Tri, Tri Again

Title 9Until I competed in a triathlon last year, doing so had been on my Bucket List for at least eight years. The notion got into my head when I befriended some very likable, totally approachable and completely unassuming triathletes while living in the DC-area.

I was at a cocktail party when I got talking to one of these friends—who had worked her way up the ranks into the Iron-Woman category—about what it took to train for something like a triathlon. I commented on how impressed I was and how I felt that I could never achieve those sort of distances in any single event, let alone all three (swimming, biking, running) together.

This is when my friend told me about a beautiful, far more manageable version of an ITU Long triathlon called the Sprint. More

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Lois Lowry and Becoming a Writer

Kyla and Heather get Lois Lowry to sign a copy of The Giver

A little over a year ago, DH made a new friend. It wasn’t a friend for him,it was a friend for me. Her name was Heather Kelly.

DH met her on our daughters’ kindergarten playground. Luckily, in the way children either  become fast friends or sworn enemies, our daughters were instant pals: my exuberant, over-the-top, Type A with Heather’s quiet, shy but equally headstrong Cowgirl. It took the moms a bit longer but resulted in a friendship with far greater symbiosis.

Heather has been the jumper cables for my childrens book writing aspirations and I’ve helped hone her athletic pursuits. It’s a very positive and supportive friendship, the type that enhances ones well-being rather than detracts from it in the way that friends you just share vices with do.

The pursuits we share (sports and children’s literature) make us better people. Neither of us depends on the other for inspiration nor survival—like the symbiosis between plant and animal found in lichen—rather, we are motivated toward our mutualistic pursuits just by spending time together and encouraging each other.

Which is why it strikes me as particularly ironic that one of the galvanizing pieces of our friendship is founded on a dystopia, conjured in the mind of Lois Lowry. More

Mommy Burnout

Yesterday I let my three-year-old sit on the potty for 45-minutes, having an epic meltdown, waiting for someone to help him wipe. That someone was not going to be me. I’m out of the bottom wiping business.

Did I feel like a bad mother? yes. Did it fry my nerves to listen to his wails? yes. Will I repeat the situation all over again when it happens next? yes.

In just three week’s time he will head off to preschool where no one will be allowed to wipe his bottom. He’s got to do it on his own. But it wasn’t just this motivator that spurned me on, it’s that I’m in Week Eight of the American school system’s ten-week long, summer holiday. I’m toast. More

SOCIAL GOOD: World Moms Blog Delegation to Washington, DC: Part I

Here’s a terrific post written by World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden, about our recent WMB delegation at the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life summit in Washington, DC. Meeting some of the women I’ve been “working” and writing with for the past year was an equally as exciting as having the UN Foundation fly us in for the summit.

SOCIAL GOOD: World Moms Blog Delegation to Washington, DC: Part I.

Being a World Mom

I started blogging 15 months ago as a means to hone my writing skills, find my voice and to process life’s small moments…you know, pretty much for all the same reasons most people start blogging. We’re all a work in process.

Shortly after I started, a fellow blogger, by the name of Jennifer Burden, reached out to me about a new blog she had just begun, World Moms Blog.

In her own words, the blog is about this:

As busy mothers we often find ourselves without the time to  jet-set around the planet.  So, we invite you to come travel the world with us, through our global writers.  We will read about how women across the planet are mothering, how their lives are similar or different from ours, what’s on their minds and expand our horizons into corners of daily life around the world.

Her mission immediately resonated with me. I started following the blog and soon became a contributor. Within weeks of signing on as a writer, I More

Serving Others

We are living in strange times. This “Great Recession” we’re in may not qualify yet as a depression but the impact its having on all of us, without question, is depressing.

On a daily basis, I wrestle with the knowledge that I have great abundance in my life yet still want more. In fact, just last week, before attending our friends’ annual Epiphany party, I threw my own private epiphany party, unleashing a woe-is-me tirade on poor DH about all of the things in life that we haven’t yet achieved.

I could only view our glass as half-empty. I failed to see how full it actually is.

I have a hard time living in the moment. I pulsate in a constant state of projecting forward. I don’t know why I can’t be appreciative for the many blessings I have rather than the things I don’t. Instead, I live under the false pretense that offspring should do as well as, if not better More

And So November Begins

Saturday, October 29th was just one of those great days. Overcast but not over programmed, cold but not freezing, full but not stuffed. Somehow, the afternoon found my whole family napping so I found refuge in a terrific YA book my good friend, Heather, recommended to me. When the family awoke, we proceeded as planned: carving pumpkins into Jack-o-lanterns, eating a great crockpot dinner, donning PJs to settle in for a family movie night. When your kids are just 5 and 2, these sort of activities come as rare and special treats. We watched Wall-E, a perfect choice for a kindergartner who’s into robot talk and a preschooler into spaceships.

Outside, the clouds emptied their rain, the rain turned to snow and the temperature dropped to freezing. Unknowingly, while we sat warm and cozy inside, the earliest snow storm in North East history raged outside. If you’ve never experienced thunder snow, take my word, it’s surreal.

The poor trees, still heavy with leaves, carried the extra burden of thick, wet snow. Intermittently, we More

The End of Preschool, for Now

Today was my daughter’s last day of preschool. It was wholly unceremonious and without emotion. In part because the actual “end of year” ceremony happened on Tuesday but because of the ridiculous amount of snow we got up here this winter, today was an optional make-up day filled with bubbles and informal structure.

I thought I’d have a harder time with this end-of-an-era. With my oldest finally passing through her early formative years and on to the school-aged stage. But the truth is, we’re ready!

I’ve found these past five years of early motherhood pretty lonely. As a hopeless extrovert, weekly playgroups, 45-minute music classes, open gyms, monthly parenting lectures and cruising local playgrounds never provided the fixes I sought. More

The Value of a Single-sex Education

I was primarily raised by my father, I have two brothers—one older, one younger—and I went away to a co-ed boarding school at the tender age of 11, where I discovered that I liked boys…A LOT.

So you can imagine my distress, when in my junior year of high school, I wound up at an all-girls boarding school in Middlebury, CT.

My first year there I was somewhat aloof and disengaged. By my second and final year, I became more involved, befriended more like-minded classmates and was beginning to see the benefits of attending an all-girls boarding school whilst having a mother that lived and taught at an all-boys boarding school an hour away (did I mention I had a car at school? And, though it was supposed to seat only five passengers, on a good day it could hold up to seven?)

Anyway, as is the case with boarding schools, where all of your friends live far away to begin with, at the end of our senior year, we all parted ways and went off to college.

Of my closest group of friends, I went the furthest, attending a liberal arts college in Memphis, TN and then afterward, moved to Japan for a few years. But, as time passed, so too did my misconceptions of the value and quality of a single-sex education.

Through the years I remained in touch with my good friends from high school but it wasn’t until I returned to the States and settled back in the Northeast that I got back in touch with the school itself.

It started off slowly at first and then built momentum. Seven years ago, I got invited to join the Alumnae Board of Governors for the school and quickly got swept up into chairing committees, co-hosting events, organizing activities for the school’s Centennial Celebration and interweaving my way into an incredible, multi-generational network of fellow Westover alumnae who have become my role models, my inspiration and my friends.

I like to joke that, even though I graduated from Westover, I didn’t learn to fully appreciate the  education I got there until much later. Now, I look back on my brief time there and each year, my appreciation for those two-years grows exponentially.

My graduating high school class had 37 students. If you’re reading this and attended public school, I’m sure you’re laughing and assume that we must have all been intimately good friends but that’s not the case.

As in any microcosm, we categorized ourselves the same way the rest of the world does: there were jocks, princesses, brainiacs, jokers, druggies and socialites.There were kids from privileged backgrounds and kids from underserved communities. There were kids from far, far away and kids from down the street. We didn’t all get along but we all learned to live, somewhat harmoniously together under one roof.

But, now that we are all 20 years out, most of those lines have blurred and we recognize that our uniting similarities far outweigh our sophomoric differences.

What I really learned from Westover, what I’m learning still, is that girls are social creatures. We have a pack mentality and we need one another to survive.

As a wife, when I have a bad day I have two options, I can either 1) turn to my husband who will inevitably try to solve all of my problems for me (God bless him) or, 2) I can turn to my girlfriends who will let me vent, empathize with me and possibly even throw me some life lines to get me through tomorrow (at the very least, one of them will pour me a drink).

DH and I joke that when men need to solve a problem, they go into their caves and do cave drawings. When women need to solve a problem, they go out and sit by the bonfire (of course this is directly cribbed from our cliff note reading of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus back when we first started dating but hey, the image works for us).

So though Westover may not have catapulted me into an Ivy League college, I nonetheless feel my education there was Ivy League-caliber. Of my closest friends, all of them are pursuing their dreams. They’ve risen in the fields of medicine, architecture, museum studies, advertising and law.

Some of them have opted out of those fields to pursue their next big adventure: kids. Others have opted out because their first path was a wrecking ball and now they’re finding a better way. In my opinion, our school succeeded in its goal:

Westover provided an environment that inspired the intellectual, artist, athlete, and philosopher in each student. Westover challenges young women to think independently, to embrace diversity, and to grow intellectually and spiritually. Westover encouraged in each student integrity, responsibility, and commitment to community.

I consider myself deeply fortunate and blessed to have been given an education like the one I had at Westover. I am doubly grateful that the school also had the god sense to remain all-girls, providing me with the valuable tools I would need to succeed out in the world: life-long friends.

What have been some of your most valuable school experiences? If you had it all to do over again, would you change anything?

Transcending Typical Friendship Bonds

Four years ago, a special and very unique friendship developed between me and my friend RO. We both had just moved to the Boston-area so our husbands could attend business school, we were both first-time-moms and our daughters were only four days apart. We became fast friends. We liked each other as individuals, couples and parents; our daughters became one another’s first best friend; we swapped childcare, went on road trips and did many joint-family outings. We regularly dined together, enjoyed frequent game nights, celebrated holidays, and even spent the occasional weekend over at their house, just two miles away. In essence, they became our second family.

Then, in 2008, we started talking about having second children and ended up getting pregnant within a few weeks of one another. Our sons were born at the same hospital just two days apart. It was a profoundly bonding event in the life of a friendship. But a few months after our sons’ births, RO’s husband lost his job and they took it as a sign. They felt it was time for them to return to their roots in Montana, 2,381 miles away. We were crushed. We committed not to let distance alter our friendship nor the bonds of our children.

After they moved, DH and I came to terms with how rare and special our friendship was. On very few other occasions have we met another family with so many similarities and a lifestyle so in-sync  with ours. I was determined to make sure we found a way to stay in regular touch (by Skype, phone, e-mail or post). I also conjured up the idea that our families should get together somewhere on an annual basis. We took the first initiative and went out to visit them on their home turf last summer.

Even though RO and her husband are a few years younger than DH and me, there is something remarkably comforting in the knowledge that people we know and REALLY love are in exactly the same place in life. But also lingering, now that they are close to family again, is the possibility that they might have a third child someday.

Today, RO called and half way through our conversation, informed me they were expecting. Of course I was delighted by the news, of course they are in the right place, the right stage and the right time of life to welcome a third child and yet, I also felt deeply sad. I know that RO reads my blog so bear with me here because the sadness was wholly selfish. Since my personal epiphany, I now know I’m done having kids. While RO’s moving on and adding to her brood, like a family photograph, we’re frozen in place. On future family gatherings, there will always be one unpaired kid and I’ll feel bad about it.

I am overjoyed for our friends and look forward to the day soon when we’ll get to meet their new little one. For now, I’m guessing this year’s family get together is on hold. Well, so much for tradition!

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