Hi, Everyone! With Rene hosting the 2013 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in Orlando, we wanted to try something a little different. We asked the moms and dads heading down to the conference May 9-12 to answer our Life Lessons questions with a Disney twist, of course. Like the GEMS they are, they took to the task. We will be running their answers in the regular Life Lessons slot. Oh, and don’t worry. You still have a chance to share. Just email Ella and she will get the information to you. Now, we present our Disney Social Media Mom of the day, Charlene.
Are you happy at the moment?
I suppose I should say I am happy, all things considered, but I’m more sad than normal since my nana passed away last month. We were very close. A memory to share about her is Disney related. My parents couldn’t afford for us to go to Disney when we were younger (my mom saved for our park and airplane tickets from the money she saved from clipping coupons), but my grandmother was able to purchase a time-share in Kissimmee, FL. As a result, we were able to go to Disney World for the first time in 1983. We had many Disney family vacations after that! I remember telling my nana how I had got invited to the Disney Social Media Moms celebration. She knew how special it was and she was so excited for me. However, she went into a coma that night and passed away three days later. Disney was literally the last conversation I had with her. I wish she could have heard about my Disney Social Media Mom adventures, but I think she is looking down from above and will see all the fun.
If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?
You should have had more courage to try out for the cheerleading squad. You would have been really good at it. The guy you will date in ten years is a waste of time, so don’t bother. When your hairdresser tries to convince you to get a new hairstyle your senior year, don’t say yes. Enjoy the sleep while you can because you’ll need the energy in six years when you take five law school classes at night per semester for four years and work two jobs during the day, followed by marriage and two kids.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
I think of three clichés: You’re stronger than you think, roll with the punches, and things don’t always go as planned. I had a pretty challenging birth experience last June with my second child. To this day, I still cannot believe what happened that afternoon. Yet, it was a prelude of major things to come, which ultimately resulted in abdominal reconstructive surgery this past winter. (If I ever wanted to shock a team of doctors, I got my wish.) So to round out the clichés: sometimes you have to put yourself first. Those flight attendants on airlines, that tell you to put your oxygen mask on before assisting others, are actually sharing a valuable life lesson.
What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
I want to run a marathon again. At the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, I am hoping to run 2-miles (albeit slow) for the first time since my surgery. It would be a major accomplishment, because two months ago I could not stand upright. Despite my seven previous marathon experiences, I will be starting from scratch, and it is a humbling experience. Yet, I am going to keep challenging myself to various race lengths and hope to run for Disney next January. I was offered the opportunity to do so this past January, but had to turn it down because I was so sick. It is my new Disney dream.
What’s your secret to happiness?
Well, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore! But I’ll share some insights on what makes me content. I love spending time with my family and not having to worry about needing to Instagram this photo of my kids on the swing, should I tweet this meal at a restaurant, etc. So I set parameters. I only work on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The rest of the time is if I want to. It keeps a good balance and allows me to live in the moment (and put the numbers in perspective.)
What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
Sleep. Too bad I don’t get much of it. So I settle for the spa.
What’s your biggest regret?
Not getting enough sleep. Yet, I guess my biggest work regret is that I didn’t start blogging sooner, and that I never got to work for Disney. I dreamed of working in the government relations office for Disney, but now with kids and a life far away from Florida, that is no longer a reality. I’m hoping to get back into local government relations and policy work someday, but in the interim, I’ll enjoy the blog I do have…no matter when I started it.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
Mom is the boss. (For real.) Since my kids are only three years and the other ten months, the lessons aren’t earth shattering yet. We are still in the learning to eat-with-a-fork and put-your-own-socks-on phase. Yet, one important one lesson that I strive to teach them everyday is to find a solution. You can’t find your shoe? What is the solution to that? You crawled under the table and you’re stuck? What is the solution? Granted my 10-month-old probably has no idea what I am saying, but hopefully it will catch on.
What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
I wish I didn’t eat so many chocolate chip cookies or wear sweatpants so much. But dang those sweat pants are comfortable and they hide the chocolate chip cookie aftermath.
Aside from motherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?
I’m proud of the fact that I got to intern in the White House for the First Lady (I won’t mention which one to keep politics out of it) and I’m especially proud that I got to write laws in my home state, too. I wrote the law that banned smoking in all restaurants and bars, wrote task reports and implemented the law for health insurance in Massachusetts, among other things. When I am cleaning up poop, or when people don’t know me in the social media realm, I like to remember that I used to be a big-wig somewhere at one time.
Who is your favorite Disney princess and what has she taught you about parenting?
I have to go with Snow White in that she could handle a household of 8 people. I can’t even imagine. Seven males? Good grief.
What ten words best describe you?
I asked my Facebook friends how they would answer this question, since it was a good way to see if they should stay my Facebook friends. (Kidding!) This is what they came up with: Char-tastic (get it, Charlene & fantastic merged together-HAHA), professional, understanding, resourceful, educated, motivational, creative, kind, dependable & cheerful. (The last one is clearly from a Facebook friend imposter….)
After writing laws for 15 years, Charlene now blogs about whatever she wants; specifically, fabulous things like technology, travel, social media, fashion and fitness at CharleneChronicles.com. She runs a local Mom group called Metrowest Mamas, has shows on MomTV, and is on the Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board. Charlene speaks at conferences on legal issues in Social Media, loves doing video product reviews, and considers time on Twitter, Google+, Facebook,