Fishing for Family

Today, as with every Friday, the topic of discussion is family.  Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed watching the fish in my backyard pond have baby fish.  It looks something like this…

So what can my baby fish share with us about family?  Well, the honest truth is that parenting changes people.  If you haven’t been exposed to or worked with children before you have them, you’re in for a rude awakening.  The parent fish were very shy before kids.  They wouldn’t come up for food until you left.  Now that they have children, their opportunity to eat is at risk so they know they have to come up and eat before the kids eat all the food.  Kids will expose you to new things.  If you weren’t interested in healthy eating before, you will be interested in it now.  You will learn incredible lessons from your kids throughout your life.  Whether they know it or not they will be teaching you about life, about how you interact with people, about your attitude towards life, and about love.  They, like the baby fish, will encourage you to take risks: go on rides at amusement parks, try new foods and flavors of ice cream, listen to new music, watch different TV shows and read different books.  You will learn to like things for the sake of your kids, i.e. vegetables, kids books, kids restaurants, etc.  Your kids will stretch you and grow you more than you can ever imagine.  You will be challenged daily to be a good example to your kids, to teach them good manners and to encourage them.  You’ll sacrifice for their sake(s), doing whatever it takes to get them educated, keep them in clothing and teach them the value of life.

The parent fish in the pond don’t have food to give their babies.  The babies have eaten the (man-made) pond clean.  Fortunately, they have humans who feed them daily and make sure they’re cared for.  This is just like human parents.  There is always a friend you can call, a church you can reach out to or coach you can talk with when your kids challenge you, or you’re struggling.  Parenting is a big responsibility.  Fortunately, you aren’t alone. Take this opportunity to share with someone what you are struggling with, I know they (or I) will be happy to listen and encourage you.

p.s.-would anyone like some cute baby fish? Orange, white, orange and black, white and black, or black?

The Whys of Life’s Distractions

Life is full of distractions.  As soon as you get through one challenge, another pops up!  It seems to be life’s way of keeping us on our toes.  Certainly with this in mind, life is never boring.  Why do we have these distractions in life?  Let’s look at some reasons.

Life is trying to get our attention: Maybe you’ve been living your life oblivious to those around you.  Maybe you haven’t put time and attention into the relationships you are a part of.  Maybe you’re not exercising and your body has some strong words for you.

Life has a bigger plan for us:  If you’re struggling at your job and one thing after another keeps happening, maybe it’s life’s way of telling you it’s time for a change.  Maybe your spouse or partner dies, or your child gets a rare disease.  Maybe you’re meant to do something like help raise money for cancer research, help the people in Haiti, or adopt a child.  Maybe it is working with your partner, or a family member, on their entrepreneurial business, instead of the job you dislike.

Life has a sense of humor: Maybe life just wants to throw you some challenges and see what you do.  Those with great senses of humor can look back on events in their life and laugh about how they reacted or about their thoughts and actions in the moment.  Life is absolutely about having fun, so perhaps your life distraction is here to bring out your sense of humor and enjoyment of life.

Life wants to teach us something new:  There is always something new to learn.  You never finish learning, the lessons, however, come in different ways as you grow and change.

What distractions are in your life right now?  What are they trying to teach you or show you? (Share below!)

Blogging with the Three Bears

Many people are familiar with the story of Goldilocks and the 3 bears.  And many people today have blogs for both business purposes and personal reasons.  What bear is your blog like?

Papa Bear: In the tale, the father bear is the biggest, has the hottest food, the biggest bed and seems the scariest.  While it’s good to have some elements of surprise and intrigue in your blog, your blog should not be overwhelming.  So many times I visit a blog and am absolutely overwhelmed by all the options on the sides or top of the blog, the pictures are abundant, distracting and overwhelming, and it isn’t pleasant to read.  Occasionally the font choice even makes it hard to read the posts and the background is absolutely blinding or distracting.

Mama Bear: Mama Bear, in the story, is medium-sized, has cold food, and sleeps in a super cushy bed.  Mother Bear’s blog would be simple, uninteresting, under-designed and under-attended to.  If your blog features a plain white background, no picture in the banner area, and simple font, with no pictures in any of your posts, you probably bore your audience.  When people get bored by something, or aren’t interested, they don’t come back to read more (not good if you’re trying to develop interest in potential clients).  Another characteristic would be only having 2 new blog posts a month.  If the blog isn’t updated at least once a week, it may be hard to keep your audience interested, and they won’t remember you as well.

Baby Bear: Baby Bear’s part of the tale speaks of perfect sized chairs, yummy food, and a perfect bed.  Blogs created and updated in Baby Bear style are interesting, have some color, share good information frequently with the intended audience and present the valuable information in an inviting setting.  There are no bad color combination backgrounds, the font isn’t wacky, it doesn’t overwhelm or distract you with pictures, has weekly posts (however brief) and the posts are interesting and informative.

This isn’t about your blog being perfect.  It’s about having an inviting opportunity to share with your friends and clients.  Have you looked at your blog lately?  Maybe ask for some feedback from your friends and family what they think of your blog.  Share below what you think makes your blog GREAT!

One Key to Successful Parenting

It’s tough to be a parent.  Everyone thinks they can parent your child better than you can, and they certainly share advice and suggestions with you on a regular basis.  Yes, it is good to share parenting struggles, especially if you’re a new parent, or dealing with a stage of development for the first time (i.e. teenage years).  There are several companies and individuals who have made it their life mission to specifically help you raise your family, have a healthy marriage and have a happy life within your family.  Rather than tell you how to parent your kids, I have a suggestion for you that you’re probably already doing, but may not recognize it.  Ready?  How consistent are you as a parent? Consistency can come in several forms, let’s take a look.

If you have young children, it’s good to be on a relatively normal routine and to keep them on a schedule so that they feel comfortable and they are less stressed.  When they’re less stressed, you’ll be less stressed.  As they get older and more involved in school, homework, friends and activities, it may be harder to keep a normal routine.

So then what?  How do you keep the consistency factor up as they get older?  It actually becomes about YOU being consistent.  You having the healthy eating habits that you share with your family.  You are consistent with how you discipline your children. You are consistent with the rules as far as boys/girls and late nights out goes.  You are consistent with your attitude towards and care of money.  You are the role model they look to for guidance about learning, educating themselves and setting aside time for personal development.  You are the attitude setter for how they treat others and themselves.

Three small things to note. -With your younger children obviously you will have vacations and other events that come up that are out of routine, that’s to be expected.  Preparing them several days in advance for the trip or event will help it go smoother.  -If your consistency is currently not instilling good habits, attitudes and support in the lives of your family members, you should consider making some adjustments.  If necessary, sit down with your children, apologize for being a bad example and explain to them the changes you hope to make, maybe even make it a family project.  -With your older children, and also with yourself, it is essential to not forget about grace.  There will be situations when you will break your consistency and make mistakes, whether you’re tired, lazy, had a bad day or they just screwed up.  It’s absolutely healthy to factor grace into your consistency, but let them know it is grace they are receiving, or you need to be given grace, in the situation, and that it isn’t going to be the new consistency in your family.

What are your consistent habits or rules in your family?

You Being Courageous

I’m excited to share with you a little today on courage.  Believe it or not we use courage every day, but some days you might not notice it. Think about the last time you drove a car.  Did you make a left turn across lanes of traffic to get to a different street?  There was a degree of courage used to make that turn and trust that the car on the other street wanting to turn left too wouldn’t turn at the same time and hit you.  When was the last time you went to a restaurant?  It took a degree of courage to eat there and trust you wouldn’t get food poisoning.  You live your life with courage, trusting that you will live to see tomorrow.

The dictionary defines courage as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery” and “the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.”

Maybe you’re living your life scared of the past, struggling with feelings and thoughts of pain from the past.  Maybe you’re scared of the future, worried about your marriage, your job, or your children.  The good news is you don’t have to be.  You have the power to have an amazing future, free from pain, fear and struggles.  Let’s take a brief look at the two definitions and see what we can learn.

1) Your frame of mind:  Both talk about your ‘quality of mind.’  What does this mean?  Very simply this has to do with the state of your mind.  You’re no longer acting out of fear or ‘a bad place,’ but you’re willing to bypass the fear, to acknowledge the fear and move beyond it.  This doesn’t mean taking stupid or crazy risks, but taking reasonable, responsible steps to overcome or pass your fear.

2) Courage enables you: Having courage enables you to be stronger. It may be bravado in the beginning, as you’re getting used to overcoming your fears, but soon you will be a stronger person and be better able to face any new fears and challenges that you will face with your newly built courage.

3) Facing your fears, danger, pain or difficulty:  Both definitions seem to indicate that we’re all going to face our fears.  The only way to live a full life is to face them, acknowledge them and be able to bless them and send them on their way.  It sounds simple, but it really takes a lot of courage, and is difficult for most people. For some people it takes a lifetime to make peace with their fears, or they may never.

4) Spirit: Sometimes you just can’t adjust your mindset, find balance, and are out of answers.  When this happens, another solution is to turn to your Spirit or Source for guidance and courage (That is an unlimited source of courage and strength).

This is only the beginning of the topic of courage. Courage is a deep, inspiring, expansive topic that takes a lifetime of study and practice to understand. Whatever your struggle, I have faith that you will find the courage deep in yourself to get through your challenges, fears and difficulties.  Often you need a buddy though, so please share your struggles with a friend or feel free to share below, or visit my website to set up a time to work with me personally on your fears, challenges and courage.

Transforming Your Inconveniences

Life is full of little inconveniences and lazy people.  I myself am occasionally lazy, and am occasionally inconvenienced.  Let’s talk about a couple of examples.  When you get home do you just drop your stuff on the first chair you see, not bothering to put it where it really goes? Do your kids constantly leave stuff everywhere and not pick up after themselves?  Are there shoes in every room of the house?  Are your papers scattered in several locations, i.e. kitchen, den, bedroom?  Do you leave your dirty, or clean, clothes in piles waiting to be put away or in the laundry basket (just steps away!)?

If you’re feeling slightly guilty about any of these, no worries, I have many clients who have the same habits. So what can we do to break the laziness and be less inconvenienced to do it right on a daily basis?

1) New habits.  This is probably the hardest option.  If you’re serious about doing a life change and being not lazy at all, you can put some new habits in place that will help you eliminate some of these problems. This means noticing what habits you have and what you could do differently/better.  You then take active steps to transform the habit from lazy to good (ie throwing your clothes in the hamper, shoes where they go etc).  This is probably your best option for what you do when you get home.  There are few options besides just putting your things away, unless you create a nice, organized nook by the door you come in where you can place your things.

2) Do nothing.  This is the easiest option. Whether you’re just not in the mood or don’t really feel inconvenienced by any of the habits I mentioned, or by any you notice in your life, you can choose to do nothing about your behaviors.  Continue to throw the clothes on the floor, don’t put away shoes, drop your stuff as soon as you get in the door.  Of course, you’ll have to clean it up if you have company over…but it can wait until then.

3) Create new options.  This is my favorite option.  I know that there are EASY things you can do to help change your inconveniences and transform your lazy behaviors.  Let’s start with clothes. If you’re not putting them in your laundry basket, make sure you have a basket/hamper that is convenient for you. If it’s in the bathroom but you always change in your bedroom, put it in your bedroom.  If your basket isn’t stylish enough, or doesn’t hide your clothes, invest in a wooden hamper that has a lid and goes with your decor (approx. $20 at Walmart, a little more expensive at IKEA).  If you don’t like to put away your clothes, do it while you watch your favorite TV show.  What about your kids?  Make it a daily chore for them to put away their toys before bed.  That way it will be done and you won’t have to do it.  Papers are much harder to deal with for most people. Decide on one place you really want to keep all your papers, and make sure the mail gets dropped off there too, not anywhere else. If you’re absolutely in need of papers being in more than one location, assigning them to one drawer or small space on a table or counter where they are needed would be a possibility.

So what is your choice today?  Will you continue to be lazy and inconvenienced by your life?  Will you rush around like a mad man/woman when you’re expecting company, complaining the whole time?  Or will you create new habits and options in your life?  How do you feel about your choice?  Please share below!

Need help taking action? Visit my website for help!

The Importance of Date Night

Do you remember the romantic evenings that you and your partner had BK, before kids?  Too many families don’t take time for date night, or really take the time to consider the importance of it.

Statistics reveal that more marriages than ever struggle to keep the fire going. Having at least one date night a month will help to greatly improve not only your feelings towards your partner but will also help you feel better about yourself.  Date night is a great opportunity for the two of you to get out and do something you don’t typically do. I recommend that you have a night alone, don’t spend it with other couples you’re friends with. Go out for coffee and dessert, have dinner, see a movie, go to a club, walk around a park, rent a hotel room; whatever you two enjoy doing together.  This gives both of you a chance to reconnect with each other and be reminded of the great things about each other.  It also gives you freedom to communicate without the kids around and to really discuss things that you don’t typically make the time to discuss (wants, dreams, desires, struggles etc).

This is also very important time for your kids.  If you aren’t giving your kids the opportunity to be without their parents, you’re not encouraging them to grow and be used to being around other people.  Even just one night a month with a babysitter (not a grandparent) helps the kids work on their manners, have fun, and interact with those outside their family.  As their parent you should be parenting them, but it is important for them to be introduced to other styles and types of leadership.  It helps to prepare them for what life holds after high school.

Don’t have money for sitters? I strongly encourage you to try to find the money for once a month.  If it really presents as a problem, ask other couples if you can share kids one night a month.  One night they have your kids over, another night you have their kids over so they can have a date night.

Having at least one date night a month can be the beginning of a fresh start to your partnership, a great opportunity for your kids to interact with fun sitters, and an important opportunity for everyone to have time to be who they are.  Don’t be afraid to be the grownups, not parents, once a month.  Try it, I know you’ll like it!

Struggling with your relationship? Come visit my website, I would love to help you find some clarity and understanding.

You & Me: Perfect Together?

One of the most interesting and challenging aspects of life is the task of balancing you and others.  Confused?  Join the party.  In a nut shell: frequently people are either strictly independent and don’t ask for, work with or get help from others, or they are just letting others do it for them.  So is there a balance between doing it yourself and involving others? Absolutely.  In fact, it’s necessary to find that balance.  Let me explain:

Others: A very famous quote is “No man is an island” (John Donne).  And this fact holds true.  You live in a world with something like 6,800,000,000 people besides yourself.  To not include others, not get others advice or reject others is stupid.  There is some aspect of your life that you need help with, and there is someone out there who can help you, or at least support you in your life.  However, letting others live your life, make your decisions for you or tell you what to do is not how others should be included in your life.

You: If you’re letting others do all the work in your life, not making decisions for yourself or not living the life YOU want to live, you’re making a mistake.  You have unique talents and skills to contribute to the world.  No one can do it exactly as you do, or say it exactly as you say it.  To not let your inner brilliance shine, to not make decisions that will empower you and assist you in living your life, to stay small or to live the life others want you to live is not healthy.

Finding Balance: It is essential to find balance between what you have to offer and what others can help you with.  Others can’t take the test in school for you (well, ethically they shouldn’t), but they can provide you learning resources, tips and encouragement as you prepare for and take the test.  Others can’t parent your kids for you but can give you suggestions and tips.  Others can’t go on the date for you but can give you suggestions about which guy or girl to go out with.  Others can’t be you in your [entrepreneurial] business, but they can give you assistance with some of the tasks that make the business run smoothly.

So what do we do?  1: Know who you are and be true to that.  You will change and transform throughout your life, but be aware if you have become or are becoming who you want to be or who others want you to be.  2: Get help.  Ask for advice, ask for feedback, and seek the wisdom of others.  Why do it all by yourself when you can get others to help and/or support you?  3: When others offer you feedback, and you didn’t request feedback, you need to discover if the feedback is actually true.  You have the choice to accept the feedback as true, to see how it can assist you in your life journey, see if there is something you can learn from the feedback  or to thank the individual and dismiss the feedback.  If it’s purely negative, intentionally harming feedback, don’t accept it (but you can still love the person)!

Accept that others are here to help you and that you have amazing things to offer to the world as YOU.  What amazing talents, perspectives and skills do you bring to the world?

The New Face of Business

Businesses are facing a change-or-die time.  The way that we have done business for a long time is being overturned, and has been changing for the past few years.  There’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear as to how to be successful, especially with some customers locking up their wallets tighter than ever.  So how do businesses prepare?  What changes can you make to your business in this time of transition? While we’re not through the transition, three items are becoming very apparent.

1) Businesses must be customer focused.  You won’t get the money if you don’t focus on your customer.  Show them that they matter to you.  Don’t tell them how amazing you are, show/tell them what you can do for them.  This may mean some redesigning of your business cards, web pages and advertisements.  It is a small price to pay for more attention from potential customers.

2) Businesses must build relationships.  This means building trust with your clients. It means going the extra mile to support your customers.  Even taking the time to converse with them and really find out where they’re coming from and what they are looking for.  Build confidence that you can help them, or confidently refer them to someone who would be a better fit for helping them achieve their desires and hopes (if you don’t build log cabins, just ‘traditional’ homes, don’t start building log cabins just for the money).

3) Businesses should have a win-win-win attitude.  3 wins: a win for your customers, a win for your alliances and partners, and a win for you/your business.   It’s not a competitors game now, it’s a win-win opportunity.  You support me, I support you type attitude.  Talk and partner with companies that can refer you clients, and you can do the same back (a cake decorator partners with an event planner for example).  Partner with them so you can support each other.  When your customer wins, you win too.  They will not only pay you, but they will probably have repeat services with you and refer their friends to you.

The bottom line is, you cannot stay how you are, doing business as you are. The people and markets are looking for something different.  You can either be part of the change movement or be swept away.  What is your choice?

Family Communications

Family is great.  I was telling someone the other day that I can’t wait to have kids someday!  But, the more people who are involved, and usually with family there’s quite a few, it gets harder to communicate.  So what can we do?

Have Weekly Meetings:  If you’ve got teenage kids or a large, involved immediate family, it’s a great idea to sit down once a week and have a meeting to discuss what’s coming up that week.  Get a big piece of paper, a different color pen for each person, and talk about the sports, activities, play dates, late meetings, hair cuts, school activities, appointments, gym time, big school projects etc that are coming up that week.  You can also take advantage of this time to plan meals for the week, discuss what you’re all eating for lunch, discuss dinner plans, and make up grocery shopping lists (including shampoo, soap and other things).  It’s also a great time to encourage each other with the challenges that you each have in the upcoming week.

Establish Your Communication Expectations:  Everywhere I go, no matter how young the kids, they all have cell phones!  With this widespread use of cell phone technology, it makes it very easy to stay in contact.  And, with texting today it’s even easier to stay in touch.  You can tell your kids that the condition with having a cell phone is that they communicate with YOU (not just their friends).  They’re expected to tell you changes in plans, to ask you questions, to not just show up with 6 friends after school, etc.  This is also a great idea for partners.  You’ve got the technology, shoot your partner a quick text that you’re thinking about them, letting them know you’re going to make dinner if you don’t typically, or if you’re going to run to the store you should ask them if they need anything.  Yes, I know life gets busy, and typically kids aren’t allowed to have cell phones out in school, but establishing the expectation to really communicate is important.

Set the Example:  As the parents, if you show your kids that you and your partner communicate, they will feel more comfortable communicating too.  This doesn’t include fighting, fighting is not communicating.  (If you are fighting all the time, your communication skills need some work 🙂 ).   If you are avid dinner table or car traveling communicators, that’s a great habit to pass along to your kids.  Show them that you communicate about everything: feelings, real life, work, each other, struggles, what you’re learning,  and more (sex, physical contact and boundaries are important to talk about too, but keep most of the sex in the bedroom).  Show that you share your feelings, communicate that you love your partner and your kids, also show that respect is involved in communication by not interrupting others and by giving them ample time to share what they would like to share.

The family is so important yet most people don’t  make the effort to communicate in a way that reinforces the relationships, and encourages growth and love.  Communicating can help to eliminate fighting, and can also help you have better, healthier, fuller relationships and lives, and be more equipped to deal with change and growth that is a natural part of [family] life.