Favorite Things

Do you remember one of the songs in The Sound of Music?

Raindrops on roses

And whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles

And warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things.

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I was sitting in a drive-thru line at McDonald’s the other day and heard a mother place an order for a Happy Meal. This took me back to a few of my favorite things.

My friend, Jan (my dear friend who passed away), said on more than one occasion that she would go back to the time when her three daughters were small and she was homeschooling them all, in a minute. I concur.

I watched this single mom (there was no ring on her finger as she reached out again and again to retrieve the ordered food from the drive-thru window), doling out the drinks, the Happy Meal boxes, the straws to each of her three kids in the car and I all at once felt sorry for this single mom of three, and envious. She was doing what I used to do, in a haggard, haphazard way as we were hurrying off to get to the next event, the next dance class,  the next sporting or band practice,  a friend’s house or home after a busy day…

Favorite things…

At that very moment, just like my friend Jan, I would have gone back, if only for a minute or two. I miss those three small kids.

Jan didn’t really care who knew or if it was the “healthy” thing to long for, and today, neither do I.

My daughter, I see everyday, though she tends to keep busy working her job and volunteering with teens and those who are disabled.

My son who graduated and moved to a different state, I see a couple of times a month. We exchange texts once or twice a week, especially if he needs help with a new recipe.

And my youngest son who has spent the summer in Slovakia, due to return home in a few short weeks.

I miss those three small kids…

I’m sure I’m overlooking some of the things I didn’t enjoy about raising kids, I just can’t seem to think of them now as my mind is focused on those favorite things.

Is it a sad testament of what my life has become as I stroll down the lanes that hold those favorite things? Aren’t I supposed to be enjoying these golden years of empty nesting?

I think it matters not if I am or not.

Because today, my mind is in that McDonald’s drive-thru lane, ordering those crazy meals, served with a side of my favorite things.

Are You a Helicopter Mom?

Are you a helicopter mom? This is a relatively new term to me. I have heard it several times over the last few months but since my kids are grown I didn’t pay much attention. I sort of figured out what a helicopter mom is, but for the sake of argument let’s start by defining the term.

Helicopter mom: (dictionary.com) a style of child rearing in which an overprotective mother discourages a child’s independence by being too involved in the child’s life.

Wikipedia puts a little different spin on it: helicopter mom is a mother who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter moms are thus named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead, overseeing their child’s lives.

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I think it’s safe to say that there are certain ages that being a helicopter mom is not only acceptable but also necessary to the well-being and safety of the child. From birth to kindergarten age, for instance. It is extremely important to be present, fully engaged and overseeing almost every facet of your child’s life. They depend on you to be there for not only their basic needs, but to help them maneuver the many new and different things they will encounter during those early years.

There comes a time, however, when it becomes important to the emotional healthy development of the child to…well, STOP HOVERING!

There, I said it!

I must confess there was a time that I would have been considered a helicopter mom. In fact, in my heart I may always be a helicopter mom. Let’s face it, what mother wants to see their children go through tough times? Yeah, me either~

But it’s necessary to loosen those reigns and let the kid experience life in all it’s pain and glory.

Isn’t that what parenting is all about? Isn’t it our jobs as moms and dads to allow our kids to experience the consequences of their decisions in a loving and caring atmosphere? There’s one thing for sure, the world is a crazy, hard place. It doesn’t really care if your kid makes the team, is left out of a group or outing, doesn’t get the job, the scholarship, the medal they deserve. The world could care less if your kid gets a broken heart, loses a job, becomes an addict, falls in with the wrong crowd.

Here’s another thing you can take to the bank…it doesn’t matter how much hovering you do, your helicopter mom act is only going to protect your kid from so much, because if your child decides they are going to do something, they will find a way, no matter how hard you try to prevent them from doing so.

And if you really think you have control over your kids, you are sadly mistaken.

You have very little control over your own life, much less the life of another, no matter how much you love them or want to protect them.

They need to know what we expect as parents. We need to share our beliefs and values with our kids and the reasons behind them. We need to be the ones to tell them about drugs, sex, alcohol and any other important topic in their young lives.

But if we think we can protect them from every”bad” thing that comes their way, we’re not doing them any favors. In fact, we are doing them more harm than good.

Helicopter moms are women who love their kids with a fierce devotion, who want the best for their kids, so much so that they are willing to sacrifice the emotional well-being of the kids, even though they are not even aware that’s what they are doing. It’s important to be able to detach from your own insecurities and self-worth issues to do the best thing for the kids.

And being a helicopter mom isn’t in the best interest of anyone.

Things Learned at Bible & Beach 2016

I was a first time leader at Southeast Christian Church’s Bible and Beach 2016. Today I want to share what I learned at Bible & Beach 2016.

First a little background. According to the website Southeast Christian Church HSM “Bible and Beach is a can’t-miss experience for high school students. Incoming freshmen through outgoing seniors are invited to be a part of this exciting week. From authentic worship to beachfront games, small group conversations to large group activities, everything at Bible & Beach is designed to help students develop strong friendships and get to know Jesus better–all while having an unforgettable time. This week can make a difference for students for a lifetime and even for eternity.”

Every year the multiple campuses at Southeast Church take approximately 1600 (this year) people on 32+ buses to the beach, this year for the first time the destination was Daytona Beach, Florida.

There were many things I learned at Bible & Beach 2016.

!. Twenty-one hours on a bus, no matter how nice the bus is, is a very long time.

 

2. It takes time, organization and man-power to move 1600 people from one city to another and get them all settled into one resort/hotel: The Plaza and Spa Resort in Daytona Beach.

3. The view from your room (ocean side) is stunning and the sunrise is a daily gift.

Southeast Church, Bible & Beach, teens, life, hope coach

Southeast Church, Bible & Beach, teens, life, hope coach

4. Kids today live in way more stressful situations than my generation according to Mark Moore, who shared some very intense statistics during our leader’s meetings. It was hard stuff to hear.

5. Living with four girls is organized (or not) chaos.

Southeast Church, Bible & Beach, teens, life, hope coach

Southeast Church, Bible & Beach, teens, life, hope coach

6. Living with four girls is fun and can produce intimate times of conversations.

7. It’s best to have the other five girls you are in charge of who are staying in the room next door without an adult in the room, to be like-minded. They were! That was a God thing.

8. Kids are hungry for adult attention.

9. Kids don’t care too much how cool you are if you give them time, attention and affection.

10. Many kids don’t feel like they can talk to their parents.

11. Kids are open to spiritual things.

12. Bible and Beach has a huge impact on the lives of many, many students and leaders.

There are probably many more lessons I learned, like the importance of staying hydrated on the beach, baptizing (or taking pictures of baptisms of your students) requires you to go into deeper water than you are typically comfortable with, the ride back on the bus is even longer and the memories made are lasting.

I’m not sure I will return as a leader next year for Bible and Beach 2017 but I am extremely glad I went this year and the lessons learned and memories made will linger for a long time to come.

Mothers Listen

Mothers listen to the sounds of their children.

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They listen with their ears.

They listen with their hearts.

They listen to the words spoken, sometimes between gulps and breaths between sobs.

They listen to the silence.

They listen to the banter and the make-believe.

They listen to the sing-song way they talk to their stuffed animals.

They listen to the way they express their sadness, their anger, their fears.

They listen as they say their prayers.

They listen to their squeals of delight for whatever reason.

They listen to their voices blending with the songs being played.

They listen to their worries and their stress.

They listen to their voices changing into that of young adults.

Mothers listen to the joy of finding their first love.

They listen to the pain of a broken heart.

Mothers listen to the creak of the stairs, the closing of the door.

They listen to the gentle breathing as they sleep.

They listen to the words that are spoken about a special event or achievement.

They listen to their names being announced as they graduate from high school and then college.

They listen as they plan their weddings, and to life-long vows they make.

They listen to the excitement of buying their first home.

They listen especially close with the announcement of an expected child.

They listen to those voices from oh so long ago. The echos that remain forever etched in the memories.

They listen as they love.

Always love.

Mothers listen.

Dear Younger Me

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Have you heard the song Dear Younger Me be Mercy Me? You can listen here.

I do realize that Mercy Me did not come up with this concept. I have read letters to the “younger me” on various sites and blogs. It’s a good concept because if we knew then what we knew now, we would do a lot of things differently. Or so we think.

But would we?

I’m not so sure, because life is a journey. All the things that we have experienced, no matter how horribly wrong things might have gone, or even how incredibly awesome they may have been, well, those things make us the people we are today. All of those experiences.

That song, Dear Younger Me, gets me every time.

So I decided to write a letter to the younger me. I may or may not use things that directly happened to me personally.

Dear Younger Me,

I stand in amazement as I write this letter to you. I am amazed that you are still here, standing strong, but not alone, getting out of the bed everyday, doing it all again.

Dear 10 year old me. It’s not your fault. You were never meant to carry that alone. Friends are fallible people. It’s a lesson you learned early on, or maybe you didn’t, because you kept expecting your best friend to treat you how you wanted to be treated, how you treated her. I’m sorry it didn’t turn out that way, but it’s okay now. You are exactly where God wants you to be and those experiences as a 10 year old little girl, well they helped shape you into the person you are today.

Dear 12 year old me. It’s not your fault. You did nothing to deserve to be bullied or sexually harnessed and abused. You were innocent. You neither asked to be touched inappropriately by those who should have known better, nor wanted it. And while I’m at it, drop the guilt about the no talk rule you were abiding by. You were just trying to survive, doing the best you could do with the knowledge you had.  Forgive yourself, and forgive the perpetrators, as hard as that may seem. It’s for your peace of mind, not theirs.

Dear 14 year old me. Wow, your first boyfriend! It’s not your fault. Nobody taught you how to have a healthy relationship with the opposite sex. Things like that weren’t discussed in your day. If truth be told, they’re not always discussed in this day either. It’s just the way things are. We expect our kids to intuitively know these things. They can’t and they don’t. You couldn’t have known your first boyfriend had another girlfriend the whole time he was with you. He went to a different school. So did she. You’re worthy of loyalty and love. You were then. You are now.

Dear 16 year old me. You did good, all things considering. You couldn’t have known that the things that were going on in your life at the time, and the lives of those you loved, would cause you to make decisions you would one day regret. You couldn’t know what you didn’t know. It will make life easier in the long run if you let it go now.

Dear 20 year old me. You’re in love! It’s for real this time. It’s the commitment-for-life kind of love. You look back now and think: “If only I had known”, but that’s the whole point of this letter. You didn’t. You weren’t designed to do life alone. You were created to be a part of a team, many teams in fact, because we need each other. And there’s no more intimate team than that of a spouse.

Unless it isn’t.

And if you find yourself in that lonely marriage, the one where you and your spouse just don’t connect, the fighting, the dysfunction, the money issues, the abuse, the infidelity, the alcoholism, the drug addiction, the sex addiction, the gambling addiction and on and on and on. It’s not your fault. Those things that affected you greatly, actually had nothing to do with you. It’s true that you had a part to play and true too, that it’s so very important to own your part, but for here, for this purpose, please know that you are worthy.

You ARE enough.

You didn’t deserve the treatment you received.

You aren’t stupid.

You aren’t ugly.

You aren’t a loser.

You aren’t any of these things.

You aren’t defined by life’s experiences or the actions of others.

You are valuable.

You are unique.

You are infinitely beautiful.

You are amazing, a one of a kind, unique creation.

You are loved.

Dear younger me, You have a lifetime of experience you carry with you. Some are good, many are not. But from where I sit, all things considering, it’s amazing that you are where you are today. Those things that have hurt you the most, are the things that you have been gifted with to help other people.

The messes of your life can become the messages you have to reach out to those who find themselves in those familiar places you have visited. What an amazing opportunity you have been given.

It’s the 12th step in AA’s 12 Step Program: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics (and all those with issues), and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.

Dear younger me, you were never meant to do life alone. You made mistakes along the way, but you haven’t let them stop you from living and being engaged in life.

And that…that’s a very good thing indeed.

 

 

It Was Enough

Funny how some days just get emotional, like out of the blue, for no apparent reason. Sunday was like that for me, but something small happened that was enough to fill my heart.

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The day started in a good way, a connection with a loved one of my dear friend Jan, who left this world last year.

The church service was good as Kyle continued to talk about the Gift of Desperation.

I wrapped up a fun 24 hours with my dog nephew, Moby.

And I attended the shower of a young woman I’ve known since she was in elementary school, a good friend of my daughter. My how time flies. It was good seeing the faces of those I haven’t seen in a while, hugging them and exchanging news of families and growing kids.

I’m not going to lie, I left the shower with a feeling of sadness that I didn’t quite get. I know enough about sadness (or any emotion for that matter) to know that feelings are just feelings. They don’t have to make sense, they don’t have to have anything to do with intellect and they definitely won’t last forever. I know too, that experiencing feelings and staying with them usually leads to self-awareness and promotes personal growth, and oftentimes spills over to other relationships.

Sunday, one tiny thing was enough.

I returned home from the bridal shower to sit and ponder the events of the day; happy times, good food and meaningful re-connections. My daughter was sitting outside as well and asked me if I had read the latest Facebook post from my son, the one in Slovakia. I asked her to read it aloud.

It was filled with events of the past week and some upcoming plans. I always enjoy his updates.

A little later I re-read his post on my phone and happened to see a few comments. I read an exchange that was enough to cause a tear to run down my cheek…okay, maybe a few tears and both cheeks were definitely involved. Someone had complimented his writing and he replied: “I think I get that from my mom”.

That was it. That was enough.

It was enough to help me realize that I was missing my boys, him and his brother who moved away six weeks ago.

It was enough to help me grieve a little bit more of those rapid-fire days of childhood now gone. Wasn’t it just yesterday when this bride-to-be was hanging at my house, spending time playing games, baking cookies, doing hair and watching movies all night with my daughter?

It was enough to help me know that no matter the distance, hearts can still connect.

It was enough to make me grateful for time spent with family and friends even when they are gone, whether it be to a far away country or from this world altogether.

It was enough to remind me that time stands still for no one, and living in the present, fully engaged is the only way to do life.

It was enough for that day.

Because this feeling too shall pass and there will be more to come.

The happy.

The sad.

The missing.

The excitement.

The connections.

But today?

Today it was enough.

Life is a Curious Thing

Life is a curious thing as Amy Grant wrote in one of her songs. It really is.

I have been dealing with back issues for the past week and a half. I don’t have back issues…

I twisted it getting out of bed and that was that. I’ve been living on ibuprofen for awhile now, trying to minimize the use of my back, which is hard to do considering I have a small cleaning business which requires manual labor. Not often, mind you, but enough to make it a must to have a healthy…everything!

I was talking with a customer today. I don’t usually run into her, although I do a few jobs for her on a weekly basis. She was running late so we chatted a bit while she got her things together to leave.

She has tons of framed photos sitting around in several of the rooms I attend to, and I asked her if she had any grand kids. I was really just making conversation but her reply surprised me. She has two adult children, both married, however, she said she didn’t have any grandchildren and probably never would.

She said her son was scared to death to have kids because his younger sister, her daughter, has a rare disease which has caused kidney problems. She said her daughter has one of her kidneys and one of her husband’s, the daughter’s dad.

Wow!

Life is a curious thing because from the outside looking in, you would think that this couple has it all together. They live a pretty good life in comparison to others I know. They enjoy each other. They own their own business. They own real estate. They travel. They have friends. They are very social and do a lot of fun things with family and friends.

Yet their daughter is on dialysis. She spends a lot of her time in doctors’ offices, yet more time still helping those who are “less fortunate” than she is.

Life is a curious thing.

“Never compare your inside with the outside of others”, is a saying in the rooms of recovery. I’ve heard it before. I get it too. Yet not as much as I got it today.

This beautiful, “lucky” woman that I admire greatly has a daughter with a serious illness and has had it most of her life.

It gave me pause to reflect on the things I have to be grateful for in a whole new way, because today, I am once again reminded that life is a curious thing.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

I’ve had my share of troubles. Let me count the ways.

But today, at this precise moment, I am grateful for the good health of my kids. I am grateful that they are safe and enjoying fulfilling, albeit sometimes mundane, lives.

I am grateful for my family and friends.

I am grateful for life’s experiences even though things haven’t always turned out exactly like I planned.

I am grateful because…

Life is a curious thing.

What If?

I watch, I listen and I read the text messages; not as an innocent bystander to the issues being discussed, but as a fellow sojourner. Me too, I think as I hear the pain and depths of despair. Me too.

But what if?

I know the importance of having a tribe; a group of people to talk with, to be vulnerable with, to be able to share openly and honestly with, knowing that you won’t be judged or rejected. To just be…

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This group of women who share their hearts, experiences and fears support each other in a way that is both special and loving, though I can’t help but to think they are missing a piece of the puzzle that could make all the difference in the world.

The woman who had to live through the hell of her husband’s infidelity and watch as the family they had created together being dismantled, piece by piece, turning a once loving family into a battleground of legalese. Then standing by while he married the “new love” he had found. The pain of betrayal alone is sometimes too great to bare on so many levels, and yet, she had to, all the while trying to be strong and do the right thing for the kids. Doesn’t matter if they are adults or on the threshold of  becoming so.

As I read the exchange of texts, encouragement offered, prayers said, instilling support with the message that you are not alone, my mind wandered back to what if?

What if you could accept that the loving God that you put your trust in, has brought this into your life for a purpose? Not as a punishment or judgement of some wrong done, but because He loves you so much and He wants the best for you.

What if you could let go of all that you think you know about God and the Bible, and allow Him to show you what it is He wants to do?

I know things went horribly wrong. I know it hurts beyond words to describe, but what if, when the unthinkable happens, God shows up in the devastation to bring sweet, healing change?

Change will mean pain and wading through your junk, the junk you’ve long since buried, or so you thought. Change means unpacking the baggage that you’ve been lugging around for…well…most of your life. It means unpacking and putting away for good, which means that you’re letting go of those hurts for a healthier, more peaceful and joyful life.

But you can’t get there until you do the very hard work of letting go and letting God.

It means letting go of your spiritual facade that all is well if you just trust God, say the right things, pray the right prayers, read the right scriptures, attend the correct amount of church services…

It means getting real (with yourself first) and accepting that the way you’ve always done things hasn’t worked, because you’re still where you were twenty years ago.

It means embracing the pain, acknowledging that you don’t really know what you think you know.

It means letting God be who He is and letting Him do what He want to do in your life.

He’s looking to help you but He can’t do so until you are ready to see the situation you find yourself in to be the avenue He can use to bring about healing.

It means owning your part when it sometimes looks like you have no part to own.

It takes courage, my friend, a huge amount of courage but only the smallest of desires to change.

It takes a willingness to allow Him to do what He wants to do in your life.

What if?

What if you let Him?

Second Half of 48 Hours in Chicago

Sunday dawned and the second half of 48 hours in Chicago had begun. The first part is here: 48 Hours in Chicago. The morning was designated for sessions at the conference, however, we had learned that the conference hosts had provided the attendees with three tours of Chicago to choose from for Sunday afternoon pleasure, on a double-decker tour bus.

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The tour guide in the red shirt wasn’t our first guide. Minutes after the bus pulled out of the station (so to speak) our original guide went down the spiral staircase with an “I’ll be back in a minute” announcement. When she returned, she picked up the microphone to begin the tour. She was in the front of the bus with her back to the goings-on ahead, when suddenly someone yelled “Duck” to our guide. She ducked briefly, raised up and hit her head on the bottom of an overhead we were riding under. She went down as a passenger rushed to her side. The driver was informed and we pulled to the side of the road to await an ambulance.

The tour got off to a rough, traumatic start. The woman was given a good prognosis and taken to a hospital to be checked out. Thoughts and prayers are with her.

Greg, the stand-in tour guide, was informative and a well-versed Chicago native who regaled us with many tales of the city.

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This is the Aqua building, an amazing condominium building designed by a woman! No two balconies, are alike which totally rocks.

things to do in Chicago, boat tours, places to stay in Chicago, things to do in Chicago, Hyatt Regency, travel, travel blogger, Chicago, Illinois,And the famous clock, though I must admit, I didn’t know there was a famous “Meet me under the clock” clock in Chicago. Apparently there is. Who knew?

We drove by Solider Field and Navy Pier, which was wall-to-wall people, once you got passed the curb-to-curb parking lot called a road. I would have loved to have walked around, finding a nice table beside Lake Michigan by which to dine. Didn’t happen because our tour was still in progress.

The tour guide showed us the building where Alice Cooper resides, and where Oprah and Sammy Sosa once lived, though not together, I’m guessing.

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The tour ended at the John Hancock Center, an upscale part of the city near Mag Mile where there is dining, shopping and attraction opportunities galore!

We found an alfresco Italian cafe, Bella Bacino’s, to grab a bite before hailing our last taxi back to the hotel to attend the evening event at the conference.

The weather was perfect and the food was delicious. The bruschetta  was a great appetizer and the cheese pizza was delish.

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things to do in Chicago, boat tours, places to stay in Chicago, things to do in Chicago, Hyatt Regency, travel, travel blogger, Chicago, Illinois,

The beauty that surrounded us as we ate is unparalleled to anything I have seen because I don’t live in a big city nor do I frequent one as big as Chicago on a regular basis.

I loved the Trump building which reflected the other side of the street. It was a perfect time of day for that.

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The final day in Chicago was short but sweet. I awoke to the sun glistening on Lake Michigan, a special time of day. The view out the window of the Hyatt Regency was stunning.

The morning ended with a walk along Lake Michigan before we hit the road.

48 hours in Chicago was a full and fun weekend.