Creating Thanksgiving

Tis’ the season to be grateful. Thanksgiving commemorates the sacrifices made long ago. It’s another day where we celebrate the cost paid for freedom. We commemorate the lessons and the journey of change and adaptation. Thanksgiving brings family, friends, and frenemies together in order to agree that bigger problems exist than those we see in our daily American lives.

It is a time we nurture thankful thoughts.  It is more than breaking bread and stuffing ourselves with delectables. I hope it’ll become a time that we can take to celebrate others and celebrate ourselves for efforts made both big and small. In our household, we are forming a family tradition of eating a huge dinner on that Wednesday before Thanksgiving and conclude the evening with attending a Thanksgiving service at our home church.

I start out with preparation. It is a process that begins a month or two in advance. I take a few days to think about the meals we want to have the following month. I use a scrap piece of paper to brainstorm. During the prep stage, I look through the freezer and pantry to do an inventory of everything we have. I check to make sure I have freezer bags and other freezer safe containers. During this phase, I begin cleaning out the refrigerator, dumping old food, and wiping things down. I want to make sure that I have nothing to do but cook and store on the days I am cooking.

My children are small and impressionable, so we are relaxed and joyous as we attempt to create memories. Stress can steal the focus and imprint the wrong depiction. The relaxed dinner the day before is not just for them, but for me too. Weeks before Thanksgiving, I start becoming more conscious of all that I hold dear. I begin counting my blessings and take that into the new year. We do all of this to teach them how to celebrate the blessings that are so easily taken for granted.

How do you adjust from distractions and cultivate a heart of Thanksgiving?

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Stress Talk

Choices

Before my oldest daughter left for school this morning,  she handed me a sheet of paper entitled “Stress”. In all of her innocence, she says, “Mom, you can keep it and paste it in your journal.” This child is FUNNY! I can’t even get mad with her for sharing this good information. Was she trying to say that her mom was acting stressed out? No, she was not, but it was still a timely talk.

Stress can be healthy or unhealthy.  Healthy stress can be great for the body. Exercise is a form of healthy stress. It gives us energy, helps us to sleep, and it is a great way to beat off the weight of daily challenges.

Unhealthy stress comes in the form of worry and fears. We beat ourselves up trying to conquer different challenges.  Matters are only compounded as we try to control the narrative of our lives. Instead of seeing the good that may even exist in a tough situation, we try to “make” things happen. Don’t get me wrong, that was once me. I use to walk around saying, “if it is to be, it is up to me.” It was an unhealthy statement that I now use to explain how I was missing the simple blessings right in front of me. I was so focused on the “to be” and “me” that I was missing the now.

The best tip I can give to fight stress, is to enjoy the now. Here are some additional tips I shared last week:

Stress Talk
Sleep is so important in fighting stress.

Turn off the phone 1 hour before going to bed. The blue light keeps you awake.

Ivan Hernandez said something powerful. He makes 2 hours for self care every day. That is self care without guilt or apology.

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#MomLife

I must be honest, I am still fighting to establish healthy boundaries for my family. All over the network, we hear of the delimas moms are having. Working moms that may feel guilty and stay at home moms that feel judged, but nothing changes the fact that a mom is a mom. It is not about labels, but it is about how we navigate.

Whether you are a Momprenuer, Stay at Home Mom, or a Working Mom, you will need a team. A team that include baby sitters, people who can walk beside the family and people to encourage the mom. Having money to invest in getting the right people in the right position to do the things you don’t do well would help, but not always possible. It takes a village for any mom and with a business it takes a huge village. Nicole Parker, an actress and business owner found the help. Her helper took care of her to make sure that she was eating. Parker then stressed how she took care of the person who helps her by paying her what she asked for. Rewarding because that same person care for her kids and is still with her today.

Allow your family to help. One business lady shared that the kids, her mother, and her in-laws work for the business. In our home, the girls have chores and receive commission with completed tasks. I am learning how to communicate my needs because one person can not be and do all things perfectly.

Resist fear because it paralyzes. You must have the courage to establish healthy boundaries and healthy goals for your family. I use to be afraid of making mistakes and worse of people getting angry with me. Learn to trust yourself again. You’ve made it this far, you must be ok.  Don’t give up on yourself. In your personal life and in business,  resist fear. Parker said that with her, she fought fear with this thought of “She already had the no, so go get the yes.”

In managing stress, you must take the initiative to set healthy boundaries.
Realize what you can and can not do. For example, if you need to get up early, don’t overextend yourself by making obligations that will get you home too late or in bed too late.

Sleep is so important in fighting stress.
Turn off the phone and other media 1 hour before going to bed. The blue light keeps you awake.

Don’t forget to take time to take care of yourself. Ivan Hernandez said something powerful and profound to me. He makes 2 hours for self care every day. That is self care without guilt or apology. That may or may not include going to the gym, but no matter what, he makes sure to get it in. Do you make time for yourself?  Please share with the group how you arrange your schedule to fit self care.

Using A Planner

I’m not an organization expert or planner guru. This is not an advertisement. This is for people who are looking for wisdom regarding planning.

Planning is for the wise and the strong. It is also for the weak and faint at heart. In grade school, I had problems focusing. After almost an entire year of fun and games from the back of the class, the teacher finally contacted my mother to tell her of our failure. It was a failure to complete assignments, a failure to determine how much I had grown, and a failure to succeed in making me third grade ready. She could not allow me to ascend to the next level if I was not proficient in the basics. That year I made an amazing discovery and realized that I was easily distracted. It was a wake up call and I understood all that I could loose if I did not focus. Planning is my way of making sure I’m remaining focus.

When I pull out my planner, I think about the appointments I have during the week. I then think about my goals for the week. Do I have any assignments due? Am I responsible for organizing an event or gathering (small or large)? These are things I must think about when sitting to plan. Just a side note, I am a bit “extra” when it comes to planning. I am beginning to break almost every task down into smaller steps. This helps me to evaluate how much I can realistically accomplish in a certain amount of time. For example, if I need to make a phone call, I need to place the number beside the task listed. If I do not have the number, then a phone call is placed on the “to do” list and I leave space for finding the number. It becomes a two part action.

Although time is like money, never forget people first before things. Planning is only a tool.  With that in mind, using my planner helps me to appreciate how my time is being used. I can even celebrate small failures. What others may call wasting, I call investing. For example, if I spend four hours on the phone with my sister for her birthday, then I am making an investment in her and our relationship. I can look at my huge “to do” list and reflect on how she is more important than all of those items combined. Although time is like money, love should always be first.

Living Well

Traveling Well

First, I can only accomplish living well and traveling well with prayer. I can not take credit for the favor that my family received on these trips but I can share the process. In fact, this summer we took a short family vacation. It was a small getaway of four days and four nights to Pittsburgh, PA., “Home of the Steelers”. Nice people by the way. We had so much fun bonding and catching one adventure after the next. This was truly an adventure full of grace.

Secondly, to travel well, we must refer to our foundational principles for positive posture, we definitely will need to have clear goals. Without established goals, you can get lost. Many people get lost in “chasing” the best deal and forgetting all that glitter is NOT gold. This applies to all things in life, not just traveling. Once you have outlined the things that will make your trip comfortable, you begin to realize that the best deal is not just about money. It is about how things align with the experience you are trying to create. This recent trip to Pittsburgh was an idea that originated from my husband’s desire to attend a Steelers game with our six year old daughter. My nine year old, a Redskins fan, and I only planned to tag along to just getaway. I think of this short trip as a bucket list item for my husband. He wanted to be downtown in walking distance to everything. He added that he wanted to expose the girls to nice things, so he wanted to stay in the best hotel in Pittsburgh. As a budget savvy Mommy, I do NOT mind. I just need clear goals so that I can look for the coupon for it. And even if it does not go as planned, at least you have a strategy or game plan to serve as your default.

The third step, you must have a good attitude in order to travel well. Earlier I mentioned that plans may not go as planned, but the right attitude will help you to feel that it is part of the adventure we call life. Every challenge carries with it an opportunity, but most of the time you can not see it until the hard part passes. To smile in the heat of adversity is almost like you are standing and seeking the face of God.

Finally, make sure you have tip money. It is better to give than to receive. Tipping reflects on you. It relates a message that says “you believe in adding to the quality of life for others”. Inadvertently you add to your trip by showing appreciation for others. This also helps you to fight the temptations of filling your trip with empty pleasures, missing the purpose of any trip. I see a trip as taking a date with yourself, and part of being good to yourself is being good to others. It is a time to reconnect with yourself and those you love. Sometimes we can loose touch with what matters in our day to day. Most trips remind us that the world is bigger than just what we see every day. I hope this helps you to reboot.

Peaceful travels

Parenting in Grace

Parenting is a tough job, but it is the most important. We all want to get it right because others are depending on us. Unfortunately, we will make some mistakes, but you must remember that perfection is not the goal but love is.  It is no perfect way for raising  children but there are some timeless principles. There is one that I’m just learning myself. The principle of grace.

My mother was pretty tough and a fair  disciplinarian.  She was far from perfect and life in a dysfunctional family was anything but easy. The only saving grace was that she loved me. As I matured, I respected the boundaries she set concerning us. It fostered a respect for her and even when we were away,  I considered what she would say about my choices. She also had respect from others because of her no-nonsense persona. She knew how to put people in their place.  It appeared that she was so good at handling us; hitherto, I believed that shaming a person was the way to put people in their place.

Her tough demeanor became my tough demeanor. Being tough was my way of coping with the challenges of life. I had many coping skills but the only problem is that those coping skills lost their effectiveness. What worked as a child was no longer working for me as an adult.

Recently I read Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. The biblical approach paralleled with a lot of my personal experiences and beliefs except on one point. I had never seen efforts taken by my parents to preserve my dignity whenever I made a mistake. I am NOT saying that it was my parents’ fault and they had to teach that. They did their best with what they had. I am saying that I never saw it before and did not know how to extend it to my family.

Tripp wrote that our job is to help our children to be honest in recognizing their weaknesses and needs. This is another healthy skill I had to learn as an adult. I was a quiet child at heart and rarely shared things that were on my heart. I had to trust that it was safe before sharing because of the shame I carried with so many of my memories. When I became truthful in recognizing my weaknesses and needs, I was able to handle challenges in healthy ways. Our children will also benefit from being honest with themselves and  in learning how to communicate their needs. This is important in managing the challenges of life.

Tripp used scripture references from The Bible that spoke volume and I see them as instructions for marriage, parenting, friendship and everything else. Proverbs 16:21, Don’t berate with destructive words. Proverbs 16:23, Wounding their spirit only deepens alienation.  On page 207 of his book, I like how Tripp defined our responsibilities. He said as parents we want to teach our children how to take their sins to the cross, find forgiveness, and the power to live. 

Have you ever seen a personal weakness surface in the lives of your children? How did you handle it?