It’s a fact: Moms put everyone and everything else first. This often leads to women running out of time or energy when it comes to doing the things they love. Favorite hobbies, desires or interests are left to “someday.”

This month, we highlight a handful of women who do exactly what every expert says a mom should do: make time for their favorite pursuits.

Photos by Shawna Shenette Photography



Jody Leverone, 27, Mendon

Competitive stock car driver, Flatout Motorsports

Family: Husband Nick, daughter Olivia, 7 months



How did you get interested in motorsports?

The passion for racing is in my blood, passed down from my grandfather. I’m the third generation of drivers in my family. I grew up going to the track on the weekends watching my Dad race. Being the youngest of three girls, I was the “son” my Dad never had. While my sisters were in cute dresses I was always in a race suit helping my Dad work on his cars in the garage. Whenever asked in school what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response was always, “a race car driver.” The day I turned 18, I enrolled in Driver’s School with the Sports Car Club of America to obtain my competition racing license.

How do you make time for it/balance it with your professional and personal obligations?

As many moms can relate, finding time to do things for yourself is not easy. Luckily for me, my husband owns his own motorsports team, Flatout Motorsports, and shares an equal passion for racing. Sharing the same hobby as my husband has allowed me to make going to the track a family affair where we both support each other. Being new parents we made the decision early on that we were going to raise our daughter, Olivia, being comfortable traveling at a very early age. We bought a motorhome and at 3 weeks old Olivia was at the track supporting me...now she is 7 months old and has already traveled around the country to seven different tracks including Thompson Speedway, Watkins Glenn International, Lime Rock Park, Virginia International Raceway, Sebring International Raceway, New Jersey Motorsports Park, and Homestead Miami Raceway.

 

What do you get out of racing?

I get so much out of racing, but the two things that come to mind are adrenaline and love. The adrenaline rush of speed and intense competition is what has had me addicted since the first time I got on a track. Especially as a new mom there is so much that floods your mind (mentally, emotionally…and let’s not forget hormonally!). When I suit up, put my helmet on and get in the car, all of the day-to-day stresses disappear and I get to enjoy a pure adrenaline rush, focused on turning consistent, fast, smooth laps and pushing myself to reach the limits of the car.

 

The second most important thing is love. Being at the track is always an adventure that provides priceless memories for my family and I. I feel so blessed to be able to raise my daughter, having her get to travel, meet so many new friends, and share a passion with her father and I — the passion and bonding time that I cherish having had with my family growing up. There is never a roadtrip and weekend at the track that isn’t filled with lots of laughter and fun times with family and friends.

Does she think her daughter will grow up to love racing? We spoke to Jody after her photo shoot!



Emilee Solina, 27, Bellingham

Full-time mommy; part-time nanny; singer, Velvet Skies

Family: Fiancé Vinny, daughter Maddi, 15 months, Lucy, 5-year-old Lab rescue

How did you get interested in singing?

I have been singing for as long as I can remember. My late Mom was a singer so I feel like I inherited the “music gene.” Growing up, music was a fun part of my life and it was always around me. For me singing was just something I loved from the beginning and it was something I was good at.

How do you make time for your band/balance it with your professional and personal obligations?

It’s definitely not easy. Thankfully I have a supportive fiancé and family who help out with watching my daughter while I go to practice or do a show. Also, my band is very flexible with working around my schedule and they’re incredibly supportive of my responsibilities as a mom. There are some pretty silly memories of me pumping behind an amp or drum set. If I didn’t have either of those, I would never have the time to commit to my band.

What do you get out of being a part of your band?

Velvet Skies is such a special part of my life. With the busy-ness of being a mom and working, it’s difficult finding time for myself because it’s not about me anymore. Velvet Skies is a great release for me and an opportunity to get grounded and escape the hustle and bustle that is now my life. I have been able to express myself creatively and grow as an artist. We’ve been blessed with so many wonderful opportunities within our local music scene and we’re ambitious about starting new projects and taking things to the next level. It’s been an amazing experience to be a part of this band — “Skies” the limit.

When does Emilee sleep? And watch her band in action!



Kelly Craven, 51, Bedford

Stay-at-home mom; school/community/rugby volunteer; inside center, #12, Beantown Rugby Football Club

Family:  Husband Chris, children Sarah, 16, Alex, 18, Jaime, 20



How did you get interested in rugby?

After watching several games that my high school track coach played, my sister, friend, and I almost literally stumbled across a group of college-age women doing the same, usually tough sport, which was very rare in those days. All rugby teams everywhere are always looking for new players, and we were hooked with this team sport from then on.

How do you make time for it/balance it with your professional and personal obligations?  

No doubt about it, having an activity like rugby outside of the family and volunteer work leads to a time crunch. For me, the keys to keeping it all in balance is flexibility and a supportive husband and friends. When the kids were very young, I dropped the workouts outside of the house and modified my workout routines to make them much shorter and more intense whenever I had time alone. It was also interesting to incorporate the kids into the routines (doing videos with me, very cute), lifting the babies instead of weights, and chasing them around the yard.  My husband and I tag-teamed heading off to practices and games (Hi Dad! Bye Mom!) and relied upon babysitting co-ops for any overlap.  I did a lot of babysitting and playdates in the early days. Now that the kids are older, life is less complicated and it’s fun to see them develop their own activities that they are passionate about.

What do you get out of rugby?

A 34-year-long passion, playing rugby provides me with people, places, and things.  I love having the incentive to stay physically fit, because big girls are trying to chase me down, keeping current with a group of folks of all ages (average age of 25), traveling around the U.S. and three other countries for games, and satisfying my strong need for competition, since I really like winning. This way, my kids were able to “beat” me at children’s games like Candyland without me going crazy.  I’ve participated in many aspects of rugby, such as refereeing, coaching, and administrative stuff, but playing is still my first love. A sport like rugby is also quite the conversation starter and helps me feel like a more interesting person. I miss my family when I’m away, but I’m happy to return to hear about their new stories and to tell them mine.

We talked to Kelly after her photo shoot and she had some words of encouragement for other moms!



Mandy Deveno, 35 Bellingham

Firearms Safety Trainer

Family: Husband Paul, children Nate, 10, Anna, 8



How did you get interested in pistol training?

My interest in pistol training was sparked by attending an NRA Women on Target event run by the Gun Owner’s Action League (GOAL) back in 2010. Both my husband and I started volunteering at more events for GOAL after we obtained our Massachusetts LTC (License to Carry) Permits.  After a few years of volunteering, Jon Green from GOAL approached my husband and I in regards to obtaining our NRA Home Firearms Safety and Basic Pistol Instructor Certifications. That was a very easy decision to make! Of course I wanted to. I have been around firearms my whole life and wanted to share that love of the shooting sports with others.

How do you make time for it/balance it with your professional and personal obligations?

It is certainly a juggling act at times with two very active kids and a husband who travels a lot for work. Scheduling is a must for me!  Most of our training classes can be done during the timeframe the kids are in school or on weekends. I believe that to become a better instructor, you need to be an avid student. In between the kids’ activities, I make sure to take a minimum of two firearms classes a year to stay fresh, practice new techniques, or learn a new shooting sport. Sometimes this involves an entire weekend and the services of Grandma or a sitter. Taking classes with my husband or volunteering at shooting events allows us to spend more time together doing something we love.  Maintaining shooting technique requires practice as well. We take our children to the range with us for some family bonding time when we can.

What do you get out of being an instructor?

I want to help people, especially women, enter the field of safe firearm ownership and the shooting sports. There is nothing better than watching the smile on a student’s face as they learn a new skill.  I also feel that empowering women with this new skill and knowledge is important for not only their safety but also that of their children. Many women come to our classes because someone in their household owns a firearm and they want to learn about firearm safety. Taking the fear of the unknown away and replacing it with good, sound knowledge makes us all safer. My favorite events have got to be the women-only classes because the ladies feel more confident in that type of setting. And to tell you the truth, the women end up shooting better groupings at the end of our classes, too!  I am also protecting my rights by educating others in the hopes that they continue to protect their rights, as well.

We talked to Mandy after her photo shoot and found out why she loves teaching women about firearm safety.



Susan Reed, 49, Dover

Musician; storyteller; Faneuil Hall street performer with string trio Tatu Mianzi: Allie Reed, violin, Susan Reed, violin, Kate Reed, cello.

Family: Husband Ken, children Jon, 19, Kate, 17, Allie, 16



How did you get involved in performing at Faneuil Hall?

We are a family band. We first started playing together as a classical string trio for a family wedding, then we stayed together and started branching out musically. Now we play styles of music from all over the world and are constantly seeking out new repertoire. We play standing and play entirely from memory, creating our music in the moment.

Two summers ago, Kate and Allie wanted to take some of our newest tunes to Harvard Square, and we all loved the busking performance medium immediately. It’s invigorating! Allie, our youngest, was the one who suggested we audition for the Faneuil Hall Street Performers roster.

How do you make time for it/balance it with your professional and personal obligations?

Music is important to us. It’s a way we communicate and spend time together. While neither of the girls are interested in pursuing music professionally, we constantly seek out new repertoire and somehow find time to rehearse. If we identify a tune we’d like to learn we either learn it by ear or I transcribe the melody and together we work out a chord structure for it. We’re pretty efficient and work well together. On average, we rehearse maybe twice a week and give 60 performances a year.

The trick is to maintain respect for each other at all times. It’s an added challenge for a family band where the communication lines are naturally well worn and sometimes frayed. We have to leave issues at our practice room door, like the fact that someone didn’t empty the dishwasher on time and the milk got left out… again.

 What do you get out of street performance?

We love playing at Faneuil Hall. For us, music is all about communication and connection. We find our audiences there to be so appreciative of what we offer that it is a joy to play for them. It’s rewarding to see someone rushing by lost in their thoughts, then see them suddenly turn, stop, and listen for a bit. Together as a trio we can slow down time and suspend the present. If we are engaging our audience they stay and listen for a bit. If we drop out of the present then the audience just walks away. It’s an instant feedback loop, and quite exhilarating.

We think of Faneuil Hall as the Welcome Center of Boston. The diverse international community there appreciates our world styles. We can always tell when we are playing a tune from someone’s home country as they often give us a knowing and appreciative nod. We love that.