Commencement Speech for Calhoun H.S. – Class of 2018

It’s a pleasure to speak before you today as a school board trustee as well as a proud graduate of Calhoun High School. I’m currently planning my 30 year high school reunion from Calhoun. As you can imagine, it causes reflection on what advice I might bestow upon my younger self or in this case, the students seated before me today.

As someone who has walked the same streets as you, carried my school books down the same hallways as you and sat in the same classrooms long before you, I can share with you what I’ve learned about life in the hope I will say something that will be useful to you while navigating through your post-high school lives.

1. Live your own life –Up until this point you’ve been told what to do, where to be or what needs to be done to achieve success. But as young adults setting out in the world, there won’t always be people telling you what to do – you will have to learn to make those decisions yourself. Your time is limited, don’t waste it living some else’s life. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Don’t be afraid of changing your mind along the way, or exploring different paths. No one expects you to have it all figured out at 17 or 18 years old, or even when you’re twenty. Discovery takes time and that time is well-spent.

2. You will make mistakes and survive failures – No one is perfect. Thomas Edison racked up over 10,000 failed experiments before he invented the light bulb. Be persistent, open-minded, and flexible.  Flexibility allows us to learn from our mistakes and open-mindedness allows us to learn from others. Let the stumbling blocks of your failures be the stepping-stones to your success.  Remember to be kind to yourself and forgive yourself often. The good news is that each day provides us all with an opportunity to start over.

3. Make now count .Now is the only time there is –  Even as you envision where you want to be in 5 years or 10 years, make sure your head and heart are planted firmly in the now – in this moment – because that is all we are guaranteed. Tomorrow is never promised. Give each experience your full attention.  Disconnect on a regular basis. Every text message isn’t urgent, Your Instagram and snaps will survive without you and your email can wait. It does the mind good to shut everything down from time to time and just live.

4. Be kind and have integrity – always.. Sometimes life can be unfair and people may choose to treat you unfairly. Know that your character is not built on how people treat you, but how you react and respond. You are always responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel. When faced with adversity, have the fortitude to rise above whomever or whatever it is, and always do what it is right. Doing what’s right isn’t always easy but it will always say more about your character than anything else. Despite what others may or may not do, it’s up to each of us to do as little harm as possible as we maneuver through this life. In fact, the person seated next to you today may be someone who extends an olive branch to help you in the future when needed most. Or it may even be you who winds up helping a fellow classmate down the road. Be mindful to build bridges not burn them.

5. Express gratitude and appreciation everyday – All too often, we are so focused on a task at hand or absorbed by what is going on around us that that we forget two words that change the trajectory of anyone’s day – thank you. They are two small words but they pack a powerful punch. Tell your parents thank you.  Tell a teacher who really made a difference, thank you as this may be the last time you ever see them. That small gesture may gain you a friend for life. I know my classmates and I are still in communication with some of our teachers from 30 years ago.

6. Give back – The world can be a scary place sometimes and there are a lot of things wrong with it. It may seem we can’t change things but the world IS our business and we CAN change things. Stand up, be involved and be heard. Stand up for injustices when you see them. Find a way to be of service to your community and the world we live in. That’s how we start making a difference.  There is great reward in being part of the solution.

7. We are all students and teachers throughout life – There is a purpose for everyone you meet in your life. Some people will test you, some will use you, some will bring out the best in you, but every single one will teach you something about yourself. And when you learn something new as a student of life, pay if forward to those who need that same lesson. If you learn one lesson from each experience or each person, you will emerge a stronger and better person.

8. Lastly, Don’t measure success by the end result – Just as you went through high school and always knew who had the newest car, hottest electronic or the most expensive sneakers know that this will continue if you let it throughout your life. Do your best not to compare yourself to others.  Always keep in mind that these things do not define who you are, no matter how many people tell you that it does. Steve Jobs who reached the pinnacle of success spoke of this. He stated it perfectly -As we grow older, and hence wiser, we slowly realize that is no difference in wearing a $300..or $30.00 watch…they both tell the same time. Whether we drive a $150,000 car or a $30,000 car, the road and distance is the same, and we get to the same destination. Whether the house we live in is 300 or 3000 sq. ft., loneliness is the same.  You will realize, your true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world.  Whether you fly first or economy class, if the plane goes down, you go down with it. There is wisdom in his words. The truth is, anyone who lives a happy life certainly lives a successful life. Every so often, pause and ask yourself if you are happy. If the answer is no, make the necessary adjustments to put yourself on a path toward that goal of happiness.

This is likely the last time the class of 2018 will be congregated together. Live in this moment, making memories that will last a lifetime. Just as me and my classmates from 1988 are forever linked by Calhoun, know that the class of 2018 will always be bound together by Calhoun High School for a lifetime.

So graduates, go forth in kindness and with purpose. Remember, once a Colt always a Colt. We all bleed blue! On behalf of the Bellmore Merrick Central High Schools District Board of Education, congratulations to the class of 2018

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Believe in Yourself – 6th Grade Commencement Speech to the N. Merrick School District

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Theater Arts production of Peter Pan that most of you participated in one way or the other. As I watched our star performers carry out the story on stage, I was drawn to the life lessons of this classic. I thought I might share them with you all today.

Believe in yourself – When the darling children doubted they could fly, they couldn’t. As you enter middle school you will have many opportunities to join sports teams or clubs. Some of those teams or clubs may require try-outs. Take the chance to be part of something bigger than yourself. Believe that you are just as good as the next person. Believe you will ace that test, make that sports team or have a great try out for a choral club. Have confidence. When you start believing in yourself, others will too. There is power in positive thinking.

Be fair no matter what – When Peter Pan was fighting Captain Hook and cornered him, Peter noticed he was higher up on the rock than his enemy. He thought it wasn’t fair so he gave the pirate a hand up to help him. Hook did bite him at that instance. Peter was upset and surprised by Hooks unfairness. The lesson is not everyone will play fair. Some may treat you poorly but know your character is not built on other people’s choices, they are built on your own. Have the character that no matter what challenges you face in school or with friends to always take the high road and do what is right. In all things you do, do it with kindness. As you go through middle school, high school and beyond your name is your calling card. Make decisions that you will be proud of.

Be a loyal friend– Peter’s best friends were the Lost boys. They always stood by his side and trusted him. You are known by the company you keep. Surround yourself with people who hold the same values as you. It’s important that you are a good friend as well. Be kind, be compassionate, be supportive and be loyal to those you hold dearest to you.

Be Brave and show courage – Wendy was courageous as she walked the plank on the pirate ship. Thankfully Peter Pan caught her just as she stepped off the edge. Be brave like Wendy. If you see someone being bullied or excluded by their peers, stand up for them and stand with them. Be brave enough to be the upstander. You never know how your small action can make a big difference in someone else’s life. You will be starting fresh at MAMS with a new principal, new teachers and even some new students. If you don’t understand something in class, raise your hand. If you want to try a new extra-curricular activity but aren’t sure if you should, try it! Life is about take chances, sometimes it will work out and sometimes it won’t but be comforted by the fact that if something does work out just as you had anticipated, know that your family will always be there to catch you just as Peter caught Wendy.

Lastly, let your imagination fly  –  The story of Peter Pan is filled with adventure and imagination. Anything you want to do, you can. Dream big as you head into middle school. Know that your foundation was carefully laid at the elementary school for you to be successful. Take the lessons you learned here and apply them now at MAMS. As you strive in all things do it with passion and purpose. All you need is faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust.

Congratulations to the class of 2018 on behalf of the North Merrick Board of Education.

Death Penalty vs. Life Imprisonment – A victim’s family viewpoint

I recently saw a Facebook posting from Rich Pollack whose daughter, Meadow, was gunned down along with sixteen others in a Parkland, Florida high school.

The question Mr. Pollack posed was;  if given the choice, what would you choose – life in prison or the death penalty for his daughter’s killer?  I scrolled through hundreds of comments, all which varied.

I had a more complicated point of view and offered my opinion in the same thread.

This gave me pause as to how many people actually realize what a victim’s family struggles with when asked this very question by a district attorney who is prosecuting their loved ones case.

It may seem like an easy decision but it is far from it.

Our family suffered an unimaginable loss in 2003 when my brother-in-law, Vinny, was targeted and murdered with a single gunshot in the head as he was walking to work in Midtown Manhattan.

Our family, like other victim’s families, learn to live with the pain. The anger does eventually lessen and there will come a time where the celebration of life overshadows the consumption of vengeance.

Having lived through the devastating murder of my family member, I thought I’d offer my perspective.

For my family, we chose life in prison without the possibility of parole.

That is a long time living in a small jail cell separated from society.  This choice was made for the benefit of our own mental health. Sentencing day was the last time we ever saw the murderer or ever uttered his name again. In a sense, he was dead to us forever and we never looked back.

There was freedom in knowing the government was locking him up and throwing away the key.

The death penalty is a complicated, emotional road that doesn’t truly end until the murderer’s heartbeat stops in chambers. There will be stays, appeals and court dates which only rips the bandaid off time and time and time again for victim’s family.  These inevitable court dates would cause the family to come face to face with the killer each time. It’s an emotional burden that wares on your despair causing endless pain.

This path never allows the family to heal.

It may sound strange and hard to understand for those who have not been in our shoes but we were not ruled by the old adage, an eye for an eye. The murderer chose to act like an animal and end a life.

We are civilized people who are not willing to contribute to taking a life so easily as this killer did.

It is never as easy as just saying the death penalty or life in prison. It is a daunting journey no matter the choice made by the victim’s family. Truth be told, no matter the sentence imposed, it will never bring back our loved ones.

It comes down to not letting these murderers consume the rest of our lives while still ensuring justice for the slain.

Peace and love to all those who have unfortunately walked in my shoes.

Opinion Piece on NYS Constitutional Convention

Ok folks, I’ve done my homework on the NYS constitutional convention. After seeing countless bumper stickers and lawn signs, I’ll share with you what I’ve learned. While the posting is long, I promise you that it will be worth it. I believe it offers a clear understanding to something that most find confusing.

We may all have different political views but one thing is for sure, WE ARE ALL NEW YORKERS! Read on as I think I can give you a better understanding of what this is all about.
The NYS constitution consists of amendments to the US constitution. There is a law which states this must be voted on every 20 years. There have only been 3 conventions in 100 years.

Why are people saying this constitutional convention is about pensions and are encouraging others to vote no?

Stick around because I finally understand why.

The last time there was a constitutional convention was in 1967. The voting delegates were chosen from 2 senate districts, 15 at large making for 186 delegates in total. This is who were elected delegates: speaker of the assembly was voted in as president and head of  the senate became the VP, 28 judges were elected as delegates. Out of 186 delegates, 120 were officers of the court meaning attorneys, assemblymen, senators,  in addition to people from lobbying organizations and political parties.

This year 204 delegates would have to be elected.

The constitution regulates the very people who were delegates. The purpose of the revisions to the document were to govern them!

Here’s some of the things that were proposed at this NYS constitutional convention in 1967. States and municipalities have to gain voter approval to borrow money. The delegates wanted to eliminate that. There were proposals to make it easier for local government to raise taxes. Hmmmm does any of this sound like a conflict of interest to you?

This propositions/amendments were all bundled together in 1967. That meant some good proposals were ultimately voted down because they tried coupling it with proposals that would benefit government. All propositions were voted down by the people of New York State because they were bundled together forcing all propositions to go through or in this case..not.

Just an insertion here.

Point one: Why can’t we vote on how we screen or appoint these delegates as this seems to be where the problem lies? There is no trust in the delegates to represent their constitutes voices during this convention.

Point two: Special interest groups fund political campaigns. Special interest groups are looking out for their own interests and money talks. Politicians can easily be swayed by those funding their political campaigns. Quid pro quo!

So after this debacle, voters wizened up and successfully voted against the constitutional convention in 1997.

I’m definitely not a status quo person and my own voting record on the board of education reflects that. I believe in reform and opportunity to do better. Some of the proposals for this convention are good ideas; term limits, ethics reform, transparency in budget process.

But you can’t just open up the constitution for SOME things. There are also some proposals you may NOT agree with. There is a proposition for amendments to Roe vs. Wade among others.

Pensions are guaranteed by the state constitution. People take jobs, even some lower paying because they are guaranteed a pension. They work their entire lives knowing they can retire on a pension, and now it may not be as safe as you thought.

Pensions can only be altered through legislation however provisions language may be tweaked and can alter the entire meaning of that pension language. The effects may be realized immediately but sometimes, even years down the road.

Sure, the constitution needs revisions from time to time but there is another way to do it. In fact, it has been done over 200 times since the last convention.

When two consecutively elected legislators propose an amendment and have the majority of voters approval, this amendment would be part of the constitution. There is a pathway which doesn’t jeopardize laws that are in place that protect us.

Keep in mind that this NYS constitution is OUR document not the governments! We have a say.

So after spending hours investigating this subject, I’ve formed my own educated decisions. I’ve determined that until the delegate electoral process is revisited/amended, I’m a no vote on proposition 1 for a constitutional convention.

Proposition 2 calls for the complete or partial forfeiture of a public officer’s pension if he/she is convicted of a felony. My vote on this is YES. In the last 13 years, 29 sitting politicians had been convicted of a felony in NYS.

Proposition 3 allows town, village or counties to build on 250 acres of forrest land as they feel is needed for public health and safety reasons. They set the criteria and will not longer need to go for a public vote each time they want to build in these areas. In exchange, they will create a 250 acre land account of forrest preserve land. While that seems fair, here’s the thing, THERE IS NO GUARANTEE ON THIS because it MUST be approved by legislators. I’m a no vote on this as well.

The bottom line is that the risks do not outweigh the reward for opening this NYS constitution.

All of these propositions will be on the back of your ballot. Don’t forget to turn it over!

As I always say, an educated voter is the best voter. 

Is Divorce Contagious?

When people get married, the assumption is that it will last forever. No one steps into the role of a spouse with an inkling that the situation upon them may be temporary. No.

We fall in love, get married, have children and grow old together. That’s how it’s supposed to work. That’s how we want it to work. The reality is, it may not always work exactly like that.

Stresses of finances, kids and work demands can weigh heavily on any marriage, at any give time. Some weather those storms, fiercely holding onto the sails as the storms thrash them back and forth in the wind while other’s find that their grip lessens, finger by finger, slowly over time for a multitude of reasons.

Wherever you may find yourself in your marriage, thriving, struggling or letting go, it is okay. In life, there are challenges, obstacles, triumphs, failures and happiness. They all come in ebbs and flows and marriage is no different.

Why do I say it’s ok?

Because no person can dare judge where you are in your life without living your life. Where you are or where you choose to be is an inside decision. Those pressing their nose against a window have no right to criticize.

For me, I held onto my marriage for more than twenty years. I was with this person for more than half my life. Sounds strange, but he helped shaped who I am since I spent two decades with him. Unfortunately, it was time to end the struggle. Both of us deserved to be happy which we only found in fleeting moments toward the end of our marriage.

The decision was not made overnight nor devoid of heartache and struggle. The children are at the forefront when going through a divorce. The priority is to minimize change and hurt for the children you share together. If a parting husband and wife can commit to making every future decision with the children in mind, it’s really half the battle. The kids shouldn’t bare the battle scars of one’s own War of the Roses.

Divorce is a life changing moment for anyone. You part ways with the person you are most intimate with and have relied on for so long. The choice is not made lightly and change is imminent for all those directly affected. It’s a roller coaster of emotions and no matter how prepared you think you may be, trust me, you’re not.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there is a level of doubt when you cross that line of no return. A lot of people stay for the children’s sake, for comfort and familiarity. At the end of the day, fear masks itself as doubt. You’re stepping, no leaping, into the unknown. How will you survive, pay bills, handle major events without the benefit of knowing that no matter what, that person is there for you at the end of the day (because they legally have to be if nothing else lol)?

I first hand experienced two phenomenons during my divorce. I can best liken it to when you shine a flashlight inside a tent in the woods and all the little rodents or bugs scurry away from the light. Well, that’s how it is with friends. I’d consider myself someone that has some solid friends. In the midst of my split, none were to be found. Granted most people had no idea about my personal life, but those closest did. Friends weren’t checking on me, offering to help, asking if I needed to talk. All the things you’d rightfully expect from a friend simply didn’t exist during this time. It was hurtful, disheartening and shocking to say the least.

I walked that lonely journey alone but in the end, I’m better for it. I relied on no one but myself to get me through the single most difficult situation of my life. I was consumed with guilt, anxiety and worry day after day. All I wanted was for my kids to be okay and for me to not only survive but flourish. Several years have gone by and I can tell you that those things have come to fruition.

But here’s the most bizarre thing that happens that no one will give you a heads up about, well, until now.

Friends leave you. I mean people you are closest to, distance themselves from you. I divorced my husband, not my friends. I was the same person and the same type of friend through the entire process. Through the dissolution of my marriage, neither my ex nor I asked people to take sides and we did not bash the other. We both did what we could to make our friends feel comfortable.

A few of my “friends” said,, “my husband doesn’t want me hanging out with you because he’s afraid I’ll get ideas” or “I didn’t tell my husband because he won’t let me hang out with you if he finds out because you’re single now”. Wait! What?

Is divorce contagious? Does a woman have some predisposed gene that if a friend divorces, the gene is so strong that she will then follow her friend straight to the matrimonial attorney? Are husband’s so insecure in their relationship that they can’t trust their wife to hang out with a single woman? Does being a divorcee equate to being some kind of floozy who will drag her friends along to some sort of male whorehouse? It blew my mind…DAILY.

To the men out there who do this, listen up assholes! Jumping into a relationship is probably the last thing on a woman’s mind during a divorce. As the matriarch of the family, the woman will continue to strive to provide the children some semblance of normalcy. She’s simultaneously crunching the numbers to make sure she can live in something more than a shoebox. Divorce is a crucial time in a woman’s life and it’s whens she needs her girlfriends the most for support so guys cut the shit and stop interfering lol. Actually, I take my lol back.

By the way, should your wife suddenly jump on the divorce train soon after her divorcing girlfriend, I promise you that your relationship was riddled with problems way before she showed up.

Let’s end on a positive note! As the cliché says, love shows up when it’s least expected, and from people that were right under your nose the whole time. As you can guess, that happened to me. The Big Guy upstairs threw some fairy dust around and I ended up falling in love with the most amazing guy ever. It has landed me in the healthiest, most respectful, loving relationship and for that, I am grateful.

I can also attest that my circle of friends organically changed. I sadly realized some people were only comfortable being in my life when things were miserable and thrived on seeing me that way.

I remember a piece of advice someone once gave me and I’ll share it with you. A friend will stick by you when things are bad, but you’ll really know who your true friends are when things are going great and they are genuinely happy for you.

I have surrounded myself with like-minded, supportive people who choose to celebrate the good things in eachothers lives all while dumping those that wallow in self-pity and perpetual negativity.

I take pride in reporting that despite divorce, which can produce mass chaos in any family, everyone is okay. Me, my ex, my kids, my boyfriend have all survived what seemed like the impossible.

If you can relate to any of this blog, know that you will be okay too. Onward and upward we travel.

Can’t We All Just Get Along? Politics Driving Wedges in Friendships

I’ve always been interested in politics. I pride myself on trying to self-educate on the issues rather than rely on others rhetoric. It seems this year that the vast majority of American’s are trying to do the same.

 But here is something I have learned now more than ever.

Politics are dirty and not just with politicians. Waters are muddied when there are political differences among friends.

I find it frustrating and disheartening. What is the thread that binds us all regardless of party affiliations? Social media.

 People are passionate. I get it and appreciate the enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle. Our children’s future is at stake and we all want to leave the world a better place four years from now than it is today.

However, I’ve witnessed blanket insults intentional or not, directed at so called friends or acquaintances on social media. When I read comments from alleged friends that state “you must be brain dead to vote for Hillary” or “anyone that votes for Trump is a sexist and a bigot”, it’s a direct insult to anyone who may support either candidate.

 Like politicians, I find these Facebook political bullies to be just as hypocritical as the candidate they choose to back.

 These are the same people that post inspirational memes of love, peace and of unity. Irony!

This election has gutted common courtesy and dare I say, sense out of some “friends”. Would you dare spew such hateful remarks or words in a face to face conversation with a friend? If someone were to tell me I’m brain dead or I’m a racist and bigot, you’d bet that was the last conversation I’d ever have with that person.

 Last night I shared a friend’s status that I found hysterical. It was shared in the spirit of humor and nothing more. The status was tongue in cheek. Before I knew it, I had someone comment how they were surprised I supported this candidate.

 I have never publicly stated my views nor whom I’m voting for. I wouldn’t be that dumb lol.

I find others constant “calling out” of friends (again I’ll use that term loosely) antagonistic and bully like. To me, those tactics infringe on stepping into someone’s personal space. Challenging theories or healthy debate seems reasonable but has proven impossible in this climate.

As I step off of my soapbox, I’d like to reiterate that each of us as United States citizens are charged with doing our own fact checking and truth seeking to find the candidate who will best represents our ideologies. We are not obligated to convince others of our opinion nor are we beholden to sway others to our position.

I beseech each of you to loosen your grip and think twice before you sling that mud as you never know who will be hit intentionally or not by that throw.

Ask yourselves, are Clinton and Trump really worth losing friends over?

May God be with each of you and may Election Day come upon us with speed.

Open Letter to My College Bound Son

Where do I begin? I have loved you your whole life and will continue to do so til my last breath. You have been so fun to have in our household. Your quick witted sense of humor, even dumb humor at times, always made me giggle. As an infant into adulthood, your easy going personality along with your permanent smile made parenting you so easy.

As you prepare for college there is so much advice I need to dole out to you. Murphy’s Law is for you to rebuff my advice as annoying or try to blow me off so I feel the best approach is through a letter. As I did with your sister, I will put this in an envelope and pack it up with your belongings as you move into your college dorm. When you long for a piece of home, or need that comfort of a mom’s love, you can read this letter. Know my heart is always with you.

Well, I must admit on your last day of school, I couldn’t stop crying. I wasn’t quite sure what I was crying about but it wouldn’t stop. Then it hit me. I’m crying because for the first time, I will not be physically by your side to problem solve with you or jump to your rescue. Letting go of you is way harder than I anticipated.

There a thousand things I love about you. I love the way you take life a day at a time and you never really sweat things. I love your fierce loyalty, honesty and humbleness. People gravitate toward you for a reason. You are warm, welcoming, accepting, compassionate, and genuine.

When you wake up in your dorm room for the first time sans your family, there are things you should be reminded of to keep you grounded. You now share a room with someone. Keep it clean! Be considerate of your roommate by picking up after yourself. After long days of classes and nights out, no one should have to walk through a mind field of dirty clothes or garbage, including you. That’s your first order of business!

For the love of God, set your alarm. I won’t be there to gently wake you up every morning ensuring you get to class on time. Make sure your alarm is set ALWAYS. You are now paying for college. Make sure you get to your classes as it’s on your dime now. Don’t hit snooze and say, I’ll just miss today. Nope, the more you miss, the more you have the potential to fall behind. Even on the coldest of days where you don’t want to go outside, get to class. Even on days that you may be hungover, get to class. Even on days you have a cold, get to class. Your sole job in life right now is to get to class, study, get good grades and PASS!

The time has come. Laundry time! Yup, don’t wait til your down to your last pair of underwear or shorts. Figure out a schedule and do laundry weekly. Knowing you, you might even skip the underwear just not to do laundry but suck it up buttercup. Laundry needs to be done and you’re just the guy to do it. Here’s the second piece to this puzzle. FOLD YOUR CLOTHES! Since I know you won’t be ironing and looking good is a priority, wrinkled clothes won’t work for you. Fold your clothes and put them away, just not in a pile on your desk or in a corner of the room.

You successfully completed high school and somehow with doing minimal homework. That comes to a halt immediately. There is no more skimming by. Your smarts alone won’t get you through college. Homework needs to be done and papers need to be written. Being a minimalist will be a detriment to you in college. Work up to your fullest ability proving to your professors that you are up to the task of college work. If you have an exam, STUDY FOR IT! Skip the night out with friends or a frat and choose school work over partying each and every time. There will always be another party or another gathering. That exam, well, there will NOT be another time. That exam counts toward your GPA.

Priorities, priorities, priorities! You are now living on your own for the first time. No one there to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. You are solely responsible for every decision you make and will deal with the consequences of those decisions both good or bad. Make smart choices. Parties and socialization are definitely the fun part of college but never forget you are there to earn a college degree. Academics are the priority. The end.

You’ve been a relationship for all of your high school life. Perhaps this relationship with continue in college and maybe it won’t. Decide what is good for you and what feels right. That relationship shouldn’t feel burdensome at any time. Your gut will tell you if and when you need to end it. Know it will be a lot of work to continue a relationship with you both being in separate colleges. I don’t want you to ever feel like you are missing out on something because you are bogged down by a long distance relationship. Keep in mind you will be exposed to many new people and people with different experiences. Be open to them and don’t pigeon hole yourself in a corner because you have a girlfriend. I’m not saying to cheat on her. Don’t ever do that! But every once in a while, take a step back and decide if it’s what you want. At this point in your life, it IS all about you.

For arguments sake and just to cover this topic, let’s say you end up single at some point in college. Be the guy that opens the door for a girl. Be the guy that isn’t a douche. Treat each girl respectfully. Don’t ever make them question where they stand with you. Be clear. Be kind but direct. Girls are emotional by nature and last thing you want is to have a girl cry over you. Be a gentlemen at all times and ALWAYS do the right thing by a female. Remember…if a girl says no, it’s no. Walk that girl to her dorm. If you are out at a bar with the a girl, make sure she gets home safe. Be the guy that every girl wants to bring home to mom.

At this point in your life, you may be unclear as to what career path you want to pursue and that’s ok. This is the time to figure things out. Explore everything! Take classes that interest you. You are going to spend your entire life working, make sure you choose a career you love. If you choose one major and decide it doesn’t interest you, now is the time to make that change. Figure out who you are and what you want out of life. I will be here to support your decisions and bounce things off of. There are tons of resources at school. Tap into them. Speak to your advisors and professors. They are your best educational resource. These people and these programs at school are here to serve you. Don’t be shy, step up and ask.

I’m excited for you to be attending a big sports college. Go to games. Enjoy everything that is at your fingertips. Cheer on your teams and have school pride. If feels good to be part of something. You are an enormously talented athlete and excel in all you do. You ARE good enough to play college baseball at Cortland. Should you change your mind, go to “walk-ons” and try out for the team. You will meet guys just like you that love to play ball and are the best. They will push you to do better and there is a brotherhood with baseball players you can’t find anywhere else. They become family for life. Think about that. If you choose not to play, it’s ok but stay active. Have pick-up basketball or football games with friends. Play softball or wiffle ball. Join the club teams. You are an athlete. Continue to be one!

Call your mother! Your life will be busy with school work, parties and friends. It is easy to get caught up in college life but remember there’s one person waiting to hear all about. She’s waiting to celebrate your successes, offer advice or just listen as needed. ME!! I want to hear all about your life as I won’t be there to see things first hand any longer. Know that you can call or text me at any time. I will always be here for you. I will be at Cortland in the blink of an eye should you ever need me. I’m only a phone call away.

Lastly and most importantly, be a good person. Be kind to everyone around you, student’s, staff and strangers. Befriend someone that might seem like an outsider. You never know how your actions or words can impact a person. If you see injustice at any point, I want you to stand up and speak up. If you see someone being bullied or treated like crap, you be that person to stop it. Do not be a bystander in life. You are an amazing kid and have always taken on the role of a leader. Continue to do that. Be someone that others look up to. Use that attribute for good…always.

Know that although you are at college, this is always your home. You are always welcomed here at any time. That no matter where your travels or life journey may take you, we welcome you home with open arms always. We are your comfort zone. We are the ones who will ALWAYS have your back no matter the circumstance. We are the ones who love you unconditionally. We are fiercely loyal to you and love you so much.

I wish you nothing but success, health and happiness in the next chapter of your life. You have always made us proud and I know you will continue that. You are the light of my life.

Love,
Mom xox