Mother Knows Best

If you know my mother at all, you know her favorite things in life are black coffee and anything chocolate, Home Goods and Lord & Taylor, oldies music and the Sunday funnies, her friends and family — especially her two daughters and five grandsons (her husband and sons-in-law pull a close second. Sorry, guys). She’s a devoted grandmother who drives three hours to Pennsylvania for 24-hour visits on the regular, always with cupcakes and some new kitchen gadget that she “thought [I] might like” in hand. She’s a supportive mother who lets me vent without judgement, complain without correction and brag without limitation. And she’s a faithful wife who has survived over 49 years of marriage and almost as many years of coaching with my dad. She’s not without her flaws, but I wouldn’t trade her anything — on most days, anyway.

She’d do anything for her grandsons — even don a turkey hat in public. I’m sure I’ll pay for using this photo, but how could I not?

I’ve written in the past about my mom and identified the traits I’ve inherited from her — everything from her hair color and big hips to the inability to tell a succinct story. I’ve also received sage advice and useful life skills from her, like how to pluck my eyebrows, make sauce (although I’ve since altered the recipe to accommodate food allergies/sensitivities) and where to find the best deals. But some teachings go deeper than basic hair removal and savvy shopping tips; They offer life lessons worth their weight in gold. Here are the five that resonate with me the most:

  1. Lick the spoon. When cooking, baking or making chocolate milk … It’s the best part. Translation: Treat yourself and do what makes you happy.
  2. Dress the part. Even if you’re not the best tennis player (runner, yogi, etc.), you can still look cute in the outfit. My interpretation: Be confident in who you are.
  3. Never arrive empty-handed. A small gesture goes a long way. Meaning, be kind and generous to others.
  4. Your house, your rules; My house, my rules. Decoded as setting and respecting boundaries, both your own and others.
  5. Try your best and know that you’re doing a better job than you think you are. No explanation needed, just words to live by. #believeinyourself

Is Grace Dewey the next Tony Robbins? Not exactly, but she is one smart cookie. I’m not gonna lie … She can also be a hot mess and a huge pain in my ass at times (thus the short, 24-hour visits), but her heart is usually in the right place. Today is her 75th birthday and Thursday is Thanksgiving — what better week to tell the blogosphere how wonderful my mom is and how grateful I am to have her?

Happy Birthday, Mom! Chocolate cake and Motown to celebrate tomorrow when I see you.

c. 1973. One of my favorite photos, but why am I dressed like a clown at the petting zoo? So much for dressing the part!

– LJDT

My Reflection on Lent … Nailed It!

Okay, so the title of this blog post is a little misleading. Maybe even a lot misleading. Okay, it’s a total lie. I didn’t exactly keep all my Lenten promises for the full 46 days, or even for the more traditional 40 days. I know, I know, I’m a bad Catholic … But some good did come of it, I swear.

If you recall, I gave up social media and pretty much all food for Lent. A lofty goal, but I was determined to suffer and atone like all good Catholics do during the holiest time of the year. Besides, if Jesus could pray and fast in a desert for 40 days and then make the ultimate sacrifice, surely I could give up Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while following a Whole 30 diet for 46 days, right? Apparently not. I was pretty good with the food part, as long as you don’t count that one time I accidentally ate something “non-Whole 30-compliant” because I didn’t read the label closely enough, or that other time when I deliberately ate a spoonful of cookie dough while my son and his girlfriend were baking cookies together (I paid for that one within minutes, trust me!). But my social media fast proved much harder than my food fast. A few times (and by few I mean 7 or 8 times), I cheated and went on Facebook … But only for 10 minutes and I didn’t comment on anyone’s status, like any posts or wish anyone a happy birthday, I swear! I also felt guilty about it, so that should count for something, right?

I may have been less than successful in keeping my Lenten promises, but I did learn a few things. Notably,

  • I’m not very nice when I’m inconvenienced, hungry and information-deprived for 46 days. (My apologies to all those I encountered over the past month and a half.)
  • Following a strict Whole 30 protocol is hard, but having food allergies/sensitivities makes clean eating a little easier. (Perhaps my autoimmune disease is a blessing in disguise?!?)
  • Sugar is the devil, as proven by the cookie dough incident. (Lesson learned — the hard way, of course.)
  • Social media is a huge time suck and I’m more productive without it — on most days, anyway. (I still found ways to procrastinate.)
  • I didn’t really miss much without Facebook and Instagram. (Sure, I forgot a few birthdays, skipped a couple of product launch parties and didn’t see those new selfies, food photos or family vacation pictures that people posted, but I survived.)
  • Lofty Lenten promises are hard to keep, even if you’re not in the desert. (And especially if you don’t really want to keep them.)

Clearly, I am not the good Catholic I set out to be. If human salvation rested on my shoulders, we’d all be damned. But I tried, and I will keep trying because it’s not about giving up food or Facebook; It’s about being accountable, learning from mistakes and making improvements. Knowledge is power, so I consider my Lenten experience a (minor) success … Even if that is a bit of a reach.

– LJDT