Wednesday, February 7, 2018


We're all born naked and the rest is drag. 
 - RuPaul

My son was born 15 years ago...naked. This year we celebrated his birthday in the best way a Drag show. One of his sisters suggested it and, while I was a tad bit hesitant at first, I realized that this would be one of the greatest gifts I could give my boy.
I have known who my son is from the moment he was born. I have watched and waited for him to realize it himself. When he finally come out, it was as like the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy enters technicolor from black and white. The world become filled with color and we could all finally exhale.  I wrote about more about that experience HERE.
The past 2 years, watching him navigate the new, open world around him have been amazing. Attending a school like ChiArts, that celebrates not tolerates him, has changed him for the better. He is as comfortable as a teenage boy can be at this stage of his life. His flair for the dramatic has not only been encouraged but appreciated and strengthened. His school days are long (8-5...yes, all class time) with added time for the commute but he rarely complains.
So when his sister suggested that we go to a show, I said yes. While I admit I was a bit hesitant, once I thought about it, I knew I had to make it happen. I mean he got me started watching RuPauls' Drag Race with him! I have been with him every step of this journey so I was not missing this this one.
My boy spent the whole day getting ready.....picking out clothing and "looks." He did his nails and fixed his hair.
The kids had chosen Hamburger Mary's "Dining with Divas". We tried for early reservations but they were booked so we had the late show. When I made the reservation, I told them it was my son's 15th birthday and first drag show. I was assured they would make him feel special. It was a snowy night and I would rather have stayed home but we went out.....and boy, was it worth it!
The moment we walked in, my son's head was on a swivel, taking in all the sights and sounds of the place. I could see and feel him soaking up every little detail. It seemed like the whole staff knew it was his birthday! We were seated at our table, ordered and then the show began. The first performer, and MC for the night, was Angel. The moment he started performing, I looked at my son and ...well.... I am rarely at a loss for words. I saw in his eyes something I had never seen was a mix of awe, amazement, acceptance, excitement, and love. I watched my boy more than the performers, my heart overflowing with emotion. This was a night, an experience, I will never forget...and neither will my son(or his 2 sisters).
At one point my son was even called on stage to honor his birthday and given a Hershey bar (other guests with birthdays got a shot!) which he has still not eaten. Seeing him on that stage....I knew God was giving me a glimpse at the future.
Later in the night, I took time to personally thank the performers, especially Angel. Other artists there, though not in costume or performing, were also supportive and welcoming to my son. Not only did they all take time to make my son feel special, they are special in and of themselves.   I read a quote once by BeBe Zahara Benet,  "Drag artists are more men than real men. You need a lot of courage, personality, and guts to go out there. Even if you look good or you look bad, you still need to have all of those things to be on stage. You're going to get criticized by everyone." These female impersonators take time and effort not only to hone their performance but  perfect the makeup and costumes as well. They have the courage, guts and personality to perform night after night knowing that they may face more criticism than that of other, more "conventional," performers.
My son.
He is amazing.
He is brave and courageous.
My son is brave and courageous thanks to those who come before him. My son is brave and courageous thanks to men like RuPaul, who paved the way for all the many who follow in his footsteps. My son is brave and courageous thanks to men like Angel LeBare, Alexandrea Diamond  and others like them, who perform night after night in clubs like Hamburger Mary's. My son is brave and courageous because he has the love and support of his sisters and his momma.
DO NOT get me son makes me crazy just like any other teen makes a momma nutty.....but more so with his flair for the dramatic.  We disagree on a daily basis but we talk to each other and work through things too. We navigate this new territory together. Neither one of us knows what will happen in the future, but I do know that my son will always be loved by me and by God. God makes no mistakes. God has a plan for both of us. God chose me to be this boy's mother before he was born. My son was born naked and, for him, the rest is drag......always has been and always will be!
forward is a pace

Sunday, January 14, 2018


No. More. Excuses. 
I signed up for a Virtual Run a few months back when I had motivation. I was a part of a "movement challenge" during which I had to move for 30 minutes a day. The group in the challenge was so motivational. So.....I signed up for the virtual run.  I figured it would be a great way to get back to running after an injury at Thanksgiving and celebrate another trip around the sun. When I registered I did NOT have a fractured wrist and the weather was not below zero every. Damn. Day. (for more on the virtual run click here Fellow Flowers - No Excuses Virtual Race )
So...with my 52nd birthday looming large, the weather above zero (10 when I went for my run) and the sun shining (a rare sight), I thought today was the perfect day to toss my excuses out the window and try running. I pulled out my buried cold weather running gear from the boxes beneath my bed and got bundled up.
A few weeks ago, we adopted a rescue dog and he has been walking buddy. We walk for miles every day. Today was going to be the real test as we tried a run together for the first time. The goal today was a 5K. Just 3 simple miles in the neighborhood. I mean, I run marathons.... but I have not run in months and I was scared. Scared to fall. Scared to fail. Scared to get hurt again.
As I got dressed and got him ready, I kept making excuses. The Negative Nellies in my head were growing louder by the minute and I ....I am the master of procrastination. So it was time to put up or shut up.
Out the door and off we went. I started my Garmin and the Motigo recorded messages for the run. I am not going to was hard. My head was so much more excited about this run. My body just had to keep up.
As I ran I thought about so many things. The past 3 years of my life have been ...well...challenging.  Truth be told, it has been difficult for a long time but I made excuses. No more.
I have written about the gift that Girls on the Run has been ...and continues to be...for me and for others in the program. Tori and Mel in my ear today was just the message that I needed...the message that I give to others. Just try. You are stronger than you think you are.
I thought about the many changes in my life and how, with this birthday, I am not the same person I was a year ago.
About 1/2 way through the run, I realized that my phone was about to die. I always start with a fully changed phone and because I had "puttered" and made excuses, my battery drained. So I swung home, got a portable charger, and went to finish the run.....but Lucky and I were feeling good. I was actually sweating! We were doing a run/walk and I began to remember what I loved about running. So we did another full loop and then headed home. We ran 5 miles.....well almost!  We had to go up and down the block a few times to make it an even 5....because I am freak like that! But we did it....we ran 5 miles!
I do not make resolutions, I set goals and work towards them. This new year is about getting rid of the excuses and creating something new. It is about taking chances and making changes. It is about being the woman I have spent my life working towards....No. More. Excuses.

Sunday, January 7, 2018


The whole "New Year/New Me" stuff has gotten me thinking. I know I have not written anything in a while. I really did not think I had any thoughts worth sharing and on top of that, I had a lot going on in my life. So with the new year, I am going to do a lot of start writing again.
However, herein lies my question, one that I posed on social media and will ask again here...

If I stopped teaching today, what do you see and the perfect business/job for me?

For months, I have had dreams every night and know that I am not teaching but I never can recall what I am doing. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching, but I do not think that is my destiny. I feel that there is more out there for me. I love coaching young girls and women. I am passionate about so many things that I am having difficulty finding direction. I know that there is so much more for me and I can feel it in my bones but I do not know which way to turn, what to look and where to go.
A woman came to my home today and proposed that I become an independent beauty consultant. While I like the idea of independence, I am not sure that this is the right path for me. I want to eventually write my story ...the story of my past few years....but I also want to do other things. My mind swims with ideas but I feel like that fish on a dock....flopping all over not sure which way to go just wanting to get back to the water because it is safe.
How do people find direction? How do people focus passion? How do people create the life that they want....especially if they are not sure what that life looks like?
So...for now I move forward but that is all I know...
#forwardisapace #tutulady

Sunday, June 25, 2017


A year ago my son suggested we go to the Pride Parade. It was a passing comment but I knew he was gauging my reaction. I agreed and we decided to go...just the 2 of us. I was hoping that our adventure would help him gain some confidence.
I took this picture within minutes of us arriving at the parade and began to cry. I knew it would be a life changing day for him.  That day did not change who my son changed how he felt about himself.  It changed me to see him so very happy.  On the way home he said he had never felt so much love in one place before.
My son finally worked up the courage in the fall to talk to me. I will never forget that moment as I sat at the kitchen counter and he said, " attention....I think I am gay..." I did not even blink.  I said, "I know, Honey." I think that there were a few more words exchanged and he walked back out of the kitchen.
From the moment he was conceived, I have said that my son is extraordinary and has a special purpose....that he is destined for greatness. He has proven me right at every turn.
It took a few more months for him to tell his sisters, as well as his dad, and he told each person in his own way. Every reaction was a little different but all of us have been waiting for this conversation.
Over the course of this year my son has had had to endure torment from people online, people in real life, children at his school, administrators and teachers from his school, even family members but he keeps moving forward. I know that on some level it takes a toll on him but his is confident in himself.
My son.
He is amazing.
He is brave and courageous.
As a mother, I worry about him. I worry that his life will not be easy. I worry that he will get his heart, and perhaps his spirit, broken. Every mother worries about their child so these worries are nothing unique. Every mother wishes that their child will never feel pain, never be teased, never be hurt.... we mothers want to protect our babies at any age.  We want our children to have it better and easier than we do. We want them to only feel love....from everyone...all the time.
Today my son and I went back to the Pride Parade, except this year 2 of his sisters chose to come along.  We laughed and danced and laughed some more. This time I saw something different. I saw an older generation of men and women who, whether they meant to or not, have paved the way for kids like my son. The lived for years in hiding, denying their love for another. They lived a lie in secret. They lived in fear. As time has passed, they have opened doors and moved barriers as they lived their lives. The love, gratitude and admiration I feel for these men and women is immeasurable.  By demanding equality and respect, they have created a culture where kids like my son can feel confident in owning their truth at a young age. I can only imagine the emotions their mothers felt way back when....when things were not so open and life was far more constrictive and conservative.
My son.
He is amazing.
He is brave and courageous.
DO NOT get me son makes me crazy just like any other teen makes a momma nutty. We argue and yell at each other. We talk to each other and work through things too.  We navigate this new territory together. Neither one of us knows what will happen in the future, but I do know that my son will always be loved by me and by God. God makes no mistakes. God created my son. God created my son for something significant.  God chose me to be this boy's mother. God has a plan for both of us and I have faith.
I have faith.
I am proud.
I am grateful.
Love is love
Love will always win.
forward is a pace

**Disclaimer: I asked for, and received approval from my son to write this piece. He also approved the finished piece.**

Monday, May 29, 2017


Today I went for a run. I ran with a sense of freedom. Freedom protected and paid for by so many who have put on a uniform, as well as the many who have given the ultimate sacrifice protecting that freedom. As I ran, I thought about all the things I am grateful for....each one circled back to the constitution and the freedoms I have living in America.
The last mile of my run was through my favorite place.... the local cemetery. It was no accident my run took my through this peaceful place. I often end my runs here to gain some peace and perspective.
Today I slowed down and looked around. I saw so many grave sites with flowers, flags, wreaths....letting others know that someone had recently paid a visit. I saw a plot with a flag and walked through the grass to take a closer look. It was a WWII veteran. I paused, and out loud said, "Thank you for your service" then turned to walk away. I was reading other stones as I walked out of the grass and realized that many were veterans. And many had no flag or flowers. I walked that last mile through the cemetery, visiting each stone with a flag and saying the same words each time, "Thank you for your service"
Around each stone with a flag I saw plenty without a flag so each time I noticed it was a veteran, I cleared away the dirt and grass and said again, "Thank you for your service"
I returned home feeling far more grateful than when I walked out the door so I put down my waterbottle, picked up my purse and headed to the dollar store. I bought all the flags they had left (about 30) and drove to the cemetery. I retraced my steps, placing a flag by each veteran I had seen earlier without one, as well as a few extras.
Today is not about barbecues, boating and time off work. Today is not about politics, parades and public events. Today is about honoring and thanking those who have put on a uniform, fought and often times died protecting this country we call home. It is also about honoring the families of those same brave soldiers who sacrifice as well and are left behind to bear the burden of loss.
WWII, Korea, VietNam, and even WWI veterans, some forgotten for years, received my gratitude and my appreciation for their service to this great nation of ours. Take time today to say thank you in your own way to our veterans. To everything there is a cost and freedom is not free.

George H Hickey WWII
Chester W Bukar WWII
Casmir Patocki WWII
Richard A Stevens Bronze Star WWII
Harold P Pierce WWII
Adam Gregory WWII
Richard Patela WWII
Frank Olczak Bronze Star WWII
Leonard Lewandowski WWII
Raymond Casken WWII
John Bodzioch WWI
Joseph F Sychowski WWI
Frank C Mack WWII
Peter J Gnat WWII
Julius Bodnar WWI
James E Warnke WWII
James Pinske Korea
Eugene D Furman WWI
Eugene P Wasielewski WWII
Josei H Kuisba WWI
George Wdowik WWII
Michael P Gajda WWII
Thomas Smolak WWI
Stanley Lukaszewski WWI
Dominic  R Suwanski WWII
Theodore J Papuga WWII
Edward J Bryjak Korea

God Bless each one of you, as well as your families and loved ones. Thank you for your service.
Forward is a Pace

Sunday, May 21, 2017


What started out at a dreary morning.....became a rainy and cold morning...but that did not dampen the spirits of our girls, their families or their running buddies!!! Friends, family and supporters braved the elements to run with and cheer on our girls. 
The alarm did not go off. I woke up with only 20 minutes to get dressed and get my helpers moving. Within 30 minutes we were in the car, getting gas and coffee and heading to Grant Park. Texts were coming in from my coaches and I was dictating responses to my daughter while driving. 
We arrived and parked then headed to the site flag. We were only there a short time before the girls arrived....and the rain soon after them. It was a morning of  few sprinkles, a downpour or 2, and a great deal of smiles! 
Every girl had a running buddy thanks to support from Girls on the Run and teachers from our school. The best part?  Every girl finished!  
It was a great morning filled with lots of high fives and smiles (and rain soaked tutus!) that filled my one super shiny, glittery, sparkly bursting with love heart.
forward is a pace. peace.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


I never considered myself an inspirational impetus but my amazing friend has changed that by asking me to share my story in order to empower other women. Sharing my story has been a very scary yet liberating part of my painful journey. It has not been easy to open up and share the "ugly" parts of my life but I feel that if, in doing so, other women can find strength and courage then it is all worth it. 
The other women whose stories are also on the Blessons page are just as amazing and inspirational. 
Please read, share, make a donation and/or apply for a scholarship!
Click here to visit the Blessons page, and read about all the inspirational women as well as the remainder of my story. Below is only part of my story......

I am a single mom to 5 children, a teacher and coach.
I grew up in the suburbs with a pretty "normal" life. 2 parents and one younger brother. Both my parents dad as a lawyer in town and my mom as a teacher in the next town over.
I left home to go to college attending St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana which was, at the time, an all women's college. 4 years and I was done. I was not an A student like I could/should have been and did not take advantage of opportunities the school had to offer until my junior year....something I regret.
I got a job as a part time teacher upon graduation. I wanted to live in the city so I moved to Lincoln Park (the only place my parents thought was safe) and took a job working for a small graphic arts firm. I eventually left that job to go back to teaching. I taught in the UIC area for several years then met and married a man. After a few years of commuting, I had a daughter thus, I chose to take a teaching job closer to our home. A second,  third and then FOURTH(!) child meant looking for a larger home and with that, a change to another school closer to home. Somewhere in there, my stepdaughter (goodness I hate the term step!) chose to become a part of our family. Thus, I became a mom of 5!
It took the change in my life for me to decide I needed to leave the school where I had been teaching for 14 years, and reignite my passion for teaching.
I am currently teaching at a charter school in the North Austin area of the city and I love it. It is HARD work every day with challenging students but the rewards are endless. I truly feel, once again, that I am making a difference in the lives of the young people I teach.
I went right to college after high school which was expected. I graduated in 4 years as was expected. I lived in the dorm and was only a few hours from home if I needed to visit my family. I do regret not getting an advanced degree. I do not have the funds nor the time now to do it. When I had the time and money, it was discouraged.
"Blessons" - I love that word. I have had many from being assaulted and hospitalized to anxiety and depression. The biggest Blesson I would have to say is my "in process" divorce. I was married for over 20 years to an emotionally and financially abusive man. I stayed "for the kids" and....if we are being honest, because I didn't know it was abuse.