Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Something to Wake Up For

Driving to work one morning last week, I was stopped at a light behind a large SUV, the woman driver scurrying madly through rush-hour traffic. Her vehicle proudly displayed two college decals, one from Harvard and the other from Dartmouth.

“Wow!” I thought. This mom’s got a couple of really smart cookies on her hands.

The light changed to green and as she got a little further ahead of me, I noticed a bumper sticker at the bottom of her SUV which read: “I have no idea where I’m going.”

What a contrast! This mom who raised two kids smart enough to gain entry into two of the toughest schools in the world…and she has no idea where she’s going?!? (“B-I-M-B-O” crossed the synapses of my brain…)

If you wake up in the morning without a plan, with no idea of where you’re going, how in the heck are you going to get anywhere worthwhile? How are you going to enjoy the dizzying liberation that naturally flows out of living a life with purpose? With no roadmap, no idea of where you’re going, the prospect of waking up to the same old same old, the humdrum, the mundane responsibilities that face all of us: getting breakfast ready for the family, separating the reds from the whites, driving carpool, fetching groceries, answering old emails…you’re likely not “zoo-ed” up to even get your tired little feet out of bed!

I’m not dismissing the role of motherhood, or its everyday oftentimes mundane realities. Hardly. I’ve been doing its drills for twenty years, quite happily thankyouverymuch. And children or no children, we all face everyday tasks that are capable of draining the lifeblood out of the most enthusiastic amongst us. Let’s face it: few people face those proverbial four daily loads of laundry or paying overdue emails with unabashed gusto!

But there’s more available. And it’s well within reach.

This weekend found me in Washington, D.C. for an annual conference of like-minded men and women across the country. It offered leadership training of the highest caliber. Having attended this forum regularly for the past ten years, I always look forward to reconnecting with old friends and to making new ones during the September conference ritual. I hung out, as usual, with three of my favorite women on the planet; Alyse and LaNeil are each eighty-two years old and Shirley is sixty-five. They each possess vitality rarely seen in people half their age. Their faces glow. Their eyes twinkle. They are warm and wonderful, healthy and vibrant, curious and generous.

They devote their time to causes which they enthusiastically embrace. They are passionate. They work diligently. Without pay, they serve as foot soldiers for the critical issues of our time. They have something to wake up for. They have a following; people depend on their leadership. Young people rely on their mentoring. Still others seek their wisdom and knowledge of the issues in an effort to become better equipped to deliver the same message with vigor to listeners entangled in their own network of friends and associates.

One of the secrets of discovering your significance is to find that for which you were created. I can assure you: we were not created to live in isolation. Nor in self-serving, self-indulgent behaviors that bring immediate but short-lived satisfaction. We were created for community. For service. For expanding our little corner of the universe for the benefit of others. To take on missions larger than self with far-reaching implications for the generations to follow.

If you are looking for a secret to living with exuberant vitality, find a cause. Join a mission. Seek to connect your inner passion with the vision of someone who has come before you. With one who is working in the center of the universe to effect massive change.

Want glowing skin? Sparkling eyes? A youthful bounce to your step? Longevity? Vitality? Find something to wake up for. Be it your own kids or your spouse, your neighborhood or your elected officials, worldwide hunger or inexcusable illiteracy: get involved! It’ll help you put that foot on the floor every morning and encourage you to truly get up and at ‘em.

Onward and upward!


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006


Reconnecting through the hurdles of distance and time is never easy. It involves travel. Interruptions to busy schedules, alterations in the normal routines of family life and unforeseeable frustrations as things, along the way, go awry.

Such was the case this weekend when my husband and I made a quick trip to Miami for a fundraising gala supporting one of our favorite organizations. The invitation had been on our calendars for weeks, but as the date approached, we wondered how in the heck we were going to be able to logistically re-shuffle an already-bewildering matrix of work; football games; an out-of-state orchestra retreat for one of our kids; and dog care, lawn care and child care. Add to the equation delayed flights both there and back (weather problems on the way and mechanical trouble on the way back), and one stands amazed that anyone can pull off reconnecting at all.

But oh my, few things beat reconnecting with old friends! My drive from the airport to the hotel was made easier by a phone call to an old Miami friend; breakfast was a celebration with my cousin and her husband; and the gala itself was one huge reunion with friends we hadn’t seen since our move three years ago back to New England. The complete change in countenance on our fearless leader’s face when he saw my husband and I enter the ballroom made the entire travel ritual worth it. Arms extended wide, warm kisses to both cheeks and long reconnecting conversation was all I really needed. I could have left at that point, without even eating the scrumptious awaiting spread; his embrace alone did it for me.

Many of us do not enjoy the indulgence of one home base, surrounded by family and friends of decades-long journeys shared. We bounce around counties and countries, in and out of homes and neighborhoods and friendships at dizzying paces. Gone are the days of one employer, one school district and one set of girlfriends. We settle down one year only to uproot the next, ushering kids and spouses into strange communities with perplexing new realities—and strange people—to match. Keeping up relationships, once formed, is logistically arduous. But once committed to the idea, making the effort to reconnect becomes an inspired process. Ensuring that the logistical details will take you safely there become worth every ounce of the struggle.

Children grow and reconnections to their life-shaping forces and faces must be re-kindled. How’s your daughter doing? Where is she applying to college? When’s the new baby due? What’s going on in your business? How’s your mom? Did you get through that awful physical therapy? Have you recovered from your surgery? We share common struggles, questions and dilemmas. Three sets of parents waiting for cars outside the valet area all shared in the common experience of raising fourteen-year-old daughters. Two other moms and I commiserated about the college application process. Complaining about the real estate market and where we might settle in retirement were other common topics of conversation.

Keeping relationships alive provides nourishment for our souls. Refreshment for our spirits. Continuation of ideals. Succession of friendships.

I’ve been blessed these past few weeks by more than my share of wonderful reconnections: with my sister and her family in North Carolina for a quick lunch en route to vacation; with my oldest friend and her family in Pennsylvania while working on my book; next weekend will take me to D.C. to a conference where I’ll reconnect with friends made over the past decade of almost-yearly attendance.

Especially as we struggle to just get through the daily responsibilities of motherhood, with toddler’s needs matched by those of busy spouses, with home and work demands matched by those of community service, it’s important to factor in reconnecting—at an intimate level or on one less complicated—to ensure that the cycles of life will be shared with those whom we love. That rituals will continue for our lifetimes and perhaps even for those of our children. That connecting—and reconnecting—will carry us on into the unspoken joys that bring beauty and meaning into everyday life.

Happy week!


A Quick Note

To read a full account of my life-changing trip to Panama with Alfalit, the organization which our family fully embraces, copy and paste this link into your browser window:


More info can be found at http://www.alfalit.org.

A Rocket Mom Society Note

Reminder: Our fall kick-off meeting will be held at the Mother Ship next Wednesday at 7:30. We’ll figure out how to “Get our Grove Back.” Please bring a fellow rocket mom and plan on having an evening filled with fun, food, fascinating discussion and fabulous new friends!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

If the Devil Wears Prada, Can a Rocket Mom Wear Jimmy Choo's?

Anyone who laughed through this summer’s hit movie, “The Devil Wears Prada,” knows that clothes can, indeed, the woman make. If Andy Sachs’ transformation from journalist neophyte into couture fashionista was not enough, surely the svelte fiftysomething profile of Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep) along with her perfectly coiffed white hair, beautifully-shaped eyebrows and colored matching stockings got your attention.

Throughout the movie, I found myself asking questions about appropriateness. For while Andy’s cheap, mass-produced sweaters from the Gap were certainly appropriate for her college years, they seemed grossly out of order in her new role at the fashion magazine empire which employed her. Far more appropriate were her Aubrey-Hepburn-style hat and swing coat ensembles, knee-length Prada boots and Chanel skirts; the fact that they were borrowed from the excess stash made no difference. She needed them to look right in her job. Fashion was her job. (Well, sort of.)

Women have always had an interest in fashion. For good or for bad, we’re judged (by men and by other women) by our looks and by our fashion sense. And let’s face it: we’ve been playing the dress-up game since toddlerhood.

That said, the question of appropriateness remains. Would Andy’s wardrobe be appropriate if she held the position of elementary school teacher? Of landscape designer? Nuclear physicist?

Now that I’m back in the ranks of corporate America, I am ever-conscious of the way in which fellow working women dress for the workforce. Frankly, I am shocked by how casual my colleagues have become. Almost gone are perfectly matching jacket-and-skirt suits, closed-toe pumps and buttoned blouses. Shoulders, cleavage and toes are de rigueur and have received more exposure (no pun intended) than ever. (I was, frankly, shocked, to see three women legal analysts on Fox News espouse commentary with breasts falling out of tank tops; I can hardly find a women in my office building with covered shoulders; toes…and painted toenails…are definitely in the “no worries” zone. Personally, I find it yucky even thinking about my manager knowing what my toes look like.)

So what’s the story? I mean, if the devil wears Prada, can a Rocket Mom wear Jimmy Choo’s? Can she—no, should she—wear Kate Spade to pick up the kids from the bus-stop, Ralph to the grocery store and Lilly for supper on the terrace? Can a Rocket Mom facing four college tuitions allow herself the indulgence of thousand-dollar Manolo’s?!?

As you swim through the ebb and flows of the cycles of motherhood, consider the role of fashion in your everyday workaday world. At-home moms with baby burble on their shoulders look ridiculous in silk; anyone would think you had lost your marbles in the grand push of childbirth if you even attempted the combination. And yet older moms sharing Abercrombie with their pre-pubescent daughters deal with the ridiculous factor in yet another way. Should fifty-year-old moms (with badge-of-motherhood poochy-bellies to prove it) really be squeezing into low-rise bell-bottoms? Should the start of menopause be the start of more serious wardrobe expenditures and serious attention to personal hygiene? (I watched “Extreme Makeover” this weekend. Words cannot describe…) Or is that the time (for crying out loud!?!) to say enough obsessing already!!!

As you move on with your week, standing as I know you do in front of your clothes inside your closet, staring hazily at clothing both old and brand-new, with that “What do I wear today?” look on your face (will this make me look too fat, this make me look too pale, this make my butt look too wide…) ask yourself what will make you look the most appropriate…and move forward with the assurance that hey, if you could get through all of the trials and tribulations of motherhood, you can figure out a few ensembles to get you through these next seven days.

Happy week!


A Quick Note

The Rocket Mom weekly Newsletter has resumed after its traditional summer hiatus. It’s been busy, busy, busy (!!!) back here at the Mother Ship. I started full-time “outside the home employment”—after nearly twenty years out—re-entering into the exact same position that I left way back when. I’m working as a Financial Advisor in a large office about forty-five minutes from home. Four days before I received the official job offer, I was offered a (fabulous) book contract for a project which takes me traveling most weekends. The ubiquitous work-life-family balancing act facing all moms working both inside and outside of home fronts has not escaped our family, either. We’re reinventing the equation weekly as variables (one son decides to play football at the last minute, one daughter decides to up the ante in tennis lessons, etc.) act like moving targets, rotating on a near-daily basis. As a result of all of this wonderful change, this blog will not appear before Tuesday (all must run through a compliance check as per my new job).

A Nick Note

Nick has settled back into Wake Forest University, but not without a few frustrating inconveniences. He got a case of shingles, which is apparently very painful, and wound up being briefly hospitalized to get that under control. Three difficult weeks later, he is feeling totally back to normal. He should continue maintenance chemo throughout the school year and will hopefully be finished with treatment in the spring

A Rocket Mom Society Note

Our Fall kick-off meeting :”Getting Back Your Groove” will be held at the Mother Ship on Wednesday night, September 27, at our usual time of 7:30 PM. Please note that the time has stayed the same, but the night has changed. We will discuss a permanent meeting night for the 2006/2007 school year at this meeting. Current members, please bring a friend! State chapters have formed over the course of the summer. Interested in joining? Visit:


Contact Info

FourQ Press, PO Box 569, Ridgefield, CT 06877 POSTAL

203.438.7164 OFFICE

425.650.2457 FAX

emomrx@yahoo.com EMAIL

www.rocketmom.com WEBSITE

http://rms.clubexpress.com ROCKET MOM SOCIETY WEBSITE

ISBN 0-9744187-1-4

Copyright (c) 2006 by Carolina Fernandez. All Rights Reserved