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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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?


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

Posted in Advice, life, Son | Leave a comment

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!


Tony and Steph

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Call It What It Is: Climate Cover-Up, Not Climate Denial | The Huffington Post

Today’s remarks by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt that human activity is not “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see” should effectively bring an end to the term formerly known as “climate denial.”

Dear media: Call it what it is—a climate cover-up.

As our nation’s top official sworn into office to ensure, “national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information,” Pruitt’s statement on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” raises some troubling questions on his ability to carry out his agency’s mandate—or even provide a forthright characterization of his agency’s scientific work.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact,” Pruitt said on CNBC, “so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

Tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact of human activity on the climate?

Not so, according to Pruitt’s own EPA and its website on climate change: Humans are largely responsible for recent climate change.

Source: Call It What It Is: Climate Cover-Up, Not Climate Denial | The Huffington Post

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15 classic metal albums whose titles are less dark than the Washington Post’s new motto

The Washington Post unveiled a cheery new motto this week: “Democracy dies in darkness.” The phrase now appears beneath the newspaper’s name on its website and Snapchat Discover page, although it has yet to make its way into the print edition.

If it sounds like a catchphrase more befitting a doomsday prophet than a daily newspaper, that doesn’t seem to be the intent. While its precise origins are unclear, it’s a favorite saying of Bob Woodward, the famous Post reporter and editor, who has deployed it in speeches and interviews since at least 2007 as an earnest criticism of government secrecy. The Post’s owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, repurposed it as a rallying cry in a 2016 interview about why he bought the paper:

I think a lot of us believe this: that democracy dies in darkness, that certain institutions have a very important role in making sure that there is light. And I think the Washington Post has a seat, an important seat, to do that, because we happen to be located here in the capital city of the United States of America.

In Bezos’ mind, then, the motto is really about “making sure there is light.” Still, it’s hard to shake the sense that we’re reading dispatches from the end times with those three D-words looming atop the paper’s home page. The grim action verb, the present tense, the dunh-dunh-dunh alliteration, the foreboding final word: Cormac McCarthy, take notes!

Far be it for us at Slate to chide fellow journalists for apocalyptic responses to our present political predicament. That said, we can imagine that the backlash and mockery might give the Post’s executives pause as they ponder putting the motto on their subscribers’ doorsteps every morning, and we’re here to help. Should Washington’s paper of record decide at some point that it wants to strike a slightly gentler tone, here are 15 classic metal album titles that might fit the bill.

Source: 15 classic metal albums whose titles are less dark than the Washington Post’s new motto

Welcome to Hell, Venom (1981)

Screaming for Vengeance, Judas Priest (1982)

Reign in Blood, Slayer (1986)

The Erosion of Sanity, Gorguts (1993)

Altars of Madness, Morbid Angel (1989)

Vulgar Display of Power, Pantera (1992)

Seasons in the Abyss, Slayer (1990

Slowly We Rot, Obituary (1989)

Bonded by Blood, Exodus (1984)

Storm of the Light’s Bane, Dissection (1995)

Operation: Mindcrime, Queensryche (1988)

The Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails (1994)

All Hope Is Gone, Slipknot (2008)

Kill ’Em All, Metallica (1983)

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Really New Hampshire?

New Hampshire residents no longer need any kind of license to carry a concealed handgun after the state repealed a nearly century-old law that allowed police to deny concealed carry licenses to people they believed could pose a risk to others.

New Hampshire already permitted open carry, but local law enforcement long had discretion to deny individuals a license to carry a concealed weapon. The system, in place for 94 years, let police prevent people who they knew had a violent history from getting license.
On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed a law that simply allows residents to carry a concealed weapon without a license. Similar legislation had been twice vetoed by former Gov. Maggie Hassan (D).
“SB12 ensures New Hampshire citizens are guaranteed the fundamental right to carry a firearm in defense of themselves and their families, as prescribed by Article 2a of our state constitution,” Sununu said in a statement. “This common sense legislation aligns our concealed carry laws with that of our neighboring states of Vermont and Maine and states across the country. This is about safety. This is about making sure that the laws on our books are keeping people safe while remaining true to the Live Free or Die spirit that makes New Hampshire the great state that it is. This is a commitment I made to the people of New Hampshire and I am proud today to fulfill that commitment, signing SB12 into law.”
Law enforcement groups across the Granite State had spoken out against the measure. Pat Sullivan, executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, told The Huffington Post last month that the law already in place once allowed him to deny a concealed carry license to a man who came to his station in a tinfoil hat. Under the new law, that man won’t need to get a license to carry a concealed weapon.
“There are many people that carry concealed weapons that are doing good, that aren’t doing bad things. However, there is an element that we deal with as law enforcement, in terms of a regular basis, that are no good,” Sullivan said. “They are committing crimes, violent crimes, and we don’t know whether or not they do or do not have a weapon on them. With the permits, you at least have an idea as to whether or not they have a legal weapon on them. You encounter someone roadside, you don’t know what you have. It kind of just gives that little bit of added security and safety.”
Deidre Reynolds, a volunteer with the New Hampshire chapter of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, said the measure would make the state less safe.
“Shame on you, Governor Sununu. By signing SB 12 into law, you have made Granite Staters less safe. You and the state lawmakers who rushed this through are compromising public safety standards and making it easier for dangerous people to carry hidden, loaded weapons in public. In doing so, you have put politics over public safety, kowtowing to the extreme agenda of the national gun lobby,” she said in a statement. “Local law enforcement agencies now no longer have the ability to deny permits to potentially dangerous people.”
New Hampshire becomes the 12th state where it’s legal to carry a concealed weapon without a license. Similar legislation to roll back licensing requirements is pending in Texas, Kentucky, Utah and North Dakota. 

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Trump Will End, Not With A Bang But With Him Whimpering

The United States has officially elected the most sensitive man in the country to serve as president. Not sensitive to the needs of others, the way a president ought to be, but sensitive to anything said about him that isn’t the equivalent of a fireworks display and a 21-gun salute. We initially suspected that he was going to handle criticism poorly, and he showed no lack of evidence when it came to his temperament, but his inability to maintain any sort of composure is showing that this job is going to crush him spiritually and intellectually.

A quick search of the his name with the words ‘angry’, ‘upset’, or ‘cranky’ shows what’s happened in the past week alone. Donald Trump is ‘upset’ that Sean Spicer was played by Melissa McCarthy, because he ‘doesn’t like his people to look weak’, according to a source close to him. The implications of saying someone is weak because of gender are certainly lost on him, but the gist of this is that he was upset by a late-night weekend comedy show that he insists is ‘failing’ anyway. What else raised Trump’s dander? He’s apparently ‘upset and angry’ over the Australian refugee deal. He became angry with the New York Times, his nemesis and constant foil, over several things: one being a report that suggested he wasn’t entirely briefed over giving Bannon a spot on the National Security Council, and the other suggesting his staff doesn’t know how to turn on the lights in The White House. Let us remember that this has been all occurred in the past week alone.

His inauguration day, and the following weekend, was marked largely by his complaints over demonstrations against him, negative Twitter messages, and the fact that his inauguration was not as popular as Obama’s in 2009. In a terrifying turn of events, we became aware of his team’s concept of ‘alternative facts’, and saw that this was going to become his way of dealing with any negative press. This can’t last forever; people are beginning to catch on and see that he isn’t handling this whole president thing very well. Further reporting that he’s cranky from lack of sleep, demands to watch television at all times of the day, and was more excited about choosing window treatments than being briefed on current situations seems to point to a lack of ability to perform his duties. This man, who once said that Hillary Clinton ‘doesn’t have the stamina’ to be president, must be haunted by the fact that he’s failing in this regard.

With this in mind, there’s been talk about invoking the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, Section 4, which states that the president may be removed if he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’. As one might suspect, there’s a fair amount of people that need to agree to this before he’s able to be removed, and this is why it’s unlikely to be successful. While Donald Trump has not been popular, and while he has his share of foes on both sides of the aisle, this extreme measure would need to be marked by true inability to perform duties and cannot ride on reports of him being cranky. Fortunately for us, this isn’t going to be necessary.

We do not need to invoke this amendment because Donald Trump is going to resign. This is a man whose primary concern is being popular and hearing people clap for him, a man who continues to make speeches about national holidays focus on how much better his ratings were when he was hosting The Apprentice. He’s striving to prove to people that he’s popular and he’s liked, but eventually he will be ground down and try to find a way out when this proves fruitless. He’s going to try and tell us that we did this, that we broke a powerful, successful man through our cruel torment. He’s going to make it seem as if Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of him is in violation of Geneva Conventions, and that CNN’s coverage of him was patently false and he was unable to make anyone see the light. He’s going to try and make us feel bad for him, but we won’t. Donald Trump is not going to be impeached through a lengthy trial marked by heroic statements from lawmakers of both parties, nor is he going to be undone by his financial ties that he has yet to disclose. Donald Trump is going to resign, and he’s going to try and let us know it’s because of how much the people and ‘fake news’ hurt his feelings.

Source: Trump Will End, Not With A Bang But With Him Whimpering | The Huffington Post

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