Pediatric Physical Therapist/
– as told to The Silver Women
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
My mother was an inspiration in a nontraditional sense. When I was in my teens, she divorced my father so that she could be independent and free. This was difficult to understand as a young woman suddenly left without a mother, but I believe her decisions to be carefree and wild had a direct impact on me becoming more focused and driven. There was a time when we were not close; however, we reconciled when I married, and she came to be a central part of my life and that of my children. I eventually understood the reasons for the choices she made and realized that she always supported me and my goals in her own way. I firmly believe that my focus, drive and strong sense of commitment are in no small part due to my upbringing. Sadly, my mother passed away in her fifties leaving a family that misses her very much.
Women who inspire you now?
There are too many to name. But, I am always struck by the women in my life who are honest when it is not easy to say what needs to be said, sincere in their outlook and emotions, strong in the face of adversity, and always nurturing and supportive of their friends and family. A few icons who come to mind are Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl WuDunn, Abigail Disney, Katie Couric, Malala Yousafzai, J.K. Rowling and Serena Williams.
“I look at friends of mine who are mothers,
who have raised successful children and launched them into the world. And, rather than rest on their laurels, they see this new chapter as an opportunity to reinvent themselves, to start a career in a different field or to explore other worlds.That is truly inspiring.”
Most valuable lesson taught by your Mother or any other women growing up?
Always be your own person and know and appreciate your own value.
Do you think older women are valued or celebrated enough?
I believe we are living at a time where women continue to push boundaries, and yes, we are seeing older women being both valued and celebrated at older ages. But, we still have a long way to go.
Through the decades!
20s: Freedom! It was the 80’s! Life was wonderfully exciting and wild. Graduated college, finished graduate school, started a fulfilling career, stayed out late at all the nightclubs NY had to offer, bought my first NYC apartment (a small studio apartment in Chelsea) and a car, joined group summer houses in the Hamptons and ski houses in Colorado. Traveled and went on scuba diving trips. I was a monogamous dater. I loved meeting new people and being single. At age 27, I met the man I knew I wanted to marry. He was a bit older, just having turned 40, and he brought up the possibility of us getting married. I said I wanted to date a year before discussing anything further. Well, he left me that night in a restaurant. We did not speak for several years. At age 31, I wanted marriage and a family, and I knew I wanted to be married to him, so I called him out of the blue with a legal excuse (he is an attorney). We set up a dinner – three months later we were engaged and three months after that, married. Six months after our wedding, I was pregnant. I am very lucky in the sense that I was able to do all the things I wanted to do before marriage and still marry the man I loved the most. I would not change a thing!
30s: At first glance, my 30’s seemed uneventful and yet, they laid the groundwork for almost everything I am and have now. I married an amazing man and started off on the incredible and complicated journey that is a marriage. We shared the joy of childbirth and even the sadness of a miscarriage—and we made it through together. The friends my husband and I have now are a combination of those we met through one another and through our children, and they have become invaluable. My 30’s were about family, nurturing my children, creating a marital bond and becoming confident in myself. It was a chaotic decade and also one of the most fulfilling.
40s: My early 40’s were difficult. Following a double lung transplant, my mother was hospitalized for 6 months before passing on my anniversary, January 9, 2001. Those six months were a haze spent shuttling between my family, my children, my job and my mother in the hospital. Losing a parent is always a difficult thing. The following September, my husband took me to Morocco for my 40th birthday. On our second day, while we strolled a Fez market, 9/11 happened, and all I could think about were my two young children in our apartment in Greenwich Village and how much we needed to get back to them. We spoke briefly to their babysitter so we knew they were unharmed but then lost all communication and couldn’t return to New York for several excruciatingly long days. We were fortunate to have friends that took our children with them out of the city where they could feel safe, but that day gave me a new perspective. Life can change in an instant, and there will be things that are out of our control, but we must persevere with a positive attitude and value all the good things we have every day. I decided to work part-time to focus on my family. I was confident and happy being a mom and found I had time now to finally write that book so many of my patients had been asking for. Volunteering at the children’s school and for causes close to my heart became a new priority. And then, at 46, I ran the NYC Marathon! Just because I could!
50s: I am the most comfortable in my skin than I have ever been before. At 56, I have a newly energized career, have just completed rewriting the 2nd edition of my book Why Motor Skills Matter, have a daughter that is getting ready to start off on her career path and a son studying at Savannah College of Art and Design. And, on January 9, 2018, my husband and I will celebrate 25 years together. When I think back, I am amazed at all that has happened and what I have accomplished and how many have helped me along the way. It’s exciting to look to the future and imagine the places I will go and the things I can do.
I am only getting started! Looking ahead, I plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro…because I can!!
What are you most grateful for?
Life! My daughter, Alexa, son, Harry, and my husband. My world travels. The wonderful people I keep near and dear to me. (Especially my female cousins and girlfriends). I never had a sister; however, I am blessed to have so many wonderful women in my life. The mothers of my patients have become some of my closest friends. One mother, in particular, has been like an older sister to me and my confidant for over 27 years. I am also grateful for the simple things in life—sunsets, beaches and rose wine.
Has there been a significant circumstance good or bad that changed your outlook on life?
My parent’s divorce turned my world upside down. I had a mother who suddenly wanted to be a friend rather than a parent. Needless to say, it was stressful to watch my mother doing similar things to what I was experiencing as a teenager, but it made me more focused and self-reliant.
As a New Yorker, 9/11 was a seminal moment. The horror of watching my city implode when I was halfway around the world and unable to reach my children is an experience I will never forget, and it informs every decision I make regarding my family and friends every day.
Have you made career changes over the years?
I have been fortunate to have chosen early on, a career in a field I love, and so, while I have advanced and evolved, I have not changed my focus. I began as a young physical therapist working in a hospital and then went back to school to study to receive my Master’s Degree in pediatric disabilities. My education and experience enabled me to open and successfully run my own private pediatric practice. My years as a physical therapist served as the inspiration for my book Why Motor Skills Matter. Most recently I have become the Regional Director of Pediatrics for MOTION PT Group, a growing physical, occupational and speech therapy rehabilitation company with 85 locations in five states and growing.
Thoughts on aging,
The downside…Feeling mortal and losing close family and friends due to illness. The effects of gravity, feeling the need to learn and do as much as possible each and every day.
The upside…I like me! I am so much more secure now than I ever was before. I don’t worry about what other people think and I am focused on being my personal best. And being present for my family and friends.
Your advice to young women of today?
Respect yourself, always be kind, be passionate, be disciplined, take chances, chase your dreams, but have goals, work hard and be the best you can. Don’t hold grudges (I am still working on this one myself). No matter how difficult things may seem—keep living!
Begin living a healthy lifestyle as early as possible. Eat well, drink less, exercise daily, stay out of the sun. All these things add up over the years, and the healthier you are from the inside, the healthier you will be later in life.
Please do whatever you can to help save our beautiful planet. Save our animals and our water!
Images courtesy of Tara Liddle unless credited otherwise.
FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS!
Book/Novel: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White was my favorite book as a young girl. During my high school years, I enjoyed reading Agatha Christie novels. These days I read many genres and authors. Reading now-Morning Belle by Maureen Sherry. Some of my favorites include Stolen Lives, The Boys in the Boat, The Year of Magical Thinking, The Hillbilly Elegy, Cutting for Stone, Beautiful Ruins, The Art of Racing in the Rain. Some of my favorite authors are Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nelson DeMille, James Patterson, Philippa Gregory, Erik Larson, Adriana Trigiani.
Song: I could fill pages. I listen to almost everything. I’ve grown to enjoy many new artists through my children while my husband has introduced me to old and new jazz and classics.
I am most influenced by music from the ’60’s, ’70’s and ’80’s.
Film: Gone With the Wind, Dr. Zhivago.
Scent: Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom and Honey; Water Calligraphy by Kilian.
Flower: Tulips and orchids inside and hibiscus outside (I love watching the hummingbirds).
Style Icon: Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Princess Diana.
All my wonderfully stylish powerhouse friends.
City or place: Rome, NYC, Africa, and anywhere there is water or mountains!
Food/Meal/Cuisine: Anything Italian. cheese, lobster, and caviar.
Skincare product you can’t live without: I recently switched my facial products to Intelligent Nutrients. I love natural oils on my face. If I were sent to a deserted island and could take only one product in addition to sunblock, it would be their Renewing Oil Serum!
Make-up product: I love lip gloss and have three colors of Chanel Glossimer in my bag at all times!