Teaching Forgiveness

With Mother’s Day just around the corner for those of us in the US, I’m thinking about an interesting topic that moms are pretty familiar with: forgiveness. It’s one of the many life lessons parents are supposed to teach us or help us learn, but not always an easy one to teach or to live. One of my earlier memories is one of needing forgiveness for having done something wrong, it really didn’t feel good to need forgiveness or to be caught doing something wrong.

It can be hard to teach forgiveness because it’s not always fun to forgive, nor is it always easy, especially if we’ve been hurt before or it just doesn’t seem to add up for us in our heads on why we should be forgiving them. It’s even hard to forgive when we know the other person doesn’t know what they did or didn’t do wrong intentionally, because we’re still hurt. It can take a lot of courage to take the time to really understand all of the situation, not just how hurt we are, and choose to forgive.

Teaching forgiveness, grace and understanding are all things that parents should to teach kids, and are lessons that we should use throughout our lives. We have to decide to forgive our coworker for standing us up at the big meeting, our neighbor for the damage caused to our property during a party, our kids for the car accident, the town for a lack of notice when they decided to tear up the street and turn off the water, or our significant other for forgetting our anniversary, and countless other little things that happen during our lives that hurt us.

What about you? Do you need forgiveness in your life or do you need to forgive someone? Life’s too short to let the hurts build up and cripple us. I encourage you to take steps this week towards forgiving someone, even if it’s just that first step of understanding what and why they did what they did.

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Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Today in the US we’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo, so I thought I’d share a few fun ideas that you can craft, create and play with your kids!

Fringed party favor bags

Punched tin napkin rings

Ribbon lanterns

Straw flowers

Crepe and tissue paper flowers

Cupcake liner flower crown

Neatly folded napkins with maracas

Cactus balloons

Foam stamp cacti artwork

Stenciled southwestern welcome mat

Piñata napkin rings

Cinco de Mayo place cards

Fan drink stirrers

Sombrero headbands

Fiesta pattern bowls

Cactus pillow

Cactus mini cupcake stands

Tissue paper lantern

Colorful flatware

Piñatas:

Miniature Mexican star piñata 

Chili pepper piñata 

Mini piñata garland

Donkey piñata

Sugar skull piñata 

Emoji piñata 

Pizza piñata 

Owl piñata 

Watermelon piñata 

Alligator piñata 

Mini cactus piñata 

Unicorn piñata 

Taco piñata 

How are you planning to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

The Work of Forgiving

Today I thought we’d talk about a topic that’s important for any kind of relationship, but especially for family and romantic relationships, and also often challenging.  It’s a topic that can cause many people serious heart palpations because they’ve got stuff in their proverbial closets that they’ve hidden away and never want to be discovered of grudges long held or hurts they’ve received over the years.   Which is ironic because forgiveness is really meant to be a freedom and gift.  I’m sure that a deathbed regret many people have is that they held onto grudges for too long and didn’t release them and it hindered their living a full and satisfying life.  I don’t know about you, but that is a regret I don’t want to have on my deathbed. And if you see forgiving someone even if they won’t forgive you as an issue, don’t.  While forgiveness is something that can restore a relationship when both sides participate, forgiveness can also free you personally from things you’ve held onto.

Personally, I know that I have stuff in my life that I need to forgive myself for.  After all, we’re usually our harshest critics.  We usually demand much more from ourselves than others do, and with that high standard comes lots of opportunities to fall.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a really good thing that we hold ourselves to a standard; it means that we still have hope as people.  It also gives us a chance to really do something with our lives and have big opportunities for success.  Yes with those big opportunities for success do come with big opportunities to fail, but failure and success are both important parts of life, not things that should be avoided.

When we fail, often we’re the first person we need to forgive.  We can’t begin the healing process with anyone we’ve hurt without first having taken a look at ourselves and our responsibility and begun to forgive ourselves for our role in what happened.  Living as damaged people increases the likelihood that we’ll hurt others because we sometimes strike out because we feel hurt and lost.

It’s not easy to forgive if we feel someone deserves whatever hurt they experience, ourselves included.  But beating each other and ourselves up, especially if serious harm wasn’t our goal, isn’t the way to live or contribute to life.  With this year’s spring celebrations upon us, take time to let go of some of the baggage holding you up and forgive yourself so you’re free to take on what the spring brings.

“Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk.  If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator.  Forgiving seems almost unnatural.  Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do.  But forgiving is love’s power to break nature’s rule.”  Lewis B. Smedes

Ready for Responsibility?

This week I’ve been thinking about the topic of responsibility. It’s something to think about as important for both kids and adults. As adults we’re supposed to be responsible and we have to teach the next generation about responsibility as well. Some people never learn the responsiblity concept, others learn it after a wake up call like a serious car accident or health scare, and some people seem born with responsibility in there genes.

As adults sometimes I think we are sometimes so involved in doing life that we don’t think about it in terms of being responsible, or about all that we’re doing as part of being responsible. For instance, you pay your bills and go to work because that’s what you do each day/week/month, you don’t do it so you can check the “be responsible” line on your daily to-do list. You make sure your kids are clothed and fed because that’s what you do as a parent, you don’t typically do it to be a “responsible parent.” Sometimes I think we get so focused on getting it all done that we don’t always take time to consider what’s really best or most responsible in that situation.

As a parent or role model for the next generation you’ve got a lot of boxes you’re trying to cross off. You’re trying to get them educated, to be culture smart, to be able to dress themselves, to be able to tie shoes, to have some idea of right and wrong, to develop personal values and morals, to have a can-do attitude, to plan for the future, to have confidence and to be able to navigate the challenges of relationships with others, just to name a few. You teach them lessons about responsibility with putting books and papers back in their backpacks after doing homework rather than leaving them everywhere, putting dirty clothes in laundry baskets instead of on the floor, earning an allowance to learn good saving and spending habits, cleaning up dishes after eating, and even in time outs or other types of punishments for poor behavior and attitudes.

If we really want the next generation to be better leaders and people we need to make sure they understand the importance of responsibility and learn how to be responsible not only for themselves but also for the people in their care and the world we all share. There’s also time for most of the people of the world to choose to be more responsible as well, it’s not just something we leave for the next generation. Does your life need a responsibility check or do you need to work more on teaching responsibility to your kids? If you need a responsibility update, I encourage you to make time to make some of those changes this week.

How to Live

Do you know what one of the most important things is to teach your kids?  It’s how to live. So many people waste their lives on stuff that doesn’t matter or worry endlessly about things they can’t do anything about and forget that the real purpose of living is to live!  Life isn’t meant to be lived as a spectator, we’re supposed to be actively involved in our lives.

What are you teaching your kids with how you live your life? What does your partner believe about you or believe you believe about your life?  Do you show that you not only appreciate the life you have but also are doing your best to make your life and the lives of those you interact with better? Are you respecting the body and gifts you’ve been giving or are you letting them waste away?

It’s important to teach your kids the value of life, and how to work through the challenges you face.  Yes, there will be stresses and problems in your life, and your kids need to learn how to handle them in such a way that they don’t get taken over by them or that the challenges ruin their lives.

Teach your kids the technical skills, manner and attitude they need to know to make it through the challenges they will face.  No, you won’t be able to completely prepare them as things do change, but you’ll give them the foundation they need to know how to work through challenges, and the importance of remembering that it’s all for a reason: living and even thriving for as many years as you’re blessed with.

We are frightfully concerned with our own deaths, sometimes so much so that we forget the real purpose of our lives.”  Brian L. Weiss

Easter Egg-Citement

Today is the official celebration of Easter. You’ve probably seen the ads and your kids have probably begged you for Easter candy, even if you don’t celebrate for religious reasons. Growing up one of my favorite activities was the Easter egg hunt. Yes, we were a religious family, but there’s something special about looking for hidden eggs, just like there is about Santa at Christmas. Why have an Easter egg hunt with your kids?

For one, it’s fun your kids will want to do more than once. You’ll be filling and hiding, or at the very least hiding, eggs for the next few months. It’s one of those gifts that keep on giving. If you don’t want to fill individual eggs you can give the child with the most eggs found a prize.

If you’ve got slightly older kids who get easily bored or don’t have the same interest as younger kids in looking for eggs, just hide a few, maybe even some of the same color, around the house. It will be a bigger challenge for them and keep them interested for longer.

I do have a vote for the religious aspect, even if you’re not very religious. Giving your kids the knowledge, or letting them choose whether to believe or not, is empowering for both you and them. It’s great to be able to say to your kids “because [God] made it that way” when they ask you a particularly tricky question that you just don’t have an answer to. It also helps kids understand why things don’t always go their way and why not everything makes logical sense. Knowing there is something bigger, stronger and loving out there can help allay fears and provide reassurance of answers when there don’t seem to be any.

Finally, I love the whole concept of eggs. You’re looking for something, you’re discovering what’s inside and you’re celebrating that discovery. Just like kids learn, discover and grow as they get older, these steps are important for them to be aware of, especially in this instant age. Sometimes the good stuff is wrapped in a little mystery, surrounded by a little work, but no matter how you get there, it’s important to celebrate what you learn.

This Easter and this week ahead, hide some eggs with your kids, and discover the fun you can have together.

A St. Patrick’s Day Legacy

Today is St. Patrick’s Day! I’m excited as always, it’s one of my favorite holidays each year. Over the last day or so I’ve been checking out some Irish companies and looking at products made in Ireland and was struck by the care, consideration and effort that’s put into each product. No, no company is perfect, but when you think about truly Irish products and companies many of them have stood the test of time and consistently offer fantastic products. I’m not one to spend tons of money on things like jewelry or clothing, but I’m willing to spend those extra dollars to get such a quality product and support the families who are behind them.

No, this post isn’t really about running a business or offering a quality product, it’s about the quality and character of the people behind them. As parents and those in charge of the next generation we have a choice in what we want to teach the next generation, and hopefully what they’ll learn from us. Do we want to teach them to value the world, put their best foot forward, take pride in their work, leave a legacy that can be appreciated for a long time, and make a positive impact on the world? I know that’s what I want to teach the next generation and encourage them to value life and their talents.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with buying a sweater or piece of jewelry from your local big box store, I’ve got some of them that I absolutely enjoy very much and were on low clearance prices even (prices that couldn’t get me anywhere near something from Ireland). So there’s nothing wrong with finding shortcuts and doing a quick job of something (as long as it gets the job done), but there’s value to be found in being a person who does more than just meets the status quo.

No one else can be who you are, no one else can be who your kids are or will grow up to be, no one else can be the neighborhood kids or who they will grow up to be, each and every one of us are unique and have the ability to bring something awesome to the table. In the case of the many families in Ireland who craft gorgeous products those families are teaching their next generations about leaving a legacy, honoring your heritage and sharing who they are with the world. What are you teaching your kids?

Looking at the Good Things

Every relationship, every family, and every person has things they can work on. No one is perfect and that’s just the way it is, we’re all works in progress. It’s important to work on those issues because the issues and imperfections we’ve got can get in our way to achieving success and becoming the best person we can be for ourselves and others.

I love my partner but if I wanted I could find quite a few things to complain about regarding him, he’s not perfect, and if you asked him he would tell you I’m not perfect either. But I’m not with him because I think he’s going to become perfect or to fix him. He’s much more than the issues and imperfections, he’s a thoughtful, caring, smart, funny and loving guy.

Perfection isn’t possible, but what if we took more time to focus on what’s right than what’s wrong? I’m not saying we should ignore the bad or not good stuff, in fact something that my partner and I do ask each other from time to time is if we can do anything better or be better in some way for the other. So it’s not that we’re ignoring the issues that each other have, my partner and I are always trying to do and be better for each other, but we choose to celebrate the fact that we’re together and each day we’re able to share our lives together.

Yes, your kid may have gotten an F on a math test, but they did well on the other projects that they just wrapped up, and they’re excited about a chapter coming up in history. Yes, you may have made a less-than-perfect dinner tonight but you cleaned the house, changed the sheets, organized the toys, washed the clothes, caught up on the paperwork and bills and helped your sister pick out colors for their soon-to-arrive baby’s room. It’s not about getting everything right or being perfect, but taking the time to celebrate the good stuff. Just because your kid isn’t great at a subject in school doesn’t mean they’re destined to fail at life. Just because you can’t cook doesn’t mean you aren’t a good parent or partner. You don’t have to be good at everything, but you are good at many things.

What are you good at that you can celebrate today?

Love is Considerate

This month as we’ve talked and thought about love I was reflecting on what is really one of the central aspects to love and relationships, both romantic and other types: other people. I know it sounds really obvious and yes, it’s important to love yourself, but for a relationship, romantic or otherwise, to really be successful you have to love the other person. Maybe that love is the passionate-fairy-tale-love kind, maybe that love is more of a respectful love, maybe it’s more of a compassionate love, or maybe it’s a mutual love of a sports team or hobby that makes you love another person. There’s a lot more to love than just saying “I love you” or wanting someone else in your life so you’re not alone.

Relationships are about more than just us and what we want or get out of them, there’s a whole ‘nother person to consider, and without that other person there would be no relationship. So where do you stand on your relationships including your relationship with your significant other, your family members, your work colleagues and your friends? Do you really take time to consider them and their needs, capabilities and needs as part of your relationship with them?

I think one of the biggest secrets to showing love to others is just being considerate. There’s nothing fancy or complicated really about it, it’s just you taking the time to open your eyes, mind, and heart to the other person. Sometimes that consideration means being extra patient with them, sometimes it’s about showing them in dramatic form how much you care, sometimes it’s just a touch on the shoulder or text message to let them know you’re there and you support them, and sometimes it’s connecting them to a great opportunity or resource that you hear about.

Have you taken the time to dive into love this month and explore the relationships that are important in your life? Which relationships have you realized need work and which are you most committed to exploring and strengthening?

Impact Big and Small

As I was thinking about the big football game happening in a few hours I was reminded of the topic of impact. In hearing the different plans that people have depending on the results of the game and about the history of the teams for winning seasons, it got me thinking about how many people’s futures are going to be impacted by the events of a few hours. No, it’s not life and death like cancer and it’s not as impactful as something like an election, but it’s still a really big deal to many people, and people are willing to put their health on the line for the victory today.

For some the events of today in the world of football mean very little or nothing to them. They don’t watch, they don’t care, they may not even know which teams are playing. And that’s OK, because what we’re talking about today isn’t really about football. It’s about the impact that each of us have on each other. Yes, today’s game will have a big impact because it impacts many people. What you choose for dinner tonight may not have a big impact on many people, but it will have an impact on you, and maybe a few of the people who live with you. How you talk to your kids will have an impact on them, how you show your partner you do/don’t love them will impact them, the way you treat yourself will have an impact on your self esteem, your self image and your confidence.

The thing is it’s these little things that add up to make a big impact. If you put one quarter in a jar every day for the next year you’ll have $36.53 which might be enough to take your significant other out for dinner. Divorces rarely are the result of one event or thing but days, months and even years of issues and buildup. People are rarely born bad, they turn that way after years of negative influences and anger directed their way. I doubt that any of the parents who have kids playing in the football game today knew the day they were born that they would end up playing today.

You can’t predict the future, but you can do your best to make choices that will give you the best big and little impacts possible. What impact will you choose to have?