Aattorney and CEO Meredith Cawthron Boozer never dreamed she’d hike more than 100 miles in 10 days across New Mexico with a group of Boy Scouts — the only female on the trek, no less. But the mom of two boys, always looking for ways to connect with her sons, left her desk job for what she said was the experience of a lifetime. Boozer’s priority for family is evident in the way she organizes her life, as she tries to soak up the last few years with teenagers under her roof.
WACOAN: Is balance something you think about in your everyday life or do you have to work for it? Does it come naturally?
Boozer: I definitely feel like I have to work at it. But I have to be balanced in order to get everything accomplished like I need it to be. It doesn’t necessarily come easily to me, but I need balance in my life, so I work at it.
WACOAN: What was it like growing up in Waco and how did you end up staying in Waco?
Boozer: My family moved back to Waco when I was in the fifth grade. I went to St. Louis [Catholic School] and Reicher [Catholic High School]. I graduated and went to [Texas Christian University].
Everyone always asked why I didn’t go to Baylor, but I wanted to get out of Waco. I never saw myself coming back, but I did come back to go to Baylor Law School. Then I left and went back to Fort Worth because I loved Fort Worth, and I kind of thought I’d stay there. But my husband, Brad, and I met while I was in law school, and we started dating.
So when I got a job in Fort Worth, we did the long distance thing for a while. Once we got married, I still wasn’t ready to leave Fort Worth, so we lived in Hillsboro.
But the drive on I-35 was long. I was on the road by 5 [a.m.] every morning, and the days were tiring. At that point, we were starting to think about family, and that’s when I shifted and moved this way.
WACOAN: When was that?
Boozer: Nineteen ninety-nine. So I was going to get my resume out and start looking for a job. My dad, who owns an accounting firm, said why don’t you just come here and hang [out] your shingle and I think I can refer you enough work to keep you busy. At the time I thought, ‘What if I have nothing to do?’ But that thought quickly subsided, and I’ve never not had anything to do.
WACOAN: I’ve always seen you as a very on-the-go and driven businesswoman.
Boozer: So I started working and had my own law practice in the Extraco Bank building. And to pay my rent, I did financial statements and tax returns. So that was the exchange. I did both law and financial and tax work.
Through that, I started doing a lot of financial work for doctors, as well as their legal work. My dad, another partner and I started a medical billing company called SyneSource Management Group, LLC. My primary job, at this point, is medical billing. And I still do a little bit of legal work for clients that I’ve had along the way.
WACOAN: I’m sure your legal expertise comes in very handy with your medical billing company.
Boozer: I do all of our in-house legal and compliance work with the medical billing company.
WACOAN: So, how much does Brad have to do with this part of your world?
Boozer: Brad has absolutely nothing to do with this world. And I have nothing to do with his business world. [Editor’s note: Brad is the owner of Boozer’s jewelry store.] Sometimes people will ask me questions about jewelry, and I have to tell them that I don’t know anything about jewelry. I do some administrative stuff for him on the back side, but I don’t know anything about jewelry.
WACOAN: Your professional careers are so very different. Brad’s work is very creative, and your work is in numbers. Do you have very different personalities?
Boozer: He’s creative, but he’s also running a business, so the business aspects cross over for us. And I have a creative side, I just don’t get to use it very often. There’s actually a lot of crossover.
WACOAN: Are both of your jobs pretty demanding?
Boozer: As far as demands, I would say my job is a little more demanding, timewise. He’s very flexible, which helps a lot when I’m running late or stuck in a meeting. He’s always able to go pick up the boys, so that’s been a blessing. If we both had very demanding jobs with real time constraints, that would have been hard. But, really, I have a lot of flexibility as well.
WACOAN: What are Brad’s best qualities that he contributes to your family?
Boozer: Flexibility and willingness to participate. He’s very involved, and he’s become more so since they’ve gotten older.
WACOAN: So he relates even more now that they are older.
Boozer: Exactly. When they were younger, he didn’t want to coach their sports teams because he wanted to be cheering for them, rather than being demanding on them.
Now, he’s the president of the Reicher booster club. He’s very hands-on and always very supportive. Even when he’s frustrated with all the things I put on my plate — because it creates more stress for me — he’s always the one who will jump in and help when I’ve overcommitted myself.
WACOAN: Tell me about your boys.
Boozer: John Jack is a junior at Reicher, so he’s 16 and he’s driving.
I was always that mom who wasn’t looking forward to driving because of safety concerns and also because I valued that time in the car when I picked them up from school. That was the time when I would find out how things were going with them. I kind of dreaded giving that up. But that lasted about two weeks. It’s really nice, and he can also take his brother places as well.
WACOAN: And you find other ways to connect.
Boozer: You do. I mean, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss that dedicated time in the car, but I don’t miss the carpooling and the taxi driving.
WACOAN: Jake is a freshman, right? Are they a lot alike?
Boozer: Their personalities and interests are very similar. They are both studious, athletic, driven.
Jake is probably my more sensitive one. He’s a real people person. John Jack is more straightforward, I guess. The older they’ve gotten, the closer they’ve gotten. They play football together, and they’re going to play baseball together this year. And I think they are going to try out for the golf team together.
WACOAN: With a busy job and your mom responsibilities, what is your morning routine like? What time do you get up, and what all has to happen to get everyone out the door on time?
Boozer: Most days, I get up about 5 to 5:30 [a.m.]. I do try to work out. Up until this past year, I’ve been really good about working out. I hurt my knee this summer and I’ve been slower, so it’s hard getting back into working out. I always at least do something, whether it’s walking on the treadmill or doing some weights. If I don’t get it done in the morning, odds are it’s not going to get done.
Though Brad’s got us on a workout regimen where we’re all working out together doing weights. We’re doing it at home. I’ve been getting in there and doing the weights with them, and that’s been motivational.
WACOAN: Are the guys pretty self-sufficient in the morning?
Boozer: They are, but I’m pretty old-fashioned. I make breakfast because I do still believe it’s the most important meal of the day, even after all I’ve read. After I work out, I get them up and start breakfast. And I also make their lunches. I really enjoy making their lunches and sometimes they order hot lunch at school. I should probably be making them make their own lunches —
WACOAN: But they’ll be doing it for the rest of their lives.
Boozer: Exactly. It’s one of my mom things, and I actually enjoy doing it so I do it. If I’m out of town or gone, they are fully capable of doing it themselves.
WACOAN: Describe your typical workday. What do you spend most of your day doing?
Boozer: It’s not very exciting. I get here between 8 to 9 a.m. I usually work through lunch because, when the kids were little, I would leave at 3 [p.m.] so I could pick them up. Now that they are older, I work until about 5 to 6 [p.m.]. So I get here a little later because I work a little later.
WACOAN: Are you working with clients or is it you and your computer all day?
Boozer: Both. We have between our Waco and Temple offices between 50 to 60 employees, so I do all the [human resources] related work with them and just the management of the entire company. So I have less client interaction. It’s mostly management, a lot of staff meetings.
WACOAN: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Boozer: I think what I like about my job is that it’s never the same thing. It’s never monotonous. I like doing the legal, financial and tax work. I like the interaction with my employees, trying to keep them motivated and on track. Every day is something different. It’s not all wonderful, but I like the excitement of whatever comes our way.
WACOAN: I’ve always thought of you as a very positive person.
Boozer: I try to be. Some days are easier than others. The last year has been kind of tough because our company joined with another company and then transitioned back. My employees have felt that, and I’ve lost a couple of people who were an integral part of my team, so I’m in the process of hiring right now. I’m kind of doing the job of three people.
Trying to keep your staff upbeat is an important part of my job. I try to be positive.
WACOAN: How do weeknights work in your house? Are there lessons, practices, activities?
Boozer: We definitely try to sit down for dinner every night. I’ve always been kind of insistent on that. With everyone being so busy, that’s the only time we have to all sit down and regroup. We talk about our day, the best and worst parts.
WACOAN: Do you cook?
Boozer: I cook. I’m not a gourmet cook. I make a mean crockpot meal. I love the crockpot because it really helps when I’m working late. On nights when we can, we sit down together. We don’t eat out a lot during the week. And on Sunday nights, we have dinner with my parents, either at their house or ours. I like to keep [the kids] close to their grandparents.
WACOAN: When do you find time to grocery shop? Have you tried H-E-B Curbside?
Boozer: I have used the H-E-B To-Go, and it is a life-saver! At first, I kind of poo-pooed the idea and thought, ‘Whoever cannot find the time to go to grocery shop is ridiculous.’ And I thought, ‘I’m not going to pay for someone else to do my shopping.’
But I have to be honest, I love it. It saves your shopping list from week-to-week, and that’s really helpful. And now they will even deliver to your house.
WACOAN: What kind of calendar do you use, and how do you keep up with everything you have to do?
Boozer: I have a paper calendar. I do paper and phone. My kids are all hooked into my calendar, so I record everyone’s stuff on my phone and they can look at their phone calendars and know where I am and what they’ve got going too. I have drawn the line, though. I do not keep track of Brad’s calendar.
Also, right when you walk in our back door, I have a big calendar for the month. It’s all the boys’ activities for the month.
WACOAN: What kind of planner do you have?
Boozer: It’s an Erin Condren LifePlanner. It’s got the monthly view and the weekly as well. It’s also got my never-ending to-do list in it. I sync my paper with my phone.
WACOAN: At the end of the day, are you the first to get in bed or are you up working?
Boozer: I’m definitely not the first to get in bed. That is always Brad.
I used to always be the last one to bed and first one up, but I’m now probably the second to last to bed. John Jack’s kind of a late night person. Though there are times when he knows he needs to get to bed because he wants to get up early.
Brad and Jake will pop right up, ready to tackle the day, but they are more likely to go to bed earlier. I get up because I have to get up, but I’m not a morning person. I like to get up and have my cup of coffee and have a little private time. It takes me a little while to get up and moving.
WACOAN: We all need more of that time.
Boozer: I get my coffee and get on the bicycle. Brad makes fun of me. But, hey, I’m moving.
WACOAN: Do you and Brad do a lot, just the two of you?
Boozer: Not as much as I would like to. When we were younger, we tried to have a [consistent] date night, but we are not very good about that. Now, every Tuesday night, I have [Boy] Scouts with the boys. And this year, we had football games on Thursday and Friday nights.
Most of the time, if we get a free moment, we like to go home and make homemade pizza and watch a movie. We spend time together, but it’s not a designated date night. The free time we have we spend with our kids. We figure we will spend time [just the two of us] when the kids are gone, which isn’t that far away.
WACOAN: What about weekends — what do Saturday mornings look like for your family, busy or lazy?
Boozer: We have fewer sports activities now than when the kids were little. Brad works on Saturdays. So Saturdays are typically my lazy day. Staying in my jammies half the day is heaven to me. Saturdays are pretty low-key.
WACOAN: What kinds of things do you do for yourself to recharge and stay fresh?
Boozer: I love to travel. I don’t do facials or massages. I wish I had time to do those things, and I probably should spend a little more time on myself. I don’t take a lot of time for myself. I do love to read. And I love Netflix because I can do it on my time.
WACOAN: What are some of your favorite shows right now?
Boozer: I really like ‘Ozark’ with Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. It’s not really kid-friendly. I’ve watched ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘One Tree Hill,’ and I also loved ‘Girlfriends Guide To Divorce.’ I’m not going through a divorce, but it was hysterical and I could relate to her because she has kids and works.
One I’ve really just gotten into is ‘Criminal Minds.’ I love that show. Actually Jake and I are watching that together.
WACOAN: You went on an amazing journey this past summer, and I want to know about that and how you found your way into scouting.
Boozer: Scouting is one of those things that I found myself involved in — like activities with the school — because of my love for my family and my desire to be involved with them.
I first got involved when my kids were in Cub Scouts. A good friend was John Jack’s den leader, and then I was a den leader for Jake’s group in about second grade.
When they got to Boy Scouts, I was really excited that it would be more boy-led and I would probably take a less active role. Somehow I was talked into being the treasurer of Troop 308, so I was going every Tuesday night. Then, some of our boys wanted to take a trip to Worth Ranch in West Texas and [I] ended up leading that group, along with Brad.
The first year, we took 18 to 20 boys. The next summer and for three summers in a row, we took another trip. Last year, we were asked to lead a group to Philmont [Scout Ranch], which is kind of the pinnacle of Scouting. We sat down and planned the trip. I was the administrator and Brad led the practice hikes.
WACOAN: Now that’s a big undertaking.
Boozer: It was the trip of a lifetime, honestly. Our trek was a 12-day trek, so it was about two weeks that we were gone. We were out on the trail 10 days, three of which we were with a ranger and seven where we were completely by ourselves.
I don’t know if I would do it again, but I’m really glad I did it. I was the only female. It was a lot of fun, but it was hard.
WACOAN: What was the hardest part?
Boozer: Bathroom. Especially being the only female in a group of males and having to go off by myself. It was hard.
WACOAN: But worth it.
Boozer: It’s certainly not something I ever envisioned myself doing. The opportunity to spend time, not only with my own boys, but the other guys on the trip — I mean, I’ll share something with these guys forever.
Now when I go to the meetings, they come sit with me and tell me what’s going on. It’s rare to spend that kind of time with people these days.
WACOAN: With no cell phones and no distractions.
Boozer: No technology. We sat around a campfire and played games. It was truly an experience.
WACOAN: How far did you hike?
Boozer: All said and done, it was over 100 miles. I wish I could have maintained the physicality that I had while on that trip. I hurt my knee on the last day.
WACOAN: What happened?
Boozer: The last day was a 14-mile hike, but we decided to take a 7-mile goat trail that literally led us all the way down the side of the mountain. I tweaked my knee and could barely walk when we got to base camp. I thought I’d torn something, but it was just a bone bruise.
WACOAN: Wow. What an experience.
Boozer: If you had asked me 16 years ago if I’d be doing anything like that, I’d have told you you’re crazy. But being the mom of two boys, I’ve had to do things that kept me connected with them, otherwise I might have lost that time. That’s why I’ve found myself in some of the situations I’ve found myself in, so that I could be more involved with my boys.
WACOAN: What are the most important lessons you want to teach your boys — about life, about balancing everything you/they want to do?
Boozer: Independence and ‘stick-to-it-iveness.’ Never being afraid to try and to fail. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you can accomplish. Like this trip, I think they were just as proud of me as they were of themselves. That’s probably not something they imagined I could do. The willingness [to] step outside your comfort zone. There are probably lots of things we’d all be interested in, if we just tried them.
WACOAN: Do you have any must-have items that make your life easier, better, more fun?
Boozer: Well we already talked about the H-E-B Curbside.
Life360 is an app that’s a must-have in my life. Instead of having to text, I know where everyone is at all times. If I get busy in my day, I wonder if John Jack is home, and I can just look and see if he made it. Too much technology can drive you crazy, but if used in the right way, it can be really helpful.
Oh, I use a lash product that I love. It’s [Enhancements] Lash Boost by Rodan and Fields. I just put it on the lash line after I wash my face at night, and it really makes a difference. I also love a great mascara — it’s a must.
Something else I really like, especially when I’m starting to fade and need a pick-me-up, is Chocolove Coffee Crunch. A client sent them to me, and it’s chocolate with bits of coffee in it. The sweet kick of caffeine gives you the oomph to keep going!
WACOAN: Do you have a quote you love or words you try to live by?
Boozer: Life gets better when you get better. That means you need to be a continuous learner and reinvent yourself in order to be successful.
Also, one of my all-time favorite quotes is from Zig Ziglar: ‘Help others to become successful and you’ll become successful.’