Tag Archives: happiness

When Priorities Collide

29 Sep

dsc_0075When I list my priorities, my marriage, my family and my spiritual health are all at the top. Not far behind is living up to your commitments. In our family we have athletes and musicians who are also students and employees, and we’ve had numerous discussions about which priorities come first. Every once in a while, we have to put those priorities to the test, or maybe those priorities put us to the test. This weekend was one of those occasions.

If you know me, you know that I feel like I hit the mother in law lottery. My mother in law does not fit any of the negative mother in law stereotypes. She loves my husband dearly and has been known to fuss at him on occasion, mostly because she would like to see him more, but she has never fussed at me. She has never criticized me or treated me with anything but respect. She has never told me how to raise my children, except to remind me that my time with my kids is limited and to enjoy them as much as I can. No, she isn’t perfect, but she never claimed to be, and because of that, neither do I. This past week was my mother in law’s 85th birthday, and Saturday was her birthday party. Both of my older sons came home from college to attend mass with their grandma and then attend her party. My youngest was there too, in spite of having a band competition, but that band competition became a lesson for us all.

A few weeks ago, we sent an email that my son would be missing that competition. One of the band directors met with my son and decided that he could go to mass and then he could meet the band at the competition, nearly an hour away. They did not take into account that my son couldn’t drive himself so he wouldn’t be the only one missing the party. They did not know that there would be pictures taken of the birthday girl and her family at the party and that there would be nearly 100 family members present. They did not know, nor did we, that by the time we finished the pictures and had a bit of dinner, the band would already be taking the field, but we made the decision that my son would stay with his family, and the band would have to compete without him. If you know anything about marching band, you might think about the fact that the band could have a hole in its formation, but my son is in the front ensemble. You might also think that the band might sound different, but our front ensemble uses microphones so they can adjust. We thought of all of that, but we also thought of something else. In ten years, no one will remember that my son missed that competition, and if they do, it will have no emotional impact; they might, however, remember my son missed the party and there could be emotional impact there. How do I know? Been there; done that people.

Nineteen and a half years ago, I became a mother for the second time. Four days after my son was born, I was coaching a club volleyball game. It was also my father’s 54th birthday, and his third week in hospice care. The tournament was supposed to be over by five, but it lasted until seven. We were an hour from the hospice location, and I was exhausted, as were my three year old, newborn and husband. I called my dad to wish him a happy birthday and to let him know we would see him the next day for his party, and I could hear the disappointment in his voice. I was so tired, though, that I couldn’t bring myself to make the trip. Instead we went home, collapsed into bed and had a great time at the party the next day. Less than three weeks later, my dad was gone, and I had missed his last birthday. Nineteen and a half years later, I have forgiven myself for a bad decision, not because I took care of myself that evening, but because I went to the tournament in the first place. I don’t remember much about the day, but I remember the phone call vividly, and I am teaching my children to have different priorities so they don’t have to forgive themselves for making bad choices like their mama did.

Yesterday, I attended a workshop on time management and organization for bloggers and was introduced to the 10-10-10 rule. Basically, if you have a decision to make, you ask yourself, will it matter in 10 minutes, 10 months or 10 years if I make this decision? When I look at my past decision to coach rather than spend time with my father, I know I made the wrong decision for me. When I look at the decision we made this past weekend regarding my son’s band competition, I know we made the right decision for our family, and there’s a funny part to that. We are so conditioned to fear punishment that the threat of an unexcused absence from band almost made us make a different decision until we realized that an unexcused absence from band really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of life. We got so caught up in trying to be good that we almost made a decision that was not good at all, and we would have missed so much good because of it.

We would have missed seeing cousins we haven’t seen since their mother’s funeral several years ago. We would have missed seeing how happy my mother in law was to be surrounded by those who love her most. We would have missed getting hugs from our godchildren and seeing the expressions on our family members’ faces as my son, who is 22, grab a beer when they still think of him as a baby. Most of all, we would have missed showing our son that his crazy, huge family is important, very important, and today, I wouldn’t change that for anything.

For those who are following the journey, the book is getting close to being finished and ready for editing. I’m hoping it will publish in a few weeks. You can follow the journey on Facebook by joining our Happiest Holidays page. I’m also looking into starting another blog about travel because I was raised to have a bit of the gypsy in me and I feel the wanderlust rising again. Who knows where that journey will take me, but I hope you’ll come along for the ride. Until next week, thanks for being you and have a great day!

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The Happiness Rebellion

8 Sep

You would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the craziness going on in the world. In the US, the election alone could send you screaming into the night. There are refugee crises around the globe. Human trafficking is everywhere. Drug use is rampant, especially heroin, the news says. The economy is in danger, as is our health and the list goes on and on. All of this could be and probably is true, but most of it has also been going on for centuries and yet, here we are, struggling with the same issues. What’s a girl to do in such circumstances? In my world, you stay relatively informed, which means getting most of my news online and checking sources outside of my country as well as within because sometimes you get a very different view. It means knowing that the issues exist, and it means doing what I can to help and letting go of the rest.

There are so many issues that one could give attention to. There are injustices and inequalities and poverty and need everywhere, which makes it very easy to be offended, angered and/or afraid, and many people are offended, angry and/or afraid. What if we choose differently? What if we choose to look for the opportunity to do and be good and to live in joy instead of surrendering to the ugly emotions? Don’t get me wrong. There are unpleasant images that will never leave my head from Columbine high school, from the September 11, 2001, from refugees that didn’t make it to Greece alive, but rather than let those images stop me from living, I use them as inspiration. I used Columbine high school to inspire me to become a better parent, to be more loving and patient as a parent, especially in the morning knowing that every time I said goodbye to my children, it could be the last time I see their faces. Am I perfect at it? Hardly, but I try. From 9/11 I’ve learned how important it is to understand those who are different from us. I don’t know as much as I would like to, but I’m working on it and will probably work on that one for the rest of my life. Finally, there is the refugee crisis, and while there are probably many ways I could be helping there, I am helping with issues in my own country with displaced people. Within a few hundred miles of where I live, tornados destroyed property and homes less than a month ago and a few hundred more miles away, the state of Louisiana has seen its worst flooding since Katrina. As I said, there is need everywhere. I help where I can and pray someone else steps up where I can’t. I don’t know if it’s enough, but the fact that my children wonder if we would ever be wealthy even if we won the lottery because I give so much away tells me I might be on the right track.

There was a time in my life I was consumed with anger over the injustices of the world. I was infuriated at those who perpetrated the ugliness and for those who suffered, but at some point I realized that those feelings weren’t doing anyone any good, especially me. I understand that some people use those feelings to spur them on to great action in this world, and I applaud them for that. For myself, I’ve found that getting peaceful and even happy allows me to find better ways to contribute to this world in a positive way and create change. That may sound trite to some, and I admit I hesitated writing this blog because I know so many people think that happy people are uninformed, stupid and/or so privileged they just don’t understand. I’m sure there are situations I’ll never understand because they are unfathomable to me, but there are many more that I do understand, and just because I don’t discuss them doesn’t mean I don’t understand. Some things are meant to be private, at least for now, and they will stay that way. Instead, I’ll share why I decided to finally write this post. It’s because of two books I’m reading.

For the past few months, I’ve picked up the reading habit again, and I am so happy. Every weekday, I set a timer and read for at least fifteen minutes. I just finished a book about healing ADD. I read books about the supernatural, and I’m currently reading the books, Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I usually read one or the other each day, but this morning, for some reason I felt compelled to read both. Now, if you read my blog regularly, you know I have a great love of the Divine. I believe there are messages from the Divine, if we are open to recognizing them, and I feel like I got a big one this morning. I was mulling over whether to share these ideas or not because philosophy of life can be a pretty sticky subject. I decided to read before putting hands to the keyboard, and I began reading Dying to Be Me. One line in particular stuck with me when Ms. Moorjani was talking about how much more powerful she is when she works with life rather than against it, and I feel like that line explains my life so well. I feel like so many people give their power away to others, not willingly or even consciously in some cases and then complain that that they have no control. I used to do that. I blamed my kids for my messy house, my inability to write like I would have liked and my inability to do anything about my weight, and I blamed my husband for his contributions to all of that too. You know what that did for me? It kept me stuck and kept me from taking responsibility for my life. Yes, when you have children in the house, there is more mess, but there are ways to get what you crave. Currently, my friend Shalagh Hogan from Shalavee.com is conducting a 30 day creativity challenge while raising an 11 and 3 year old. I’m not sure I could have managed that when any of mine were three, but it has become a priority for her, and she’s doing it. Because of people like this and someone long ago who issued a challenge to stop complaining for 30 days straight, I learned to begin to take responsibility for my own life and choose to live differently. It’s a very different vibe when you choose to do laundry, clean and cook than when you do it filled with martyrdom. It gets done faster and more efficiently, almost as if by magic.

Speaking of magic, here’s something else. I have loved being creative my entire life, and it was about ten years ago when I began to see creativity in places I never had before. I remember being at a Halloween party for one of my kids and during the craft one of the moms remarked that she didn’t have a creative bone in her body. I laughed because I knew this woman was an accountant, and I asked her if I brought my taxes to her if she could find ways for me to save money and get more back from the government in my refund. Of course she said yes, and I told her I thought that was wildly creative because I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to do that. The one thing I couldn’t reconcile in my own life though was how selfish I felt being creative instead of being employed. I felt like I should be contributing financially to our home, especially when money was tight, and I’m sure my husband would have been happy to have more money coming into the house, but he also gave me the freedom to be exactly who I needed to be. What that meant was that he was happy for me to use my creativity to learn to keep a house the way that worked for me rather than how everyone else did it. It allowed me to make healthy meals on a budget, and it allowed me to be creative with our finances. When I finally let go of the struggle of that, everything improved. I was finally able to get our house and our finances in order and even find time to write. That’s a big part of the message in Big Magic, giving yourself permission to live a creative life. For a while I got caught up in what I should be writing about and being careful not to offend people, and I truly never intend to offend anyone, but authenticity sometimes means you offend people because your truth may not be the same as theirs. It sucks when it happens, but it does happen, and even an apology doesn’t fix it sometimes.

So the question becomes. Do you live your life in full on creative mode or do you censor yourself? While I would love to write things that soothe everyone’s soul, I know that being authentic is my first order of business, and I find I like me much better when I live that way. The days seems to flow better, even the challenging ones, because I have the grace to give myself and others space to be who they need to be. I am much more loving and giving and productive on every level. I feel like I am truly living and truly happy and who doesn’t want to feel that? So, this month I’ve challenged everyone to choose their life rather than let themselves be bullied and pushed by life. We can’t control everything. Some days it feels as if we control nothing, but we can learn to control how we choose to respond and today, that makes me feel incredibly happy. I hope you’ll join in The September Choosing Challenge and find your own happiness revolution. If not, I hope you find authenticity whatever your path may be, and as always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

The September Choosing Challenge

1 Sep

Some days I know exactly what I want to write about. Some days I struggle a bit. Today I seem to have bits of several posts knocking around my head and on days like that I sit down at the keyboard and let the muse take me wherever it chooses. This week, we are starting with a meeting I attended on using a Pinterest account in connection with a blog. I have been blogging for several years without monetizing my blog, and I’ve wondered if I should take that step to “up my game”. Because I want to write for a living, it seems to make sense. Because I am more focused on the journey and knowledge than the income, I hesitate hugely.

Recently, I began reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is kicking my butt and making me laugh out loud. One of the big subjects lately in nearly every creative community I’m part of is fear and doubt, and everyone experiences it. Creatives wonder if anything we create is worthy, and we can become addicted to likes and shares and sales to validate our existence, but when we do, we lose the essence of what we create and sometimes shut down our creativity entirely. I’ve been praised for how I write and the fact that I’ve published two books, and I’ve been insulted and ridiculed for those same things. As a human being, the praise feels really good and the ridicule has been painful, but both have taught me a great life lesson; neither the praise nor the ridicule have anything to do with me. It is merely the result of how someone experiences my creation, and sometimes, it doesn’t even feel like my creation.

Have you ever experienced being “in the zone” or that an idea comes through you rather than from you? That’s what the creative process is like for me. Some idea pops into my brain, and I know I’m supposed to make it come to life with my particular set of talents and gifts. Sometimes I go back and read things I’ve written and thought, “Wow! That’s really good. I wish I’d thought of that.” Some people think I did, but I know that I was just the messenger, and I was blessed with the ability to put those thoughts into words. It can be quite the spiritual experience because sometimes I don’t want to write what I feel I am inspired to write. I don’t want to reveal things about myself that sound weird and strange, but I do want to better the craft, so I write most of it anyway. I feel like I am failing to explain it adequately because there are times I know exactly where the inspiration for a piece comes from, often it’s a current event in my life or the world, but sometimes, it just shows up and it feels like I can’t type fast enough to get the words on the page and I’m as much of an observer as a participant. Maybe it’s like when an actor gets so involved in a character or scene that they forget the camera crew is there. Maybe it’s like when someone is working on a hobby and they are so entranced by what they’re doing that they don’t even hear someone walk into the room. Maybe it’s like driving along in your car and your favorite song comes on and you’re singing your heart out only to look out your window and see the driver in the next car staring at you in a most amused way. *cough, cough* *dozens of times* It is empowering and makes you incredibly vulnerable at the same time, and it takes courage to do it.

One of the things that I’ve been told by mentors and read in articles is that networking will boost every aspect of your writing career. As someone who has been out of the workforce for over two decades, that is some scary stuff, but I decided to bite the bullet and do it anyway. While I’ve maintained my safe and grounded connection to my online creativity salon, I also joined a writer’s accountability group. I’ve attended Meetups for bloggers in my area. I am volunteering with our local Wordcamp. I’m meeting so many new people and learning so many things, and at first it was intimidating and overwhelming because these people seem to know so much, but I am slowly learning that I do too. One of the most important things I know is what feels right and what feels contrived for me. I am learning that I would rather write with integrity than act without it. I learn something helpful from nearly every meeting about how I want to proceed and how I don’t. I have so many ideas for collaborations with people and ways to help one another be successful, and I can hardly wait to get moving on them, but first, I have a book to finish, and as much as it scares me, I’ve committed to having the manuscript finished by next week, and I’m spending time each day making progress and doing my best to have fun with it, because here’s the best thing I’ve learned or better said, remembered on this third trip to publishing; having fun matters.

When I stress over deadlines or what to write, I don’t write. I will find anything else to do to distract me from the task at hand. When I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and having fun, magic happens and things begin to line up and come together in ways I can hardly believe, so I’ve begun making that part of the focus of my day. Here is one of those places I hesitate to share because I know how people feel about affirmations and those who use them, but I’ve been asked how I stay so positive, and affirmations are truly one of the ways I do that. I have three that I’m using right now and I write them down every day. Here they are:
We have great fun living our very best lives and get better at it every day.
Our kind, loving and fun filled family supports everyone, especially each other, in positive, uplifting and empowering ways.
We recognize and rejoice in our constant miracles and blessings and eagerly welcome more.
Yep, I write and read those every morning before I dive into my day. Are they corny? Perhaps they are. Do they help? Yes, they do because they give me a direction and focus for my day. Am I feeling uncomfortable with sharing this very personal part of my life? Yes, I am, so why am I sharing it? I am sharing because this is one of the most powerful things I learned about changing my life. Words matter, especially the ones we repeatedly say to ourselves and say out loud. Changing your words will change your life. Recently, someone posted about getting the words “should”, “need”, “have to” and a few others out of their vocabulary and replacing them with the word “choose”. I was so excited for her because I have done that exercise in my own life, and it will change everything if you do it, so I am challenging you to do just that. Remove those words as well as “ought to” from your vocabulary and replace them with “choose” and if you really want to up the ante, add the word happily or joyfully in front of choose and you’ll really begin to look at your life differently.
Just thought I would share, that with that last paragraph, I finally understand what I am supposed to be writing about today. It’s a thrill and makes me laugh because writing so often takes me places I never imagined going, but this month I’ll join you and make sure that I’m choosing my best possible life every day. I hope you’ll join in and let me know how it goes. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Fun is Not Frivolous

21 Jul

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for?” Well, I have and a while back I asked the Universe which direction I should go next in my life. By next, I mean as my children are growing and I am needed less and less on a daily basis. I don’t want to be that person who sits around waiting for life to happen. I want to be living my best possible life and making a positive difference in this world, but for someone like me, it has to be fun too. I’ve had the most fun job I could ever imagine for the past 22+ years. On my worst days, I thought about changing places with my friends with paying jobs. I thought about my husband getting to leave and not think about things, but in reality, I knew I would never be happier than I was at home raising my kids. My husband has always said that his worst day of golf was better than his best day at the office. I feel that way about the job I’ve had for the past two decades, but that job is coming to an end, and I am feeling pulled to contribute to the world differently, so I’ve been stepping out, and it has been eye opening.

There is so much to learn, and as I learn, I realize how much more there is to learn, and there are moments of overwhelm when I wonder if it would be easier to retreat to what I know. On the other hand, there are the people I’ve met. They are such a diverse group, and I’m thrilled by what I’m learning from and about them, and I hope they’re learning a thing or two from me as well. We’re meeting over lunch to talk about writing. We’re meeting at Rec Centers to talk social media. We’re meeting at businesses to talk about blogs and how to use WordPress in ways I didn’t even know existed. See what I mean? It just keeps growing, but the thing I love is that every meeting and get together seems to lead to something new. I’ve found that people are so willing to help others and share avenues to success. This isn’t the business world I left in the early 1990’s, and I love it.

This weekend, I’m off on a new adventure. I’m meeting two members of an online creativity salon I’m part of at a writer’s conference. One is a poet who was recently published in the book Love is Love, an Anthology of Poetry for the Orlando shooting victims. The other is a writer who inspires me and others in our salon with her wit and authenticity. At one point, I thought about not going because I felt like an ant among giants, but I’ve stepped out like this before and the results are always beyond my expectations. I also remember so many saying that people coming to the end of their lives regret the things they didn’t do more than those they did, and I don’t want to be one of those people. I may not travel around the world, although I might. I may never write a best-selling novel, although I might. I may not make enough money to support myself with my blog, my books, my speaking, although I might. This weekend, though, I can drive a few hours to meet some kindred spirits so we can get to know one another in person and encourage each other to keep going. That sounds like a fun way to spend a couple of days. I know it might be a different experience for them, but for me, that sounds heavenly.

So who knows what you might see in this blog over the next few months. I’m moving forward on the Happiest Holidays book and have a Facebook page if you would like to follow the countdown to publication. We’re at 75 days from today, and I’m shooting video footage for future YouTube videos while I test recipes. I’m looking for recipes that make the journey simple and more fun and that nearly anyone can master. I’m learning more and more about the business or writing and blogging, and I’m having so much fun in the process. Fun helps me progress. Fun helps me learn, and for me, that fun is the best part of this journey right now. I hope you’re having fun in your life, and if not, I challenge you to find some because on your very worst days, a bit of fun can be the difference between living well and feeling like you’re not living at all. I could go on and on, but for some reason, this feels like the place to stop today. I wish you a great day, a better weekend and as much fun as you can incorporate into your life. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

May I Have This Dance?

2 Jul

Recently, I attended the wedding of my best friend’s son. I’m not sure where else this might happen, but in our part of the country, there is a moment in most receptions that the DJ or singer for the band asks for all married couples to come to the dance floor for a dance. During the dance, the couples are asked to leave the floor depending upon how long they’ve been married. Of course, the newlyweds are the first to vacate the floor, and then the rest of the couples are called out at various intervals. At this particular wedding, the dance floor was filled with married couples. A few couples left at 5, 10, 15 and 20 years, but when my husband and I left the dance floor when they called for everyone under 25 years to leave, over half of the couples were still left. Several left after 30, 35, 40 and 45 years were called, but there were still four couples left after 50 years. The final couple, who also happened to be the grandparents of the groom, has been married 58 years.

I couldn’t help but think what great role models for marriage this young couple has. Then I thought about all the people in this world who don’t have role models like this. I happen to be one of them. My parents said they loved each other, but they didn’t get along. I was born 10 months after my parents married, and I never remember feeling like they were a happy couple. Yes, they had their happy moments, but I never felt like theirs was a marriage that I wanted to emulate. Unfortunately, I did. My first marriage was very much like my parents’ marriage. We could never quite sync up. I felt abused and like I could never be good enough. It wasn’t until I was told I was no longer attractive at 5 ft. 7 in. and 140 pounds that I realized my marriage was in trouble. A week later, after I had lost seven pounds, my then husband commented how good a friend of mine looked because she looked like she had lost weight. I was devastated. I had done the very thing he’d asked me to do, and he didn’t even notice. That was when I knew my marriage was over, and although it might sound like a small thing, it was the culmination of too many small things over several years, and it was time for me to move on. I knew I would never be good enough no matter what I did. It took some weeks of counseling to work up the courage to leave, but I did it. I tell this story because I married again, and it has been wonderful for 23 years. I know what it is to be in the wrong marriage, and I fault no one for walking away from an unhealthy relationship, but to be at a wedding with that many people still married after all that time seemed extraordinary to me. I don’t know all of their stories, but I do know the stories of the grandparents who were the last ones dancing. I know they are older than they look, which is amazing to me because I know they were children in Eastern Europe during World War II. I know their stories, and although they are not mine to tell, I will share that no child should have to live through what either of them did. The most incredible fact, though, is that they have lived a beautiful life since. They raised three boys. They have traveled, and they still volunteer. They are such an inspiration to me, and I find it difficult to complain about my own life whenever I think of them as children.

In some way, they are the reason I am sitting at the keyboard today because this could be a week of self-pity. This week we found out our son needs surgery. For most it would be no big deal, but this is a person for whom a broken bone or needing stitches or even getting the flu can be life threatening. It adds stress, but life is always filled with choices. I could sit on the couch eating chips and/or ice cream while I think about how unfair life is, or I could do something productive that will help me feel better at the end of the day. I chose the latter. I started with calling in an accident claim because someone hit my son’s car this weekend. The good news is that no one was in the car when it was hit and the person who hit him came to the door to tell me. It is inconvenient, but it will be fairly simple to fix and then we can move on with minimal inconvenience. There is so much I could be doing, like every other person I know. I could work in the yard. I could clean the house. I could do laundry, but instead I am sitting at the keyboard because it helps me think and helps me clear my head.

Lately, I have been facing some of the emotional demons that come with setting new goals. I know some people don’t set them because they don’t want to be disappointed. I know some people find it difficult to get started; some find it difficult to follow through, and some get so scared of both failing and succeeding that they shut down from the overwhelm. I’ve experienced every single one of these, but I’ve learned with each goal, that the journey is always worth it. It can be harrowing some days and blissful on others. I’ve found that when we align with our highest purpose, life seems to open up in ways we never expected. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have challenges, but the challenges don’t derail you as much. You realize that no one became successful without some challenges. Nearly everyone knows about someone who overcame great obstacles to be successful. The list is endless; Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Jim Carrey, Steve Jobs and the list goes on. Now, I don’t aspire to have the kind of fame any of those people have, but I do want to make a significant impact with my life. Parenting is one of the ways I’ve made a contribution, and I truly want to help others make that same type of contribution as well. I also want to keep writing books and teaching courses, so I have to keep growing and writing and learning so that I can help others. It’s scary to keep stepping out of my comfort zone, and some days it’s downright frustrating, but those steps out of the comfort zone are helping me to become the person I aspire to be, although I mess it up frequently.

Yes, I mess up. I let days go by without writing or working on any of the other creative endeavors I’ve started. I get frustrated with myself or my family members, and sometimes I react badly rather than respond like the calm, cool and collected person I aspire to be. Some days the undone housework calls louder than the creativity, and sometimes the events of life do the same. This weekend, though, I realized that I have 100 days until my next book launch. It is a schedule that can change a bit, but there is so much to do between now and then. I’m working with a team of amazing people, but most of the work has to come from me. I recently joined a writer’s accountability group, and I’m excited to learn from them. I belong to a private creativity salon, and I am delighted and inspired by them daily. I have goals and dreams beyond anything I could have dreamed when I was younger, but I also have moments that stop me in my tracks, and I am reminded that this journey we call life is rarely a straight line. It is filled with hills and valleys and twists and turns and just when we think we’ve got it figured out, it feels like someone changes the rules. So what’s a girl to do? Well, today I’m putting one foot in front of the other and choosing to do what will make me feel better at the end of the day. I’m choosing to work my way through a to-do list that will make life better. I also put the kettle on and had a lovely cup of tea. It didn’t fix everything, but some days you just do the best you can. Right now doing my best means taking extra care to eat healthier, walk daily and get adequate sleep so that I can write most days and still keep up with the rest of my life. Our tentative date to launch a book about having an easier holiday season is October 4th. I’ll be starting a Facebook group for that soon with a working title of Happiest Holidays with a countdown and lots of extras along the way. Next Thursday, I’m due to debut my online course called Mom Mastery. It’s a four week course designed to help moms create a more peaceful and stress free life, so there’s much to do, and I’m loving life as much as possible while I am helping others to do the same. It’s a life I love and one I wouldn’t trade for anything. I hope you’ll come along and join in the fun wherever it suits you, and if none of it does, I hope you’ll continue to hang out with me here. If you know my life, you know it’s rarely boring, and my motto is almost always, the more the merrier. For those in the US, have a spectacular holiday weekend. For those in other parts of the world, I still wish you a wonderful weekend. It just won’t be quite as long as ours. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Thanking Mothers and Others

14 Apr

Love Letters to Mom Day (1)Some days the words flow out of me and I am in awe of how the Divine works. Other days, I completely understand Ernest Hemingway when he said that writing was nothing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Although we’re on keyboards and screens these days, the idea is the same. Some days the words fly, and some days you wrestle them to the ground. Today I felt like I was on the losing end of that wrestling match. Maybe it’s because I have a task associated with my writing, which is rarely the case. On Thursday May 5th I’ll be launching a book titled, Everyday Heroes of Motherhood, Love Letters to Extraordinary Moms. The book is a celebration of motherhood in its many forms, traditional and nontraditional. On that same day, I am calling on everyone to participate in Love Letters to Mom Day, a day that will celebrate great mothering moments whether it came from the woman who gave you birth, direction, belief or love. The roles of mothers are more diverse now than ever. Some women work full time. Some work part time. Women raise children alone by choice and by chance and some raise children they didn’t give birth to . Some mother in traditional ways and some use a screen, and so many have been mothered beautifully by those who would never even call themselves a mother at all.

I’ve been working with a coach and a team to help me bring this book to market. If you ever want to write and self-publish a book, I highly recommend Bestseller in a Weekend and the Publish to Profit follow up program. I love the energy of the writing and the coaching group. I love the idea of Love Letters to Mom Day. I love the sometimes hilariously crazy ideas they have given me for all of the other marketing, but when I sat down at the keyboard to bring it to all of you, it came out stilted and stupid. It sounded like a bad infomercial. Crap! Then I realized I was trying to sell the idea of the day and the book, and that isn’t what it’s about at all. I’ve been a letter writer all my life. I send letters to encourage, to comfort and to let people know what they mean to me. I especially love sending them when they aren’t expected, and I used to wonder whether they meant anything to the recipient until one day, a former coach of one of my children showed me a tattered envelope in the back of his planner with a letter I had written several years before to thank him for being a great coach and a great role model. He told me that he looked at that letter whenever he needed encouragement and to remember that some parents did appreciate what he did as a coach and as a role model to his athletes. I understood at that moment that those words mattered; not the words themselves, but the meaning behind them. It wasn’t about being eloquent. It was about speaking from the heart, and that’s what I want Love Letters Day to be. I want those who need it and those who deserve it to get some recognition. I want people to write to that teacher, that friend, that family member who did something that changed you for the better to know how much it meant to you, especially if you never told them. Don’t know where to send them? We are hoping to work with local and national media to share this idea, so maybe your letter will reach the recipient that way. Maybe we’ll launch another book with those letters in them. I have no idea where this idea is going to take me, but I am excited to share the letters I’ve written to some amazing moms and even more excited to send my letter to a woman who helped make this day possible. I only wish I could be there when she reads it, so join me friends, and I’ll let you know what other shenanigans we’ll be getting up to on May 5th and the days leading up to it. I’m getting out of my comfort zone in a way I never have before to make this all happen, including creating the artwork for this blog post, so who knows what could happen? I certainly don’t, but I can hardly wait to find out. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day!

When Life Calls

7 Apr

follow_your_dreamsSome years just seem to float by. You’re in what I call cruising mode. Life is pretty routine and that can be a great thing. I had those years when my boys were younger. We were doing the sports thing and the music thing and having a wonderful time being a family. Since 2012, life has been different. Life has involved lots of change and that can be a pretty great thing too. In 2012, my oldest son graduated from high school and began his college journey. Because he attends The Ohio State University, we have been treated to watching a Big Ten conference championship live in Indianapolis. We have spent New Year’s in New Orleans to watch the first playoff game in NCAA college football history live. My middle son graduated high school and began his college career, and my youngest son has started high school, gotten his first job and will be driving soon. My husband has traveled for business all over the country, including a six month stint in Dallas when he could only come home for two days every other week; nothing like a military wife but difficult nonetheless. I’ve spent most of that time keeping everything running smoothly at home, and I’ve loved most of it. No job was ever as fulfilling for me as being a wife and mom. I know that isn’t the case for everyone, but it has been for me. Even the thought of having a job was stressful, until recently.

As my youngest son began high school, I had more time on my hands. I thought I might be ready to do what so many of the women I knew had done and get a job to help with college costs, but nothing sparked my interest. Some people might say, just pick something, but at my age, I know myself well. I get bored easily with jobs that don’t interest me. I’ve taken jobs hoping I could work my way into other positions, and it never ended well. After learning about my son’s ADHD, I understand why things happened the way they did, but I didn’t want to get a job only to change jobs every two to three years for the rest of my life. I knew with the empty nest coming soon, I wanted to do something, but I was struggling with which way to go. I always admired women who could apply for a job as an administrative assistant, teacher’s aide, food service worker or retail worker and be happy doing that for years and years. I’ve done most of those jobs, and after a year or two, I wanted to tear my hair out. The routine of it was maddening. I wanted variety, and those jobs, although every day was different, didn’t do it for me. For a long time I thought something was truly wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just be like everyone else? That thought makes me chuckle now because raising my children has taught me something very meaningful about people. Everyone has different needs, and those needs are neither good nor bad, they just are. Some people thrive with constant routine. It gives them a sense of power and purpose to be able to count on their days being basically the same. Other people need variety and differing levels of excitement, and we need all of those people in this world.

The people who thrive on routine keep the world in order. The people who thrive on variety keep the world growing and changing. Both are necessary for our survival. The routine people keep the variety people grounded, and the variety people inspire the routine lovers to grow. I admire the routine people and have even adopted a few routines of my own, but at heart, I’m in the variety camp. If I could pay someone to do the routine things for me, I would. I have a friend who is incredibly wealthy and the only thing of hers I have ever coveted is the woman she pays to come to her home every day and keep it in order. Someday, I plan to pay someone to do that for me, although, having to create routines of my own has been a great learning experience. For me, the idea of a routine used to bring out the rebel in me. I didn’t want to do the boring cleaning, laundry and dishes. I didn’t see the point until I visited a few houses where those things didn’t get done and I realized I did not want to live that way either. Some people watch an episode of Hoarders and think their house looks ok. I watch an episode of Hoarders and want to get rid of everything. The key is balance, and I’ve found a way to do that. I spend a minimum of 15 minutes each day on house upkeep and more time when I have it to keep our home in order so I can move on to other, more fun things for me to do. Errands are not a problem for me. They get me out among people and that always makes me happy, but routines come first or they won’t get done. If I have to be out early, that isn’t a problem anymore because I can miss a day or two without anyone noticing, but daily attention is a beautiful thing because it frees me to have a life. It may not work for everyone, but it certainly works for me. It means no marathon cleaning days on Saturday or Sunday. It means I can have family time without guilt about all the things I “should” be doing. It took a while to get here, but here is a great place, and it set me up to answer the Divine calling I believe is the direction I’m headed next.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I write every day. I have published one book. I blog. I journal, and recently, I have written another manuscript that I will be sending to my business coach later today. I hesitated to write that I had a coach helping me because it sounded pretentious at first, but here’s what I’ve learned about experts and coaches. I self-published my first book. I took a course that helped me with the writing and organization of the book and it was fantastic. I could have invested more money in the process and paid professionals to edit my manuscript, create my book cover and help me market the end product. I chose to do it myself which took much longer because I didn’t have most of the skill sets needed to do it quickly. I made less money and less of an impact because I didn’t understand current marketing and how to bring a book to market successfully. I’m still proud of what I accomplished and still love that first book, but this time I’m paying the professionals to do the things they do well. I feel like part of a team, and I feel like the team is invested in my success. For a writer, that is new and often unusual. We are used to doing things on our own, sometimes feeling adrift from humanity. It’s a life some embrace but not me. I like this team effort, and I’m excited to see this book come to life. The tentative launch date is May 5th, just in time for Mother’s Day and since this book is a love letter to many of the mothers I’ve known, that suits me just fine.

I’ve also answered another Divine call on my life, and that one is proving to be more challenging. I have wanted to be a speaker for a long time. I know, most people are terrified of speaking in front of people. I find it energizing. I want to encourage women, particularly stressed and overwhelmed moms and help them live the life of their dreams. I’ve been doing that for many years, and it is the best way to live. Recently, I was given the opportunity to participate in a course that will help me design a system to help those moms. The course will help me put the knowledge I have in a cohesive format that can help others. What could be better than that, right? Well, here’s what I know about trying new things. It can be scary, and I admit that working with yet another coach and creating this system is stretching me in ways I hadn’t imagined. I am having to dig deep, but I’m also learning that so many of the people in the course have the same fears and resistance I do. So many of us grew up being told what we couldn’t do rather than being encouraged to see what we could. Now, in our 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond, we are breaking out of old patterns to follow our dreams. The support is incredible and the attendees are helpful and amazing, but I was still feeling afraid to charge for what I had been giving away for free for so long. I was wondering why anyone would pay for me to teach them this until one woman asked a beautiful question. She asked if I believed in my content, and I do. Everything I talk about has changed my life for the better, and she suggested that I let my faith in the content be my guide and merely allow myself to be the delivery system. Have you ever had a moment when everything becomes radically clear and it feels like the Universe is speaking directly to you? I had that moment, and every time I feel like I’m headed back to that place of fear and resistance, I remember that revelation and I hang onto it as tightly as I can. I’m behind on the course, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not as seasoned as some of the other participants, but that means nothing. I’m relatively unknown, but who cares? I believe in the content because I know how powerful it can be, and I am also beginning to embrace the idea that the Divine doesn’t call the qualified. The Divine qualifies the called.

I am being called, and it is a huge adventure, but it is also a call to walk my talk. I’m using my time better. I’m making every day count. I wake up each day ready for the new and exciting things I’m going to learn. I’m living every day fully, and I am falling into bed delightfully exhausted every night. It gets scary now and then, but there’s a team to help me out when I don’t know how to proceed with the book or the course. There’s a tribe or two online that will help me out when my confidence is low, and there is a family inside my four walls when I need some extra love. Finally, there is the Divine team that fuels all of them and me, and I am most grateful for that Divine call, guidance and love. Being a wife and mother has been the most amazingly beautiful journey I could have asked for, and now I’m being called to help others have the same experience. It feels huge some days, and I’m not sure I’m up to it, but I keep moving forward. I keep answering the call, and occasionally, I call back and ask for help, sometimes really big help, and it always comes because that’s the other thing I figured out. Not only does life call on you to step it up, but that conversation is not one sided. Call back and ask for the help. Ask for what you need. Believe the Divine can and will give it to you and then be willing to receive. Change your mind and change your life. What an amazing idea, and it works! I hope you’ll try it. I hope you get everything you desire, and I hope you make the world a better place because of it. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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