Go Old School on Him

Maybe I should have titled this one “My Third Rant” as the first rant I did (https://strongerthanbroken.com/?s=my+first+rant ) was also about that damned cell phone.

One evening my husband and I went to have a bite to eat and hear a local band. I was stunned that the couple next to us. They were captivated by their cell phones instead of talking to each other. Oh well. I brushed it off thinking that surely they would converse at some point. I mean, the meal had not yet come. They were just whetting their appetites with pop until the food arrived, right?

Wrong! The food came and they were still looking and eating. I have no words. Well, yes I do.

My parents taught me that when you are at restaurant, it is customary to sit across from your partner or date, so you can have meaningful eye contact. Thank you mom and dad.

Still at it

I often expect this cell phone obsession from the younger generation, but here was a couple about our age. It made me so sad to think that their date night was all about checking their Facebook feed or sending a Tweet about being out on date night. Do you see the irony?

My solution? Let’s go “Old School” on our dates. Leave the phone in the car or at very best put the damned thing down when the food arrives. I love to post happy date nights on social media so I fully understand the need to have the phone with me, but honestly, I also need to look deep into my husband’s eyes. I need to see that special smile that he only gives to me. I need to connect in a way that signifies that we can still feel like lovers and not business partners.

Here are a few tips for your next date:

  • Do not talk about the kids, bills, or broken washing machine. It is a date, not a board meeting.
  • Use the phone to post a few cute pictures and then put it away.
  • If you have young kids and need to check on how the babysitter is doing, make sure you peek on occasion or put the phone face down so that you can see it vibrate if an emergency call is coming in.
  • Remember that date night is sacred, special, wonderful, fun and a way to rekindle romance.
  • Go home knowing you connected in a meaningful way and see where it leads when the lights are turned out.

89 Cent Cake Was Just Fine

Have you heard the term “reframing?” Just like it sounds, you place an old picture into a new frame. Your thoughts can be reframed until you start thinking in a positive way all or most of the time. So take that old thought process and put it into a new frame.

Recently I had one of those days where I could have been completely annoyed by the fact that I had to go to multiple places to get a cake for my husband, and ended up just making a cheap cake mix from a box.

The old me would have been so angry about all of the detours the day threw at me, but I have been working for so many years at being in my happy place on a daily basis, that shooting the first half of this video was actually a bit difficult. Enjoy a laugh if you have 3 and a half minutes.

Learning to reframe was not an overnight affair. It was work. I often had to “fake it till I make it” when in a long line, or when the cashier was less than competent. I frequently bit my tongue when someones opinion did not mesh with mine. I worked avidly at understanding a person who was so far away from my political viewpoint that I wanted to scream.

Does this ring true for you? When you go on a diet, it should always be the replacing of a bad food for a good food. In like manner, we can replace our bad thoughts for good ones.

When learning a musical instrument it is the day by day practicing that over time turns you into a true musician. In the same vein the daily practice of finding joy in a long line, or a traffic jam will make us enjoy our day to the fullest instead of lamenting over situations we cannot change.

Go an enjoy this day…and the next day….and the next. Life is meant to be lived, enjoyed, relished and cherished. Your infectious joy will spread and spread until you are truly an enlightened being filled with love. You will attract so much more beauty into your life. And, once in a while, enjoy an 89 cent cake.

89 cent cake from a box mix

Your life will open up in magical ways when you open your mind to joy. The right people will be attracted to you while the negative people will fall away, one by one.

Hope You Don’t Mind

Instead of trying to impress you with some brilliant revelation or entertain you with some silly story, I hope you don’t mind if today I shamelessly self promote a book that has brought me so much joy.

Letters to the Dead Men – Unexpected Revelations was written with all of the love I could muster and all of the raw emotions I felt when losing beautiful men that came through my life and taught me many lessons.

I have entered this book in the 2019 Author Academy Awards Contest and hope to break into that top ten spot for my category.

Last year Stronger Than Broken – One couple’s decision to move through an affair made it into the top ten and I had the opportunity to present the book at the Igniting Souls Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Although it did not win, the thrill I got from presenting to judges and a crowd still makes me hyped-up. I loved sharing.

This new book was written not only to help me find closure to the pain still lingering years after the death of some key figures in my life but to also help others through their pain.

Here are the instructions: Go to https://authoracademyawards.com and click on the red button that says “vote for 2019.” When the first page loads you will see in the upper left that you are on page one of sixteen. Letters to the Dead Men is on the fourteenth page of the sixteen.

When you get to page sixteen simply click on the book and that is your vote. If you truly feel inspired, you may also comment which book you voted for and share it to your Facebook feed. I sincerely thank you in advance for doing this for me so that more people can grieve their way back to functional.

It’s Not 50-50. Deal With It!

I have an acquaintance that I run into often at a particular Panera. If he is not with a client, he invites me over to his table. I bring my coffee and we chat. Somehow the conversation ends up being about marriage or something having to do with relationships.

Coffee

This man has met my husband on a few social occasions and seems to know just how to get under my skin by telling me that he does not understand why I put so much into the marriage. He makes comments about how it is obvious to him that I love my husband more than he loves me. Knowing the subject matter of the first book I wrote (Stronger Than Broken) he thinks that I did most of the work in the reconstruction of the marriage.

I admit that my first and very defensive response is “So what! Why does everything have to be 50-50?” In my union to the man I have loved for more than half of my life, I never look at things in a way that would make me question his effort. Just as a side note,  my Panera friend has had more than one divorce.

My husband has many talents and strengths. I have many talents and strengths. They can be quite different. Could you imagine if everything in the relationship had to be 50-50? Let’s envision that our children stayed in wet diapers for part of the day waiting for Daddy to come home because I had already done my half for the day. Let’s picture that when our roof needed to be replaced, I would have gone up on the ladder to do the left side and my husband the right side so it could be 50-50. That would terrify me when the first rain would come! When “we” homeschooled our children should I have graded only half of the papers so that he could grade the rest? Should he cook half of the meat on the grill and I the other half?

Maybe these are petty examples. I mean, relationships should be equal, right? Hmmmm. I’m not necessarily buying that. Where we are spiritually, how we were raised as children, what our socioeconomic level was growing up, our possible cultural differences and our personalities are unique.

Like the distinctive and delicious spices comingling together in a casserole that make the dish worthy of a feast, the strengths, weaknesses, and differences we have make our relationship flavorful.

Yes, perhaps I put more into the “relationship” part of our union. Perhaps he puts more into the providing part of our marriage. We share the cleaning and cooking and even the bill paying.

I know I am not the only woman who puts forth effort. I remember the first time I ever found validation that most women do tend to work harder on their relationship. It was when I began to read books by Laura Doyle. Check out https://www.huffpost.com/entry/exclusive-interview-with-laura-doyle-author-of-first_b_578535cce4b09c5504c4371f. Her views are refreshing in a world where we have become obsessed with equality. Laura describes successful marriages in a way that never makes me feel like a doormat and always reminds me that I am a wife to my husband and not his mother. Her first step when working with couples is the self-care of the woman. I resonate with that wholeheartedly!

Well, back to my Panera buddy. I tell him that I am thrilled that my husband and I don’t keep chits or memorandums saying who owes who what or who has done more of the work in the marriage. To me it is a big old so what!

So maybe this will still come across as defensive, but let’s get real. It’s not always 50-50. Deal with it.

Is Divorce in Your Future?

What is your feeling about divorce? It is a touchy subject to be sure. Those who have been divorced can be quite defensive about it. Those that wish they were divorced may not truly understand the pain and sting this event can bring. Those that will never divorce or do not believe in it can come across as self righteous or maybe you will judge them as being a doormat who will put up with anything.

Why is it so prevalent? Why I am glad you asked! Prior to the 1930’s, less than 7% divorced. Part of that may have been that the laws of divorce were very strict. It was often hard to prove abuse, adultery or abandonment, which were the only reasons a divorce would be granted.  In 1967 the laws changed to include “no-fault” divorces. By the 1970’s the divorce rate jumped up to 33% and culminated with 53% by 1980. Currently, it has gone down slightly and leveled off at about 50%.

Here is where I grapple with that 50% mark. Are things more difficult today than they were in the past? Did people 100 years ago or 50 years ago or 30 years ago have money problems? Did they argue? Did they have poor communication skills? Did they cheat on each other? Did they grow tired of one another? You and I both know that indeed many couples did. So why have we become a society where we just throw away a marriage like last years cell phone?

This question will not necessarily be answered here. However, I want you to think about possible causes that we may be too quick to throw away a relationship that can be saved.

I have seen so many couples that were on the verge of splitting and now years later are thrilled to be together. For the sake of brevity, I will share only one story.

When our children were younger, my husband and I spent many hours at swim meets, speedskating meets and ballet recitals. Moms talk. Moms talk a lot! One friend and I had very similar situations in where we did not feel supported by our husbands. Finances were very tight and we were shocked to find out that both of our husband’s made almost the very same amount each year on their yearly tax returns. They were both great fathers, but seemed to lack drive in a few critical areas needed for a functional marriage.

It felt wonderful to be able to “bitch-and-moan” to my friend instead of finding solutions and looking for blessings. I sincerely hope that I have grown since then. But, at this time in our marriages, this friend often made the comment that she already had her plan in place to stay with him until their youngest had graduated high school. Then she was “out.”

Fast forward to today. Our children are grown and off in the world. Every time I want to hang out with this lovely lady, she is busy doing things with…wait for it…her husband! Somewhere between our complaints about unmotivated men who had lost their ability to dream, or set goals, between the checkbooks with less than $9.00 in them and the money fights, between disappointments and trials of marriage came hope.

Hope, understanding, agreements, new dreams, financial peace, perseverance, joy, love, creativity and newfound enthusiasm.

So often we see a bleak situation in our lives and see no way out or around it. We forget that each calendar year has seasons, and marriages often have seasons too. Unless there is violence or abuse, (in which case you need to get out) will you try to look at your significant other in a new light? Will you try to imagine the marriage you had at the altar and work towards new growth?

If you are willing to do that, then we need to talk. If you are not willing to do that, then we really need to talk. Please contact me for a free consultation and I will do my best to shed light on a bleak situation and give you hope and inspiration. It is my passion to see relationships bloom like a flower and give off the fragrance of unbridled adoration and passion.

Dandelion People

Dandelions. Weeds or friends? When I was a child, my father handed me a dandelion weeder and paid me 10 cents for every dandelion I would pull from the roots. Thankfully for him, and unfortunate for me, our front yard was not very big.

Fast forward to today. My husband and I have a big yard and tons and tons of dandelions. I let them be. I let the butterflies and the bees enjoy the dandelions.

Seeing them the other day made me laugh thinking that we all have some “dandelion people” in our lives. You know, people that we wish we could uproot from our lives? These are people who do not bring us joy. These are people who create stress in our lives and people who just plain annoy us.

Here are my thoughts on dandelion people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRFjXefI4is&feature=youtu.be

Here is the thing: These very same people who annoy us, are the very treasured children of God. They are cherished and loved dearly by others.

Personalities don’t always have to mesh. Perhaps we see in “dandelion people” what we don’t want to see in ourselves. Maybe you have a “dandelion person” who has opposing political views, or different value system.

The take away today is that since God loves them and other people love them, we should too.

Now, go and love on a dandelion. They are not weeds.

It Felt Like Family

I just came off of a high like no other. My husband and I decided that we would travel for Mother’s Day to visit the children who no longer live in our area.

Love is spelled T.I.M.E.

To have all of us together again even for a day or two was amazing. We visited the art museum, enjoyed a local brewery for dinner and drinks, brought a cheesecake from the grocery store, enjoyed some Netflix, and the kids gave me a card that brought me to tears of gratitude. The following morning we had breakfast at a cute restaurant before heading back home.

Nothing was too expensive. Nothing was too forced. Nothing was too scheduled. It felt like old times. It felt like family.

It is difficult to watch our children go off into the big, bad world and become adults. It can make us feel old. It can make us crave the days when Mother’s Day included watching the kids play in the back yard after a big Sunday meal.

But I, the one who tends to look at things as rosy and upbeat spent very little time lamenting my age and the fact that the kids are starting to scatter farther and farther from the homestead. I looked at this day as a testimony to something my husband and I did right.

Oh! The times we fought. Oh! The times we were broke as a joke. Oh! The times that the kids made us crazy. The times that our parenting skills were less than stellar. The times that we pushed our own agendas on the kids. The times that we questioned our sanity. Was it all worth it?

Absolutely. Our children are not just an extension of ourselves, but their own wonderful, insightful, and creative souls who will design their own destiny and move our big, bad world forward.

Embrace your children no matter what age. Love your spouse and always look for the best. Make each day feel like family.

Still Learning

Back in the ’80s, I was teaching a little girl ice skating lessons. As we were perfecting her balance on one foot she began philosophizing on something way beyond her years. I asked her how she knew about that subject and she simply answered: “I love to learn.”

I brushed it off as a cute but nerdy girl. You see, it was taking me way longer than 4 years to complete my first degree and I was sick of learning. Little did I know that years later, long after that B.S. was proudly displayed on my wall that my brain would soon go stagnant. I would crave to know more about subjects from nutrition to leadership, human anatomy to marketing my books.

What fuel does the brain run on? How can I make that cute craft I saw on Pinterest? Is there a way to make money from home? What muscles do I need to develop to kayak better in this year’s race? There is always a YouTube video, a webinar, a book, a seminar or a class to glean knowledge from.

As a Christian woman, I am also willing to grow deeper in my faith. Going to church on Sunday is great, but I realize that there is so much more to spending time in fellowship with our creator. Recently I had the opportunity to be a speaker in a virtual summit with several talented authors and speakers.

One, in particular, reached right out from the computer screen and grabbed my heart! I could not wait to sign up for her online class called The Non-Negotiables. So today I gladly share her information in case you too are ready to learn what God has in store for your life.

https://www.thenonnegotiables.com/at-work

Joan Turley and her partner Terri Capshaw have the best stories from their own life experiences and so many nuggets of Biblical wisdom.

One of my favorite modules was about how God never wastes our pain. Now let me be clear on one thing. I have non-believing friends. They don’t believe in God because they say “Why would a loving God ————?” They can fill in the blanks with anything from cancer, accidental death, a spouses affair, war, famine, financial ruin and more.

Well, my response is always “God does not create infidelity, cancer, famine etc…” We have and always will have free choice. That being said, many of us have made poor decisions and have been thrown a few curve balls in life.

It is when we seek Him to help us through these trials that He shows us His love, mercy, and compassion. I used the Superchick song Beauty from Pain, to get through some incredibly difficult times. Enjoy it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3Od6B02PmA

Know that when we call on Him and show Him our heart, He will use the drawbacks in our life to bring us to a stronger place and often into a better position to be of help and influence to others struggling. Keep the faith and remember that we are all still learning!

BIG LIFE

I always love when someone can take a word and make each letter stand for something. As a bit of a word nerd, I love acrostics, initialisms and acronyms.

I will never forget seeing an acrostic for the name Alex. What do you do with that letter ‘X’? Well, Alex had blond hair. The writer used the word xanthic to describe her hair color. Brilliant.

We all know that SCUBA stands for self contained underwater breathing apparatus, and perhaps most of us know that radar is short for radio detection and ranging, but today I learned that laser is short for
light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Ah, but I digress.

What I really wanted to point out today is that LIFE (yes the life we live) should really stand for Living Intentionally For Excellence and that BIG stands for Bring In God.

Cuddle a cat

So to live a big life, we need to bring in God and live intentionally for excellence.

Pray with your S.O.

Here are some tips or tools of the trade that can alter the course you may currently be on:

1) Eat good food. Simple right? I mean things that come from the earth and not a box.

Real Food

2) Enjoy your pets. The simple pleasures of a furry friend can make you slow down.

3) Write down what you really want. It could be small like making it through an entire day without screaming at your teenager, or it could be something big like paying off your mortgage two years early. When we write goals down we are more likely to work towards them.

4) Pray and pray and pray. I always had a hard time praying for myself, as I assumed it was too selfish, but a good man of faith once reminded me that God wants us to be happy and fulfilled. I try my best to pray for others first and conclude with some desires of my own.

Relax in Nature

5) Set yourself apart. Instead of binge-watching the next series (ask me how many episodes in a row I have watched of Call the Midwife),  reach for that book or Google search a Ted talk on an area you need more knowledge in.

6) Take time to do absolutely nothing in particular. In this frenetic society, we run on empty for much of the day. Relaxing and recharging will allow you to do it all over again tomorrow with clarity and love.

Enjoy your life as it is now, always looking for ways to improve. Always have gratitude for what you have, while working towards what you want.

Adult children

One night in conversation, some friends and I asked each other when you stop being a parent. Well, I suppose we never stop being a parent, but we were all in agreement that there should be a time when we stop parenting.

Is it the moment they turn eighteen? Hell no. Is it when they attend college? Getting warmer. Is it when they finish college and move out? Warmer still. Obviously, this is each individual family’s decision but at some point, we must realize that the more we push our own agenda onto our children, the more we may push them away. Worse yet, the more we bail out our children and make their decisions for them, the more we stifle their own growth.

Allowing them to make their own stupid decisions authorizes them to become mature. My favorite Bible verse in the book of James explains it this way.: James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  In other words, we have to go through some “stuff” in order to be grown up, and that goes for our adult children as well.

I know there will be things like late cell phone payments, tattoos you don’t approve of, parking tickets not paid, boyfriends or girlfriends you do not approve of, a large credit card payment they cannot make on time or any other fill in the blank you can think of. Take a deep breath. Remember that you already raised them and now they have to step into their own role and do their own adulting.

Relax. Try to live by example only and with any luck, they will eventually transcend immaturity and make you proud.

Part child-Part adult