Friday, May 16, 2008

Proms and Graduation Parties

My youngest daughter is going to prom tonight. And, she graduates from high school in 2 weeks. I was telling my friend Shannon it feels kind of strange to know I've bought my last prom/homecoming high school dance dress.

She asked me if I felt sad. I pondered that for a moment. Not exactly sad; but I do feel something that is somewhat hard to explain. A mix pride and relief.

The relief is that I am that I'm at the end of the long tumultuous high school years with both my girls. Although I admit, I won't feel really comfortable until my baby is home safe tonight from the whole after prom thing. It seems every year you hear some story about kids and accidents and....well, I don't want to think about it.

And then there's the pride part.

I'm proud of both my girls, no doubt. Laura's motivation for life is inspiring. She's graduating from high school one year early. And she isn't waiting for fall to start college classes. She's starting this summer to get some of the tough classes out of the way. My oldest, Elise is successfully finishing her first year of college in San Francisco.

But I've decided that I'm proud of myself too. I did it! I got my girls through the challenging years of high school as a single mom. Although I know we've still got college to get through and my job as a mom will never be done, this one phase that I feared so much is almost behind me.

When Phil died I made a promise that my girls would be my highest priority. I was going to focus on my daughters and my career and put everything into supporting my family. Then, once they went off to college, I could focus a little more on me.

So, as I start planning Laura's graduation party, I'm thinking ahead...and I'm going to plan a second graduation party--for ME! Why not? I'm thinking it's really the parents who should get the graduation party. We're the ones who dealt with the raging hormones, stayed up worrying countless nights, struggled as our kids hung with friends we didn't care for, and boyfriends we wanted to clean a gun in front of.

yeah...I'm going to have a graduation party and invite friends who have accomplished this same huge well as my very cool extended family. Sometimes I feel like it really did take a village to get my kids through high school. It's the beginning of a new phase of life for both of my daughters. And now, it's the beginning of a new life for me, too.

Now that's worth a celebration!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

In honor of Mother's Day, here are a few great quotes from some pretty smart women.

If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much.
-- Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

A mother's arms are more comforting than anyone else's.
-- Princess Diana

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
--Tenneva Jordan

It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.
-- Erma Bombeck

Though motherhood is the most important of all the professions--requiring more knowledge than any other department in human affairs--there is no attention given to preparation for this office."
--Elizabeth Cady Stanton

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother."
-- Abraham Lincoln

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.
--Sophia Loren

Making the decision to have a child-it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
--Elizabeth Stone

There is no friendship, no love, like that of the parent for the child.
-- Henry Ward Beecher

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.
--Honore de Balzac

Thursday, May 8, 2008

10 Reasons To Smile

Today I attended the "Go Red For Women" luncheon to benefit the American Heart Association. I've sat through a number of these types of charity luncheons over the years, and I must admit, I have found myself looking at my watch and zoning out while presentations and less than exciting speeches are made. Not today.

The food, provided by the Hilton Fairlawn was delicious and appropriately heart-healthy; but it was the speakers who made the event. While we ate, there was a brief, educational talk by Suzanne Hughes RN, with accompanying bullet points on the screen about heart disease and what we should know to stay healthy, plus life-changing warning signs that many of us miss. There were brief testimonies from women of all ages who had experienced some level of heart disease and survived to share their story of inspiration and encouragement. But the highlight was the humorous talk given by keynote speaker Dr. Kay Potetz, professor at Baldwin Wallace, who is motivational speaker and humorist. I sure wish I had a professor like her when I was in school!

Dr. Potetz had us in stitches with her simple message about the health benefits of a positive attitude and in particular, of smiling. It sounds too good to be true, but there is no denying that everything she said was true. She had facts and figures from research studies mixed with silly photos of animals, kids, and people to prove her point, that smiling can change everything.

Here are 10 great reasons to smile.

1. Smiling makes us attractive. We are drawn to people who smile. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away -- but a smile draws them in.

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood. Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There's a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

3. Smiling is Contagious. When someone is smiling they light up the room and change the moods of others. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.

4. Smiling Relieves Stress. Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you'll be better able to take action.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System. Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure. When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure.

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger. The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making us appear younger. Don't go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day!

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful. Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that "Life is Good!" It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

This was one of the most remarkably entertaining and informative events I've attended and a great example of how a charity luncheon should be done. Each segment moved quickly. The speeches were brief and to the point, chock-full of information that was as easy to digest as the meal. But Dr. Kay Potetz's use of humor to deliver a message about smiling was ironically...well...funny! And brilliant. So force yourself to smile when you make your donation to The American Heart Association. For more information you can call the American Heart Association local chapter at 330-664-1908.

Note: additional reasons to smile came from an article on From Mark Stibich, Ph.D.