Tag Archives: parenting

Member Spotlight: Sharon Wilson


Roots:

I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but we moved to Austin when I was 10 months old in 1963. I’ve lived in Austin for 51 years and consider myself almost a native Austinite.

Basic family stats:
I’m a single mother of three daughters. I’ve had the privilege of raising them all by myself with the help of my parents and brothers. Catherine (23) is a second year law student at SMU, Caroline (21) is in the ACCESS Program at Texas School for the Deaf, and Claire (19) is a sophomore at UT. And…if you have any single men friends, I am available and single myself right now.

iGnite - Sharon WilsonCurrent/Previous Occupation:
I worked in my family’s business for 15 years and retired when my dad sold the company in 1995. I was pregnant with my third daughter, Claire, so I became a full-time mom and part-time tennis player and volunteer. I was president of the Women’s Symphony League three years ago, and I walk and house sit dogs about 5 hours per week because I love animals and need to stay active.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
The biggest lesson that I learned through iGnite is that I can do the things that the 19-40 year olds do. I may not be able to that day, and certainly not as fast or huffing and puffing, but I can do whatever my mind decides I can do. We are all strong and capable of amazing things. We’re women — duh!

Who inspires me most:
I think I am inspired most by my daughter, Caroline. She is happy, healthy and super fun despite her multi handicaps and challenges. Because she does not hear or speak, she was never taught the concepts of: fear, judgement, unkindness, etc. She has never given up and crawled in a corner even after seizing 50-60 times per day during her childhood years. She continues to progress, learn and try. She inspires me every day. She was not in my plan of “non-typical” children, but God decided she belonged with our family, and heck yes — WE’LL TAKE HER!

Most people don’t know:
I’ve flown the Concorde. My grandmother decided I needed to go travel with her before I “tied the knot” in 1990, and we headed to Europe and North Africa on different trips. She had a life-long love of travel and the education that came with travel. At 73, she hadn’t flown the Concorde and Mach speed, so off we went!

Three words to describe myself:
Quiet, persuasive and POSITIVE!

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Member Spotlight: Susan Palombo

      Susan with her sweet father

                Susan with her sweet dad

Roots:
I was born and raised in Tulsa, OK, went to UT Austin for undergraduate (Plan II), then moved to Minneapolis, MN and lived there for 30 years. We have been back in Austin for 1 year and are loving it!

Basic Family Stats:
I have been married for 32 years to John Palombo. We have three children. Nick, 26, is a middle school science teacher in St. Louis. Michael, 22, and his twin sister, Megan, graduated in May — Michael from Vanderbilt and Megan from UT Austin. Michael has moved to Austin for a job with GLG Consulting, and Megan is interviewing.

Current/Previous Occupation:
I love my career, which is helping individuals and families feel better about their path to reach their family, foundation and financial goals through our Wealth Management practice with Merrill Lynch.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
Working out with positive trainers and friends outside in the Austin sunshine with iGnite is such a fabulous experience. Working out doesn’t have to be “bootcamp with pain and suffering!”

Best advice I’ve been given:
Through his wonderful examples, my 90 year old active and healthy father has taught me so much. One particularly pertinent lesson is: Listen more, talk less.

In my free time, I like to:
Be outdoors in nature, read and get together with family and friends.

If I were a pair of shoes, I would be:
I still have my hiking boots from 5th grade, and I think I would be them. They are long-lasting and reliable, strong and functional, outdoors-loving, well-loved leather
with beautiful patina and comfortable and sturdy boots. They have traveled a lot of miles, covered a variety of terrain, scaled some altitude, grown up and matured, made some mistakes, saved my life and witnessed a lot of conversations by hundreds of bonfires. These boots have lots of energy and endurance. They have been a good friend to me. I hope that I can be that good of a friend to others.

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Do You Believe In You?

iGnite - You were created to do something great

Point to Ponder:
Do you realize you are here to do something great?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

As I’ve written about in past journals, my favorite magazine is SUCCESS. SUCCESS provides countless stories and tips for anyone striving for personal and professional success and wanting to become better. Darren Hardy is the publisher and founding editor and he also provides a free and daily motivational message called Darren Daily, which I love. His quick, interesting and inspiring message is sent every morning via text and email. Because I’m a motivation junky and don’t think you can ever have enough positive messaging in your life, I subscribe to his service. I don’t always listen to it, but when I do, the impact is far greater than the three minutes I spend listening to it. Most recently I was inspired and encouraged by Darren’s terrific message on the power of believing in yourself.

I wish I could say that I never lack belief in my abilities, both personally and professionally, but I definitely do at times. As a whole, I would venture to say that self-doubt, a lack of self-confidence and belief in ourselves is what prevents us from getting exactly what we want in and out of life. Whether it be the career we desire, a mutually respectful and loving relationship, or simply trying something that we’ve always wanted to try, it all starts with belief in oneself.

This certainly trickles down to our children, marriages, and really all of our relationships. Where, when, and if we doubt someone’s abilities, even if we don’t speak it, has a negative energy and can be physically felt. Belief or lack of believe has infinite effects. Can you imagine if from the day you were born you heard the words, “I believe in you!” Can you imagine the compound and staggering effects!? And what if we added the words, “I believe in you and I love you? You were created to do something great!” Can.you.imagine?! To speak in terms of last week’s journal, ‘It’s Time to Turn on Your Shine’, our shine would be on all of the time!

You may be thinking, “I never tell myself I don’t believe in myself,” but do you ever tell yourself that you do believe in yourself and that you were created to do something great? The heart knows what the brain is thinking, and vice versa. We can’t hide from our doubt or disbelief.

The words “I believe in you. You were created to do something great!” cannot be heard or told enough, and we must always speak them out loud and to ourselves everyday, in every circumstance, and in all situations. Then, we should also speak those words to everyone else — our spouses, people we are in relationship with, colleagues, children, friends, family members and strangers. My mind gets blown just thinking about the progress we would make and how much happier, healthier and satisfied our lives would be if we did this on a regular basis. To believe that a divine source, whom I believe is God, not only believes in us but also created every.single.one.of.us to do something great, would forever change the negative and limiting thoughts that we can have about ourselves and others.

Small children are fearless inspirations. They will try anything and they believe they can do everything. The picture above is of my four-year-old son, Durant, at Solona Beach on his boogie board. While his boogie board is sitting on the sand and not floating on the water, he believes he is surfing. I didn’t tell him otherwise, I just cheered him on.

This child-like and child-proof sense of belief is what we can never lose and can never stop instilling in others.

Action Item:
Regardless of the lies that someone in your childhood may have told you, you must always remember that you were created for greatness. The lies were about that person, not you, and the unfortunate lies that someone once told them. Don’t let someone else’s lies define you, your future or your family’s future. Instead, let the truth — that you were created to do something great & that you were created to shine — define you and your family’s future.

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It’s Time to Turn On Your Shine!

iGnite - let your light shine

Point to Ponder:
Are you a light to those around you?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Excitingly, last Tuesday our kiddos (Durant, 4 & Malaine, 2) attended their first week of pre-school in San Diego. You. have. no. idea. how thrilled I was! Not just for me and my own sanity, but for theirs too. I was excited that we could begin establishing a routine, they could start making friends, their world was expanding beyond “mom,” and I could have a little freedom.

The pre-school they are attending is at the church we attend, The Rock, and it’s in an area near downtown called Point Loma. Like all of San Diego (including the neighborhood we live in), it’s full of a very diverse group of people. Ironically, moving to a more diverse neighborhood was actually something that my husband Russell and I considered while living in Austin before we knew we were moving to San Diego. Now, I realize that our interest was more than just coincidence — rather, it was God opening and preparing our hearts and minds for our future environment.

So, Tuesday was their first day of school and it was an exceptional day for all of us. Absolutely, my heart was a bit unsettled and nervous, but I knew it was necessary for feeling grounded, creating relationships and for our overall growth and development. Then on Thursday, after dropping them off and while filling out paperwork in the school, a heavy dose of loneliness blindsided me out of nowhere. As I I looked around, everything felt unfamiliar. I’m just gonna be honest and say it — no one looked like me (how about that “don’t judge a book by its cover” fail!?). Unlike at the Mother’s Day Out my children attended in Austin, I do not have a relationship with the director, the teachers or any of the moms here. Seriously, I was on the verge of tearing up when out of the blue a random woman walked up, noticed my Stronger TogetHER tank [that I was of course proudly wearing 🙂 ] and said, “I really like your shirt! What’s that about?” I perked up and gave her the 15 second description of iGnite, ending with “we are community-based and believe that in all aspects of life, we are stronger togerHER.” She then enthusiastically invited me to join the women’s Bible study called SHINE. Shine – wow!  What an encouraging, happy and powerful word!

That word shine made an impression on me, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. By definition, the word shine means to give out a bright light. As I looked more into ‘shining,’ I was reminded of a sermon I heard by preacher Francis Chan about how a silversmith gets his best, shiniest silver through a process called “testing.” The testing process starts with raw silver in a pot and a fire that is heated to the highest possible temperature. As the silver melts, the impurities rise to the top, at which the silversmith scrapes off the impurities and continues the same process of extreme heat and scraping the impurities off until he or she has the shiniest possible piece of metal — so shiny that they can see their own reflection in it.

What I find remarkable is how this process relates to life and the hardships, stresses, losses, disappointments and discomforts that we all must experience in order to shine. That with the right attitude and perspective, those scary and seemingly ‘unfair’ experiences actually produce maturity, perseverance, faith and wisdom in us so we can shine for others. That’s the part that I was forgetting about on Thursday in my moment of self-pity. I was so consumed by my own discomfort that I was forgetting about my responsibility to shine for others. I had to step outside of myself and my self-pity in order to see the big picture.

Author Marianne Williamson says is perfectly below, suggesting that when we shine, we give others permission to shine:

“Our deepest fear isn’t that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that are more powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, how are you not to be? You are here for a reason! Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory that is within us. It’s in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson

Action Item:
If you are currently experiencing hard or stressful times, just remember, you are going through the testing process so you can shine even brighter on the other side. If you don’t have the energy or even the hope to shine, find someone that is shining and allow their shine to brighten yours.
Or, if life is feeling great and you have plenty of shine to give, in all of your interactions, conversations and even casual passings-by, make it a priority to shine. It’s our responsibility to and for others who are not shining to gain strength from our glow. So let’s shine as brightly as we can so others can be inspired and encouraged to shine as well!

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Hard Lessons Learned from the Big Move

iGnite - make sense of change

Photo above taken during a Susan B. Komen rafting trip during the iGnite Escape to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Point to Ponder:
What changes are you currently experiencing?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

I suppose I can officially claim California as my new home state. While I’m a Texan and Austinite at heart, I’ve lived in San Diego for a grand total of sixteen days, and I am pleased to share that with each passing day I am feeling more confident, comfortable and accomplished, as I have achieved the following three goals:
I found a babysitter (actually, Durant, our four year old spotted her out at the hotel pool and the rest was history).
I can get myself to the Pacific Coast Highway and all beaches with no GPS (thanks to the wonderful iGnite member Jill Imhoff who lives part-time in San Diego and has taken me under her warm wing.) #StrongerTogetHER!
I can get to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for an awesome hike, and I actually know where the heck I am going
While I am thankful and proud of these emotionally grounding steps and stabilizing pillars, this whole moving picture was and has been nothing short of frantic, sad and angry, as sixteen days ago I was a wreck and the canvas was an ugly mess!

The week leading up to our departure to the west coast was bittersweet. The ‘sweet’ being spending time with dear friends and family members, and the ‘bitter’ being seeing our home that we brought both of my children Durant and Malaine home from the hospital to and was also filled with amazing memories, become an empty house. That just plain stunk. The absolute worst of the worst was saying goodbye, which if I never had to say another goodbye as long as I lived, I’d be okay with it!! I know that’s not realistic, but it’s my truth.

In the moving ‘blender’ were absolute physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, the emotions that come with a husband who has been gone for two months due to his new job and now being physically back in our lives, along with real sadness and anger. I had been faithful, strong and positive throughout the entire job loss, job change, putting the house on the market and the sale of the house. Then, when the reality of leaving everyone and everything I loved set in and we set off to San Diego, the blender produced an ugly mess of emotions.

When we landed in San Diego, it was of course sunny and there was a cool breeze blowing, but really I couldn’t have cared less. I was legitmately sad, mad and a house overlooking the beach in La Jolla would not have satisfied me. As we drove to see our new house (which I had not seen in person yet), everything was unfamiliar, and directionally nothing made sense. I couldn’t tell which way was North, South, East or West. When we got to our empty house, the rooms seemed small and the house felt cold, and even though the neighborhood was highly recommended and described as the perfect place for families, it felt unfriendly. Ultimately, it wasn’t Austin, “my people” were missing, and my in-control, comfortable and happy world had just been rocked and turned upside down.

Looking back, of course these were normal emotions which I should’ve anticipated (especially because I have never moved like this before), but I’m a’ glass half full’-type and a faithful person. I knew I couldn’t change the situation, and we had moved to a pretty spectacular place, so complaining or feeling sorry for myself was just not an option. However, this was still a big change and even the most optimistic attitude couldn’t combat my sadness.

I’m not writing this journal to give you the play-by-play on our move, rather, in the past two weeks I’ve learned a lot that I want to share. As summer has officially ended and the fall season and school year has begun, there is a lot of change that is and will be occurring in not just mine, but many of our lives right about now. And if you aren’t experiencing change now, there will be a day when you will, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned thus far:

1. Being sad and mad are normal and healthy emotions, but they must get out. I was being totally passive aggressive and ugly to my husband Russell, which was terrible for him and created a ton of tension between us. It wasn’t until I told him exactly why I was mad and sad and that I would get over it, but that I needed him to let me be mad and sad and not try to fix it that things started to get better. It was like having the flu, and the emotions needed time to run their course. Thankfully they did, and things became better quickly.

2. Manage your expectations, take baby steps and accept feeling out of control. I wanted to have San Diego ‘figured out’ the day we landed. I wanted all boxes unpacked and the house looking great and feeling like our old house within days of arriving. I was craving organization and control! Of course all of this was absolutely not possible, and thanks to the advice from iGnite Leader and dear friend Kathleen Parker, I needed to “relax, breathe and focus on having fun with my family. There were no deadlines.” Then, my sweet cousin Craig reminded me to “not lose any sleep over unpacked boxes.” What profound wisdom! And so, I’ve doing what I can when I can and am making great strides to chill and realize this whole process is a journey.

3. Don’t compare your new life to your old life. As soon as we got in our rental car and left the airport to begin our new life, seriously, my brain immediately started trying to fit my Austin life into my San Diego life. It was the strangest thing, as I could physically feel my brain trying to make it happen. I was in complete compare mode. Though San Diego and Austin have similar cultures, San Diego is it’s own place — as all places are– and while I can and will certainly partake in similar activities and develop endearing and meaningful relationships like I have in Austin, they are different. It’s a new time and place and things are automatically going to look and feel different. I will of course hold onto all friendships and memories in Austin, but in order to fully experience and make the best out of our time in San Diego, I need to fully embrace it.

4. We are StrongerTogetHER. It was intentional for our summer shirts to read StrongerTogetHER. We believe that living, sharing and experiencing life together and in community is the best and only way. Plus, we believe we are created for community. But what I didn’t expect was how badly I was going to need it and appreciate it once I got to San Diego. As I mentioned earlier, sweet iGnite member and friend Jill Imhoff lives part-time in Austin and part-time in San Diego, and the day we landed she reached out to me and validated all of my mad and sad feelings. Then, within three days she was offering to help me unpack. Letting others help me is not something I accept well, but I was drowning in chaos and confusion and I knew letting her help me would be the best thing. Then, three days later, she drove me around to help me get the lay of the land and most importantly, get to the beaches. She also took me to Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, where we hiked. What I’ve learned is how important it is to be vulnerable, raw and let others be your neighbor. We can’t and aren’t created to do anything alone, and change is much easier to accept and move through when we allow others to help us. Reach out to others and allow them to give you the gift guiding you down a path that they’ve already walked down and are better equipped to show you through.

So, I challenge you to ask yourself: what change(s) am I experiencing right now? Do you have a new job, are you new to iGnite or Austin, or have you recently moved? Is your first or last child entering Kindergarden or are you an empty nester? Are you expecting a child or are you a new parent? Are you newly married or recently divorced? Are you in a new relationship or have you recently lost someone you love?

Change is everywhere and all around us. The key to managing it and getting through it without losing your mind is letting go and sharing it with others. And so, here’s to a fall season of new beginnings togetHER!

Action Item:
Stop trying to control your changing circumstances, whatever they are.
Instead, let go and allow yourself to share it with others.

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How Kathleen is In the Game

Vulnerability Lost is Intimacy GainediGnite - Share your StrugglesPoint to Ponder:
Are you struggling with something that you haven’t shared with others out of shame or fear of being judged?

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

I am truly not afraid of trying anything new, especially if it involves a good dose of adrenaline!! But since childhood my biggest fears have been failure and judgement by others.

In my classes I have often shared my father’s philosophy on happiness: “Happiness is found through your accomplishments.” Growing up with this mantra was quite scary. If I was not winning, getting a promotion at work, or raising perfect kids, I was not going to be happy. I was so proud and would not share any of my misfortunes with others. Even my best friend in high school didn’t know about my crazy family situation I was going through for four years! My four daughters were FAR from perfect and gave us a wild ride for many years. It wasn’t until the last few years that I embraced my NEW mantra: “Vulnerability lost is intimacy gained.”

Being afraid to show vulnerability kept me from having fuller and deeper relationships for years. How great it feels to be transparent and hopefully help others through all of the trials I have lived in my 54 years!

Facing my other fear — the fear of failure — I still have. When it comes to competing in the Austin Fittest Competition each year, I go to win, not just to compete. That sure makes it less fun. iGnite member Martha Lynn Mangum opened my eyes this year to focusing on having fun and enjoying the competition and not thinking about the win. I have to say it was the most fun out of the four years I participated! I took down my guard and got to know my competitors on a deeper level afterwards and the day ended with all of us being friends instead of competitors. The bonus was I still won, but had much more fun!

Action Item:
Consider opening up to a loved one about something you’re struggling with, and notice how your relationship deepens and your burden is lifted.

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Member Spotlight: Chelsea Tauzin

Roots:
I’m originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana. I moved to Austin last Halloween!

Family Life:
No significant other; no kids. My parents live in Lake Charles, and my siblings are scattered in TX and LA. I have two brothers (twins!) and a sister (who actually moved to Pflugerville just a couple of months before I did)!

Current/Previous Occupation:
I’m the Creative Director (which is just fancy talk for “I do the graphic work”) for a small science education company called Scientific Minds. I also do freelance graphic design projects when I’ve got the time!

Biggest lesson learned through my iGnite experience:
I am stronger than I think I am, and every week I am surrounded by some pretty incredible and encouraging women who help me realize this.

Best piece of advice and from who:
I’m super close with my family, so a lot of advice I pay attention to comes from them.
“In life, find balance.” – Dad
“In all things, find happiness.” – Mom

I am looking forward to:
In September I’m making my first trip (EVER!) to Europe! I’ve been dreaming about this for years, and I’m practically bouncing out of my skin Im’ so excited to make this happen.

If I were a pair of shoes I would be:
Chucks — they’re nothing flashy. They come in a jillion colors, but they’re just a no-nonsense, classic pair of sneakers. They’re my favorite pair of shoes.

My guilty pleasure is:
Watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette….I’m such a sucker. It’s not even good TV, but I CAN’T STOP!