Sunday, November 13, 2016

Speech Given November 12, 2016 for Son's Bar Mitzvah

Well, I think I’ll just go ahead and start this speech

When I was a girl thinking about how my life would be, I never envisioned my life as the mother of a boy.
In fact, I was convinced that when I grew up I would be the mother to not ONE, not TWO, but THREE girls.

All with long hair,
all ballerinas,
all sharing clothes and shoes and makeup.  

I didn’t think I had what it takes to be the mother a boy, let alone a boy who loves sports.

After all, I am horrible at sports.
I’m afraid of the ball,
I’m a terrible runner, always picked last for any team,
and, yes, I did “throw like a girl.”

So, when Lucas came along, I was completely unprepared for the overwhelming love I would have for this Little Man.

I didn’t realize the passion I would feel for this child once he was placed in my arms.
My Little Baba-Lu,
My Little Schmoopie,
My Most Special and Favorite Baby Boy.

And actually, not only does it turn out I am “Awesome-Mom” or as Lucas calls me “Mom Wonder.” Lucas has turned out to be my partner in crime—in television— in movie watching. We have heart felt talks. We read the same books. We listen to the radio and compete to answer first on “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.”

We have so much in common…
although maybe still not sports.

In fact, Lucas has actually banned me from coming to any of his games because he says I’m a jinx. And, hey, it’s true, the minute I show up, the team starts losing, and the minute Lucas makes me leave, the team really does start winning. So as much as I would love to watch my son play ball, I do leave (or stay home), cuz I’m NOT TAKING THE BLAME. 

However, since I became Lucas’s mom, I have learned to care just a little bit about baseball, and of course the Baltimore Orioles.

Because when you love someone, you care because they care and when they are happy, you are happy.

Yes, Lucas won my heart the day he was born. Actually he’s won the heart of many with his quick wit, easy conversational style, and genuine interest in other people.

He is an exceptional boy and will be an exceptional man: Highly intelligent, kind, driven, loving, hard-working, hilarious, dedicated, and fun.

I couldn’t possibly love him—or love being his mom—any more than I do.

Lucas, I wish you a life of happiness, adventure, strength, and most of all, love.

Please be sure to follow the example of your father, who is the best man I know. I adore watching the two of you together and seeing your special bond.  
Follow Daddy’s example on how to be a good man, but also I know you will
Always be authentically who YOU are,
not who you think we want you to be.

As for your sister, remember to always treat her well and to love and support each other. You are the best of friends—AT TIMES.
And that makes your momma so happy because as you both go out in the world and make your mark, you will always be stronger when you stick together.

And please—IN MAYBE 20 YEARS—marry someone who makes you laugh, someone smart and fun like you. Someone you can build a life with. Because some day when I am old—okay, older than I am NOW—I know you will have beautiful children of your own, and that you will be an amazing husband, father, and community leader.

Remember what Mother Teresa said:

Never forget, even in your darkest times, that you are both very loved and the personification of love. 
I can’t wait to see what you will make of your life.
I’d tell you to go out and make your momma proud but I don’t have to

Because you already do. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Big Brother is Mentoring: How Lawyer Participation in Restorative Justice and Mentoring Programs Can Make Brevard a Stronger, Safer, & Healthier Community.

Here is a call out to my fellow attorneys to help bring more peace, respect, and kindness to Brevard County, while simultaneously helping to decrease the crime rate in three ways:
1.     Bringing back Restorative Justice.
2.     Joining the Be Kind Brevard Movement.
3.     Becoming a mentor to disadvantaged or at risk youth in our community.
After a downward decline in the 80s and 90s, there is a disturbing trend in the United States of increasing suicide rates across the board. What is most disturbing to me as a mother of a 14-year-old girl is that the greatest increase in the suicide rate was seen in girls 10 to 14 years of age. From 1999-2014, adolescent girls experienced the largest percent increase in suicides, tripling over 15 years from 0.5 to 1.7 per 100,000 people. I’m sure there are various reasons for this increase, from the breakdown of courtesy and civility in society to the proliferation of cyber-bullying. 
But I ask you this: Who will stop the bullying? 
And I answer you this: All of us will. We have to.
I don’t expect this to be a hard sell. Actually, I’m sure a lot of you got into law because you wanted to stand up for the picked on and the bullied. I know you wanted to empower yourselves and others to do what is right and to see more justice prevail in the world. The solution is complicated. We have tried Zero Tolerance. It hasn’t really worked. We have tried locking away every offender. It hasn’t really worked. These approaches are not addressing the root of the problem. 
It is time to bring awareness to more people in Brevard about (a) Restorative Justice, (b) the Be Kind Brevard Movement, and (c) the benefits of becoming a Mentor through one of several local programs.
The other day, Doug Beam approached me outside the Melbourne Courthouse talking about how Restorative Justice (RJ) would be helpful in a case he was working on. RJ is more than mediation. RJ is a process of creating communication between victims and offenders to come up with non-punitive solutions that are more satisfying and healing to the victim and that make it less likely for an offender to reoffend. RJ can be used in schools, workplaces, courtrooms, neighborhoods, and families. The use of RJ has been found to decrease the number of bullying incidents among school children, to manage the fallout and promote healing among those that have been harmed, and to address the root cause of the acting out of the perpetrator. 
Although I had read about RJ, I hadn’t studied it, let alone been certified in it. So I immediately sought out a class. I only found one. It is at the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding in Gainesville, Florida. Yes, THAT River Phoenix. The Center was established by the deceased actor’s mother, Heart Phoenix.
I’ve signed up for a class at the Center, May 11th and 12th. We will meet at the University of Florida Law School to learn RJ techniques. It is my intention to become a Restorative Justice Practitioner and to recruit some of you to join me, perhaps even put together a Restorative Justice CLE. Let’s see what I can learn about it first. 
I understand from one of my colleagues on the Be Kind Brevard, Inc. Board that some professionals from our Brevard County Schools will be joining me at this training, which makes me feel very hopeful. Learn more at!restorative-justice/co4dp
That Brings us to Be Kind Brevard, which is an incipient 501(c)(3) that partners with other groups in our community to try to make Brevard a kinder, safer place. Be Kind Brevard is a movement led by volunteer advocates to increase kindness and reduce all forms of bullying anytime, anywhere by anyone. We help provide trainings in schools, workplaces, and other forums and well as provide support and counseling for those who have experienced bullying. Please learn more at Also see and
Lastly, I have seen some literature, and intuitively it makes sense to me, that by creating opportunities for more mentoring relationships with responsible, caring adults who serve as positive role models and resources in the lives of underprivileged or at risk, or really any children, can make a huge difference in their self esteem, success, and future. First obviously we start with our own children. We must teach our children well. It is up to us parents to raise respectful, loving young people and to drum into our children's heads from an early age the importance of empathy, compassion, kindness, respect, courtesy, and civility. We must model courteous behavior. We must live it. We must teach our children to stand up for others and not stand by and let anyone be picked on or bullied. Now more than ever we need to be vigilant about how we treat one another. We must be the change we wish to see and, more importantly, teach our children to be the change we wish to see in the world. Then we should take it a step further and participate in programs that help kids in families that are not as blessed as our own. Mentors are needed for our youth in the following programs. You can be a hero in your community by signing up for one of the following. Trust me, you will love it.
Big Brothers Big Sisters in Brevard: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida's mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally-supported relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
By mentoring your "Little" for just 4 hours a month, you could positively impact their ambitions, perspective, and life. With Big Brothers Big Sisters, mentoring is flexible, rewarding, and FUN. For you it's a few hours exploring, crafting, or playing catch, for them it's a game changer. Call (407) 478-2996 or sign up online at
Take Stock in Children: Take Stock in Children is a Statewide Program that is manifested in Brevard County through the Brevard Schools Foundation. Take Stock is in need of mentors who will provide that one-on-one support to a deserving student who wants to succeed in school and achieve the dream of a college education. You can change a child’s life over lunch. Contact Del Jordan at or 321-633-1000,x415. Visit online for an application at
Brevard Family Partnership Youth Thrive Initiative: Mentors are needed for teens and young adults who have experience in the foster care system and have aged out. Contact Ashley Carraro at Brevard Family Partnership if you would like to be an inspiration and resource to a young adult seeking to be a productive and engaged member of society. Contact Ashley at 321-752-4650, x3022 or
Got questions? Contact me at or 321-626-2858
Together we can make Brevard a kinder, more peaceful, safer, and more successful community.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

You Make More of a Difference Than You Realize

Lately, I’ve noticed changes more than I used to.  It seems more and more that the ordinary people I come into contact with during my mundane existence are moving on, either into retirement or into the next life.  These aren’t famous or newsworthy people, but they are people that mattered to me.  
Take for example my dentist, Dr. Gloria Flathman. Dr. Flathman was first my parents’ dentist and then she became my dentist once I had a full set of teeth. From the time I was three-and-a-half years old, I came to see her twice a year.  Dr. Flathman watched me grow up. It didn’t occur to me at the time how remarkable it was for a woman to become a dentist in her day. I just knew that she was there as I grew from a child into a teenager, from a teenager to a college student, from a college student to a young woman, then married, then with children of my own.  In the file she kept on me for over 40 years--along with my x-rays and other dental records--she had envelopes marking the milestones of my life: My graduation announcements, my wedding invitation, the announcements of the births of each of my children.  She was a professional woman who raised her family while running a business. One of her sons, also a dentist, still practices in the office they shared. It has been over a year since Dr. Flathman passed away. Today I went to the office for my regular twice a year cleaning and realized how much I miss her.  Dr. Flathman’s existence and our relationship mattered to me. 
Another example is Linda. With a hungry, never satisfied, “why-didn’t-you-remember-to-get-us-that-one-other-item” family to feed, I find myself headed to the grocery store almost every day. Although there is a Publix on my route everywhere I travel in Brevard, there are a couple of stores I frequent more often than others. One is the Publix on Babcock Street in Melbourne where in one lane Linda always takes an interest in what I’m making for dinner and what I have done with my hair and what my children are up to.  I look forward to going through her line and catching up on what she did for a particular holiday or to tell her about my crock-pot-pizza idea. Yesterday I was shopping at the Babcock Publix and was looking for Linda’s check out lane. Not seeing her, I asked a store manager if she was working that day and learned that Linda had just retired after 30 years on the job.  Although I am happy for Linda, I am sorry for me. 
Linda made a difference in my life by treating me like a human being and making me feel like I mattered while I did the most basic task of grocery shopping. Every time I checked out with Linda, I left with a smile and a warm feeling of having had a kind interaction with someone who--although may have just been doing her job--made a difference in my life.
The point is that these ordinary run-of-the-mill interactions, no matter how “just-going-along-through-your-day” they are, make an impact. You don’t have to be famous or important in order to make a difference. You don’t have to do anything big, showy, or special. You just have to live your life and do your work as if the people you come in contact with matter.
I hope Dr. Flathman knew that she was a quiet role model and source of inspiration for me as she took care of both me and my teeth and served as a constant in my life.
And Linda, if you are reading this, the pizza in the crockpot idea really did work and I think I’ll keep my hair red for a while longer. I hope you are enjoying your retirement. I miss you.
Dr. Flathman and Linda both touched my life by being there and being kind.  I think that may be the most important lesson for all of us to remember.
Who’s life are you touching just by going through your regular duties today?  You may be making more of a difference than you realize.