I Owe it To My Mother. Improving The Patient Experience.

I have been through a lot. Sometimes I feel like a walking medical experiment. Cancer twice, and the loss of my mother who also had cancer. Hundreds of appointments, blood tests, and procedures and enough radiation to light up the sky.

Please do not misunderstand, I am not complaining (ok sometimes I do complain of my aches and pains like anyone else) but this isn’t about that. I am lucky. I am living an active and normal life.

When I left my career to raise my children, I knew I needed to find a way to use my professional experience and health experience to do something to give back. I did some work volunteering for various cancer organizations but it wasn’t until my mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away that I became passionate about taking my experience as well as hers and working to improve the patient experience. There were so many ways my mother’s experience could have been better if doctors had actually talked to her, listened to her and understood what was most important to her. She didn’t see things the way I did as her generation was taught “the doctor knows best” and not to question or explore alternatives. But the truth is we should question and shouldn’t feel guilty about asking the questions. After my mother’s death, I was pretty fired up and began to explore ways I could lend my voice and make a difference.

My blog has led me to do other writing and my first article was published this month in the Beryl Institute’s PXJ (Patient Experience) Journal. I talk about using Human Resource policies and procedures to improve the patient experience and I hope my observations and suggestions create a dialogue for reflection and maybe even change.

Here is the link to my article

Why human resources policies and practices are critical to improving the patient experience


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Doctor. Please Understand I Am A Person And Not Just Another Case.



When you think about going to the doctor, what is one of your biggest pet peeves?

Waiting to be called? Having to fill out forms over and over? I could put together an extensive list but in the end what is most important to me is my relationship with my physician. It really gets under my skin when I hear a story of an interaction with a doctor that shows the patient was clearly not respected as a person. In a new era of healthcare, we are beginning to think of our care like any other product or service. We want the best.

So, if we want the best in care, why should we settle for a doctor who doesn’t give us what we consider to be the best level of care?

In the last few weeks, I have had two medical appointments with two new physicians. One was a wonderful experience and the other the exact opposite. My guess is anyone reading this has had the same experience at one time or another. Unfortunately, this is the state of healthcare these days, an inconsistent not always patient-centered medical experience.

My first appointment was with a surgeon who I went to see to address a late effect from past surgery for my breast cancer. He walked into the room and within seconds I felt his warmth, compassion and we made a personal connection. He listened to me, my concerns, feelings and we talked about various options. He was honest, sincere and validated my emotions. After the appointment, I processed all the information and was easily able to reach out to him with new questions and he responded quickly. I felt fortunate to have found him.

Giving a helping hand to another , helping concept

Two weeks later I went to a different medical office to see a specialist about a pain I had in my arm from playing golf. I thought maybe I had tendonitis or golfer’s elbow. The physician entered the room and introduced himself and within a few minutes, I found him slightly abrasive. He was talking at me, did an exam and gave me his diagnosis, which was not tendonitis but a condition having to do with my muscle and my radial nerve (similar to carpal tunnel). Everything he explained lined up with my symptoms. The treatment included rest from the repetitive motion of golf and a wrist brace to wear at night.

As the appointment neared the end, the doctor told he wanted me to have an x-ray of my arm before I left. I pushed back. I told him I am concerned with radiation exposure and I like to ask the question every time an x -ray is recommended. My past history includes intensive radiation therapy and years of radiation from follow-up x-rays and scans. I wasn’t sure why an x-ray was needed in this case. At this point, he became agitated. He looked at me in disbelief that I would question him. He talked for the next 5 minutes about “standard of care” which I understand and appreciate; however, I realized, as he was talking he wasn’t listening to me and was not empathetic to my situation. He didn’t care what I was saying, at all.


I began to defend myself and brought up another example of a time I pushed back on the x-ray and the physician said that actually there were other ways to determine a diagnosis without doing an x-ray. This new guy didn’t really care. I now felt like I was defending myself for asking the question and wanting to explore different options. The truth is I was a bit rattled as we had the exchange. Finally, I agreed to the x-ray. The x-ray was normal and showed nothing.

Protocols are in place to potentially rule other out other problems and the physician certainly doesn’t want to make an error in diagnosis. I get it. But the current diagnosis seemed pretty reasonable and I wonder if it made more sense to see if the treatment recommendations worked before taking things to the next step. Right or wrong, I was feeling remorse that I caved and more importantly I didn’t feel good about the whole thing.

I always tell people to advocate for themselves and not just accept recommendations because we don’t understand and assume the doctor knows better. Truth be told, it may be difficult to do so. But it shouldn’t be. If this doctor really listened to me and understood my concerns and fears he may have been able to address them differently. This type of example is exactly why I decided to volunteer my time to improving the patient experience. It all started back when my mother was ill and was treated in a similar way, as a case number and not a person. Writing helps me to gather my thoughts and share my experiences and my guess is we can all relate. As hard as it may be, we, as patients, need to demand respect and better care and I believe our voice will influence change.


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One Scary Night Led Me To Finding My Purpose

This week I have a guest blogger. Nick is a college student and an aspiring writer and wanted to share his story of resilience. He is the son of a friend of mine who has also had her share of life’s challenges.

As I write on my blog, I have learned at an early age about the rollercoaster of life, it’s twists and turns and what it takes to pick yourself up after crisis and move forward in a positive way. Nick also has learned important life lessons at a young age that will serve him well as he moves through the uncertainty of life. I thank Nick for taking a risk and sharing his thoughts and his story.



Has anything in your life ever caused you to feel some sort of guilt, shame, failure, pain, regret, or even questioning why? I have learned early on in my life that every day is a true gift that many of us take for granted. Not because we mean to, but because it’s the world we live in. We get caught up living our lives based on school, work, and other activities that we forget what we are living for until the day something drastic happens. One day you could wake up and possibly have your last cup of coffee that morning. That almost happened to me.

Now, I have always tried to live my life to the fullest, however, at times I get weak and fail. I am human and I am not perfect. I realize if I fall and pick myself up, I become stronger than I was before I had fallen. It was not until recently that I woke up and realized that this life is REAL and I am here right now, for some reason. I think because of the situation that I currently was in, I was determined to find “my purpose.”

On the night of December 14, 2015, my life changed in a blink of an eye. I was given the chance to wake up and receive many gifts and blessings from my angels that night. On the night of the 14th, I was in a 5 car collision. My car was in the middle of it all.

I do not remember a single thing from that accident. However, I feel like it’s a good thing that I do not. With no family in the state where I go to school, I was alone except for one friend that found out and came and stayed by my side that night. Doctors wrote in my medical notes that I was unconscious for approximately 8 hours.

Prior to my accident, I had a lot on my mind; final exams to finish and the anniversary of my Uncle Ricky’s passing.  Within that 8-hour time span, I had woken up twice, said the doctor and my friend. The two times I briefly woke, my friend said I screamed and cried out for my Uncle Ricky. Each time they said my blood pressure plummeted as I called out for my Uncle. I finally came back to consciousness on the 15th of December.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the night of my accident, and many people ask why? Well, we all have our own beliefs, and theories but I believe I was with my Uncle the night of my accident. It took a while for me to put all the pieces that I experienced together. All the accident really did on the outside was leave marks on my body, bills to be paid, court dates to attend, and details to work out to purchase a new car. But on the inside, the accident left me with the question of why did this all have to happen to me? All I knew was that I felt some sort of peace and happiness while seeing this bright unexplainable light next to me that night. I do not recall seeing my Uncle’s face or even really hearing his voice, but I remember one thing. I remember him saying to me, “Go! It’s not your time Nicholas, you have to go back. You have a destination in life to fulfill and until that day, we will meet again.”


It took a while to feel the darkness fade into light after my accident. With so many questions swirling through my mind with no answers, I knew it was up to me to find my so-called “purpose” like my Uncle had told me to do. All of us are struggling with something, we just may not know it, but we all have a beautiful “purpose” in life.

Since then, I have looked at life as a beautiful chance to become my author of my life. My accident has taught me patience and understanding that one day all of these events, good or bad, will end up being chapters in my life. Along with this journey, things will happen, roads get bumpy and we have to make adjustments. I know I’m not the only one who’s willing to walk by my side. Today, I am so proud to have received another chance back at school and I am working hard to receive my diploma and fulfill the story of my life.

Although the accident destroyed my vehicle, it did not destroy my faith. I pulled myself up while working two jobs all summer, spending time with my family, and began to discover many opportunities for me to start writing thoughts of my purpose on paper so that one day I will be able to get a story published to help others. I give thanks for the night of December 14, 2015.

Nick is a Junior, studying Psychology at Long Island University in Brookville, NY 

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Are We Overparenting? Why Our Kids Need to Experience Failure.

The boys are off to college and classes are beginning this week. I am re-grouping and getting a handle on my new life at home without kids. And then the texts start rolling in and I am feeling incredibly anxious. My boys’ problems are quickly becoming my own. One son has faced early rejection from a something he had his heart set on. He sounds awful. The other is sending pictures of possible foot infection he self-diagnosed and treated incorrectly which caused more of a problem. I am sucked in and my first reaction is to try to fix everything.



Ok, I am the worst at this. My job as a mother has always been to protect my children, teach them about life. Teach them how to approach problems and help solve them. I have made this my life’s work, really. The hard part is the balance part. Where to draw the line and stop helping so much. I want to fix it and make it all better even when they are grown, against my better judgment. “I will just show them the way and it will be a learning experience,” I tell myself.

I am a control freak and sometimes I go into overdrive. I want to do everything I can so my children do not experience pain or disappointment.

This is what modern parenting is all about, right???

It is about making sure our children are happy all the time. It is about becoming best friends with our kids and then they will love us even more. It is about protecting them from all the hurt and pain we have been through in our own struggles.  That’s our job, right?


We want to be more involved parents than maybe our parents were and in our quest for improvement, we may have gone a bit too far to the other side. Who is feeling more anxiety about the problem? Me or my kid? I think it might be me….

I think what parenting is truly about is equipping our children with a tool set to help them become resilient, strong adults. If we fix everything it is tough for children to learn these skills. Life is filled with stress these days and maybe we should be teaching stress management at earlier ages so our children have practice and experience before leaving the home.


When children are younger it seems easier to intervene and change outcomes that are not at first ideal. I watched people all around me constantly stepping in when a kid didn’t make the baseball team or didn’t get the teacher they wanted or a fair grade in a class. How about bringing forgotten homework to school? Guilty as charged.

Our generation is all about making our children feel special and able to accomplish anything.

On the one hand, it sounds like a healthy and good practice. On the other hand, it is not representative of life in general. Life is not fair and the best candidate doesn’t always get the job.

As our children turn into young adults and move into the college years we still seem to have influence that our parents didn’t really have. I still hear stories of parents intervening in college life and helicoptering over parts of the experience. Though I have let go of most the day-to-day, I still feel that pull sometimes to help set my children on the correct path and get more involved than I should.

I did grow up believing my parents could fix things for me. I thought they would always be there to make it all go away.


My first exposure to failure was in 10th grade. I was always a good student and my parents’ expected me to get good grades. I remember thinking I could never fail a class because if I did, I would have to run away. Seriously. I had a whole plan mapped out. I would head off in the woods with my backpack filled with supplies and hide out, at least for a while. So, when I started Geometry class and found it really difficult, I started to get worried that I may actually have to implement my plan.  And then my first quarter grade was assigned and it was a 63, an F. I looked at the grade with such disbelief and fear. All of a sudden I was not so prepared to run away.



To my surprise, my parents didn’t disown me and the world didn’t explode into flames.


I didn’t have to run away.

What I did do was follow my parents’ orders to stay after school every day with the teacher until the end of the year. It was torture, especially because the teacher wasn’t the warm and fuzzy type guy. After such a painful failure of sorts, in my small world, I learned how to pick up myself and move forward. I ended up surprising everyone when I got a B+ on the final exam, which was a standardized state exam.

That same year, I experienced a second painful failure. I applied for a summer program at a prep school in New England. I had fantasies of a summer away from home, living like a college student in a dorm, meeting my first real boyfriend and taking courses like anthropology and going on an archeological dig. I had never been rejected from anything in my life until I got the rejection letter for this program. I was in such disbelief and was convinced my parents would fix it and I would go off on my archeological dig. They couldn’t and they didn’t. It was because of my geometry grade 1st semester that I failed to qualify.

Ironically, failure often opens doors.

At the last-minute I applied for a Leadership program at the YMCA camp I had attended for many summers and was accepted. The best thing that ever happened to me. I can say that both my boys did have rejections and missteps in their teenage years, neither they nor I could fix and though it pained me to watch,  opened new and potential better opportunities for both of them. Each time, I believed those outcomes would somehow make them stronger.

So, why are we so afraid of failure? Why are we resistant to let our children fail in some way? Why do we beat ourselves up so much if we aren’t perfect?



It struck me when one of my sons was interviewing for a job and was asked to describe one of his biggest failures. What would young people say today?

Eventually, our children will be out on their own. For many, it is the first time they are not protected and experience the normal frustrations of life. They think something must be terribly wrong when things don’t go as planned.

It is not a surprise that anxiety has now surpassed depression as the most common mental health diagnosis among college students.  According to a recent study of more than 100,000 students nationwide by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State, more than half of students visiting campus clinics cite anxiety as a health concern. Is it because we didn’t allow them to experience failure before leaving the nest? Did we protect them too much?



 If we want them to build character, confidence, strength and resilience, we need to let them face adversity and experience the pride that follows when they come out stronger on the other side.

It’s hard to see our children fall, but sometimes we have to. This is hard for me. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves whether getting involved  is in their best interest. Admittedly, I am working on this and find it difficult, very difficult not to get involved.

Failure helps us learn our way. It helps us readjust and often become better for it all. It helps us develop skills to get through life’s challenges. And there will be many.











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Boys Are Off To College. Part-time Empty Nester Rollercoaster Ride

A year ago, I was filled with emotion. My youngest was going off to college and I was going to be an “empty nester.”  Or so I thought.

On the one hand, I was ready. Ready to do re-group and start a new chapter. I was sad to think that my life which revolved around my children was going to change and they wouldn’t need me anymore. Dinners would be quiet, the house would be empty and I would just have to accept the change. What I didn’t quite understand was that I was really going to be a part-time empty nester. At least for a while.

The boys left last summer and it felt strange, and then life was full of possibilities, activities and a new sort of freedom.

Just as I was getting used to my new life they came back. Came back for Thanksgiving, Christmas and then a 4 month summer break.

Hmmm. So lets really analyze this empty nester thing. With the comings and goings,  I am really only an empty nester for a little over a half of a year. On the one hand, it eases the pain of having the children move out for good to far away lands. On the other hand, it requires tremendous resilience and re-adjusting on our part. It is kind of tease. What life will be like down the road. But not yet. My guess is I will not be a true empty nester for some years. And by the time both boys permanently move out it will not feel so hard because it has been years in the making.

So, now here I am after just dropping my boys at school. I am feeling the exact same emotions I felt a year ago. I am sad. The house is eerily quiet. The fridge is mostly empty. My husband and I need to readjust and start to focus more on our life as a couple. As much as I thought life would change in one direction last year, I really didn’t understand the change.

I looked at what I wrote last year.  It feels like a repeat, a ground-hog day of sorts. My checklists remain the same. Some things I did last year, others I did not. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is not the same next summer.



It doesn’t hit you until they are gone. Sure, we have been talking about it for a while, preparing in every way possible but it doesn’t hit you until the quiet takes over. The abruptness of it all is what is so hard. Until that time, you are going 100 mph, there is activity in the house, you are checking off all the boxes to get ready for college, shopping, packing and then going to school and setting up a new life. You say your goodbyes and that is when life abruptly changes, in a moment, when you return home and the house is seems so quiet and empty.

We have been alone before when our children went to camp for a month and eventually for the summer. The first few days were strange but then you get used to it. This time it is different because of what it represents. It is no longer a brief period of time when the house is quiet.

For 21 years, our life has revolved around the day-to-day activities of our children. That time has come to a close. Now they will return but as “visitors” rather than residents. At least that is what we are planning….

Their departure represents a new set of chapters and also reminds us of all the years that have actually passed while we were busy going to school events, sports practices, baseball, basketball, football games and countless other activities. We come up for air now and realize our youth is behind us. Children seem to make you feel younger, regardless of the number of candles on the cake. My husband and I look at each other as we walk through our sons’ college campus. We both are envious, wishing we could do it all over again, especially knowing what we do now. Our time has passed and we will live vicariously through our children.

Those who have been through the process of raising children will tell you, “It goes so fast.” I have to admit, there were many moments I wondered what they were talking about. Life with children has its ups and downs and there were certain moments where I would think of the trials and tribulations of the day, children in tow, thinking this is not going so fast.


Life is busy thinking about what’s for dinner, where we need to be, what is next on the agenda. It is not until it comes to a sudden halt that I start reflecting, looking at all the family photos and realizing it went so fast. How did that happen? It is all a blur. Now what?

I reflect on what I observe around me. People raising children, micromanaging their every move. What they eat, what they say, what they wear, what they watch. Everything they do. We can be very controlling, so protective and we manage everything. And then one day all of that changes. They start eating junk food, swearing, engaging in friendships we may not approve of, drinking, smoking, having sex and we have to readjust. Those doctor’s appointments we religiously scheduled and held our children’s hand now turn into “I am sorry, he is 18 and we can’t discuss anything with you.”

We take control over the little things but realize that it is no longer about control. We have done everything we could to provide our children with the tools to leave the nest and it is now up to them to control their future. I think our adjustment is harder than that of my parents because they didn’t micromanage. They were often removed and let us grow up faster.

I need to let go. The worry will not go away but will change, as I will not know their every move. They will make their own choices. They will take risks that make me shudder. Each night I will say a prayer that they will stay safe.

Though our children may not make all the same choices we may make, the hope is that we have given them a tool box for making their own decisions. We are proud of who they have become and it is time to let them fly.

Still, I give my advice as my youngest heads out the door. That is the constant that will never change. Our support and advice.

imagesExplore and take advantage of all that is available to you

imagesTake a class in astronomy or art history because this is the time in your life you can do it

imagesTry a new club or sport because once you start working full-time this will be hard to do

imagesAlways be true to yourself. Step back and take a deep breath when the going gets tough and you feel pressure. Believe in yourself and know you are strong.

imagesYou have worked so hard to be given this new opportunity. Seize it. You start with a clean slate. You determine what you will do and who you will be.

I won’t miss:

bullet-css2The mess

bullet-css2Dirty dishes in the sink

bullet-css2Looking for a beer or any alcoholic drink or favorite food for that matter, and realizing it is all gone

bullet-css2The late nights waiting and worrying

bullet-css2The tv blaring in the middle of my house with some unappealing program

bullet-css2Not being able to find any of the car keys

bullet-css2Making a full course dinner to learn that they are going out with their friends

I will miss:

imagesThe smiles and humor

imagesThe conversations

imagesThe trips to the golf course, Maine and dining as a family

imagesThe companionship

imagesMy children, who have been my world and seemed to belong to me. Now they belong to themselves and to the world.

It is kind of like turning 50. You think about it for months and months, dreading the day. And then when the day passes you realize it isn’t so bad after all. A new energy takes over.

I will:

small-green-checkmarkClean my house

small-green-checkmarkOrganize their rooms

small-green-checkmarkStart making the food I like

small-green-checkmarkReconnect with friends

small-green-checkmarkTalk to my dogs even more than I do now

small-green-checkmarkTake control of my own life

small-green-checkmarkSign up for that Spanish class that I have been talking about but never did

small-green-checkmarkPlan some spontaneous trips

small-green-checkmarkDetermine my next chapter

As the days, go by I will ease into my new chapter a life without the chaos, the activity, my children.


And just when I start to really get used to it, they will be back. And I will have to adjust all over again.



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25 Life Lessons From a Two-Time #Cancersurvivor




1. Life is short. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to DO or SAY something important to you.

2. Death is not a failure. It is part of life and the more we accept that fact the more we can live intentionally and without as much fear.

3. A simple act of kindness can make someone’s day and leave a lasting impression.



4. You have the ability to make an impact. Leave your mark. Share your experience, your knowledge with others.


5.“ Hope” is powerful.



6. If you don’t know what to say to someone in crisis, try saying “I don’t know what to say. But I want you to know I am thinking of you.”


7. You are stronger than you think. Trust me, you are.


8. Life is better with a dog


9. Trust your gut. Intuition is powerful.


10. It is important to take a “time-out”. Walking clears your head.



11. People will surprise you. In a time of crisis there will be those who disappear, and others you might not expect, who will be by your side. People cope differently.

12. There are no guarantees in life. Life isn’t fair. Don’t take things for granted. In the blink of an eye life as you know it can change. None of us is immune to life’s challenges.

13. Cancer sucks.

14. Learn how to say “no”. You don’t actually have to do (certain) things you don’t want to do. You don’t need to please everyone. Be thoughtful about how you want to spend your time.

15. A good friendship goes both ways. Some friendships grow with you, others do not. Nurture the relationships that are most important to you.


16. You don’t have as much control as you think. As hard as it may be not to worry, it really doesn’t change the outcome. Let go of what you cannot control and focus on what you can control.

17. Everyone has a story and a journey. What you see superficially is usually not the full story.

18. In the end, it is all about our relationships with each other. Remind yourself what is most important to you, ESPECIALLY on those days when everything seems to be going wrong and personalities and emotions are involved.

19. Get rid of stuff. All the stuff you ever owned may be important to you but probably not to anyone else. Just more to throw out in the end.


20. It is so important to laugh.



21. Life is full of curveballs. Expect the unexpected.


22. You don’t always have a choice in the cards you are dealt, but you do have a choice in how you will respond.


23. Breathe. Slow down. Find your “happy place” that soothes your soul.



24. Stay true to yourself. Most of the time it doesn’t matter what people think and they don’t always care as much as you think they do.


25. Take time to live in the moment. Appreciate what you have today.


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Summer Rituals

Finally! It feels like Summer!! The weather has been unpredictable this year and a bit of a rollercoaster ride especially living on the north shore of Boston. There are days that are “summer …

Source: Summer Rituals

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50 Something. And Still Missing Summer Camp.


It is something about the way the wind rustles through the leaves of a familiar tree that stirs my memories. Sometimes it is a particular song I hear on the radio or simply the voices of children laughing and singing in the neighborhood. It can be the smallest of things and almost everything this time of year, reminds me of my summer camp.

I close my eyes. I am immediately back. There is no effort on my part to remember. My memories of camp are clear as day. I can’t think of many places, experiences in my life that have this power to pull me back.

There have been many articles about the benefits of summer camp. Some people, unfamiliar with the experience, think it is strange that parents would send their children away. I went to camp because my mother went to camp and it was an experience she cherished and wanted to share with her children. She would tell us story after story. They called her “Cricket”, she loved “Color War” and she dated a guy who became a famous author. I couldn’t wait to go.

Camp was a gift I was given that enriched my life in ways unlike other experiences.

A place of growth and self-discovery. A place of firsts. My first kiss. The first time I shaved my legs, crimped my hair, wrote a song, performed in a musical, traveled out of the country. A comfortable environment where I could let loose, overcome my fears and try new things and truly be myself in a “no judgement” zone. I was encouraged to come out of my shell. People believed in me and I began to believe in myself.


When we hear the words “summer camp” we often think about outdoor activities and learning new skills such as sailing, swimming, archery and arts and crafts.  All part of the experience but for me camp was about much more. It was about building relationships, life long friendships, learning how to set goals for myself and developing a sense of independence.


Summer camp taught me about life. I learned the world was bigger than myself and began to appreciate different points of view and learn about cultures unlike my own. I developed a sense of social responsibility and most importantly, tolerance. Living in a cabin for a summer with a group of unique individuals who were often very different from me was life changing.

The camp was filled with campers and staff from diverse backgrounds. Different financial situations, religions, races and nationalities were represented and opened my mind to things I may not have been accustomed to. My world became even bigger when I participated in several cultural exchange programs giving me the opportunity to live in a new country and experience a different culture, like a local.


Though I am no longer a child or young adult, I think about and miss those days. The lessons learned seem even more impactful today as I live in a modern world filled with judgement, intolerance for views that may differ from one’s own and increasing divisiveness that seems to pervade our world. Camp was magical in many ways. The real world can be tough.

The camp tradition has stayed in the family. I was able to watch my own children, through a new set of eyes, benefit from the camp experience. I remember feedback from my son’s counselor one summer.  He described him as outgoing, a strong leader and was proud he overcame one of his biggest fears; jumping in the freezing cold lake (a fear I also shared with him).  I was blown away and asked him if we were talking about the same kid. The counselor’s feedback was completely different from what we had heard from teachers at school.  Both of my sons transformed, summer after summer, gaining more and more confidence to bring their new self into the real world, when returning home.

The tradition continues with nieces and nephews now immersing themselves in the experience. Today there is so much pressure on kids with social media in particular. An opportunity to disconnect completely (no cell phones, computers, electronics) is more important today than ever before. I fear we have lost our ability to focus on the beauty around us… without a cellphone in hand… ready to record our every move.. to post immediately on Instagram.

I loved reflecting on life in the chapel overlooking the lake. Staring into the flames of the campfire. Walking on the dirt road, kicking rocks and thinking about life. We have so much noise in our lives today. I miss the quiet and the chance to re-charge and re-invent.


Camp was my home away from home. Friendships have endured through the years. We are all connected in a special and powerful way. The years have passed quickly. My children now have their memories and have moved on. This week camp starts all over again for a younger generation and I will still yearn for those days. I don’t think that will ever change.





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College Boys are Home. Breathe.

shopping cart

Last fall I wrote about the sadness of sending my youngest off to college, transitioning to a new chapter and accepting the reality of life without my children at home. In the back of my mind, I knew they would be back for an extended period over the following summer and clung onto this fact to help me cope with thoughts of my boys moving out. “I get a little more time before they really move out for good.” I thought.

It is not like I didn’t know what it would be like when they returned. I knew of the challenges of trying to coexist all over again. Having them home is better than not. Or is it?

The time has come. The boys are back. I couldn’t wait to see them, hug them and feel like they are mine again. The first few days were wonderful. And then we all got the cold water splashed in our faces, so to speak, and realized this adjustment was going to take some time, some tweaking and some ups and downs.

From their point of view, they have become (relatively) independent living away from home. They can make their own decisions about daily life. Why should that change now that they are home? Parental comments about where they are going, what they are eating, when they are going to pick up after themselves are just annoying.

Do you remember when you came home from college for the summer? I vividly remember my experience, the struggles and fights. I try to put myself in their shoes for the moment.

It is hard for them to put themselves in our shoes. I don’t think they can relate until they have children of their own. 

From our point of view, we have become accustomed to our new freedom and a tidy, (well semi-tidy) home. For months we did not have to worry about food in the fridge, sharing cars, waiting up for the boys to come home and could focus on our life as a couple.

Writing this blog is a struggle. My emotions are all over the place.

One minute I find myself wanting to write how wonderful it is to have the boys at home and how they are maturing and transitioning from child to adult. Time has gone so fast. They were my babies yesterday and now they are grown men. I am so impressed with the young men they have become.

The next minute I am walking into the house at noon, the boys have just awoken, the house is a mess and the minute I open my mouth we are fighting about everything under the sun. Clothes and shoes are everywhere, the kitchen is a mess and we are arguing about taking responsibility.


We all agree with this image.  We all drive each other crazy at times.

Breathe…I am not breathing…..

wineOk. Now I am breathing..

Until my boys start drinking my wine.

Wait! Who drank my wine????

Truth is, this is a rollercoaster ride. There are ups and downs and the ride often unpredictable.

There are moments that are so wonderful. The house is buzzing with energy, laughter and joy.

Despite the distractions of a messy house, blaring music and everything else that comes with my boys, what is beginning to emerge is the indication that my sons are growing up. We are moving closer to each other in ways we may not have imagined.

We share music, watch many of the same movies, binge watch similar programs. share books and articles and talk politics, sports, you name it. Discussions about our favorite beers, wines and cocktails frequent the dinner table. My Mother’s Day gift from one son was a set of funky margarita glasses and margarita mix. Times have changed.


My boys are now interested in learning more about me. They are curious about what I was like when I was their age. “Were you cool or a nerd?” “Were you a partier?” They want to know if I were someone they would have hung out with. Maybe they are starting to think of me as a person rather than just their mother. We begin to share our professional work experiences as well. Both sons have internships for the summer and will be exposed to the commuting and long hours of a demanding job. We share commuting tips, best lunch spots and after hour hot spots.

My guess is many of you can relate. Our children are back from college and no longer children except sometimes they still act like children. We all tend to fall into old patterns when we return home. They invade our space, fall into old patterns and the house becomes Alpha Sigma whatever. At the same time, we also see them as interesting, intelligent and charismatic people. They are maturing and acting in grown up, responsible ways, which make us so proud.

Life as an “empty nester” is on hold. My boys are back in the house and we are a family again. I see the pendulum swinging back and forth from childhood to adulthood, sometimes on one side more than the other. But it is shifting more towards adulthood little by little. My babies, my flesh and blood are home and I love them dearly. I know in my heart that soon they will graduate, get jobs and move away and I want to enjoy the time we have now. So, I remind myself to breathe and embrace the experience.

We may face some bumps along the road. It is new territory for all of us. In the end, I am blessed to have this experience for good or bad. Life has thrown me curveballs and staying healthy to enjoy my boys has been my blessing.



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I Miss My Mom Today. Everyday.

Today is Mother’s Day. I miss my mom. Today. Everyday.

I close my eyes. I can see her, feel her next to me. I can see her smile, remember her hands holding mine.

It is unimaginable that is has been 12 years since she left us. Far too soon. So unfair. Cancer sucks.

My boys were 7 and 9 when she passed. They are now 19 and 21. They were little boys and now they are men. I imagine each of them talking to my mom now. Sam talking to her about so many different things, as he has this voracious curiosity about people and all kinds of subjects. My mother had so many stories and experiences and they would have talked for hours. And I imagine Josh just ribbing her, like he does to me, and making her laugh and laugh.


From time to time I think back to different events in my life. I could have sworn she was there and then I realize she wasn’t because she was gone. My memories are faulty. She should have been there. Life has moved on at a fast pace and I lose track.

The pain of loss never goes away. Denial, depression, anger and acceptance are the traditional 4 stages of grief. Years ago I read an article that spoke about adding a 5th to the list, yearning.

Yes, I do find myself yearning for her touch, to hear her voice. I want to pick up the phone and just chat. I find myself after all these years continuing to experience each of these signs of grief from time to time. The intensity, the rawness has mellowed over time but it never goes away. It happens when I least expect it, a song comes on the radio, I’m eating Chinese food or just stopped at a traffic light. It can hit you at any time.

The bond that ties us to our mothers is real. It’s strong. It’s complicated.

Mine was no different. Our relationship was a roller coaster ride. It had it’s ups and downs and didn’t always feel good. We fought. We cried. We laughed. We forgave. We talked. And we always shopped.

We both had our battle scars. I understand now how difficult it is to be a parent. I have tried to remember what it felt like when I was growing up as I parented my children. We all have our stories. Through it all, our love endures.



My mother challenged me to be the best version of myself. Sometimes I didn’t see it that way or understand. Looking back I am incredibly thankful for her influence and for her role in who I have become. I have tried to accomplish the same goal with my children.

Today I would tell my mother how much I miss her. I would tell her that her influence made me into the person I am today.

My mother taught me anything is possible. She taught me how to write and become a good student in school and in life. She taught me the value of volunteering and giving back to my community. She inspired me to become a good cook and entertain. She taught me the value of family. She taught me how to be a good, caring, empathetic person and a devoted friend. The list goes on and on.



She was vibrant, beautiful and lived life until her last breath.


Often we take our close relationships for granted. We don’t always realize what we have until it is gone. I did get a chance to reflect on what we had and let her know how I felt. Even as the years pass, I still wish I could tell her more.

My mother may be physically gone but I see her in my children and myself. She lives on through all of us.

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