You don’t always know the impact for good you have on your kids and others, even when you aren’t perfect. Just a couple of weeks ago this was brought home to me. I went to my sister’s home and her daughter was there with her son Jordan.
Jordan is nineteen. I hadn’t seen him for a few years. But when he was four and five, he came to my home to be babysat now and then. Deidra, his mom, reminded me of this. I had totally forgotten that I cared for Jordan. She also reminded me of something else.
A Safe Place
When Jordan came to my home, he fell in love with a chime I had. It had a lovely bell on the end. He would stick it in the back pocket of his shorts and prance around to hear it ring. I gave it to him as a gift. Jordan was standing there as his mom related this story to me. He smiled. What his mom said next blew me away. “You still have that chime in your room, don’t you Jordan.” He nodded yes.
WHAT! It has been fifteen years. Then Deidra said, “When he knew he had to go to a babysitter he would say, “I only want to go to that Mary place.”
As I think back, I can’t recall why he would have found our home so inviting. I had one daughter left at home, but she was in her teens. Our apartment was bright and clean. I was working from home and very busy but my guess is that Jordan felt safe in our home. Isn’t that wonderful? And this isn’t the first time a youth has reminded me of what my home and I meant to them.
Even in Dark Moments, You Can Be a Light
As you know we had some children use drugs. It was a hard time. But in the last few decades, I have received messages from some of my children’s friends. They talk about how wonderful it was that I was there, that there was food, that our house was a safe place. My oldest son, who hadn’t liked us for a while, said in his late forties, “Mom, you will never know how many people you touched,” or words to that effect.
Truth is, I never knew that our home was a haven.I felt that because of how things had worked out, Don and I were failures. I have written about our struggles over those thoughts.But there it is, even in that darkness, in our obvious imperfection, we were a light. Our home was a light.
Last year I got an email from a young woman that I had taught in a church class when she was 16 and 17. She told me that my lessons had had a huge impact on her life. REALLY! She slept through the class! I felt I was doing a terrible job and asked the leaders to get a new teacher. I knew I was giving it all I had but, well, she and others appeared to be so bored.
AND THERE IT IS!
When we do our best, even when it is terribly imperfect, we can be an influence for good. You never know the impact you have on the lives of the children and young people in your life. So, hang on, mom and dad. Don’t throw in the towel. Stop beating yourself up and fearing the worst. Just keep doing your imperfect best and you will get better.In the meantime, you will impact your children and others for good.
Yesterday, after an hour’s drive, I spent the day helping a friend clean and organize her garage. Wow, it was a hot day, punctuated by a downpour, in the afternoon. I got to work with her sons which was a treat. They did good. : )
At one point, my friend asked me if I ever got tired of being called on to clean and organize other people’s messes. Fair question. She felt bad for asking me to help her. But I responded with this. “Would you feel bad asking if I played the flute? Would you ask me to play at a funeral, a wedding, or in a parade? Would you be hesitant to ask? No, because it would be my talent. What I do is no less a talent, and I am glad to share it when possible. What I do isn’t any less valuable, just less showy. So, when asked, I use my talent to clean and organize.”
I have thought a lot about this conversation. Here it is in a nutshell. I am excellent at three things that make me a superior organizer and cleaner: consistency, focus, and a sense of order. I can’t take any credit for these three things. I was born with them. I know you will want to argue this point, but I have lived in my skin for over seven decades. I was this way as a small child. I was born with these gifts. I can’t take credit.
Here is what I can take credit for.
I practiced every day, for decades. Sometimes I did better than others but over time, I became a master. I can take credit for that.
That is how talents are. We have a natural propensity for something – fishing, dance, playing an instrument, comedy, gymnastics, football, cleaning and organizing, planning, listening to another’s grief, gardening, cooking, caring for the old or ill, connecting with children, the list is endless. Some take this natural gift, and they use it regularly, they practice, and they become masters. Others don’t and although they have a gift, they don’t become masters.
Case in point
I was a very talented dancer. I thought about going to Europe to study. I read books about dance, and I danced my little heart out. One of my teachers said I was gifted, and I was. I could have pursued this goal. However, I discovered that as good as I was, it wasn’t the thing I valued most. So, I let it go and I’m glad I did. In dancing’s place, I have a family of seven accomplished children. I have a marriage that is filled with love after 51 hard and sometimes brutal years. I have learned much about charity, humility, and a generousness of spirit. It has been these other things that I pursued that have led me here, to who I am today.
What natural gift have you honed? Look closely. If you think you have let your life slip away and that you haven’t pursued your dreams, look again. What gift have you perfected over the years that serves you and others and feels more valuable than what you let go of? Celebrate that! Stop feeling like a failure.
I am a success. I change people’s lives; not in a way I thought I might, decades ago, but in the way that has lifted me and others, that has changed me and deepened my soul.
Let the gifts that you have devoted a lifetime to perfecting count!
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.
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.
Last year, I wrotea powerful short story about the fieldI 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 toheal 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. : )
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 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.
I felt pressedto 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.
When our oldest son was young, he became involved in drugs. Don and I were totally out of our element and didn’t know how to respond. We took a parenting class.
Eventually, Seth, at fourteen, left home and moved to the riverbank for the summer. For the next few years, he was home and then gone again. We tried contracts, and tough love, making him earn back his possessions. If it was out there and we could access the information, we gave it a try. Remember that this was before in-home computers were widely available, so resources were harder to come by.
Eventually, we had three other children become involved in drugs.We faced some challenging things. Kids who came home after curfew. We couldn’t let them in because they knew the boundaries. Those clear rules didn’t make listening to them call out to us any easier. Phone calls from kids late at night who were miles away from home and wanted to be picked up. We couldn’t because they knew the boundaries but that meant a lot of knee time praying for their safety. There were the moments when we, as adults lost it and behaved like children. And then the grief over having to tell friends they couldn’t come to our home because of drug issues. Sometimes we were all the family they had. These were really tough times.
Our kids didn’t always like us, and we worried about someone dying or going to jail. We had some narrow escapes on both counts. Some parents don’t escape these painful outcomes.
Here is why I am sharing some of the darkness we experienced. I want you to know that even in the darkness if we are doing our best, we are a light for our children. What does that even mean? Let me share a message that I got two years ago from my oldest son, who is closing in on fifty. It filled my heart with peace and gratitude.
“Mom, when it comes to all the kids that hung out at our house, even though you didn’t see it, you were a mom to 150 kids. Our home life was so different than everyone else’s home life. That’s why people liked coming to our house because it was such a safe place. Even though we all had our issues, it was a safe place. I still hear it from so many of my friends. It was that you were a mom. It was a safe and secure place for more people than you’ll ever realize, mom.”
So there it is. Our lives weren’t perfect.
Don and I had a ton of baggage. We were inept at parenting. I have talked about that before. We didn’t know how to respond. We tried stuff, most of which wasn’t helpful. Our kids suffered. We suffered.
BUT here is what I want you to hear, we stayed the course.
We remained loving adults in our children’s lives and unknown to us, in the lives of countless other youth. We were home, and we had dinner together.I read to the kids,not consistently, but enough. We attended church together and went on trips to grandma’s. We went camping. We weeded the garden together and did some family canning. It was all ordinary, no big fancy anything, just plenty of family time.
Don and I made a boatload of mistakes. But we were there. Our kids could count on our being there. They could count on boundaries that didn’t change just because we were tired, angry, sad, or afraid. Our kids could trust us. This is all we really brought to the game: love, dependability, and trust.
I have shared some dark memories. Let me share some of the light from today that lets me know our children are OK. A few years ago, they began having a sibling call once a month. Anyone available got on, and they shared their lives. All seven of the kids made time for this call.
Later it was a video app. We have two video groups. The whole family is on one. The grands see and hear us, and we see and hear them. They see and hear their uncles and aunts. Everything gets shared: grades, holidays, mini-disasters, work, sports, etc. There are always videos to watch.
The second one is for the adults, us, and our children. The talk there is more personal: lost jobs, new jobs, illnesses, relationships, etc. Deep feelings are expressed.
Every other year we gather for a reunion. Rarely does anyone miss. Two years ago, we had to cancel our reunion because of covid. Last year we held it and our breaths hoping that everyone would be healthy and safe. We couldn’t wait any longer. The videos were filled with a longing to be together. On the last day, our youngest son asked us to do it again this year. The ‘yes’ vote was unanimous.
Early last spring, I decided that I needed a shed. I wanted to clean out more space in the garage for my daughter’s family, and well, I am a handywoman, and a handywoman needs a shed! : )
I found what I wanted and bought a kit. Then I headed out to Washington to help one of my daughters. While I was gone, a miracle occurred. I was worried as to how that shed was going to get built. Both my daughter and her husband work long hours. Then there are four kids to take care of after that, one with severe CP. I couldn’t do it alone, and my husband’s physical abilities and health made it impossible for him.
When I returned to Utah, there was a finished shed. Jodie had called Seth, our oldest son, and he took some time off from work, drove ten hours one way, and helped her and her husband, Doug, build the shed. Later, I painted it with the help of my nine-year-old grandson. I call it ‘The Shed that LOVE built.’ I can’t look at it or go inside without feeling loved.
How does that happen when a family is in so much pain and danger for so long? How does it come right? When you stay the course, when you keep parenting the best you can, when you keep learning and growing and changing, well, that is what helps it happen.
It doesn’t matter where you are in your family’s life. It may be a dark place, and you may feel hopeless and helpless. But you are not. Pray for help. Seek resources. Never give up. Stay the course. Be the parent you promised to be when you began, as best you know how.
Be there. Be dependable. Be trustworthy. It can and will make all the difference.
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.
Recently, I had an experience that revealed an old dream of mine that had come to pass.
I had just come through a time when I felt like a failure in several areas. As a result, I contemplated my life, how I was living it, and wondered about my impact on the world.
I knew that caring for my mom and husband mattered. I knew that helping my daughter with Maggie, my special needs granddaughter mattered. I knew that my weekly writing mattered because I got mail.
However, it’s easy to fall into a funk and doubt yourself. It happens. The key is to get out as quickly as you can. I went to God in prayer and talked to him about it. He knows me best, after all.
Not long after that prayer, I was caring for my mom. I had bathed her and helped her pick out clothes to wear. I was clipping her toenails and fingernails. Into my mind came a picture of my seventh-grade self. I was at a nursing school on a field trip. I was learning how to make hospital corners on a bed. I was in this place with other girls my age because I wanted to be a nurse, and we were part of a nursing club. That’s how much I wanted to be a nurse.
When I went to college, I thought it would be better if I became a Special Education teacher like my dad, so I let the idea of nursing go. I quit school one semester before graduation because I had my first baby. When Jodie was three and a second baby had been born, I went to work and helped my husband graduate. Then, life happened; five more kids, a couple of moves, no more school, no teaching degree, no nursing degree.
When my seventh-grade self came into my mind, I clearly saw that my desire to become a nurse was here, in my life, at age seventy-two. I was caring for three people. I managed meds and feeding tubes. I changed diapers on an almost adult and dressed, fed, and bathed those who could not do it independently. In addition, I handled doctor’s appointments and therapies.
This realization was so shocking that I went back to God and asked Him to show me what other dreams I had accomplished in my life but hadn’t acknowledged.
Seven more dreams came clearly into my thoughts.
– Have a large and successful family
– Be a Special Education teacher
– Speak from stage, teach, and mentor
– Become a writer and publish a book
– Live with my husband for 50 years, sleep in the same bed, and be deeply in love
– Have the trip of a lifetime with Don
– Live a Tasha Tudor life
Five of these dreams were formed before I was fifteen years old. The rest were clearly in my mind by the time I was thirty. Back then, I thought of them as dreams, but now, years later, I know that they were goals because I never completely let go of them. I didn’t have them on a vision board or written down. I hadn’t attended any classes on controlling your thoughts or visualizing. All I knew was these things mattered to me. How to manifest what you want in life would come to me later, in my sixties, but by then, because I held on to these dreams, they had almost all come to pass, and by the time I was seventy, they had all come to pass.
Some of these dreams seemed impossible. Others began to feel as if I shouldn’t want them so much. I mean, I had a family and a life without them. But I couldn’t shake them.
As briefly as I can, let me share each goal and its fulfillment. This will be important later.
1. Have a large and successful family – When I was a girl, I decided that I would have a big family. I wanted my kids to be successful in life. We had seven children, and then we entered 13 troubled years. Some of our kids used drugs, one had a child out of wedlock, one was gay, and there were other issues. I felt like a failure. Don felt like a failure.
However, I realized a few years ago that we accomplished this goal. We have seven very whole adults. Of course, no one is free from baggage, but they are kind, loyal, integrous, honest, hardworking, love nature, are loyal friends. They are good, good people.
2. Be a Special Education teacher – When I went to college, I decided to become a special education teacher. However, I quit school one semester before graduation when I had my first baby and then put my husband through school. I thought I would go back and catch that final semester, but we moved, and it didn’t happen. This was before the days of online schooling.
After my seventh child was born, in my forties, I returned to college. However, because special education had advanced so much in the ensuing years, I realized I would have to redo too much. I opted for an education degree instead.
Guess what happened. In my fifties, I had a granddaughter born with severe cerebral palsy. I often need to care for her, so I learned to manage her meds and feeding tube. I dress her, brush her teeth and hair, and feed her. But I have done more than care for her physical needs. I helped her write in a journal for over ten years by becoming well versed in how to question her and get answers even though she couldn’t speak. I helped her learn the alphabet. I held her hand and helped her write because she couldn’t hold a pencil independently. We have filled many journals. I have conversations with her. I have helped her with schoolwork. I was her full-time aide in school one year. I occasionally was her online aid during Covid.
I may not have a degree in special education, but I have had the privilege of living and working in that field. I have accomplished this goal.
3. Speak from stage, teach, and mentor – I wanted to speak from stage as early as five years old. I LOVED it! I was NEVER afraid to get in front of an audience and took every opportunity that came my way – church, debate, speaking competitions in junior high and high school, singing a solo in front of my seventh-grade class. Later the desire to teach and mentor became strong. Then as mentioned, life and family happened. But that led to some fantastic opportunities to work on this goal.
I taught myself to decorate cakes beginning in ninth grade. I learned how to make gingerbread houses and then villages in that process. Next, I began teaching my children’s school classes how to build a gingerbread house out of graham crackers and milk cartons. I did this every year for over twenty years. Then I began teaching some community education classes on cake decorating and gingerbread creations. Eventually, I stood in front of high school classes and adults teaching this craft in many small towns and cities.
I had four daughters and became a Girl Scout leader in Billings, MT. I also chaired multiple day and overnight camps, coordinating week-long camps for over 100 girls at a time. In addition, I trained over fifty leaders on how to teach and work with children during my tenure.
Can you believe that I was still wondering how I was going to speak, teach, and mentor others at this point in my life?Then I moved to Utah and became involved in the homeschool community. Because I had homeschooled two of my seven children, I began to teach and mentor. I created and led many in-person events. I pursued this love for over twelve years. I traveled all over the United States, teaching what I had learned in thirty-nine years of parenting seven children in my home.
I hadn’t thought about it, but I accomplished this lifelong goal as I lived my life and raised my family.
4. Become a writer and publish a book – When I was about 7, my Grandma Gardner gave me a blank book to write in. At about this same time, I discovered a whole row of Oz books in the Afton, WY. library. I read ALL the OZ books. Did you know there are 14 of them? I knew then that I was a writer. I knew I would write a book someday.
But the truth is, as life happened, I worried that I wouldn’t write a book. I was busy parenting, and what did I have to say that anyone would be interested in? Well, it seems there was a lot, in fact, parenting and connecting with kids! In 2010 I started a blog. By 2016 I had written well over 500 articles. These articles and some of my research became the basis for my book, Becoming a Present Parent: Connecting with your children in five minutes or less, published by Cedar Fort Publishing in 2017. Imagine that!
I have become an accomplished writer. I am a writer in the best sense of the word because I impact others for good.
5. Live with my husband for 50 years, share the same bed, and be deeply in love – When I married Don, I decided that we were going to be married at least 50 years and that we would share the same bed, no matter what and that our love would be real and boundless.
I came to this decision as I watched two sets of grandparents. First, my Cazier grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding while I was a young mother. Then grandma got Alzheimer’s, and grandpa cared for her until she died, even though she didn’t always know who he was. He LOVED my grandma!
Don’s Landis grandparents didn’t sleep together or share the same room. There were health issues and other things. I determined that I would always share Don’s bed, no matter what! We are now in our 51st year, and we are still in the same bed. I have had to make concessions so that could happen because of his health, but inside there was this unspoken goal, and it made the choices manageable.
In our marriage, when life got hard, I would have the word divorce come into my mind, and I am sure it came to Don’s. But this quiet, heart-felt goal helped us hold on, and in the end, it all came out right, despite the trouble we weathered as a family. I knew that Don and I had reached a unique level of love for one another when we took our lifetime trip.
6. Have the trip of a lifetime with Don – We had never gone anywhere far from home in all the years we had been together. Unfortunately, our honeymoon wasn’t very successful. LOL I thought about where we could go to have a fabulous trip. Don’s health made travel and walking difficult. I settled on Hawaii not because I had wanted to go there my whole life. In fact, I had other places I really wanted to go, like Maine. : ) But Hawaii seemed like a place you would go for the trip of a lifetime. It was exotic but still in America with good health facilities.
I held onto that goal for over ten years while Don’s health declined, the medical expenses grew, and retirement loomed. Then last year, I got a call from my sister, who was heading to Hawaii with her husband. She invited Don and me to come. Everything would be paid for except our airline tickets, food, and souvenirs. I couldn’t believe it. But in the end, I knew we couldn’t make this lifetime trip. When we saw my sister’s videos, we knew we had made the right call.
I thought that goal was over. But for our fiftieth wedding anniversary, our children bought us a night in a fabulous cabin in Springdale, Utah, where many of them had lived and worked. Don and I scheduled two more nights in a small house in Hurricane, Utah, just down the road from Springdale. Hmmm, not very far from home.
I want you to know that this was the TRIP OF A LIFETIME! I got everything I had ever wanted. We might as well have been on the honeymoon we wished we had had. We had so much fun. We were alone for the first time in decades. We sat in the garden and swung, listened to music and a book on tape. We ate out and met people who knew and loved our kids.
We talked a lot, kissed, hugged, and sat in the sun. We learned things about each other that we hadn’t discovered in fifty years together. Our sense of love, concern, and caring for each other was palpable. I realized it wasn’t the place that mattered, it was the content, and it was PERFECT.
Last week, I read an article by Marni Pherson Kuhns on the Leslie Householder Rare Faith site. I know both women. I have spoken on the same stages they have. I have sat in classes with them and in classes taught by them. They have mentored me. Leslie’s book writing class got me thinking again about that old goal of publishing a book.
Here is how Marni began her article:
“Have you ever written down a goal, forgotten it, and then found that piece of paper later and discovered that you accomplished the goal you wrote down? If so, you have reaped the rewards of living in harmony with the Law of Perpetual Transmutation. The Law of Perpetual Transmutation states that everything is either moving in or out of form.”
Marni’s words mirror the message I am sharing with you today, and I hope you are listening! I have experienced this law in my own life. I didn’t write these goals down for the most part because I was a child when they were born. But I occasionally brought them out of my heart and looked at them, and I wanted them. And they came to pass. Not always in the way I anticipated, but the results were exactly what I wanted.
I am sure that you get lost in life just like I do. I am sure that parenting takes a great deal of your mental bandwidth. You probably have dream goals that you love and want, that you have hidden in your heart because there doesn’t’ seem to be a way to get them.
I am here to tell you that you can have them. If your dreams matter to you, if you talk to God about them, if you pull them out of your heart into the sunlight now and then, they will grow. We don’t have to abandon our role as mothers or homemakers to realize the dream goals in our hearts.
My family is whole, healthy, and successful despite some severe challenges. I never went to nursing school, but I am a nurse. I don’t have a special education degree, but I have opportunities to work in special education every day, right in my home.
I found a way to teach and speak right where I was, helping with things that helped my kids, in my hometown. And then later, I flew all over the country speaking from stage and teaching. I was patient and served where I was, and it led to something bigger.
I never took any writing classes in college, but I am a writer. I write an article every week, and I get mail! In addition, I have a published book. This came to fruition in my sixties and seventies.
We had trauma in our family. We sometimes wondered if we could weather the storm. Life was sometimes very hard. BUT we made it despite all that and the ill health that followed. We have been together almost 51 years, and we are deeply in love.
At seventy-one, I had the trip of a lifetime. It was a miracle and a gift.
If you hold on to your dream goals and have faith in yourself and them, they will come to pass. You may be older or not. They may not look as you envisioned them but get them, you will. You will experience what Leslie and Marni call the Law of Perpetual Transmutation.
The trip was a mixed bag, if I am honest. The kids and I had some great times, and I kept Gus worn out. : ) He had one nap and wanted another Saturday, but we were busy. This from a boy who has all but given up naps.
But as I said, it has been a mixed bag. I brought a deck of question cards which we used at meals and bedtime. It was hilarious and so much fun. BUT Sunday night, we had a zinger of a question – Tell me about an experience that helped you feel my love for you? Gus just laughed. Tessa said, “Well, you have let me snuggle with you.” She has slept with me every night. She wakes up in the wee hours and crawls in. You all know how kids spread out!
That has been part of the reason for Elliot’s answer –“Well, I haven’t gotten yelled at too much.” What? I don’t yell, but I have a stern voice that comes out when I am tired, frustrated, or at a loss about what else to do. My hormone replacement pills went missing for three days, which didn’t help, but he was right; I had some grouchy moments with everyone.
I went to bed that last night a little teary-eyed and thought about it. I mean, grandma’s want to be perfect, and frankly, I am not. There are moms who trust me and what I share here. I couldn’t let them think that I am super happy all the time, not ridged occasionally, always patient and upbeat, or that I don’t ‘yell.’ It wouldn’t be fair.
In fact, just yesterday, one of my clients said, “I saw some of your posts from Seattle. It looks like you had a wonderful time, and so did the kids. You are amazing.” And many Facebook comments were saying the same as if we had a perfect time and I was always smiling and fun and, well, perfect.
Those comments and what my client said stung a bit. Here is the truth – I am amazing, BUT I am also ordinary. I am just an everyday woman doing her best, and my best isn’t always enough. My best fluctuates.
Wouldn’t it be great to be perfect, to play all the time and like it, never to get tired and crabby, always to be cheerful and fun, never to use your ‘stern/yell’ voice. It would eliminate the worried nights when you know you haven’t been the way you want to be. But here we are, just ordinary people working to do the ‘extraordinary’ thing, caring well for others.
This doesn’t just happen to me when I wrangle three little kids at seventy-two years old. It happens at home, wrangling my mom and my husband and all the rest that goes with living in a four-generation household. I have been working on changing my way of being to be more charitable. That last night in Seattle, I felt as if I had made NO progress at all in decades. I mean, I still get grumpy, am impatient, and am not always long-suffering, kind, humble, well behaved, concerned with others rather than myself, grateful, not provoked, etc. I can list them off because I have them written on the first page of my scriptures. I look at the list regularly because, after all, it is my goal.
There is a space between stimulus and response. The thing that has changed for me over the years is that that space has gotten wider. I rarely go off now and wonder what happened. I know I am choosing. I see that space, and I feel myself making a choice. Sometimes that is harder and is a mixed blessing for sure, to know you chose to be uncharitable with those you love. Thank goodness God, and Christ love me despite my weakness.
Monday, my last day as caretaker for the kids, was good. I got them off to school with minimal chaos and lots of smiles and hugs. I managed Gus well, who was tired and a little grumpy. After school, we used our question cards, our goal was to ask them all, and we made it. : ) We had a great supper and laughed and talked. Then mom and dad came home, and happiness exploded all over everyone.
That last night in Seattle, as I lay in bed pondering the good and not so good times we had, I wondered how the grands would feel the next time I came to visit? It was a question mark in my mind. However, little kids are forgiving. They love unconditionally. A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Facebook about my grandma and the tough times we had because I was a bed-wetter. But I still loved her. I always wanted to go to her house.
I feel that is the case here because of what Tessa did on Sunday. We were in the kitchen, and I was fixing some food. She said, “Grandma, let me see how tall I am to you.” So we stood chest to chest, and she measured from her head to my body. It was right at my neck. Tessa laughed and said, “I am as high as your neck, grandma. You are up to your neck in love!”
I would rather not have written this article, but I cannot let my friends and fellow parents think I am perfect because I’m not. And neither are they. It isn’t fair to simply post pictures of smiling kids doing crafts, rollerblading, and all the rest. We have to support each other in our weaknesses and our strengths. So thanks for being here, reading what I write, believing my words, and allowing me to be honest. : ) I still work on my goal of a tender and softened heart, to feel charity every day. I suspect that I will get better and better. In fact, when I shared this experience with my daughter Jodie, she assured me that I was SO much different than when I was a young mom. Glad to know I am making progress even when it feels like I’m not.
So hang in there, keep working on yourself. Be consistent. It is a lifetime job. Don’t let discouragement get in your way.
Getting up when you fall, being consistent in your efforts pays off. Really!!
Mary Ann Johnson | Relationship Transformations for Busy Parents, 2017