Monday, December 29, 2014

Live and Learn

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
~Mahatma Gandhi

We are quickly coming to the end of 2014 and I have to say this has been an extremely full year. I could discuss the many adventures, changes, challenges and heartbreaks but instead I'd just like to share what I feel are "take aways" or lessons learned.

1) You can't reason with crazy. Crazy can only be handled.

2) Don't underestimate the power of the weather. It has the ability to nurture or destroy.

3) Know what poison plants look like before you go elbow deep into weeds.

4) Five people and a dog can age a house quickly. They also make it into a home.

5) Getting completely rid of skunk smell within a week is impossible.

6) My kids are at an age when traveling with them is an adventure in a cool way.

7) Selling a house in any country is stressful.

8) Being in court is nerve wracking and it's not good to be a nervous laugher.

9) You never know when you get another birthday so enjoy every one like a Queen or a King.

10) Miserable people will always be miserable. Don't try to fix them, just preserve your happiness.

11) Friends are the best at lifting a spirit or soothing a soul.

12) Waking up every morning with someone you love is almost as nice as kissing them good night.

13) Too much squash in a garden is a bad thing.

14) Teenagers "in love" are oblivious to the world around them. Sometimes you have to take their blinders off.

15) There is nothing that tugs at the heart more than seeing someone you love in pain.

16) Not everyone can save themselves. Sometimes people need a hero.

17) Old dogs don't learn new tricks.

18) And last of all, I'm not Wonder Woman. I can't seem to juggle a magic lasso, a crown and a couple of bullet proof bracelets while still getting the invisible jet serviced and keeping my day job with out dropping items, letting people down, revealing my secret identity or letting the bad guys get the best of me. Sometimes you have to pick and choose what you will fight through and what you can maybe pass on to Superman. Sometimes you have to admit you can't save the world and settle for saving what is closest to your heart.

So my best advice is to follow your heart in 2015 and see where it takes you. What have you got to lose?

"This above all; to thine own self be true."
~William Shakespeare

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Twas the Day Before Christmas

Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the house
Creatures were stirring in the walls of our house.
Stockings were hung near the scene of the sound.
The racket is highly distressing the hound.

The children all nestled all snug on the couch
with X-Box first shooters running about.
With Dan playing music and Lily in art
I wondered when the noisy things would depart.

When next to the chimney there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the fireplace I flew like a flash,
Tore open the glass to discover the crash.

The space was empty, nothing to see.
The wall is where our guest appeared to be.
So shaking my head and soothing the dog,
I decided to sit down and write a new blog.

Reflecting on a year of new things in our life;
New house, new jobs and some occasional strife;
Poison ivy and court cases to name just two.
But nothing so bad as to keep us blue.

Our blessings are many, our family complete,
Our friends are amazing, supportive and sweet.
Our adventures are always so crazy and fun,
In different countries or basking in sun.

So the noisy house guest can stay for a bit.
The dog will just have to get over it.
It's Christmas after all, seems right to be kind.
Just don't actually come in, that I will mind.

So tomorrow in the midst of your holiday cheer
Remember all those that are no longer here.
Keep them with stories and jokes your can share
So that in a way they will always be there.

And keep close this year to those that you need
Time is the thing that can't be retrieved.
So enjoy Christmas Day and every day after
Fill it with love, joy and laughter.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

From The Horse's Mouth

"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
~Mark Twain

I recently had a middle-milestone birthday. The kind that end in five. My birthday falls right before everyone begins thinking about changes in the new year but I start at the end of November.

In looking at my life recently I've realized that as a life coach I am definitely not practicing what I preach. I tell people to follow what makes them happy both personally and professionally. Both places I am missing out on myself.

Don't get me wrong, personally I am so very blessed and happy. I am with the man of my dreams, my kids are such good kids (with issues of course but none that are major), my dog is...well...we'll skip that little bundle of "special." But there is one area I've lost-horses.

They were always in my life from an early age and those large hunks of beauty have even "saved" me on occasion-through rough teen angst/issues to a terrible divorce, they were often my only escape.

When my sweet William (a.k.a Sandpiper) retired due to an injury in 2012, a darling boy that was simply given to me by his owner in 2002, it was hard for me to move on. He was like a large dog, always willing to please, happy to jump any jump and do whatever was asked. It was October of 2013 that he had to be put down due to a slow growing tumor in his throat. Riding just wasn't the same.

But now I'm ready. After a month of a few lessons and working with a "project" horse I may have an opportunity for a free lease over the winter of a nice horse that just needs to keep going while his owner is in Florida. (Cross fingers it pans out).

Meanwhile on the professional front my goal is to jump start my coaching business in 2015. My goal is to niche my clientele to women in transition (divorce, job search, business development, empty nest or healthy transformations....whatever life throws our way really). I'll still keep my male clients of course but every business needs a focus and that demographic I feel could really use a coach who gets them.

So look for big changes in Sandpiper Life and Wellness and a new sparkle from it's coach who will occasionally smell like a barn.

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."
~Maya Angelou

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cat Call

Okay, I know I usually start with a quote but this subject has little to share. So I'll use my own quote that I wrote a...well...long time ago when I worked for Lancaster Newspapers and decided to do a story on cat calling: "Don't say anything to a women you wouldn't say to your mother."

By now most have seen the viral video of the woman walking the streets of New York for ten hours and the level of calls and attention she received wearing, shockingly, jeans and a t-shirt (gasp-how provocative!!)

As a young girl working in downtown Lancaster I had my share of "calls" which made me write the story. I interviewed men and women of all ages. Most men said it was usually in a group or because they generally thought it would get them the kind of attention they wanted. Women found it scary, invasive and if it was a constant thing they would find themselves altering their paths or changing a routine to avoid it.

I've dealt with it myself recently even at middle age. At my new job last winter there were a few men who viewed me as fresh meat. I would smile and think they were just funny guys but then it would get creepy-no matter how many times I would tell them I was in an incredibly perfect relationship.

So I would stop walking by their area, or if I did have to interact I was all business with possibly a side of slight bitchiness. It worked to an extent but I still avoid these people at all cost. So I had to change my behavior as a woman because some horn-dogs couldn't take a hint (or a two-by-four to the face probably).


I guess it's like any ignorance, whether it's racism or bigotry, some men have come to believe that is how you treat women. Thankfully, I think, the trend is to show our young boys how to respect women as long as the women they come in contact with demand respect. It is a two way street at times so road blocks need to be established.

As for me and work....tomorrow is our Halloween costume party. Not wanting to buy anything I remembered having cat ears and a tail from when I used to teach young kids. I also have a ton of cordless phones as we got rid of our land line.

I'll be a cat call thank you very much.
Meow and get away from me you creep.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


"You are, and always have been, my dream."
~Nicholas Sparks-The Notebook

So in true"sharing" nature I'm going to get personal.

One year ago Dan and I promised to be each other's "somebody." We flew to a beautiful island surrounded by family and promised to stay together, love each other and, well, put up with each other forever. We made promises that day that we wrote. I won't share Dan's (not my place) but I very much like what I said that day (I wrote it that afternoon-I do best under pressure).

So if you're interested here it is:

When I think of our beginning I start with that first meeting in the Schiphol airport. I had come out of the wrong door and waited like an idiot for at least 20 minutes, holding an outdated, useless cell phone, until I realized my mistake.

When I found you it was like the air had left your body. My bumbled apologies were ignored as you just grabbed me and held me close. I was found. I was home.

Leaving you that first time was the hardest thing I had ever done. We were that sobbing couple in the airport. I was that runny nose person no one wants to make eye contact with in the passport line. Oh, and the poor man who sat next to me on the plane-I wish I could apologize to him.

Four years later we are finally beginning a life together. It is sure to have new challenges, adventures, and brand new annoyances on both of our parts. So here is what I can promise you....

I promise to help you through sugar highs and lows, even shoving M & M's in your mouth when needed. I'll support whatever happens in the future with this disease we both hate for what it does to you.

I promise to listen to all of your stories even for the fifth or sixth time-except one-and you know which I mean. (Inside family joke)

I promise to celebrate your successes, console your loses and not sweat the small stuff.

I promise to be proud of you for your strength, intelligence, massive good looks and sarcastic nature.

But most of all I promise to be your home as you are mine. To fill it with love, romance and excitement whenever we have the chance.

Because this, us, is home. And as you always say-it's going to be great.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


"One man's poison ivy is another man's spinach."
~George Ade

Ah-the great outdoors. My favorite place is outside with nature, sunshine, furry creatures, vegetable gardens and blooming flowers. But nature decided to bite me in the ass this week, literally.

Two weeks ago we decided to tackle a huge weed area in our lovely "woodsy" backyard. It was a hot weekend so great for a tank top and shorts-last bit of sun before fall. Nothing looked like poison ivy....

Two days later driving a queen of a lady and her fair princess to a concert in Philadelphia I noticed the bumps. She asked if they were bug bites (I do get many) and I said yes, or a flesh eating virus.

Two nights after that, sitting at "back to school night" for my daughter it was very clear it was more than bugs. I hid my arms as best as I could, embarrassed.

Nature had another win, that night for the dog's last walk she found a skunk. Pepelepew was not in the mood for a romp and sprayed. There began  the long evening of trying, at 11:00 at night, to find something anti-skunk wash.

And then the itching started to take off.

We began living our own version of the Itchy and Scratchy show (The Simpson's) with a hope that a mouse with a cleaver might actually strip my skin off. And it just kept spreading. We washed everything many times in what we needed to wash it in but it never stopped. Forget water-boarding to get terrorist's to talk-give them a huge all-over poison ivy outbreak and tie their hands!

By Monday-after a week-a doctor's appointment. High dose steroids was the next adventure. Many side effects come with that but the main one for me was fuzzy brain. Driving quickly seemed not a good idea. People at work were talking to me and I couldn't put their words together, AND I was still itchy.

It's now been two weeks, finally it is going away.....slowly. Still on the 'roids" but the lowest dose now-loopy but manageable.

So the great outdoors....still love it. Still love my yard and all it requires. But it has humbled me and taught me a few lessons. Hazmat suits required for weeding and diligent flashlight use for late night dog walks.

The winter will be another adventure. My driveway is a black diamond ski slope. But have you seen the view?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."
~Robert Frost

Sleep. We are always chasing the right amount. We wake up early for work, school, pets or simply because that's what we do. As kids we fight going to bed, as adults we relish it.

We sleep to forget, to heal, to dream or to simply function.

My insomnia started as a kid. I come by it honestly from my father. I remember as a preteen telling my parents I couldn't sleep (like they could solve it magically) on many occasion. Bless them they were very patient because I believe as a mom myself I'd be less so. My dad would occasionally give me a tiny glass of Sheri and we'd talk for a bit.

My boys sometimes have my same problem. Lily, being adopted, has an amazing sleep ability. In fact as a toddler and even young kid she could fall asleep in the middle of a fireworks display. She's a sleep rock star.

Of course there are pills or herbs, tapes or magazine articles telling you that YOU CAN SLEEP. I've tried many....

A few times I have wished hard for more sleep when I've felt at the end of my rope. Once, pregnant and with a toddler, I wished for a break and ended up on preterm labor and bed rest....enjoy right? Once while working a physically intensive job plus another part time job as a single mom added with a long bout of insomnia I think I actually cried for sleep....welcome the swine flu.

I have many moments like that where I wish for something and I get it....but with a negative attached. I no longer wish. It's like the Genie's lamp, you'll get a version of your wish but be oh so specific.

My kids just got new beds. Five years ago while moving out of a terrible marriage (redundant I guess-who would leave a fantastic marriage?) I had to buy my kids beds and I had no access to money. I was cut off from their dad and my crappy part time job paid, well, less than crap. So what I could afford was....crap.

I bought them cheap beds and cheaper mattresses and they have soldiered through. But now with a real job and a partner who loves them I could finally get them nice, comfortable beds. They are so excited. It's the difference between sleep and good sleep. The difference of a night on a couch or on a deluxe mattress at a five start hotel.

But even so, good bed, perfect temperature, physical exhaustion and the right atmosphere, we can toss and turn until the sun rises.

Just be careful what you wish for.

"The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world."
~Leonard Cohen

Saturday, August 16, 2014

So What Happened?

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of fight in the dog."
~Mark Twain

So the question from my blog "Deal with the Devil" is what happened?

The short version-it's not over.

The longer but still hopefully short version-it was going swimmingly well in my opinion. The accuser contradicted himself on the stand continually. Their only other witness on his side turned out to benefit us. And his attorney was a disorganized mess who was more interested in making loud rude comments "under her breathe" and asking multiple inane and irrelevant questions to take up huge amounts of time because, well, the accuser is paying $250 an hour so why not. You would think the highest priced law firm in the county would provide better.

And there I was with Rebecca, my wonderful and reasonably priced attorney, a huge support system and confidence of the truth on my side. Unfortunately time was not on our side. The judge has yet to hear Dan's testimony and his feeling is that will end the case. So we have to go mid-December!! Merry Freaking Christmas.

And the end all-being dragged into Domestics the same day because he didn't like how the courts crunched the numbers when removing our 18 year old from child support. First of all MY attorney found a problem in his taxes (he combined his and his wife's income) that saved HIM money. Second of all (I just got the documents) he has to pay about a quarter more than the first estimation. Well, bully for me on his cheapness-that bit him in the ass.

As much as I was hoping to have this monkey off of my back it's not. I have to wait five months for resolution. I am confident it will be fine as the insanity of it all was actual pure comedy at times in the court room. The judge was even getting exacerbated.

So it's not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. My attorney and I might both be fighting much bigger dogs, and the fight was brought to us, we didn't pick it, but we have courage, truth, amazing talent on her part, and the ability to defeat the big bullies.

"Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more."
~Louis L'Amour

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

O Captain, My Captain

"Comedy is acting out optimism."
~Robin Williams

Of course everyone knows the tragic loss of, in my opinion, the most talented comedian of my lifetime.

He oozed spontaneity, craziness, laughter and joy. You could see the warmth in his eyes whenever he was presented with a cause he cared about or a subject that touched his heart. He was warm and fuzzy (he was fuzzy) and in the next second bringing you to tears with laughter.

I first saw him on Happy Days as Mork from Ork (Nanu Nanu). It was short and sweet but lead to Mork and Mindy-what was my favorite show during it's run. Who can't forget the incredible Jonathan Winters (Robin William's mentor) as Mearth-their strange large child.

But as a young adult I loved how he could mix comedy with the most serious of subjects and make you laugh and cry in two hours. Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poet's Society, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams and so many other films that touched our hearts and tested our bladders.

Personally he was often a light at the end of a dark tunnel which is ironic when he was often fighting his own darkness. In a terrible marriage that made me often so sad I would look to Robin, in brilliance like The Bird Cage, The World According to Garp or Mrs. Doubtfire. I would watch for Today Show or Tonight Show interviews because it was "edge of your seat" excitement that made you wish it would never end.

My personal Robin favorite (and we all have one) is Dead Poet's Society. I have actually had a couple of teachers like Mr. Keating in my time as an English Major. A certain poetry professor at Gettysburg comes to mind-he even had the wild hair. But the language, the meaning, the lessons to be taken from that movie were truly inspiring and heartbreaking.

As he quoted Walt Whitman: "I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world"' so did Robin. He sounded his joy, passion, brilliance and love for everyone over our rooftops and our world. He had quite a "yawp."

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."
~Robin Williams

You will be so missed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kindness to Strangers

"There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't yet met."
~William Butler Yeats

Last night my 12 year old daughter quietly woke me up around midnight with the words: "Mom, I think someone is about to kill themselves."

I'm awake!!

Of course my first question was "who?"

"This boy on this Instagram fan site who cuts himself. Someone posted that he should cut deeper so he can't stop the bleeding."

Well shit.

First of all we obviously don't know "this boy" or anything about him except that he is a fan of something my daughter is and his user name. Second of all I would hope that one stupid comment from a IDIOTIC person would not push him to such a rash end.

It was interesting that the notion of suicide came up at dinner earlier when for some reason my son said that it wasn't a choice. I replied that it most definitely was a choice. I explained that some people can feel so lost that they think it is the only choice, but that choice ends one person's pain and leaves a wake of sorrow.

We discussed the idea of no matter how bad things are they will always get better. It may not seem like it can, I've been in those dark times, but they amazingly do. And having been in those dark times I know how it feels like a solution-not a choice. But I can't say that to my son.

And yet kids text other kids that they should "just kill themselves," "cut deeper," "do us all a favor and die."

And we thought kids were cruel when we were young.

So here we are in the middle of the night with my daughter scared for a stranger. All I could say was that some kind words to that person can go a long way. So that is all she could do in her worried state.

And that is all any of us can do-be kind. Smile at a stranger, say hello, show support to those that struggle around us-either personally or in the ever exposing social media.

It's amazing how tiny an acknowledgement or smile of someone feeling like they are invisible or lost can change how they spend the rest of their day.

So all we can do is be kind.

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Deal with the Devil

"For every minute you are angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you have someone who just pushes all of your buttons (I mean the bad buttons-not the fun ones). Someone that no matter how hard you try you can't help but lose your temper? Maybe it's a sibling, child, spouse, parent or co-worker. In my case it's an ex-husband.

It's actually strange because we had one of the easiest divorces, I left him most everything, only taking the bare minimum much to my attorney's dismay. You would think life would move on.

But sometimes people change or their brains snap somehow. He remarried two years later (it's been almost five years) and that should be that-happily ever after. Yet in the last year he has filed two law suits against me simply because I finally got what I want-my own happiness. 

They are silly suits, filed in a petty, vindictive manner. Mostly wanting me to pay back support money I used last year to, well, support myself and my kids. Claiming that when Dan, the person I am now with, was visiting from Amsterdam he was actually living here (which he is now by the way and support was terminated at that time). He's asking for the small amount per month that just covered my rent and groceries, why I was waiting tables to cover the rest while trying to find a real job (which I also have now). Through the courts I know that my ex-husband makes more money in two months than I do in a year, yet somehow, if there is a half asleep judge and he wins, I'd have to find that money that was used to keep a roof over my kid's heads.

I've tried to not be bitter because it eats me alive. I've even tried to be "nice" in an attempt to somehow know we can be at a child's life event in somewhat peace someday. All I get when I try is anger and name calling.

The kids get verbally battered and beaten down and no longer want to be with him and I'm apparently to blame for that in his mind. He's also verbally attacked my extended family as well. This is only a small sampling of the things he has done that have shocked and devastated the kids and I recently.

So on August 4th I will go to court and tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have nothing to hide and nothing to lie about. I will continue to rack up attorney fees and sleepless nights but I will win this no matter what the outcome. 

I'll win this because I know how lucky I am. My kids love me and I have the complete devotion and support of the man of my dreams. I may briefly lose my happiness in the fog but ultimately he can never take that from me in the end. 

I will win.

"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it was stored than to anything on which it is poured."
~Mark Twain

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Scarves or Chainsaws

"Most of us have trouble juggling. The women who says she doesn't I admire but have never met."
~Barbara Walters

Be careful what you wish for....

I've learned that lesson over and over in my life (I'm slow sometimes). I recently wished for a chance to catch up on a few things. Having just moved, working a full time job plus part time coaching, three children and a slightly mentally challenged dog (pretty sure her parents were related), life gets to be a bit overwhelming at times.

So I wished for time....and here I sit after picking up a sick child from school with the time for a blog. Of course the call came right when a nice size project landed on my desk. Timing is everything.

So the working mom's daily juggle. Sometimes it's fluffy, pretty scarves. Then there are days of flaming torches or running chainsaws. It can be as simple as getting home, doing a few things, making dinner and driving to an activity. Or it can be bigger issues that creep out and throw a razor into our scarves. Simple things like appointments become adventures in scheduling and Lord help us if an emergency arises.

Elastigirl in The Incredibles was brilliant. Who as a mom hasn't felt pulled in every direction, catching everything that falls and wrapping up what needs to happen. Of course the fact that Dash is super fast is perfect for boys who never stop (I had two) and a Violet who can disappear when people annoy her or put up a force field (Most teenage girls today have the power of sarcasm-force field complete). Jack-Jack being a constant surprise of abilities is exactly what every parent of a baby believes. Everything from a smile to first steps are viewed as amazing.

So we try to do it all for ourselves and our family. Sometimes not so elegantly, we can get tired, cranky or just plain bitchy. But then something like a few hours to catch up or a blessed three day weekend comes to replace the bowling balls we've been juggling with tennis balls.

So hang in there everyone with tired arms and slowly failing hand-eye coordination-we may drop things now and then but there will always be someone there to throw something else in the mix. Okay....that sounded never-ending. Ah-free time is over. Off to be a chauffeur.

"Settle down, are you kidding? I'm at the top of my game! I'm right up there with the big dogs! Girls-come on. Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don't think so!"
~Elastigirl, The Incredibles

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Funeral Party

"I would like to make a toast to lying, stealing, cheating and drinking. If you're going to lie, lie for a friend. If you're going to steal, steal a heart. If you're going to cheat, cheat death. And if you're going to drink, drink with me."
~Irish Toast

I love this quote. Who of us hasn't lied for a friend or stolen a heart. Cheating death is maybe not quite as common but drinking with friends is a great evening anytime (I have fun friends).

With Saint Patrick's day last month and a conversation a friend of mine had with my oldest son about being remembered for something, having a legacy, I began to think about my own funeral.

I know-strange and creepy in a way-but how would I want to be remembered?

The Irish part of it was because I love the thought of a loud Irish wake full of music, stories and toasts. I wouldn't want anyone to be dragged to some hole in the ground to cry and mourn. I'd like a vibrant bar with a band and great food and wine. Every so often someone can tell a funny story, joke or non-morose memory.

Let's make it even better-a costume party. I love superheroes so everyone could be a villain or a hero. Although someone should go as the Grim Reaper just for giggles.

My ex-husband. however, should not be allowed to speak. In fact, he'll just be there to make sure I'm dead so someone, preferably one of the villains, please escort him out. He'll bring me down even in death.

And no one is allowed to utter the words "I'm sorry." I've uttered those words many times just because I'm at a loss for something better. You can say "What an adventure her life was" or "I'll miss her sarcasm" but need to be sorry for anything. Unless you are the reason I died-then someone better make sure you're sorry (girls-you know what to do).

So how would you like to be remembered? What accomplishments make you proud? What do you still wish you could do or change to improve your final party?

Are you happy?

Because if there is one thing I've learned in life is you have to be happy.

That's what I want people to say: "She was always happy."

"Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive."
~Elbert Hubbard

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."
~Mark Twain

Sunday, March 9, 2014


"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."
~Audrey Hepburn

What we believe about life says a lot about us. Do we believe in a religion, an afterlife, reincarnation, evolution? Do we believe in love, magic, miracles, or do we only believe what we see or know to be cold hard facts? Even then can't our eyes or mind play tricks on us?

How long did you believe in Santa Claus and eight mutated reindeer, a giant egg carrying rabbit, a women obsessed with children's teeth?

I find it difficult to believe anything with certainty because I've lived long enough to know that my beliefs can constantly shift, my emotions alter, people continually disappoint me, people continually inspire me.

And how often has specific unwavering beliefs caused war, genocide, inequality, or simple misunderstanding.

I used to believe that if people knew certain things about me they would judge me or look at me differently. Then I relaxed, let go, and found more often a kindred spirit, a similar soul or an open minded genuine heart. Those are the people that inspire me. The ones that react with judgement, disapproval or negativity are the people who disappoint me and I choose to not waste energy on.

So what do you believe? What do you know to be true? Do your beliefs open you to others or close you off? How have those same ideals shifted over a year, five, ten or twenty?

"I don't believe you have to be better than everyone else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be."
~Ken Venturi

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Lessons Learned

"The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind."
~ E.B. White

I have three children in three very different phases in their lives. My oldest is 18 and struggling with what it means to be an adult and make a future plan. My middle son is navigating the beginning of high school and the pull of electronics over study. My daughter is maneuvering  the world of preteen girls and "loser" boys in her opinion.

I may not have all the answers for my kids, but I have learned a few things over the last 40(ish) years....

10 Things I Want My Kids To Know

1) Laughter really IS the best medicine. When looking for friends or lovers look for someone with laughter in their eyes, heart, and soul. Find the people who make you laugh even in your darkest moods. Appreciate the dry, silly, sarcastic or just plain weird humor in people and make them a part of your happy place.

2) Find friends who love you no matter what. Find those people who know your darkest, deepest and most embarrassing secrets and mistakes yet still think you are amazing. Find those friends that if you need them at any time they are there for you. In return be that for them. Don't neglect them or let life get in the way of these friendships. Find these people and cherish them like gold.

3) Give your best no matter what. I don't understand the mentality of homework, projects or tests being a choice. To me, school is a child/young adult's preliminary job. I've held many jobs over my lifetime, some I hated, some I tolerated, some I loved, and I did my best regardless. There is no excuse for lazy.

4) Wait for a love that takes your breath away. Don't ever settle because you feel insecure or you're afraid to hurt someone. If it feels wrong it is wrong. There may be doubts about being ready to marry or commit, but it should be about the institution or ability, not about the person. I was told that passion and love fade so it's not important, what matters is friendship. I say you HAVE to have passion and love for those times when you want to kill each other. You have to be able to draw from something to remind you why you won't actually commit a felony. And life may get too busy for a honeymoon life but passion should never go away.

5) Find a job you love. If that doesn't work (because let's face it, how many of us have our dream job?) find a job you like and create a life you love. If you can at least like your job you can find your passion in a hobby, family, pets, travel or any creative/active outlet that makes your soul smile. And don't skimp on those things. Life is too short to not live it.

6) You can always change. That's the thing about life, nothing has to be forever. You can focus on a new career, relationship, health goal or personal accomplishment. You can dream, travel, try new things, learn new skills, step out of your comfort zone and test your courage. Too often we get set in a rut of daily life and forget to shake it up a bit. Life is an adventure. What kind of adventure is up to you.

7) Bad things will happen. I wish I could say your life will be full of only the best, but that is, of course, a big fat lie. You will get hurt, you will lose people you love, you will have your heart broken, you will have days you want to get back in bed and never get out, you will have sadness. But you are always stronger than you feel. This is where you call on that humor, friendship and passion for life to move past whatever knocked you down. Even at our lowest point we can only go up, it can only get better.

8) Have a good heart. Learn empathy, sympathy, self-sacrifice, kindness and charity. Learn to help people in the smallest of favors to the largest of dedicated deeds.  Give of yourself whenever possible. The smallest of acts can often have a huge impact on another. The world needs more good hearts.

9) Your happiness matters. I've only come to grasp this myself over the last five years and it's completely important. If you're not happy change something. It may not be an easy fix, but there is always an answer. It may be scary, intimidating, exhausting or terrifying. But if the end result is happiness it will be so very worth it.

10) And finally, you are loved. I love you no matter what choices, mistakes or accomplishments you make. I may be disappointed at times, angry in your actions, but I will never stop loving you and helping you in any way I can. And know that anytime I am sad it is because your pain is mine, your failure or success is shared and your happiness matters to me.

"If you want to be happy, be."
~Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's Not Easy Being Queen

"Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn't worth ruling."
~Louisa May Alcott

This past week I've been getting ready to revamp my life and my schedule. After 18 years of raising three children, often working at least one if not two part time jobs, I'm heading back to the 40 hour work week while still maintaining my coaching business.

I've been trying for the last year to find something challenging and interesting that still pays a livable salary. As many of you know that is rough. It's especially hard when you haven't been on a "career" path. I am lucky enough to be given a shot with a great company. To say I'm nervous and excited is putting it mildly.

Finding a job for many right now is challenging. We most assuredly have a large variety of over educated workers in food service, custodial or retail at the moment. But women with children looking for work also have to consider the hours, childcare costs and often the sad statistic that 54% are paid below their potential.

I read an article recently on the NBC News website suggesting that all women getting married create a post-nuptial agreement protecting themselves financially for the loss of their career if they choose to stay home and raise their children.

Jeff Landers writes: "A women's child rearing years are usually her highest earning years.There's no mistaking the cruel timing here.For most women, the phase of life devoted to child rearing and the phase of life devoted to corporate-ladder-climbing tend to overlap."

And yet as women and mothers, when we do get an opportunity, we still are expected to do it all by some.  

My children's father refuses to take on any more responsibility then simply taking the kids when not working because it's not convenient. When my children were younger and I did want to go back to work full time I was told no, because he would have to get the kids ready in the morning (I would leave early) and he shouldn't have to due to his higher pay check. Yet I have been called lazy for not being able to snap my fingers and find a position over the last year, working jobs that have paid little but at least bring in income while sending out 2 to 20 resumes a week.

I have someone now who is a huge support for whatever I want to do in life and thankfully my boys are learning from that role model. And really, if we love someone we should be willing to sacrifice for their dreams instead of focusing on how inconvenient it might make our lives.That's what it means to be a partner.

So I applaud all of the women I know (and don't know) whether you're raising kids, working part or full time, or basically doing whatever you can in life to be Wonder Women. Thankfully we don't have to wear that skimpy outfit (unless what you do requires it and if so-you go girl) but I would love an invisible jet.

"Women hold up half the sky."
~Mao Zedong

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Ugly Sweater

"I've cried, and you'd think I'd be better for it, but the sadness just sleeps, and it stays in my spine for the rest of my life."
~Conor Oberst

I'm not sure anyone who's made it to adulthood can't relate to that quote. Whether it was a circumstance, experience, decision, mistake or accident, we've all had a time in our lives where the sadness of what we're in feels overwhelming, suffocating.

For too many it's a real depression, in some form, that covers us like an ugly sweater. It makes us afraid to go out, and if we do we know everyone can see our sweater and how hideous it makes us feel. The sweater can be itchy and uncomfortable, often feeling three sizes too small in it's constriction . When we look in the mirror all we can see is how ugly it is. But as much as we try we just can't get it off.

Sometimes we get crafty, we can hide the sweater under layers and no one can see it's there, but we know. And sometimes the sweater can be put away for weeks or months before we wake up to this terrible wardrobe change.

This time of year, with short, cold, dreary days, is when many discover their sweater. Holidays are another trigger, or it can be as simple as a Tuesday.

Depression is a strange, tricky weave that hits young and old equally. About 22 veterans a day take his or her own life. Teen suicides in the U.S. range about 4,600 a year.

There has always been a sort of stigma to depression, as if it's a weakness that should not be acknowledged. But strength comes from the acknowledgement. It's a disease that can be treated or managed but not ignored. The sweater will only get uglier the longer you wear it.

Martha Manning wrote; "Depression is such a cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to send people scurrying in concern, just a slow erosion of self, as insidious as cancer,it is essentially a solitary experience; a room in hell with only your name on the door."

So pay attention. Pay attention to your kids, your spouse, your friends or coworkers. Can you see their sweaters? Or maybe you are the one donning the disgusting. How can you shed that layer, or at least make it a little less itchy and uncomfortable?

One of my favorite quotes is by A. A. Milne, "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

And so you are.