Tag Archives: encourage

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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Picking Obsession/Memories Carefully

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I can act a little obsessed about getting stuff done… It can be annoying. You might too. I call it “focus” instead, to give us the benefit of the doubt.

Have you ever wondered if we can manipulate our memories so that we remember the joy, the warm hugs, the children running into our arms, the dinner time laughter and warm conversations, the vacation inside jokes, the hilarious off-the-cuff remarks teenagers make when they first wake up… rather than the bounced check frantic days, the verbal knife in your heart the teenager slammed in to place during the argument over curfews, the “OMG, I cannot cook another dinner” hours the sobbing breakup days…

Because I/we (obsess)focus anyway, I propose that we (obsess)focus purposefully to embed in our memories some awesome stuff going on. Did your child show any inclination to do as they were asked this week? Did they ask for advice? Did they spend enough time outside the bathroom to share a conversation about the future? Those are victories in my house that I want to remember joyfully and feel content about.
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I tend to live on a list. That attitude pushes me to focus on the items uncompleted- I like crossing things off. I am productive. But that list-brain also means I am usually focused on what is undone or lacking. Rather than the good stuff like “Hey- he made orange juice for the whole family today rather than just himself- woo hoo!”

What if we purposely focus NOT on what is next on the list, or what conversation topic we need to address (sex, alcohol, porn, drugs, sleep, balance, nutrition, homework… they each trade days on my brain). What if, as we drive around picking up, dropping off, loading laundry, walking to the printer at work we focus on the nutrition choices he made last night when he foraged at midnight; how appreciative she was about the extra ride I gave her yesterday; his warm hug before bed; how she got up on Sunday morning and after a brief conversation with her cat, started directly into her homework?

How will that change our memories of these last parenting days? What we focus on, is what we remember. Also- what we focus on is what we see more of.

*Today while I do dishes, sweep the floor, fold laundry, and generally cross items off the list, rather than elevating that list-brain, I will focus on the moments in the last 24 that were victorious- the little loving gestures, conversations, and intimacies that we are sharing.
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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.

Update on the Tortoise Lovepath

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For those of you who have not been with me for the last year, I will do a re-cap:
June 2011– Girl realizes she works with a Cute Guy when he makes (unnecessary and silly)conversation on Facebook and in office with her. She sees definite potential (he is smart, has a job, is a good Dad, has similar background and… he likes to ski)
July– Girl encourages Cute Guy to see what his reactions would be (she smiles a lot, stops to talk in the hallway, laughs at his jokes)
August– Cute Guy pursues friendship with Girl (flirts at group gatherings, encouraging her to try the hot-hot tomatillo salsa…)
SeptemberGirl sees potential, and encourages super-slowly, shares hiking and wine (no kissing or hugging, but suggests get-togethers and responds to playful texts)
October– Cute Guy (CG) and Girl continue to hang out as friends, and definite chemistry increases (beer induces kissing)
November– Girl realizes she really likes CG, more develops super-slowly (longer dates, more kissing, lots of alone-time and romance for sure, still no dancing between the sheets tho)
December– Girl and CG ski together, shop together, eat together, LOTS of chemistry, then bomb drops (he is seeing someone else) Girl tells CG no more dates 2 days before Christmas. Tough holiday.

January 2012
– Girl is super sad, tells CG she only dates one guy at a time and won’t be playing any more. Too late for friendship. She dates other guys, changes hair, buys new clothes. Bu-bye CG. CG comes back, says he wants what she wants (Exclusive Partnership). Dating resumes. Still on the down low at work. Meet kids, ski weekends, etc. Feels pretty good.
February– Cute Guy acts like a goober, a very ugly guy, and spends Valentines Day weekend with old GF. Girl stops talking to CG, won’t acknowledge him, and avoids him completely. Returns all books, shared items, deletes all voice mails, phone number, texts, etc. Doesn’t return phone calls or texts. Moves on with life. Tough holiday.
Late February- CG explains himself in a 3 hour phone call. Girl explains herself. Lots of long phone calls (also with girlfriend Liz and friend Mark, trying to decipher what kind of a boy-brain pulls that shit and if he is worth any trouble)
March– Girl decides to give Cute Guy another chance. Reads him a list of her intentions for her life and looks him in the eye this time, giving him time to respond and taking time to digest his responses. Cute Guy steps up.
April– Girls gets surgery, Cute Guy steps up again and stays with her and her kids for 5 days cooking, cleaning, schlepping.
May– Cute Guy steps up again and plans to take her to meet family on vacation. Feels GREAT.
June– Girl takes family vacation with Cute Guy and his son. He steps up again bigger introducing her to lots of family. She encoruages him, introduces him to her family.
July– Girl runs half marathon, CG steps up again (begins his tradition of driving her to race starts and meeting her at finish line).
August- CG steps up on ladders and helps Girl with home projects.
September- Girl says she cannot imagine falling in love with a man who smokes cigarettes, CG quits smoking within 5 days. Girl encourages CG big time.

October- So here we are, and I adore this man. He adores me. We share a lot, and have mutual goals and aspirations. But even better, we allow each other’s integrity and individuality to shine through the relationship. I respect his time with his son, his work aspirations, and his train set. He respects my running, my work, and most importantly my motherhood drive. We are still finding out about each other. He has a blog that I have never seen, says it is about cooking? (he won’t see this one for a long long time!). We love to ski together, work out together, encourage each other to pursue our independent passions (i.e. he doesn’t have to run. I don’t have to do trains, meteorology, woodworking or compost until I am good and ready.) I was intensely jealous of other gf’s relationships going swiftly to love and 24-hour dates after 3 weeks, but kept my slow and steady tortoise pace. I waited 6 months to sleep with this man, and it was more than worth the wait. We are committed exclusive partners to each other. We have plans to make things official after our kids are more settled in their lives (out of high school).

He may have come in to my life to help me learn and express just how important the “Exclusive Partnership” is to me. I held my ground, yet forgave him when he messed up because he came back truly communicating that he was ready.

Now, I have loved this man for a long time, but I have not told him… So the tortoise lives on!

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Tick Tock

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Tick tock. The clock is winding down. This morinng, I am pushing off frustrated, depressed, frantic thoughts as the sands seem to run out way too quickly. I attended my 25th college reunion last weekend, and was astounded at how old we have all become. My gray hairs are needing re-touches more often (I am not quitting on them, please believe me! There was one woman there who let her hair go, and I mistook her for my mother). My kids are getting taller and more independent by the day. My parents are losing their steadfast nature to confusion. My siblings are still abroad, and we don’t spend holidays together.

My life is ruled by the clock- I bill my 36 hours a week to clients, and get to spend 4-6 hours a week “unbillable”- cleaning up files, emails, desk, client relationships, etc. I need to get home in time for making dinner, for doing that one laundry load a day, for cleaning and de-cluttering the constant sea of gunk that coats my home’s surfaces. And then, I must get to bed in time to avoid that 10 pm cranky woman who emerges, no, she erupts from the stack of bills, the laundry loads, the hairy bathroom sink with nothing good or positive to say to anyone, least of all, her teenagers.

And I hate that time is ticking by. I hate that my parents live too far away to know if they really are safe still driving to dinner and to shop across town. I hate that my siblings all have full lives that don’t really include me or my kids. I hate that I have to pay bills that shouldn’t be mine, but are. And the only way to pay them is to keep tick-tocking on the work clock at a job that I would like to leave. I hate that my kids are getting older and bigger, and I am so busy on my little work clock, my laundry clock, my cooking clock, my sleeping clock that I am sometimes too tired to have the conversation, the trip, the joke, the fun with them that we all need.

I cannot seem to escape the damn tick-tock. So I meditated on it, prayed on it, and wrote on it. I decided to look for the things that most please me: time with my kids, time with my writing, running, time with my cute boyfriend, time feeling grateful, time loving and helping others, and time reading. Those are the places I really WANT to spend time. Per my friend Liz’s advice, Whenever I am doing those things, I will refuse to multi-task the time away.
As single parents, we are tasked with too much to do, too many bills, and too little time with our precious kids. We have to live more presently, more consciously, and more purposely than it seems possible. And that is ok. We can do this.


First Step is to make a list of priorities: what feeds us, what feeds our loved ones, what activities do we consider loving others as God intended us to?

Second Step is to make a plan: decide what needs changing up, set a budget for time and money, identify times for the preciousness. Don’t continue to scramble and leave it up to chance.

Third Step is to ask for help, (aka pray and tell a friend so that we are held accountable)find a sense of humor, and vow for patience with everyone again so that the treadmilled cranky lady stays out of the picture.

Chicken Dance for Your Soul

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I had so much fun this past weekend, I have to write about it. You know how valuable girlfriend time is, you know how much I love running, and you know how much fun a physically challenging adventure is. So, when asked, I said “Yes, I will jump in a van with 5 women I don’t know very well, and share 34 hours and 100+ miles run between the 6 of us.” It was a blast!

We chicken-danced along the highway, made a video for the “Call me Maybe” song using the porta-potties along the way as props (somehow, I will figure out how to post a video to prove our artistic talent to you), ate bags of potatoes chips, Swedish fish, and cinnamon bears, slept outside in a Church yard in broad daylight with 500 of our closest running competition, and generally laughed until we peed our pants. How old am I again?

I highly recommend finding a way to follow your hearts’ play requirement soon. It is true, I came home to an empty refrigerator, sleepy teens who had taken advantage of my absence, fur balls rolling their way around my kitchen on the un-swept floor, piles of laundry, and I was a teensy bit tired and sore still when I reported to work on Monday. But it was worth it! I have my kids 24/7. So once a year I do this race (and I did provide care for my kids- they just know how to work the system now to use my absence in their favor).

Not everyone needs to do what I did to nurture their inner spirit. You may not need to run 20 miles to get the office crap, the teenager angst, the financial stress, and the new wrinkle on your forehead out of your mind. But it worked for me.

Maybe you can:
Roadtrip to Las Vegas, Baby
Take a sick day and read a book in a coffee shop all day long while kids are at daycare/school
Go to Utah to see the colors change and the rivers flow
Sign up for an all-day pottery class at the Rec Center
Go to a yoga conference

Think of what you can do to feed that part of you, the overworked parent who is working her tail off trying to make ends meet and children behave. I am here to tell you that you can find it. Set the intention today, find a girlfriend or 5 to go on the lam with you, get it on the calendar, and do it.

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.