Friday, January 17, 2014

The Truth About Will Power!

"I can't seem to get started.  "
"Being healthy is hard.  It takes too much work."
"I tried it once, and I just can't seem to stick to it. I don't have the will power!"

I hate the term "will power".  It's a term that always has a have or don't have attached to it.  If someone tries to make a change and doesn't the reason is that they don't have will power.  If someone accomplishes a tough goal that requires sustained effort and change, it is credited to the fact that they do have will power.  Will power becomes a trait of the haves and the have nots.


Everyone has will power.

Every day,  you make voluntary decisions (not the involuntary decisions like breathing and blinking) based on will.    Albeit the process of decision making can be very quick and very subconscious, you still make decisions - you exercise your will.  You have power to exercise your will - or, will power.

You know that cookie in the cupboard that is calling your name? That is will power.  If you know it is something you should not have but have it anyway, your will powered you to partake, not to abstain.  If you abstain, your will powered you to walk away rather than partake. Will power can be positive and move you towards where you want to be. Will power can be negative and keep you away or move you further away from where you want to be.  The difference in the direction will power takes you is choice.

WOMAN UP!  You ALWAYS have choice. Own the choice. Account for the choice. Manage the choice.

If you say you have no choice, you are not owning the power of your free will and you are fooling yourself.  If you say there is NOTHING you can do to move you toward the positive side of will power, you are not taking accountability for your exercise of choice.  If you say that this is just the way it is and you just have to live with the negative side of will, you are making excuses - you are not managing the power or choice that you've been given.

Even if you can't choose to step into the positive side of will power in the blink of an eye, you can own your choice and will power, and choose to move in small increments toward that direction-seek out help and information,  or a support group.  Be accountable for your  will power and choice by changing an attitude about your will, realizing that it is not responsible for you, you are responsible for you. Manage your will and change in a way that is sustainable by making one small change at a time, or by looking for things you are already doing or are capable of doing that will move you toward your goals. Each thing you do to change direction moves you one step closer to the goal line.  Each thing you do powers your will toward your goal rather than away from it.

With all of that being said, realize that if at times your choices in your will don't move you in the positive direction, it does not mean you have failed. It means you are human! But also realize that if you tend to not be making overall progress in the positive direction, you need to step back and reassess. You are the ONLY one accountable for your will power.  Don't permanently give that part of your personal power away to anything.

Your will is amazingly powerful.  Steward it in the right direction.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I Hate Pink Ribbons

I hate pink ribbons....

As I sit here at my screen, I am looking at a jar of hand cream.

It is an unassuming jar - nothing really that special about the cream itself. It's not imported or infused with oils, scents, or the latest antioxidants.  But still this jar of hand cream is catching me, and weighing heavy on my heart.  I don't move it because it is a connection I have to my sister.

I hate pink ribbons....

This jar of hand cream is the jar that my sister used during her battle with inflammatory breast cancer.  Her chemo and treatment were so harsh on her skin, that she had to bath her burning, itching, peeling skin during her 4 year and 9 month long life and death battle with a bitch, a demon, a monster of a disease.

I hate pink ribbons... 

As a family with a history of breast cancer, we were MORE than AWARE of breast cancer.  My sisters and I have had regular mammograms, done self-exams, and had clinical exams.  Some of us had them earlier than the "recommended" age. We looked for the symptoms that the happy, pinkified campaigns suggested. We always looked for the lump. We were aware. And we didn't know what we didn't know.

I hate pink ribbons...

Still, my sister had symptoms of breast cancer for months and didn't know.  She was diagnosed at stage IV of inflammatory breast cancer.  SHE HAD NO LUMP.  She had what she thought was a rash. She had some swelling that she attributed to being lopsided.  She had a dimply - orange peel like texture to her breast that she thought had to do with hormones or the rash.

I hate pink ribbons. 

None of what we were aware of ever told us to stop and take a good LOOK at our breasts. We weren't aware of the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer. With as many pink ribbons as we saw, as many lumps we looked for, as "aware" as we were as a family, none of us knew about this type of breast cancer and these symptoms. We learned pretty damn quickly that this type of breast cancer leaves women with only a 35-40% 5 year survival prognosis. My sister died 4 years and 9 months after her diagnosis. We learned that it is a less common type of cancer but a very aggressive cancer that is diagnosed at a younger average age than other types of breast cancer. We learned very quickly that it often does not manifest in the form of a lump. We learned that there are visual changes that can accompany IBC, that we were not aware of. (For more information about IBC - inflammatory breast cancer visit The IBC Network, and see the sister check graphic above for possible visual cues. )

I hate pink ribbons...

So why do I hate pink ribbons? I hate them because they do not tell the whole story.  The pink ribbon has become the symbol of the "cause of awareness".  I hear slogans of "support awareness"- just what the hell does that mean? At this point in history, if you are not aware that there is something called breast cancer you have lived your life under a rock.  I hear of parents fighting for their kids right to wear a band with the word "boobies" on it as a matter of their right to free speech and belief.  I see retailers and businesses pushing pink in "support", but fail to mention if any of your purchase supports anything.  I see the pink ribbon associated with community, and happiness, and fun - which is not a bad thing, but that was not the ending of the story for my sister and our family.

I hate the pink ribbons because to me, they trivialize my sister's death.  To me, they don't support research, education, action, prevention, access to support for patients and families that are in the trenches of the war with cancer.  The pink ribbon doesn't show what families that have lost loved ones have gone through.  They don't show the grieving, the heartache, the life change that happens when a woman or a man dies as a result of breast cancer. I hate the pink ribbons because they leave out the what you don't want to hear about cancer. They are a symbol for awareness. We could have all the awareness in the world. But without action, education, research, support for patients and family, it means absolutely nothing.

I hate pink ribbons because they show the pretty side of the pink movement - cancer is anything but pretty.

Is this an angry writing? Yes. My writings about this used to be hopeful as she truly fought the good fight. She won a lot of battles. But in the end - cancer won the battle for her breath. My anger comes from losing my sister. It comes from grieving.  It comes from wishing there was a better prognosis for women who are affected by IBC. It comes from feeling like we were on top of awareness, and we weren't.

To be clear, I am not saying that you should not engage in any campaigns. MANY organizations do good.  I am simply saying to be aware that there is more that is needed than just awareness. Please - educate yourself.  In today's information age, you have access to search and learn about breast cancer. There are so many good resources out there.  Don't rely solely on a campaign or an awareness month to understand YOUR health.  Be a good steward of your life. Take action and accountability where you can - learn what you can.

Let me revisit a statement a few lines back.  In the end, cancer won the battle for my sister's breath. BUT, it did not win the battle for her spirit and her soul.  She is singing praises in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that brings us peace. However, in our humanness, until we see her again, we will miss and grieve for her. No number of pink ribbons can change that.

As I sit here looking at this jar of hand cream, I think of my sister. And I think I HATE PINK RIBBONS.

Here's a challenge: Ask a business person who is pushing pink in support just how much they are donating toward a research cause, a patient support cause, a treatment cause, and education cause... if they are donating something, than great. If not, take what you would have spent on that item and donate it directly to an organization that supports beyond awareness. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Momma's Never Forget.... A Crafty Repurpose Dry Erase Project

Reclaimed Cupboard Door Dry Erase Boards

In a busy world, you sometimes need reminders to help keep you focused and on track.  Even the savviest of momma's need a reminder to not forget everything that is on their plate! Technology is a great tool for some. But for many, the tactile and visual experience of a written note is a better option to help them keep organized. Here’s an easy and inexpensive way to create a beautiful dry-erase board for those notes, using repurposed items.

You Will Need:

  • Reclaimed Cupboard Door* 
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Clear Contact Paper/Shelf Liner 
  • Masking Tape 
  • Sand paper 
  • Gentle Soap and a wash cloth 
  • Dry erase pens and eraser ** 

Directions:  (Check out the video link below for a demonstration)

1. Begin prepping the reclaimed cupboard door by wiping it down with a gentle soap and water solution and a wash cloth to remove any household residue. Once it is thoroughly dry, gently sand the center panel of the door with a fine sand paper. Wipe of any residue from the sanding.

2. Use masking tape (or any painter’s tape) to tape-off the area that will be painted.

3. Paint the taped off area with two coats, letting the first coat dry completely before painting the second. Let second coat dry completely before moving to the next step.

4. Measure the painted area and cut a piece of clear contact paper/shelf liner to the same dimension.

5. Pull back one edge of the contact paper far enough to match it up with the edge of painted surface. Apply the exposed (sticky) side to the edge of the painted surface. Slowly peel away paper backing while smoothing the surface side against the painted surface. When it is completely applied use your hands to smooth out any air bubbles. Note: If using dark colored paint, the surface will have a chalk board look to it.

Use the existing drill holes from the hardware as a guide for affixing wall hanging hooks to your finished board. Hang it up and write away! 

Check out this link for an on air segment demonstrating this fun craft!

*If a cupboard door is not available, any board with a flat surface can be used.

**If using dark paint, use bright or neon pens. If using a lighter paint, note that you may need to change out the contact paper on occasion to keep the board looking fresh. Terrycloth square can be used in place of an eraser if needed.

Monday, August 5, 2013

They're Watching...

I was at the climbing gym with my middle daughter. She shared with me that I inspired her to step just a bit more. When we climb, even when I am tired, I push myself to do just one more wall, even though I know it's going to be tough. She told me that example inspires her to step out with just a bit more effort than she THINKS she has. That moment showed me how important my example to my daughters is and how important it is for me to recognize my own determination.

My oldest daughter was making her first big move away for a job and was having some anxiety over the change.  We talked about all the wonderful things that it could bring, but also that if she didn't like it, that the changes she makes in life never have to be permanent. She went on to make the move and had a wonderful growing experience but realized she wanted to be closer to family. After about 18 months she moved back. She also updated her favorite quote on Facebook to read

 "Nothing ever has to be permanent. ~ My Mom"

That showed me how impacting and lasting my words to my daughters can be. 

My youngest daughter took her first summer job.  When she started we let her know that she was responsible for getting up on her own and too work on her own.  That's a challenge for any first job, but even more considering that she had to be at work at 7am every day, and that she does not yet drive.  We have always given them accountability over themselves- the level increased as they got older.  She took on her responsibility and did it all summer long without complaining.  That showed me the importance of teaching them life skill and responsibility.  It stays with them as the step off into the world.

All of these things were not overt lessons that happened in single conversations or commands barked- although conversations were had.  They were more of lessons by example, consistency, and perseverance.  My children watched me, listened to my words, and learned from the boundaries and responsibilities of our household.  

As parents, it's difficult to see the rewards and the progress of parenting in each day.  But, it does come.  As they step into the world the impact you have had shines directly back to you like your reflection in a mirror.  They have been absorbing  how to be in the world through their relationship with you.  Certainly social examples have an influence, but at the core of their foundation, what they have watched and learned from you is what steers them. It is a huge responsibility to be such a large part of their compass.  

The next decision you make, the next words you speak, the next time you handle anger or failure, the next crisis you navigate, the next triumph you have, the next goal you work towards, the next time you show compassion - keep in mind that it sets the narrative of who your children are and how they have learned to be in the world. They can be either empowered or encumbered by what they see.  Choose wisely and steward your life in the way that fills their understanding with useful tools. 

Remember - they're watching...

Monday, July 22, 2013

But I Like That About Me

My makeup settles in the lines around my eyes
But I like that about me.

My temples catch the light on glimmering gray,
But I like that about me.

My skin is no longer bronzed, taut and even,
But I like that about me.

My hands are calloused and my fingers are crooked,
But I like that about me.

My muscles are covered with fleshy softness,
But I like that about me.

My joints feel worked and sometimes ache,
But I like that about me.

My feet grow weary and weathered,
But I like that about me.

My movement is not as agile and swift,
But I like that about me.

My heart has broken into a million pieces- a thousand times,
But I like that about me.

My mind takes a bit longer to process things,
But I like that about me.

My eyes have seen the beauty of the world, squinted with the shine of the sun and crinkled in laughter.
And I like that about me.

The sun catches my locks, but reminds me that the silver on each strand is equal to the lining of the clouds that once seemed so dark.
And I like that about me.

Freckled and mottled, my skin has known the warmth of the sunshine, been stretched with the growing of babies, and chaffed but healed with the bumps of life.
And I like that about me.

These hands are no longer young, smooth and straight, but they have worked hard, are capable and creative, and have nurtured tenderly.
And I like that about me.

My body is not longer taut on the surface, but underneath lie muscles that have carried babies, moved households and carried the weight of the world.
And I like that about me.

Joints creek and moan, but they have climbed hills and mountains, and traveled hundreds of miles.
And I like that about me.

My feet are often weary, but they have stood strong and firm, run the race, and carried me across the finish line more times than can be counted.
And I like that about me.

Movement is slower these days, but I move with intentionality, with purpose and with commitment.
And I like that about me.

My broken heart has mended its million pieces a thousand times, each time bringing me greater understanding, compassion, and empathy.
And I like that about me.

My wit and response may be slower, but it is because I have absorbed more, gained wisdom, and learned to pause and think before acting and responding. 
And I like that about me.

Each line, ache, mark, break, and pause….each perceived imperfection is testament to the perfection of me; a carve in the clay of  great sculpture, a fine patina on the finest copper, or a light catching facet on a brilliant diamond.
I like that about me.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Parenting My Reflection

 As much as I miss my kids being little, I will be honest, I am enjoying being on this side of parenthood.  It's not because I don't cherish and long for recapturing so many of the moments and memories that the younger years brought.  It's not that I was anxious to have my kids grown and independent.  It's not that I looked at parenting as a chore or a burden. It is  because of what parenting taught me about my children, and about me.

Of all of the parenting moments, the challenges taught me the most.

No one ever said parenting was easy. . Whether you are a first time parent or a parent of many children, there are things that challenge us as parents. The tantrums, the attitudes, the seemingly illogical objections to our "suggestions", the quirks and quandary inducing situations often leave us frustrated, confused, angry. The challenges also often leave us feeling like we are failing at parenting.

You should note that I didn't say our children challenge us as parents. There is a very good and important reason for that. It was something I realized when one my children was about 8 years old - and I was tired, confused, frustrated, and feeling like I was failing as a parent. I couldn't figure out what made her tick, what caused the friction, and why she wouldn't "be" the way I thought she should be. As I was standing in the middle of the kitchen trying to (ahem) manage one of her attitudes, it was as if God placed a full length mirror directly in front of me.  I had the immediate and very clear realization that I was parenting my reflection.  That was not easy.

As I stood there, I was humbled at seeing what I perceived as challenges about her transform into the realization that they were challenges in me. To clarify, it was not in actions or reaction - those manifestations in us were very different. The challenges were in what caused and the feelings in the actions and reactions.  The challenge was more pointedly in what cause ME to act or react to things. It was about the things that make me, me; and her... her.

When she would have a rough time with arguing and attitude as we were heading out the door for a last minute plan, I was parenting my own resistance to change.  As she would be frustrated to the point of tearing up a homework assignment that she didn't think was going well, I was parenting my own need for perfection.  When she would fall apart if her sisters interfered in her space, I was parenting my own need for some control over my personal bubble.  As she got worked up, wound up, and wired up when we were out and about, I was parenting my own need for some down time to recharge.  The challenges I saw in her were really the personality traits that I had, that she shared with me.  Eye opening.

This realization was key in helping me to parent her.  It allowed me to remove myself as part of the problem, and become part of the solution.  When I would react to her reaction, the way I was reacting, it became personality traits squared. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.  But when I identified in me what was causing me to react, I could identify (for the most part) what she was reacting to.  Knowing how I successfully manage my own personality traits gave me more tools to help her manage her. It allowed me to see from her perspective and become a proactive part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. 

Was it easy or did it take any less effort? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But, at the end of the effort and work, there was more peace, often resolution, and better understanding of her, and of me. It allowed me to foster and help guide those challenging things - that in reality were personality strengths, both in her AND in myself.  This may be a whole different post at some point, but control can be guided to responsibility, leadership, accountability; perfection can be guided to effort, persistence, passion; need for down time can be guided to self reflection, comfort in independence, and appreciation and understanding of boundaries - each challenge to us, is rooted in a positive personality trait.

The next time you are facing a parenting challenge, step back for a moment and imagine a mirror in front of you.  Look at your reflection and recognize if that challenge is a bigger challenge because of who you are and how you react.  When your children are young, they are not the challenge and never the enemy.  You are the grown up and you are solely responsible for how you act and react.  Parent reflectively and at the very least, you will have more parenting tools, and a better understanding of your child and of yourself and.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Independence Day and the Ghost of Betsy Ross!

From the archives, but a fun tradition!

Have you seen her?

She visits our family every year.....

If you are a lover of American History, you probably know that Besty Ross was born on New Years Day in 1752 in Philadelphia, PA. She is most well known for creating the banner that Americans pay respect and honor to (hopefully), our great Stars and Stripes, the great American Flag. If you are not a history buff, well, hopefully you can add this little piece of American history to your knowledge bank.

For me and my family, Betsy Ross has played an integral part of our celebration of Independence Day, the 4th of July. This particular holiday is the one time of year that my sisters and I, our families, and our parents are all together...all 15 of us. We spend it crammed into my parent's 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom mountain cabin. It is a cozy 7 days, but full of lots of celebration.

The Ghost of Betsy Ross as been a huge part of our festivities for the last 15 years when she first left a patriotic themed gift for each of the children after they each helped place an American flag in the yard of the cabin.(One of the kids speculated it was her she has returned every year since.) Each year the kids have looked forward to decorating the yard as patriotically as they can, and seeing if Betsy Ross will return again. Sure enough, from the morning after the flags go up to the morning of the 4th, she has left them mementos that help them display their love of country and respect of the flag.

I understand that this is not the most traditional way to celebrate, and may even draw some criticism from some for associating gifts with patriotism. But the way I see it is this:

America is a great country. It is far from perfect and like every other country on this planet can always improve. But, it also is a country that through the voice and hard work of the people and the guidance of great leaders, continually strives and is dedicated to overcoming injustice and ensuring equality of all people. In essence as Americans, we are given the gifts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as a benefit of our patriotism - I say gifts because of the many women and men that gave their lives to ensure us these things. And what may be even more amazing, is that for those that live in this great country that are against what America is built upon...they are granted grace, and receive the same gifts.

I think that The Ghost of Betsy Ross has taught the children of the family a great appreciation for this Great Country. Untraditional as it may be, this way of celebrating has shown them the gift that they have by simply being able to call America home. Even as my children are venturing out into the world on their own - two are now adults, this tradition is close to their hearts and has deepened their appreciation for what it means to have the freedoms they have.

What Independence Day traditions do you have?