Tag Archives: courage

Optimism is True Moral Courage

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Optimism is true moral courage.
-Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE FRGS (/ˈʃækəltən/; 15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922) was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration…Upon his death, he was lauded in the press, but was thereafter largely forgotten, while the heroic reputation of his rival Scott was sustained for many decades. Later in the 20th century, Shackleton was “rediscovered”, and rapidly became a cult figure, a role model for leadership as one who, in extreme circumstances, kept his team together in a survival story described by polar historian Stephanie Barczewski as “incredible” (Wikipedia 2/23/14).

“…Leadership as one who, in extreme circumstances, kept his team together in a survival story described… as incredible.”

There you have it. A gold star for you for getting out of bed each morning believing that this day you can do it, again, yet, more. You are leading and keeping your team together. Today you will keep on doing it, making your and your children’s lives better than before. And, you will do it with optimism.

Sir Ernest is correct. Sometimes it is tough to be optimistic. But we do it anyway.

PS- Alanon has a slogan “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

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Single Parents And Dating

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dating priority

Yep, a rough one! But I am here to tell you that it is so worth it!!!

I have had and lost more relationships than I want to count. But when I finally decided to put on my big girl pants and state that my children are my priority up front, early on, the man responded with “Of course, I respect you for that”. What a relief, I had a huge boulder lifted from my shoulders, because I knew I could follow my priorities rather than his. In previous relationships, I really had thought that I needed to focus on pleasing the man, on being who he wanted me to be, rather than who I wanted to be… Hmmm, pretty messed up, huh?

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Choices, Ripples, Grace, Joy

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“Each choice we make causes a ripple effect in our lives. When things happen to us, it is the reaction we choose that can create the difference between the sorrows of our past and the joy in our future.”
– Chelle Thompson, Editor of Inspiration Line.

This is my quote for the day/week/millennium.

We can make choices to blame ourselves when our kids run away, and fall into self-blame about choices we made 2 weeks or 2 years or 10 years ago. Or we can do our best to love our child and ourselves through the turmoil so that we are open to new ideas, new approaches. My friend Susan is working through her daughter running away this morning; obviously our hearts go out to her and her whole family. I haven’t experienced a run-away, but I just hope she is able to love herself enough to let the grace happen on the other side, whether that other side of the horror is today, next week, or in 10 years.

We can choose to blame ourselves when our home is robbed- “Why didn’t I double check the doors and windows?! I am such a knucklehead! Why do I sleep at night?!”. Or, we can model to our family what it is like to be calm in the face of invasion. My friend Mark lived through this last week- at 2 am scary-looking losers entered his home while everyone was asleep. No one was hurt (or even knew about it until they went to look for their wallets and phones). His reaction not to blame himself for being a “Bad Protector” helped his family minimize the trauma. We don’t know what grace waits for them on the other side.

This is not on the level of runaways or home robbery, but I happen to be one to spend money when I am feeling low self-esteem. I inflict my own trauma. Towels helped me through infertility issues. I had lots and lots of plush colorful towels by the time I got pregnant. Cars helped me separate from my parents’ manipulations. And now it is fall, and I obsess about boots making me feel worthwhile in my office (the black Liz Claiborne suede zip-ups would help me have more clients, right?). I need to stop and love myself enough to let the grace in rather than spend the money that is already ear-marked for the mortgage.

You know the grace on the other side, they are creative miracles just in time: unexpected closeness in a relationship, tangible connection with our higher power, material blessings for someone truly in need, kindness from a stranger, reprieve granted on a stressor, the phone call we didn’t know we were waiting for…

Don’t be a victim, don’t let your past experiences be your bitch and make you make a mess of something that God intends for grace and mercy.

What will our ripple(s) be today? Will we role model calm to our kids when it hits the fan? Decorate our house with the Halloween goodies wehave rather than buy more? Make banana bread rather than feel grumpy and tired about the weather? Workout? Go to a yoga class? Congratulate someone on a job well done rather than point out the miss-steps? Decide to balance our checkbook rather than live in mystery?

Each and every choice has a ripple effect. Be courageous. Make some ripples today.

Welcome to the Dark Side: Stingers, Snarls and Bikes for a Single Mom of Teens

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Welcome to the Dark Side          

I think that a “Welcome to the dark side” kitchen banner should accompany a coupon for 2 year’s worth of massages and alcohol for all mothers on their daughter’s 14th birthday.  My golden-hearted sweet child of heart, love, prayers, consideration for others, and all-around awesome Christian pre-teen has turned into a blood-thirsty wasp.Image

Yes, I said that.  I don’t include pictures of her here, because she is beautiful and I am super-protective of her online.  However, there have been moments when I wondered if I would be the one to take her out before her 16th birthday.   She will be 15 in December, and I know it will get worse before it gets better…

She can sting me with the sharpest barbs…  Saturday, I asked her if she wanted help putting her Homecoming dress on, and she said “No, that is the last thing I would want or need right now”.  Ouch.  I asked if she slept well the other morning.  Her reply was “Yes, no thanks to you. You left my door open in the middle of the night”.  I didn’t touch her door and it was all I could do not to get in an argument that would have looked like a 4th grade spitathon. 

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It is taking all of my patience, prayers, and walking out of the room when she blows up at me to survive 14.5 years of age.  “This too shall pass”, “It will get better”, “She is in a tough transition”, “High school is hard”, and finally “Was I this much of a bitch to my mom?!?!” all scamper through my muddled mind like a squirrel on crack when she pops me with one.  I need to adjust to this rolling roller coaster so dang quickly!  I am told to be a pillar of comfort, hold steadfast boundaries, and be the safe secure haven my teenagers can count on.  That is hard to do when you are hyperventilating from a swarm of bees that you thought were little cupid angels until just a few months ago!

Her brother is 16.25 years old and has made great strides in maturity, accepting responsibility, having a little etiquette, a sense of vulnerability (however, he still thinks he can eat a meatball sub sandwich with his hands, while riding a bike across town), and the ability to comfort someone when they are upset.  He is surprising me… “Mom, how was your day?” actually leaves his mouth several times a week!

I do not arrange my life around my kids and their needs any more.  They do need to budget their spending money and keep track of their shoes, homework, and phones.  But lately I have started talking to each kid alone, before my bedtime (which is earlier than theirs).  I channel that sweet mom who had 4 and 5 year olds and listened to them, no matter what they were saying, without giving them direction or judgment on their lopsided opinions of the world.  That was fantastic advice from a mom of 20-somethings who are not in prison, graduated from college, and have jobs.  She seems pretty sane too, for a stressed out working mother…

I thought that when kids got bigger and able to tie their shoes, get dressed, go on dates, and get across town on their bikes to a job that they didn’t need some quiet alone time with me anymore.  It turns out that they like it quite a bit, and so do I!  I am trying to remember that she is quote possibly digressing in the most painful ways into herself and this phase is actually more painful for her than me…Image

There is hope; we will prevail in love.  And we won’t give up on them.Image

The Hardest Years

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I have been saying this mantra over and over, every time my teenage boy/man exasperates me:

“These are the most difficult years of his life”. He is 15.75 years old, and it is the most selfish, most exasperating frustrating years. He is a freshman in high school, the bottom of the totem pole, the pimples are too many, the girls are too few, AND the teachers are “mean”.

“These are the most difficult years of his life”. Finally today, my friend Julie came up with the most awesome response to that: “Yeah, and they will make sure to make them the most difficult years of your life too!” Hahahahahahahaha. I fell out of my chair laughing. It is so true! I got sore nipples breastfeeding, it hurt sooo much. And potty training was the shits (pun intended)- I got so sick of cleaning up accidents, getting poop under my fingernails, and finding pee-smelly clothes hidden in clean clothes. Starting kindergarten, and well, every first day of school I cry and cry (still) over my babies growing up and my need to let them go. But this stage, this sarcastic, I-hate-you-and-you-never-do-anything-for-me-ever-can-I-have-some-money-I-love-you” stage is the most difficult so far. And I have awesome kids!!!

You might think I am complaining about my kids, I am actually complaining about me. This is a difficult stage, and these are hard years. I need a walrus coat, and courage and strength and fearlessness. I ask for it every morning, and usually it shows up.

My friend Liz suggests we shut the door to their rooms if they are too messy, because “that is not the hill we are going to die on”. That off-the-cuff remark is still re-playing, helping me to choose just which hill would I die on? Leaving dirty dishes on the living room floor? C’s in math and english? Eye rolling? Muttering as he walks away? Sneaking beers? Smoking pot? Sexting? Everyone chooses. Everyone chooses their own boundaries with teens, and sometimes the eye rolling is just as bad to me as sexting would be.

The point of this post is to let you know that you aren’t alone on this rollercoaster of raising teenagers as a single parent. It feels like a FunHouse, but it ain’t fun!! There will be hard days, and there may not be many easy days between them. Luckily there are endearing moments, such as when my son says “I love you Mom” before he walks out the door to ride his bike to school, and when she gives me a sweet smile and tilts her head sideways from across the track field (when she sees I brought food, water and her favorite warm sweatpants to the track meet). So I won’t strangle them tonight after all.

Love – The Terror of It

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“True Love is one of the rarest jewels of life, treasure it with all your heart. When you find someone who loves you just as you are, is steadfast during moments of stress, willing to grow with you and allows you to feel however you choose to feel in any moment – there is nothing more you will ever find in a person. You’ve found True Love when you feel fear; fear of vulnerability, fear of abandonment and fear of letting go of your own stubborn egoic patterns that keep the real you separate and safe from the other. Trust in love and go towards your fear, taking this leap of faith in every moment is the journey Love requires for its sweet reward.”

– Jackson Kiddard, author & polymath.

pol·y·math   [pol-ee-math]
noun
a person of great learning in several fields of study; polyhistor.

Ok, so the quote above was written by a man of great learning in several fields of study- a very smart cookie. I love this quote! Love is terrifying! So I would add that it requires courage added upon our relationships on a daily basis.

Truly loving ourselves requires courage to stand up for the person and her ideals, even when we really aren’t so sure about how she will be received by the world.

Loving our teenagers means we have to step up to the plate and stand up for what we believe in (our rules, our boundaries, our behavioral expectations), and who we believe in (the cute pimply kid in front of me who just got busted for breaking the rules, again). It takes guts to show up every day as a single parent, ready to step in when needed, to discern when we can butt out, and to have faith that we are enough and what we have done is enough. With no back-up, no cheering section, and no partner.

For me, loving my lover means I need to show up, let my ego take a break, and throw that oh-so-ugly-fear of abandonment out the window.

Some days, the courage needed to truly love me, my teens, and my lover is elusive, I really want to back down, accept, and burrow in to the fear, let it take me over. I think that I am not worthy, that I just can’t do it…I don’t have the energy needed. Ha!

Guess what? I can do it! And you can too. So keep on stepping up to the plate, keep showing up, keep on setting aside your fears, and give the ego a shove-off. You are vulnerable, you may be abandoned, and the real you might not be compatible with your lover after all. But today, in this moment, you know what you know. So do this one step you know right now. Be present. Be vulnerable. Be Truthful. God and the Universe are on your side. Ask for their help!

What would it be like to live this day believing that we are truly blessed, protected, and guided? I have that written on my mirror with stars and underlines, because I tend to forget that, even though it really is kinda important…

Let’s get out there and love, truly love, you, your children, your lover, and your life. You are truly blessed, protected, and guided.

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Daily Bread

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God gives us our Daily Bread. I was bummed yesterday and pulled out all the stops, cried, wailed, journaled, blogged, all that. And now, that river has passed and I am counting all the ways that God has given me my Daily Bread, and has had my back. Yes, I know… you were right after all. Go ahead and gloat.

Life is full of sadness and disappointments. Nobody ever said life would be easy, if you are a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or an atheist, or whatever, life will hit us all (really really hard) every now and then. It is not for the faint of heart. So we get hit, we feel it, we talk about it, we learn the lesson, and we get back up.

I am celebrating all the love in the world today that is available when we look for it:

-I got to hold a 2-month old little baby named Annie today.
-My daughter put a bouquet of flowers and a note on the bathroom mirror last night for me to see first thing.
-I got to hug an older lady friend today and tell her I had been looking forward to that hug.
-Two women I snowboarded with on Sunday posted fun photos of us on facebook and called me a “Badass Boarder” (they are -10-15 years younger than me, and I got to show them the fun powder and give them a few tips…haha).
-My son gave me a huge hug this morning and looked me in the eye (he had to look down, cuz he is taller than me now) when he said “You are awesome, thanks Mom, I love you”.
-A friend gave me a piece of chocolate cake and a red rose this morning.

I got a heartfelt apology from Goober yesterday. I have stopped playing the victim, and remember that I am strong, courageous, and I held my boundary. I am learning and growing and I did really good work, breaking up with him. I needed it and maybe he did too, that is not for me to decide. I am celebrating the fact that I broke out of my old habit of taking the crumbs of love and am now celebrating with the entire cake.

God does have our back, and is giving us our daily bread of love. I just don’t always notice it in the moment. I hope your Valentine’s Day is awesome and you feel all the love surrounding you!