Friday, April 27, 2012

Some Advice for My Little Chickies

There are two special young women graduating from college this weekend. We have been blessed to have one of them be a part of our family for almost three years now. Our beloved Mary Beth started babysitting our boys when they were newborns, just a few months old. They love her. We love her. And we will miss her so much. Family vacations won't be the same without her. And how I will dress myself for nights out without her fashion advice is a petrifying thought. Maybe she'll FaceTime with me. Hmmm...

JKS08, otherwise known as my uber-intern, Jessi, has helped me plan weddings, birthday parties and political events. No one has bought more ribbon from Michael's in the past year than her. Believe it. I don't offer the most conventional internships. It takes a special person to ebb and flow with me. But Jessi took it all in stride and showed up every time. If I didn't think it cruel and unusual punishment to force her to stay in our two-bit town, I would. But I love her too much to do that.

I'm a natural nurturer, so I feel a bit like a Mama Bird letting her chickies fly this weekend. I'll worry over them and fret about things. But not the little things like whether they have enough money to eat or if will they will be forced to take the MARTA because they spent all their gas money at Lenox. Well, I will fret over the MARTA. *Girls - NEVER TAKE THE MARTA!* I'll fret over the big things. So here's a little advice on the big things:

1. Your 20s are for making mistakes and learning from them, falling in love and falling out of it, and enjoying your youthful ability to recover from a hangover quickly. Make no mistake, that is a GIFT. Don't take it for granted. And don't waste your 20s on being overly cautious. That's different from being stupid, remember. But don't be afraid to take chances. Go for it! Whatever it is. You have time to fix things later. And that's what Daddy's are for anyway.

2. Always have health care insurance. No matter the cost, it's an important element in being a responsible adult. One, contrary to popular belief, you aren't invincible and bad things do happen. Even to bright, beautiful women. And two, it benefits society as a whole to have healthy young adults participate in the market. I won't go into the details of why here, but know it's helpful to everyone, including your parents. You don't have to have maximum coverage, but have something to protect yourself.

3. Travel the country and the world AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Skip the Tory Burch's (pains me to say that) and put that $250 towards a plane ticket to Paris. Or Montreal. Or Denver. Go. See. Do. You want to be able to tell your children about the Grand Canyon or explain where Luxembourg is or how the Subway works in NYC. They'll think you're cool. And you will be. Know more than them so you can teach them. It's the greatest pleasure. And in the same vein, go to concerts, see Broadway shows, read books and see films.

4. Always keep your passport current. You just never know...

5. Read a newspaper every day. Online news is great, online is the future. But newspapers are cool. However you get your news, get it. Keep your worldview expanded. Know how to talk about current events. And not just what's on You don't have to be an expert on the Iranian nuclear crisis. Just know there is one.

6. Vote. In every election, I don't care if it's for dog-catcher. They matter. All of them. If you read your local newspaper, you'll know who to vote for. And if you don't know, just vote Republican. ;)

7. Learn to cook and be good at making a margarita. Know how to make a simple salad. Have an hors d'oeuvre you can whip up in 10 minutes. Learn how to grill something. Anything. And learn how to make a dessert. A good one. Preferably something your grandmother made. Family recipes are always the best.

8. My most urgent advice is, always (ALWAYS) be able to take care of yourself. At any age. 25, 42, 67. So no matter what life throws at you, you can provide for yourself and your family. It will keep you self-confident, with a sense of self-worth and self-respect. Staying home and raising your children is the single greatest, most rewarding and selfless job a woman can have. But don't let it singularly define you. Have passions, have skills, have interests. You and your family will be stronger for it.

9. The advice my Daddy gave me that I've used more than any other was go with your gut. You won't always be able to read it right away. Sometimes you have to wait for the clutter to clear so you can hear that little voice in your head. Be patient and wait. But sometimes you'll know the answer right away. Go with it. Even if it's not what you really want to do. Go. With. Your. Gut.

10. The greatest advice I ever received from my maternal grandmother was..."You don't have to tell everything you know". I've found this to be true in both your professional and personal lives. Just keep that little nugget in the back of your mind always.

11. Lastly, nurture your relationship with the Lord. For through Him all things are possible. He is always there. And I've found we sometimes largely ignore Him in our 20s then frantically and desperately search Him out in our 30s. Try not to fall into that pattern. The 20s will be less dramatic that way. Living God's will for your life is living in the sweet spot. It should always be your goal.

Have fun, darling girls. Live your life in full color. Love your family and your friends. They make this journey so much sweeter.

And if you ever do spend all your gas money at Lenox and find yourself staring at the MARTA, call me. I'll deposit some cash in your accounts.

Fly and be free, my little chickies!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

To Nana

Today we celebrate the life of an amazing woman. A woman who stood tall though she was a little 'ol thing. A woman with strong shoulders with which she carried her family though she had the feet the size of a child's. A woman who was the provider, comforter, supporter, cheerleader and mender of a small, but tightly woven family. A woman with more friends than anyone I've ever known. That says a lot about a person - the number of friends they have. It means you are kind and thoughtful. And fun.

Dorothy Elizabeth Knapp, my husband's beloved Nana, was nothing if not fun. The life of every party. The one everyone has a great story to tell about. The one everyone ends those stories with "only Dorothy...".

But she wasn't just the life of the party, she was the life of her family. A family she raised by herself starting in the 1940's. Unheard of in those days, but she did it and she did it well. She raised two bright and successful children and then she helped raise her three grandchildren. The grandchildren she would literally give everything she had for. She cared for her husband, the one she found later in life. The love of her life, for sure. I never met Jerry, but I've heard stories about him. He was the life of every party, as well. The two of them were the sun by which everyone in their world revolved around.

She lived 94 long and blessed years. She was independent, spunky and completely her own woman. She took the challenges life threw at her and she beat them with grace and style. And maybe a little bourbon on the side. I greatly respected Nana for being the strong one, the great matriarch whom we all loved very much because she loved all of us with every fiber of her being.

It saddens me that our boys won't remember her. But they come from a long line of strong and fiercely capable women on both sides of their family. It's my great challenge to carry their legacies forward, but with women like Nana to look to, my task is easier to accomplish. They'll know of her and the role she played in the forming of their paternal family. They'll learn to respect women from their father because he so greatly loved and admired his Nana. As well as his mother, an equally formidable and loving woman. They may not know it yet, but she has had and will continue to have a role in their raising because of her role in the raising of their dad. I am grateful to her for him and the morals and beliefs she helped instill in him.

We will miss her great laugh. The mischievous twinkle in her eyes. The stories she told. The fun she brought wherever she went. And tonight we raise a glass to the great woman of our family. She wouldn't want it any other way.

To Nana. Cheers! And Go Big Red!