Category: Life Skills

The Parenting Microscope

I was not a perfect parent! Of course, you know that because there are no perfect parents, any more than perfect people. However, it shocks me when I see a poor behavior from my parenting days that has crept into my grandparenting days. Being with children is like being under a microscope, where your strengths and weaknesses are enlarged for you to view.

That is why being a parent can be rough some days…because you are always under that microscope. It eases up a bit when you become a grandparent because you don’t have children 24-7, and when you do have them for longer periods, say overnight, well, you can hold it together. It’s when you have them for more than a few days that the microscope turns back on. That happened to me this month. I went to Washington to help one of my daughters for eight days, to give her mini-breaks, and to love on my grands.

A NOT Perfect Grandparent

My Washington grands are all under ten. They have friends in the neighborhood who match those ages. On some days we would have five or six kids. They can make a lot of noise. : ) I had to work at remaining calm and patient with the noise and the resulting chaos. You know the kind, chalk all over the patio and not in the bucket; water toys on the lawn, not in the pool or even close to it, scooters lying on the lawn, towels dropped on the ground and not hung up on the landing, and so forth.

Meals were somewhat challenging also. I recall that two of my boys wouldn’t eat anything green or red. Augh! My grands have their own picky way of eating. But the final meal was awesome. I lined up all the leftovers on the counter and said, “Pick what you want.” Then I added carrots or cucumbers depending on the child. It was much more enjoyable than being fussed that no one wanted to eat the same food

A ‘Really NOT Perfect’ Grandparent

I remind myself that I grew up in a far different time than my grands are growing up in. No one talked to kids, they just told us what to do. No one ever explored our feelings and what was causing us to behave in a certain way. I can find myself back in that parenting place. After all, it is familiar. What that looks like is me holding up my hand, and saying, “We aren’t going to discuss it further. You know what to do,” in my ‘strict’ voice. Not loud or angry, just absolutely firm.

This isn’t how I grandparent most of the time. But when I’m tired, hungry, or sleep deprived, well… It happened with one of my grands in Seattle. Elliott went to his room upset with me. I told his mom what happened, how he had responded, and how I responded. Kate went to talk with him. He said, “It makes me scared when grandma uses her strict voice.” Oh my gosh. Not how I want them to remember me. But I am still not perfect, even after seventy-two years of getting rid of the garbage and learning new skills.

Later, we were all outside and Elliott was riding his scooter. As he coasted to a stop I said, “Do you want to talk about it.” He said, “No.” I waited and then I used a helpful skill – mini-conversations. As he coasted down the drive and stopped by me again, I said something about scooters in my day. He was intrigued. As he coasted by me a third time, I asked him a question about his scooter. He answered me. The next pass I asked a question about scooters and school. He was even more animated in his response. The next coast down the drive, he asked me a question. I felt the energy change. I was forgiven for not being perfect, for being strict. We hugged at bedtime and had our goodnight talk. All was well.

So, what is the point of sharing these experiences that cast me in a less than stellar light? I am not perfect, and neither are you. I am not always as fun as I would like to be. Sometimes I forget to be the grownup. Sometimes I forget to take breaks and I get too tired. Often, I forget to ask for help with the load. The point is that you will be working on becoming a better parent and grandparent your whole life!

Not Being Perfect Doesn’t Erase the GREAT!

I had interesting bedtime talks with these three little people. I made a huge difference in my daughter’s workload and home. I was great to do chores with. I made them short, quick, and fun. Tessa and I shared quite a few laughs. Elliott, Gus, and I took some great walks. We chatted as we went. I baked with them. I drew chalk pictures with them. We waded in the ocean and collected shells. I solved problems. I laughed with their friends. I sat through the new Minion movie and laughed at what they thought was funny. I helped set up 2 lemonade stands, one for boys and one for girls. I hunted for treasures with Gus. I helped build a fort and cheered them on as they played. I served snacks. : ) I made sure they were safe, fed, dressed and cleaned, hugged and kissed.

Each morning, regardless of the good or bad of the day before, my grands gave me hugs and kisses. We are friends. They think I am a great grandparent. I am not a failure as a grandmother to them despite my occasional strictness, my annoyance, or tiredness. I am a grandmother doing my best and for them, it is enough.

For a week in August and again in September, I will be with other grands while their mom has two surgeries. Most of it will be wonderful but we may have a moment because I am not perfect. But they will love me, and I will focus on the successes.

Parenting, as I said, is like being under a microscope, seeing all your strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on our weaknesses and forget about our strengths.

I have a lot of strengths and I no longer beat myself up over my weaknesses but instead remember that anything can be changed. I am still alive and that means there is time for growth and that while I am working on whatever isn’t quite right yet, I need to celebrate what is. And so do you!!

Doing that one small thing, celebrating your successes and growth, will ultimately move you forward –

Not toward being a perfect parent, but a parent worth loving and emulating.

 

“Mom, You Matter Too!”

When I was sixty-three Don and I lived in a two-bedroom apartment. Jodie and her family came to live with us while they waited for their home to sell and another one to come into their lives. I had forgotten this event until I was reminded while reading an old article I had written. It was hysterical and not a much different story than what my life looks like now, full-time.

Here is a snippet:

“Tonight, I cooked dinner with a baby riding on my hip and a three-year-old helping me brown onions and hamburger on the stove for “jelly” sauce (spaghetti sauce). It was a bit cumbersome trying to keep a three-year-old out of harm’s way while allowing her to help and an almost one-year-old grabbing for everything he could reach.

I did this while trying not to step on anything that would send me crashing to the floor, seeing that the baby on my hip had emptied the utensil drawer, which is why I had him on my hip. I could hear the four year old making lots of noise from the living room. He was running his trucks through the maze he had made in a random pattern on practically every square inch of the living room floor. All’s well here, back to the “jelly” sauce.

Meanwhile, the six-year-old was yelling for help with her iPad. Maggie has cerebral palsy and has a way of letting us all know when her iPad is not cooperating with her limited hand movement. Right now, she was letting me know…loudly.

“Jelly” sauce simmering, noodles boiling, and three-year-old slopping melted garlic butter on a tower of French bread while I helped Maggie with her iPad. I heard Mary say, oops, never a good sign. Seems as if some of the garlic butter has found its way down her chest and onto the fabric-covered chairs. No problem, just mixing with the strawberry ice cream drops from the night before.

Then I smelled scorched bread. Our garlic toast is going to be a bit crisper and darker than I had planned. I holler to the almost-four-year-old, “Jack go tell Grandpa that grandma needs him…NOW!”

I know you are laughing – not at me but with me. You have probably had your share of days just like this one! Back then we had Jodie and her family for a few months but since then our families have combined permanently. We are a four-generation home and trust me, even though the kids are older, we have many days just like the one I described above.

Parenting is no joke. It’s a lot of work, time, and effort, and requires that we learn and practice new skills. I have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly of parenting and I survived. Better than that our children survived all that we didn’t know how to do and all the mistakes we made. I’m sure you sometimes wonder if you will survive and if your kids will.

A text of great worth!

I received a text from a dear friend. We have mentored together on and off for several years. Every now and then I reach out to see how she is. Often, she will send me a random text letting me know how it’s going. When times get rough, well, we work together again.

As I was saying, I got a text from her that I knew you would all LOVE because it is so how parenting is. I asked her if I could share.

My friend and I had been talking a few months before about taking care of ourselves in ways that are actually manageable when you have kids. She has three boys, five, two, and, a baby.

She sent a photo of her cluttered counter. A candle was burning in the center of the mess. These were her words – ‘I thought you might appreciate this picture. I am home-bound today with a sick child and no car. I got very little sleep But I am still taking care of me. The candle is lit, despite all the clutter. Lol This is life.”

This is life for moms and dads. But Bethany is in the process of finding ways to nourish herself when there isn’t a way to leave ‘parenting’ behind for a lunch date, a nap, or even a walk.

Self -Care is a skill you can learn

This is a vital skill to learn and practice and it is a skill. Anyone can take care of themselves better. I know because I have had to do this. It hasn’t gotten any easier at seventy-two. I have to keep practicing but I am far better at it than when I was thirty! Yesterday when I sat down to write this article my twelve-year-old granddaughter decided to sew something for her hamsters. Over the next hour and a half, she came into my office at least five times needing help. This is what living with children is like. So how do you manage life with children and take care of yourself?

You’re going to spend far more time with your children than you’re going to spend without them, so it’s imperative to learn how to self-care while you’re in the thick of parenting. It’s simple, it’s doable, and it takes small amounts of time and virtually no money; but it can and will pay huge dividends. Self-care can be as simple and plain as having a cup of herbal tea while you read to your children. It might be taking a few deep breaths while soothing a screaming child. You could turn on your favorite music and dance in the living room with your kids. Add laughter!

Self-care can be taking a walk with your children, and pushing a stroller, to take the edge off the day. Sitting in the swing and watching your children play can give you fresh air and a breather from all you feel pressed to do. Go to the bathroom more often if that’s what will buy you a few moments alone. When you’re on the edge of losing your temper, getting irritable, or feeling resentful, ask yourself what you need to stay in control. Pay attention to yourself.

Do something that feels nurturing to you. Give yourself space to get it together. When you pay attention to how you’re feeling, to what’s happening in your body, that’s self-care. This can be done while you’re in the thick of parenting. On this day, for Bethany, it was lighting a candle just to say,

“I matter too!”

Raising Financially Literate Kids: Tips to Help You Navigate the Financial Journey of Parenthood

It can be tiresome and overwhelming to constantly explain the intricacies of money to your children. Even if you’re a seasoned parent, you might still be unsure of how to talk to your kids about finances. But don’t worry—there’s no right or wrong way to approach the issue. As long as you’re feeling genuine and honest with them, your kids will understand that you’re just looking out for their best interests.

Even as early as age 3, kids begin to understand that money equals security. So, the earlier you can begin discussing finances with your kids, the better. My husband and I didn’t know much about money management when we had our seven children. We flew by the seat of our pants and that didn’t work out as well for us as some knowledge about budgeting, saving, and investing would have. It also made it more difficult for our children as they moved into adulthood. BUT there is a wealth of great information and useful strategies out there now that can help you navigate better than Don and I did and will help your children manage money better. Laura Pearson and I teamed up to offer you some strategies that can help you navigate the financial journey of parenthood. Laura Pearson is passionate about teaching the younger generation. Edutude was built to share resources on how to keep children engaged and in love with learning.

Plan Ahead

When you know you’re going to have kids, start planning for their future financial health as soon as possible. This may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little bit of research and effort, you can create a financial plan for your family that will help your kids understand money and make smart decisions from an early age.

One of the best ways to start planning for your children’s future finances is by creating a family budget. This doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach—you can start by breaking down large purchases (like a house, car, or vacation) into smaller monthly amounts.

Money Under 30 notes that this will give you a much better understanding of your family’s financial situation, as well as give your kids a better sense of how much money they will have at the end of each month.

Make a Budget

One of the best ways to teach your kids about money is by showing them. As discussed above, breaking down large purchases into smaller amounts can help you better understand your family’s financial situation, as well as give your kids a better sense of how much money they will have at the end of each month.

Another important way to show your kids is by creating a budget together. While creating a budget can be a bit tedious, the more you do it, the easier it will get. Once you have your budget in place, try to stick to it as best you can.

This not only helps you understand your own spending habits but it also gives you insight into how your family can be better stewards of money.

Finally, it’s never too late to teach kids about business. Budgeting skills come into play here, as well. While there are many ways to acquire startup capital, your young entrepreneur must know how to allocate these funds for success.

Teach Financial Habits

One of the best ways to teach your kids about money is by modeling financial literacy behavior. This is why it’s important to regularly take the time to talk to your kids about money—both when you’re together and when you’re apart.

Regularly talking about finances shows your kids that you trust them to learn about money on their own. Plus, it gives you a chance to go over any topics you’ve neglected, as well as introduce new ones.

Lastly, when it comes to modeling financial literacy habits, there are a few key things to keep in mind:

Start early: Lifehack suggests modeling financial habits as early as possible by talking to your kids about how finances work and what is important to remember.
Be consistent: Make sure to follow through by regularly talking about finances, acting as a good example, and modeling financial literacy habits.
Have open-minded discussions: Don’t be afraid to have open-minded and constructive discussions about money with your kids.

With these tips in hand, you’ll be better equipped to raise financially literate kids.

A lot of peace of mind comes with this, as you know you’re doing all you can to set them up for success in life now and in the future.

Image via Pexels 

Tips for preparing to Be a Father or Why Take Care of Your Wife : )

As I said last week, in 2011 I asked a few fathers and grandfathers to share their parenting experiences. Well, one of the sweetest responses came from a yet-to-be father. Brady Houston is my son-in-law, married to my youngest daughter. At the time he wrote this they had been married just a year. Enjoy.

It’s still hard to believe that I’m finally at a point in my life where becoming a father is an imminent reality. My wife, Kate, and I have had many conversations during this first year of our marriage about parenting, and I have often thought about how I can prepare to become a father. All those parents out there are surely scoffing, “Preparation? No such thing.” I am the first to cede that no amount of planning can truly prepare me to be a dad, but I have learned a very valuable lesson during this first year of marriage that I believe will greatly help my wife and me.

Kate and I went to dinner with my parents a few months ago, and we asked them about their preparation. Among the answers they gave us was a comment my mom made to me, which I hope to never forget, “Take care of your wife, and she will take care of your kids.” With that simple phrase, my mother taught me that first and foremost, I need to make sure my wife feels loved and appreciated, and she in turn will nurture our children.

Since then, I have redoubled my efforts

to make my wife feel like she is special to me by doing things like:

  • planning weekly meaningful dates
  • voicing my appreciation for her
  • serving her in whatever ways I can

I hope that learning to take care of my wife’s needs now, will allow me to continue when we have children and that by so doing my children may receive the nurturing that they need.

Brady and Kate now have three kiddos ranging in age from ten to three. Life can be busy and chaotic. Brady has been working to follow his three tips. Because he works at home he helps out and Kate can plan time for herself. Of course, he plans time just for the two of them. This last weekend they went to Las Vegas. He is doing his best. Way to go Brady!

Now a few comments from the mother-in-law. : )

This couple was wise because they:

  • They thought ahead about the prospect of parenting and particularly for Brady, fathering
  • They asked for advice from those who have gone where they are going to go
  • Brady and his wife are jointly making plans
  • He has implemented some of the good advice he received

I think that Brady is in the process of being a GREAT dad!

Brady Houston is married to Kate Johnson Houston. Brady works for Amazon and Kate is back in school. They have a very busy life. 🙂

Emotional Weight – What! Part 3

Last year, I wrote a powerful short story about the field I cleared and took care of for a few years.  Every time I go into the field to maintain the work that I have done I am reminded of the powerful lessons I learned when parenting and that was confirmed for me in the field. This morning I had another experience that is worth sharing, as some of you may be where I have been and find myself again.

The home we live in was built in 1960. At that time West Point was a small farming community and there were more fields than homes. I believe that our home and the neighbor’s home with the field were built on top of an old dumping ground. While working in our yard I have dug up old bags that at one time held garbage, some remaining. But the biggest clue is the cement that surfaces in the field.

For many years the field next to our home, which I currently keep in order, had decades of debris on the ground and forests of weeds, grass, and sapling trees. After I cut down all the saplings and removed the weeds and grass to bare ground you could see all the cement. I gathered a bucket a day and piled it by the fence. When I had gathered what I could see I thought, “I am glad that job is done.”

Guess what, it isn’t done. Each year more bits of the cement surface. There is no debris, plants, or saplings to hold it under the ground. So each year I have found myself gathering up a bucket a day for a few weeks and adding the contents to the cement pile. Now, if I didn’t understand that sometimes there are layers to the work we do, I would be discouraged. But I know that what was buried will eventually surface and then I can clear it away.

This is like personal healing. It takes work to heal from trauma, tragedy, or from the everyday hurts that we experience as children in school and in our families. We realize there is an issue, so we do the work to heal. We think we have it all taken care of. But down the road more feelings, or stories may show up. When I experienced that in the past I would feel like a failure. I mean didn’t I already do this work. Maybe I just didn’t do a good enough job.

This isn’t the case. Healing is like working in the field. You clear the bits of cement but down the road, more cement may appear, freed from the dirt and rising to the light. You haven’t failed you are just doing the work of healing and it takes time; it is a process.

A few months ago, I had another layer of an old wound resurface. I had worked on this wound a few decades ago and thought it was healed. But here it was again, a new layer to an old story that negatively impacted my life.

I can choose to carry the emotional weight of this wound, or I can take a step. I decided to take a step. I wasn’t sure how to clear what had surfaced so I prayed. I felt that I should buy a love seat for our very tiny living space so that my mom and I could sit next to each other rather than across the room from each other. I was to hug her more, touch her more. Hmmm. We are neither one very touchy-feely, so this was a big step.

Then last week I had another thought. I write three things daily in my gratitude journal. The new thought was that I should write three things about my parents that I am grateful for and do it for at least a month! Wow, a month. That is ninety things I am grateful to my parents for.

I have a wound that I thought was healed but there is another layer. I know I can heal the whole wound from my experience. I know better than to carry the emotional weight of letting it sit. I have decided to move, and the thoughts and resources are coming. It isn’t always easy but I am making progress.

When we find a place where we are not yet whole, we not only carry the pain of whatever the experience was, we carry the emotional weight until we move and do something to heal. That requires that we let go of victimhood. This is easier said than done. I have been on both sides of this fence so I know if we take a small step then resources come, and we can heal. We can let go of that emotional weight. We can STOP being victims of the past or the present.

You are responsible for yourself, your responses, and your happiness. You oversee your healing. Your job is to:

•Be consistent in your efforts
•Believe that you can heal
•Know the resources you need will come
•Understand that you are not a failure because there is still work to do
•That Heaven will support you
•Then take a step

Don’t put off healing. Don’t carry emotional weight that you can put down. Work on what comes up as long as needed, until you are fully free. CHOOSE not to carry the emotional weight of victimhood or old wounds and trauma.

If cement pieces surface in your clean field commit to picking up a bucket a day for as long as it takes. I have done this work. I am doing this work and you can too.

I have a worksheet that details one of the earliest tools I used to begin cleaning my personal, inner field.

If you would like a copy reply to me and I will send it to you. : )

Emotional Weight – What! Part 2

Can A Clean Bathroom Help You be Happier?

I LOVE to clean. I know, I know, that makes me a super nerd. But it’s true, I do love to clean. And frankly, I’m good at it. I see things other people don’t. I am efficient and I know how to do the job in far less time than most.

But there was a time when my bathroom would get very messy. Sometimes I would let it go for three months (yes, three months!) Every day when I had to go in there, I would tell myself, “I have to get this bathroom clean.” I do not mind cleaning bathrooms. I don’t have a squeamish bone in my body. The problem was distractions, and no one sees the bathroom.

At that time, most of my home was one large room. Today my home has a similar layout except there are two bedrooms that open into the main living area. When I decided to clean, I would begin in that main section because we spent most of our time there. Then I would clean our bedroom which opened into the main room. The door was always open and you could see right in.

My plan was always to do the bathroom after the main room and the bedroom because who doesn’t want a clean bathroom. But I would run out of energy. And if energy wasn’t an issue, I would be distracted helping my daughter in her part of our home, helping one of the kids, being called out to the yard for a job, cooking a meal, or having an errand that needed doing. Nothing has changed since then in the size of my living space or my business; except I get the bathroom cleaned.

Keep reading and I will tell you how I got to this place.

Back then the bathroom was a BIG emotional weight. We carry emotional weight in different areas of our lives. We take care of the parts that others see, keep putting off what can’t be seen, and then carry the emotional weight. Crazy, because it doesn’t have to be this way and it keeps us from living a happier life.

Let me share a secret with you that anyone who is good at cleaning knows. You don’t have to clean the whole room for it to appear, feel, and actually be cleaner. You don’t have to clean the whole room to lift the emotional weight. I have learned this through experience.

When I would take my shower I would think, “Man, you need to get this bathroom clean!” I would sit on the toilet and observe the piles of hair in the corners, the grunge on the sink, the stain around the toilet. This is a gross conversation, but I know you have been here and there is a point.

The Story Continues

One night when I was in the shower, I noticed that the bottom fourth of the shower curtain was grey-orange. You know exactly what I am talking about. You may think it’s age, body oil, or soap scum. Here is what it is, bacteria; those little guys that grow in moist, warm places. I had been watching this colony grow, as I said, for a few months and every time I took a shower, I’d say to myself, “You have got to clean this bathroom!” Then I would remember all the things I had to do, and what it was going to take to get it done, and a sense of overwhelm would descend. I would pick up that emotional weight I mentioned and leave the bathroom for other pressing things.

One night I did something different. That night I did what I know works, but I had just not done. I took a step; one step and it was enough to allow me to lay down that emotional weight and go to bed feeling happy with myself. I stepped out of the shower dripping wet, grabbed the bleach cleaner which sits behind the toilet, and I sprayed the heck out of the bottom fourth of the shower curtain.

This is what I knew I would find the next morning, a perfectly white, clean shower curtain. The colony was gone! I picked one small thing in my bathroom, and I took care of it. I stopped waiting until I had time to clean the whole BIG mess. I just picked one thing that I knew would make a difference and I did it.

Again, the KEY

This is a key to taking care of all the messy issues in life. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about our bathroom, relationships, money problems, a need for more education, learning to care for ourselves, getting control of our thoughts and emotions, overcoming an addiction…it doesn’t matter. The process works. You must choose something and then do it. It doesn’t have to be the biggest thing in your mess, just something that will make a difference, help you feel better, and give you hope, that yes, in time, you will have the whole thing cleaned up.

It’s easy to leave the back rooms of our lives in a mess because no one sees them but you will always carry emotional weight until you decide to begin working on the mess.

Think about what it is in your life that causes you to feel overwhelmed, less than, out of control, etc. Choose one small thing that you can do to make a difference in how you feel now; one small thing that will give you hope that you can clean this mess. Look, my whole bathroom really needed to be cleaned but I felt proud of that shower curtain, and it carried me through the day!

This experience happened eight years ago. Today I am very good at starting, most of the time. My bathroom is rarely a mess because when I notice the ring in the toilet, pee behind the toilet lid, grunge in the sink, whatever it is, I clean that one thing. Next week I will share how we can put down the emotional weight of a different sort.

Put down your emotional weight. Move. Take a step, even a small one. 

It can and does make all the difference in the amount of happiness
you will feel each day.

Emotional Weight – WHAT! Part 1

What is Emotional Weight?

A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience. With a raised glass of water everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’ She fooled them. “How heavy is this glass of water?”, she inquired with a smile. The answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

The young woman replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

That is what I have experienced with emotional weight. Emotional weight is generated when we have things, we know we should do but we put them off. Emotional weight is created when we are not in integrity with ourselves.

Let me give you an example.

I want to have my Saturday free. For that to happen I have to do a little writing every day. I decided to write for thirty minutes each day. It’s not enough time to complete an article, format it, put the newsletter together, and record the podcast. However, thirty minutes gets me going and then I usually write for a longer stretch. For me, it isn’t the writing that is the challenge, it is the starting! You can see that these thirty minutes would be pivotal in keeping on top of my writing deadlines. Even though I have told myself I will do this, and it is printed on my daily worksheet, I frequently do not comply with my own decision. When that happens, I pay a price. I find myself chained to the computer on Saturday when I want to be with my family or out in the garden. Sigh!

Like the glass of water, the burden of that emotional weight gets heavier and heavier. I know I am not in integrity with myself.

To free myself, I need to begin. I need to write each day for thirty minutes. The reality is that I will miss a day here and there but if I just pick it up again the next day, no weight. It is the promise to myself and then not keeping the promise that causes the weight. This happens to all of us.

The Key!

The key to removing the emotional weight is to move. Do one thing. If I wrote even three days a week to begin with, can you see how much better I would feel? I need to start and then practice with consistency keeping my promise to myself.

You know you can’t mentor what you don’t do so I have been keeping my word this week. It is Wednesday and I have made significant progress. I’m feeling pretty good about myself.

I am sure you have something that is causing you to feel emotional weight. Maybe you have promised yourself to do it. Maybe you have a plan for accomplishing it. But you haven’t moved. You haven’t done what you said you would. You know you are out of integrity, and it is heavy.

I encourage you to put that emotional weight down. Begin. You can’t fail, although you might have to make some adjustments. I assure you that the relief you will feel from beginning is wonderful. There will be a sense of satisfaction. Putting down emotional weight by taking that first small step feels really, really good!

Next week I am going to share a second, more universal example. I laugh to myself because I’ll bet 99.9 percent of you will be able to relate.

Getting on top of the mess – A Lesson on Consistency

A few weeks ago,

I felt pressed to visit my friend, Judy, whose husband died last year, and I felt she needed something. After two days of this ‘pressing’ feeling, I went. I found that she was stressed out about her front yard and being able to manage it. One bush had a ton of grass growing around the base, and Judy could see it from her front window. She was reminded every day that it needed weeding.

Judy has always managed the front garden beds; her husband didn’t weed. Don ran the machines. : ) But he is gone, so the whole dynamic has shifted, leaving Judy feeling stressed. It wasn’t more than she was used to, but she was alone, and that complicated things in both her heart and mind.

She was also feeling a tad angry because no one had ever stopped to help her. When she was out front weeding, her neighbors would wave or honk as they drove by. Anger is a secondary emotion, and I believe what she was feeling was invisible as if she didn’t matter. I have been there, and I can relate. Our number one need is to be seen; to matter.

Anyway, I could see how simple it would be to get her yard in shape and maintain it. After all, I am the queen of consistency, which is a principle of power. : ) I talked to her about what I had learned from two hard years in the neighbor’s field. I had experienced that it didn’t matter how intimidating the job, with God all things are possible if we are consistent with small amounts of time.

I encouraged her to work in her yard in the morning for 20-30 minutes five days a week. Then I felt impressed to tell her that I would come on Monday and get her started. I did. Then I decided to go every day that week because people need to practice being consistent. They need support while developing a new habit or instituting a new system.

Judy and I were able to get almost the entire front bed done, and Judy felt great about it. We never worked over 30 minutes, in fact, most days, twenty. Judy said that this felt like something she could continue to do.

As I hugged her goodbye that Friday morning she mentioned that it would be great to have some accountability so she would keep going. : ) Isn’t this why we hire coaches and have best friends. LOL We all need support and accountability.

I texted her Monday and then again on Wednesday. She was staying consistent. By Sunday Judy had finished the last of the front beds. (She had decided to not take Saturday off.) We had only gotten started on that bed Friday, and it was a bit intimidating, with lots of grass. Way to go Judy!!

I have been practicing consistency since I was a mom with seven children. I wasn’t always consistent, but I have had to learn some hard lessons about the power of consistency. It’s not the BIG moves we make in life that make the difference; it is the small and simple things that we do consistently.

If consistency is not your forte, it can become so, I promise. I have learned how to be consistent; I have mentored many mothers and helped them become consistent, and I have been an accountability best friend often. I have seen this skill learned.

BUT, and this is a big BUT, you do not become consistent by working on all the places in your life that are a mess. You must choose one small place to begin. Maybe it is making your bed each morning no matter how tired you are or how badly you need to pee. LOL

Maybe it is having your family put their dishes in the dishwasher after every dinner meal. It might be doing the laundry on Thursday, no matter what. Possibly it is going to bed at the same time each night, regardless of what is left to do. I have had to practice ALL these things over the years and many more.

Here are five tips to get you started.

1. Pick one thing. What are you going to work on? For Judy, it was keeping the front garden beds weed-free. For me, right now, it is getting up at the same time each morning. What is your plan?

2. Know the steps you will take. Judy decided that each morning, five days a week, before noon, she would weed; unless it was raining, and then she gets a break. : )

For me, it is to make sure my alarm goes off at the same time each day, six days a week. Church begins late on Sunday, and I allow myself to sleep in.

3. Understand flexible consistency. When I first began talking about this idea, I got blank stares. I mean, if you are consistent, it is exactly the same every day, right? Well, within a consistent framework. Judy gives herself all morning to get it done. She hopes to be out in the yard by eight, but things happen.

I work with moms, and something is always happening! When I first coined the phrase, I was working with homeschool moms. For some, if they didn’t get school started by 8, they felt like failures. That kind of thinking does not help maintain consistency. Flexible consistency would say that you plan to begin school sometime between eight and nine-thirty. Flexible consistency fits a family better.

What flexible consistency does not mean is that you can do it or not. Don’t get confused. You do it every day.

4. Practice – not perfection. We will rarely if ever, be perfect at anything. I am darn good at self-management, but I am not perfect. I can hear my husband breathing a sigh of relief because I am VERY self-directed, and perfect would drive him nuts. LOL I get up at the same time most days. However, now and then, I don’t, for one reason or another. I do not panic. I simply get up on time the next day.

Even if you are not perfect, keep practicing. It is the simple act of consistently doing something the best you can that will, over time, make all the difference.

5. Get support and be accountable. That may mean a therapist, a mentor, or a coach. It could be your best friend who asks you how you are doing, or it might be a neighbor like I am to Judy. Support and accountability can make all the difference in your quest for consistency.

I am a list gal and have a list for every day and everything. I feel deeply accountable to my list because I want to cross it off. I don’t need a friend to check on me. The list does the job.

But a list would never work for my husband. He needs someone to be accountable to. That is what Judy needed. It doesn’t matter what works for you, find a way to be accountable and get support.

If you will pick one thing, know the steps, be flexibly consistent, practice the best you can, and get support and accountability, then you can become the queen of consistency in your life too, one thing at a time.

When you are consistent over the long haul you can make magnificent changes.

I promise!

Avoiding the Sucker’s Choice

Can Everyone Be Happy, Ever?!

As a parent, have you ever wondered how you could resolve issues in your home more creatively, so everyone was happy? Sometimes, to get what we need, it appears that someone else has to give up what they need, and often it is the parent. That can be so maddening!

I know because it happened a lot when I was raising my seven children. It caused me to feel frustrated and, often, angry. Not good for my relationships with my children.

When a situation arises that needs to be resolved, and we are faced with two choices that seem equally bad or unfair, that is called the Sucker’s Choice, and if one is chosen, it will inevitably leave someone feeling wronged.

Don’t pick one of them. There is always a third alternative, and you can find it with a bit of creative problem-solving. I know, I thought just what you are thinking, no there isn’t. If there was, I would have thought of it. When I first heard about the Sucker’s Choice, I didn’t believe it either, but I have learned that it is true. There is always a third alternative in every situation and often more.

Eight Steps to More Creative Problem Solving

Some years ago, I made a video discussing eight steps to help you become a more creative problem solver. I shared a perfect example of what a sucker’s choice looks like in real life. You will smile and probably say, “Oh man, I have been in situations like that!” It is worth a listen, and I hope you will take the time.

Here’s to a better solution,

happier relationships,

and greater peace as a parent.

A Tasha Tudor Life

Live a Tasha
Tudor Life

Last week I wrote about the dream goals that had come to pass in my life when I wasn’t looking. : ) It was a varied list. The last item on the list was ‘Live a Tasha Tudor life.’ So, before I tell you about Tasha Tudor and what this means to me, let me tell you about the last thirteen years.

If you read last week’s article, you know I wanted to be a writer, publish a book, speak, teach, and mentor. I have accomplished all of that. But here is the caveat.

When I moved to Utah and began speaking on a broader scale, I was introduced to teachers, mentors, and peers helping others build businesses. I began to feel that writing, speaking, teaching, and mentoring required that I have a business that generated money, not just enough to pay the bills, because none of this can be done for free, but a six-figure income.

To grow, I needed contract help, if not employees. I needed access to lots of people, a list. I needed a nice car and a big home with acreage so people could see my success. I needed to lose weight and appear a certain way on stage. The list went on. I had all these things on a vision board so that I could visualize my business and personal growth every day.

As I moved along, working to become successful, guess where I ended up? Burnout! My enthusiasm waned drastically. I was stuck in inertia. The two things that kept me afloat during this time were the book I was writing, remember, I always wanted to write and publish a book, and my desire to impact others’ lives for good through writing, speaking, teaching, and mentoring.

I couldn’t shake this thought that weighed on my mind – because I hadn’t been successful in creating a big money-generating business, I was a failure after almost ten years of trying. But then, while mentoring a mom in August of 2020, I realized that I had been chasing the wrong dream goal! As I talked to her about her desires, I saw the goal I had accomplished and hadn’t even recognized in my mind’s eye. Building a large and successful business was not in harmony with the thing I had planted deep in my heart decades before.

A few years before writing my book, we moved into our daughter Jodie’s basement so that we could assist in caring for our special needs granddaughter. We had no large house, no fine car, no big estate. Then we all moved to a small town in northern Utah, on an acre of land, with a handicapped-accessible home built in the 60s. We had chickens, dogs, cats, fruit trees and berry bushes, and a garden. We were a four-generation household in two separate spaces, but it wasn’t the big house on a large acreage on my vision board.

This Could Be The Place!

One day as I was staring out at the pasture, this distinct thought came to my mind, “This could be the place.” I didn’t get it. I thought, “OK, I don’t have the big house, but I have acreage with blackberry bushes and fruit trees. It’s something.”

But as I spoke with my mentee almost two years later, I realized that I had gotten the thing I had held in my heart for decades – a Tasha Tudor life.

I read about this author-artist when I lived in MT, speaking and teaching for the Girls Scouts, community education classes, and the schools. Tasha Tudor was an author of children’s books, an illustrator, and an artist who is as beloved today as she was in her time. I have read many of her books to my children.

Tasha loved the land and enjoyed working it, growing things, and harvesting. She cared for chickens, a dog, cows, and goats. When Tasha was sixty, she moved to a small cottage. She had berry bushes and fruit trees, and people came to drink tea and visit because she was wise.

When I read the description of her life and accomplishments all those years ago, it spoke to my heart, and I said to myself, “That is what I want when I am old. I want to have lived a successful life and to have impacted many people for good. I want a place to garden, a place to walk barefoot, a place to visit with friends, and a place to share what I have learned. I want to write for adults and kids. I want to paint.”

Today, I live in a cottage-sized home on a beautiful property with a garden, berry bushes, and fruit trees. I care for people that I love. I mentor women. I share what I have learned. I write, and people read what I write, and they let me know that it has helped them. I have written and published a book. I am sure I will write and publish others, and some will be for children; the kind of books I wrote for myself when I was eight and began. I have dabbled in painting. I’m not very good, but my kids love my work. Friends come to visit, and we sit in the backyard and talk about life.

I garden, bottle, and dry vegetables and fruit. I drink herb tea and sit in the sun when I can. : ) I walk barefoot in the grass. I have created a Tasha Tudor life, and I didn’t recognize it for a few years. It doesn’t look at all like what I thought I was supposed to want, what the results of writing, speaking, teaching, and mentoring should look like.

Some of my peers think I am running away from my dreams, but I realized that I was fighting for the wrong dream. I was working for a goal that others wanted.

I now know that I wasn’t a successful businessperson because I didn’t want a business. I was not fond of the stress, work, and worry. I didn’t even want a six-figure income. I just wanted a small and comfortable space. I wanted a garden and berry bushes. I wanted to write. I wanted to be available to those who needed me. I wanted a sufficient income with some to spare for others. I desired to walk barefoot in the grass. I wanted to be grounded to the earth.

And here is my message – are you clear about what you want?

In our day, there are so many voices shouting that we can have it all, a career, a successful business, a fabulous family, and on and on. There is so much written about parenting, how it should be done, what it should look like, and how you should be and feel. You, like I, can get lost in all the words.

As a woman, you need to be clear about your dream goals and what you want, not what the world says you should want. As a parent, you need to ‘see’ how you want to parent, what you want your family to look and feel like.

There are many ways to do a thing right. This goes for parenting. Your way doesn’t have to look like my way or the newest bestseller’s way. It needs to be what works for you and your family. If you lack the resources to accomplish that, they are out there. If you need healing to do a better job of what you want, you can find it. I know because I have had to get clarity for myself. I have had to let go of baggage. I have had to sift through the noise.

I am not saying that it isn’t a wonderful thing to have a successful, six-figure business. I am not saying we shouldn’t have careers. I am not saying we can’t get parenting clarity in a book. I am saying that it is vital to know what it is you want so that you don’t waste years and your precious energy working for something that is someone else’s goal.

I still have a vision board. There isn’t a house or car on it. There aren’t any fancy trips, clothes, or jewelry. My vision for the future is about ways of being that matter to me because that is where I am at this point in my seventy-two years of life. What matters has changed! When I take something off my vision board, I feel great satisfaction knowing it was energy well spent.

Would I like to make money writing, teaching, and mentoring right here in my Tasha Tudor life? Sure. Do I want a business? No. Can I have the one without the other? Yup. Tasha did, and so can I : )

Get clear on what you really want, and then move forward!