This week’s Meet a Mom, Meaghan Murphy, has three kids, lives in Westfield, NJ, and loves her town so much she calls it Bestfield and was named Chief Spirit Officer by the former mayor! She’s also a successful magazine editor, with a more than 20-year career spent at such storied titles as Good Housekeeping (where she is currently the Executive Editor), Cosmopolitan and Self. As if being an ambassador for her suburb (which we at The Local Moms Network can relate to, obviously!) isn’t enough, she has another passion project—a book called A Fully Charged Life: A Radically Simple Guide to Having Endless Energy and Finding the Yay in Every Day,” to be released in 2021 from Penguin Random House. Here’s a bit more about this energetic mom of three (Charley, her daughter is 9, and she has two sons, James, 7 and Brooks, 6).
Tell me about being Chief Spirit Officer of Westfield—or Bestfield, as you call it!
I was doing community outreach, celebrating business openings and other success. I started going to town council meetings and presenting businesses at town meetings. We started painting spirit rocks with positive messages around town and the local Girl Scouts joined in! At my core I’m a cheerleader, even though I’ve never rocked a pair of pom-poms on a sideline, and I try to inspire that excitement in other people. I run the Instagram which is a love letter to the town. I am also an ambassador for the community-based app NextDoor. And I do the Yaylist which is another Instagram project where I ask people to tell me What made you say yay today? It’s my mission in life to leave a legacy of positive energy.
Can you share how the Yaylist came about?
My father was diagnosed several years ago with pancreatic cancer. It was shocking. He had never been sick a day in his life. It just hit us out of nowhere and in five months he was gone. So you think, How do you pick up the pieces? I started using the #operationgoodgrief hashtag to document one good thing every day. I’d snap a photo (pretty flowers! a killer sunrise! my puppy!) and post it with the hashtag. It was like therapy and helped me to move forward. Ultimately, I retrained my brain to seek out the good and finding it became more automatic. As I moved through my grief, the good turned to YAYs and The YayList was born!
Amazing. Please tell us a bit about your upcoming book.
The first chapter of my book is the Positive Charge. It’s about retraining your brain, and how I still acknowledge the bad but I let the good be louder. In terms of how it came about…My friends always said I wish I had your positive energy. And I said, well, I can’t bottle it, but I can write about it. I’ve been a service journalist for over 20 years and had been editing so many mental and physical health stories, and one of the most transformative pieces I wrote for Cosmo was “The 7 Secrets to Happiness”. Writing it, I thought, wow, you can choose to be happy. It was an “aha” moment for me. I’m not inherently positive. My nickname was Grumpy as a kid.
You always fit fitness into your routine, despite a busy career, kids, Instagram projects and now a book. How do you make it happen?
For me I do it at 5 am—nobody needs me then. Nobody is awake or emailing me. I carved out that time and became the ultimate morning person. Exercise is also my happy pill. Even just driving to the gym in the car, I cry or talk to my dad…it’s time I really look forward to. I think once you get in the habit of getting up that early, if you think of it as something for yourself…you get used to it. You schedule doctor’s appointments for the kids and you don’t cancel those, so don’t cancel on yourself. You also have to mirror those healthy behaviors for your kids. Especially as the kids start to get bigger, they are noticing these things.
Such a good point. I saw on your Instagram that you took a kid free trip recently…
I didn’t realize how important it was until we finally did it; we really hadn’t been away alone in four years, since I turned 40. We have an awesome loving relationship, but to have four days to wake up at 8, have coffee on the balcony and say what do you feel like doing? It was so much fun to date my husband.
How do you handle mom guilt?
I’m not a fan of guilt. I’m not even a fan of the phrase mom guilt. I think we have to give ourselves a pass on that. If you’re confident you’re doing the best you can, that’s enough. Stay in your day. Don’t think about the what ifs and shoulda coulda whouldas. Any guilt assumes a level of perfection that is impossible. Perfection is a recipe for unhappiness.
Any other mantras or something that guides you that you’d like to share?
Live isn’t certain, it isn’t promised—what are you doing today to make it count?
We love supporting local businesses—what are your favorite places in your area to:
My kitchen! I’m a Keurig kinda gal. I fill up my YETI and I’m good-to-go. But when I do venture out for an early morning coffee date, I hit up @boxwood_coffee which walking distance from my home and the train!
That would be like asking me to name a favorite child: I LOVE AlphaFit Club, Orange Theory, SLT, Home Power Yoga, POE for Fire Beat & Boxing!
Have fun with your kids:
We just got a new playground in Mindowaskin Park. We’ll hoverboard or bike across the street with our Labradoodle in tow to hit the monkey bars and the tire swing.
Go out to dinner with kids:
We rotate between Ferraro’s in Westfield, which has the best gluten-free menu in New Jersey (I’m celiac) and Thirsty Turtle in Cranford—they have a dedicated no-gluten fryer so I can eat ANYTHING I want, including French Fries and burgers!
Go out to dinner with your husband/date night:
Limani Seafood Grill in Westfield. It’s BYOB (money saver!) and I’m obsessed with the shrimp and fava bean dish. Plus, the owners treat you like family.
Shop for yourself:
The Farmhouse Store! My goal was to make my home feel like an extension of the shop when I first moved to town and almost 7 years later I’ve pretty much achieved it. From my orange sectional and barstools to our custom zip code sign, I think Joanna Gaines would totally approve. The first floor is packed with cool, unique finds (think Nora Fleming, CatStudio and more!) that they wrap in signature burlap bags with purple ribbon. I’ve never bought a teacher’s gift anywhere else!
Shop for your kids:
Lord & Taylor has the best selection (and bargains!) for kids’ clothes. My Nike boys score all of their gear here and my daughter Charley goes nuts for the Butter collection!
Any other fave businesses?
I go to Baron’s Drugstore to fill an Rx and leave with said prescription (which they would also deliver for free!) and YAY plates, emoji napkins, balloons for a party, eye makeup remover…the goodies are endless! When we first moved to town my husband was confused by how much time and money I could spend in a “drugstore”…Baron’s is so much more!