My Girl Crush: Michelle Obama

I’m not gonna lie. I have a crush on Michelle Obama. So much so, that out of ever female speaker on this planet, the only person who I have seen twice is Michelle. The first time was when I was invited to the White House for a private event for mom bloggers where she appeared as a featured speaker and the second was with my daughter while she was on tour for her new book Becoming.

I just want you to know – if you are deciding whether to buy the book, my advice is to buy it so you have it as a memento but then download it on Audible.com and listen to Michelle narrate her life while you’re walking the dog, driving to pick your kids up from school, riding to work, shopping at the supermarket or riding the subway. It’s 40+ hours of pure inspiration, laughter and a twinge of sadness too. 

What I loved most about the book was that it was relatable on so many levels – whether you grew up in a neighborhood much like Michelle’s on Euclid Avenue on the South Side of Chicago where her family experienced racism first hand as neighbors began moving away as a result of “white flight”; to the high school guidance counselor who told her she wasn’t “Princeton material” and she was determined to prove her wrong – earning degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law School. Then there’s her courtship with Barack, who she mentored when he was a summer associate at the law firm where she worked; and her early years raising her two girls while she balanced her career as her husband pursued politics in Chicago and on the national stage.

Michelle Obama truly epitomizes every working mom I know. We grew up with a fire in our bellies determined to succeed but when we became moms, we realized we had to figure out a different path to pursue our passions while being there for our kids when they needed us most. I also loved the fact that she truly found her passion after meeting Barack – he was her “swerve” which led her to let go of the frenetic pace of climbing an unfulfilling corporate ladder so she could do something much more impactful with her life. 

Michelle Obama is not only inspiring to my generation, but to my daughter and her friends as well. There was a sea of mother/daughters at the Wells Fargo Center last week and we were all giddy with excitement. In fact, many of us met on the SEPTA train headed to the event and I joked that this was our version of the World Series. When we were standing in line to get into the concert venue, there was a camera crew out front and a woman couldn’t contain her excitement sharing why she was so thrilled to have the chance to hear Michelle Obama speak. It was like an Oprah Winfrey moment…You get car! You get a car! And You Get a Car! The energy surrounding all of us was positively electric.

via GIPHY

At the heart of it, we were all aching to be inspired again. Many of us are just tired and shell shocked by the last two years and we are so ready to believe that things will turn around for the better. For my daughter, I was thrilled for her to hear sage words of advice from the former First Lady about the importance of ignoring the naysayers because once you do achieve your dreams or gain acceptance to places that are oftentimes occupied by people with mediocre intelligence at best, you will come to find that you might just be the smartest person in the room and that will feel damn good.

I feel lucky to have been able to share this unforgettable experience with my daughter and cannot wait to see what she achieves in her lifetime. As for me, as I write my next chapter, I’m taking everything Michelle said to heart about what I am becoming. I’m trying my best not to have regrets about the decisions I have made over the years, only planning for the future as I focus on things I love to do while exposing my own kids to opportunities and experiences that will help guide them towards whatever it is they’re supposed to become. 

So thanks Michelle. I will forever have a girl crush on you. I do hope to see you again someday. Something tells me if I keep dreaming, doing and becoming, I absolutely will. 

Go F**k Yourself Friday…The Pet Edition

Thanks to my cousin Jeff, today’s post is inspired by our pets, Santana, Hazel, Jasper and Guapo. For the most part, our pets are some of the most pampered on the planet, but they do get pissed off at us from time to time. So I’ve decided to give our furry and scaly housemates the floor today so they can finally share what’s on their minds…

Hazel’s Side-eye: Go F**k Yourself Grandpa for kicking me off the kitchen table this morning so you can drink your morning coffee and eat your toasted bagel with peanut butter. Don’t you know that I enjoy lying across the placemats while Beth watches MSNBC on her phone in the morning and Darin is out walking Santana? There’s nothing better than sprawling out on that table especially when I know the coast is clear and I’m not going to have to pole vault into the dining room once the dog comes back into the house. I know it seems unsanitary, but I seriously clean myself 20 times a day. You have nothing to worry about, except maybe a few cat hairs in your black coffee.

Hazel gives Grandpa the side eye

Guapo’s Rant: Go F**k Yourself for keeping me cooped up in a fish tank for the better part of seven years. I know you tried to make the place look nice. You gave me beachfront property and a window view of the backyard, but seriously, I’m three feet long now and would really like to relocate to Florida. I hear that Boca is quite nice. Maybe next time you drive down there, you can drop me off so I can find my long lost bearded dragon relatives.

Guapo plots his escape to Boca

Jasper’s Revenge: Go F**k Yourself Santana for chasing me and Hazel away from the bedroom because you are clearly the favorite. That’s okay. We were here first and we will continue to taunt you by sleeping in your dog bed and drinking from your water bowl. You can’t scare us with your silly bark. You know we have the upper hand since no one ever trims our nails and we can use them like ninja steak knives if you piss us off. 

Santana vs. Squirrel: Go F**k Yourself mailman, Fresh Direct delivery man, UPS driver, landscaper, Uber Eats guy and anyone else who attempts to come to my front door and I don’t know who you are. Don’t worry, I don’t actually bite anyone who comes in the door but if you do not let me kiss you on the face or pet me, I will keep barking until you hit the road. Oh and FU too squirrel who always manages to taunt me on the porch. I will get you one day. I just have to figure out how to bust out of the sunroom.

Go F**k Yourself squirrel. I see you taunting me right outside the sunroom. Not funny. Not funny at all.

Thanks for stopping by this week. Hope your pets treat you as great as ours do. And on that note, time to walk the dog…

Photo credit: Jake Danishevsky

Presenting Beth’s Official Splurge-Worthy Holiday Gift Guide

For anyone who knows what it’s like to be a parenting (aka Mommy) blogger, I’m going to clue you in to a little secret. About 12 years ago when I started blogging, my writer friends and I wrote about what we loved – whether it was storytelling, shopping or saving money. Nobody paid us when we wrote about them and we chalked it up to a stroke of luck when a brand discovered us and started sending us things for free. I mean when I started to get free Nintendo games for my kids, I seriously thought I hit the mother load. 

Today, my kids are a lot older so video games are not going to cut it. I guess I should be grateful that my son is obsessed with Fortnite so I really don’t have to spend that much on him anymore. But enough about my kids. This year, I’m coming up with my holiday wish list and damn, it’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

Just so you are aware, I’m what you call an “early adapter.” I discover things before they actually become popular so if you want to be ahead of the curve, then please feel free to follow my lead and happy shopping… 

 Beth’s Holiday Wish List…

  1. The Peloton Tread:  This is absolutely #1 on my list to purchase at some point this year. I have been Pelo-obsessed since I first splurged on the state of the art spin bike more than two years ago. But now, I’ve been eyeing their brand new treadmill that offers live and on demand classes that’ll finally solve the “why do my legs always look so big problem.” I always find that when I start jogging, my legs thin out so as soon as I land a few more projects, that treadmill is totally going to be mine. If you decide to pull the trigger and order a Peloton or a Tread, feel free to use my Referral Code: QJMKEY – think of it as a GoFundMe so I can raise money to get the Tread. Kidding, not kidding. 🙂

2. The Ninja Foodie: I have so many appliances on my counter and recently, I discovered a brand new combo appliance that puts the Instant Pot and Air Fryer all in one place. As my friends and family can attest, I cook practically everything these days in my Instant Pot and Air Fryer. The Ninja Foodie looks like a total game changer and a space saver all in one! 

3. Away Travel: Since I watch MSNBC all day and listen to it in the car too, there are certain commercials that have now been embedded in my memory. One is Madison Reed – which offers a simple way to color your hair (thanks but no thanks), the second is Third Love, a revolutionary bra that will change your life (nope) and the other is Away Travel…yes we have a winner! If you travel a lot or if you are obsessed with your phone, then this is the ideal gift for you. A suitcase where you can charge your phone at the same time! No more looking for wall outlets right before you board a flight. You can be plugged in at all times! 

4. Seaweed Villa in Treasure Beach Jamaica: Now that you have your luggage, here’s the place you’re going to want to stay. We’ve been to Treasure Beach several times and while it does take some work to get there (it’s about 2.5 hours from Montego Bay airport), it is totally worth it. If you can’t afford SeaWeed – which is an unbelievable villa with an in ground pool, jacuzzi, views of the beach, a staff to take care of your every whim, gazebos galore and gorgeous bedrooms, then head to Jakes Hotel which also has beautiful cottages with ocean views too. 

5. A New Car for My Hubby: For the last three years, Darin has been driving around in a tiny Hyundai Elantra and at last count, I think he has blown about 10 tires since driving out of the showroom. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not the car’s fault. He should have changed the tires during the winter or not driven on the roads in our neighborhood until all the pot holes were filled. Thankfully, his lease is up in the next two months so we’ll be on the hunt for a new set of wheels. Something tells me, it’s time for an upgrade. (Dare to dream).

So there you go. My dream holiday wish list. I probably won’t be getting everything on my list, but even if I can splurge on one thing, then seriously, I will be a very happy camper.

Happy Holidays!  

When is it Time to Lean Out?

The New York Times recently published a story about how Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Chairman Mark Zuckerberg are currently under fire for putting subscribers at risk during the height of the 2016 election. Sandberg, who is best known for Lean In, a “This is How You Should Do It” advice book for career women, has managed to juggle her career at Facebook and her own personal brand for more than a decade. After the tragic passing of her husband, she continues to be a highly successful career woman, author, speaker and mother. But could now be the right time to finally take her eyes off the prize and Lean Out for a change?

When my children were little and I was climbing the corporate ladder, I was all about Leaning In. I advocated for myself and was one of the first working mothers in our office to telecommute. I still managed to secure promotions but also changed certain aspects of my job to accommodate the needs of my family. While I was fortunate enough to afford childcare, I still chose family over work – especially when it came to emergency situations involving my husband or my children. During that time, I worked on some of the biggest shows in Network television and never missed a beat – except when I went into early labor right before May sweeps.

That’s the tough part about making it to the top of a major company if you are a working mom. Now picture the scenario if you’re a single working mom with two New York Times best selling books, traveling all the time, speaking all over the world and trying to save your company’s reputation after the 2016 election. That’s a tough job for a man but as a woman and a mother, it’s exponentially harder.

Recently, I was slated to speak at a conference and thought I’d be home in time to pick up my son from high school and walk the dog. Unfortunately, my time slot for my presentation moved from the morning to late afternoon and before I knew it, my carefully crafted house of cards came tumbling down. Sure, Uber can come through in a pinch if the app is working properly (it wasn’t that day) and to complicate matters, our dog walker was unavailable. Oh, and did I mention that right before I was supposed to start speaking, I got an urgent phone call from my daughter that she was headed to health services on campus because she was having excruciating stomach pains? Sometimes, even when you’re trying to focus on your career, life has a funny way of stopping you dead in your tracks.

One would suspect it would be easier to Lean In harder as your kids get older but the opposite is true. That’s the exact time they need you as they prepare to leave the nest. When they are in their adolescent years, teens may experiment with drugs and alcohol or combat mental health issues that could lead to anxiety, depression and even suicide. When your kids are on the verge of becoming adults, that’s when they need their parents to pay attention to what’s going on in their lives.

Back in the early 1990’s, young college grads like me were told we could have it all. A career where you can make it to the top of that corporate ladder and be a great mom too. But the reality is, it’s hard to juggle both at the same time. You can be great at your job but there are going to be times when you have to walk away so you can focus on your family. You’re still amazing at what you do, but one day, when your kids are older, they will appreciate the fact that you Leaned Out at work so you could Lean In more with them.

I have many friends who came of age during the “Working Girl” era and we all agree that no matter where our careers have led, we are happier knowing we have always managed to find a way to pursue our passions without shortchanging our kids in the process. One friend Leaned Out during her daughter’s grueling college application process. Another confided that she doesn’t want to be a department head in her company because she’d rather make it home in time each night to be with her family. A third recently walked away from her job completely because she hated what she was doing and didn’t want life to pass her by just because she was busy climbing to the top. Then there are people like my mom who had to give up a job that she loved when my grandmother’s bout with Alzheimer’s disease worsened and she could no longer be left alone for extended periods of time.

We all make our decisions to Lean Out when it makes sense for us. That doesn’t mean we’re not good enough and it doesn’t mean we are quitters. Many of the women I admire and respect are realists who have figured out that the meaning of life does not center around your career.

Recently, a dear friend lost one of his best friends to cancer. His name was Tom. Tom was a throwback to another era. He barely used technology and yet had a way of engaging with people that made the experience completely unforgettable. After his passing, Tom’s friends continue to share stories of how he has forever touched their lives – through his humor, his music, his giving heart, his voice and his wisdom. Tom connected with children, teens and adults and while he never made it to the boardroom, he has left his mark on countless lives and will never be forgotten.

As I contemplate what’s next in my own career, my thoughts keep going back to Tom. At the end of the day, success is not about Leaning In so you can have a seat in the boardroom. It’s about Leaning Out so you don’t miss out on the best things in life.

Role Mommy Review: Weed the People

Over the years, I have been involved in a several different projects that centered around cancer. No matter the circumstances, it’s heartbreaking to see anyone face a cancer diagnosis. But when it’s your child, it’s absolutely devastating. I’ve met numerous families who have banded together to help find a cure for pediatric and breast cancer and am amazed at the immunotherapy treatment that has been funded due to donations, awareness and their tireless efforts to do whatever it takes to save a life.

Baby Sophie meets Mara Gordon, the founder of Aunt Zelda’s Oil who works with families to find cannabis oil treatment options for cancer

For cancer patients who are still fighting the disease or have been diagnosed at a late stage, the road is quite frightening – especially for families of young children. That’s why it was so enlightening for me to see the new documentary “Weed the People,” produced by Ricki Lake and directed by Abby Epstein which follows several families on their journey to find holistic treatments for their children that have led to their tumors shrinking or disappearing completely.

The film is definitely a tug at your heartstrings experience so make sure you have a few tissues handy when you watch as cameras follow the families in the midst of their fight against deadly cancer, their introduction to using a form of cannabis to treat their children and the incredible results that followed.

The sad part is that while cannabis oil is available in some states, there are others that make it illegal for families to have it shipped to them across state lines. The cost is also incredibly high and insurance unfortunately doesn’t cover it. So families are left to find unconventional ways to raise funds for the treatment while others sell their prized possessions or host fundraisers to support their medical expenses in the hope they can save their child’s life.

From an adorable blond haired blue eyed baby named Sophie whose tumors miraculously start shrinking after a combination of chemo and medicinal cannabis oil, to a boy named Chico who experiences an incredible turnaround, to AJ Kephart who even makes it to his high school graduation, “Weed the People,” presents a hopeful outlook for families who are determined to do whatever it takes to save their kids. While the outcomes are not all positive, what is encouraging is that there are doctors who are interested in learning more about the benefits of medicinal cannabis oil and how it could impact the patients they are treating.

I highly recommend “Weed the People” and really do hope that more pediatric oncologists incorporate medicinal cannabis into their treatment of young patients.  To find out more about the film and if it’s playing in your area, visit the Weed the People website.

Weed The People Trailer from Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein on Vimeo.

What’s your purpose?

I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m out walking my dog and left to my own devices, I typically whip out my iPhone and if I’m not tempted to listen to MSNBC, I do what I used to love when I was kid. 

I sing.

The thing I love most and miss most in my life is music.

You see, when I was a little girl, I proclaimed I wanted to be a singer when I grew up. I sang for a really long time – all the way into my early 40’s but over the last few years, that stopped. I don’t know what happened exactly, but honestly, without music, life can get a bit depressing. 

And so, every so often, I take my dog on a stroll to a pond near our home where I belt out songs – from Broadway to 80’s classics to inspirational songs that just make me smile. 

Curious about my eclectic playlist? Well here’s some of the songs I like to sing when no one is watching. I also find that blasting these songs in my car works wonders too…

Hope you enjoy my playlist as much as I loved making it. And if you’re not really into my music, that’s okay. You can make your own list – the key is find the songs that make you smile, take a long somewhere alone and start singing!

Go F*** Yourself Fridays

Most people who know me tend to say that I’m super nice, kind, supportive and a team player.  You need me to take you somewhere or be there when things are not going your way, I’m your girl. Want to make last minute lunch plans so we can catch up on lost time? When do you want to meet? Want to pick my brain about your next big idea? Pick a date and let’s get creative.

But there’s something funny that happens to nice people. We get taken advantage of and taken for granted. A LOT. 

So after celebrating my birthday this week and being grateful for the wonderful people who reconnected with me, I also noticed people I haven’t heard from in years who I don’t trust and don’t like popping up on my social media pages.

Which leads me to my latest column for the week, F*** Off Fridays. My husband coined this brilliant phrase and is pretty excited to see my first post and my first candidate for this coveted honor. Let me be up front. I am not calling anyone out by name. I am however calling out bad behavior so if you have an inkling that you have done this to someone you know or respect, then seriously, Go F*** Yourself.

So without further ado, I’d like to say Go F*** Yourself…

THE COPYCAT

You know exactly who you are. You don’t have an original bone in your body and so, when you see someone who is leaps and bounds ahead of you professionally and creatively, you decide, “Wow! That’s a great idea.” I should totally do that too. And so, you waste no time ripping off the original owner of their idea and running with it. And sometimes you even experience more success than the person who came up with the idea in the first place.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I called BS on that line of BS.

For the record, it’s not like I’ve only had one copycat rip me off in my life. Oh no, there have been many.

Like the copycat who moderated a few of my parenting events and was trying to sell a book on a different topic that wasn’t flying so she switched gears, took my concept, sold the idea and got a book deal.  Hey former morning news anchor: Go F*** yourself.

Or the woman who saw me launch a list targeting influencers for paid sponsorship campaigns and within one month started her own thing too and pretty much became my competition right out of the starting gate. Hey list idea stealer: Go F**k yourself.

Then there’s the serial copycatters who rip off part of the clever name you’ve created, land a column in a newspaper where they rip off more people and then decided to launch an event business like the one you started by leveraging contacts they have in the entertainment industry to connect influencers with exciting opportunities. You ladies deserve a week’s worth of Go F**k Yourselves.

There have also been those who ripped off my idea for a digital magazine and just this week, when I wrote a blog post that I published here and on Thrive Global about the 49 things I wanted to do when I was 49, one copycat who I hadn’t seen pop up on my feed in years suddenly reared her duplicitous head and proclaimed on LinkedIn that she was going to be writing about the 40 things she wants to do now that she’s 40. Hey there 40 year old! How about trying this one on for size:  Go F*** Yourself.

I know I may sound bitter but the pact that I have made with myself this year is to call out bad behavior when I see it. We will be featuring Go F*** Yourself categories every Friday so get ready to come back and you can decide if you’re one of the people who have crossed me or one who’d like to join me for coffee later today.

Now go out and have a great Friday and if anyone rips you off, you know exactly what to tell them. 

49 Things to do When You Are 49

I wrote a list like this several years back in my early 40s when I was contemplating the meaning of life and the challenges that lay ahead. Little did I know that things wouldn’t get easier, but significantly more difficult. From finances, to health, to unexpected situations that have tested my resolve as a woman and a parent, I’m now entering the last year of this decade so I figured I’d give it a shot again and attempt to stay true to my list!

49. Stop complaining about the opportunities that didn’t come your way or second guessing decisions you made in your past. 

48. Make a list every day of things you want to accomplish that’s just for you!

47. Tell your family members you love them – every single day.

46. Reconnect with friends you know care as much about you as you do about them.

45. No longer chase after friends who always seem to be too busy to make time for you.

44. Start doing the things you used to love when you were 12 years old.

43. Travel more to places you keep saying you want to visit.

42. Step out of your comfort zone every single week.

41. Say “No” more.

40. Don’t let toxic people rent space in your head.

39. Volunteer for causes that feed your spirit and your mind.

38. Read more.

37. Write more.

36. Sing more.

35. Play more.

34. Drive to the airport and book a trip to somewhere you’ve never been before.

33. Get in your car, pick a destination and stay overnight in that city.

32. See more Broadway shows.

31. Finally go see Hall & Oates in concert. (Okay, pretty lame but I say it every year and never do it).

30. Pitch your writing to a major women’s magazine and don’t stop until you get published.

29. Go out dancing or do karaoke with your girlfriends.

28. Keep yourself open to opportunities. You never know where your journey may lead if you open a new door.

27. Enroll in a creative writing course.

26. Connect with amazing women whom you admire and respect.

25. Reconnect with your mentors or find new mentors who can help guide you into the next decade.

24. Detach from social media at least 1X per week.

23. Exercise more – without being on your phone while you’re doing it.

22. Close the door on projects that are no longer working for you.

21. Write a new chapter of your life every single day.

20. Write a keynote speech and figure out where you’re going to deliver it.

19. Align with like minded individuals who can help you grow and thrive.

18. Sleep more.

17. Walk your dog at least 2-3 times per day for at 20-30 minutes.

16. Take an art class that has wine.

15. Share your stories with the world.

14. Spend time with your parents and appreciate the time you have with them.

13. Support your kids but instill in them the confidence that they can become anything they want to be as long as they put the time and the work into it.

12. Don’t be discouraged by rejection.

11. Be grateful for the things you have.

10. Do not be envious that other people may seem to have more than you. If you’re happy, you have everything.

9. Tell the people who make you happy that they are so special to you. Nice people need to know they are truly appreciated.

8. Find your way back to you.

7. Build your next decade tribe by surrounding yourself with women and men who lift you up.

6. Don’t be afraid to apologize if you’ve screwed up.

5. Hug it out with the ones in your life who bring you pure joy.

4. No matter how busy you are, always make time for your family 

3. Compliment perfect strangers and see how it changes their day.

2. Stop worrying about how you are going to make a living and just start living.

  1. JUST DO IT!!!!!!!

Welcome to a New Year

It’s not January 1st, but it’s my birthday and I have to admit, I have neglected Role Mommy for a long time. Perhaps it was because my kids aren’t little anymore and frankly, I just don’t feel like a “Mommy” anymore. Way back when I started this blog, a friend of mine said I would outgrow the “Mommy” role and I never expected that to happen. But dear readers, it did. But that’s okay, because Role Mommy is back. I’m committed to writing more on my blog in an authentic voice. I’m going to talk about things that might be tough to deal with as parents. It’s not going to be all rainbows and unicorns. It’s going to be about real life because as our kids get older, the stakes are higher and we can’t sugar coat the fact that everything is going to be fine because frankly, it’s not.

I’m not a helicopter parent – in fact I pride myself on providing my kids with the tools and training they need to succeed. If they were interested in a sport, I signed them up for a team or lessons. If they were interested in the arts, I helped them hone their skills by guiding them towards a program that would cultivate their talents. Every step of the way, I am trying to be a “lighthouse parent” – helping to guide the way for my kids but not micromanage their lives to the point where they feel like I am forcing them into doing something that they don’t want to do. 

When it comes to colleges, I have to admit, I have tried to convince both my kids to give my alma mater a shot but both of them have made it pretty clear that UMASS is not going to make the cut. And while that bums me out, it’s okay because it’s not my life, it’s theirs.

Both my kids are as different as night and day. With a girl and a boy, I juggle with a range of emotions practically every day. Anxiety, stress, depression, one word responses, ups, downs, you name it, I’m like a baseball shortstop just trying to field the plays as they come in. And trust me, it was so much easier trying to get my kids potty trained and walking than it is to manage teenage rejection, angst and anxiety.

The one thing I do know is that communication is the key to parenting. If your kids are hurting, you can’t just sugarcoat it and tell them it’s going to be okay. You need to listen to them, share your own personal experiences but validate what they are feeling. I’m still learning as I go but I’m trying and that’s all I can do at this point.

So, welcome to Role Mommy, the teen and empty nest years. It’s stressful, it’s scary and it’s not easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

My Outlier Parenting Story…Beth & Rebecca Drew

When I first started Role Mommy more than 12 years ago, my kids were little. At the time, my daughter was seven and my son was four and all I wanted to do was figure out how I was going to climb the corporate ladder and pursue my dreams while raising a family. During that time, I did figure out how to advance in my career all while staying active in my kids’ lives. As they got older, I started to discover what my kids loved and what they were really good at. And then I read Outliers.

If you haven’t read this fantastic guidebook by Malcolm Gladwell on some of the most iconic success stories in history – from the Beatles to Bill Gates, then make sure it’s on your January 2018 reading list. The key takeaway that I got from Outliers was the 10,000 hours expert theory. According to Gladwell, it takes at least 10,000 hours for someone to be an expert in anything. So just imagine – if your child decided at age 5 that they wanted to be a prima ballerina and they really loved taking all those dance lessons, you could technically guide them toward their dream. I’m not saying to torture your child – you need to listen to them when they’re getting burnt out and don’t want to keep going but if you have a kid that lives and breathes their art, their magic, their music or even their Legos, you have the power to unlock their dreams.

With Outlier Parenting, we will feature parents who have listened to their kids and guided them toward realizing their dreams. I’m going to start first with my daughter Becca Drew.

While I never intended to raise an artist, little did I know that that her middle name would determine her fate.

When she was in elementary school, her art teacher told us how impressed he was with her work and thought she could really do something special with her talents. While we were proud of her at the time, she didn’t have any interest in taking art classes outside of school, so we didn’t push her.

When she enrolled in middle school, Becca started to show an interest in fashion design and thankfully, one of my commuting buddies shared an amazing tip that helped put the 10,000 hours theory in motion. It turns out that FIT offers classes for middle and high schoolers where they can attend class on the weekends and learn everything from fashion design to draping, to sewing and sneaker design, photography and more. We enrolled our daughter in her first FIT class in 8th grade and after she was admitted into a Visual Arts program at her high school in New Rochelle, she continued taking the fashion classes through her Junior year.

Along the way, Becca met a wedding dress designer named Henry Roth and when she shared that she wanted to be a wedding dress designer (she actually shared one of her drawings with him), he instantly took a liking to her and invited her to a trunk show he and his sister were hosting at Kleinfelds. Becca was over the moon and helped the pair sell four dresses that day. In fact, she now has decided that one day she’d love to do an internship at Kleinfelds but back to the story.

Throughout high school, Becca took several challenging art classes including an AP sculpture class where she designed a dress made entirely out of condoms. Her concentration for her pieces was on feminism in all aspects of a woman’s life and the dress was a piece focusing on date rape culture – no matter what you wear, no still means no.

Fast forward the following year where we were touring college campuses and Becca had decided that she wanted to attend a University with an amazing art program and the moment we toured the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, she was sold. A few months later, Becca presented her portfolio to the director of admissions and the rest was history. She made it into the school and is now thriving as a first year freshman. Next year, she’ll be starting a joint degree where she’ll be pursuing her BFA with a degree in entrepreneurship from the Fox School of Business. This program just kicked off at the University and we’re thrilled that Becca is going to be a part of it.

Meanwhile, when Becca and her friends started to commit to their schools, she decided to start designing commitment day sneakers which featured the logo and mascots of the schools her friends were attending. When she shared her Temple University shoes with the director of admissions, she instantly fell in love with them and connected her to the head of the tour guide program who wanted her to design sneakers for the Temple Owl tour guides. We knew we had to get a license to design several pairs of sneakers, so I helped her research how to do it and after speaking with a licensing agent and an attorney, I managed to connect with the licensing company for Temple and after several months, they recently granted her a crafters license where she will be designing up to 20 pairs of shoes this year for incoming freshman, alumni or current students. The name of Becca’s Instagram is simple:  @BeccaDrewIt.

Becca meets with the business development director at the University when she returns from break. I’m super proud of what she’s accomplished so far and cannot wait to see what the future holds as she continues to pursue her 10,000 hours.