality of investment bankers who seek “immediate rewards.”

Reed makes a very important point – although he’s being overly kind about it. Yes, traditional bankers tend to be risk-averse and customer-focused. That’s very different from the high-stakes gambling mentality of investment banking.

But what Reed fails to note – or is too polite to mention – is the extent to which today’s culture of investment banking is predicated on outright fraud. That’s reflected in polling of the banking community itself, as well as in the industry’s appalling record of documented illegality. It is this mentality, which is present in banks from the “C” suite on down, which has given rise to Wall Street’s tsunami of misdeeds.

This greed-driven fraud mentality is like a virus, consuming too-big-to-fail banks even as they exert ever-greater control over our economy – and our political system.

5. Too-big-to-fail banks are a threat to our democracy.

These megabanks aren’t just a “systemic threat” to our economy. Through their enormous wealth, and because of the ruthlessness with which they’re willing to wield their influence, they are also a systemic threat to democracy itself.

That threat can be seen in the workings of last year’s Congress, which saw the successful insertion of a lobbyist-drafted “Citigroup amendment” into a last-minute budget bill.

It can be seen in a political climate where the Republican head of a Congressional Committee can say that “Washington and the regulators are here to serve the banks.”

It can be seen in Wall Street political contributions which flow to powerful and familiar names, Republican or Democratic.

Banks have acquired too much power. They must be broken up vertically (by line of business) and horizontally (by size), even as their corrupting influence over our government is ended through a system of fundamental election reform.

In today’s environment, reinstating Glass-Steagall is not just the right policy – although it is certainly that. It’s also an excellent litmus test for politicians who say they’re willing to take on Wall Street.

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Hilarious Winners of the First Annual ‘Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards’

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To Maddie- On her College Graduation

Dear Maddie,

I’ve written many, many notes, cards and e-mails to you over the last 22 lightning fast years together but none may be more love filled as this one.

IMG_1106From the day we brought you home that steamy hot day in July, you captured my heart. Today you graduate from college- Where did the time go?  I think of all the places we traveled to. France, Italy, Iceland, Sweden, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Mexico and the Caribbean. You have a love and an understanding of travel and the world that amazes me. When you were in New Zealand I thought every week, “I wonder what she will see this week?”

 “Traveling reminds us who we forgot to be.” —Anonymous, on a bathroom wall in Germany.

It would be easy for me to compile a laundry list of all your achievements through the years.  Of all the things YOU have learned.  Instead here’s the things I have learned about you! Things which have made me most proud.

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First, the type of young woman you’ve matured into… You have always been an amazing friend to those around you, you are kind, compassionate, and committed to not just your future but to the future of your generation. (Yeah- about that, I’m sorry my generation is leaving things so screwed up. I really did the best I could). You are such a TRUE and LOYAL friend. I have watched you bake a cake at a moments notice or put time and energy into a project just to make a friend smile.

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Second, your unconditional love and respect for our family—past, present and I’m sure, future. You have always had a good sense of humor and, for sure, you need it! I’ve enjoyed your practical jokes even when they were “slightly” evil- YOU PUT TOOTH PASTE IN MY OREOS!  YOU REPLACED MY DEODORANT WITH CREAM CHEESE!

Finally, Your constant willingness to positively engage life and like your mom the “whatever it takes” attitude. You were always curious and enthusiastic about exploring the environment around you. You have become so STRONG, physically, emotionally.

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You’ve always known right from wrong guided by hope and your eternally positive drive to find the good in people and in life. It’s a part of you we know you will keep for a lifetime.

Omi- would have been so proud of you! You come from a LONG line of strong women. Mutti, Omi and your mom. 10885409_10152674277203002_3211496653602452907_n

That brings us to today, college graduation. (I can barely type the words without shaking.) Your Mother and I have been blessed to help you grow from a bouncing and always laughing baby into a confident and caring young woman.

Your Grandmother (my mom) was famous for her advice. Her advice at my graduation  meant the most. So it’s with all the love in my heart that I share with you some of the advice she gave me:

• Rule # 1 – Always treat people with respect and be nice to everyone.

• Rule #2 – Always maintain your personal integrity—it defines who you are.

• Rule #3 – As you begin your career, do something you are truly GREAT at.

• Rule #4 – Always do what is right and more than people expect you to do.

• Rule #5 – Maintain BALANCE in your life.

This is an exciting time, with all that is in front of you; endless possibilities, and just as many opportunities, waiting for you to grab hold. It can be scary— uncertainty, confusion, and choruses of, “What do I do now?” will surely ring in your ears from time to time.

Here are my words of wisdom of the things they didn’t teach you in college.

Learn the art of listening.

Nothing worthwhile is easy and nothing easy worthwhile. Only when we get out of our comfort zone do we set ourselves up for greatness. You will not learn by taking the easy way out— of anything.

Be tolerant.

Be kind to yourself and kill the naysayers with kindness.

Never stop learning.

Your words have meaning, choose them wisely.

Unplug, unwind and quiet the chatter.

Think outside of the box. On second thought, don’t put yourself in a box in the first place.

Forgive because you won’t ever forget.

Remember the old folks; respect them, for you too, my princess, will be old one day.

Be compassionate.

No tanning beds.

Ask for help. People will show up, as will the universe. Pretending doesn’t make you smarter.

Don’t accept explanations as whole truths from people just because they have a business card. Question everything and do your own vetting.

Indulge in any idea, peoples, culture, gadget, or philosophy, that even remotely interests you. It will broaden you in ways that you cannot imagine.

Take chances and risks. Have certainty that there will be someone to have your back. Mom and I will always be on call. Don’t let fear paralyze you. Bravery is acting in the face of fear, making friends with it and moving past it.

Share yourself, and your talents, with others. Give back and give often.

It’s okay to change your mind. Walk a road that you hadn’t envisioned, and then, when you are ready, make a sharp left, and take that road.

Keep your heart and mind open. You will find it, although it may not look like what you had pictured in your mind. You may find that there’s more than one it.

Doc Massimo would always tell me Control the controllables. The quicker you can distinguish between what you can control, and what you cannot, the happier and lighter you will feel.

Surround yourself with positive people and let the others gently fall away. Don’t count people out. Sometimes they will surprise you. Gather those around you that will assist you on your path; those that support and encourage need only apply.

Don’t save things for a rainy day, or the perfect time. They don’t exist. Wear the new dress, tell someone that you love them, answer the emails and the texts we send! We love you.

You have to look at yourself in the mirror every day. Be sure that you can smile at the person looking back at you.

People are doing the best that they can (most of them anyway), be patient with those that aren’t as capable as you are.

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And if you still can’t do, I’ve carried these quotes with me for most of my adult life. They’ve always brought me a certain peace. My desire is that they do the same for you.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. —Joseph Campbell

Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get. —Dale Carnegie

I am safe; it’s only change. I cross all bridges with joy and ease. The ‘old’ unfolds into wonderful new experiences. My life gets better all the time. — Louise Hays

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. — Hilary Cooper

Neglect nothing that can make you great. (Eugene Delacroix)

Nobody is going to save you, that’s your job. Save yourself. If you don’t like where you are, get out of there. The object is not for them to like you, the object is for them to listen to you. Nobody knows what you want expect you and nobody will be as sorry as you if you don’t get it. Wanting some other way to live is proof enough of deserving it. Having it is hard work, but not having it is sheer hell. —Lillian Hellman (partial)

A relationship is an expression of the soul’s yearning to unify forces to push us forward in our spiritual understanding and mutual assistance in paying the debts of our tikune. (correction)—Kabbalah

When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends upon them. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to hep you in difficult situations. And you accept any small favor from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of your life.— The Pilgrimage, Paulo Coehlo

“You needn’t die happy when your time comes, but you must die satisfied, for you have lived your life from the beginning to the end and ka is always served.”
Stephen King, The Dark Tower

The final life lesson I will leave you with is really important: Never let money be the primary motivator for what you decide to do. Success is determined by who you are and how you lead your life. Don’t ever lose your silliness, vulnerability or innocence. They can co-exist happily alongside your strength, resilience and maturity.

Mom and I are so very proud to know that you are truly ready to take on what lies ahead and we have all the confidence and trust in the world you will have a great future. Always know that you will forever be a part of us—on our minds and in our hearts. We love you and thank you for  bringing so much joy into our lives.

All my love on a very special day. You will ALWAYS be my princess.

Dad

Posted in Advice, Daughter | 2 Comments

19 Lesson’s for my son on his 19th Birthday

IMG_0015IMG_25701. Don’t quit a job before you even start.

I have had some pretty terrible jobs before I had a job I loved. I once took a job working at a day camp and I seriously dreaded working 8-hour days for 7 straight weeks, so much that I seriously contemplated sending in my resignation before I even put on the staff t-shirt. And you know what? It turns out working at camp became one of the highlights of my summer. So, moral of the story: don’t knock anything before you try, because you might miss out on something amazing.

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2. Worry less, live more.

I worry about everything from whether or not there’s going to be traffic and I am going to be late for an appointment. I worry about you and your sister. I want you to be happy and successful. And yes, I’m aware these things are out of my control. I’ve finally realized that letting go and making the best of whatever comes your way can save you a lot of stress, and potential gray-hairs.

Chase and Dad

3. Be as adventurous as possible. 

We have always been an adventurous family. From trips to Europe or South America to crazy stuff at the lake. In all my travels I have wound up in places where I did not know a soul. I walked into the gym and made the most of it.  Returning home with nothing but a suitcase, a story, and a passion for adventure. I’ve realized that living spontaneously, taking chances, and most importantly, seizing  every opportunity available to you is the best way to live.

 

4. If your favorite dessert is on the menu, order it.

As I get OLDER I am super conscious of what I eat and when. When I was working out either as a gymnast I was very careful with what I ate. I know when you were running competitively you were very careful. Don’t make a meal of the dessert- but if it’s on the menu- GET IT.

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5. It’s okay to keep some things to yourself.

I live pretty much in the public eye. I am careful that I do not share too much information or photos.  Especially when it comes to relationships, outside opinions and advice can often complicate what could’ve been simple.  Be a MAN OF MYSTERY

 

6. Good friends are for life.

After almost a year of college I am sure you have  watched plenty of friends from home drift away.  Sometimes communication just wasn’t there. But those who did stay, the people you rush to see every time you’re home back . Those are the ones who will be there forever. Good friends are for life, and having people you know will be there forever is the best feeling in the world.

7. Be confident that you are the coolest person in the room.

I have always been amazed at your “coolness”. You have confidence and a swagger that I wished I had at your age. It’s not arrogance as much as it is confidence.  After all, shouldn’t you be someone that you would want to hang out with? The point is, the more confident you are in yourself and the more you like yourself, the more other people are going to like you.  It’s all about positivity and being the person you want to be.

8. Give everyone a chance to be a friend.

You think, and hope,  that the drama will end in high school. Reality is it continues into your professional life.  If there’s anything I learned from the drama and frenemies of adult life,  it’s that it’s way better to be friends with everyone. Why waste time and energy battling someone, shutting them out, or simply tolerating them, when you could get to know them, and potentially make a new friend. Open yourself up, and you’ll be excited to see all the amazing people you had never given a chance before.

 

9. When it comes to friends, it’s quality over quantity.

It’s not the number of friends that matters, but the quality and bond with the friends You have.

 

10. Dancing around your room is the best mood-booster.

Remember when you were younger and you would dance for no reason?  Those moments of just letting go and jamming out are still the best remedies for a rough week, even in college.

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11. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

Who really knows where life is going to take you? The truth is, if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

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12.  Family always comes first.

Face it- we have too much dirt on you and too many embarrassing photos that can be put on line if you forget this rule!

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13. Getting involved is the best way to meet new people.

You have always been a leader and someone to get involved. This will not change as an adult! Getting involved and putting yourself out there is the best way to get to know people.

14.  Schoolwork is not worth the cost of your sanity.

You pretty much cruised through high school. There will be some professors in college and some courses that will STRESS YOU OUT.  I know I pulled many all nighters for classes that I didn’t really like. All to get an A.  While it’s important to put your best efforts into everything you do, one assignment or test is not worth all-nighters. Take the B over the A if it means your mental health.

 

15. Dress for success.

When I was teaching school I always dressed professionally casual. My principal, who saw something in me that I didn’t see in my self said, “Dress for the job you want. Not the one you have.”  The next day I came in dressed like batman.  It didn’t go well. BUT the lesson is still there.

 

16. Laughter is seriously the best medicine.

There’s nothing that eases  anxieties or stresses more than a good laugh.  Whether it’s from watching a comedy show or movie, or a conversation with a friend. Making something serious or intimidating more lighthearted by joking about it can relieve a lot of tension and it’s way more fun than complaining.

17. Take time away from your phone.

I know this has probably been said a thousand times, and probably more by my generation. Those who didn’t grow up with cellphones glued to our hands, but it’s definitely a valuable lesson. Time spent face to face with friends or family will always beat a text message or a Snapchat, so why waste in-person interactions by being distracted by a phone?

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18.  Don’t ever forget to remind people how much you care about them.

This is something that becomes difficult over time, especially when friends and family are spread out in different states, busy in their own lives. On my birthday, getting texts from people from all different points and parts of my life, from family and friends who I haven’t seen in a while, I am reminded how amazing it feels to be reminded that you’re loved. Do the same thing. Reach out every once and a while and tell them they are great.

 

19.  Be unapologetically yourself. 

In 19 years, you’ve learned that it is so much easier to be who you are, and not waste time being who you think others want you to be.  We are proud of you and we love you! Happy Birthday

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Today is my friend’s Birthday

She is Brilliant and Beautiful and always offers me good advice. I just hope that she know how much I appreciate her! IMG_3947

My hope is that the WORLD knows that she makes it a better place. If you see her- give her a hug!

Some people come into our lives and barely leave a trace, others leave a string of footprints etched in our minds, letting us know they are with us every step we take.

You, my friend, have been stamping all over my brain since the day we met.

Over the passed few years we have been able to work together and attend a few social engagements. I am so happy that you are part of my family!  You weren’t just a friend, you became a sister to me and Steph, an Aunt to our kids.

We are out to change our part of the world. Because together we were stronger, braver and damn right invincible!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WENDY! WE LOVE YOU.

Tony and Steph

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