I have always been a storyteller, writer and teacher. For nearly 25 years it has been my privilege as a journalist to bear witness to – and share – the stories of our communities.
I shared the stories of families in joy and in crisis and of systems rescuing and failing our children and seniors. I wrote stories from classrooms and courtrooms, city halls, and shopping malls for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, The Oregonian, Psychology Today, Teaching Toleranc.org and Chicago Parent.
Early in my career, as a "cops and courts" reporter, I became fascinated with the criminal justice system – when it works and when it fails. I learned the power of journalism as a tool in seeking the truth. As Executive Director of the Chicago Innocence Project, I teach students to use investigative reporting as a way to seek the truth and explore cases of possible wrongful convictions.
I come from a family of teachers so it's inevitable that I entered the family business, too. Most recently, I've had the privilege of teaching the bright and innovative journalism/multimedia students at Northwestern University (where I myself was an intense journalism student many moons ago.)
My most important lessons come from being the mother of the world's greatest tweenage girl, who always says the best lines followed by "you better not blog that, Mom!"
Writing for Family Goes Strong for more than a year gives me the rare chance to combine all of my favorite things: mothering, writing, teaching, and learning. Here, I have the privilege to explore the big-ticket items of life: parenting, relationships, parenting, grief and healing, marriage, divorce, midlife, women's issues, friendship, identity, hope and every once in a while, a miracle or two.
What I Know Now That I Didn't Know at 20
- You have no idea the impact your choices now will have on your future life and self. You will make some excellent choices and some lousy ones. Either way, they are – and will always be – yours.
- You have—and will have—far more power than you can ever imagine. Do not give it away.
- Being a mother is the single greatest joy and challenge of my life. Writing about parenting as a Family Goes Strong blogger lets me learn even more!
- Losing my beloved younger brother taught me that grieving can be the most isolating, loneliest process you can experience. Writing about grief and healing as a Family Goes Strong blogger taught me that those of us in grief may feel utterly alone, but we are not. We are part of an extraordinary community of courageous people living bravely and finding our way through. Our readers have shared their own stories and from them, I have learned so much.
A Few Favorite Stories I've Told for Life Goes Strong:
Divorce Diaries: Even a good divorce can take you to bad places, but you don't have to go with it. Here are ways to keep your sanity, humanity while still protecting your kids and yourself.
Love and Marriage: I may write a lot about divorce, but I have a huge soft spot for stories about love and marriage. As a former Oregonian, I loved writing about how an Oregon actor's amazing marriage proposal was seen (and cheered) by millions.
Students and Teachers:This piece captures the power and grace of two of my favorite topics: teachers and forgiveness. Here's the story of how a student's apology offers "a 39-year-long lesson in forgiveness." Why? Because: "The beauty of an apology is that everyone wins because it reveals not only who we are, but who we hope we are."
Grief and Healing: I have shared my journey of grief after the shocking loss of my brother. In turn, our readers have shared their incredible stories of grief, loss and healing. It has been a privilege to hear from so many of you. I write about these experiences because often I can't talk about them. Writing helps me remind myself – and all of us – that we are not alone.
Inspiration and Hope: My absolute favorite stories to write are those where despite all odds, people defy experts' predictions of doom and instead, not only survive but thrive. It's been an honor and an inspiration to tell the stories of two families who by sheer force of faith, will, determination and love, beat all odds.