How to survive the first days of Middle School


So in our town- it’s actually called JR. High as it’s only 7th/8th graders. My advice to your middle schooler or your Jr. High Schooler or even your High Schooler (I have one of them too) is what I told my kids “Kill them with Kindness!”

Today, August 15, 2018, is our first day of Jr. High. Monday was the first day of High School for my 10th grader as well. This year I have 2 kids at the Jr. High- one in 7th, one in 8th. They were both really nervous last night. Both had a few run-ins with aggressive kids last year. I gave my daughter a suggestion. What does Stacey Smith (not her real name) mean to you? Meghan explained “MEAN” and “HURTFUL!” So what can you do? How does she make you feel ? “Crappy like POOP!” she said (she may have said it with more swearing involved). So I suggested that she make a character of her in her head- like a fake funny comic like being- of said “poop.” And Meghan died laughing. I said now imagine this bag of poop (as we decided it would become) with arms and legs and when you see Stacey Smith see that image in your head. She giggled. I said now with that giggly smile go up to Stacey if you have reason to and see her- and say “Good to see you!” and keep on going.

Why? I have always found that if you “kill them with kindness” bullies and enemies or folks that are not your real friends don’t know what to do with that? They often just leave you alone. It’s not the end all and by all means if you are truly being bullied tell a trusted adult, but if it’s just normal teenage angst- smile sweetly, go out of your way to say HELLO with a big smile and keep on, keepin’ on!

I have actually given this advice to friends my own age (mid-forties) because I swear the circles of mom friends act the same as if they were in Middle School. Some people are caddy but you can avoid it all if you just grin and say “Mary- so great to see you today!” and keep on moving.

My youngest wasn’t as convinced…”SERIOUSLY MOM?! Do you think that’s really gonna work? That just gives them one more reason to tease me!” I’m not sure how he’ll handle his first day but I do know that he’s a good kid with some great friends in the school with him. He knows at least one person in each of his classes (this Jr. High brings in about 4 elementary schools and has about 700 kids total). It’ll be ok. But no matter what I hope he realizes it’s best to smile and keep on truckin’.

So here is to a great first day of school for my two kids and for all the kids out there starting school in the next few weeks. It’s a new beginning and if you smile- it can only be better.

middle school


First days…


day 1

First days are hard sometimes. First day of school can be full of anxiety for some, first day of work can bring a case of the jitters. But then there are other first days- First Day of Spring, First day being a parent. I love and sometimes dread first days.

When I first became a mom it was full of worry. My brand new baby had a seizure and I stayed in the hospital while they transported my teeny tiny guy to the big city hospital. I convinced them to discharge me and we slowly followed. NICU for a week. My first days were not great at all in 2003. My first day of work at a new job in 2001 was a great first day. So many nice people, and I eased into it like I’d been there forever. First kiss – not so great. First love- not so great either. First (and may it be only) marriage/husband- amazing. So firsts can be GREAT and not so great.

first day of school

No matter what Firsts happen and First Days are part of that. Today was my son’s First day back at school as summer break has come to an end. And how that is even rational on August 13th- I’ll never know. There is a lot of summer left and a lot more hot days. But for him- it’s over. The younger 2 start on Wednesday so they have a few days left to sleep in and enjoy the pool. Their first day will be full of nudging and waking them up for me and seeing friends for them. It’ll be a good day.

I can only hope my firsts continue to be good ones. First days of college- I bet you I will be crying- and I have 2 years to get adjusted to the idea so it’ll be ok. First days with a completely empty nest? EGADS (7 years away). And the cool thing really is – every day can be a first day. You can restart and reboot any time you want. So I think I will think of today as my first day too. A First day that starts the rest of my life. WOW- does that sound like a good idea- what will I do today!? The possibilities are endless. GO and make some FIRSTS of your own!

first days

It’s ok to say NO…



NO. It’s a complete sentence. A friend once gave me this advice, “Stop saying YES to everything and for once just say NO. No explanation. No, is a complete sentence.” I am so thankful that I got that advice but it took me nearly a decade to put that sentence in place.

NO. No, I do not want to volunteer for something else. No. No, I’m not free this afternoon. Why? I don’t need to tell you. I’m not free because I’m doing something else, even if that something else is sleeping, or watching TV or just breathing in my house, unshowered and okay with that fact. No.

For years I have been the “yes” mom. Yes, I’d be happy to volunteer hours of my time that I don’t have to help you out. Yes, let me do that for you. Yes, let me drive your kids from here to there because I might as well. Yes, let me make you dinner even though now I have to get take-out because I forgot to buy enough for your family and mine. Yes, let me volunteer every Sunday at church and miss service so others can opt to not volunteer. Yes, let me do this too. No.

I’m not that yes mom anymore and I’m okay with that. I am not mean or unkind by saying no at times but I must do it. I must realize what our life looks like when I always say, yes. Yes means that I have to say No to myself, my kids, my husband, our pets. Yes is fine if the rest of the family, household is not impacted. It’s like the rule our Scout Troop has- “Have fun as long as that fun doesn’t impact someone else’s ability to have fun.” It’s the same for yes and no. “Say YES as long as saying YES doesn’t impact someone else’s ability to live well. Say NO if that means you are preserving your household ability to live well.”

Obviously in life we sometimes need to say YES even when we want to say NO and that’s normal. Yes, maybe you have to have family visit when you really would rather they didn’t come at this exact moment or time but in the long run, you’ll probably be happy you said yes because family memories are precious. You may have to say YES to volunteer at your kids school even when you don’t have time but we are all in the same boat with this. Saying yes is okay once in a while even if it’s not convenient.

But most importantly say YES to yourself every single day. Make sure you say YES to exercise time, and time to prepare and eat healthy foods. Say YES to your kids when they want to put together a puzzle or play a game. Anytime I am asked to do anything with my teens I am thrilled, even if I don’t think I have time. MAKE TIME.

So my mantra for this year is to just say NO. I am maxed out on volunteering- 4 organizations- several hours a week of my time. Work- manage the contracts I have and don’t add any more at this time. Family- encourage and demand that household members pull their weight (chores, etc.). Family- call when you are able but stop the demand to be in daily contact. It’s ok to say NO to family too. Friends- say YES to time with friends but say NO when you just can’t do things even if you want to.

I’m so grateful for that advice a decade ago. I just wish I had learned to say NO with no explanation years ago. It makes it so much easier to live and say YES when you learn to say NO.




Sometimes it’s hard to make decisions and sometimes it’s inevitable a decision has to be made but you just aren’t sure which way to go. No matter what- we all need to make decisions. Whether it’s what flavor ice cream we want at the ice cream shoppe, or what color tee shirt we are going to buy. We all need to make decisions.

Most decisions are not life changing. We decide on a regular basis what to eat for meals, where to take a short trip or adventure. Others are life changing- like deciding to ask someone on a date (could end up being the one) or deciding where to move to for a job or a relocation. There are also financial decisions we all have to make. How much do we make and how much should we live on? How much do we save? how much do we donate? Where do we spend the extra we have? Retirement, college? What to do?

Recently we are in this position to decide what to do with money. Not a lot of money mind you but we realize it’s time to stop waiting and to start saving. We realized quickly with the assistance of our financial advisor who we hired 2 years ago that we need to save more for retirement. College? We have 3 kids- 2 teenagers, 1 tween and all 3 plan to go to college. I would have thought we should save for college and after they are done concentrate on retirement but that’s not a good option. “You can get a loan for college but you cannot get a loan for retirement.” Good advice from our financial advisor. So we will stash the few hundred extra we have a month into investments and let our money work for us and get closer to the retirement goal. If we get an extra windfall in the next while we will also stash that into retirement first. Paying off debt is #1, retirement is #2 and college is #3. It’s important to make decisions to help your future life be the best one it can be.

Jobs? We have to make worthwhile decisions in our jobs as well. Do you love your job? Is it fulfilling? Do you need to make a change? Or change how you view your job? It’s all very important to our inner happiness. If a job is causing you stress- so much in fact that you are upset- then perhaps it’s not the job for you. I’m not advocating that anyone rush and quit a job but you must try your best to be happy at work and in life. I sometimes find that if you give of yourself first you can find inner happiness. Volunteering has been really helped me in my life. It makes me feel good, needed, and it’s good for the soul. Sometimes it can boost you to the point where no matter what is going wrong in your life- your life becomes good. Helping others can heal us and help clear our minds to realize what we really want in life.

I hope you make decisions that make you happy in your life. I know I am happier when I make decisions, procrastinating makes it worse.

Take care of yourself



We must be prioritizing our to-do lists. Are you on yours? I am and it’s working. I am making ME a priority! It doesn’t mean I’m selfish or don’t care about other people. What it means is that I am no longer mindlessly going through my day. I am working on prioritizing my life, my needs and my families’ needs. I need to ensure I am on my to-do list.

My back has been giving me problems lately. Feeling a lot like 90 instead of my reality 45 soon to be 46 year old body. I have begun to do slow yoga in the mornings and don’t you know my back is back to feeling “young” again. I had to put myself first to make that happen. It means I am up a few minutes earlier but that means that I care enough to make sure I feel better. That’s how important I am.

I had forgotten to put myself first. What I ate- ah- it didn’t matter that much did it? YES- yes it does! I can eat fresher, whole foods if I take a bit more time to focus on what I want and what is best for me. Ends up the rest of the family eats better too when I make my health a priority.

Taking care of yourself is important. Do something for YOU today!

The Ocean heals


Not even 24 hours since crossing the Atlantic from the mainland of Massachusetts to Nantucket and I am transformed. The ocean smells, the sounds, the splashing of the waves against the shore. I have been awake since 5:45am. The sun peaked through the blinds by my windowsill and I listened. The surf rolls in and out and it’s like breathing. You can just be mesmerized by it.

As I sit here, I do things I probably shouldn’t. I paid some bills online, I did some data-entry for Boy Scouts (we are changing databases so I am adding the adults one by one), and I thought about a lot of things. But as I sit here doing the mundane tasks of my normal life- I hear it. Spash, swoosh, and I see it, just outside my window. The ocean, with no land in sight across it. I am inspired and in awe and I do not want to ever leave here. The Ocean heals your soul.

I grew up over the hill from the ocean and sadly never spent much time there. I’d go sit and walk the boulevard up and down but I never sat in the sand and just watched it all and listened. Luckily for me, my husband’s family has a house that his grandfather built on the island. We are blessed with an open ocean view and it’s amazing. I am transformed and transfixed. I stop as I type this to just look and listen.

We are here for 5 1/2 days and although that’s not a long time I feel like I am healing already. Healing from the hustle and bustle, healing from the words that just keep going through my head. If I listen, and concentrate on the waves- I hear nothing else. I intend to keep it that way for the next few, precious days.

I did it….



So I finally did it. I have been in the process of writing this book for years. The idea was to write a gritty real-life fiction based on my life. What instead came to pass is a real-life version but more of a small chapter- how to guide to survive. I have survived 2 abusive relationships, sexual abuse as a child by a neighbor child, and more. I don’t shy away from it. Most of my friends know a little about it if not all of it but I do think that others can be helped by my story of survival.

I don’t whine about my past- it happened. I grew from it and I am thankful for most of it. It made me who I am today. I share a tongue and cheek way of coping. I am sarcastic and I laugh my way through it. Was it always easy? NO? But did I overcome it all ?? YES I did.

I went to therapy for a few years and that helped tremendously. I think this book shares real life suggestions on how to cope and I hope you learn from it and realize that no matter what you are going through you can Continue to Live and Flourish each and every day.

Check out my new book Continue to Live and Flourish- a guide to surviving it all today!