Hey, Soul Sister…

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Hey, Soul Sister - Columbia SC Moms BlogI almost hit my younger sister when I was 16. I didn’t throw the punch because (frankly) I was afraid she’d hit me back. Decades later we had another fight, in the middle of Times Square. We embarrassed our children and each other – all over where we should eat dinner.

I swore in front of the Hard Rock Café I’d never travel with her again.

We’ve grown up a bit, and now our families spend a crazy week together at the beach each summer. It seems the rest of the year we struggle to spend any quality time together. Late night text messages, sporadic phone calls and Facebook posts keep us connected.

So when she called a few weeks ago and asked me to go camping in her new DIY, 60-year old camper named “Rosie,” I broke my Time Square promise and said yes. We were off for a girls’ weekend in the mountains. No husbands and no children (we each have five). Our only immediate worry was whether the zip tie on the trailer hitch would hold until we got to our campsite and cut it off with a pair of scissors.

During the day we hiked and stood under waterfalls, posing for pictures. We ate at roadside restaurants and won trivia contests (well, she won … but I gave her the answer). My sister took me to local shops she knew by heart … and helped me find clothes that made me feel young and chic, and even a little bit like her.

We canoed and sat in silence, looking at the mountains on the skyline. And then we talked … about growing up, growing old, making mistakes and making peace with ourselves and our imperfections.

It turns out we had a lot in common.

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We sat under the stars at night, in pink chairs surrounded by the same color flamingos. We phoned our mother and let her know the same two girls who fought so hard years ago were happy and laughing outloud with each other. We went to bed early and slept late.

And we took care of ourselves for the first time in a very long time.

You see, we were both searching for something. Maybe we were searching for some rest, maybe we were searching for reassurance, and maybe we were searching for a little piece of our souls we had unselfishly given up for others over the years.

We found all of this, plus a whole lot more.  

I went searching for my soul … instead I found my sister … and my friend.

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Lila Anna is the happily unbalanced mother of five boys. She is an advocate for homeless families, a recovering triathlete, and a sleep deprived 40-something who doesn’t see her yoga mat enough. She was blessed enough to have three wonderful boys (Michael, 14, Colin, 12 and Aidan, 10) … then, after a seven year break and just as she turned 40, got what she calls her “buy one, get one free babies,” Heath and Graeme (now 3). Once fiercely independent, Lila Anna now relies heavily on the help, kindness and understanding of a very loyal group of friends she calls her “village.” This village allows her to dedicate her heart and time to Trinity Housing and St. Lawrence Place – the non-profit for homeless and at-risk families she leads as President/CEO – all the while managing to run a house full of baseball and football schedules and four different carpools. Lila Anna is passionate about all children, especially those living at risk or in poverty. She treats her St. Lawrence Place children as her own, and advocates for them at the State House, at City Hall, or on any given street corner. Her position at Trinity Housing gives her the chance to give homeless families and their children a voice. She has been a guest lecturer at USC and Columbia College, and has presented nationally on the topics of child poverty, education and family homelessness. She is a native of Springfield in rural Orangeburg County, home of the Governor’s Frog Jump (thus her frog tattoo), and is a graduate of USC with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She got her Master’s from Columbia College in Organizational Change and Leadership, and graduated a few weeks before giving birth to her twins. Her five boys are just like their daddy, “Saint” Brad – fun-loving, even keeled, and incredibly helpful. She enjoys cooking with the help of at least one set of small hands, running (slowly) with friends, and daydreaming about her next trip to Edisto Beach or New York City. One day she hopes to compete in triathlons again in the Athena division (thus her owl tattoo). Most of all, she loves just hanging out with her boys…all six of them. Lila Anna and her boys live in Forest Acres, where they are two blocks from the ballfield and no more than 10 minutes away from everything else. She is happy to share how she embraces her unbalance … and all the fun and love that comes with it.

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