Open letter to my son, Alex

This letter was originally published May 10, 2018 on Facebook as my son formally graduated from high school. I publish this letter here today,  for a number of reasons;   1. The blog is here to stay.  2. Today marks the day he is home for Christmas break from his first semester of college.  He has slowing grown into an independent man in those short months away from home.  The 2nd half of his first year just weeks away and this mom looks forward to watching this guy grow into his own. 

Alex and Mom

Open letter to my son: 

Sitting here reflecting on what I want to say to my son, Alex, as you enter into the adult world, my mind wonders back to a time when my little boy clung to his favorite Buzz Lightyear toy.  You idolized this superhero. Your blue eyes lit up a room when you talked about him and all of his adventures with you.

Using Google to re-educate myself about Buzz. I found a few similarities.

Buzz Lightyear was known for his bravery and courage; little did I know the courage and bravery you were going to need throughout your life. Starting out as a baby with hemophilia, I had no idea what was in store for you. You showed me what courage and bravery looks like. You never let your circumstances slow you down, all the while, knowing your limitations and sometimes quietly enduring pain that I will never be able to take from you nor comprehend.

The fictional character you clung to was a rule follower, only breaking the rules when he knew it was the right thing to do. As a young boy you followed the rules, always – also, only breaking the rules when you felt it was right. In addition, you were never a follower but a leader, just like Buzz. Though, Buzz was a great leader, he also “exhibits rather unemotional, erratic, and impulsive behavior” (to quote Google) and this eerily describes you. One of the characteristics I admire about you the most is your independence and strong convictions.

To Infinity and Beyond” as we know was Buzz’s tag line and the standard definition: without limits, limitless, sky’s the limit best describes my dreams and wishes for you.

Go into the world without limits. Dream big and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve exactly what you want. Work hard for it. Do your best. Don’t ever give up. Your opportunities are limitless and the sky truly is your limit.

I hand you over to the world. Please, find the joy in everything you do enjoying each moment of each and every day son. Smile often. Laugh at yourself. Don’t forget to call your mother, to Infinity and Beyond

Love, Mom

I do not own the rights to this photo. Owner unknown.

The day has come to let you go….

Music by Jessica Allossery, I’ll Let you Go 




Say No to A New Years Resolution

As the end of 2018 races towards us I wanted to weigh in on New Years resolutions.  If you haven’t guessed by the title (go back and read it), I object to the old fashioned way of thinking that you wait until the first of the year making any necessary changes that you deem worthy of improving your life. 

Let’s go over some popular resolutions spouted the first of the year, every year.

  • lose weight
  • exercise more (or start) 
  • eat healthier
  • be organized
  • quit smoking 
  • be kinder
  • read more
  • go on more trips
  • save money
  • personal development

…just to name a few… any of these ring a bell?  (I did a simple google search for popular resolutions and added a few of my own) 

If you want to eat healthier, read more, be kinder, more organized or exercise, why are you waiting?  Exercise is one resolution that falls high on most of the New Years resolution lists.  I happen to know this one first hand! I have started and stopped so many workout routines; secretly wishing I had a dollar for every time I did  (I would be a millionaire from this personal defeat alone!)  I am no expert in the workout world but this I do know – YOU and only YOU have a choice.  You either do it or you don’t.  The decision to exercise is exactly that; a decision.   You do not and should not wait until January 1st of any year, to get started.  You just rolled your eyes.  I felt it. 

Try rolling up your sleeves up instead and DECIDE today to make a choice to change whatever it is you want.  Put one foot in front of the other, literally and figuratively and just do it (thanks Nike)  

I was challenged in September to start a new habit of not snoozing my alarm. To say I was a snooze addict is an understatement.  Anyone else snooze the alarm EVERY morning for an hour or longer? That was me! I wish I remembered the exact moment I read it or listened to it but the words stick in my head “Snooze your alarm, you snooze your life”.  WOAH! I am NOT ready to snooze my life; but you see, to my core, I knew that I was doing that very thing; snoozing my life. I was not moving forward. Living each day just to make it to the next with no meaning.  I decided at that moment that I would never snooze my alarm again.  Maybe this should be Rule #11? (see my earlier blog

The act of not snoozing my alarm is still challenging on most days but I continue to indulge in this practice. Why?  It’s a commitment I made to myself and I no longer feel like I am snoozing my life (the extra time I have is priceless) and it creates pure JOY for my mornings and oozes into my day.  Imagine if I had waited until January 1st to get started!! I would have missed months worth of priceless time, JOYful days and the self confidence I have given myself that I can make a commitment and actually stick to it! It is worth it’s weight in gold!

Are you understanding where I am going with the whole resolution bit?

If you want to make positive changes there is no better day to start then today; not Monday, not next month, next year or tomorrow.  Why not just start TODAY?  I will take it a step further and say that I want you to start right at this moment.  Close your mouth. (I practically heard your mouth drop wide open)  It’s not that difficult.  Listen, you don’t have to be that prepared to start making positive progress.  We don’t prep for the negative changes; therefore it only makes sense that likewise, we need little to no prep for the favorable adjustments we want to make in our lives.  

Start reflecting now. What changes do you desire? Make a list. Then pick 1 and start today. Don’t wait. End 2018 the way you envisioned starting 2019, with good choices and good habits already in place.   

Photo by Georgia de Lotz



P.S. I can’t wait to share with you the newest personal development training I am in! I had to hop in and edit this blog in particular considering it has a lot to do with getting started TODAY! It is no coincidence it has similarities to books I have been reading, people I have been following and what my mentors are aligned with as well! Stay tuned for all of it! In future blogs I plan to share more of my favorite books, coaches and trainings. Sign up to follow this blog to get the updates! Take a sneak peek, here

So, what are the rules?

About a year ago, I made a decision that scared the bejeezus out of me and altered the trajectory of my life. I made a few rules that I decided to live by; fondly labeled: My Graffiti Rules

Let me add a bit more clarity before I share this set of rules.  My last name is Graff and these are the rules I live by and graffiti by definition means “writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place”.  These rules, like graffiti is shared publicly, in all its unorganized glory in an organized kind of way.  It’s expressive and purely subjective.

So, what are the rules?

  1. First and foremost you have to throw a big middle finger at society and the rules that society has set for us. Those particular rules include but are not limited to; how you should look, feel, dress, act… etc.  (In other words don’t turn into a rude ass but try being yourself for once instead of like everyone else)
  2. Since I already mentioned the middle finger that leads me to the next rule; Embrace a good cuss word or 2 or 3 or 10.  My favorite happens to be FUCK.  It might be considered the most vulgar to some and the least favorite cuss word in general, (as a side note: if you are not a cusser and/or you don’t like cussing, then I might not be your cup of tea and you might want to move on) I happen to love this word as an expletive.  Some examples are: Fuck yeah! Fuckin‘ aye! and I am so fucking excited!  You get the point, right?! You will rarely hear me utter: Fuck you or Fuck off and if I do you had better listen and move away from me quickly because that is some kind of mad that is indescribable. Enough said. Fuck is my favorite cuss word of choice.  Do you have one?
  3. Start a routine. A morning routine, an evening routine – any routine at all, just get one. I started my obsession with getting a routine after I read The Miracle Morning by Hal Enrod.  I became obsessed with getting my day off to the right start.  Full disclosure; I do not follow the plan in this book exactly as described but it catapulted me into the world of structure and how it truly works.  The two other books that spout the benefits of a routine and are well worth the reads are The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins and High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard.
  4. Meditate. Often. Add it to your schedule and make it something that is non-negotiable.  I can almost hear you now.  As soon as you read that you said one of three things:  A.I already meditate ” (good for you!) B.I don’t have time to meditate “, I offer you this quote by Dr. Sukhraj S. Dhillon:

    “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour”

    and C.I don’t know HOW to meditate“.  I was an expert at B and C for many years using them both as an excuse to not ever get started.  I am not an expert so “teaching” you how to mediate is not going to be my strong suit but I can share with you the first meditation I was able to sit through.  If you haven’t heard of Bob Proctor, well – you have now! click this –>> link <<–to my first, favorite and indeed a tried and true meditation. After you try it out for yourself, let me know what you think! (and trust me, it gets easier and you will WANT to meditate)

  5. Spend time with your dog.  If you aren’t a dog person, make it your cat. No animals to love and cuddle at all???  (hey, you might consider getting one) but if that is completely out of the question, no worries – there are plenty of animal videos to watch.  (You will have to google those on your own. Youtube and Facebook are great starts! and you won’t be able to watch one without laughing, crying or feeling an intense amount of love)  Why do I think this is important? My dog gives me unconditional love.  No matter what kind of day I am having my dog will hug me, lick me and do anything for me.  In my opinion, dogs in particular, will do anything to make us happy.  We could all use more happy.
  6. Read a book. I LOVE to read and yet I spent years not doing it? Why? Simply put, I didn’t take the time.  When you get to #8 you will understand this more but for now let’s discuss reading.  I read several books at once.  Sounds like it could potentially get confusing and I thought so too at first but let me explain.  I am ALWAYS reading and re-reading a personal development book.  I read this kind of book every single morning as part of my routine. (see rule #3) I highlight and underline things I want to go back and read later for reference and I do it over and over again with my favorite books. (My Favorite Books sounds like the next blog…for now, let’s go with whatever personal development book I am into at the moment as Book #1).  I am in a book club, we meet weekly and read a book aloud together.  This is also, to date,  a personal development book. This is a new concept to me and something we just started and I am liking it! (book club book is book #2) and the other kind of book I recommend reading is a novel – any kind.  I am personally drawn to a good murder mystery, loving a good “who done it”.  The entire time I spend reading is me trying to figure out who the guilty party is.  Therefore, yes, you guessed it (that is book #3)- I am always reading at least 3 books, at one time.  Not only are you learning while you read, it also keeps your brain in top notch mode.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands of articles on why reading is important, you get the gist. Read more. I found this blog with a simple google search on 10 Reasons why reading is so important. Your brain will thank me later.golden cup and basket with booksPhoto by Kaboompics .com on
  7. Take a course and always be in at least one. All of the time. Invest in yourself. If you have a business, invest in that too.  The kind of course I am talking about is the kind that costs money.  Like even scary money sometimes.  It’s an investment, in yourself.  The best courses I have taken are the ones that cost more but the return in investment has been life changing.  I am by no means advocating going into debt and doing something that you can’t afford but consider that if you take a course or start a coaching program and actually show up to do the work, that course will pay you back; usually its tenfold. I will be sharing my personal coach, courses and experiences in days to come.
  8. Work less. You read that right.  Work less. I found myself working and working and working…..seriously though – probably 50-60 hours a week with little to no growth. We are taught to “work hard” to “earn more“; but at what expense?  I feel a shift in the workforce as of recent where more of us are learning how to be more productive during a work day so that we can play more.  That means getting a routine (and there is rule #3 again) into place to get more done in a day;  therefore in the end you can indeed “play more“.
  9. Do something that scares you. I am not the first person to come up with this. You have read the quotes about stepping outside of your comfort zone? One of my favorites is: “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows thereComfort Zone Quotes - A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nI am going to go out on a limb and say that you should probably do something that scares you daily.  Don’t freak out, you gasped, I heard it. Start small.  The twinge of fear that you get when you think of something you might want to do but the first thing you say is “I couldn’t possibly“…yep, you know it; no matter how big or small – take that first step and do it anyway.  (I have the perfect example… this blog)
  10. Find JOY.  I can’t express this enough. I want to shout it to the rooftops, over and over again! This sounds cliche but its true!!! When you find Joy in EVERYTHING, then EVERYTHING finds JOY.  I give great thanks to the before mentioned author Brendon Burchard for the simplest of advice.  Set a reminder several times a day to ask yourself how much joy is in your day.  I have 3: the 1st reminder is at 10:00am (this is when I typically start my work day) “Are you bringing joy today, Mara? and How can you show up better?”  My 2nd is at 2:00pm and reads “How can you bring more joy into the rest of your day?” and the 3rd and final Joy reminder at 6:00pm exclaims “STOP! Are you being joyful?!”  My goal is to live every single moment of my life with joy and gratitude; it breeds more of the same.

There you have it! My 10 rules. Live it. Breathe it. Love your life.

I hope that you enjoyed my very first Graffiti Rules blog. Those rules aren’t so scary… it’s the sharing part, that’s scary.  Make sure you subscribe to get updates, comment below what you thought and share the love.  A good share will definitely bring me JOY!