Yoga Teacher Training

Last month I graduated from a life transforming 7 month 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training class during which I now emerge feeling broken wide open in beautiful ways. I never imagined that I would ever qualify, but it happened! And my heart is full with love and gratitude to the special group of people with whom I spent every other weekend, learning all things Yoga. I even taught a class at a yoga studio two weeks ago and it was thrilling. The training program was challenging, but so worth it. Many thanks to all my graduating class and of course to my teachers. May the light in me always honor the light in you.

89-Yoga Teacher Training 5-12-16



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

The Reset Button

I spent most of February and March worried about breast cancer. It felt as if I had fallen down a rabbit hole and couldn’t get my bearing for the last six weeks. It turns out that what I thought was good news after my repeat mammogram, was really only the beginning of a longer, drawn out saga.

After two mammograms and two MRIs, one with a biopsy, I finally received the all clear. But during that time I was lost in limbo land. Did I or didn’t I have breast cancer? What was showing up on the tests? And why do they need to do a biopsy in the MRI machine? It is bad enough to have 12 core samples removed from my (now black and blue) breast, but in and out of a closed MRI to a claustrophobic person adds insult to injury.

Instead of focusing on the roller coaster of fear, I am embracing the sweet relief a benign diagnosis brought to me, my family and my friends. The ‘all clear’ diagnosis is a reset button for how I want to live my life. Frankly anyone one of us is each just one diagnosis away from all sorts of medical disasters. We can’t control the length of our lives, but we have some control over how we spend it.

This is a lesson I keep learning over and over again. It was mine for a while after I survived cancer in my mid 20’s. I learned it again when my husband had cancer 19 years ago (this month!). And I learned again a 1 ½ years ago from my accident, from which I am still recovering. None of this makes me unique. Many friends and loved ones have had their own medical/life-death adventures. We are all learning similar life lessons, gained from the heartbreak and pain of loss and recovery.

For whatever time left to me — hopefully many more decades — I want my life to be of my making, on my own terms. I want to spend my time doing things that light up my life, bring a smile to my face and makes my heart soar.

I dodged a bullet this time, but I know that next time I might not be so lucky. This time I came to a place of acceptance. If life is short or long, I want to laugh too loud, take up lots of space, make more mistakes, apologize with an open heart and love fiercely. Bottom line is that I have had a great life, with many, many things and people to which and to whom I am most grateful!

So in honor of my recent healthy diagnosis and the 32nd anniversary of being free of cancer, I publicly renew my commitment to spending time doing the activities that I find fulfilling with friends and family who share laughter and joy and love while living.

Who’s with me?

 



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Repeat Mammograms Suck

After getting a mammogram last week, I learned that I needed to have a repeat one done. These are not words that any woman wants to hear, much less one who is a cancer survivor. Once you have heard the dreaded cancer diagnosis, everything feels like borrowed time—even those of us who are 30+ years out.

For the last four or five days, every time I started to think about it I found myself sucking in air, but never fully exhaling. I’m proud that I didn’t obsess – an old pattern of mine for many years. Basically I gave myself permission to think about it and then let it go. Meditating and mind discipline (another word for yoga!) is finally working for me.

Cancer screening is not fun or pleasant; it can involve moments or days or weeks waiting for results. Since my cancer was malignant melanoma in 1985, screening for me also means a full body check by a dermatologist. I don’t like going, but I sure like knowing. Head in the sand is not an acceptable option.

Some of my random thoughts as I was waiting to get in for my repeat mammogram were:

I thought about how my breasts fed and nourished my kids and how breastfeeding was an important tool in my mothering tool box for many, many years (yes, I was that kind of mother ;-).

I thought about the odds and how both my mother and maternal aunt had post-menopausal breast cancer. They say that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. I remember sitting on an all-woman Board of Directors for an international non-profit with 15+ other women and speculating that at least 2 of us might get breast cancer. These past several days I wondered if it was going to be me.

The good news is that all is fine and the problem was a technical one with the mammogram and not at all with me. But I write this post to remind everyone reading it to get screened. Cancer happens. For years after my cancer in the mid 1980’s I stopped getting cancer checks. I was young and I didn’t want to deal with it. After my first child was born, I finally grew up and realized that this is a part of life.

So while I am doing a happy dance after getting the good news today, I know that I might be in for another round next month when I go in for my skin cancer body check. Odds are that they will want to biopsy something (they usually do) and I will get to spend another few days waiting and wondering. Such is life.

 



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Where Have all My Blog Posts Gone?

 

I woke up this morning with the song, Where Have all the Flowers Gone in my head, but the words were slightly different: Where Have all the Blog Posts Gone had taken over the lovely melody. And as of my readers have noticed, it looks like I have been silent. But anyone who has met me knows I don’t do silent very well. So where has my online voice gone?

It actually hasn’t gone anywhere. I don’t have writers block. In fact I feel downright fertile these days. I have so many ideas that I had to stop writing them down in my writing notebook. I compose blog pieces constantly and then have lengthy inner dialogues about the pieces all day long.

The real reason I am not posting blog pieces right now is that I am on an adventure. I am currently in the middle of an 8 month training program and I am going along with the process, waiting to see what unfolds. The course meets every other weekend; it is exhilarating and draining at the same time. I find myself excited about upcoming training weekends and then when they get here almost shrinking from them. As an extrovert I enjoy the time spent with the other students and teachers, but even I get tired of both the mental and physical work involved. I find myself stretching and growing inside and out, which is both exciting and wearying.

For the first time in decades I’m not spending my time planning during the training figuring out how I will use all that I am learning. This is a big departure for me from past training programs I have done. When I took the Meyer’s Briggs training program (2000) I had it all planned out how I would lead awesome leadership development workshops. When I took my real estate licensing training course (2000) I pictured the industry success I wanted to become. In my coaching accreditation program (2009) I saw myself helping women business owners grow personally and professionally. During the Anti-Defamation League’s A World of Difference anti-bias program (2005) I pictured leading community based training programs that would open people’s minds and hearts. Even years back when I did the La Leche League International Leader Training program (1991) I could see myself helping breastfeeding mothers and babies all over the country. Fact is almost all of what I pictured came true.

But this time I am staying present; I’m not mind-jumping to the end. I have not figured out how I will apply all that I am learning. This is not easy for me to do and is one of the reasons I have not publically announced the training program I am in. It is a fine line for me to live out-loud and authentically, but also find a way to allow life to unfold.

Two weekends ago I went on a women’s initiation retreat with Megan Wagner, a Therapist, Spiritual Teacher, Author, Storyteller, Ritual Leader and Interfaith Minister whose retreats have been life-changing and life saving for me. I have attended 7 of her local Feminine Path to Power retreats. Each one has a different theme and involves different stories, rituals, meditations, songs, chants and dancing. She calls her local Women’s Initiation Retreats Wise Women Training and they are!

In this most recent retreat we spent time focusing on dreams and ideas that are aligned with our higher life purpose and how we will manifest them. In the context of my current training program it was empowering and inspiring. When I attended the same retreat 3 years ago I left excited but confused. This time around I find myself much more centered, balanced and in-tune with what is next for me. And I attribute part of this to my new-found ability to stop over-planning my future. Here I am at the end of the retreat, wearing Megan’s beautiful silk robe with Salima, the Goddess of Manifesting.

Manifest1 Manifest2 Manifest3

Change is scary. The unknown is unknown, and that can be unsettling. But as I learn to live with the unknown I feel empowered. It feels as if I am living on the edge of a flame – we all know that flames can burn out of control, be snuffed out by a wind or drowned by water. So along with feeling emblazoned, I also feel fragile; I am learning to embrace my power and fragility with care and tenderness.

I am not ready to announce my next act yet, but make no mistake, there is at least one act left in me (maybe more!). Stay tuned for new adventures, new announcements and new blog posts!

 



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

Last week I was invited to join other bloggers this holiday season to flood the internet with happiness and gratitude by linking our posts together and inviting friends, family and readers to join us. Here is my list and below that are instructions for how to join us.

1) My family

Heidi1

 

2) Being able to walk after my accident last year

3) A local yoga studio with teachers and students who I like

4) Young people in my life

5) Older people in my life

6) Having a husband who talks me down from my emotional ledge more times that I care to admit that I need him to

 

Heidi2

7) Our new home in downtown San Jose

8) Xmas without a wheelchair

9) A fabulous ankle doctor who I like and trust

10) Being able to travel east to hear my daughter sing in her recital last November

11) My home yoga practice

12) Having the means to travel to local and distant places

13) Having the means to do the work on our new house so that it now feels like our home

14) Selling our old home fast and for a profit

15) My mother’s husband and my brother who live by and take care of my ailing mother

16) My mother’s husband for all that he does to please and take care of my mother

17) For my mother’s aide who helps her call me several times a week so that I continue to feel connected

18) My mother’s new found ability to tell me that she loves and misses me in most every phone conversation

 

Heidi3

19) My BFF (and chiropractor) Deb Mosca whose healing touch got me out of the wheelchair and back in my body after last year’s accident

20) My one day solo road trip from Princeton, NJ to Syracuse, NY last November, releasing the emotions after visiting my mother, talking on the phone with friends, listening to NPR interviews, seeing the fall foliage

21) Visiting the east coast last April and seeing the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin

Heidi4

 

22) Passover 2015 with family and friends

23) Being able to connect with my father, his wife and kids from his second family

24) Hawaii for my birthday this year

25) The magic air in Hawaii

26) Snuba’ing with my husband in Hawaii

 

Heidi5

27) Actually getting to meet and have dinner with a blogging friend and her husband when I read on FB that they too were in Hawaii, on the same part of the same island at the same time

 

Heidi6

28) The private cabana by the pool with a lovely view of the ocean that my husband insisted we have while in Hawaii

29) Taking afternoon walks, after lunch, in search of espresso with my husband while in Hawaii

30) Being upgraded to business class on most of my 2015 cross country airline trips

31) Meeting and hanging out with and really liking my son’s fiance’s parents

32) Double shots of espresso

33) Having a husband who insisted that we cut down our Xmas tree, even though it is was just the two of us this year decorating

Heidi7 Heidi8

 

34) Stitching at the end of most every day

35) My stitching friends

36) Learning new stitching techniques

37) Being able to find all sorts of stitching and craft supplies I had stashed away in our old home and now having the room to play with it all in our new home

38) All my yoga teachers—locally and abroad!

39) My yoga friends – locally and abroad!

40) Being on a yoga mat in a community with friends and strangers

41) My dad

42) My brother

43) The amazing women I meet on my women’s retreats

44) The deep rooted experiences I get to have on my women’s retreats

45) Reconnecting with my first cousins

46) Having a master bedroom with three windows that let in lots and lots of light every morning ion our new home

47) Authors of (most) of the books I read

48) My friends from the blogging world

49) Family and friends who read my blog and send me emails and notes about my posts

50) My husband, who I met at age 18, married at age 28, and who still surprises me when he shows up at home every night!

Heidi10 Heidi11 Heidi12

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.

To join the bloggers who have come together for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the blue frog at the bottom of this post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise. View Dawn from Tales from the Motherland’s original instructions by clicking here.

View everyone who is participating by clicking here!



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

This is a sad week for my family.

My mother was moved into a memory care unit at her retirement community. She and her husband moved to the community a year ago with the idea that someday this would happen. What no one expected is that someday would arrive so fast. But it is here and it is time that she moves to a space in which she will be well cared for, kept safe and no longer a full time burden to those who love her.

The reality is that the person who was once my mother is mostly gone. There is still a joyful person inside, but she is mostly anonymous, with no past, no future, and only a present and that is short term at best. The many details that make up a long, full and rich life are largely gone from her memory.

Seeing my mother’s life reduced to circumstances that I know would appall her is beyond sad, beyond grief, beyond words. And now to have to stop living with her beloved is just heart breaking.

While I grieve her lost memories, reduced life and our relationship, I also worry that perhaps this is my future too – all children of parents with Alzheimer’s worry about this.

I know that as we age, all of us suffer from some short term memory loss; this is normal and to be expected. But since my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis any little blips in my memory are a frightening reminder of what might be in store for me. The bottom line is that none of us are promised a long and healthy life. Anything can happen.

Each of us has the possibility of coming down with some catastrophic disease or suffering from misfortune. I have written a little bit some of what I have experienced: the random murder 38 year ago of a beloved cousin in Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop; my cancer adventures; several years ago I shared a post from a friend whose son tragically died way too young, In This I Will Find Beauty; as well as a few posts about my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Because of my experience with tragedy, medical scares and other random events, I have always been a sucker for quotes that tell us to “LIVE AS IF THERE WAS NO TOMORROW” or “NO REGRETS,” because we are not promised tomorrow no matter how healthy we eat, how much we exercise or how often we meditate.

Years ago I chose a quote for my highschool yearbook page, that I felt drawn to then and still holds sway with me today.

“If I Had My Life to Live Over

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I’d be sillier than I have been in this life. I’d take fewer things seriously. I’d take more chances, more trips. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I’d eat more ice cream and less beans. Perhaps I would have more troubles, fewer imaginary ones.

You see I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely hour and hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments but if I had to do it all over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else, just moments one after another instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, hot water bottle, raincoat and parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter. If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I’d go to more dances, ride more merry-go-rounds, pick more daisies.” – an 85 year old woman

So in honor of my mother, who can no longer take a juicy bite out of life, I will laugh too loud, take up too much space, make tons of mistakes, apologize with an open heart, and love fiercely.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Making our House a Home

One of the nice things about our latest move is that we bought and/or were gifted some new items (both large and small) that we have both really enjoy having in our new place.

Spice Rack Spice Rack Open

My father, his wife & my sister gifted us this gorgeous hand carved spice rack that holds all 50 spice jars that I have and we put in the dining area, by the kitchen. It is as much a piece of art as it is practical. The photos don’t do it justice.

Doorbell Deliveries

This is a Ring Doorbell that is connected to an app so it rings on my phone or tablet when someone is at the front door—whether or not we are home. And it records on video the whole interaction. We are thinking of installing one at the back door instead of using the cheesy sign I hung up telling people to go to the front.

Door

We have three outside doors and we installed coded door locks on all of them. We no longer carry house keys, which is great. And I can program codes for visiting friends and family without having to worry about finding them a copy of our keys.

Of course not everything I bought was a success. After we closed on our place, but before we moved in, I picked out new living room furniture against the advice I received from friends and family—they all said to wait until we actually moved in before buying. Since new furniture takes 12 weeks to show up, I wanted to get a jump on the timeline. The result was furniture I picked out was all wrong: too large, wrong colors, not my style. It lasted less than five days in my home before it was picked up and returned to the store. Bad news was that it took another 12 weeks for the new pieces I ordered to arrive, but the good news is the new pieces are very comfortable and I love our new living room!

Furniture

A photo of the furniture before it was returned. We covered it up so that we didn’t damage it. I couldn’t wait to get it out of my home.

New living More New Living

Our new living room, with a rug I bought almost 30 years ago that we were not able to use in our last home, but works great in this one. We opted for two matching love seat couches, a leather recliner with a matching ottaman along with two end tables and a sofa table in dark mahogany wood. I need to figure out what colors to paint som accent walls in the living/dining area to tie it all together, but this time I am taking my time.

All in all we are very happy with our new place. I remember my sister-in-law telling me that she loves walking into her home since they renovated it and feels lucky she gets to live there. I now understand what she meant as I feel the same everytime I enter our new home.

 

 

 

 

 



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

The Book Prescriber is in!

Left to Write

I have always been intrigued by the power of books to affect our lives so profoundly that we change, grow, move-on, get over, become different by just reading them. It has been my experiences that reading certain books can profoundly heal and/or change our lives. Whether it is through imaging what the characters are going through so strongly that we change or by reading their cautionary tale we become different, just by reading the book. So I am always on the lookout for books that are ‘life-changing,’ novels and non-fiction alike.

Books that inspire us ourselves came up as a topic of conversation seven years ago, when I reached out to an ex-best friend – someone I thought I would be friends with forever – on her 50th birthday. Have you ever had a friend with whom you just clicked? With whom it felt like she just ‘got” you and vice versa? With this particular friend I felt that we would be friends forever. Sadly this relationship did not last.

I have been lucky in that I have formed quite a few of these friendships and had various best friends over the years. But also unlucky in that so many of them have faded away. For this particular woman, we stopped being friends decades ago; she became another name on a long list of lost girlfriends.

I remembered her birthdate and called on her 50th birthday. After catching up on husbands, kids, careers, etc. I asked what she had done to mark the event. I was intrigued and inspired by what she told me.

She had had a party, invited dear friends, asking each to bring a ‘life-changing’ book as a gift. The book could be motivational, or inspirational or aspirational, fiction or non-fiction but it had to have made an impact or difference to the gift-giver’s life.

Of course we’ve lost touch again – picking up some relationships after 25+ years is just not possible – but I have thought about her clever book party theme since then. I would love to have a list of books that have the power to change our lives. Think of it, if you are feeling depressed or sad or blue, wouldn’t it be great to have a list of books that are perfect for elevating your mood, a book pharmacy of sorts.

Feeling blue over a dead-end career? There are books for that! Feeling wistful as an empty nester? There are books for that! Longing for a long lost friend? There are books for that! Looking for help to get over a broken heart? There are books for that!

This is one of the main themes for the book, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George that I recently read for my online book club, From Left to Write. It is about a book seller who calls himself a literary apothecary set in France who obviously knows and loves books.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go into a book store feeling one way and walk out with a prescription for a book that would help heal you or energize you or raise your spirits or calm your anxiety? This is what I imagined the inspiring books themed party that my friend described to be like.

There have been quite a few movies about small, independent bookstores with delightful book sellers encouraging people to buy some books and discouraging them from buying others, basically trying to make a difference in someone’s life. Two that come to mind are Hugh Grant’s character in Notting Hill and Meg Ryan’s in You’ve Got Mail. And while I love watching movies, there is nothing that compares to a book in my mind for elevating my mood, changing my perspective or inspiring me.

Two of the many books mentioned in The Little Paris Bookshop that I had heard of and loved were The Elegance of the HedgeHog by Muriel Barbery and The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.

So while I don’t have any plans for an inspiring books themed party for my 55th birthday later this month, maybe I will host one for my 60th!

What life-changing books have you read? It would be wonderful to share and compare book lists!

Disclosure: This post was inspired by the novel The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, where Monsieur Perdu–a literary apothecary–finally searches for the woman who left him many years ago. Join From Left to Write on October 8th as we discuss The Little Paris Bookshop. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

I’m Sorry StL

Dear St. Louis,

I want to apologize for all the mean and awful things I have said about you over the years. It is true that I didn’t want to move to you in 1999 after having lived in gorgeous northern California. Your Midwestern ways and weather scared me.

StL

Frankly I came with an open heart but after being wooed by some of your residents I opened up a bit and wanted to love you. However if seems that, many of those folks who courted us with flattery and false kindness lost my new number soon after we moved in. And I never could quite get over that.

I’m not really sure what makes us feel at home in some places versus others. For whatever reasons, I always felt like a fish out of water while living in St. Louis. Maybe it was your strong Midwestern ways—both the positive and negative aspects of what that means. Or maybe I held myself back from fully embracing you as I assumed we weren’t there forever.

Whatever it was that just didn’t feel right for me while living there, I must admit that it definitely affected my affections, or lack thereof, for you. That and the weather of course: 110% humidity, with 100’+ temperatures in the summer with biting cold, freezing weather in the winter is not endearing. I’m still not over the whole weather thing frankly. But I want to make amends.

So please accept my apology. You were not the place I would have chosen to move to, nor the place that I wanted my kids to say that they are from, but nine years in a childhood is defining. It means that both of my kids identify as being from St. Louis and I finally see that is not a bad thing.

Yes your weather is too hot and humid in the summer and yes it to too cold and freezing in the winter (I’m still not ready to let go of this issue) but my kids picked up some good values while living in St. Louis. And I have to admit they would not have gotten this from the San Francisco Bay area where we are all about the latest and new shiny bright object.

When my husband approached me about taking this job in St. Louis I was dead set against it. We had just bought a home in Palo Alto that I was redoing. I was ready to set down roots, raise our kids and figure out what was next for me after being a stay-at-home mother/wife for 10 years. Moving to St. Louis was not on my radar.

What finally convinced me to move was a newspaper article that my husband strategically showed me in a moment of weakness about Palo Alto high school students who were day-trading and buying themselves BMWs. That got to me. I did not want my kids to grow up in that environment. So off we moved to you for what I thought was three or four years at the most. Of course I gave away the punchline already and we all now know that those three or four years turned into nine years.

Nine years is a lot of years to be lonely. I know for I spent most of that time longing to feel a part of the community. I tried various things, but the bottom line is that I never felt at home while living there. And this made me disparage you in ways that I am now sorry about.

There were some nice aspects about living in St. Louis. I liked that I always ran into people I knew when out shopping or at a movie or just grabbing coffee. Always. And I love that my kids received a wonderful public school education, something that was lacking in the California schools both before we moved away and was even more true once we moved back.

So while I am relieved to no longer live there, I want to say I am sorry for all the mean, nasty, snide comments I said. It wasn’t your fault that it didn’t work out for the two of us. I can now comfortably say that living there was not all bad. Who knows, maybe in another few years I will be ready sing your praises. And if/when that happens I will start with Ted Drewes frozen custard!

Have you ever lived in a place that just never felt right? Where you never felt at home?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

First Mothers Book Review Part II

 

First MothersLast week I shared Part I of my review of First Mothers, The Women who Shaped the Presidents by Bonne Angelo. Here is a rest of my review with 3 more commonalities that the presidential mothers from Sara Roosevelt to Virginia Kelly all shared. 

3) Each presidential mother wanted an education for herself as well as for her children – especially the sons who went on to becoming president. Some of these women went out of their way to get an education during a time in history in this country when educating women was not valued.

About Rebekah Johnson (1881-1958): “From childhood she was set on going to college, and though her decision was slightly less astonishing than that of Martha Truman and Ida Eisenhower decades earlier, the number of girls in higher education in Texas at the turn of the century was minute. It is impressive, and significant, that these nineteenth-century mothers of contemporary presidents place such important on higher education, which scarcely figured in the thinking of most young women in those days.” (page 174)

It is very impressive that of the 11 mothers, 6 attended college, two went to European finishing schools and two received nursing degrees. This is especially remarkable given how few women were being educated in the USA at that time.

Further education opened doors for these women, which in turn opened the eyes and minds of their sons. Note: only Nelle Reagan had no formal education beyond elementary school, and Barbara Bush dropped out of Smith College after her freshman year.

Was your mother educated? Was your grandmother? How about your great-grandmother?

4) Each of the 11 presidents has a very Special Relationship with their mothers. Fact is they each could have been called ‘Mama’s Boys.’

From a 2001 with the author:

“The younger brothers were proof — to me — that there was something special between the mother and the son who would become president. Billy Carter, Sam Houston Johnson, Don Nixon and most of all, Roger Clinton, conducted themselves in a way that embarrassed their brothers….The mothers would never acknowledge that they had a favorite child — but when one son shines and achieves so brilliantly, there had to be a greater feeling of pride on the part of the mother. His success was her success.” 

Margaret Truman Daniel, author and daughter of President Harry S. Truman is quoted as saying:

“The enormously strong intellectual and emotional bond between Dad and his mother – the sort of bond which, I have discovered in my delvings into presidential lore, has existed between an astonishing number of presidents and their mothers.” (Page 433)

According to the author it is a key ingredient to the makings of a self-confident man who is able to withstand the rigors of a presidential campaign and then the office of the presidency. What do you now think of the expression ‘mama’s boy?’ Is it an insult or a compliment?

5) Each of these presidents had a weak or poor relationship with their father—or at the least they were not nearly as close as they were with their mother.

From the 2001 interview:

“Most of the fathers were disappointments to these mothers — failures or feckless or abusive. To compensate, the mothers poured themselves into these sons — he would be her fulfillment and her monument.

Yes, Joe Kennedy, particularly, had great influence, but it was his first son, his namesake, who was the apple of his eye. Joe Jr. was the Kennedy he expected to see in the White House. Jack, a sickly youngster and quite different from Joe, was closer to his mother. And, yes, the senior Bush had an influence, but the new First Lady, Laura, says her husband is much more like his mother: “They are both feisty; they both are funny.” And they share a much more outgoing personality than father and son. Says George W: “I got my looks from my father and my mouth from my mother.”

From the book:

“Some were weak or feckless, even outright failures….And some were never there at all. Even two of the most successful and powerful fathers, Joe Kennedy and Prescott Bush, were absent a great deal in pursuit of their careers [and/or] lifestyles.” (Page 432)

Did these sons feel the need to make up for the shortfalls of their fathers?

When I reread the book recently I read the 2008 version that now includes a chapter on George Walker Bush. A side tangent: When the author was preparing this revision, during the 2008 presidential election, she actually did research on both George Walker Bush and Al Gore. She found that Gore and his mother, Pauline, LaFon Gore also fit the patterns! And I think President Obama also fits the patterns, but I have not read anything directly on his relationship with his mother nor about her relationship with her father.

Bottom line: Each chapter of the book presented a different president and his mother, chronologically. I have since also read her other book, First Families, which I can not recommend as much. But if you are looking for an interesting read, insights into the past 12 presidents, reflections on the mother-son relationship and thoughts on how to help mold a self-confident, high achieving young man you will enjoy reading this book.

Click here to read First Mothers Book Review Part I.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!