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Life Lessons: ME!

Oh my look who’s in the Life Lessons Hot Seat today! Does she look familiar? I wanted to update my own Life Lessons because this year has been one of  tremendous growth for GEM, the site and the woman behind it (you can go here to see my answers from more than a year ago). As we know, real growth can be gut-wrenching and there were parts of 2011 that were utterly tortuous. But it was also the year I truly stopped waiting for the storm to pass and instead, began dancing in the rain. And you know what? It was fun! More now from the Head GEM and remember, if you want to take part in our Life Lessons Exercise, drop us a line; we’ll get the questions right out to you!


Are you happy at the moment?

Yes. Yes, yes, yes! To be able to say that, my friends, has been a long time coming. It doesn’t mean I don’t still wish for, hope for, want, but it does mean there is a peace in my soul.

If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

I would tell my gangly, goofy 16-year-old self that life goes by fast. At 16, don’t wish you were 21, then at 21 wish your were 25 and at 25 wish you were 32 and so one. You’ll be walking across the stage in cap and gown one minute then watching your own babies do it the next. Look up. Pay attention. Live in the moment.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

Okay. I know I asked each of these responses to be just 2-3 sentences but there is no earthly way possible I can do that in this category.

*Stay on your own mat: This came from my friend Debbie Mitchell who got it from her yoga teacher. Other translations are, “Stay in your lane” Run your own race” “Do your own thing”.

*Harness your positive energy: This came from GEM columnist Will Jones aka, Good Enough Guy. For me, that meant putting blinders on to the negative noise that sometimes comes with life and I paid FAR too much attention to. I am learning to control what I can and let the rest go.

*Success takes talent AND drive: This came from my new friend Holly Pavlika. Anyone can do what I am doing with GEM and reinvention, but not everyone is, even those with a perfect platform. Why? Because not everyone has the drive to get it done. I do.

*It’s called show BUSINESS not show FRIENDS: Wooo-wee! This came from Buff and perhaps was the year’s biggest lesson. I’m TV talent but this was the year I had to think like a businessperson. Contracts and agreements need to be clear, in writing and signed off by an attorney. People change, circumstances change and I am not a lawyer.

*No one will believe in you as much as you believe in yourself: This one is from me. I came up with the concept for Good Enough Mother in 2005. I did! The book followed, as did the brand, which becomes clearer every single day. GEM was borne of my desire to help women be okay with the jobs they were doing as wives and mothers. Others will see it (and me), as a way to make money but to me, Good Enough Mother will always be much more.

What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

In the next 12 months, I want to become truly fearless. I’ve done that more and more over the last several months but there’s still a tiny part of me, remnants from my days in TV news (where you live and die by the Q score) that is too worried about pissing off people who are in positions to hire me.

What’s your secret to happiness?

Copious amounts of cheap wine. Kidding. Not really. Seriously though, a glass of wine at the end of the day is one of the things that makes me happy.

What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Um, see above.

What’s your biggest regret?

I can’t think of a single one since they’ve all been so big! LOL. Not really. I don’t really regret any of the things I’ve done or been through because they have all led me to this very place, the place I am supposed to be. I believe in every experience you need to be able to say you learned from it. Let’s just say I learned a LOT this year.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

Buff and I were talking about this the other day. Kids learn by watching and Casey and Cole are seeing what hard work looks like up close. This is not the sterilized, Hollywood version of this story. This is real life and it’s real hard. They are learning what sort of effort it takes to become a success and will be able to see what reward looks like too. Soon.

What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

Organization. I’m terrible at it. I am getting better and using technology to help me but it’s still the beast I have yet to tame. I am smart enough to surround myself with people who are good at that.

Aside from motherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

I would have to say I am most proud of how I have handled the challenges of the last several years.  Years ago I might have said ascending to the national stage as part of the anchor team on that morning show so many years ago. That job  was tough, no question, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what I’ve done the last several years. Job loss, mastectomy, losing my hair, each one of those things could have derailed me but they didn’t. I did the only thing I knew how to do, which was to put one foot in front of the other. The journey is long, the path not always clear, but if I keep walking, I’ll eventually get there.

When were you happiest?

Hmm, there have been a lot of happy moments in my life but to date, the happiest of them would be when I married Buff and had those two hell-raisers. Er, children.

What ten words best describe you?

In no particular order: Snarky, Irreverent, Temperamental, Loyal, Loving, Smart, Savvy, Stubborn, Impatient, Fun-loving.

This is typically the place where the writer’s bio goes, instead I’m going to leave you with this. I cannot express to you how truly humbled and grateful I am to each of you. Thank you for coming to GEM everyday, for taking time out of your busy lives to read and comment on the pieces here. I’ve always said this parenting thing is tough; there are no hard and fast rules and sometimes the answers aren’t so easy to see. But I love the collaborative effort here and together we’ll get through it. In the meantime, I’m keeping my head up and my face toward the sun; because even in the muck and mire, the world is a beautiful place. 2012 is gonna be awesome!

HUGS from the Head GEM!


  1. Sandra Sharp

    January 1, 2012 at 11:41 am

    lol. I remember that disorganized Rene! And the hard working Rene. Our children do take notice of our hard work. I have worked e-3 jobs at a time these past few years….and this Christmas my boys showed so much appreciation …. this one is a shocker….and concern that I am working too hard!!!! Now I just have to show these boys where all this hard work can get us!

  2. Juli

    January 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I LOVE BUFF’s ADVICE….I had to learn quite a bit about that myself this year. I’m always learning the hard way. You sound like you have your eyes on the prize Rene, and I know I will see more of you in 2012. happy New Year!

  3. A Daughter

    January 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    No, Rene…..thank you for having the courage to be honest about life and giving me a space to go to read about real things. This site is a bit of peace for me, while challenging because it makes me think smarter. I have picked up some sound advice from all the people who comment on here. And thanks for being tangible (cyberly).

  4. sarena

    January 1, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Before I even read your answers to the Life Lessons segment, I read something in your opening paragraph that I will carry in my life bag of inspiration:

    “…I stopped waiting for the storm to pass, and instead started dancing in the rain.” (deep breath)

    That single sentence is so life-changing! Life is what you make it and time after time through your transparency, we have seen you dance in the rain, and inspire us to do the same, and eventually, we see sunshine!

    Thank you Rene for giving so much to your readers! May the year 2012 deliver much joy to you and yours and GEM!

  5. Rene Syler

    January 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    @Sarena: Oh thanks honey! And to you and yours as well. BTW, that’s not an original quote.. I wish I had come up with that. It’s an anonymous quote used in motivational speeches a lot. But it does the trick, right, LOL XO
    @Juli: Yep, I think I’m gonna keep him.. best to you this year
    @A daughter: thank you for coming by and being such a supporter of GEM
    @Sandra: So great that your kids are learning by your example. Yes, don’t tell about my disorganized days 🙂

  6. Cody Williams

    January 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Happy New Year, snarky. LOL. Nice.

  7. Krista Swan

    January 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Rene! You are such an inspiration. I’m glad you’re acknowledging the DRIVE it takes to be successful. I have great ideas that I keep thinking, “Someone should do that.” Well this year, I’M DOING IT!
    Thanks for being real, awesome, and really awesome.

  8. Dawn B

    January 3, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Your advice is always well thought out, covers every angle and real! I love coming here everyday and i keep learning so much

  9. pattyrowland

    January 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    thanks for your input rene…i love your openness and honesty – at all times! very refreshing…i’m proud call you my friend! xoxooxox

  10. keith

    March 2, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Big hugs to you, and thank you for all you do for us.

  11. Joyceline

    March 4, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Rene in Gods sight u r now on ur course that he planned for U in ur mothers womb. God knew u even than. Pray and let him be ur guide. His plan for u is good and not for evil to bring u imto his expected end. Love Peace Joy. Luv and praying for U and Family. WATCH AND PRAY.

  12. Whitney Eiland

    April 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Your growth is wonderful and encouraging! I am in my transition right now, and I’m learning, changing and leaving fear behind. Thank you so much for sharing and being transparent with your life.

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More in Bookings and Speeches

Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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