Nicki Anderson
Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Thanksgiving- Lost in Translation

By Nicki On November 25, 2013 2 Comments

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One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving is that it’s not about the gifts, it’s about family. Coming together, sharing a meal, sharing stories and realizing what really matters. However, thanks to this crazy world of consumerism, we can’t even forget about the world around us for one day because stores have decided to open. I don’t know about you, but I really hate the idea.

If you look at the evolution of Christmas, this once very sacred holiday has become more about everything other than the historical meaning. People have become obsessed with shopping and getting the perfect gift.  Money, greed and stress have replaced, peace on earth.  Kind of crummy.

I know there are some people that cherish Black Friday as  a family tradition. They wake up at the crack of dawn and begin their shopping marathon. Given that it’s AFTER Thanksgiving I figure to each his own.  But now it seems no holiday is immune to the marketing  ploys of big business. The one day a year when people come together, the good, bad and the ugly of holidays feasts and it’s now compromised because the world of retail has come up with one more tactic to part you with your money and your family.

Personally, I will not even think about going out shopping on Thanksgiving, it’s the one day out of the entire year where we sit down as a family, with no agenda, no place to be, no rushing off to work and we can just be a family. No cares, no worries. I always considered Thanksgiving the calm before the storm. The big exhale of the holiday season. thanksgiving-pledge

I don’t know about you, but I plan to stay toasty and warm without any plans  other than being with my family. I owe it to them and to the holiday. It’s is a time to be THANKFUL. The idea of putting shopping before family just doesn’t sit well with me.  As much as people have complained about losing Christmas or Chanukah to the world of retail, that loss now includes Thanksgiving, the one holiday I thought was immune. Sadly, I was wrong.

What will you be doing on Thanksgiving?

 

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.

 

Nicki


Miss America- Racism is alive and well

By Nicki On September 16, 2013 16 Comments

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In 2008, I voted for Barack Obama. Political preferences aside, I voted for 2 simple things (yes there were others) but it was hope and change. It was my hope that his appointment as President was an indicator that racism might be fading and perhaps our country would focus on the possibilities versus the color of the President’s skin.

In my naive mind, I believed that the votes that got President Obama into the white house would be the same votes that would bring about unity as a country allowing us to move forward as a whole nation versus a fragmented one.

Enter stage right- Reality.

This past weekend Miss America 2013 was crowned. Though I don’t typically watch the pageant, I happened to catch the tail end of it when channel surfing. I saw the potential winner and said to my daughter, “She’s gorgeous, I bet she’ll win.”  Sure enough she was crowned Miss America.

Nina Davuluri, the 24-year-old who now wears the crown is a native of Fayetteville, New York. She was on the dean’s list and earned the Michigan Merit Award and National Honor Society nod while studying at the University of Michigan. She graduated with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science. Her father immigrated to the U.S. over 30 years ago. Nina is as American as I am.

While watching the end of the contest, I was flipping through my social media channels and there it was. The hate, the venom, the inexcusable comments showing up on Twitter and Facebook.

Some of the comments included, “Wait, I thought this was Miss AMERICA?  “What’s American about a Muslim becoming Miss America.”  Other posts called her a terrorist and and Arab. While another post  commented, “This is not India, it’s America.”  13087964-standard

The more I read,  I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  Many of these posts were by young adults. I was shocked. I switched over to my FB page and unfortunately, someone I know, a father of young children posted, “Miss America? She doesn’t look American. ” I immediately removed him from my list, but couldn’t help thinking about his young children and his post, “She doesn’t look American.” WTH?  The beauty of America is diversity. However,  just as love, compassion and acceptance are taught in the home, so too is racism.

When I lived in Texas, people often mistook me for Mexican (I’m Portuguese). I wasn’t able to go to some sleep overs because the parents didn’t want a Mexican in their home. There were times when I was treated poorly at restaurants as well as grocery stores. I know what racism feels like and I don’t like it. But more than that, I don’t get it.

My grandparents migrated from Portugal back in the 1900’s. The United States was built on the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants.  Read the history books. Guess what Mr. “This is America, where’s the American,” we are ALL descendants of immigrants and this country wouldn’t be where it is today without them.

The simple part of me wants to say, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Then the realist in me recognizes that it may never happen.

I had hoped to raise my kids in a world of acceptance, compassion and unconditional love. Call me Pollyanna. I had also hoped that by the time my kids starting having kids, racism would be something of the past.

Dr. Kings dream that people should not be judged by the color of their skin rather the content of their character is a a dream I have too. It’s unfortunate it remains a dream.

What do you think?

 

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.

Nicki


Don’t Let Technology Trump Family Time

By Nicki On August 4, 2013 2 Comments

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More and more I’m noticing a trend, and I don’t like it.  The trend is families engaging less with each other and more with their iPhones or iPads.

It’s no longer uncommon to see families out to dinner all texting with zero conversation throughout the entire meal. I see Mom’s pushing strollers while talking on their cell phone. And all too often, I see parents in the car at a stop sign, checking their phones and kids on their phones.

Personally, I have a hard time with it and want to gently remind parents that time with your kids is fleeting, don’t miss it by spending more time with your phone than with your kids.

I know, I know the world is changing and maybe I just need to get with the program. However, one thing that never changes in the importance of face time with your children.

When pushing a stroller you may feel that walking behind your child means chatting on the phone with a friend is fine, it’s not. It’s a perfect time to get away from the regular distractions of everyday life. It’s a perfect time to point out nature moments. Or simply to have quiet time.MomIphone2

Out to dinner, really? Please parents, I beg of you. The time with your children is precious and sadly short. There is no more important time with your family than meal time. Put technology away, it will be there tomorrow. Your kids however will be gone before you know it.

Car conversation was invaluable when my kids were little. I was briefed on the daily doings at school, who was  mad at whom and what things happened at school that day, both good and not so good. I miss that time and trust me, you will one day too.

I  understand that there is a new generation of  tech savvy parents, but the one constant is time and it passes quickly.

Next time you’re with your kids, put the phone away and ask that they do the same. You will never get back those precious moments with your kids. And though they may not like the idea of  technology breaks, 20 years from now, they will thank you.

 

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!

Nicki


What Me Worry? I’m a Mom, it’s my job!

By Nicki On July 27, 2013 3 Comments
College grad at last!

College grad at last!

This summer, my last college graduate is home doing what many recent college grads do, hunting for a job. (She’s a telecommunications/marketing major if anyone is hiring!)

As I watched her cross the stage to get her $100,000.00 piece of paper, I couldn’t ignore the  movie playing inside my head of all that’s passed and brought us to this day. First steps, first tooth, first haircut, first day of pre-school, first day of kindergarten, 5th grade “graduation.” Then there’s the Jr. High years, we’ll skip those. First high school dance, date, parties and high school graduation. Like all high school grads there is  reticence about choosing the right college, and ultimately she found her dream college, was accepted and I became an empty nester. (Insert happy dance here).

This was the fourth time going through this process and no matter how many times I’ve been through it, I worried every step of the way. From the time they were born, I’d lie in bed praying for their safety, their happiness, making the right choices, and on and on. I now have 4 adults and the worries are no less.

One of my favorite Mom stories happened with my 3rd son. We were heading down to visit a college and we were waiting to get on a tram to take us to our destination. The tram pulled up, doors opened and I dropped something. While picking it up, the doors closed to the tram and my son was on it with out me.  I screamed his name at the top of my lungs,”M-I-T-C-H!!!!” A couple of people ran over to ask what was wrong, I said, “My son, he’s on the tram without me. ”  They asked, “How old is he?”  At that moment I realized how awkward this situation was. I replied, “19.”  Of course they looked at me not quite sure what to say. Finally, one woman said, “I’m sure he’ll be fine.”   When I connected with my son, all he could say is, “Mom, that was embarrassing. I could hear you screaming.”  I tried to explain it was simply a worried mother. He didn’t buy it.

My boys with their worrywart Mom.

My boys with their worrywart Mom.

Just last night, my daughter was out. I didn’t sleep well until I heard the door unlock, listened to her footsteps as she made her way to her room and the safety of her bed,  lights out.  Happy Mom.

My Grandmother told me, “Sweetheart, no matter how old your  kids are, a mother’s worry never ceases.” I’m reminded once again how smart my Grandmother was.

 

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.

Nicki 


Celebrating My Step-Father on Father’s Day!

By Nicki On June 16, 2013 No Comments
Walking me down the aisle.

Walking me down the aisle.

When father’s day rolls around I’m reminded of the great men in my life. Because I didn’t have my blood father around, I typically  found myself wondering what makes for a great Dad.  When those Hallmark commercials started playing around the first of June, there would always be this ideal father. I often wondered, what makes a great Dad. Years later,  I understand that a great Father doesn’t need to be blood to be a great Dad.

I met my Step-Father when I was just 9 years old. He talked funny (he was from Texas). He loved the idea of family but given the recent break-up of mine, I was reticent to trust much less even think about forming a new family. The more I pushed away, the more he tried to be a Dad. I didn’t get it, I didn’t like it.

As I entered my teen years I started to realize that this man who tried desperately to be a good “Dad” was honest in his intention and his love completely unconditional.  Yet, I struggled with letting him in. He did terrible things like forcing me to go to church, becoming aware of being less selfish, forcing me to go to family gatherings and the worst of all, sitting me down to talk about boys. THE NERVE!

He was there with my first heartbreak and my first real love and ultimately, my wedding. He was there when my first child was born, and for the other three that followed. He has never missed my birthday or my children’s.  He flew up for every one of my child’s graduations, despite the expense, the timing or his health issues.

Grandpa was never short on fun!

Grandpa was never short on fun!

On this Father’s Day I look back and can’t imagine how he withstood my distance to his fatherly efforts. I can’t imagine how it must have hurt him when he’d refer to me as his daughter and I would clarify that I wasn’t his “real” daughter. How terrible of me to misinterpret his protection for smothering. Of course as the years have passed, my children have grown, I understand all too well that he was simply doing what all good Dad’s do,  loving his daughter without expectation, without condition, honest, innate paternal love.

So here it is, Father’s Day. I’ll be calling him shortly and wishing him a Happy Father’s Day.  I will thank him for all that he’s meant to me and all that he gave up for me. After I hang up from my call, I’ll be reminded that  not everyone is so lucky with the father’s in their life or their step-Father’s. But in retrospect, if I would have had the choice to pick my father, I can’t imagine a better choice.

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Happy Father’s Day Grandpa Jim. Thanks for being an incredible Dad and Grandpa. We love you!!

 

 

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the  most of it!

Nicki


Who’s Your Favorite Child?

By Nicki On February 19, 2013 No Comments
Me with my older sisters. Love the hats!

Me with my older sisters. Love the hats!

I am the youngest of 3 girls. Combine that with being a Libra and I feel like I was dealt a pretty great hand. As the youngest, everyone says that the baby of the family gets off easy and is spoiled rotten. If you’re a baby you’ve likely heard that more than once. Is it wrong?

As a mother of four grown children, I see very clearly the advantage or disadvantage of a certain birth order. There’s no doubt that the first child has the toughest job. Dealing with parents who haven’t a clue and expectations that are often unrealistic. “How come he’s not potty trained yet? The book says he should be!” “How come she’s not speaking in full sentences? So and so’s kids are!” And the list goes on and on.  My Grandmother used to say, “The first child is the experiment child.” I believe that to be true.

I remember my Aunt telling me that no matter how many kids you have, you will always manage to find love enough for each.  I think a Mother’s uterus is a storage tank for extra servings of love to pass around as needed.

When my children were little, getting together with other mom’s was a weekly ritual.   The topic of favorite children was common one. I was asked if I could tell who my favorite child was. Hmm, I thought to myself, a favorite? How do you have a favorite? The other girls would shamelessly tout their family favorite position while I wondered if I had ever showed favoritism to my kids.

I can honestly say, even after all these years I have had a favorite but not kids- moments. Those opportunities when you’re able to recognize their unique talents and personality. Share a funny story together. Cuddle up with them when they’re sick or struggling. Getting an up close and personal glimpse of those qualities and experiences, those moments no doubt, a favorite.

I think having a favorite child is nothing about loving another child more, it might be more about a connection at certain times in their life. They have the natural ups and downs that come with growing up and there are times when you feel particularly connected to what a child may be going through. Again, not a favorite child, simply a favorite moment or connection. CIMG1031

Four kids and 27 years later, they’re all adults, leading their own lives, supporting themselves and giving back in their own way. I look forward to getting together with them as a group as much as I do one-on-one. Either way, it is then and only then I realize those sleepless nights, runs to the ER, never ending band concerts and school plays that’s given me the most incredible gift,  favorite moments. I guess if you’re going to have a favorite, that’s the best kind to have. What do you think?

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!

Nicki


Do You Believe in Second Chances?

By Nicki On January 20, 2013 2 Comments

LanceArmstrong_18102012_BPThanks to the Oprah interview, all the speculation about Lance Armstrong and doping charges have been confirmed. Though many people including me, thought for years that he was probably guilty of illegally enhancing his performance, I’m always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Clearly my belief in a celebrated hero gone bad, made me stand back and reevaluate my thoughts on this mess.

There’s a saying, “The bigger you are the harder you fall,” and there’s no better example of that than with Lance Armstrong. About six years ago, I met the cycling champ and found him to be rude, cocky and clearly taken with himself. But, that was my experience and in his defense it was a huge fundraiser, he looked tired, and perhaps he was having a bad day.

So when all of this discussion about doping charges came out, I couldn’t help but think of my experience with him and honestly, I had little if any sympathy for him. But the truth is,  do we really have the right to judge someone when we neither know their story or their motives?

I heard an interview with Mark Wahlberg, (dreamy)  a couple of days ago and he said something that gave me pause. He was asked about his feelings regarding the faux Tour de France champ and he said, “Look, everyone deserves a second chance. I know I was given a second chance and it changed my life.”

I’m a proponent of second chances. I have seen people go through some pretty rough times and given an opportunity for a do over, they made a positive, powerful impact on the lives of others. So should the same courtesy be given to Armstrong?

There’s an awful lot of people that he screwed over.  There are a number of sponsors, teammates and fans that feel terribly betrayed. The fact that he’s a grown man makes the situation a little more prickly after all, shouldn’t he have known better? And then of course there are his children, what about them? What kind of teasing and chastising will they receive at the hand of those that are happy for the fall of this once revered champion?kirstin-armstrong_2456385b

I think this is a teaching moment. I believe that if someone has a second chance and fully realizes the damage that’s been done and is able to somehow make things right and go on and live a productive life, it’s worth a shot.

Who am I to say he should go bankrupt and be left out on the street? That’s not what our country is about, that’s not what being human and compassionate is about. Someone asked me before if a murderer or rapist should have a second chance? I can’t answer that because it stirs up a completely different set of emotions and circumstances which I’m not willing to touch.

Armstrong has done a pretty terrible thing, but he didn’t kill anyone.  He has lied and cheated his way to the top seemingly without  conscience. Perhaps there’s some mental illness going on there, perhaps it’s simply an ego that was so big, no one, not even Armstrong could control. And then of course there’s the power and money thing. When people are making a lot of money off of others, they want that meal ticket to keep providing, so there are plenty of greedy folks willing to help keep a lie alive in order to keep their wallet filled.

But again, it’s about second chances. I’m terribly disappointed to see someone that I admired turn out to be nothing but a great big faker. However, we can’t forget that his LiveStrong organization has raised an enormous amount of money for cancer. I can’t take that away from him nor can anyone else. So out of all of this, there was something positive. Perhaps that was the one truth in his life that kept him justifying all of the other stuff.

I hope he moves on, gets the counseling he needs and is able to somehow make things right with his fans, sponsors, coaches and teammates and most important, his family.

I know that if this were my son, I would hope that he would be given a second chance. But that’s a mother speaking, not those that have lost millions by his lies. Though at the end of the day, what’s more important, a life or money?  I know what I think, what about you?

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!

Nicki

 


What if Your Daughter Were Homeless?

By Nicki On January 15, 2013 No Comments

A-Dollar-for-Our-Daughters-Logo-150x150As a mother of four children, it was mandatory that they attend college. I didn’t have the luxury of that kind of support, so I made sure that all of my children had the gift of a loving home and a college education. But what about those who don’t start off with a solid foundation? What about those that focus on simply survival vs. a college education?  As parents that want only the best for our kids, it’s hard to believe that there are parents who send their child out on the streets at 18, without money, tools or any idea on where their next meal is coming from. But it happens more than we’d like to believe.

As of this post, homeless youth, ages 18-22 are a fast growing segment of the homeless population here in Dupage County, Illinois. Women especially are vulnerable to homelessness for a number of reasons including, unstable parents, sexual abuse, untreated depression and trauma. A program that was started at 360 Youth Services called, THP (Transitional Housing Program) has been incredibly valuable and badly needed for young adults. THP has a program for young men from 18-24 and has been successful for 13years. The women’s program for 18-22 year old women started 5 years ago. During that time, they have housed, educated and inspired these young adults to eventually move out on their own, with a solid career and a bright future. However, this past fall the funding for the girls program was cut.

When the girls in the program were told about the cut in funding, they didn’t worry about themselves, the common question was, “What about all the other girls that need this program? What will happen to them?”  These girls know how valuable this program has been as most of them are in college, gainfully employed and acquiring the skills necessary to lead a productive, high quality life. This is all due to the program and their hard work.

But if we can’t get dollars raised for these daughters, they could be back out on the street. I don’t know about you, but as a daughter, mother, friend and advocate, this is unacceptable.

Won’t you join me in helping to raise the necessary dollars needed to keep a roof over these girls’ head as well as raising awareness about the need for this program? Currently there are only three programs like this in the state of Illinois, and one of them is about to be cut. Help me fight for these girls and a offer a bright future for them and the numerous others that need advocates.

Thank you for making a difference and giving these girls the opportunities they so richly deserve. Check out the video and please share it with friends, family, colleagues, or your social media circles.  Just one dollar, can make a profound difference! Won’t you join me?

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Nicki

 

 


Forgetting Christmas

By Nicki On December 24, 2012 No Comments

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”  ~ Bob Hope, American film actor and comedian.Keep-your-Christmas-heart-open-all-the-year-round.-Jessica-Archmint

As Christmas inches closer, the holiday spirit makes its presence known through family gatherings, gift giving and grudges pushed aside. However, I’m reminded that the spirit I swore I’d carry with me all year long, dropped off around mid-February as the gloom of Chicago winters got the best of me. I let go of the enthusiasm that kicks in December 1st. That first December day, I embrace the truth that the needy don’t just need in December, that kindness should be spread throughout 12 months not 31 days, and that concern and love for others isn’t seasonal. I’m motivated to change the world on December 1st, until um, January 1st.

I liken the idea that I can live with the Christmas spirit year round to those who set their weight loss intentions January 1st, only to find that 30 days later, the goal was a bit lofty.

So, instead of thinking I can change the world in 30 days, I will try something a little more reasonable, each day, I’ll ask myself, “What can I do today, that will contribute to a better tomorrow?”  That is a question I can answer every day, year round. I often make the mistake of thinking that gift giving is an act of kindness, when in truth the real gift is giving of your heart, living with more compassion, patience and love. I’m thinking that is something that I can stick with. I believe now, and will likely feel this way 6 months from now, that becoming a year ’round “gift giver” versus just one month out of the year, is the best way to keep the spirit  of the season alive and well all year long.

Here’s wishing you and yours the spirit of the season that inspires you every day of the year.

Cheers!

Nicki

 


Our Children- Our Greatest Teachers

By Nicki On December 14, 2012 2 Comments

I remember years ago one of my clients in her 60’s had lost a child. She said to me, “There is no greater pain in the world than out living your child.”  That stuck with me as a young mother because not a day went by that I didn’t worry for my children’s safety.

When my daughter was born, she was only a week or so old and came down with a terrible virus. She was rushed to the hospital, a myriad of tests were done, but they didn’t know what was wrong. During that time, I would leave the hospital, reluctantly with visions of my daughter going through grade school, Jr. High School, her first prom, graduating high school, and so on. I sobbed at the thought of never being able to see her do those things.  Fortunately, after a week, she came home and I h ave been able to witness all of those events and many more. How fortunate I am, how blessed I am.

With the recent shootings of the children in Connecticut, I’m sobbing for the loss of those young, precious lives. I sob for the parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, grandparents, neighbors that also mourn the loss of these innocent children. There is absolutely no answer that will ever soften the pain or justify the loss, no answers.

There are tragedies that happen everyday against our children, whether it’s abuse, abandonment, hunger, neglect, but we can’t see it, we don’t hear about it, and it’s not breaking news. This senseless act of mass killings pulls us to attention and we can’t help but listen and wonder, why? This tragedy raises awareness like never before that there is no greater gift to the world than a child. A fabulous quote by Emma Goldman, “No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.”

 

I Heard the News

I heard the news,  couldn’t catch my breath,

Such senseless acts, untimely deaths

Innocence and love,  gone with a shot

My heart aches, families distraught

What pain and questions this act raises

Now only a memory of angelic faces

We yell the question, “How can this be?”

Special lives cut short, this we didn’t see

What can we do? What must change?

These random killings, unbridled rage

I feel so helpless, then anger sets in

We can not let this violence win

Perhaps it’s best to hold our kids tight

Remind them of our love and all that is right

Pray for the families, full of  fear

May their ache be lightened ,  and comfort near

Why things like this happen, I wish I knew

Extending a hand, is the best we can do.

Tonight my prayer will be for the children

The parents, the loved ones that carry this burden.

May the quote below offer solace from pain

May peace at some point fill hearts again. –   Nicki Anderson

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory
becomes a treasure.” Anonymous