Velcro Doesn’t Foster Independence.

It amazes me that something as simple as Velcro sneakers can actually makes things harder, but they can!

velcro shoes

Wait, what? If my child is struggling with tying his shoes, making every departure one giant meltdown, Velcro has to be a better option. I mean, that is what they were designed for, right? Well, technically they probably were created to ease stress, but with a high price tag.

You are familiar with the scenario: It is time for school, the outfit has been out on the floor since the kiss goodnight, breakfast is done, and now it’s time to get out the door.

With cute little sneakers in hand, your 5-year-old proudly slides his feet into his shoes and then begins to grasp the shoe laces ever so carefully as you whisper, “one bunny ear, two bunny ear…”

You can feel your heart race a bit as you witness his third attempt and you can see his confidence begin to wane. Your confidence in his ability, along with your concerns of being late begin to collide. You picture the tantrum from the morning before and do your best to give one last pep talk.

“Be patient, honey. Over, under, around and through…” you say calmly feeling the pounding in your chest.

“I can’t do it!?” He screams. “I cant! I hate these shoes! I’m not going to school…”

And so it begins. Another morning of upset. You then do what you do. You help out. You explain how hard this task is and how it will get easier over time. Then you tie his shoes, acknowledging that you can tie them tighter anyway. He feels happy, and so do you. Yet as it keeps happening over and over each morning, you offer less and less time for him to try, until you eventually begin to tie them the second he has his feet in the shoes.

What could possibly be the harm in that? Eventually everyone learns to tie their shoes…dont they?

The harm actually has little to do with the shoe-tying meltdown. The larger problem we are contributing to is keeping our children from experiencing discomfort. While we believe in our hearts we are helping, we are continuously robbing them of their ability to manage discomfort. We are single-handedly stealing their opportunity to man handle things that don’t feel right. And in the large scheme of life as we know it, we are contributing to a society of emerging adults that do not know how to get themselves out of uncomfortable situations because we have been doing it for them. While that help comes from a yearning to make their life easier, we are actually trying to avoid our own discomfort by helping them to avoid theirs.

The large problem lies right there.

We must know what discomfort feels like in order to be successful adults. We must experience it simply so we can experience the triumph that comes along with lifting ourselves up. While we want to convince ourselves that this is how we show our love, this is not a loving gesture at all. In fact, doing things for others that they can do for themselves simply robs them of their opportunity for success.

It starts with a simple act of ‘over, under, around and through….’ and leads to dangerous times of isolation and peer pressure and days of now what am I supposed to do? The discomfort our children/emerging adults experience when we are not around, can lead to feelings of desperation and hopelessness. These feelings can contribute to the yearning to tune-out, possibly leading to addictive behaviors that allow them to not feel disappointment or fears. It can lead to feelings of failure and disconnect and can perpetuate a hidden downward spiral.

One emerging adult client I worked with shared his experience of overwhelm and stress he felt in college and turned to alcohol and drugs to mask all that he could not cope with. When I asked him if he ever thought about trying to quit his addictive behaviors, he said simply, “there was no reason to think about quitting…it was the darkest hole I had ever been in and knew I was never getting out.”

Fortunately, he was given a second chance with many months of recovery. But all are not as fortunate. The crisis is real. And while as parents we do not cause our children’s depression, isolation or addictive behaviors, we can contribute by continuing to push them further in that dark hole by doing for them. Or we can begin to actually help, by allowing them the success they are capable of and deserve.

So, the next time you are unsure of whether your help is helpful or hurtful, ask yourself this question: Is this something that they are capable of doing themselves? Because if it is, let them. Take a few extra breathes. Be mindful that their discomfort is just like yours and that life is never about how we fall, but how we learn to dust off and get back up.

Want to really foster independence? Skip the velcro.

What You Leave Behind Tells a Story

If you knew that the things you leave behind, send a message to our universe about who you are, would you be more careful to clean up?

Well…what do you leave behind?

Maybe it isnt something physical, like your car keys, or phone, but more about things that are left unfinished. Like at the end of each day, what does your inner critic say? What does your inner spirit whisper?

Does it confirm that once again you did a great job, putting out fires, completing all of the tasks you set out to do, and that in fact your intensity was so great you achieved things you didn’t even plan on achieving thus far? Or does it squelch all of the inspiring words of wisdom that you had for yourself just a few short hours ago?

What is your leave-behind? A checklist complete…or a mass collection of things yet to be finished?

Knowledge is power, even in the area of leave-behinds.

In the area of productivity and growth, it is helpful to consistently assess the patterns we see at the beginning and end of each day. Most importantly, to be mindful of the actions we constantly repeat that do not serve us well. Without doing so, we will have great difficulty tapping into our true potential and will spend unimaginable time spinning our wheels. Surely we are all a work in progress, but for an Entrepreneur’s financial livelihood, daily movement is critical and behaviors that don’t help in that area should be modified.

What you leave behind, sets the stage for where you are now, as well as where you want to be.

Simple leave-behinds, like a calendar of incomplete tasks, does not speak as loudly as what you do with those tasks. You can shut the book and head for bed, feeling frustrated by your inability to complete things, spend the night tossing and turning, or you can take action as part of your closing process.

Remember that taking action is the critical part of your financial gains, no matter what that action is. So in this specific area, what you might simply do is move each task to a place and time when you know you can complete it, keeping in mind all tasks needing to be complete, as well as length of time for each task to be completed.

Incomplete tasks each day does not necessarily mean nothing is getting done, but instead may tell a story about your ability to manage time, or assess length of tasks to be completed. Either way, by using the close of each day to assess this, you can grow in this area and turn it into an area of productivity.

What else do you leave behind?

I spent an afternoon at my favorite coffee shop last weekend writing, while a gentleman dressed in casual business attire spent his hour tapping away on his keyboard as well. He was clearly working, seemed quite focused and did not look up nearly as often as I did. I silently complimented him for being so productive in a busy environment, but that wasn’t all that I had noticed. I also noticed that the entire time he sat there, three shiny pennies sat on the windowsill right beside his table, basking in the sun.

I assumed that they were his. That perhaps he only had a money holder and no place for change. Or that he hastily sat down, gently dropping the coins on the sill. But at the end of the hour, as he began to pack up everything sprawled on the table, I began to wonder if they were there before he arrived.

As I watched him carefully pack up, meticulously putting everything in its’ expected place, I guessed he wasn’t likely to leave much behind. He then put his jacket on, and picked up the briefcase he had ever so carefully packed. It was then for the first time that our eyes met and then mine quickly darted back to the shiny pennies….

At this point I knew that whether or not these were his, was less important than what he was going to do next, and of course, I was not going to stay quiet.

”You’re not going to leave those pennies there, are you?”

As he looked over at the coins that had been calling out to me, I could see it was the first time he noticed they were there and he smiled. I could feel what he was going to say next and interrupted his thought.

“You know, if you leave those behind, you are telling the universe that you have enough money and do not need any more.”

“Oh!” He said with a little laugh and then picked them up! “I dont want my universe to think that.”

He then leaned over and dropped one of them on my table and we both laughed. Perhaps a finders fee, I thought. One that I was not going to leave behind. Penny or not.

All That Wander, Are not Lost

My fingers hit the keyboard gently this morning in hopes of finding just the right words to send to my people. “My” people…the ones that have so inspired me this year to honor my life and the way I want it. The ones who have struggled with pain, cancer, stress, chaos and even just the feeling of ‘is this really all there is?’ For those that have reached out for a hug, dared to scream ‘I can’t do this anymore!’ For those that wanted to simply give up, but instead decided to lie down and rest and for those that feel torment in their heart, but allow me to love them anyway. For all of you and more, I thank you for giving me the permission to touch your life, help alter your perspectives and trust me to tag along in your life. I have so enjoyed being a part of your life story.

It is only now that I am beginning to see the pattern each year brings. A clear balancing act between holding on and letting go and understanding that everything that comes at us is a precious gift we call life. A one time offer.

Yet as I continue tapping on the keypad, wondering what inspiring words will come from me next, something that I can offer my favorite readers as words to live by, words to carry into the New Year…I see this large blank slate reminding me of what matters most.

fullsizeoutput_1e1d

Sometimes we do not have the answers. Not right now anyway.

If we can lean into that, lower our shoulders, soften the lines in our face, and quiet the ego, we can then be confident that the answers will come. Because they will.

It is in that faith that we continue to live our life with a full commitment to being the best we can be, not a constant image of ‘I will do better tomorrow’, but rather a commitment to honor our word and live life as if this is the only day we have…ever.

All that wander, are not lost.

Caving into feelings of exhaustion, asking for help, being silent, letting emotions overcome us or choosing to get off the path completely, doesn’t mean we have failed, are weak or have limitations. But rather, all show signs of strength in knowing oneself, our needs and our ability to lean in to our life in this moment. In fact, it is the true ability to be present.

So if you feel confused, frustrated about where you have been, worried about where you are heading or are fear that this is all there is, simply breathe.  Inhale all that is good, and then exhale, letting go of all that does not feed your soul. Only then, can you be present with the blank slate in front of you. The unknown does not have to be a place of darkness and fear, but an opportunity to redesign what you already have and appreciate all that is within you.

As the New Year begins I wish you all at least a few moments to wander, and see just how great you really are.

In the depths of Darkness there is Light.

We must be willing to let go of what was, in order to have what will be…

full-moon-night-sky-over-moonlit-water-42504986

We cannot welcome the New Year into our life, until we bid farewell to 2017. Adios. You are no longer needed here. Your memories, some good and some pretty hurtful have all served their purpose but now need to be put away. It is a blessing that we get to start again each year and I refuse to wallow in what could or should have been. Everything in 2017, as surprising and disappointing as much of it was, was purposeful (even if I couldn’t see it at the time) and has led me to this moment. In fact, I would go further to say that even the worst of 2017 has lead me to some amazing miracles.

So while I can confess that there may have been more tears of sadness than joy in the past year, the joyful moments really stand out. A joy so tremendous that it overrode many painful moments. As a matter of fact, I believe that without all of the hurt I survived, the joy may not have felt so grand.

To grieve my marriage to a man I truly believed was the love of my lifetime, only to find that in some darkness, love is simply not enough. While simultaneously learning through my relationship with my son that some times love in fact was all you needed. No other tools necessary.

2017 has taught me all I need to know about surviving and thriving. It has taught me that the ability to care for one self is not a small task, but yet in fact that most challenging task to succeed at. It has taught me that what works to resolve one issue, may not work for others and that no matter what, you can’t give up. You can’t just profess that you are not meant to find happiness or are simply not deserving. While at the same time you also cannot blame yourself for all of the challenges that have come your way, because life will surely happen as it is supposed to.

Yet as I rounded the corner on this year, I also finally understood that while I may not have caused the things that have occurred in my life, I can keep looking at what I️ have done to contribute to events that have gone sideways. I can finally comprehend that my need to care for everyone else, before my desire to care for myself, is not helpful, but in fact, hurtful.

And so…as I bid farewell to 2017 I bow down and surrender, taking ownership of those that I have hurt by taking on all responsibilities, while at the same time robbing them of their opportunity for success. Amazing how love at times can hurt so much.

While I️ would like to say that all of these epiphanies came to me one night, in fact I️ have had some amazing people helping me on this journey. But it was my openness to what others could contribute that gave me the greatest reward: In the depths of darkness, there is light. We all have access to it if we truly want it, believe we can have it and trust that we are worth it.

I know for sure what 2017 has given me….bright sunshine, light and laughter. And so I happily bid farewell to the year gone by and welcome with open arms all that 2018 has to offer, even before knowing what exactly it has in store.

Happy New Year…stay in the light.

No Gift Quite like the Ability to be Present.

I walked into the clubhouse last Saturday to sit by the fire and read for a bit. It is a beautiful quiet space with couches that have barely been used in a several thousand square foot room that I rarely have to share. While it seems odd to me that I usually have the place to myself, I am never disappointed by the intimacy and quiet I can find in this space I call ‘home’, even during the busiest of seasons.

Quiet. Serene. Peaceful. Yes, even during the holiday season. Even with all the celebrations and parties, the gift shopping, the hustle and bustle of the crowds, and even work, I declare peace on this holiday season. Why? Because I don’t want to miss it. I have missed many precious moments…but won’t ever again because I know now that what is now, will not be forever.

As I settled into the couch, feet propped on the coffee table in front of me, my Nook in my hands quieting my pulse, I began to notice a rigorous and constant sound of tape-tearing and perhaps a few sighs. As I looked slightly over my shoulder, I saw a woman standing at the counter who seemed to be wrapping several gifts. I assumed she was going to be adding them to the giant gift wrapped cardboard box in the hallway for children in need.

gifts-feature

My mind wandered a moment thinking how gracious it was of her to buy several gifts for children she does not even know and then to take even more time to carefully, though it did appear almost aggressively, wrapping them. Who was she? Did she not have children of her own? Maybe they were all grown and she was missing them?

I tried to regroup and concentrate on my book.

“Sorry about the noise,” I heard her say from the corner of the room.

“That’s okay,” I said, admiring her for her generosity. “So thoughtful that you bought all of those gifts…”

“I’m exhausted. I actually hate the holiday season. Just hate it. Too much to do and not enough time to do it. It is so stressful!”

I was silenced as my thoughts ran wild. Did she really just say that? While she was generously wrapping gifts? Was she the Grinch? No, she couldn’t be! She was wrapping gifts for children she didn’t even know. How could she hate anything right now? There had to be a mistake.

I desperately tried to find something slightly optimistic to say. “Yeah, it sure does get busy, but that is so thoughtful of you to think about gift giving like that, in spite of how busy you are…”

I hoped she would hear me. I wanted to say so much more but knew it was not my place. She hadn’t found me because she was looking for a new perspective. She hadn’t asked me to Coach her. She found me by accident and was simply sharing with anyone that would listen. I happened to be the one today.

“I hate to say it,” she continued, “but I cant wait til it is over so I can relax.”

My heart sunk for her. I wanted to shake her. I wanted to play the tape back so she could hear her own words. Surely she didn’t mean it. Or did she? Was all that work was simply just to get through the holiday season?

That defeats the whole point. The purpose. The meaning behind it all. The holidays are supposed to be about ‘being’ not ‘doing’. Period. It is a time finally when you get to be with the people you love. A time when schools and offices shut down, and people expect you to be on a break. Family members travel from far away, college kids come home, and growth is measured in leaps and bounds. It is the one time of year when busy is not supposed to be the actual activity…but instead, just being.

I am busy too. However this year I chose to take a few to-dos off of my list in lieu of more quiet and serenity, since I have lost enough this year already and finally am feeling mended. No one will notice if they don’t get that candle I usually buy, but I will notice if I am so busy doing that once the holiday has passed, I still feel like I haven’t had the chance to actually be present with my favorite people.

Want a great holiday season to remember this year? Then put your energy into being present in everything you do and everyone you are with.

Maybe you can recruit the family to help this year. How about ordering in to make it easier. How about buying a few less gifts and then let the dishes settle into the sink a little longer….dirty! Nothing will happen to the dishes while they soak. But you, my friend, will be given the gift of a lifetime. One that will never be quite the same again. Because that is how life is.

So commit to being present this year. No greater gift than that. Keep looking, listening and noticing who is around you. Surely this moment will never arrive again just like it is right now.

Organization & Structure = Success

Do you often wonder why it is so challenging to follow through with the thoughts in your mind? Why even when you write them out as clearly as you can, they don’t manifest in the way you are thinking? You are intelligent, educated, confident and have so many great ideas…in fact that is why you decided to go into business on your own in the first place! So why can’t you make it work just the way you have it figured out in your mind?

It actually isn’t that complicated and is a very common problem, especially with small business owners and independent contractors. The fact is that your passion and head filled with ideas is not enough on its own. While it helped to give you the courage to begin in the first place, it will not be enough for a sustainable and profitable business. As a matter of fact, the longer you try to ride on the fumes of your enthusiasm, the longer it will take you to create true financial success.

reaching_out

First, the ideas you have flowing through your mind day in and day out are meaningful, but you need to do more than think about them. If you have been thinking about them for weeks or months, grab a notebook now so you can write them down and organize them. Rather than creating a list, though, give each page in your notebook a different topic. Here are some examples:

  • Expenses
  • Profit
  • Time
  • Marketing
  • Daily routines
  • Weekly, monthly, yearly goals

Once you have done that, you will already begin to see the larger picture, but it is just the beginning. Next you will need to be as detailed as you can on each topic as you add timelines and deadlines. This is the most critical piece in order to create financial success.

The truth is that while many of us begin a business because it is something we are passionate about, often too, we want the freedom that goes along with being our own boss. Unfortunately, though, within that space of freedom, also a great deal of spinning aimlessly, unless we are capable of holding ourselves accountable.

True success will come when you spend more time on task creating money, rather than writing lists, creating ideas and thinking about what you want to do next. True success will come when you are able to design clear details about your daily routines and how each one of them will make money. True success will come when you not only know what each day will look like, but also have clear details of how the work today, will meet the goals you’ve set for the month and the year as well. Each task needs to be connected to the bigger goal, which needs to be connected to your financial bottom line.

Once you are organized in your thoughts, and have designed the structure of your business, you will be able to get into action. If you feel yourself perseverating on the end goal, and doing more thinking than doing, visualize your business as an actual building. Notice how an actual building has the base being the largest part of the structure, to create stability. It wouldn’t work any other way, right? I mean, if you flipped your building or business upside down, with the largest part at the top, eventually your building will topple over! In the same way, if you fill your days with grand ideas about the future of your business without the base to stabilize it, your business will topple over as well.

Design real organization and structure and get busy in the doing part! That is what will lead you to success.

Motherhood. When Giving is not Loving.

There were many things in my life I didn’t understand right way. There were things I had to study for, take notes on, research and then even start over again before being able to really comprehend it. But being a mother, was not one of those things. Not to say I didn’t do my research, but once my babies were in my arms, I barely remembered the things I had read about. What I knew was a deep love that did not need comprehending. It did not need definitions or explanations.

I will never forget the way my first-born son looked deep into my eyes, as if he could see into my soul. I will never forget feeling like he oddly understood it. Like he was saying, “okay, so you are the one that will always keep me safe.” That look like he too understood…that our eyes meeting, and our souls connecting was all this journey was going to need. Maybe he knew more than I️ did.

fullsizeoutput_1a4c<<<<<<<<<
nt I had gone from pregnant, to mom and knew that my job from here forward was simply to love and protect this one sweet angel, which then turned into two sweet angels. I remember constantly thinking, "I will always keep you safe.”

False. We cannot always keep our children safe, nor is that always our job. So what is our job?

It is only recently that I have been able to transform that word into responsibility and only recently that I have been able to ask myself, ‘what is my responsibility?

I never thought of myself as an average mom. I didn't just become a mom, I had an amazing love for my babies that could not be described. I had a yearning to care for, love, and give to them in a way I had never experienced. It wasn’t that I️ thought they couldn’t do for themselves, but was more about the overwhelming joy I got from giving. Whether it was folding their clothes just so, baking the goodies that warmed their hearts (or at least made them smile broadly) or making their lunches just so…was about me. It was how I showed my love for them. It was what I created as the thing that reminded them every day how much they were loved.

So what could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing actually.

When your child can't tie his shoes, you tie them. When your child is too young to use the stove, you cook his meals. When your child isn't tall enough to reach the washer, you wash his clothes. But at some point our definition of being mom gets confusing, and our purpose gets convoluted. The way we give becomes defined by the actual things we give or do…for them.

Giving, is not necessarily loving.

When your 7-year-old comes home and says he needs crayons for school, you get them. That is being a responsible parent. That is not love, though, that is responsibility. When your 20-year-old comes home and says he needs red pens for class and you run out to the store while he sits in front of the tv, that is not love. That is giving, but a different kind of giving. That kind of giving actually robs your child of ‘responsibility’. It crossed the line of helping into enabling.

Helping is doing for others when they cannot do it for themselves. Enabling is doing for others when they are capable of doing for themselves. Enabling – that which hijacks another’s opportunity for success. Ugh!

The first time I heard that I felt sick to my stomach. My brain began to scroll the hundreds of things a day that I had done for family members, that I felt were done simply to show my undying love for them. I was certain that giving was loving. I mean, if I wasn’t giving, then how would they know I loved them?

That is the million dollar question. For myself, what I have learned is that my constant giving was not as selfless as I once had thought. It seemed that if I was giving to others before giving to myself, then I was being selfless. That is what motherhood is all about, isn’t it? Apparently not.

Apparently if we are doing this motherhood thing the way it should be done, in a way that produces 18 year olds that are self-sufficient, independent and successful, then we should be working our way out of a job. What?! Trust me, that was never a part of my vocabulary. I wanted to be ‘mommy’ forever. I loved the job, the title, the satisfaction and pure joy it gave me. There was nothing more rewarding than this…Until, that is, I was forced to look at the aftermath of what I had created.

I was forced to look at how my constant doing was robbing the very beings in my family of their own independence. Stealing their opportunity for success. Convincing them without words that my way was not only better, but that perhaps they weren’t even capable at all without my help.

Neither of those things were true. I never believed my way was the best or only way and always knew they were capable of success without my help.

So why was I️ doing things they were capable of handling on their own? Why was I️ doing those things before they even asked for help? Why was my go-to always, “Oh, don’t worry…I’ll get it.”

Simple. It was how I showed my undying love. Right? Well…no. It wasn’t about that at all. Instead, although I didn’t know it at the time, it was really about me and my desire to feel needed. I mean, if I didn’t do for them, then why would they need me? Seems simple and harmless but actually has some negative consequences. Ones that keep our emerging adults from learning what to do with feelings of discomfort. Ones that keep our emerging adults from learning what to do in the face of challenges. Ones that keep our emerging adults dependent upon us…just the opposite of our hopes and dreams for them.

Motherhood is hard for sure, but finding a balance between helping and enabling is where the rubber meets the road. You can do this. Just keep asking the question: Am I helping because they are unable, or am I stealing their opportunity for success?

If you keep practicing, you will soon be able to see which kinds of giving gestures are simply acts of love…that which build strong family love and success.