The hidden monster…danger is in plain sight!

The hidden monster…danger is in plain sight!

The hidden danger

Danger. The word itself can make me shudder and create an overload of real or perceived anxiety. It also conjures up a vision of a space-traveling robot from the 1960’s show “Lost in Space”. How lucky were the Robinson’s to have a danger alerting robot?

As parents, we teach our kids to look both ways before crossing the streets. We talk to them about “stranger danger”. As mom’s, we hold their hands when we are in public and we take our boys into the women’s bathroom for as long as we can. Parent’s teach their kids to NOT talk to strangers and to never help someone find their lost puppy. 

We teach our children to yell “NO” if someone tries to grab them. We enroll our children in martial arts classes so they know how to defend themselves. We talk about “being kind” and how to handle bullies. We meet their friends and the parents of said friends. Essentially, we are teaching our children how to handle any physical danger they may face…or to avoid opportunities where these dangers may exist.

But we are sorely missing something.

The monster we can’t see

The real danger isn’t in the physical threat. The real danger is in the person we cannot see. It is in the person who has unlimited access to our children without our knowledge. People all over the world have access to our children and often, we as the parents are the ones allowing the direct assess.

Take a peek at your social media. Did you post back to school pictures of your littles? Many of us do as we want to share the moment with our family and friends. However, someone scrolling social media may come across a photo of your little and zone in. When that happens, they will learn how old your child is and more often than not, they learn what school your child goes to.

Consider your next post. In it, you show your son with a valued leggo set that he has proudly built. Another post shows him riding his bike with his little brother through the neighborhood park. Now a stranger knows that your son enjoys legos and bike riding. She also knows he has a little brother.

The dangers of social media

While these posts are innocent enough, consider this. Every time you check into your favorite coffee shop, you are alerting someone that you go there often. When you check into the martial arts school, you are sending out a message that your boys are involved in taekwondo. These are two more pieces of information for a groomer to utilize when they make contact with your child.

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Contact has been established and common ground has been made.

Communication is key

In the above scenario, the chances of this happening are greater than you would think. And if it occurred with my son, he probably wouldn’t even think to mention it to me. That frightens me even more. As much as we communicate, we see the world very differently and he doesn’t see dangers all around him, nor do I want him to. It’s my job to worry endlessly about his safety.

Children are easily redirected by other adults when they do not feel of value. So as parents, our job is to let our children know that we value them for who they are. We find creative ways to praise them for a job well done. We have open-ended conversations with them. We leave opportunities to grow and learn together and we teach them to safely navigate the world (both seen and unseen) while we can provide them guidance.

And as parents, we need to sensor what we share with the world on our social media. We need to know our audience and remember that while we are proud of our kids, we also need to protect them. We do that by leading by example when it comes to protecting their privacy.

 

I see you…when the thread unravels…

I see you…when the thread unravels…

I know you

I realize that we may have never actually met in person, but I know you.

I know you because we share the same defeated spirit.  Right now you are wondering if I am fuckin crazy and that’s ok, sometimes I wonder that myself. What I am trying to say is that at some point in our lives we have done too much. We have committed to too many things. At some point in our lives (or maybe multiple times) we have put our needs behind every other person we know. And we are fricken exhausted.

I’m not talking about the can’t move my body because I am so tired exhausted. I mean we are brain weary, I can’t remember what I was going to say let alone why I walked into this room exhausted. Our minds are toast and our soul is screaming for a break. But we don’t give ourselves one because that would lead to feelings of guilt, which would lead to more commitments, which leads to being overwhelmed and the fricken cycle continues and the thread unravels.

The thread unravels

Have you ever tried to thread a needle? Those little needle holes are ridiculous and as you get older it becomes more difficult (I digress). Here’s the thing; if you don’t have the end of the thread bonded together, it begins to unravel. As that thread unravels, each little tiny piece of material becomes it’s own monster and demands attention and before you know it, you have multiple strands everywhere and none are working together.

The only way to fix it is to cut the thread and start again.

Stop. Cut the chords. Start again.

Real Resentment

Additionally, I understand the impromptu anger that comes when you see the dishes on the end table or the socks laying unmatched near the front door. There are times when I think I am the only person who is able to see these items, although I am most assuredly not the one who left them there.

Resentment begins when we feel overwhelmed by the tasks laid before us. Unfortunately, resentment can sneak up on us, even when we are doing things we committed to doing. It isn’t something that we wear proudly, nor is it something we often talk about. I will say it. There are days that I struggle with wishing others would do more so I could do less. Furthermore, I want to stomp my feet and scream at the top of my lungs to “pick up the fuckin socks.” But I don’t and the thread unravels.

Gratitude

For years I didn’t talk about these feelings, as I felt guilty doing so. After experiencing miscarriages and difficult pregnancies, I know what a gift having a baby is. For me, complaining felt like an affront to being a mother. Now I see it differently and realize resentment and gratitude can live together in the same world. When I begin to feel resentful, it is time for me to stop, cut the chords and start again.

It is time to take care of me and ask the family to help out. It’s my job to teach my boys to become independent, not do it all for them. Although sometimes it is so much easier to just do it myself, I realize that isn’t helping any of us. And when everyone begins to pitch in, I feel gratitude overpowering those feelings of resentment.

I see you

So, girl, I see how hard you are working. And recently, I feel as though I have experienced every emotion these past few weeks. Wondering if I am helping my kids make the right decisions… questioning if I am supporting my husband enough… hurting for those around me who are hurting. I have been grateful beyond measure, followed by waves of grief and questioning. Parenting is hard…loving others is hard…watching those you love hurting is hard.

This is for you and hear me as I say this…“You are right where you need to be and you are doing an amazing job. Cut yourself some slack and just be present”. Your expectations of yourself are so much higher than the expectations of those who love you. Say that again and believe it in your soul.
Cindi

 

Embracing 50: age is just an illusion

Embracing 50: age is just an illusion

 

Age is an illusion

Or is it? As a freshman in high school, I thought the seniors were old…and by seniors, I meant the 17 and 18-year-olds!   I would panic when a senior even looked at me and my young self, as the age of 18 was technically an adult! Furthermore, someone in their 20’s was fricken ancient, which made anyone near 50 a senior citizen!  Needless to say, back then, I  was also that woman who was not going to get married, nor was I going to have children. I was going to complete my Ph.D. and take care of the world.

Ah, best-laid plans, right?

My 20’s

This decade was an extension of my teens, albeit while attending college. Looking back, I can’t imagine how I would have prospered if I had actually studied more and partied less. I honestly don’t know where the energy came from, as all I did was worked, studied and went out. Repeat. And repeat again.

The transition to adult employment was less tragic than I would have imagined. It turns out I was pretty good at what I went to school for (who would have thought). And amazingly, I could live easily it up at night and work all day! I moved into my first apartment, purchased a pack of smokes and a six pack and consumed both while sitting in front of my giangantuaous platform tv watching Beverly Hills 90210 (I didn’t smoke, just like the independence). Suddenly, I was a somewhat self-respecting grownup who paid my own bills and was fast realizing that there was more to the world than going out and being social.

My 30’s

As my friends began to settle down, I was still in denial that settling down was for me. I surrounded myself with others who loved to live life to the fullest and enjoy the world. I worked, worked out (less as I began to work more) and went out.  It was during one of those nights out that I picked up the phone and left a message for a long lost crush of mine (yes, it was one of THOSE calls). We all have that “one” that never leaves our mind or our heart. And after dating on and off since we were 16, we made the decision to move forward…together.

This was a challenge for this wild and independent girl. Now I was sharing a bathroom with a boy!  lol And we were making plans for a future…together (gasp)! Thank the Lord that he was patient and understanding because anyone who knows me also understands that I am not the easiest person to be around.

We got a puppy…together…it was the ultimate commitment in my book. That is until he proposed.

My Mid 30’s

Chad and I were married at the same time that some of our friends were getting divorced. It always seemed as though I was in a different life stage than those around me, which was probably true, since I was the one to do things my way. About the time that Chad was settling into his profession, I decided to go to graduate school, still thinking I would pursue my Ph.D. I did get my Master’s; however, I stopped there, as our priorities changed when we had our first son at the age of 39.

For the midwest, 39 is really pretty old to be having a baby. So not only did we endure the whole “Advanced maternal age” comments within my chart, my body was pretty shocked at what I was asking it to do.  This pregnancy knocked me on my ass and bedrest soon took me out of the world, but it was all worth it.

And this woman who wasn’t going to have kids? She became a stay at home mom.

The 40’s

So, if 39 is old to have a baby, our prayers were answered when we had our second son at 40. Truth be told, this decade is a blur. Two babies, four dogs, three moves to two different states and three different homes. Multiple surgeries, multiple injuries, hormone changes, weight changes…blah, blah, blah.

My 40’s were dedicated to my failing body and raising my boys. For someone who was never going to have a family, I can’t imagine my life any other way. I don’t believe we have kids to teach them the ways of the world, I believe we are given children so they can teach us. Watching the world through my children’s eyes is simultaneously amazing and terrifying. These boys reminded me there is more to the world than what I was focusing on, and thank God for that.

This is 50

50 is a time of rebirth for me. The boys are getting older and more active, just like their mom. 50 is when I give myself permission to be selfish and focus on me. It’s time to get back to basics by making my wellness a priority and learning to say no to what doesn’t feel good. It’s a time of discovery and soul searching. If you need help on this journey, please see this previous blog post I wrote.

For me, it’s a time for reflection and asking God where He wants me. After seeing so many of my family members and friends leave too soon, I vow to never take a birthday for granted. Where I used to cry on my birthdays, now I embrace the opportunity for another day with my loved ones. So, thank you, Lord, for your work in me.  I am excited to see where you lead me next as I step out of my comfort zones. After all, God has never left me through this adventure and I trust He knows the next chapter of my story.

I just need to stop trying to take control of the journey.

 

 

5 Easy Steps to #beabetteryou

5 Easy Steps to #beabetteryou

#beabetteryou

As am empowerer, I am often asked how to lose weight, feel better, and/or get in shape. Honestly, the answer is different for everyone. Subsequently, there is no quick fix, magic cure or secret formula. Furthermore, the answer most likely isn’t in what you are doing, rather, it is more likely what you are NOT doing.

Wtf? That doesn’t make any sense, right? Just hang with me here and see where I am going with this.

OVERSCHEDULED

Look at your calendar. Immediately stop what you are doing and look when your next full open hour is.

For many of you, it is late tonight, after the kids are in bed and you have cleaned up the house after a long day. Even more of you may say this weekend after a scheduled event, while others are not open until next Tuesday night at 7:00.

How does looking at your calendar make you feel? Happy? Anxious? Annoyed? Ultimately, the answer to feeling better isn’t to schedule more for others, rather, it is to schedule LESS.  Finally, it is in doing less for others and above all, scheduling more time for you.

5 steps to #BEABETTERYOU

  1. Make yourself a priority. Women have the most difficult time with this one. We are raised to serve others and for that reason, it became the norm to be scheduled every minute of the day. STOP the madness! Repeat after me: you cannot give from an empty cup(read more about this in a previous blog post). Subsequently, if you are constantly doing for others, you will have nothing left in reserves. You have to fill up you in order to help others!
  2. Learn to say NO. Why does telling someone no feel so bad? It isn’t personal, it’s essential. Ultimately, you teach others how to treat yourself and when you can’t learn to say no, and eventually, people will ask you for everything. Sound familiar? Saying no to a few things just means that you will have enough energy and focus for the activities you choose to say yes to.
  3. Sleep. Don’t laugh, I really mean this. Go to bed at the same time every evening and awaken at the same time every day. If you listen to your body, it will tell you how much sleep you need. Your natural circadian rhythms will guide you when you are in tune with them. Hence, sleep deprivation leads to increased stress, increased cortisone levels (think increased belly fat), and increased crankiness and furthermore, none of these situations create a pleasant person. Undeniably, that project will still be there tomorrow morning, and you will certainly have a fresh pair of eyes and a clear mind to see it for what it is.
  4. Increase your water intake. Unfortunately, that coffee doesn’t count as water, nor does that wine. Above all, water is essential to maintain hydration levels, improve digestion and can keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time. While in contrast, too little water keeps you feeling sluggish and may give you headaches. Ideally, you should aim for ½ of your body weight in ounces per day.
  5. Put yourself on your schedule (in pen). Open your calendar again and schedule time at the gym. Make a nail appointment. Get a massage or try a float at the local Float Center. Get back to nature with Fido for a nice long walk. The fresh air will work wonders on your tired body and soul.

Let it Go

The world will go on without your hand in everything…and people will still like you and ask you to participate in activities. Saying no doesn’t make you less of a servant. It creates a strong foundation for which you can serve.

“In today’s rush, we all think too much – seek too much – and forget about the joy of just being: – Eckhart Tolle

Don’t be an asshole…try compassion

Don’t be an asshole…try compassion

Are you an Asshole?

Wow, that’s a brutal opener, isn’t it? The question stands though, are you an asshole?

An appropriate answer could go something like this: “well, I guess it depends upon who you ask”. And while there may be some truth to that, it’s unfortunate. Human nature has proven again and again that we tend to lash out at those closest to us, at those we love the most.  The social worker in me says that we do this because we feel safe with them and can let our guard down. The wife and mother in me thinks that is a cop out. Shouldn’t we model compassion for all?

Compassion

When engaging with an asshole, the last thing we want to use is compassion. I get it. One riled up person often creates another riled up and pissed off person. Click To TweetHowever, what if you could diffuse the situation? Often times, being aware of our own behavior can assist in de-escalating the increasing anger of others…hence the expression “killing them with kindness”.

However, what happens when compassion doesn’t work?

That’s when we check our boundaries.

Boundaries

This is where it gets tricky. We want to be compassionate without becoming a figurative or literal “punching bag” and that isn’t always an easy thing to do. For many of us, we need to remove said asshole from our life before we realize how toxic the situation truly was. It is only at that time that we can look back and recognize said person for what they are…and thank God that we had the fortitude to remove said person or ourselves from the situation.

As adults, this is difficult to do, therefore, imagine the pressure our children go through. It can be difficult to empower our children to set appropriate boundaries when they witness adults being assholes to one another. This is where it becomes our responsibility to role model both compassion and setting boundaries.

Role Modeling

I have two boys who view the world drastically different. One of my boys doesn’t personalize anythings while one of my sons is very sensitive and tends to personalize the behavior of others, often resulting in relationship issues with his peers. He is compassionate and wants to resolve any conflicts passively. While I commend this approach, it also sets him up to become the product of ridicule from his classmates and we talk about establishing appropriate boundaries. Essentially we have discussed the following:

  • Show compassion, we don’t know what others are experiencing and perhaps he is acting out.
  • Ignore him. Focus on YOU and don’t allow him to have any control over your time at school.
  • Talk to the teacher about the situation.
  • Punch him…while this is not politically correct, if my son has demonstrated the above coping skills and things have yet to change for him, where else can he take this?

My point is this: it is difficult to teach our children how to deal with assholes when they watch everything we are doing. Let’s try a different approach, shall we?  How about we show compassion to others when we want to become angry and lash out. We need to give ourselves time outs to cool off and demonstrate appropriate interactions with others.

After all, when I call it a day, I want to believe in my heart that I wasn’t an asshole…nor did I punch anyone.

Thoughts?

 

Back to school shopping for dummies

Back to school shopping for dummies

Back to School Shopping

I get it…we all wait until the last week of summer to shop for our kid’s school supplies.  Even though we know it’s coming, we still put it off. We laugh at those who have it done in June and we smugly remind ourselves that we are shopping extraordinaire.

So, with one week left until school starts, we grab our list and head to the nearest store for our supplies.  Parking is easy enough and we bravely head into the store to find out that every other person in the parking lot is also in the school supplies section.

Sound familiar?  After taking a deep breath (or several) and dodging multiple people, too many shopping carts, and finding too many empty spaces in the aisles, this is what I have determined.  People have forgotten shopping etiquette…so let me refresh your memory.

5 ways to piss off your fellow shoppers

Here is a list of how to piss off everyone around you while school shopping.

  1. Charge through the store with a determination that cannot be questioned.  Put your blinders on and ignore everyone around you.
  2. Push your cart on the left side of the aisle and AGAINST traffic.
  3. Leave your cart unattended on the left side and AGAINST traffic.
  4. Forget your manners.  When you accidentally cut in front of someone, don’t say excuse me…keep blazing that trail to nowhere.
  5. Don't look when you exit an aisle. This one is always fun. It's like playing Pacman with shopping carts. How many people can you peg off? And bonus points for the cherry! Click To Tweet

A little etiquette lesson

Seriously, people…we shouldn’t have to take a Xanax before heading out to school shop.  A little etiquette and courtesy go a long way. And quite honestly?  We probably deserve to have a little extra stress on us since we do the same fricken thing every year.  It isn’t a surprise that August means back to school.  However, maybe next year, we will be the ones done shopping in June.

 

 

 

 

How was your back to school shopping experience this year?

Were you done in June or did you wait until the last minute like I did?  I would love to have your feedback!