Summer is HERE. It was a long winter in the Midwest. I went through my annual questioning of why we (still) live here. Especially since we could live just about anywhere with our jobs these days. But we stay. Because it’s home.

Being from Missouri is part of the fiber of my soul and while I love to think about a living in places like Austin, TX or Savannah, GA, there is a high likelihood I will always be centered somewhere in the heart of the Heartland.

This weekend we spent a long weekend at our little retreat outside of St. Louis. It’s a place we never would have purchased if I hadn’t been severed from the company I thought I’d retire from, but which has brought us an enormous amount of happiness and peace. When we took this leap two years ago I swore I would not go crazy if kids got it dirty and that we’d never spend all our time cleaning and fixing things when we are there. We have kept that promise to ourselves.

One of my favorite splurges though has been in the form of wood art and wood signage (to go with the fabulous wood paneling). This “paddle” is one of my favorites. It reminds me that we are survivors. And as my mom always challenged us during those years, we are not only surviving but we are thriving too. It also keeps me humble and reminds me that I have a lot of flaws. My sailor mouth being one of them – especially since I hung this right in the living room so all our visitors and their kids can see it.

There are silver linings to every story, including ours. When you lose everything – from money to material possessions to friends – you gain an immense amount of freedom as crazy as that sounds. We learned to LIVE the clichés we all hear: “Live in the Moment”, “Use the Fine China”, “Take the Trip”, “Eat the Tacos” (the last one I have been living for all of my 40 years).

We learned to enjoy the fruits of our labor WHILE LIVING and WITH EACH OTHER. Prior to the Fire my family was too busy. Too rushed. Totally overprogrammed. And while I have many of those days as a working mom of an 8-year-old, we “Smell the Roses” with the best of them.

There were many years and many, many hard nights that I would have given anything to have an inner peace and the ability to forget it all for a day. So, occasionally, I don’t mind living a cliché.

With Gratitude and Hope for the Future,


Founder, Ava’s Grace Scholarship Program
Mom – CEO – Justice Warrior

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