Category Archives: advice

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

Loyalty

As humans, we all have our individual opinions on what makes an outstanding friend, colleague or family member.

I’m sure there would be a common theme amongst most; kindness, compassion, and humor to name a few.

I dare not take the easy way out and will gladly lay my cards on the table. Loyalty is what I look for in anyone I become intertwined with whether it is a professional or personal relationship.

I wouldn’t ask anyone to give anything above what I, myself offer. If you are my friend, you will have my undying loyalty unless or until you give me reason not to.

If someone is disloyal to me, I am a very unforgiving person and have no problem cutting the thread that binds us. While my reaction is swift, it is necessary. No need to give a person a second chance to burn me. I’m a quick learner and believe in self preservation.

Loyalty is what relationships are built on and when tough times come, it is what is tested most. Anyone can claim true friendship or devotion, but it’s those who will have your back when you have no way of knowing they do.

True loyalty is someone who supports you under any circumstance with nothing to gain and whom share the same principles.  Often times, loyalty comes with sacrifice. It’s about being there for others even when it may not be convenient for you.

To me, if opportunity controls your loyalty then your character is flawed.

But life isn’t always that easy. Unfortunately, expectations of loyalty often come with disappointment. It arrives when you’re in your darkest hour and those you expect to be there aren’t.  Tough times reveal real and loyal friends. Rather than be discouraged, take note and purge those who are friends of convenience to you.

Life is constantly evolving and so are we as humans. We live and we learn.

With loyalty comes responsibility. Loyalty isn’t “yesing” your friend to death. Loyalty is playing devil’s advocate or having those hard conversations with your loved one when no one else is. To me, loyalty equates to honesty.

Money and material things will fluctuate in one’s life, but good moral character is the barometer for which I choose my friends and which I want to be recognized for.

The older we get, the wiser we get thus the smaller the circle of those we trust and rely on. True character will always reveal itself so pay attention.

 

Can You Handle the Truth?

Truth – the body of real things, events, and facts : actuality

Would you want the truth? At some point, we have all been posed with this question. Undoubtedly, each of us answers yes. Here’s the realty, no one wants the truth.

The truth can be harsh and hurtful. Truth exposes shortfalls. Truth warrants areas of improvement. Truth is enlightening. Truth is a time for self-reflection. Truth is hopeful. Truth can push us toward growth. Truth ultimately wins. While avoidable truth prevails and can’t be hidden. One can’t be mad at the truth because truth is fact. Truth can be uncomfortable.

Are you really willing to receive the truth? Can you handle the truth?

To me, the truth is factual just as defined in the dictionary. It’s not necessarily my perspective but rather actions that concrete the factuality of truth. Opinions and perspective are subjective. Facts are not.

When broaching this subject with friends, it was pointed out that truth needs a certain finesse and delivery. Interesting! Hmmm. Truth needs to be coddled?

Let’s insert an example here with a certain subject in mind, ME. A few years back at a Halloween party, I was approached by my son’s friend’s parent (got that?). They asked me if they had heard anything about their son or if I knew anything they should know. Well, they asked and I told them. I didn’t contemplate my delivery and told them I heard of a certain instance where their son had possession of pot and smoked. Whew Lordy, Lordy, Lordy. THAT did not go over well!

I was met with criticism of my own parenting and a severe tongue lashing. It’s ok though because I took it but did think WTF!? They just asked for the truth. I delivered their request. What’s the problem here?

The problem is they were unprepared for that answer. Why ask for the truth if you are going to use those darts as a boomerang at the person willing to tell you?  Did I need to coddle that truth? You have a great kid (who I do sincerely adore) but um, he’s a pothead. The truth is uncomfortable not only to the person you are delivering the news to but to the carrier as well. Don’t ever ask a question, if you don’t know or might not like the answer.

Since it’s a slow day at work and I have time, I’ll move on to example number two. A colleague of mine was in a leadership position and clearly was struggling. There was chatter behind the scenes and concerns. I put on my body armor and decided they should hear the truth. THAT did not go well either!

Should I have taken on that mantle? Was it my place to volunteer the truth unsolicited? I certainly would want to know the truth but is my assumption that they would want to know as well incorrect?

Here’s what forty-five years has taught me. No one really wants the truth. Highlighting the truth means the person is infallible and human….aren’t we all though? I’m sure you can list my short comings or failures on a toilet paper roll (that’s a lot, like 1000 sheets lol…self-deprecation needed to lighten the mood)

Consider this though the next time truth arrives on your doorstep. Why shoot the messenger? Ever consider how much courage it takes to actually stand up and speak the truth? Ever consider how incredibly uncomfortable it is to the person delivering the message? Why do we shun those willing to stand up and not talk shit behind your back yet kiss the faces of those that stab you in the back repetitively for the truths we know? That one person may actually be the only true friend you have.

Ask yourself, can you handle the truth?

Out With the Old, In With the New

It’s so cliché to reflect back on the passing year as there are only hours left of it. Having said that, it’s exactly what I’m going to do now. Pull up a chair, a glass of wine and lean in closer to listen to this year’s life lessons.

My mantra for this coming New Year is, out with the old and in with the new. New Year’s can be likened to the closet. There are clothes we keep for years even though they haven’t fit in just as long. We hang onto them because we once loved that exact piece of clothing. Or there are clothes that we hang onto because we bought and absolutely loved but they are ill fitting and we never wear. Then there are the garments we cling onto because they were an expensive purchase yet we really have no place out to wear them.

Much can be said of the relationships in our own lives.

We hang onto friends simply because we have known them for years despite having nothing in common with them. We hang onto them for nostalgia regardless of the fact that our mindsets are no longer parallel. Out with the old, in with the new.

We are all guilty of quickly engaging with a person over a commonality, perhaps it was a current event, or a mutual friend. As quickly as the friendship started, it has fizzled out. If you aren’t reminiscing about that one thread that binds you together, conversation is surface and labored. Out with the old, in with the new.

There comes a point in our lives when we are enamored by someone simply over their lifestyle, their clothes, their fame or their connections. Suddenly we feel we are part of the “it” crowd. While we might not be in their league, it becomes clear that the person who seems to have it all really isn’t in align with the person we are and we are no longer impressed. We keep them around as a way to hob knob. Out with the old, in with the new.

For those of us who invest in our friendships and work on them daily yet have little return on investment. Time reveals who our real friends are, who are willing to have our back and who will show the same loyalty we show them. Someone once told me, friends are easy to come by when things are going bad because it’s easy to share in misery. It’s a true friend, who can share in your accomplishments and your happiness without being tainted by jealousy. Out with the old, in with the new.

For the relationships which have plagued us with doubt, and chiseled away at our own self worth may they be replaced with ones of confidence, mutual respect and love. Out with the old, in with the new.

2014 has giving me clarity on what and who I need in my life. I have let go of anything and anyone who doesn’t support me or contribute to my happiness. Out with the old, in with the new. I am grateful for the lessons learned in 2014 and I’m excited at the prospect of what 2015 brings along with it. Perhaps you too should consider cleaning out your closet. Cheers and happy New Years!

Walk the Walk

Today I’m in a preachy mood and since you are my captive audience, you reap the rewards of such a mood.  Here’s the deal. There is a ton of shit I do wrong as a parent. I curse way too much as evidenced by my previous sentence. Someone recently told me there are so many other adjectives I can use when describing something. That’s true enough but sometimes cursing not only captures the description but also my mood. When I’m completely opposed to something, “definitely no” doesn’t adequately describe my distain, however if I were to spew “fuck this shit”, you get the idea. Obviously kids learn from example and f bombs are dropped way too often in this household without anyone really being moved by it.

I’m also not the mom that whips up grilled chicken, veggies and brown rice for my kids. Smart food choices are important but I’m Italian. Isn’t that explanation enough? My world revolves around food. To me, home cooked food equals love. While grilled chicken isn’t served up in my house, a nice hearty pot of sauce served with macaroni is a constant. Thank God my kids have good body genes (on their father’s side) otherwise every family picture would consist of three meatball kids (made myself laugh!).

This is where I take a reprieve from beating myself up for the things I do wrong and focus on the things I do right. It’s important for me that my kids see me walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Anyone can give lip service but how many put their words into action? These lessons are not just exclusive to my children but for anyone willing to tolerate reading this blog for a bit longer. (Brace for the preachy part).

I believe in being vested and giving back to my community. I have zero tolerance for the folks that sit on the side lines wagging their finger while taking no initiative to become part of the solution. If you don’t like how someone coaches your kid’s sports team, become a coach. If you don’t like the direction your school is taking or disagree with decisions being made, run for the school board. If you don’t like how an event is run at your child’s school, run the committee yourself. It’s so easy to bitch and moan about things you don’t like or see as deficiencies. Here’s one of my favorite bible verses (please pick your jaw up off the floor now. I’m multi-faceted. I know the good book well). Before you pull the splinter out of someone’s eye, pull the log out of your own first. God, I love that. So before you criticize someone else for a job you think they are doing poorly which might actually be their best effort, and unless you’re willing to step up to the plate, zip it!

Know that as easily as you point your finger, you can just as easily become involved. Go ahead. I’m waiting. I’m waiting for you to list every reason as to why you can’t get involved. You have kids, they have schedules to maintain, and you’re a busy person. You have a job. Time is limited. You have to feed the dog every night. Blah blah blah. WRONG ANSWERS! I challenge you to make a list of the rewards you will sow from such a commitment. Let me begin that list for you. Your children will see that one person can make a difference. It will show that you are interested and care about something bigger than yourself. You can make the difference in a child’s life. You can hone in on skills that can certainly cross over to the workplace such as leadership, budgetary and delegation to name a few. The question is why does it always have to be someone else volunteering? Why not you? God damn I am profound! This is quality shit.  That little Indian man had it right. Be the change you want to see in the world. That change starts with you. Wow, this is stuff self-help books are made of (pat on back).

Ok so now you are considering volunteering. Good choice. I believe in it. I advocate for it but there is a part two to this. Now that you have stepped up, it’s important to have a voice. Have an opinion. I can’t think of anything more unappealing, more annoying or such a sign of weakness than someone who rides the fence and plays Switzerland.  If you are passionate about something, let it be known. Your opinion matters. Regardless of whether people agree or not, speak your mind. Many times others will agree with your opinion and that feels great. But there will be times when you are standing alone; be strong enough to do that. Often time’s people aren’t forthright out of fear. Fear rules their spoken opinion. Fear others won’t agree with them. Fear of rejection. Fear of not being liked. Don’t let the fear overtake your desire to make a difference. If there is anything you should carry with you, it’s the art of persuasion. Be articulate enough and focused enough to win your colleagues over. Make sure you look at all sides of a situation, anticipating what challenges might arise and figure out a way over or around it for the best possible outcome. Holy shit, am I heavy on the advice today or what? (Rhetorical) Listen, all I’m saying is have an opinion and own it. Say what you mean and mean what you say. (Obviously on a quote rant today). This doesn’t mean you can’t be persuaded yourself; open mindedness is an important quality. My point is just be your own person and be comfortable with that.

So to wrap of this blog, sometimes I suck, but mostly I don’t. Take a look at your life and see what irks you.  Rather than fester in what bothers you, see if there is opportunity to change that particular irk. Like me, you can walk the walk. I’m stepping down from my pulpit now. Sermon over.

Open Letter to My College Bound Daughter

In ten days I will drive you to college and move you into your dormitory. Every parent says it, but it’s true. I’m filled with a plethora of emotion. With each piece of clothing you pack, I know the chances of seeing them or you again as a permanent resident in our household are slim. I can’t even begin to fathom what it will be like to live in a house without you. I’ve loved you and you have been by my side for 18 years. How strange it will be not having you patter around the house or walking by you on the couch. Silly to think, but I will miss you screaming Mom on the top of your lungs or asking me to make you something to eat. The little things will surely add up to magnify the silence and void I will feel.

There are a few things you must know as you enter adulthood and make your way into the world. I’m convinced that writing will be better received by you than a conversation because after all, you’re still a teenager prone to minimalize any advice I might offer. My hope is that you will read this thoroughly, and perhaps even twice. Please save this letter and read it for those times when you long for a piece of home. Let’s begin:

You are a priority. Every decision you make should propel you to your goal. It’s ok to be selfish in this area. Should you need to blow off your friends for a party to finish homework or study and you are met with resistance, do what is right for you. Don’t let others behavior influence a decision you know to be right. School work is your main focus and nothing, not even your friends, should interfere with this. You are paying to go to school, use your time wisely to maximize this experience. Knowledge is power. Get every dollars worth out of your classes.

In life, we encounter all types of people. Some you will bond with, becoming lifelong friends others you may dislike instantly. This applies to classmates, or even teachers. Handling difficult people are part of life. Try to limit your exposure to them and if you can’t, pull deep within you to tolerate them. Always be kind. If there is a student you see isolated, and not part of the “in crowd”, befriending such a person might make a difference in their life. Empathy is an important trait to possess. Try to make a difference in others lives as even the simplest of tasks can impact a person.

Campus life will be new and exciting. I know you think you are big and bad but truth is you’re a hundred pound, beautiful girl. Sometimes people suck and they might want to take advantage of this. Never walk campus alone and always use the buddy system. Stop rolling your eyes because I can see that! If you’re going to attend a frat or house party (whatever they call it) never leave your open drink unattended. If you go to the bathroom, that drink goes with you. Never give someone an opportunity to slip a drug into your drink. Since we are on the topic of drinking, try not to but if you must, drink in moderation. Excessive drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning and even worse, a ruined reputation. Make sure you make good decisions because your reputation will always follow you. Make sure your decisions support the person you are and want to be.

I suppose a boyfriend is somewhere in your future. Know that we support whatever decision you make. Race, religion or color does not matter to your parents. The only thing that matters is the man you are with treats you well, respects you and is supportive. If he does all these things, he is welcome into our family. Don’t ever allow someone to treat or talk to you badly. There are a million guys out there. Don’t be stuck on one. Whoever wins your heart, wins the lotto. You are a great catch with a ton to offer the right person. On the flip side, do not let your emotions or relationships interfere with your school work. Know that the right guy won’t ever make you cry. You are an equal in your relationships. If at any time you feel differently, get out of it.

Work hard in school so you will have a successful career. Every woman should be self-sufficient. Never rely on a man to support you. Build a career and maintain it. Fiscal independence is freedom.

Always be yourself. Don’t alter to fit the mold others have of you. You are unique and should remain that way. Compromise is a good thing but don’t ever compromise your standards, your beliefs or your integrity for anyone, no exceptions. You are enough.

You have a voice so be sure to use it. If you have an opinion, share it. If you feel wronged, air your grievance. If you disagree with someone, debate. Your thoughts and opinion matter so never think otherwise. Remember that you are a leader, not a follower. Blaze your own trail. Don’t fall prey to others beliefs or viewpoints, simply because it’s easier. Know who you are at all times, and be that person.

Lastly, know that I am always here for you. If something is bothering you and you need to call me in the middle of the night, do it. If you need me to come up to school, let me know and I’ll jump in my car. As much as you build a life of your own, know you are always welcomed home, always. Your family is and will always be your safe place to land. You are loved more than you can possibly imagine and I will help you no matter the circumstances. You can depend on me. I want you to have the life I never had but always dreamed of.

I love you,

Mom

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