Category: Principles

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!

Love, Dependability, and Trust

  Life doesn’t always go as planned!

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.

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.

Where are Your Dream Goals?

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.

So, take heart, busy mama. Love your family. Be present with them. Look for opportunities right where you are, and then be patient. Hold on to your dream goals. Love them.

All things come to those who wait with faith and courage.

P.S. You will notice I didn’t talk about my desire to live a Tasha Tudor life. That is for next week. You won’t want to miss it.

Are You Up To Your Neck In Love?

Monday was my last day in Seattle.

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!!

I Hit My Daughter. WHAT!!

A while back, I began thinking I needed to tackle the tough things I learned as a mom. But I have put it off. How do you talk about the tough stuff? I have given it a lot of thought. I know this is a direction I should go. I have wondered why. Maybe because times are hard right now, and I feel sure some struggling parents out there need to know that even very imperfect people can and do raise beautiful and successful families. So I will give it a go, and if I survive and you survive, I will know it was the correct move. : )

At one time, we had one child just out of high school, three younger teens, and one pre-teen. That is a lot of hormones! Some of those kids were struggling in school and life. We weren’t getting much support from the school, community, or our church family. In fact, a couple of my children were shunned by families at church whose children they had played with for years. I guess our struggles were too scary for some of the parents we had spent a few decades with.

All that put me on edge. I felt like a failure, and I was mad. I wanted my family to look and feel like it had just a few years earlier and like my friends’ families looked. It was challenging to stay up until all the kids were back in the house and then get up in the morning and function. It was tough when a child didn’t come home, and I searched for them late into the night. It didn’t help that my sweet and worried husband was on the road five days a week for some of those years. Man, some days, I felt like I carried the weight of the world.

One afternoon one of my younger teens was mouthing off. I tried reasoning with her. She began hollering and talking very rudely. The tirade went on for a while, and finally, I hit her in the shoulder with my fist. WHAT!!! What kind of mother does that? Well, the kind I just described in the paragraph above. My daughter ran to her room and slammed the door. I fell to my knees and wept.

While I was weeping, I began to pray. I plead with my Heavenly Father to forgive me for not managing myself like an adult, for not being more long-suffering and loving. In my heart, I knew that I could never fix this. I had done irreparable damage to this important relationship.

But WAIT! Into my mind came this thought, “Go and put lotion on her feet.” You’re kidding, right? I had NEVER done that before. But it was a clear thought, and I have had many experiences calling on a power greater than myself. I knew what it felt like to get a response, and this was a response from that power.

I got up and walked down the hall. I felt as if I had lead weights on my ankles. That was the longest walk of my life! I was afraid because I didn’t want to be yelled at or rejected or pushed to the edge again. I couldn’t see how this could work. Not in a million years. I had just socked my fourteen-year-old daughter with my fist.

I have to be honest; I stood at that door, petrified to knock for over five minutes with a bottle of lotion in my hand. But I did knock. “Who is it?” “It’s mom. Can I come in?” “Yes.” I opened the door and sat on the bed. My daughter was sitting with her back against the wall, and her feet were stretched across the bed. I reached out, took one of her feet into my hands, and began to rub lotion on it. I rubbed that foot for at least three minutes. Then my daughter moved that foot away and gave me her other foot. I began lotioning that foot. We sat like this, with me rubbing her feet and she leaning against the wall, watching me.

Finally, she pulled her foot away. I looked at her and said, “Marie, I am so sorry I hit you. It was wrong, and I am sorry.” She said, “That’s OK.” Then she began talking, and before I knew it, all her anger, sadness, fears, and worries were spilling out. She was accusing Don and me of things, describing things in a way that was not how they happened. I wanted to defend us, her parents. I wanted her to understand what she didn’t see clearly, but in truth, my tongue was tied. I couldn’t utter a sound, and after a few minutes, I no longer wanted to. I wanted this sweet child to be able to say whatever she needed to say, right or wrong. I wanted her to know that she was safe with me. The tirade went on for at least fifteen minutes.

Then it stopped, just stopped. Marie looked at me, and I took her into my arms and said, “Marie, I am sorry. I love you.” And I was sorry. I was sad that I had not remained in control of my emotions, that she had angry feelings. I was sorry that she had stored so much emotion. I was sorrowful that my sweet daughter was struggling. She leaned into me, and I held her for a long time. Then we parted. I got up, touched her cheek, said “I love you” again, and left the room.

You would never have known I had hit her or that she had dumped on me for fifteen minutes. The energy was different for the rest of the evening. We smiled. It felt good. Oh, life didn’t get easier for our family or this child for a good while. But for that day and a few after, we were tied heart to heart.

This experience taught me two critical lessons 

1. You can repair relationships. I saw firsthand that you can heal a relationship when you are invested and are willing to seek counsel outside of your own. For me, it was asking God. Others ask a counselor or therapist. When we want to heal a relationship with a child, and we are willing to seek a way, solutions come.

2. You must listen. Even if you want to defend yourself or feel it’s not true, you must be quiet and let your child know that you heard. More than rubbing Marie’s feet, I think it was the safety I gave her to say what was burdening her heart, true or not, that made all the difference. Despite my socking her, she saw and felt that I was a safe place for her. I know this is true because Marie would come to me for counsel, help, and hugs during the hard years.

One day, while she was still struggling herself, and we had other struggling children, I found a note. Marie had written it because she knew how hard it was for me, Don, and our family. She wanted to do for me what I had done for her on that long-ago day when I reached out to heal a relationship. She wanted to help me feel better.

An excerpt from that beautiful letter:

“You’re doing everything you can to try and make our home and family what it should be. I wanted to let you in on a secret of mine. Our house is a temple. I love my home. I come here for protection and solace. This place is a haven, a place for love and spiritual replenishment. When times are the worst, I long to be home where there’s peace for my soul. No mother. Your efforts are far from in vain! I wanted you to know how much I love you and how much I love my home.”

No matter what is happening in your family, if you stay the course, ask for help from divine and earthly sources and believe that meaningful relationships can be healed, it will be enough no matter how bumpy the road is.

It will be enough!

Does Play Matter? More Than You Know!!

The POWER of Play

Parents and children’s brains don’t work the same. That statement won’t surprise any parent. Here is a story you will all relate to. Ted, aged two, hits Sally, age nine months. Sally begins to cry. You hear Sally and come running because lately, Ted has been hitting her more often. Hitting his sister is not ok, and you feel angry. You grab Ted by the shoulders, sit him in a chair, and for the 50th time yell at him that it’s not ok to hit his sister. Then, of course, Ted begins to cry.

In your mind, it’s evident that your grabbing and yelling are connected to Ted hitting his sister. You are wondering why Ted isn’t learning the lesson. You are angry and want this behavior to stop. That’s the message you intend to send. It might not be the best method, but it’s a reasonable message.

This is how Ted’s brain works, “Mommy’s angry, so she yells and hurts me.” Despite your well-intended message, the message Ted’s brain gets is that we yell and strike out when we’re angry. Unfortunately, there’s no connection between your yelling and the hitting of Sally, although, in your mind, it should be obvious.

My point with this example is not to discuss discipline issues but to show that children’s minds don’t process or see the same as our adult minds do. This is especially true in the arena of learning. Children and adult brains see or process learning differently. Children learn through play, which may look to adults like pointless, directionless, frivolous time-wasting.

“Many scientists believe play is hard-wired; a central part of neurological growth and development — one important way that children build complex, skilled, responsive, socially adept and cognitively flexible brains. NYT: Taking Play Seriously 2/17/08 

Psychiatrist Stuart Brown, president of the National Institute for Play, created in 1996, said, “If you look at what produces learning and memory and well-being, play is as fundamental as any other aspect of life, including sleep and dreams.” NYT: Taking Play Seriously 2/17/08

“Parents bobble between a nostalgia-infused yearning for their children to play and fear that time spent playing is time lost to more practical pursuits. Alarming headlines about U.S. students falling behind other countries in science and math, combined with the ever-more-intense competition to get kids into college, make parents rush to sign up their children for piano lessons and test-prep courses instead of just leaving them to improvise on their own; playtime versus résumé building.” NYT: Taking Play Seriously 2/17/08

Decades of research have shown that play is crucial to physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development at all ages. This is especially true of the purest form of play: the unstructured, self-motivated, imaginative, independent kind, where children initiate their own games and even invent their own rules.

“Play is motivated by pleasure. It is instinctive and part of the maturational process. We cannot prevent children from self-initiated play; they will engage in it whenever they can. The problem is that we have curtailed the time and opportunities for such play.” David Elkind, Ph.D., The Power of Play: Learning That Comes Naturally. 

The temptation we have as adults, especially if we care about our children’s education, is to interfere with our children’s play, trying to make it more structured, directed, with meaningful outcomes—all with good intentions to enhance their learning experience. But remember, children’s brains don’t process the same as adults. Managed, directed, structured play ultimately becomes something other than play, and it’s play that our children’s brains really need.

“For most of human history, children played by roaming near or far in packs, large and small. Younger children were supervised by older children and engaged in freewheeling imaginative play. They were pirates and princesses, aristocrats, and heroes. But, while all that play might have looked a lot like time spent doing nothing much at all, it actually helped build a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of elements, such as working memory and cognitive flexibility. But perhaps the most important is self-regulation— the ability for kids to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline. Executive function — and its self-regulation element — is important.

“Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use, and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child’s IQ. Unfortunately, play has changed dramatically during the past half-century, and according to many psychological researchers, the play that kids engage in today does not help them build executive function skills. Kids spend more time in front of televisions and video games. When they aren’t in front of a screen, they often spend their time in leagues and lessons — activities parents invest in because they believe that they will help their children to excel and achieve. And while it’s true that leagues and lessons are helpful to children in many ways, (researcher Deborah Leong says), they have one unfortunate drawback…when kids are in leagues and lessons, they are usually being regulated by adults. That means they are not able to practice regulating themselves. As a result, (Leong says,) kids aren’t developing the self-regulation skills that they used to.” Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control by Alix Spiegel

Please do not misunderstand me. I am NOT saying that we should allow our children to run feral, although more feral activities would probably do our children some good. I am also NOT saying that we don’t have a role in bringing some direction and structure to our children’s activities. Instead, I AM saying that we would do well, or more accurately, our children would do better if we resisted the temptation to manage their play, trying to make it more meaningful and directed so that we could feel better about their learning outcomes.

I hope you begin to have a mental shift about what’s happening in your children’s brains as they engage in play. Rather than feeling desperate or discouraged about their play and seeming lack of interest in academics, walk with your children as their brains and learning naturally develop and mature. As you walk hand in hand together, prepare appropriately to open doors along the way and do the work necessary to effectively invite and inspire your children to walk through. And by the way, it’s fine if they don’t. The door isn’t closed forever.

One other thing. A BIG distraction to play is technology. I mentioned it briefly above, but I want to repeat it. Kids will stay on screens for hours if we let them. The older they get, the less we can manage their screen time. But your younger children will do better if you have screen-free times during each day.

Here are possibilities to consider:

  • No phones at mealtime
  • No screens 30 minutes before bed
  • No screens for one hour after school time
  • No screens before school time
  • For young children, have set screen time, an hour or two a day

This Friday there was no school. My grands were on their screens the minute they woke up. But as the morning wore on, a friend came over, and the screens were discarded for spray bottles and an ensuing water fight. There was a bunch of laughing, running, noise, and commotion. It was fantastic to hear.

If we manage screen time, even if our kids say they are bored, they will find a way to play if we don’t bail them out. Give them time and ignore the pleas of “I’m bored.”

A reminder of why we want our kids to play and the long term value of strong executive function:

  • They will have a good working memory
  • They will have stronger cognitive flexibility
  • They will be able to control their emotions better
  • They will manage their behavior well
  • They will have better impulse control. Ever known any adults without this skill?
  • They will exert more self-control
  • They will have stronger self-discipline
  • A more well-developed sense of well-being
  • More sustained success in school

These skills help children grow into adults who manage well in the world. So, let’s make sure there is time and opportunity for unregulated and imaginative play.

Let’s let other parents know about the POWER of play!

Focus and Light – We never have all we need but it will be enough

I have a field that I keep weed-free.

I have been doing this now for two years. I have learned many things while toiling in the field. This week, two experiences gelled for me that I believe will be highly meaningful to some of you. Because I want you to get the full import of what I am attempting to share, I will take the time and words needed. Thank you for bearing with me.

I have been able to keep this field cleared on my own with just a hoe. I go there six days a week for 15 to 30 minutes. I have carved the field into sections in my mind, and I do one area each day. But, here is something I have noticed. No matter how careful I am in each section, I miss weeds!

Since the field is weedless dirt, I can see where I have walked in each section. Often, right next to a footprint, there will be a weed or a small group of weeds. This is a consistent phenomenon. How does it happen? I scan the whole area around me before I take the next step. But no matter how careful and methodical I am, it happens every day! I have thought a lot about that.

Here is what came to me this week – focus and light.

You can only focus on one thing at a time. Then you shift your focus to the next place and so on. You cannot focus on the entire section, or even the whole area right around you, just one spot at a time.

Here is something else. When I walk out to the field, I hoe weeds as I move to the section I intend to work. There is lots of dirt, and those tiny green seedlings are clear. I can see them, and I hoe them up as I go. But the odd thing is that as I make my way back from the section I just finished, I see weeds I missed. What! In this case, it is an issue of light—the light matters regarding what weeds I can see. Depending on the direction of the light, I can see certain plants but not others. It happens every day. Like focus, it determines what seedlings I see and what seedlings I miss.

This focus and light issue happens in parenting. We can see a problem that needs resolving, and we give it all we’ve got. Then later, we realize that there was another issue just as vital, if not more so, and we missed it. It can cause us grief because if we were being good parents how could we miss something so important.

Let me give you a real-life example so that you understand what I am sharing with you.

There was a time when four of our oldest five were struggling in school and with drugs. It was bleak. I was a focused, good mother. I spent enormous amounts of time trying to help these kids, keeping them alive, finding them services, attending counseling, etc. It has been decades since then. They are in their forties and fifties, have worthwhile lives, contribute. I believe they are reasonably happy.

But in my effort to focus on what seemed so important, vital even, I missed the pain of my two youngest children. I was there physically; we had meals on the table, I attended concerts and football games. I loved them and made sure they were safe. But I wasn’t emotionally available to them. It was all going to the four I was keeping alive.

These two youngest are now in their thirties. They also have worthwhile lives; they contribute, they seem reasonably happy. But I know they are still dealing with the pain of feeling abandoned, unseen. This was never my intention. I thought I was getting all the weeds, but I missed some despite my careful scanning of the area.

And then there was the issue of light (knowledge). My resources were limited, my information was lacking, and I couldn’t see what I couldn’t see. As I have moved forward, I have gained more knowledge. I can clearly see what would have worked better for the four than what I was doing. I also know how I could have helped those younger two, so they felt seen and heard.

I have been tempted to allow myself to feel like a bad mom, a failure. The truth is that for a long time, I did allow that. Then I gained more knowledge, light, and I STOPPED!

Thursday, this whole issue of focus and light was brought home to me even more. I wasn’t weeding a section of a vast field. Nothing was overwhelming in what I was weeding. I was working the strip between the sidewalk and the road. It is about 3 feet wide and 12 feet long and gravel-covered. Those weeds stick out like sore thumbs. You can quickly scan from one side to the other with each step. When I got to the end, I was feeling good. I was sure I had gotten every weed. But on the way back, right where I began, I found two weeds that I had missed.

Then I weeded a strip down the side of our driveway. It is only 1 foot wide. Easy peasy, right? And besides that, I was weeding on my hands and knees. But you know what, as I reviewed my work, I still found a couple of weeds I had missed.

Our focus and knowledge aren’t ever going to be perfect. Despite our best efforts, we can and will miss things that matter. If we could see them, we would do something about them but we don’t see them. What can we do when this happens, and our children are wounded because we are human and imperfect? It isn’t helpful to berate ourselves. Guilt is not an emotion. It is a state of internal condemnation. It damages and does not enlighten. Some call this state shame.

When we find ourselves lacking in our parenting skills there are better ways to respond. Here is what I have learned after many decades.

Speak kindly to yourself despite your failure. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, for lacking the knowledge you needed, for not seeing every need.
Be honest and take responsibility for what you missed. You did miss it. Avoid blaming anyone or anything else. Your honesty will help you see clearly so that you can move forward.
Increase your knowledge so you can make whatever repairs you can.
Remember that your kids came with an empty bag. You have added something to it even though you didn’t want to or plan to. Know that the cleaning out of their bag will help them become the people they are meant to be.

As for my two youngest, they have some work to do. It is their work. But I am here to support them. I pray so that I can know how to do that in the best way. Often, I am counseled by the Spirit to step back and leave them to their work. At other times I am guided to reach out.

They will do what my five oldest have done and are still doing. These older ones are emptying out their bags, and they are growing into amazing men and women. I’ve seen it. You will see it. If you never give up on your family, if you don’t berate yourself for being imperfect, if you keep growing and learning, increasing your light and knowledge, then you will see what I have seen. You are a good person and parent. You are doing your best, and as you improve your best, it will be enough!

Let parents you care about know that they can do this despite being imperfect!

It Isn’t Enough to be Inspired!

Inspired to What End?

One day, after church, someone said to me, “I am so inspired.” In my heart, I responded, “Inspired to what end.” It isn’t enough to be inspired. We must be moved to action.

Over the years, I have read many books, articles and attended events that have inspired me. Just as often, I have let that inspiration lay dormant until it died away. I watch this happen to others. It’s sad because we desire to grow, change, and create. That is how we were made, and when inspired, these desires roar to life.

Why do we so often let inspiration to change and grow, die?

Why aren’t we moved to action and then achieve results? I can only speak from my own experience, but it has been extensive on both sides of this coin.

There are so many things that I am inspired to do or change that I burn out.
I hurry home and begin tearing my life’s fabric apart to insert this system or that program or a new way of managing. Then what happens? In a couple of weeks or a month, maybe two, I’ve quit. I’m back to being and doing what I did before. I’m burnt out.

• I feel that I must do some BIG thing to have any real impact.

• I am inconsistent, and when I don’t see the results I want as quickly as I want, it is easy to quit.

• I let myself get distracted by the many other pressing issues of my daily life. I get up every day determined to put my one step into action, but there are kids to chauffeur, food to cook, dishes to do, and I have a job. It sucks up the time until there is nothing left, and the one-step is on hold.

Those are not all the reasons inspiration dies, but they are right up there at the top of the list. Here is what I have learned to do when I am inspired and want to see results.

Nine Ways to Achieve Results

1. PICK ONE thing that you will work on out of all that has inspired you, just one thing.
The workbook that accompanies Becoming a Present Parent helps readers distill the entire book down to one thing. That is key—only ONE thing. Ask, “What’s the one best thing I should work on first”—what is the one thing you feel you need to do?

2. BREAK what you want into smaller steps.
We need to isolate one small thing that we can implement to move us in the direction we want to go. When we multiply small amounts of time consistently, we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change our part of the world.

Whenever you hear that a person has achieved an extraordinary goal, rarely, if ever, are you told the process they used—that is, the everyday actions they took consistently. You only hear about the outcome. So, begin with one small step.

3. COMMIT to being consistent for as long as it takes.
Some of our family goals will take many years to come to fruition, as will many of our personal goals. “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.”—Kenneth H. Blanchard

4. REMEMBER being consistent is not the same as being perfect.
James Clear reported in the magazine Entrepreneur that research shows, regardless of the habit you’re working to build or change, the character trait you want to develop, or the family culture you’re working on, missing a single day has no measurable impact on your long-term success. He wrote, “Daily failures are like red lights during a road trip. When you’re driving a car, you’ll come to a red light every now and then. But if you maintain a good average speed, you’ll always make it to your destination despite the stops and delays along the way.” Change takes time. Growth takes time. Perfect is not the goal; progress is!

5. Make space.
Create a system for getting your small step done each day. For example, every day, I make my bed immediately upon arising. Sometimes I can only make my half. But I do it every day. It isn’t about the bed. It is one of the steps I take daily to practice consistency and make space. Then while in the bathroom first thing in the morning, I pray. If I leave the bathroom, I may not get to it because life has a way of interfering. Determine how you can fit your one step into your life every day and then keep that commitment. When I was working on controlling my temper many years ago, I had to create space for reflection, make time to get help from others who had accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, and find ways to nurture myself as I did the work. Whatever your one-step, make space to do it every day.

6. KEEP your word.
Do what you’ve decided to do. Be as consistent as possible. No matter how long it takes, don’t quit. Keep your word to yourself!

Keeping your word is essential. The more you do it, the more you learn to trust yourself, others begin to trust you, and it builds trust with your children. When your kids see you being consistent for as long as it takes, it tells them, “You can trust me!”

8. FOCUS on today—it’s all you have to work with.
As you focus on one day at a time, you will be able to persevere. Do your best today. If
you don’t do well today, then when tomorrow is today, begin again. Once today is yesterday, let it go! Don’t quit!

9. BELIEVE the result will be exponential growth.
When you make a change, create something new, or adjust your way of being, it has a domino effect in your life and other things that matter to you, that you aren’t focusing on, begin to change. Even though you are only working on one thing at a time, taking one small step at a time, hold in your mind that more than one item will set itself right in your life. I know this is true because I have experienced it.

As you work on the one best thing, as you move forward one small step at a time, and as you commit to making space for this step in your life and then remain consistent, you will be amazed at the marvelous things you can accomplish.

Let those who matter to you know that you can move from inspiration, to commitment, to results.