Michelle Leonard has certainly gone above and beyond to make a tremendous difference in the community. The Beachwood resident is the founder of Live Positive Today, which promotes a positive, health living in all forms. When her husband was deployed to Afghanistan, Michelle wanted to create an effort that would bring all of the communities of New Jersey together. That event, the Soulsational Music And Wellness Festival, has occurred every summer in July in Bayville since 2011. After Hurricane Sandy devasted the Jersey Shore, Michelle organized an event that would provide two UHauls worth of toys delivered by Santa to children impacted by the storm. She also organized donations to the Tent City in Lakewood.
Despite all of these accomplishments, Michelle’s greatest priority is taking care of her two daughters. She sets a wonderful example for her daughters by giving love, strength, support, and a positive message that there are still people in this World who truly care and want to help.
We are honoring Michelle Leonard as a 2014 Ocean County Happening Mom.
Michelle took some time from her busy schedule to speak with Ocean Happening.
Ocean Happening: As a mother, what has been the biggest obstacle you had to face?
Michelle Leonard: I think as mothers we all have obstacles to face at one time or another. My biggest ongoing obstacle is finding enough time in a day to get everything accomplished I would love to do but need more hands. My biggest obstacle has been overcoming deployments positively and the many times I am parenting (and working) by myself alone with my husband away.
OH: How would your kids describe you?
ML: “Our mom is the best mom in the world because she is the one person we know we can always count on. She always there for us and we know she does everything in her power to make sure we have a wonderful life. She is always there when we need her most from helping us with our homework, getting us to our activities, cooking in the kitchen with us, talking about our day at school, or just some fun girl time. She loves to dream up adventures and surprise us with fun things to do. She is the best mom in the world. We love her. ” – her daughters, Alexia & Haley
OH: What is your favorite spot in Ocean County?
ML: My favorite spots in Ocean County is first, THE BEACH, you can frequently find us sunbathing and boogie boarding at Island Beach State Park. Our favorite parks are Tuckerton Seaport and Cattus Island. I love to spend time outside and love to go Geocaching that always brings us to interesting Ocean County locations.
OH: What advice do you have to other mothers in Ocean County?
ML: I feel that being a Mother is the single most important job that I will ever have. It is my number one priority. It is a hard job that requires you to take charge, display a great level of patience, and sacrifice your personal needs for the needs of your children. I do not profess that I am perfect by any means. I do have my “crazier mommy moments.” I cannot stress enough how important it is to enjoy lots of family time so that together you can build memories that will last a lifetime. It is important to remain true to your values while not forgetting to take time out for yourself; ensuring a little “me time” by fulfilling your passions and interests. If you set aside time to take care of yourself, you will function better as a mom. Make sure you incorporate those you care about most in your life into your daily events as often as possible. Striving to create perfection and maintaining complete control is impossible and should never be your goal.
You should be content rolling with the waves of life, as you will begin to truly appreciate life’s value and meaning in the little moments with each passing tide. I believe a great mother should nurture and instill core values and beliefs in her children from the moment of they enter this world. She should teach them to love others, love of one’s self, compassion, honesty, simplicity, independence, self-control, kindness, respect, cooperation, happiness, and positive living through thoughts and actions. As a parent, it is important to promote curiosity, motivation, inspiration and a strong willingness to achieve great things. As a mother of two teenage daughters, it is also important to spend quality time building up their self-esteem and confidence from a very young age. I believe that giving praise and cheering for the good things they accomplish provides a positive path to success. Never pass up an opportunity to tell them you love them if the thought crosses your mind.
Everything you do as a mother makes a difference in their lives. You must understand that you are the role model that your children are looking up to as an example of what you wish them to become. Teach them to explore and seek adventure as often as they can I think displays of affection between spouses in front of your children are important. The simple act of a hug or kiss may be the single most important example they have on what a respectful and loving relationship looks, feels, and sounds like. As a parent, it is your responsibility to set a great standard for them to follow. I believe it is important to be involved in your child’s daily life and to be an excellent listener. It is important for parents to establish and set rules and expectations from an early age. Teach your children to always tell the truth and to always be as consistent as possible.
Finally, I tell my girls to think and dream big. I tell them to believe in themselves and their wishes. I tell them to respect themselves and people will respect them. Always treat them the way you would want to be treated. Always remember to speak to them politely, respect other opinions, pay attention when they are speaking with you, and treat them kindly and with lots of love. I believe that children tend to treat others the way their parents treat them. The relationship you form with your child is the foundation for all follow on relationships they will have with others in the future It is important to remind them that their goal should be to find their successes by focusing on the moment; adding both value and meaning , while injecting happiness along the journey. Success is not based on the value of what you own. It is achieved by unleashing your full potential to reach your goals and dreams.
OH: Between running the Soulsational Music and Wellness Festival and Live Positive Today, how do you find the time to still take care of your family?
ML: I always do my best to maintain my priorities. The family comes first; except maybe the week of Soulsational. That’s a very busy week and hardworking long weekend. I love working on my passions and dreams of making the world a happier healthier place to live learn and play but have learned to budget time is necessary. I love to motivate and inspire the community but I love to do all this at home first with the girls. I am still learning the art of balance and have learned asking for help is sometimes necessary and Ok.