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TEN FROM GEM: BEST DECISIONS

Hey everybody!

It’s Sunday and you know what that means. It’s time for Ten from GEM!

Before I dive in, just a quick reminder on how this works. Each week we take a topic, I give you my ten choices in the category – and then we put it out there for you guys to do the same. Over the last few months we’ve covered everything from books and songs, and holiday destination and heroes.

So today – how about something really meaty – your BEST DECISIONS ever? What are the choices you made that you never, ever regret?

Here are mine; some are big and life changing and some may seem on the superficial side. But I proudly own them all.  So here we go, in no particular order of importance:

* MARRYING BUFF:  I know I give him a hard time, in person and in print but there is no denying the man has my back. When you first meet and fall in love with someone, it’s such an intoxicating, heady feeling. But there’d better be a whole lot more or there’s no way you will get through the rough patches like illness and job loss. We are different in many respects but aligned in our core values and beliefs. We built our relationship on the foundation of friendship and that has carried us through. The dizzying, heart pounding love has been replaced by a deeper, richer, more meaningful love and it feels good to know I’m not traveling through this thing called life, alone.

*BECOMING A MOTHER: When you meet and marry someone you think you’ve learned everything there is to know about love. And you do, until you become a mother. It doesn’t matter how the baby comes into your life, whether via adoption or conception, it is mind-blowing how much your capacity for love increases, almost exponentially. And when you hold that little, helpless baby in your arms, it’s impossible not to marvel at how wonderful life can be. My first feeling was overwhelming joy followed by sheer panic. All of a sudden another creature was dependent on me for care. But I felt my way through it, asked questions and raised concerns. I may not have had all the answers but I was smart enough to figure out how to get them. That remains my motto and attitude to this day.

* STOPPING AT TWO KIDS: I once heard someone say you should not have more kids than you have laps for. Perfect! Two parents, two kids, nice, neat symmetrical. I know there are people who love and are destined for big families. I was not one of them. I came from a family with two kids and there was never a doubt in my mind that I would have two. Here’s why. Let me just be honest; I’m not the most together, with-it person in the world and if I had more than two kids, one would be bound to get left behind somewhere. Yes, I am that scattered. I am barely hanging on by my fingernails now with the schoolwork, extracurricular activities, parties and what not for just two; I shudder to think of more.  And then there’s the arguing. Casey and Cole are pretty good but when they get into it, it becomes more than I can bear. Nope, nope, two was plenty.

* MAJORING IN PSYCHOLOGY: In high school I was pretty clear on one thing. After taking pre-algebra three years in a row and even then having only a tenuous of grasp of the concepts, I realized I was going to have to find a career that did not include counting of any kind. But I also needed to find something I was passionate about. That something was psychology. I loved reading about Freud and Erikson and their theories on development. I loved how it was a window on human behavior and gave me a deeper understanding on why people do what they do.  It was a well rounded enough major to be able to take it anywhere, including TV.

* SWITCHING MY MAJOR TO COMMUNICATIONS: As much as I loved psychology, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to work in the field I really wanted to (I wanted to work with people with major mental illness) unless I had an advanced degree. By the time I graduated from college I was ready to get out and the notion of going for even just two more years for a Master’s degree held all the appeal of a warm bucket of spit. One night I was working at the suicide prevention hotline in my hometown of Sacramento, California and I read about longtime Boston news anchor Liz Walker who at the time was the highest paid, black anchorwoman in the country. In that moment I decided to change my focus. The next morning I called around until I got an internship at a local TV station, enrolled in communications classes and started off on the path that would lead me to where I am today.

* BEING AN ATHLETE IN HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE: I have always been a tomboy and always been competitive. What better way to marry those two things than sports? I competed in track and field, excelling in hurdles and high jump. I loved the feeling of backing into the starting blocks and the adrenalin rush when the start’s gun goes off. I loved running on artificial tracks, under the bright lights of the stadium. But there truly was no greater feeling than giving it your all and crossing the finish line first.

* MOVING TO NEW YORK: I lived in several cities on my climb up the career ladder, Reno, Birmingham, AL, Dallas and honestly the last stop was where I thought I would stay. But just as I planted roots, bought a house, popped out a second kid the call came to come to New York and CBS. Wow. It wasn’t like I aspired to live there or even to work at the network, but it was one of the life-changing, too-good-to-pass-up moments. While the move to New York was great, the job had a dubious ending as many of you know. Getting fired sucks, I don’t care if you sweep floors or anchor a TV show.  But the next step would have been much harder had I not made the move.

* WRITING GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER: I always wanted to write a book but I had no idea what that would be. When I was back in Dallas, I gave it a little thought but nothing really jumped out at me. Now this is what I was alluding to above. I could have written a book as a local author but would people in Kalamazoo, MI care about what a local news anchor in Dallas had to say about whatever topic? Probably not. Anchoring the CBS morning show gave me a platform and a national name that I used as a springboard to other things.

* HAVING MY PREVENTIVE MASTECTOMY: This was a tough decision but still a good one. I had a mother and father with breast cancer and I was diagnosed with a breast disease in 2003 (Hyperplasia Atypia). I was having a biopsy every year and after the fourth one in as many years, it was time to do something. I opted to have a PREVENTIVE mastectomy. Because of my risk factors, my chances for developing breast cancer were about 5 times the average. I had a young family and a husband who needed me. And while cancer found early is very treatable, there’s still a small percentage that do not fare well, even with early diagnosis. But more than that, I needed it for peace of mind. Being on the table and having a surgery every year was not how I envisioned my life turning out. I had to get off that merry-go ‘round. I have never looked back, never had a single regret.

* STARTING GOODENOUGHMOTHER.COM: I see now, how all these decisions led me to this one, my ultimate life’s work.  I wanted to spread the word to other women that you don’t have to be perfect to be a great parent. As those of who frequent this site, oh heck, who are just livers of life know that perfection is overrated and completely unattainable. After years of trying to do everything “the right way” I just wanted to climb the highest mountain and scream ‘THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY!” I wanted to bring a little bit of comfort to that new mom who has just dissolved in a sobbing batch of tears because she feels inadequate because she can’t or doesn’t want to breastfeed. I wanted to help assuage the guilt of moms who want to go out with their girlfriends and NOT talk about their children. And I wanted everyone to know that you can only do your best and that really is going to have to do. Goodenoughmother.com was a way for me to do that and communicate on a level far more personal and immediate than television. My ultimate goal is to see our budding community grow and with it, a movement that says Good Enough really is just fine.

Okay so those are my ten best decisions. I really need more space because I needed to add on leaving the chemicals behind and going natural and several years ago, ponying up five thousand bucks to have an eye job that took years off my look. As I stated above, these were my decisions and I have not regretted a single one.

Now it’s your turn. What are the ten best decisions you have ever made? Are there decisions you should have made and didn’t – and now regret? Your turn.. Fire away!

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