Did you know

As the storm clouds gathered over France

And though terror was met with resistance

In your gut, there was a voice whispering

We might be next?

Cheerio and be back soon

Did you know

As you made the bold choice to stay back

Urging them instead to voyage to safer shores

That you were altering destiny?

Cheerio and be back soon

Did you know

As you forged those letters, strung that chain

And watched the weathered ship set sail from the shores

Becoming ever smaller on the Scouse horizon

That dangers lurked beneath those dark seas and in the skies above?

Cheerio and be back soon

Did you know

As they docked beneath Lady Liberty

And travelled across the land of the free towards the Hollywood sign

That the spectre you’d feared would ultimately

Not transpire?

Cheerio and be back soon

Did you know

As they settled beneath the palm trees and orange groves

And delivered new life on Wiltshire Boulevard

That perhaps your story might end before

You could hold that new baby’s little hand?

Cheerio and be back soon

Did you know

As you presented her with that golden word

That it’d pass from generation to generation

All because you made a bold choice?

Cheerio and be back soon

Did you know

That eighty-something years later

After returning to those shores of origin

The wars long passed, the spectre gone

Yet six million murdered

That another would cherish these letters strung together with a delicate chain

Ironically, back on the other coast.

Cheerio and be back soon

Assault Weapon

By Tessa McGarry

I bring pain

I do not have to bring pain

I kill innocent people 

I do not have to kill innocent people

I am not required for this world to thrive

I am certainly not needed for any purpose other than war

Please, I do not wish to cause any more harm

Put me in the hands of those who can be trusted,

Or don’t put me in the hands of anyone at all.


Purposes: The Gun and The Shield

(A two-voiced poem by Tessa McGarry)

The Gun: I am dangerous

The Shield: I am defensive

I slaughter

I protect

Be cautious when I’m in the house

Feel grateful when you’re in my shadow

We both have purposes

My purpose is to hunt, to kill

My purpose is to defend, to shield

You know, on second thought, I don’t have a good enough purpose to exist

Nonsense! You can exist! You just have to scratch the word kill out of your dictionary!

I don’t know

I do

You really think so?

You hunt, no?


Without that hunting, people could die

That’s true

You have a purpose!

I have a purpose!

And what is that purpose?

To hunt, not kill

We both have purposes!

Today I #WearOrange Because …


wear orangeI am sick and tired of being sad, angry and scared: I am taking action, will you? #UseYourVoice

I cannot accept as normal the fact that 96 people die every day in the USA from gun violence: this is not OK #EndGunViolence

As long as there’s unfettered access to guns, people will die–especially people of color, people with mental health issues, women and children: #DisarmHate #BlackLivesMatter

Our kids should not fear for their lives at school: schools should be places of nurturing, not prisons: #NeverAgain

I am through with your empty #ThoughtsandPrayers: I demand policy change

I do not understand the selfishness of putting your right to own a firearm ahead of the selflessness of protecting and saving lives: but I do believe you can be a responsible gun owner and support common-sense gun reform

I am floored, inspired and emboldened by the #Parkland and #SantaFe students

I am an optimist #ExpectUs

My Yoga Phobia


(This is not me: my body does not do this.)

I am a yoga phobic. Or a yoga skeptic. Or a yoga yo-yo. Any which way you put it, I just don’t feel like I belong among those hundred and thousands of people who are truly passionate about their yoga. And I’m wondering why that is?

I’ve dipped my toe into yoga-land several times over the years. I tried hot Bikram yoga before kids, kinda liked it but then over-extended my lower back and gave it up. I very much enjoyed prenatal yoga when pregnant mostly because the deep breathing parts would cause me to doze off and snore, right there on the mat. And I do like to sleep. I’ve tried a few other classes here and there which were either usually too tough, too crowded – and quite frankly frustrating because my body simply doesn’t bend that way (which, I hear you yelling, is why I need yoga.)

Also, I am anti-meditation and chanting and all that. I mean I’m all for you doing it and benefiting from it, but it’s really not for me. My brain is either on or it’s off – and when it’s off, it’s because it’s night time and I am asleep.

The only time I experience true meditation-like zen is when I eat cheese.

You see my problem?

I am not anti-exercise, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy exercise. I need exercise (otherwise my squishy bits just get squishier and eventually all join together into one large squishy blob.) Also, I get night cramps in my feet and legs if I don’t exercise regularly (that’s some kind of karmic revenge of the fitness gods, right there.) However, my pattern is usually that I get all into a form of exercise – say weight training, or running, or high impact training – and then either an old injury flares up (shoulder, lower back) or a new strain pops up (like right now, my hip) and I have to take a break. And then the squishies and the night cramps set in.

So, I’m willing to try to become a yoga convert. Intellectually,  I completely understand and respect the benefits of yoga. And that it’s old and trusted – not like many of the fitness fads that come and go. And people I know and love swear by it. I know it’d probably do me a lot of good.

Perhaps 2018 should be the year I get over my yoga phobia and get on the yoga bandwagon?

I need help. 

I’m not sure I’m ready for big classes at a fancy studio because they go too fast and because I’m not just a newbie; I’m a phobic and I’m tentative. And I don’t have all that lovely lycra wear. I’m also scared of doing it alone at home with a video or app or whatever because I’m fearful of overstretching or contorting myself and yanking something out of whack.

I believe I need to find a yoga coach. Someone who can advise me what type of yoga to attempt, which poses and flows I should do to best fit my body, mood. Someone to help me unstick limbs and joints that are quite stuck.

Does such a person exist? And could you pop over to my house at 6am a few times a week?








13 Actions You Can Take Now to Help End Gun Violence



Take action now towards gun control – every step helps

My friends, here we are again. Sadly, it was only a matter of time. Yesterday, learning about the tragedy – the travesty – of what happened in Las Vegas, I was unspeakably sad. Today I am spitting mad. Encouraged by the widespread calls for gun control. But I also know that another news cycle will knock this one off the front pages because, quite frankly, there’s too much news and too many battles that need fighting.

But this is the battle I fight and I hope, really, hope, that YOU too are ready to take action and make your voice heard. It’s not going to happen overnight; I mean look where we are with racism despite all the decades since the Civil Rights Act. But we have to do something, right? In my opinion, grieving is the first step, sustained action must be next. (Side note: read here about the many victories that Moms Demand Action have already achieved – see activism works!)

After last year’s “record breaking” mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, I compiled a list of the organizations you can join and follow, and actions/petitions you can sign and share. I’ve updated the list, I know it’s incomplete (please let me know who else to add).

Please join me – I beg you – in taking action. Every little bit will make a difference in the long run. Thank you.

  1. Send a direct message to Congress now >>
  2. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – join now, take action
  3. Petition for Gun Control Now
  4. Petition to the House of Representatives to Let the CDC Conduct Research on Gun Violence
  5. Every Member of Congress Who Took Money From the NRA and Tweeted ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ to Las Vegas (is your representative on this list – get informed and call them out on it)
  6. Everytown, formed by mayors across the US
  7. Guns Down USA – stop the flow of the NRA’s blood money
  8. Americans for Responsible Solutions (Gabby Gifford’s organization)
  9. Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence
  10. Sandy Hook Promise, research-based prevention programs
  11. BeSmart for Kids – a conversation about guns, kids and safety
  12. Stop Handgun Violence
  13. Newtown Action Alliance

Life Lessons from the Back Seat of the Car


A year or so ago I was chatting with a man at a party. He was a friend of my brother and we were talking about our kids, as parents do. He mentioned that his oldest was now 17 and driving, and I commented how helpful that must be: the kid could now drive his sister to activities and himself from A to B. The man agreed but then he sighed. “I miss the days when he was younger and I spent so much time driving him around. Some of the best conversations we ever had were when he was in the back seat of my car.”

I’ve never forgotten that conversation because he’s right: many of the most profound – and often entirely unexpected and unplanned – conversations I’ve had with my kids have happened in my car.

Me at the wheel. Him or her in the backseat.

What is it about this set up? Is it the comfort of him not having to make eye contact? Is it because just sitting there gazing out the window enables her to freely process thoughts and, as a natural consequence, the questions come tumbling out?

More often than not, especially after picking one of them up after school or an activity, I drive silently – the quietness hopefully inviting an opening from which an honest thought, question or idea will inevitably jump out.

Sometimes, I’ll throw out a conversation starter, a seemingly benign question whose goal is to stimulate a back and forth. Sometimes it works, often it falls on grumpy ears.

If I have something on my mind, something going on the world, I use the drive as a chance to break the topic apart and make more meaningful for a younger mind. Or we hear something on the radio and it prompts a conversation.

And then there are the questions that I’m simply not prepared for but still have to respond to, seize the opportunity. Like when my daughter, aged maybe 8 or 9, asked me what sex felt like.

This morning, we talked about Puerto Rico and what we can do to help. We discussed how lucky and fortunate we are, and that it’s our duty to help. Because we’d like to think that, if it was us in a similar situation, others would willingly come to our aid. We reviewed the phrase “there but for the grace for God go I” and, without religious connotations, talked about the random nature of good and ill-fortune.

Big topics. Profound topics, I feel like we’ve covered them all in varying degrees – especially over the last 3-4 years. From how to handle a kid that’s annoying you at school, racism and equality, kindness and friendship, rape and consent, how this country managed to vote Donald Trump into office, sexting, old age and death, suicidal thoughts, what cancer is, climate change and natural disasters, to career anxiety (“what if I don’t ever get a job?”), alcohol, drugs, democratic vs authoritarian regimes and on and on. And there’s surely more to cover.

Much as I may moan about the never-ending schlepping of kids from here to there and back again, I realize now that inside my car is where the some of the most profound and valuable moments of parenting often happen.

And I, too, shall miss those conversation, when my kids are old enough to drive themselves.

A Working Mom’s Evolution: The Tween Chapter


A little more than two years ago, I read a blog post by Lindsay Mead which stayed with me. Called “Parenting a tween: an exercise in presence,” Mead gently wrote about the need to simply be there for your kids “often silently, often without acknowledgement” – especially during the middle school years.

This post planted the seed for what is, this week, the next phase of my life as a working Mom – working part-time. It’s something my husband and I had been planning for – potentially for 2018 – but which has arrived on our doorstep a little earlier than expected.

If my 12-year old could drive, I could continue work full-time.

The tween after-school conundrum is a mix of this: the kids are technically old enough to be home alone after school without setting the house or the dog on fire or maiming each other. But then there are the activities to which they need schlepping. And homework that needs supervising or odds are it wouldn’t get done. Basically, they need a grown-up in the house and ideally, someone qualified to drive.

Trade-offs in the search for work/life balance

Everyone I’ve told about this choice is excited for me. I think I’m excited for me too but truth is, I’m not sure. There are lots of trade-offs involved that are making me feel temporarily nervous about this transition.

On the plus side, I’m thrilled to get quality time with my kids during these critical years, less work-induced “how do I do it all?” stress, plus time/space to run some errands so they don’t eat into the weekend. Also not sitting on my arse at a desk all day is going to be great for my whole bod.

On the negative side: the obvious, reduced income. Also the handing over of some of the most stimulating parts of my work (being part of a management team, having operational responsibilities and managing/mentoring staff.) I worry I will miss the intellectual challenges these have afforded me till now.

Here’s the other thing. Learning how to “work less” is going to be a journey too, especially since I work in the always-on, news/social fueled PR environment that operates a mile a minute. It’s not just something you can switch off and on easily. Particularly since my brain is engineered in a parallel way – it’s an all-in beast that’s constantly flowing with ideas and to do lists, day and night.

Another concern: letting people down. For this to be successful, I need to be sure that my schedule changes inflict zero impact on my clients and teams.

Relief for the dual working parent struggle

I don’t know how we working parents do it, I seriously don’t. The thing I have HATED MOST ever since I went back to work when my youngest was an infant was the relentless tension over the schedule. The stressful machinations of figuring whose job or meeting was more important than the other’s when a child was sick or on one of the many, inexplicable early release days from school. Never mind doctors appointments, teacher conferences, requests to chaperone field trips, help in the classroom and so on. It has always felt like the whole system is architected to be anti-working parents.

Preschool, elementary school after care programs, nannies, babysitters cost a fortune. Not all of us have families around to help out in a pinch. If you are lucky (like me) you have an amazing network of other parents who can help if needed. But it pains you to always be the one asking for assistance driving your kid to this or that after-school activity.

But while I’m giving up income and some mental stimulation, what I’m gaining is multitudes of blessed relief from the constant tension of dual working parenting. No longer will my husband have to worry about cutting short his meetings out of state to get back in time to pick up a kid – I can carry this load now. And I’m hoping I can repay the kindness of my village too and provide relief to many of those folks who have so generously helped me.

The real winners will be my kids

Back to Lindsay’s post. These tween years are challenging. The kids might be independent but they are – at least to me – at their most vulnerable and susceptible. Raging hormones can color every situation, heightening the opportunity for drama, frustrations and sheer stupidity.

Being more present for my tweens during these years will, I’m hoping, provide a foundation of comfort and assurance. While they might not listen to me, I’ll listen to them more than I’ve been able to till now. I’ll learn more about their passing thoughts, their circles of friends, what they’re excited or fearful on. I’ll be there for the small everyday conversations but also for the big ones – whether they happen in the car, at the kitchen table or at bedtime.

And by watching me navigate this journey (they know how much I love my work), they’ll maybe come to understand and respect the lesson of finding value in both work and your personal life.

To me, this is worth it all.

Motherhood and the Summer of Deprogramming: Week 2

paint brushes

Last week, I wrote about my first week of deprogramming and the emptiness: the space the kids left behind as they went off for a summer of adventure at sleep away camp, leaving my husband and I home alone and childless. I also wrote about my revelation: apparently I have become boring and bored since I couldn’t figure what to do with this precious time I finally had to myself.

Well, week 2 was quite different from week 1.

Week 2 I remembered what it was like to have a social life and to go straight out after work for a drink and a bite to eat with friends. Talking, laughter, relaxation, connection.

Week 2 involved spontaneity, deciding at the last-minute what to do, where to eat. That’s novel!

Week 2 also involved barely needing to run the dishwasher, negligible grocery shopping, minimal laundry, going to bed later than 10pm and waking up whenever I wanted to wake up.

Yes, I still missed the kids enormously but it was less. Less lump in throat inducing, less – dare I say it – desperate? Yes, I still made a point each morning of wandering into each of their bedrooms, inhaling, looking around, trying to capture a fleeting sense of their presence. But I’ll also admit they were not on mind nearly as much. I’m not ashamed to say even a day would go by without talking or thinking about them.

In truth, this week was fun. And busy. And tiring!

So here are my two revelations from week 2 of deprogramming:

Revelation 1: My kids don’t need me as much, right now. And that’s OK. They don’t need me to organize them, to anticipate what’s next, to be their audience, their sounding board, their emotional crutch or target for whining and neediness. They are learning independence and decision-making and it’s all good. Sure, when they are back, they’ll need me for all the usual stuff: back to school supplies, arranging playdates and activities and general chauffeuring duties. But right now, I’m ok with not being needed. In fact, it’s refreshing.

Revelation 2: I figured out how not to be boring! When I realized last week that I have no interests, I thought, what a loser I am! So I set about focusing on what used to make me really happy and what gives me peace. And I landed on two things: dancing and art.

I love dancing but, as a parent, it rarely happens anymore other than the occasional spontaneous dancefest at breakfast or slow-dancing with my kid to Careless Whispers every night for a week after George Michael died. Well, what do you know: Boston Salsa Festival is coming to town precisely when my husband and kids will be out-of-town in a few weeks – it’s a weekend of workshops, performances and social dancing. Count. Me. In. Immersing myself in dance for a weekend is precisely the kind of kick up my butt I need to get that groove back on.

Then I thought about how I felt recently when accompanying my son to one of those paint places – the zen I felt selecting and mixing colors, dipping my brush in paint and sweeping it across a canvas. Now, I’m no natural-born artist like my son, but it’s worth taking some classes to explore this further. So I’m going to sign up for some adult art classes in the fall.

And now here we are, week 3 is starting: what new revelations will it bring? This deprogramming business is good for me, methinks. Stay tuned.

Motherhood & the Summer of Deprogramming: Week 1

coffee-smartphone-desk-penIt’s been one week since both of my kids, aged 10 and 12, have been both away at sleep away camp, having the best summer of their lives.

Woohoo! Freedom!

“What are you going to do while they’re gone?” everyone asked.

“Make sure you do things for yourself,” they advised.

My husband and I made plans to dine out lots and catch up on all the movies we hadn’t seen in the last 12 or so years, because, you know, kids.

So far we’ve watched one movie, we are going to the cinema tonight and we’ve dined out once. I’ve also stayed home a lot, watched a lot of TV and spent way too much time on social media. I’ve cleaned out the kids bedrooms, organized their stuff.

But, oh, my head and my heart have been dancing a jig.

I’ve missed my kids terribly. There’s a physical and emotional vacuum in our house that’s usually filled with a whirlwind of energy, hormones, laughter, combat, mess and routine. Concern for their well-being – even though I know they are safe and happy – pre-occupies me. I scour every photo their camps post on Facebook for proof of life and evidence that they’re ok. The every day anticipation for a letter from camp is antagonizing.

Meanwhile, I’ve also had several revelations.

Revelation #1: I’m not sure how to manage my own time when my entire schedule is usually 100% predicated by my kids’ schedule and where they need to be on any given day. What time do I have to get up in the morning if it’s just me that has to get ready and get myself to work? And at what hour do I leave the office if I don’t have to pick someone up from somewhere?

Revelation #2: In the process of parenting, I have become boring. And bored. I discovered this as I struggled to figure out what to do, just for me, as everyone recommended. Sure I can get a mani, I can read a book, I can lounge on the couch or go for a walk. But what I’ve really realized is that, over the course of a decade of parenting, I have forgone all hobbies or special interests that don’t fall into the category of eating, watching TV, exercise, working and shopping. My mind is usually filled with all the “mental stuff” of parenting, especially the challenges of being a working parent.  

So what now?

Clearly, this second decade of parenting is a time for some much-required deprogramming. I’ve come to realize that I’ve spent a decade anticipating my kids’ every needs and being all-consumed with them. This process of sending them off to camp is the much-needed catalyst for not only their independence and maturation – but also mine.

I need some reprogramming. I need to figure out what the heck it is that I want to do for me. It could be as simple as being more social, finding a class, taking some trips. Writing more. Or pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and trying something different, challenging, even scary.

I’m not sure where to start – but I have two more weeks while the kids are gone to figure it out. And I’m kinda excited.

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