The Inquisitive Olive  The Inquisitive Olive

TIO: Maura Kennedy

Please read our blog for an incredibly heartwarming story of selflessness, love and generosity that will bring tears to your eyes. Maura’s habits and routines are definitely to be admired and even more importantly, her incredibly beauty both inside and out can serve as an inspiration to us all.
TIO: Maura Kennedy

Maura Kennedy: Giving birth to my niece

Kosterina Family,

It is truly an honor to highlight the incredible story of a good friend, Maura Reilly Kennedy, on International Women’s Day.

I’ve read many times that your success and happiness is often determined by the company you keep, and I’m so lucky to have met my good friend Maura in graduate school 14 years ago. This mom of 3 young children who also happens to be a high-profile executive in financial services will make you wonder how she also stays so fit and healthy and can muster the energy be so giving and kind to her friends and family.

Please read on for an incredibly heartwarming story of selflessness, love and generosity that will bring tears to your eyes. Maura’s habits and routines are definitely to be admired and even more importantly, her incredibly beauty both inside and out can serve as an inspiration to us all.

Would you do this for a sibling? If you have similar stories to share, we want to hear them!

I am a 43-year-old mom of three young children, I work in private equity and enjoy spending time with my family & friends and being active. I am the middle child of a close Irish catholic family and was homeschooled until 7th grade. I work hard and I care a lot about the people around me. I am lucky to have strong female relationships across my personal and professional life and I am a cheerleader and champion for those close to me.

QUICK PICKS

Favorite food? Fresh-baked bread dipped in Kosterina olive oil with some salt and pepper - heaven!

Favorite self-care treatment? Botox. (shhhh!)

Favorite grocery store purchase? Sumo oranges.

Favorite skin care or beauty product? Kosterina face oil - LOVE.

Favorite place to travel? We have been traveling as a family to Puerto Rico a bunch over the last two years (working from and doing school from there occasionally) – beautiful, tropical, and only a domestic flight away from us!

Favorite part of your day? When we first wake up in the morning – my kids (who have made their way into our bed) are still asleep and cuddled up with each other and they look like little angels – their sweetness and innocence melts my heart and is a nice way to start the day.

SELF

How did you come to the world of wellness?

I feel lucky to be healthy and pretty fit. I have the privilege of being a mom to three children and a wife to a supportive husband. I am a mother, an investment professional and I am also a gestational surrogate. A few days ago I delivered a perfect baby girl – my niece, after carrying her for 9 months. Our surrogacy process began in February of 2021 when I offered to carry a child for my sister, who was aching for a sibling for her daughter, Caroline. I went through extensive physical and mental / emotional evaluation and passed (the same tests as a paid or unknown surrogate would endure). My sister, unable to carry a child after a hysterectomy necessitated by severe endometriosis at 39 years old, had a perfect embryo from a round of IVF in 2017 that we transferred to me in early June of 2021 after a month of daily shots to prepare my body. The transfer worked, and we had a due date of 2/22/22. I successfully carried the baby to full term and was induced at 39 weeks due to my “mature” age. Labor was long, but not terribly eventful – Maura Treasa or “baby Tessa” was born and most of us in the delivery room cried happy tears. The moment she was brought into the world looking SO healthy and strong with my sister and my husband by my side is one I will remember forever.

We have been honest and open about the process with our children and with those around us. This is not something I wish to hide - this is real, raw life. I share the story on this platform to raise awareness around surrogacy and endometriosis and to celebrate, in partnership with Kosterina, science, health and wellbeing!

What’s your passion? What makes you feel most alive?

My children, fitness, helping clients and raising up the women around me.

What about you suprises people when you first meet them?

Well, it depends on which situation I’m in…

If I’m at work, people are surprised to learn that I am an involved mom of 3 young children. If I’m being a mom, people are surprised to learn that I am Managing Director at a large asset manager doing private equity.

At work, I am unapologetically female, I use exclamation points and smiley faces in my work emails. At home I am (sometimes apologetically) a working mom and I share with my children stories about projects and deadlines. My husband and I are partners.

But in every situation, for the last 10 months, everyone has been shocked to learn that I am a surrogate for my sister. It’s a testament to the good in people– every single person I have told about my surrogacy journey has reacted with kindness and support. I have unintentionally made more people cry than I care to count (happy tears), and I have chosen to be honest about the process and the journey (both of which are hard, and SO WORTH IT).

Where do you live, and what do you love about your home/hometown?

I usually split time between West Hartford, CT and NYC. Once the pandemic hit we spent the majority of our time in Connecticut. West Hartford is a “home base” for us - both of our families (with whom we are close) are nearby, as are many of our friends. We all love NYC, and my job is there, so NYC will always be a big part of our lives. It's the best of both worlds, we think!

My children are currently homeschooled with a tutor through a school in NYC so we have the luxury to be flexible with our location.

CULTURE & RELATIONSHIPS

What values did the people you consider family instill in you?

The value of hard work, the importance of family, and the benefit of putting others first. The values that my family instilled in me influenced my choice to become a surrogate for my sister and brother-in-law.

What’s your cultural or ethnic heritage, and how does your background inform your approach to wellness?

I am the granddaughter of Irish catholic immigrants. My parents were first generation to attend college and my parents, both educators, worked multiple jobs to support us (including my mother who homeschooled three children through middle school). They always found a way to exercise and to be active- they were always very hands-on parents. I was a scholarship kid and my parents and I took out further loans to enable me to attend amazing schools. Looking to my family as inspiration, I am not afraid to work hard – I know that hard work and persistence are necessary to make progress in all facets of life.

Who do you call family?

Our close family includes parents, siblings and 10 grandchildren (including new baby Tessa!) I also have a gang of girls who are like family.

How do you stay connected with loved ones?

I love a nice text chat! COVID has made it hard to see friends and extended family, but in a way has strengthened ties to close family through the bubbles we created.

How do you balance the responsibilities of family life (to kids, partners, parents, or others) with self-care?

This is SUCH a hard question! There is no way to balance – I attempt to be as present as I can and develop a routine where each area of my life gets sufficient time and attention. Then with any extra time or bandwidth I focus on the most acute needs (work projects, soccer games, reading to kids at night, doing an extra working out, etc.) Some weeks feel unbalanced and some less so – but being a present mom, committing myself to work, and exercise are non-negotiables.

MIND

What part of your morning ritual helps you start the day on the right foot?

I’m a morning workout person – it helps set me up well for the day! My goal for 2022 is to incorporate meditation as part of my morning (or evening) routine. My mom has been begging me to start meditating and I promised I would as soon as I was done with this pregnancy.

What’s your favorite place to unwind?

In our back yard with our children running around!

Tell us about a time when you didn’t feel well—physically, emotionally, or spiritually. What action steps did you take to heal?

I developed pretty severe preeclampsia postpartum as a surrogate (I did not experience this with my first three pregnancies). My blood pressure got scary high and while that is now under control with medicine, I am still so fatigued that climbing the stairs is a challenge. I have never felt this way and I am trying to be patient while my body heals. I know that my advice to any friend dealing with this would be to “be kind to yourself” and to “give it time” but that advice is hard for me to take! I am trying…

Do you have rituals before bedtime? How do you unplug?

Reading with my children (or a movie on a weekend), having a glass of icy white wine (post surrogacy) and then scrolling Instagram.

BODY

How do you enjoy your Kosterina Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

In everything and on everything!

What's the ingredient or spice you cannot live without? Why?

Everything but the bagel seasoning for my avocado toast.

How do you “treat” yourself?

White wine.

Do you like hosting dinner parties? If so, do you have a dish that’s your claim to fame?

While cooking can be fun, I rarely cook. When I do, I like to incorporate our older kids in the process. This winter we have done turkey chili in a crock pot (not fancy 😊) when we have family or friends over.

Have you been to Greece? If so did you find a product, dish or drink you loved? Tell us about it!

I was lucky enough to visit Greece with Kosterina's founder, Katerina, and our close friend Elizabeth during business school. I was BLOWN away. The natural beauty of the hills and the white buildings in Santorini that look like snow-capped mountains look fake they are so beautiful. My husband jokes that I LOVE a good vista (I can’t stop talking about the view when it is beautiful) and Santorini offers one of the best in the world.

My favorite was the fresh fish with olive oil, all ordered in Greek by Katerina - very authenthic!

What are your favorite fitness resources/favorite workouts?

Oh….HOW MUCH TIME WE HAVE? This is something I could fill a book with (but it would be a very long and boring book). I was a college athlete and love the teamwork and intensity of a group class. When in the city I love Soul Cycle, Barry’s, Orange Theory, SLT and the occasional Exhale class. When I’m in West Hartford (before pandemic) I was die hard Orange Theory. Those classes helped me get strong and back to myself after two of my babies. I feel loyal to them and plan to go back for this round of post baby workouts.

During the pandemic I have loved our home gym with a peloton bike, soul cycle bike, water rower and woodway treadmill. I love the peloton app for bootcamps on the treadmill. I actually did a peloton tread bootcamp the morning I was induced.

Say you only have 10 minutes to squeeze in a workout. What do you do?

Quick treadmill workout but I would probably do a 20 min workout and be 10 mins late to my next appointment (don't tell anyone!)

What are your routines for movement and mindfulness? Do you have any wellness goals for 2022?

This is a huge goal of mine - to connect my mind to body more. Developing preeclampsia postpartum scared me to my very core- I believe that meditation could have helped me and will help me going forward.

Do you have a scent, sound, or taste that helps you relax?

The smell of my kids post bath cuddled up in bed.

How do you stay the course when you’re not feeling motivated?

I am lucky to be a pretty disciplined around exercise, but I also try to be realistic. It’s not always easy, of course. I was unable to work out much early in this pregnancy because I felt like there was lead in my legs and mud in my stomach. I tried to forgive myself and by the second trimester, I was able to resume exercise.

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