With the door to 2018 opening wider each day, I find myself thinking and daydreaming about what I would like to see beyond that door. What do I want 2018’s story to be? While I don’t have the title finalized just yet, there are certain chapters that I already have written. Here’s a sneak peek into a couple of entries:
If you don’t have tweens or teens yet, stick this chapter in your back pocket. Right now is the time to start emphasizing family time is the most important time. Equip yourself for the independent years – by the time they are 12, they’ll be asking to hang out at the mall with friends every opportunity they have. The prep work you do now will set you up for less of a fight when you say the dreaded word “no” and insert family plans. Read More →
Gratitude is growing in popularity and I like it. Go into any store and you will see the word gratitude stamped on items from notebooks and mugs to shirts and workout gear. While some may say this is merely a trend that will soon move on, I prefer to think that these mindfulness reminders are here to stay. Beyond material reminders, more and more books, talks, and lessons are further embedding the benefits of gratitude, reminding us all to be actively grateful.
I have also noticed the font color most often used to inscribe the word gratitude is gold, as it should be – gold is bright, happy, shiny, and doesn’t go unnoticed. Traditionally, gold signifies the best of the best. Like the properties of gold, gratitude makes life happier and shinier, nor does it go unnoticed. Expressing gratitude is like pressing the pause button on life – with gratitude we see more to be thankful for.
I remember pressing down the five corners of the gold star that my teachers placed on the top of my papers with pride. The act of giving that shiny gold star represented the gratitude that my teacher had for my hard work. That gold star also represented so much more, something that my subconscious understood: when we do well in school or in anything for that matter, we unknowingly express gratitude. Our attitude for gratitude improves our mental strength. I was grateful to learn and for the relationship I had with my teachers, to be recognized (not that I had the insight to completely frame it this way as a child).
There is a quote that reads: gratitude turns what we have into enough. Instead of seeing our worlds riddled with shortcomings and emptiness, lacking this and that, we simply have enough. We are enough. The corners of our mouths turn into a smile, followed by feelings of wholeness and serenity. We are okay, more than okay. Not only does gratitude turn what we have into enough, it feeds our soul, empowering every cell in our being. Read More →
One tiny red leaf and a three inch stem was all that was left of my mini poinsettia last January. As I approached the trashcan with plant in hand ready to toss, I felt a pang of guilt: how could I throw out this plant who was still trying to live? Instead I decided to repot the scrappy plant and placed it by a sunny window.
After a week or so, I saw the poinsettia express gratitude through a new leaf at the top of the stem. I could almost hear the plant say, “I think I can, I think I can.” The plant stood humbly in it’s new gold pot with a total of two green leaves. Still scrappy, yet growing stronger. As the weeks went on and then months, my little poinsettia grew taller, displaying pride through many new leaves. And I enjoyed being attentive, watching the slow but steady progress.
Fastforward to last week, when I heard my first Christmas song on the radio and decided that I just wasn’t ready and turned the radio off. On the drive home, I thought about “the rules” for the holidays. Halloween once rolled into Thanksgiving, with the Christmas season beginning on the heels of Turkey dinner. Now Halloween is like the forward to Christmas; as kids count their Halloween loot, retailers put up Christmas trees and lights. Read More →
Smarties, I would like to introduce you to a very smart, witty, friendly, down-to-earth Smarty mom, Deni Pifer. The story of how I met Deni a little over 12 years ago makes you wonder about the magic of the world. While living in Myers Park and having not met yet, we both delivered babies in Pineville on the same day. My midwife only delivered at CMC Pineville and Deni’s doctor only went that far north from South Carolina. There was a baby boom that day in the hospital, so Deni and I were transferred to the overflow rooms. We had the chance to officially meet and put it all together once our babies started daycare at the same church back in Myers Park. My daughter and Deni’s son then exchanged a few bites and were sent home with “bite reports.” Needless to say, the Universe said we should know when another. The biting stopped long ago but our friendship continues. Enjoy getting to know Deni!
Hometown? The BIG CITY of Rock Hill, SC
Neighborhood? Myers Park
Married to: Bobby
Kids: Marshall, 12, and Sydney, 10
Alma Mater? BS and MBA from Winthrop University and JD from University of South Carolina
I handle estate planning which is wills, trusts, powers of attorney etc. as well as estate administration which is helping folks after someone passes away. I went to law school specifically to practice in this area after my mother died from cancer at the young age of 51 and her estate wasn’t as she and my father had thought. I have an ability to really connect to people because I really do care and I’m great at putting together the puzzle on the front end. Hopefully, all our clients have smooth sailing after one of them passes, but we also are very good at cleaning up estate planning messes left to deal with by others. Read More →
When I recognize an opportunity for a teaching moment, I take the stage. My kids often look at me quizzingly, not understanding how the podium and mic suddenly appeared. The words “I know mom” roll off their tongues before I can get ten words out. I know they often genuinely know, but I also know there are some lessons worth repeating and getting into two way conversations with more than once.
My daughter overheard a conversation I had with another mom recently. This mom, who I like very much and have met on the sidelines of numerous games, expressed how grateful she was to have met other moms who are nice. Another mom turned her head and replied with a surprised voice, “What did you expect us to be?” The transparency of her unguarded answer then took me by surprise, “Other moms sometimes don’t talk to me because I am a little overweight.”
This interaction opened the door to what I call “car talk.”
Car talk: one-on-one conversation between parent and child within the safe, intimate, confidential confines of a car with no other distractions. I have written an entire article on how a one-on-one drive can take you to amazing places with your child, especially when they graduate to the front seat. These conversations are most definitely two-way; I certainly don’t want my kids to associate the car with a lecture like a dog might with the vet. Read More →
Their stories began turning the pages of our imaginations before they were even born. After wondering who they would favor on the outside, our minds turned to imagining the person they would grow into. What story would unfold from the pages of their life and how can we as their initial story keepers help them write their best works. I find myself daydreaming about my children’s stories, fastforwarding in a time traveler sort of way in order to look back to the present day. How will today shape their lives?
I often reflect on how my life was shaped by the chapters that came before mine. The forward to my own story was so colorful that its pages bled onto my blank pages before I even opened my eyes. We are all born into a tale that started long ago yet has a way of staying with us today.
My father’s parents were immigrants from Ireland, making my dad first generation American born. At the tender age of three, he was placed into the foster care system of NY upon his mother’s passing. Five kids were too much for his father so he kept only the eldest son. The traumas of living with multiple foster families left its mark. My eyes widened with every story shared at the dinner table; they all sounded like works of fiction to everyone but my dad. His eyes shared the pain when words were too painful to speak.
My mother became a citizen of the United States after living in England for fourteen years without truly belonging. Her parents fled Estonia during WWII to escape their own deaths, living in the woods for months while enroute to a safer place. My mom was born in a displaced person’s camp upon arrival in Germany where she lived until the age of five. Once the American Red Cross reunited my grandfather with his family (he was a POW for two years), they applied as refugees to go to England.
By the time I reached adulthood, I developed a huge appreciation for the stories that make us who we are. I understood why my parents found one another. I knew to never pass judgement too quickly. I developed a deep sense of compassion and empathy. I learned to truly listen. I learned to truly forgive. And as I grew into my thirties, I finally understood the source of my anxiety: it was woven into my DNA. It can take up to three generations for war traumas to be cleansed from our DNA. I wiped my brow and sighed a great relief knowing that my kids should have less burdensome DNA.
But is it all burdensome? Afterall, emotional strength comes from adversity. My parents had both confronted more than their fair share of challenges. Together they created a family of their own with my brother, sister and me; there were certainly times when it felt like we were all on the learning curve together. I can see how my strengths were born from their experiences, as well as my own experiences.
So now fast forward to my own children’s stories. I sometimes question if they have enough adversity in their lives or more directly, are their lives too easy? While I never want to wish too many challenges or strife upon them, I know I want them to be emotionally intelligent and resilient. My life has certainly had pages and chapters of adversity which I now embrace more than ever as a parent. I have become a storyteller armed with powerful lessons. I am literally an open book. I have shared my (and my family’s) most vulnerable stories with them, stories that I once considered burying forever. I watch them listen to me and see myself reflected in them when I listened to my own parents’ stories. I feel myself grow stronger with every story shared, but more importantly, I see that invisible thread weaving into the cloths of their beings, strengthening their souls. So don’t hold onto your most vulnerable stories. As painful as they might be, they are treasures for your children. And what happens afterwards is priceless – they in turn share their vulnerabilities.
Can you believe it? Really can you believe it? With every new school year, I have such a hard time grasping the fact that a new school year has begun. How did time manage to pull the wool over our eyes once again? How did time manage to end what seemed like a never ending summer? Three months ago we all felt like we had endless possibilities to mold summer into what our Pinterest boards envisioned for us or felt like we could easily slash through our summer bucket lists.
Whether or not you made it through your vision of summer, the fact is the bell has been rung and classes have started. The first day of school kind of reminds me of the anticipation of Christmas or any other holiday where you feel the pressure to find the perfect gifts, arrange logistics that will please everyone, plan meals, check schedules, and have the right outfits. Consider the start of school a warmup for the holidays!
In the weeks leading up to the first day of school (literally Christmas for some of you) and into the first couple of weeks of school, we find ourselves relating to the trials and tribulations that come along with the new school year:
– After finding the exact sized binders (mom, it has to be ½ inch, not one inch), you find out that you child really needed a three-subject notebook instead.
– Then after really finding the exact sized binders and notebooks, you venture back out for forgotten dividers (which have to have pockets and are $10 more) only for your child to see binders that are indeed Pinterest worthy; commence the start of the return pile by the back door. Read More →
That is a question that our children will think back to for the rest of their lives! Many Charlotteans will be witnessing the solar eclipse very close to the path of totality. For those of you who are planners and total eclipse enthusiasts, you have had your hotel booked within the path of totality for months, even years. For those who are a little late to the game, perhaps you’re waking your kids up early for a road trip into the path of totality. Nonetheless, Charlotte is abuzz with eclipse excitement.
I have had some people ask me why I am so excited by a minute of activity (in my book the eclipse should definitely be considered more than a minute of activity). My kids even looked at me a little puzzled when I asked them to block their calendars and told them they had to view the eclipse with our family. Without going into scientific details or perhaps spiritual frames of reference, I shot my replies from the hip. Here are my top reasons as to why we must witness the eclipse: Read More →
So if you love babies like we Smarty Moms do, you are most definitely going to want to step into the life of Dr. Tiffani Jones for at least a day. Tiffani delivers babies in Charlotte while gracefully living a full and meaningful life. Tiffani’s smile is contagious and if you ever find yourself in conversation with her, you will find she is also magnetic. If her positivity and passion isn’t evident yet, then look no further than her caring and selfless children. I just love this family and know you will too!
Married to: Thaddeus Jones
Kids: Gavyn (8) and Greyson (4)
Alma Mater: Meharry Medical College
Originally From: Pontiac, Michigan
What part of Charlotte do you call home? Eastover
I was once told that things are always better when you don’t make it about you. That is how I look at delivery. While different for cesarean deliveries, for most deliveries I consider myself a guide. I take my medical knowledge, the desires of the mother, and the status of the baby/pregnancy to help guide her decisions about what to do and get their babies safely from their uterus to their arms. It is an honor to witness the joy and happiness of childbirth. Read More →
I try not to throw that word that starts with an S around too much, you know, that word that denotes a more rigid schedule, lost freedoms, early mornings, papers, projects, tests, and maybe late nights. Can you hear that? Is that the sound of your own cry resonating from the bowels of your own childhood? Or is it the sound of your highlighter excitedly marking the new school year calendar?
I have one child who just doesn’t participate in any S conversations – said child is on the fence from what I can gather. I don’t press the conversation; I know what thoughts and emotions linger in the space between us. It’s about to be a transition year, a release into new wilderness. Too much mention of S only brings in the clouds for the rest of summer. It’s as if I have the power to control the weather with my choice of words – and I want the sun to keep shining.
On the other hand, I have one child who hounds me to go school supply shopping at least every other day. I find screenshots and written lists around the house of back-to-school essentials. Said child makes MY stomach turn. “Shhh…we have plenty of time,” I whisper as I push her words away for the time being. It’s too much confrontation. And it’s not like the last school supplies are going to be swept off shelves like bread before a snowstorm anytime soon. Read More →