Month: February 2019

Be That Giver

Sitting at the large dining room table in the home of my aunt and uncle on New Years Day was a memory I will always cherish. With three siblings of my own and five cousins, the New Years Day meal was a combination of good food, multiple conversations all at once and the truest form of being part of a family.

I always felt a bit melancholy thinking about the fact that my mother was an only child. She had hinted at the fact that as an only child she felt pressure to always be the good girl and perfect daughter. As I sat at my cousin’s table, hoping someone did not finish their shrimp cocktail and I could acquire it somehow, I felt a sense of joy that we were all so different and each had something to offer.

I have a sister, twelve years my senior and I had (sadly, past tense) two brothers. All were accomplished in their own way. One an artist, another an intellect, one an athlete and another mechanically gifted.

Our parents were small business owners and I am not sure how they managed to raise four children on their meager income. My husband and I also struggled financially in our early years of marriage and I can remember stressing about the finances of raising three children of our own. I think what my grandmother told me once became true. She looked at my swollen belly, my frazzled look, my messy house and simply said, “Babies bring their own money.”

What she meant was that there will always be kind people, family members, church groups, and well-meaning neighbors who can pick up when there is a need. That feeling of hope and support allowed my first born to have a couple of siblings.

I have no regrets of all of the financial hardship of adding to our family. Like my siblings, my own children all brought to our family their own individual strengths, talents and gifts. Having multiple children allowed me to stretch and grow in ways I did not know I was capable of.

Do you have any large families in your circle that may have a need right now? If so, how can you help? Can you be that giver?

Find those extra few dollars and anonymously send a gift card from your local grocery store to a family who would appreciate it. Drop off some lightly used children’s clothing your children no longer need. Shovel that pregnant neighbors driveway while you are out doing your own.

Look for ways that you can pay forward some of the kindnesses given to you over the years. Gratitude comes in all forms. Do not do it for acknowledgement or recognition. Do it so that some other generation of siblings will have fond family memories to share.

What it means to lead.

L.E.A.D. Leverage, Edify, Assimilate, and Direct. Isn’t that an ideal way to remember what it takes to lead? I learned this acronym from a leadership seminar and it really stuck.

No matter how many Science classes I took (and even when I homeschooled my own children through elementary school) I always had trouble understanding the three types of levers and how the fulcrums changed the ease of the load and how much force had to be applied. It always came down to leverage or the exertion of force by means of a lever or an object used in the lever.

Leverage. When I lead, am I the fulcrum? Am I the force? Or am I the load? The ability to influence a system, or an environment, in a way that multiplies the outcome of one’s efforts without a corresponding increase in the consumption of resources, is the true definition of leverage. In other words, leverage is the condition of having a relatively small amount of cost in order to yield a relatively high level of returns. Sounds quite advantageous, doesn’t it?

Edify. When we spiritually or morally uplift someone we edify them. When we introduce a speaker to a large audience we edify the speaker and get the audience excited about what the speaker will teach them. But, the best example of edification is when we speak highly of someone when they aren’t even in the room. Have you ever had a person tell you that your services came highly recommended by someone? That “someone” was edifying you when you were not around. It’s a great feeling when you know you made a difference in at least one person’s life. When we can promote, uplift and educate in a way that is pleasant and God-honoring, we are on our way to greater emotional and spiritual wealth. I love this verse from Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,”

Assimilate. When we can take in someone’s culture, point of view or situation and then understand it fully, we are in a position to help, aid and support when we are called to do so. This can stretch us if we were raised a certain way or have strong convictions, but there are so many ways for us to grow as we understand others. Romans 2:11 says “For God shows no partiality” I also appreciate the teachings in Luke. Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” Belive me, I am still a work in progress on that one!

Direct. When we can stay on the most direct course to get from point A to point B, or when we can guide someone else in the course they are trying to take, we are leading. It is easy to get off course and distractions will always come our way, but in order for true leadership to happen, we must stay the course, stick it out, persevere, or whatever idiom works for you. Get it done!

Never forget that true leaders lead from the front. They do not delegate from the rear and wait to see what happens. They take action. Will you be a leader today? Will you boldly step out in faith that you can work on your agenda in a timely manner, be aware of the feelings and situations of the people on your team and get it done?

Turbo Charged

One of my two wonderful brothers was a motorhead. When he was alive and I was a young girl, I watched in fascination while he was in our garage working on cars or motorcycles. He had a passion for all things fast, and he passed that enchantment down to me.

Although my current car is as ordinary as the day is long, I fantasize about having a turbocharged vehicle.

With a turbine driven device to increase an internal combustion engine’s efficiency and power output, you can really move. The forcing of extra compressed air into the combustion chamber allows for greater speed.

What if I could turbo charge my day? What if I could increase my engine to create a bigger impact and influence on my own performance as a teacher, speaker, writer, wife, and friend?

Well, no more “what if” I am here to tell you that I am boldly stepping out and doing what I coach my clients to do. I am creating more speed and efficiency in my life by clearing the clutter and becoming laser focussed on coaching and writing.

2019 run-bike-kayak race

Some of the steps may seem contradictory, like spending time attending seminars instead of creating them. Perhaps onlookers will see me kayaking up the Cuyahoga River with a beer in my hand and my husband by my side when I could be writing the next chapter of my book. Maybe I will enter another triathlon and you will see me trudging up a steep hill when I should be in my office coaching a couple in need.

Well, don’t ever forget that nutrition, physical exercise, fun with your significant other and all of the other seemingly non-career related activities lead to a clear and focussed mind when it is time to write again. Enjoying all of the other aspects of living is what allows me to flow when I need to.

If you are on board with me, let’s start with clearing out the clutter so that your engine will have greater power. Here are a few steps I have recently taken that have helped tremendously. I would love to hear yours, so please feel free to share below.

  • Do a ‘Marie Kondo” on your closet and in your office. Simplicity breeds clarity.
  • Clean the pantry of foods that no longer serve your waistline. Eating more greens and healthy fats lead to less brain fog and more focus.
  • Include your spouse in decision making and goal setting. Let him or her know what you are all about and how much you want their support. Feeling supported leads to confidence in achieving your goals.
  • Get out of your own way. Ignore the haters and the naysayers and get busy with the plan you have set into place.
This is the “before” picture when I did a Marie Kondo style tidy up of my closet.

In the blink of an eye.

I bet you have heard some old codger use the term blink of an eye when referring to something or other. I have heard it too. When I was in my late twenties and beginning the journey into parenthood, I heard older men and women alike say “Enjoy those babies. It goes by in the blink of an eye.”

I needed to hear that when my husband was complaining about the cheerios and pretzel crumbs all over the car seats in the van and the youngest one was crying to be nursed for the second time within the hour. I needed to be reminded of that when the paycheck only stretched so far and the diapers were so darned expensive.

Those words “in the blink of an eye” would serve me well during sleepless nights, vomiting kids, the chicken pox that I acquired from one of my girls. I needed to be reminded of that as I took more than one trip to the emergency room with our son.

Despite all of the ups and downs of parenthood, I really loved being a mom and just hanging out with those precious, sticky-fingered, runny-nosed bundles of joy. They made me laugh and cry all at the same time. They made my heart feel full in ways I cannot fully describe.

When they became of school age, I just wasn’t ready to hand them over to another person for 7 hours each day. Call me a crazy woman, a hover parent, a control freak or whatever other names you like. I don’t care. I homeschooled them for several years before turning them over to both the public and private school system and guess what? It went by in the blink of an eye!

If you are considering homeschooling your child or children for any length of time, go and do your due diligence. Learn what the rules are in your state. Each state may have different laws and criteria that must be met. Find out if your child can do part-time enrollment in your public school if they show an aptitude for a particular subject you do not feel qualified in. Does your child want to participate in a school sport? They may have to be enrolled in the school for at least a portion of the day.

Also look for your true motives for keeping your child at home. There are as many reasons to homeschool as there are varieties of flowers. Do you want your little rose to bloom at home because she is super smart and your schools do not offer a gifted program?

Is your little petunia a slow learner and you do not want any labels put on him or her during the school tracking system? Although schools are reluctant to call it “tracking”  many still have a system in place or a program that they offer for those children they know may otherwise fall through the cracks.

Maybe you chose to homeschool your sunflower because they are athletically gifted and getting the school day finished quickly allows more time at the ice rink, gymnastics school or swimming pool.

Is your azalea just “special” in some way that you know schools won’t understand? We all bloom at our own pace and only with the proper nurturing.

If you are about to embark on the journey of education at home be prepared for the best and the worst days you will ever have. Some days will float by effortlessly as your lovely students will avidly learn with eager hearts and minds. Other days you will want to scream and wonder if they really are learning anything at all.

As a former homeschool mom, I remember a time I when I was so involved with homeschool groups to make sure that they were being socialized (hysterically stupid term used by people who think homeschooled kids are all reclusive hermits) that I had to step back and remind myself to get some real learning in. It is easy to sign them up for homeschool skating, homeschool 4-H, homeschool Library classes and then wonder why they didn’t get their Math worksheet done before Daddy got home.

I see two particular types of homeschool being the most popular with the third being valid as well.

  1. On-line schools –  Remember that this is not really homeschooling in its truest form. With most online schools you will have teachers other than the parents and the student must be at their computer at specific class times to work with the teacher and the other online learners. This can seem as restrictive as public school and online schools have children take standardized tests. If one of the reasons you are keeping your student at home is because they learn differently, you may be disappointed with virtual schools.
  2. Creating or purchasing a curriculum – I used a combination of purchased material and things I wanted to expose my children to at the beginning of my homeschool experience. My state required that if I did that I must submit an expected agenda of covered material at the start of each year. Then, at the end of the year, I needed a written narrative from a certified teacher to avoid breaking any truancy laws.
  3.  Unschooling – Perhaps the least popular or least understood, this method is for parents who are ok with a student-led approach. That is to say, they learn through play. It may include undirected play, household chores, learning from experience, using their own curiosity and placing little or no emphasis on curricula and typical grading.

A few of the children in our homeschool skating class were “unschooled” for many years and ended up doing quite well. The ones I became friends with ended up going to top colleges, got married, have careers and are lovely individuals. Although they did not follow traditional learning their first 11 or 12 years, they grew and blossomed as all well-nurtured things do.

One of my children “unschooled” for 2 years and is currently thriving in law school. The point is our children learn what they want and what they need despite us pushing our own agendas on them.

Oh! And remember, it goes by in the blink of an eye! Enjoy every minute of the time you put into raising your children. God bless.

Psalm 127:3Children are a heritage from the Lordoffspring a reward from him.”