What. Am. I. Doing?

They are the four words that seem to be circulating in my thoughts, over and over again.  In the morning, while the rest of my family is sleeping and at night, when I’m trying to get to sleep and reminding myself that I’ve built a multimillion-dollar company that serves clients around the globe. What. Am. I. Doing?  Instead of counting sheep, I decide to count my achievements. Always good at multitasking, I figure I will build up my confidence as I attempt to lure myself back into slumber. But no, the question lingers…

What. Am. I. Doing?

What I’m doing is embarking on one the most frightening things I’ve ever done. At age 50 (yes, I turned 50 this year), I am going back to school to earn my MBA. I’m not sure what part is scarier; it could be the accounting exam I have looming on September 26th, or it might be that the average age in the class is 39. Let’s not leave out the commitment to homework after working 10 hours running my business or picking out my “first day of school” outfit for my first class.  All of these reasons are hovering between a whole lot of crazy and just plum terrifying.

Let’s go back to the basics and the “W’s” in an attempt to make sense of this adventure.
First the “Why”: Why would someone who has written seven books-with another coming out next Spring- want to commit to college calculus, finance and statistics?  There are several reasons.  I’ve always wondered, would learning come easier as an adult?  You might be thinking what I’ve asked myself several nights this week, “Couldn’t you just audit a college course to find out?” I could, but then I wouldn’t be earning the MBA that I’ve always thought about adding to my resume.  Which leads me to “Why an MBA”?  Two reasons.  I have spent 30 years in the work place listening to young brand managers try to impress me with their B-school degree.  I remember working in a corporate headquarters environment a few years ago as a hired consultant and every single 30-something manager I met introduced themselves with their name followed by where they earned their MBA. No lie. Ironically, they were all laid off the following week, but that had nothing to do with their B school allegiance.

Again, it’ s my curiosity that has gotten the best of me. I’ve always wondered what they knew that I didn’t because it didn’t seem like much, but I want to find out.  Lastly and most importantly, the reason I want to earn my MBA is that some day I would like to teach college courses.  Call it my next career move, but I’ve always enjoyed working with younger marketing enthusiasts and the world of academia is calling me.

Next the Where:  Believe it or not, this was big for me.  When I was a high school senior trying to select a college, I passed up acceptances to several elite, private schools.  Instead, I followed my high school sweetheart to Florida State.  It was a great school and I made great friends.  But it was his choice, not mine and ultimately I wasn’t his choice in life.  (Note to self: I got the better end of that deal all the way around.) This time, I gave myself permission to choose whatever college program I wanted to attend.  I did my research. I talked to peers.  I thought about the people I’ve met in life from various institutions, because after all, it’s the people that matter after the classes are done.  My heart and experiences led me to select the University of Notre Dame.  Being forced to cheer for Notre Dame football for the last 23 years of marriage may have had something to do with it. Before my South Florida friends think I’m moving to Indiana, the program will require me to travel to South Bend, Indiana once a month for the next 20 months. Not a stretch compared to my normal travel schedule.

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Now for the Who:  As in “Who has inspired me to do this now”?    This is the easiest answer.  My children.  I’ve had the opportunity that every mother dreams of during the last two years.  I’ve been able to sit back and watch my children follow their passions and thrive while doing it.  Unlike a lot of parents, I didn’t send my three oldest off to college to figure out their likes and dislikes and discover the path they want to travel in life.  No, I sent off three ambitious and eager students who grabbed on to their dreams and haven’t let go. Proud mom moment is coming. Madison, my oldest daughter, attends Clemson University and follows her passion of helping others by traveling to third world countries every summer to immerse herself in building houses for the poor. She is majoring in Spanish and International Health so that she can continue her work abroad after graduation.  Owen, my oldest son, is at West Point following his dream to “do great things” as he told me when he was 16.  My younger son Keenan, who spent his freshman year at the University of Missouri studying and working as a Student Coach, made the difficult decision to transfer to his dream school. He did it, but more on that in a minute.  Even my youngest has discovered her passion for performing while in high school.  She not only won the Talent Show and sang Adele a cappella in front of the entire student body three weeks into her freshman year, but also performed in two plays with significant roles. Watching my children inspired me to keep pushing forward rather than kicking back at 50.

What For: Are you Serious?  This is one of the craziest parts of my story. Yet another round of What. Am. I. Doing?  Remember my son Keenan and his acceptance to his dream school?  Apparently, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree because we shared the same dream. Keenan will also be a student at Notre Dame.  Isn’t that every 19-year-old’s dream, to go to college with his mother in tow?  I’ve promised him I won’t knock on his door nor will I call out to him when I see him across the quad. Nor will I expect to sit with him at football games. Nope, he’s there and I’m here.  We have agreed that a monthly dinner might be in order if the study schedule permits. Truth be known, Keenan was accepted into Notre Dame the morning that I touched down in South Bend for my interview with the admissions team.  I even asked his permission to confirm my acceptance. You get the idea.  A mother always puts her needs and desires behind those of her children- a lesson I’ve learned since the last time I attended college.

It doesn’t come naturally to go back to school at 50.  For instance, the day I called Florida State University to get my undergraduate transcript and gave the name Maria Bailey.  The nice person on the phone informed me that no Maria Bailey graduated in 1986.  And after several minutes and three calls, I realized Maria Bailey didn’t exist in 1986, but a Maria Telli did!  Then there’s the Notre Dame Medical form that is required for admission.  Have you tried to find your vaccination records lately?  It’s been 35 years since I’ve seen my shot records.  Mumps, measles and all the rest, I know I had them but coming up with a piece of paper that said so wasn’t easy.   A lot has changed since I last stepped foot in a classroom as a student. I can now size up my classmates on Facebook before entering the classroom, I don’t have to call home and ask my dad to deposit money in my checking account (although I wish I could) and if I want to have a beer, I can do so legally.

So, What. Am. I. Doing?  Well, I can tell you what I hope I’m doing.  I hope I am setting an example for my children, my friends, for strangers who read my blog or follow me on Twitter that it’s never too late to follow a dream or challenge yourself.  I hope I’m creating new opportunities for myself professionally and personally. I hope to tackle those standard deviations without fail.

Yes, I’m afraid of Assets=Liabilities + Equity, but what I’ve discovered laying in the dark is that the drive to accomplish a big dream is far stronger an emotion than the fear I might feel in embarking on the journey.
You can follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll be using #MBA@50.

Samsung’s New Home Appliances Help You #MasterYourHome

While busy moms are always looking for ways to save time, Samsung is busy creating new appliances that do just that – save time on everyday, household tasks.  I encourage you to stop by Samsung’s Home Appliance booth at the BlogHer Expo Hall, Booth 609, where the latest products will be showcase the “MOMumental” advances in kitchen, laundry and cleaning. There will also be a video booth to create HD quality videos with answers to some great questions!

A few of Samsung’s new appliances look fabulous, like the new Chef Collection kitchen suite, king-size laundry products which give busy moms back the gift of time, and vacuum innovations that get the most cleaning done with the least amount of effort.

  • One of my favorites in the Samsung Baby Care Washer. From Samsung’s fact sheet: “This is a 1.0 cu. ft. unit that carefully and effectively washes and sanitizes all of a baby’s delicate laundry. It saves time, electricity and water by handling small loads of up to 3kg. The washer features 9 cycles which depending on the type of laundry and degree of contamination has a selection that is guaranteed to clean clothes thoroughly. This includes a Super Sanitize cycle, which heats to 190°F to remove stubborn stains and bacteria. PureCycleTechnology cleans the machine without harsh chemicals to ensure a completely hygienic environment for a baby’s clothes.”

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  • If you love to cook, and even if you don’t, you’ll want to start when you see the Chef Collection. A new range with a slide-in design offers a customized, high-end kitchen look without having to remodel. The Flex Duo Oven means you can cook two dishes at two different temperatures at the same time. This 5.8 cu. ft. extra-large oven splits into two ovens (2.4 cu. ft. and 3.3 cu. ft.) with the Smart Divider. Two temperature controls cook dishes at different temperatures with no noticeable transfer of aroma.
  • The new Samsung dishwasher features the new WaterWall™ cleaning system that gets dishes sparkling every time. This powerful wall of water cleans every item in the dishwasher – even the hard to reach places. It uses maximum cleaning pressure that is 35% stronger than normal rotary systems.

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  • Since moms handle about 500 loads of laundry each year, the washer and dryer are constant companions. Check out the Top-Load Laundry Pair or Front-Load Laundry Pair. The top load versions are the largest capacity washers and dryers out there, with many amazing features including EZ Reach, a wide yet shallow tub for easy unloading.
  • The Chef Collection refrigerator is simply amazing. This appliance can hold up to 34 bags of groceries! A versatile bottom drawer can function as either a freezer or a fridge, depending on your individual needs.

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For information, visit www.samsung.com or www.facebook.com/samsunghomeappliancesusa. Stop by the Samsung booth at BlogHer and share your experiences with #MasterYourHome. Booth hours are

Share your experience with us by using #MasterYourHome. Booth hours are Thursday, July 24, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday, July 25th,     9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, July 26th, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

 

Legends of Oz Dolls by Madame Alexander

If you or anyone you know is a fan of the classic film “The Wizard of Oz”, you’ll love the new 2014 Legends of Oz collection by Madame Alexander. Created to celebrate the release of the latest animated feature film, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, this exclusive collection of dolls features the film’s beloved characters: Dorothy, Glinda, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and China Princess. In typical Madame Alexander fashion, these 12″ dolls are quality items that will provide hours of creative play. Each doll is 12″ tall and retails for $15. A fantastic gift for birthdays and special occasions, and I know plenty of adults who would love these dolls, too.

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Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is a 3D-animated musical with A-list voice talents. Legends of Oz features Lea Michele as Dorothy, Dan Akroyd as the Scarecrow, Jim Belushi as the Cowardly Lion, Kelsey Grammer as the Tin Man and Bernadette Peters as Glinda.

My friend Darcy loves dolls and is my reviewer of choice when it comes to toys.

 

I received the Legends of Oz collection for review as a Madame Alexander Advisory Board member. All opinions are my own.

Kids Summer Fun Alert: Wubble™ Bubble Ball

Have you seen the new Wubble bubble ball? I had a chance to play with one last weekend at Blogger Bash and this is one fun toy! Made from a unique material, it’s made of a thin plastic, but it’s not a hard plastic ball or even a cloth-covered ball. It’s a thermo-stretch material that makes it squishy, strong and incredibly lightweight. Kids can kick it, slam it, throw it, bounce it, smoosh it and smash it.

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The Wubble™ bubble ball comes with a battery-operated air pump (you’ll need ‘D’ batteries) and easily inflates in about three minutes. It inflates up to 36 inches but can be smaller. Great for outdoor or indoor use year-round, the Wubble™ bubble ball is durable and reusable. The three best parts of this product? Wubbles are washable, deflatable for easy storage and there is a lifetime guarantee.

As families head off for summer vacations, a deflated Wubble™ ball is easy to pack (remember to bring the air pump), then deflate again for the trip home. For the beach, lake, anywhere you’re going, bring this along for awesome games of catch, hot potato or mega soccer. Available online at http://wubbleball.com and at Target stores starting at $19.99.

Take a look at the Wubble™ ball in action:

Find Wubble™ ball on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

 

I received a Wubble ball to review and have given my opinions above.

 

How To Protect Your Eyes with A Good Pair of #Sunglasses

It’s hot and sunny out there, at least most of the time! That’s why it’s so important to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays, especially if you and your children are spending a lot of time outdoors. As part of National Sunglasses Day last month, The Vision Council published a report with valuable information on eye care and the importance of sunglasses. With the same idea of using sunscreen and UV protective clothing to protect skin in the sun, parents should be purchasing and using sunglasses for themselves and their children for any outdoor activity. The report offers tips for purchasing a pair of quality sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. I received a fabulous pair of Nicole Miller shades for National Sunglasses Day, as well as a pair of too cute red, polka dot Kidz BanZ. The Nicole Miller sunglasses offer a nice, dark shade for our Florida sun, and they look fabulous! Kidz BanZ are one of the best options out there for infants and older.

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This Sunday’s episode (6/13) of Mom Talk Radio will feature an interview with Dr. Dora Adamopoulos, an optometrist, mom and advisor to the Vision Council, so find a station near you or download the podcast next week. Dr. Adamopoulos offers tips on picking the right pair of sunglasses for any age child and terrific information about how to avoid sun damage to eyes.

As you head outside, make sure you and your children are wearing the best sunglasses possible.

Today is National Sunglasses Day

Purse, check. Phone, check. Sunglasses, check. If you’re like me, you NEVER leave home without your shades. Since I live in a sunny climate, sunglasses are a given any time I’m heading outside – driving or spending time outdoors with my family. My favorite glasses du jour are a pair of retro wayfarers that look like ones I wore all the time in college. I have another lightweight pair that I wear on my runs.  While I see sunglasses as an accessory, they are also a necessity in the Sunshine State. I recently learned from The Vision Council that a good pair of sunglasses with UV protection should be worn by children and adults whenever possible for good, long-term eye health.

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With the same idea of using sunscreen and UV protective clothing in the sun, parents should be purchasing and using sunglasses for themselves and their children for any outdoor activity. As families head off on summer vacations and hit the beach, lake, or even the backyard playing in the sprinklers, sunglasses are important to protect eyes. Nearly half of U.S. adults do not wear sunglasses while outdoors and more than half of parents do not protect their children’s eyes with sunglasses, according to a recent report by The Vision Council.

At a Vision Council webinar last week, I had the opportunity to hear more details about the report from optometrist and medical advisor Dr. Dora Adamopoulos. For the full report, go to The Vision Council website, or click here. The council and Dr. Adamopoulos offered valuable information, and I found that this chart offers a good summary:

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The Vision Council is a nonprofit organization, however I will receive a gift of sunglasses for this post. All opinions are my own.

 

Be Happy, Not Grumpy On Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is one of my favorite Disney movies, and the first feature film released by Disney in 1937. I love this classic story and what Disney has done 77 years later with the newest ride, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Replacing mechanical figures and painted backdrops with audio-animatronic figures, this ride is so realistic and lifelike! If a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando is in your summer vacation plan, make sure to experience this ride. The walk in from the entrance to the cars is almost as good as the ride! Just like in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, you walk across the rolling stone bridges and through a forest where you’ll find the Dwarfs’ cottage and all the stars from the film: Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy, Dopey and, of course, Snow White herself.

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I had the chance to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train twice on my recent visit to the Magic Kingdom. There are a few small drops that make it a terrific thrill ride that reminded me of the old Goofy’s Barnstormer ride. Did I mention that the backdrops and figurines are amazing?

 

Located in the recently updated Fantasyland, this ride is a blast for kids over 38 inches tall, tweens, teens and of course, moms and dads. The new FastPass+ can be used on this ride. For information, go to Disney’s website.

 

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