Want to be Inspired…Read The Last Lecture

images-4.jpegSeveral months ago, when I thought I was fulfilling a dream of mine to become a full-time writer and reporter, one of my assignments was to peruse YouTube and find videos that would strike a chord with parents (I know…the task would not earn me a Pulitzer). And so, one evening, I stumbled upon “The Last Lecture.” As I sat at my kitchen table with eyes glued to Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon who was dying of pancreatic cancer, I was amazed that despite his grim prognosis, he spent the better part of the hour-long session encouraging students to never give up on their lifelong dreams.
Within minutes, I instantly alerted my editor to Pausch and his awe-inspiring class and guess what? I was ignored. They didn’t take my word for it that his video was going to resonate with millions of adults who have yet to figure out what they really want to be when they grow up. That is, until Oprah came knocking. And that’s when Professor Randy Pausch’s story and his inspirational message took on a life of it’s own.
Now, nearly 10 months after I first saw that incredible video, I just finished his book, The Last Lecture, which was written by Jeffrey Zaslow, a reporter I actually worked with more than a decade ago, who I fondly recall was one of the nicest journalists I had ever met. So it didn’t surprise me when I discovered that Jeff was the one who would pen Randy Pausch’s life story.
images-5.jpegI picked up The Last Lecture this past Friday and finished it three days later. As my kids and husband played hide and seek in the hallway, I brushed back tears when I read about all the things Pausch was going to miss about his wife and his kids. What I took away from his motivational story was that most of our lives are filled with brick walls that prevent us from achieving our true potential. But if we have dreams that we truly want to pursue, then we’ve got to find a way to break through those walls in order to live life to the fullest. Though he only lived 47 years, Randy Pausch achieved his childhood dreams and left an indelible mark on countless lives. I feel so fortunate to have watched his lecture and read his book and all I can say is if you are a dreamer like me but haven’t yet broken through your personal brick walls, then what are you waiting for? Buy The Last Lecture, read it from cover to cover, hug your kids tight and follow your dreams. I’m sure that’s what Randy Pausch would have wanted for all of us. And if you don’t believe me, take a look at his commencement speech at Carnegie Mellon. While he was only given 3-6 months to live, Pausch fooled everyone and survived more than 10 months before he lost his battle this past July. So if you have time in your busy day to be inspired, read Randy’s story or watch The Last Lecture. You never know, it may convince you to finally pursue your passion and break a wall or two while you’re at it. Oh, and BTW – I quit that writing job several months ago…turns out that wasn’t the dream I was supposed to fulfill. Still trying to figure out what it is, but somehow I think it involves me on Broadway. Since Pausch admitted he was a fan of cliche’s I’ll leave you with this one: Dare to dream!

Writing Motherhood – The First Day of Kindergarten

41yHtGdwW9L._SL160_.jpgVanessa over at Chef Druck is spearheading a fabulous writing exercise on behalf of the book Writing Motherhood by Lisa Garrigues. I read Lisa’s book a few months back and it really provided me with some invaluable advice on how to truly capture my life as a parent and put it into words that will keep readers engaged and entertained. So when Vanessa asked if I’d contribute a blog dedicated to our children’s firsts, I thought back to a great story about my son’s first day of kindergarten. So without further ado, here it is…

The Bracelet

I would have written earlier this week about my kids’ first day back to school but I managed to get myself involved in so many projects with my new company, that my musings about daily life weren’t that funny this week. In fact, on my son’s very first day of kindergarten, he shocked both my husband and I when he was the only kid in the class to start bawling when we both attempted to leave the classroom.
There is nothing more heartbreaking than watching your five year old wail when you attempt to drop him off at a new school. All I kept thinking was he’s never going to let me leave – I will never be able to go to work again. I’m going to be parked outside of the classroom until the leaves start changing. I don’t know what happened that he’s gotten so attached to me, but every single morning he asks the same question. “Mommy, are you going to work today?” For the last five years, I’ve had to tell him, yes, I’m going to work today. But now, I’m the owner of my own business and work is wherever I want it to be – at home, in Manhattan – even in Los Angeles if I wanted to hop on a plane. But yet, as my son gets more and more stressed when I tell him I’m heading to the city for work, I’m starting to realize that no matter what I do, I need to be there to take him to school, or be home when he walks in the door.
I’m not saying I’m packing it in for SAHM status – I am a worker at heart – but I do want to be there for him and my daughter. I even contemplated volunteering to be a class mother and then thought better of it since I pretty much stink in that area – who the heck wants to get up at 6am to call everyone on a snow day or bake all the cupcakes to sell at an election day bake sale. What I do know is that when a kid is five, they remember everything. I remember when I got left at afterschool by accident when I was his age and I vowed never to do that either of them – no kid gets left behind – except of course when you think they’re supposed to be in school for a full day but it’s really only a half day, but I digress…
Getting back to kindergarten – while my son held on to my arm for dear life that first day, the little boy next to him broke the ice with some sage advice. He looked straight at my left wrist and said, “Why don’t you leave something special with him like your bracelet and then he’ll know you have to come back for him?” A very wise thought, except I wasn’t about about to slip off my 10th anniversary gift as collatoral just so my son would stop his crying jag. So instead of parting with my tennis bracelet, I fished in my purse and handed him the sherrif’s badge we picked out at Rocking Horse ranch last week when he begged me to get him a pair of handcuffs. He still kept crying but eventually, after we gave him the slip, he finally stopped and picked up a marker to draw a picture of himself missing his mommy and daddy.
Thankfully for me, day two was a complete cinch. He marched right in, gave me a kiss and off he went to sit with his new friends. And me – I raced off to catch the 8:48am train, missed my morning coffee, but caught up with my closest gal pals on Metronorth. And then, I raced home early to see how his day went. And thankfully, he had a wonderful time. So while I adjust to starting a new business and Dylan adjusts to being a kindergartener, something tells me that while both of us may have bumps along the way, everything is going to turn out just fine.