motherhood

Little Miracles (2020 Year in Review)

As the year draws to its conclusion, this is the time to reflect on the adventures we have embodied and to highlight the triumphs and glory that made our hearts sing. For our family, we had these moments. Mad Dog’s new job, moving to the beach, Full Speed’s coaching dreams pursued, T. Puzzle’s spelling bee victory, but they somehow pale in comparison to the one simple fact, …

we survived.

So did you.

If no one has told you lately, let me remind you what a marvel you are. You didn’t give up, even on the darkest mornings and the bleakest days. You kept rising to the challenges that erupted like land mines across all your expectations.

I am dedicating this post to you.

What an honor you continue to be a part of our family’s journey. Thank you for all the ways big and small you have shown up for us, for your loved ones and I pray above all else, for yourself.

Now that we have the scars of survival etched in our hearts, this is our roadmap to the turnaround. This is where the lessons learned, the gratitude gleaned, and the hope harvested move us beyond our collective healing.

This is where our survival becomes a revival.

We can’t prevent disaster but now we know whatever happens, we will get through it. 2020 tried everything in its power to stop us. It knocked us down more times than it lifted us, but we kept righting ourselves back to the life in front of us. To all those tiny, precious details we never had time to notice, until 2020 halted our motion and busyness and these little miracles were all we could see.

What beauty to know our strength is infinite and that together or apart, we are one.

Thank you for reading. May the year ahead provide us with all that is needed to grow our courage, cherish what matters, and cultivate love for ourselves and for one another.

motherhood

Spelling the Way to New Horizons

It’s been a minute since T.Puzzle competed (and won!) his school spelling bee.  At the time, he was a fifth grader and required my help in preparation. You can read about that here:

How Do You Spell Amazing?

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As an eighth grader at a new school, we were pleasantly surprised when he qualified to participate in his school’s bee. The process was different from our past experiences. He initially wasn’t given a list to study from and there were challenges to find this list. Once in his possession, we talked about a possible study schedule but the beauty of his age (now 14), is the responsibility of studying was all his.

Having teenagers has its perks.

It was surreal to watch him up on that stage not only because of the masks and pandemic safety protocol symbolic of the year 2020, but to see and hear him as a nearly grown man with a baritone voice. He seemed to tower over that microphone.

Not so three years ago:

Do moms ever really see their boys as men? I guess I’ll have to wait and find out.

The first rounds crept by but gained speed towards the end. He breezed through each of them and when it hit the top five, I had a feeling he would win the whole thing.

Now, it’s on to county. He’s only mildly happy about that. The competitor in him loves to win, but the teenage boy in him hates to study.

Whatever happens, I’ll be there.

Always.

marriage, motherhood

This Is The Way (of a Courageous Heart)

December 6, 2003

Within each family are the stories of shared memory. For example, ask T.Puzzle how the boys earned a day of ‘Unlimited Video Games But with Limits’ and you will hear a little bit about what makes our family tick. It’s a whole lot of teasing and humor with a generous dose of love.

Another such story that lives on as family legend is how Mad Dog broke up with me not once, but twice.

Twice.

I can find the humor in it now, but living through it at the time was anything but funny.

Not surprisingly, my boys find this fact to be hilarious.

As today marks the anniversary of our 17th year of marriage, I realized something. Following one’s heart is not without fear, but following it at all is enough to sustain you through life’s uncertainty.

While we were dating, Mad Dog was always honest with me that forever may not be in the cards for us. Through the course of our relationship I learned I was worthy of commitment and decided I would not settle for less.

Mad Dog clearly disagreed.

Not once. But twice.

Twice.

Then at some point, he had a change of heart and I was faced with a dilemma. Do I follow my heart or do I let this guy go once and for all?

I followed my heart.

My heart knew better than all the naysayers and it knew better when my head spouted fear and worry. I chose to live from the heart because I figured if it all blew up in my face, at least I wouldn’t have regrets.

I would never have to wonder ‘what if?’.

This is a life lesson I have carried with me. It has helped me leap forward when my head is adamant I stay still. It helped me know it was time to return to Florida. Moving during a pandemic in the middle of a school year is not the circumstance one dreams of when contemplating major life decisions. While all signs pointed to stay, my heart knew without question it was time to go.

This knowing, one might assume, would make life immune to hardship as if our gut instincts will shield us from adversity. Yet it has been quite the opposite. I can’t even begin to describe the stress and challenges we have faced in these past few months. We have fought, I have cried, there were quiet moments of genuine despair, and yet, we have not broken. We seem to weather each day as it comes, storms and all, and keep going. It’s as if these hurdles when woven together bind us closer as a family.

Through every up and down I continue to listen to the knowing within. Whatever happens, my hope is to never let a ‘what if’ define me or my life.

I would marry Mad Dog all over again.

No regrets.

Our anniversary sunrise. Worth every bit of the journey.

motherhood

Endings and New Beginnings

After a quarter of a century with AT&T, Mad Dog is shifting gears and will be moving his talents to a new company.  To all the family and friends who have remained loyal to the brand throughout his career, we appreciate you.  

Click here to see the announcement:

Welcome to AND Agency, Mad Dog!

We are Florida bound! 

It is hard to feel completely at ease moving during a pandemic, but we are taking the longview knowing in our hearts it is where we are meant to be; close to family, long-time friends and saltwater breezes. 

We have already found our Amelia Island home.  We can’t wait to be so close to the beach!

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Welcome to Siesta D!

When your life has revolved around one company for so many years, it is a lot to digest as the magnitude of leaving it behind settles in.  Mad Dog and I have met some of the most incredible people that we are lucky to call our friends. We are so grateful they will continue to be a part of lives as we move forward.

All this nostalgia got me thinking back to when I first met Mad Dog. Initially, I often wondered if we were compatible.  He was a quiet yet intense go-getter poised to crush the business world.  I was an empathic social worker intent on saving the world one troubled soul at at time.  Mad Dog sensed this divide, too.  At one point I remember him considering a leadership position with the American Cancer Society.  I knew the non-profit sector wasn’t where he belonged, but it made me love him all the more for his thoughtful consideration of this.

As I watched him earn his promotion as the youngest (at the time) GM of a call center, I started to see firsthand the scope of his leadership impact.  He expected excellence on the job, but he also encouraged accountability across all facets of life.  One of my favorite stories regarding this career-defining time of Mad Dog’s life, is how he mentored one of his coaches into becoming the first college graduate ever in her family.  These types of exceptional stories became the norm.

That’s when I knew we were meant for each other.  We both valued making the world better than how we found it.  It may have presented differently for both of us, but the theme of lifting others up was the common thread that ultimately wove our lives together.

For me, the debt of gratitude I feel for AT&T knows no bounds.  Not only in the beautiful life it has afforded us, but because of the outstanding medical benefits provided that allowed both our boys to have top-notch eye care and sight-saving surgeries.  I won’t go into detail, but if you would like to read more about these experiences, click the links below.

Eye Am Thankful

Once Legally Blind, Our Son Now Sees 20/25

The video below (Mad Dog starts speaking around the 3:40 marker), is the full circle culmination of where it all started for Mad Dog as he helped re-launch a high-tech, revitalized Chicago North call center.  This is the moment I am the most proud of in his career. The way he speaks to our experiences with our boys and their vision challenges as well as our gratitude for AT&T says it all.

 

While it is hard to say goodbye, as we look back it reminds us of all that has happened we never imagined would. That is why we can take this leap of faith with confidence.  In this new phase if we encounter even a fraction of the kind of awesome people and experiences we did with AT&T, then we are certain the road ahead will be paved with more wonder than we ever dreamed possible.

Thank you for reading and see you at the beach!

 

dogs, family, motherhood

In the Name of Love

I once read in a novel the amount of nicknames you give someone is equal to the amount of your affection for them. If this is true, Max is one of the most loved beings I know.

Here’s a list of some of his many names:

  • Maximus
  • Maximillian
  • M.Diddy
  • McGoogs
  • McGoogle
  • Maxaroni
  • Rage Monster
  • Buddy
  • Bud
  • Maxy
  • Maxseamus
  • Moodle Doodle
  • Best Friend
  • Maxwell Snugalugs
  • Mr.Snugs
  • Sad Kitty
  • Max Damon
  • Moo Goo Gai Pan
  • Baby Boy
  • Old Man
  • Mr. Max
  • Little Old Baby
  • Mr. McGoo

Like many of you, I am not quite sure how to make the world better right now. My heart has been a bit frozen from fear and general overwhelm. I often think, “What can I do?” Is there anything I can reasonably contribute that might help?

I have this blog so I intend to start writing more. Maybe I can channel some love into the world through this keyboard and maybe that’s something. It doesn’t feel like enough, but it’s all I have to offer you.

All each of us can do is start where we are and love as much as we are able.

Moodle Doodle wholeheartedly agrees.