HAPPY NEW YEAR! Yes, it’s 2014, a new year and a fresh start for so many of us. I don’t know about you but I’m feeling pretty darn good!
As you know, we do a regular feature here called Life Lessons, a chance for people to tell the world a little more about who they are and what they’ve learned in their lives, or perhaps just over the past several years. I think it’s a great exercise as it forces us a to slow down for a moment, be introspective and to look at the past and future simultaneously.Each year I make it a point to update my own Life Lessons. Just like when I started doing this in 2010, and again in 2012.. 2013 was a year of BIG learning and growing (you can click here to read that piece).
But this exercise is not about looking back as much as it is facing forward. Good Enough Mother, the woman and the site (yes, I know I have used that term before but dammit it works!) continue to grow and this year was no different. I learned a lot about the things I want personally and professionally, what it REALLY takes to rebuild a life/career and why it’s called show BUSINESS not show-friends.
So here now are my own Life Lessons with more on what I gleaned from the last 365 days and what 2014 is going to look like for Good Enough Mother.
*Are you happy at the moment?
Definitely yes! It’s interesting to go back and read my response to this question in my first Life Lessons. At that time, I was anxiety-ridden, just emerging from a pretty significant depression and not really sure what the future would look like. I’m still not sure (who is?) but at least I feel like I’m in control of the direction I’m going.
The biggest thing I have discovered about happiness is that when you make it a choice be happy, you are. I have several people in my life who I keep at arm’s length because being miserable is such a huge part of their DNA. They hit on hard times and instead of digging in and powering through, they throw up their hands and complain. All.The.Time. My life is chaotic enough; I simply can’t afford to have them messing with the already delicate balance.
*If you could go back and say anything
to your 16-year-old self now –
what would it be?
Me at 16
I would say this: Here’s what doesn’t matter: 1) That you’re not popular, 2) That you are the only person to be cut from the Flag Team tryouts, 3) That you never went to your Junior Prom or Senior Ball, 4) That you suck at math (though you probably should try harder), 5) That you think you’re too skinny and flat-chested.
Here’s what does matter: 1) You are, even at this age, a person of integrity, 2) You know how to express yourself, 3) You have developed a good work ethic, 4) You know what it takes to be a success.
Pay attention to the stuff that matters. Being dateless on a Friday night (or several, as it turned out), will not impact your long term success. Not even a little bit.
*What’s the most important thing
you’ve learned this year?
There were several lessons this year but the biggest one perhaps is this: Not everyone will get to the mountaintop with you. I used to think that with the proper time, attention, money and whatever else, anyone could achieve really big goals. I no longer believe that. This is not about education or money, rather just not everyone has the drive, determination, mental aptitude to get the job done, even if they say they want it.
The other thing I learned, courtesy Buff Parham, is how important it is to guard your personal space. Some people are just emotional vampires; they put out dark vibes and will suck the light from your life if you let them. Self-preservation dictates that I keep them at bay.
*What do you most want to
achieve in the next 12 months?
Balance, plain and simple. I’m truly an all or nothing kind of person. I play big, bet big, lose big. I find that I’m either running at break-neck speed, on the verge of a stroke or bored out of my gourd. With my health, I’m either a fitness freak, eschewing carbohydrates and exercising 4 hours a day or living a glutonous, sedentary lifestyle. Even back in the days when I was a cub reporter in Reno, I had to hit the big jackpot in the casino, complete with bells, whistles and a W-2 form before I thought it was worth my time. Buff, on the other hand, believes if you walk away with more than you came in with (in gambling and in life) then that’s a win.
Read more: 10 From GEM: 10 Ways To Make Your Own Luck
*What’s your secret
My secret to happiness? Continuing the pursuit of my dreams and goals and growing as a person. I first talked about this years ago in my book, Good Enough Mother; The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting. My whole reason for writing the book was for women, wives, mothers and others to understand that 1) you didn’t have to be perfect to be a great parent and that 2) you need to be as good to yourself as you are to everyone else. In order for me to be good to others, I have to be good to me and that means I need time to rest and recharge. Traveling with my shows Sweet Retreats and Exhale has afforded me the opportunity to be in a hotel room by myself fairly regularly.
*What one ritual or practice
keeps you grounded?
I would have to say, my husband and kids keep me grounded. Here’s a funny story that illustrates this well. Years ago, Buff and I got invited to a celebrity golf tournament, one that we go to every year. The first year however, everything was new. When we got to the room at this upscale hotel with views of the golf course and not far from the ocean, Buff turned to me and, like an excited school boy, said, “So, who’s the celebrity you’re playing with?”
“Um. Yeah. See, I AM the celebrity. That’s how we got invited.” But that story perfectly illustrates how I am viewed in my home.. and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My home is the place where I let my hair down and the people who love me couldn’t care less that I make my living talking into cameras.
*What’s your biggest regret?
Hmm.. BIGGEST? I’m not sure I have any real regrets and certainly not big ones. I guess on a smaller scale, there are people to whom I regret giving too much of my time, but even they taught me valuable lessons and what to do the next time I see their ilk on the horizon.
So, yeah.. no regrets.
*What’s the most important
lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
I believe the biggest thing I’ve taught my kids is how to roll with the punches of life. I remember once asking Buff if he thought that Casey and Cole would see me as a failure. He said, “No! Just the opposite.” So I think I’ve taught them that life is what you make of it and that the things worth having are worth working for.
Oh and Buff and I have also taught them how to do their own laundry, pick up after themselves and turn off lights when they leave a room. You know, the important stuff.
Read more: Life Lessons: Jackie Gailey
*What bad habit would you most
like to change about yourself?
I’m going to say the same thing I have been saying for years and really need to get serious about: my temper. I have intense emotions; I love big but the flip side of that passion is a bad temper. When I get angry, I blow my top. That’s not good for me or those around me. When I answer these questions next year, I hope to have more of a handle on that; the fact that it’s not as bad as it was a few years ago leads me to believe I might be mellowing with age.
I’m also not the most forgiving person in the world. Once someone has done me wrong, they’re pretty much out of my life forever.
*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood,
what are you most proud of in your life?
I would say the thing I’m most proud of is what that picture represents. Several years ago, I got bounced out of my high-paying TV job as a morning show co-host. My life was literally turned upside down; not only had I been fired, I was about to undergo life-altering surgery. About a year later, while traveling around the country promoting my book (Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting), I got sick on a plane. The short story is I was hospitalized and when I got out, I went to have my hair relaxed as I had been doing for nearly three decades. But this time the chemicals counteracted with the medication I had been given in the hospital and my hair fell out. So not only was I unemployed, recovering from major surgery and now with hair that was breaking and falling out. That all was followed by a pretty significant bout with depression and I struggled to figure out how to right my own ship.
I couldn’t afford a PR professional and my agent had long turned his back after I told him I didn’t want to do TV news anymore so I did the only thing I knew how to do; write. I wrote content for the website, taped videos from my walk-in closet and recorded pod-casts from the same place. Pretty soon people were calling on me for my opinion on parenting topics and not one of them was introducing me as, “Rene Syler, former CBS Early Show anchor.”
It’s only continued to grow from there. Good Enough Mother is not just a blog, it’s a brand and one that has partnered with some other great brands; Disney, Quaker, Nike, GMC, Jade and Jasper to name a few. I fully expect 2014 to bring even more partnerships.
Good Enough Mother also has a staff! Jackie Gailey came on in the middle of last year as blog coordinator and she’s been wonderful. As we continue to grow, organization is critical, which happens to be one of Jackie’s many strong suits. Now we’re adding Alexis Trass Walker to the mix. Alexis is going to take over managing editor duties for the site which, up to now, I had been doing. I can truly say that with Alexis and Jackie in place, we’re poised for a great 2014.
Read more: Life Lessons: Alexis Trass Walker
*When were you happiest?
Anytime I am with my family; well okay, MOST times. I cherish the time we have together and the memories we are creating. I love having people in my life who know and accept every single aspect of me, warts, wrinkles, flaws and all and still think I’m great. I’ve been happy a lot of times in my life, but you know something? I fully intend for my tomorrows to be better than my yesterdays. In fact, I am planning on it!
*What ten words
best describe you?
Hmm.. just 10? Okay here goes: head-strong, mercurial, clever, driven, funny, compassionate, (so they tell me), loyal (to a fault), impatient, smart, resilient.
Okay so those are my Life Lessons for 2014; I’d love to hear from you! Do you want to be featured in our series? If so, drop us a line here and we’ll get the questions out to you right away!