Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Breathe Through Your Holiday Stress

During the holidays many people experience stressful situations as they go about all of their activities -- things like dealing with difficult family members, missing loved ones who are gone and trying to accomplish everything on the "to do" list -- just to name a few.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / dolgachov
Today I would like to give you a tool for handling this stress holistically. It's a simple tool that you can take with you wherever you go -- it's called belly breathing, or abdominal breathing.

During times of emotional stress, people tend to unconsciously hold their breath. This is harmful, because it can lead to a host of problems including high blood pressure, muscle pain and stuck emotions.

The good news is that we can learn to breathe better and reduce the harmful effects on our body, mind and spirit.

Here is a simple technique from the AMSA:
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. 
  • Take a slow deep breath in through your nose, then hold it for a count of 7. As you breathe in, the hand on your abdomen should rise higher than the one on your chest. 
  • Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. As all the air is released, gently contract your abdominal muscles to completely evacuate the remaining air from the lungs. 
  • Repeat the cycle four more times for a total of 5 deep breath cycles.
Once you feel comfortable with this technique, you may want to incorporate words that can enhance the exercise. Examples would be to say to yourself the word, relaxation (on the inhale) and stress or anger (on the exhale). The idea is to bring in the feeling/emotion you want with the inhalation and release the feeling you don't want with the exhalation.

Do this exercise twice a day or whenever you find your mind dwelling on upsetting thoughts. You should notice it brings you to a more peaceful place. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Small Gesture = A Big Impact

According to research conducted by Shaunti Feldhahn, Author of The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, 72 percent of men say a, "thank you," for something they did "deeply pleases" them.

This is an easy way for us to show our men our love.
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Andres
-- "Honey, thank you for playing with the kids after work tonight."
-- "Thank you for making coffee this morning."
-- "Thank you for working so hard for us today."
Why is this so important? Because your man's greatest desire is to do something well and have it be noticed and appreciated. If you help fulfill this deepest desire by expressing gratitude, you will be cultivating a healthy marriage, which is good for both of you!

Here's another thought to put it into perspective -- a woman's saying "Thank you" to her man is the emotional equivalent of his saying "I love you" to her. So, if you love hearing, "I love you" from your man, you might want to throw a few "thank you's" his way!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Taking Care of You is Not Selfish

During a recent coaching session with my coach she said something that was a great "light bulb" moment for me, "The act of taking care of one's self often appears selfish to others."

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / pablocalvog
How true. I believe this is part of why we don't always take good care of ourselves. We don't want others to think we are being selfish.

But taking care of your "self" is not selfish. It is loving. It is loving to you and to the very people who might think you are being selfish.

We have all heard before that we need to take care of ourselves first so we can better take care of those around us.

This is true and why the flight attendant always tells you to put your oxygen mask on first -- then your child. Take care of you so you can take care of others.

What happens when we are not taking good care of ourselves is that we get filled up with resentment that depletes our energy and often gets taken out on those around us.

So, what is it that you need to do for yourself right now? Take a relaxing bath? Go shopping? Get a manicure or pedicure? Have lunch with a friend? Sleep in late? Get a massage? Go on a trip? Go back to school?

Whatever it is -- go do it!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

To Those Who Have Hurt You: Send Them Love

In life we all have experiences where we are hurt by others. Sometimes the hurt is so deep we no longer have "active" relationships with those people.

I put the word active in quotations, because you are still energetically connected to people from your past.

Sometimes it is hard to let go of those people. You may still feel love for them, or you may harbor feelings of anger, betrayal or sadness for the things that went on during your relationship. It is not healthy to hang onto these negative feelings. Soul-level healing is needed.

Today I'd like to teach you a technique to help heal your heart. It's a type of a meditation.

We will ask Archangel Michael to intercede for us. Archangel Michael is the protector of God's light and love. When you call on him, he will help you clear your energy field of old hurts and past experiences that are weighing you down.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / photosoup
Michael always performs his duties with love and can help you consciously send love to those people and things in your past so that you may release them into the Light and move forward with your life.

The process would look something like this:

Find a comfortable, quiet space to relax.

Close your eyes, take three deep breaths to release anything negative in your body.

Bring yourself in the presence of God. Feel His peace surround you.

Now, call on Archangel Michael. See him in your mind's eye. Notice his magnificence and beauty. Say, "Archangel Michael, I am asking for your help with a gentle release of _______ (insert name).

Now, see your higher self (your God self) and the other person's higher self standing face to face in front of you. Don't say anything at first. Just look. Feel with your heart. Breathe. Be calm. Feel peace between you. There is only love here. It is safe. You may wish to see Archangel Michael standing with you both with his loving wings outstretched around you.

When you are ready, tell that person you love them. Mean it. Feel it. Feel the love going from your heart to theirs. Actually see the love transferring between you. Breathe. Feel calm. Spend as much time with this as you like, just sitting in this peace and love.

*Please note, this is not a time to get lost in the story about what happened or any negativity. You can vent your anger and frustration in your journal. Reserve this time for love and peace. If your mind wanders, simply center yourself again and bring your focus back to love.

Then say, "Thank you for being in my life and for the spiritual lessons you have taught me. I now release you with love." Breathe for a moment and savor this peaceful feeling. You can give a little thank you to Archangel Michael, too.

When you are ready, slowly come back into awareness, and know that you can bring this peace with you as you go about your day.

Do this process as often as you need to. It is a process. Not a light switch for sure -- but it will certainly bring you much peace and serenity.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

An Easy Holiday Season Coping Tool

The holiday season is now upon us, and things are about to get crazy. Much of the busyness is unavoidable, although I would challenge you to really look at what you are saying "yes" to right now.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / JanMika
Today I want to share with you a coping mechanism. A tool that will help you keep your wits about you through this season.

If you use it, it will keep you happier, healthier and more peaceful.

If you don't already have one, get a journal to write in. Any spiral notebook will do if you don't have one.

Every day follow these 2 steps:

1. On one piece of paper, write down everything that is stressing you out. Everything that is on your mind. Everything you are worried about. Everything. Get it out. Fill up the whole page.

2. Now, flip the page over. Here you are going to write everything you are grateful for. People. Places. Things. Everything.

That's it. That's all. Coaching 101 stripped down to the bare basics. If you will do this every day, you will bring such peace to your soul.

This exercise only takes about 10 minutes and allows you that time to be still. Part of why we get so crazy during the holidays is that we don't slow down enough to even hear ourselves think.

Once you've gotten everything out of your head, you can see where you need to take action. Good luck and let me know if you need more guidance.

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Father's Passing

Last Tuesday my father called all of his children home to say good-bye before the Lord called him home.

We dropped everything, took the kids out of school early and went up there. Everyone in my family came. We all had our private time to say good-bye. Even Tyler and Alyssa went in to see their Papa and say, "I love you." I am so proud of them for their courage to say good-bye to a dying loved one.

That night I sent Paul and the kids home, but I stayed to be with my parents and brothers and sisters. We had such a fun night playing cards and talking. 

Although my dad could only hear us from his bedroom, he said to my mom when she came to bed that night, "Thank you for a great day. It was nice to hear everyone out there having fun."

For my dad, "quality time" has always been simple. Just being present. And that is what we were. All of his five kids present.

Just being silly!
The next day our aunt and cousins made it in from Wyoming, so once again, we found ourselves gathered around the kitchen table talking and playing cards. We had so much fun.

We all hung out together throughout the week until it was his time to go to heaven, early Saturday morning, around 3:30 a.m.

To back up a bit ... Prior to my dad's passing, I told him about an amazing near death experience story I had read about. I asked him to give me a "thumbs up," that heaven is for real after he got there.

As I was driving to his house moments after his passing, he gave me that thumbs up. He played a song with the lyrics, "Don't you worry child, see heaven's got a plan for you" on the radio -- the second song into my journey. Throughout the last six months or so of his illness, that song always came on the radio whenever I needed it -- often while driving home from an emotionally draining day of taking care of him.

I believe he played me another song on that journey. Perhaps to lighten the mood -- driving while crying can be dangerous, you know! I had changed the station and suddenly I was listening to the Eagles and "I'm Already Gone." Pretty funny, actually. Not unlike my dad. He had an amazing sense of humor.

The next morning my brother and sister-in-law were at church. They, too, got their thumbs up. Check out the picture to the right ...

Below the screen (with the extremely significant words on them) is a sign with three letters on it, VRL. Those are the consonants in our last name VERLEY. Then below that is the EXIT sign. Maybe the message is something like, "the words on the screen are true" and "Verley Exited." That would be his sense of humor!

And so this is how we will go on without his physical presence here on earth. Holding on to our precious memories and looking and listening for the signs. Until that day we are reunited in God's kingdom.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Don't Tear Him Down!

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / 4774344sean

If, instead of affirming, a wife reinforces her husband's feelings of inadequacy, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if she focuses her attention on what he is doing wrong in the relationship, she can unwittingly undermine what she most wants -- for him to do it right. -- Shaunti Feldhan, For Women Only.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

When Someone You Love is Dying

Many of you know my father was diagnosed with lung cancer about four years ago. He did really great until about seven months ago when it spread to his liver and bones. He has been bedridden ever since.
These are some of my dad's amazing care-takers.
Missing from this group are my sister-in-law, Shannon,
and my sister Allicia and her husband, Justin.

He can do nothing for himself. He can not be left alone. Someone needs to be there taking care of him 24/7. This is a huge task that is taking our entire family to accomplish. (Thank God there are so many of us!)

It's really amazing to see a family in action during a time of stress and grief. Everyone gives what they can and in their own unique ways. In general, the boys are the fixers -- helping take care of things around the house that my dad normally would. The girls are care-takers -- helping him get to the bathroom, feeding him and more.

Everyone in my family is taking turns during the week being at the house -- both to take care of him and to spend time with him. We have been particularly blessed by the women my brothers married. They have also taken on a huge chunk of the care-taking.

I recently read a post that said, "How would you choose to spend your time if you were taking care of someone who was dying?"

Taking care of someone who is dying is a real eye-opener, and it forces you to cast aside those things you come to realize are really not that important, because you no longer have time for them. I'm watching all of my brothers and sisters and their husbands and wives make these choices on a daily basis. It is humbling.

They say it's during times of stress that you see what people are made of, and I feel so fortunate right now, because my family is really holding it together. Everyone is doing their best to be a good to my dad, while still juggling the needs of their own families. For that I am so grateful.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

If it Doesn't Challenge You ...

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / 4774344sean

"If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you," were the words our spinning instructor shouted at us this morning.

Awesome advice! I find this to be a great reassurance for myself and my clients about how life works.

Whether it is regarding your workout or your life, it is the challenges that make us grow the most! I find this to be very inspiring and it causes me to want to try harder -- in spinning and in life!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Secrets of Being the Best Mom

Being a mom is the most difficult job in the world, but it’s also the most important. So, it is wise to invest time in learning how to do it well. What are the secrets to being the BEST mom? Obviously, all moms love their kids and take care of their basic needs, but this article will address a few of the more subtle, less obvious ways to be the best mom you can possibly be!

1. Take Care of Yourself Taking care of you has got to be your first priority. Proper nutrition, exercise and rest are vital to keep you healthy and energetic, but that’s not all. Taking care of you also means leaving time for things you love to do, like writing, painting, dancing or gardening. Easier said than done, I know, but it is important. If you take care of your own needs first, you will be an awesome mom!

2. Stop Judging Yourself for Not Being Perfect. As mothers we put WAY too much pressure on ourselves. We have an unrealistic image of what a good mom is. We secretly compare ourselves to other moms who seem to have it all together. When it comes to parenting, perfection is impossible. Beware of using Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to compare yourself to other moms – look at it as entertainment instead. Become the expert on your life – make choices that work for you and your family, and don’t worry about what others are doing.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / justmeyo
3. Ditch the Guilt. Two-thirds of all moms report feeling guilty on a daily basis, for anything from not spending enough time with their kids, feeding them fast food, letting them play too many video games and more. Guilt is a terrible waste of time and energy. Know that you are doing the best that you can. No one is perfect, and you are not expected to be perfect either. Simply trust that you are doing the best that you can. Your best is good enough!

4. Have Fun! When you’re a mom, it’s easy to become so wrapped up in the logistics of taking care of your children that you forget to be present and have fun. Kids give us a wonderful opportunity to be a child all over again and see the world through their sweet little eyes. Try to step away from your to-do list and play a little every day!

5. Take Care of Your Marriage. This is so important. Your children are with you for 18-20 years of your marriage. Then you could have another 30+ years of marriage ahead of you. Your stable relationship with your spouse is TRULY one of the most important things you can do for your children. Not to mention that you’ll be demonstrating a healthy marriage to your children – a lesson that will last a lifetime!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Care and Keeping of Your Emotions

I have recently discovered a great book for tween and teen girls -- The Feelings Book: The Care & Keeping of Your Emotions by American Girl.

The Feelings Book will help your daughter understand her emotions and deal with them in positive ways. She'll get tips on how to express her feelings and stay in control, plus get sensitive advice on handling fear, anxiety, jealousy, and grief.

This book is a great resource for our girls ... and their moms, too! It is a great tool to help us guide our daughters through roller coaster emotions.

Because I am noticing more of these types of emotions from my 8-year-old daughter, I recently purchased this and the accompanying journal. I read it cover to cover over the weekend. It brought tears to my eyes to see these topics addressed in such a great, kid-friendly way.

In fact, many topics addressed in this book are things I work on with my adult clients -- likely, because they did not learn them as children. Just wanted to share!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Your Husband, The Thinker

Does your husband ever walk away from you during a disagreement? Does it irk you or make you think he doesn't care about you?

Well, fear no more! In her book, For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn reveals the reason your husband walks away is because he loves you!

The simple fact is that men are wired to process thoughts and emotions differently than women.

Women tend to process verbally, but men process internally, and they need time and space to do so. Seven out of ten men said they walk away in the heat of the moment because they are afraid to say something they will regret later.

The graph above shows more about their responses and why they walk away or say they "don't want to talk about it right now" when you are having an argument.

I hope this new information can bring you some understanding about the importance of giving your man some space next time you have a tiff! It will help the disagreement work out better in the long run! To learn more, grab a copy of the book!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Three Keys to Your State of Happiness

Being happy is a state of mind, and it's really not that difficult to achieve if you know what to do. Here is a super-simple 3-step technique to get you started. 

1. Set your intention.
2. Gather your gratitude.
3. Activate your action.

Grab your journal and work with me.

First, set your intention for what you would like to achieve. Are you trying to be a more patient mother? A more loving wife? A more prayerful woman? Write your desire in the present tense, like this, "I am a patient mother."

Next, identify at least three things you can be grateful for. So, if your intention is to be a more patient mother, you could be grateful for each new day to try again, that you were patient once yesterday, and that your child accepted your apology after you were impatient. Don't be afraid to dig here!

Finally, identify one or two things you can do today to be more patient. Maybe you need to take some time for yourself by meditating, taking a yoga class or taking a nap. Then, follow through on your action steps. 

Contact me if you would like more guidance.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Portable Healthy Snack Options

Today's blog is all about give and get! Here's where you give: I'm looking for ideas for healthy snacks for the kids to eat in the car after school on the way to the next activity. (Wow, that's a lot of prepositions.)

Here's where you get: I'm trying something new today -- Peanut Butter, Apple & Granola Wraps! Wish me luck! And post your ideas in the comment section!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Love the Kids You Have, Not the Ones You Wish You Had

Many parents wake up one day and realize their children are different than they expected.

Some wish their child liked the same things they like. Others wish their child didn't have a certain annoying habit or that they were more organized. Others wish their child got better grades.

The truth is that these longings keep us from loving the child God has given us. Once we can release these expectations about who we think our children should be, we can more joyfully embrace the amazing children they are! Contact me if you would like to work on cultivating more joy and peace in your parenting!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shocking Statistic About How Men Feel

Read this shocking statistic today. A real eye-opener. And something with a simple solution -- a sincere thank you!

For practical ways to appreciate your man, join me for the For Women Only Book Study this September. Click here for more information:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Crumbs Under the Toaster

Uh-oh. I may be guilty of this. Join me for the For Women Only Book Study to learn more about how we may be unknowingly hurting our men.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Three out of Four Men Would Rather ...

Does this shock you? This information is significant for happy marriages. Learn how showing respect looks in daily life by joining the For Women Only book study.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Find Out Who You Are and Become It

Love this quote. Came across it in The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. 

So many of us mistakingly try to shape who we are based on who we think we ought to be. But that is not the plan God has for us. He sent us to earth with a plan and a purpose. It is our job while we are here to figure out what he had in mind and become it.

I love helping my clients discover who they truly are. Contact me if you would like to work on this for yourself!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Every Pile of Paper is a Stack of Unmade Decisions

Every pile of paper you have laying around your house is a stack of unmade decisions ... and a source of stress. Let this inspire you to clear the clutter. Try to touch each piece of incoming paperwork only one time. File it or trash it immediately.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

For Women Only Book Study Group

The man in your life carries important feelings so deep inside he barely knows they’re there, much less how to talk about them. Yet your man genuinely wants you to “get” him—to understand his inner life, to know his fears and needs, to hear what he wishes he could tell you. 

In her landmark bestseller, For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn reveals what every woman—single or married—needs to know.

Based on rigorous research with thousands of men, Shaunti delivers one eye-opening revelation after another, including:
  • Why your respect means more to him than your love.
  • How he feels deep inside about his role as provider.
  • What it means for a man to be so visually “wired.”
  • Why sex for him is primarily emotional, not physical.
  • What he most wishes he could say to you.
Participating is EASY! Seriously! You don't even have to leave your home!

1. Purchase the book.

2. Mark your calendar for our live chats (Central Time Zone): 
  • Wednesday, September 17, 8-9 p.m., Chapters 1 and 2
  • Wednesday, September 24, 8-9 p.m., Chapters 3 and 4
  • Wednesday, October 1, 8-9 p.m., Chapters 5 and 6
  • Wednesday, October 8, 8-9 p.m., Chapters 7 and 8
  • Wednesday, October 15, 8-9 p.m., Chapters 9 and 10
3. Visit our private Facebook group on the above dates for our group conversations. I'll post questions and you'll reply with your thoughts. 

Don't worry! If you miss the live chat, you can visit anytime to catch up!

Please feel free to share this with your friends.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Stop Waiting for the Perfect Time

One of the items I have had written on my to-do list all summer long is to have some girlfriends over.

I am a planner, so I was waiting for the perfect time to schedule it -- you know that time. When the schedule isn't too busy. When the house is clean. The grass is mowed. When you don't have too much work to do. When you have the proper amount of time to send out an invitation. When you have a theme chosen and maybe some decorations. When you have time to go shopping for food and beverages. When your husband is in town to help with the kids.
Stell and Dot official photo

To my shock and amazement, that time has never come this summer. Can you believe it? 

But what did happen is a friend from out-of-town called and said she was coming for a visit in one week. As if that wasn't awesome enough ... she also offered to host a Stella and Dot party for me and some friends while she was here. Yay!

What a perfect opportunity! I threw all of that wasteful caution to the wind, quickly drummed up an invite list of nearby friends and sent it out less than a week before the party. 

The party was a great success and I am SO glad I did it! It just felt so good to have some girlfriends over and hang out for a while. Plus, everyone bought some really cool jewelry and bags!

I have learned that it is possible and that it will be worth the fun and time spent with friends. I've got to stop waiting for the perfect time!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Joy of Treasured Friendships

Earlier this week my friend Liz visited from Virginia with her three kiddos. I have felt such joy in my heart since that visit. It has helped remind me of the value of special friendships and that even when we move away from friends, the love in our hearts remains the same.

Liz has three children -- ages 11, 10 and 8. I have two -- ages 11 and 8. We were pregnant together with both the 11-year-olds and the 8-year-olds. We also had one other friend with children the exact same ages! What are the chances?

At the time we all lived in sunny Florida. The three of us were stay-at-home moms and used to have regular weekly playdates. We shared all of the joys and challenges of being pregnant, navigating the sleepless days and nights of infants, and the exhaustion of chasing toddlers around. It was so nice that we had each other.

We also had monthly poker nights with our husbands and one other couple who had children at similar ages. Treasured times! I feel so blessed to have experienced it.

In 2009, Liz's husband took a career opportunity in Washington D.C., so they had to move. I was devastated. I seriously thought my life would never be the same. Of course, it wasn't, but it still went on, and I was OK.

It was just one year later when Paul took a career opportunity in Chicago, and it was our turn to move. I am uncertain if I would have been able to do it if Liz hadn't already moved. I wouldn't have wanted to leave that solid group of friends. They were my Florida family. But since the dynamic was already changed, it made it easier to make a change myself.

We honestly don't do that great at keeping in touch. Of course, I wish we did better, but it is difficult with life and children moving at warp speed.

What I love about our friendship, though, is that it's OK that we don't talk often. Nobody's feelings are hurt. And when we get back together, we just pick up where we left off.

Now our kids are having that experience as well. They look forward to our visits and play so well together. It's fun to watch!

So, even though, having to say goodbye when a friend moves or leaves after a visit is difficult, I would choose to experience that pain over and over again in order to experience the richness of a special friendship.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Making the Back-to-School Transition Easier

Every mom I have spoken with in the last week or two has expressed that they are "not ready" for summer to end. Neither am I!

Gone will be the "lazy" days of summer -- staying up late, sleeping in, easier schedules, warm weather and pool time with friends.

When school starts, it feels like the crazy starts. Driving kids to school, driving to activities, helping in the classroom, helping with homework, and just entirely too much to do. 

Since we all seem to be having trouble accepting reality, I thought I'd share a few tips for how to ease the back-to-school transition. 

1. Always. Be. Positive. If your children complain about going back to school, try to express understanding, but then point out something positive about being back at school, like seeing their friends again.

2. Try to get the bed time routine moving closer to a school bed time about one or two weeks before school starts to ease the adjustment.

3. Find some way to make early mornings more enjoyable for your family. For example, I like to put on some jazz music in the kitchen during breakfast to help keep the energy calm and soothing. Maybe your family needs some dance music or reggae music? Music is a natural anti-depressant.

4. Try to get outside and enjoy the weather after school each day. Simply being outside for a while will elevate everyone's endorphins and make them feel happier.

5. Try to spend some time snuggling with each child as you put them to bed -- some experts say this is the most valuable time of the day to spend with your kids. They tend to open up more and share about their day when things are calm at night.

Most importantly, keep in mind everyone in the family is going through this transition -- so allow for some extra grace when someone is crabby or out of sorts.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Power of One in Marriage

Do you wish your husband was more loving or romantic or attentive? What if I told you that you have the power to help get that ball rolling without his help?

In her book The Whole Hearted Wife, author Erin Smalley gives you 10 tips to a more loving relationship. Who wouldn't enjoy a more loving relationship?

I believe we should all be working to improve our marriages continually -- even if everything is currently great.

Why? Because that's how God intended it to be. He designed our marriages to "grow" us into the people he wants us to be. Sometimes "growing" can feel challenging. It is the unique challenges of the marriage relationship that help us accomplish this. Why else would we all be marring our opposites? Seriously!

I would like to share a quote from the book that I think is so encouraging and empowering to anyone who is married.
“Changing your own behavior may trigger your spouse to want to make changes. The secret lies in how we target our energy and efforts. Because our capacity to change others is entirely based on our willingness to change ourselves. This is not double talk or trickery. It’s simply the reality of relationship dynamics. If I create a change in my own attitude and behavior, my spouse and the marriage itself will automatically be forced to change.”
LOVE it! I think there is a similar quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Let's rephrase it, "Be the change you wish to see in your marriage."

Contact me if you'd like help ... and here is another resource. A Focus on the Family interview with the author. You can listen to it for free here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Goal of Parenting: To Work Yourself Out of the Picture

The whole goal of parenting is to raise children who can go out into the world and be independent. Easier said than done!

Sometimes as a mom I feel tempted to help my children too much. My heart wants to make things easy for them so they can enjoy their childhood, but if I don't allow them enough freedom to experience life for themselves, I am only hurting them in the long run.

At every stage of development our children can take on more and more responsibility. It is our job to gently guide and teach them and let them do what they can do for themselves.

My husband and I felt the fruit of our labor last week as we encouraged our 11-year-old to attend Boy Scout camp by himself. That was the first time in his life that we have allowed him out of our sight for that long. It was difficult. We felt a bit nervous. But we also knew he could do it. And he did! Not only did he survive a week away from mom and dad, but he THRIVED! He earned three merit badges and accomplished some rank advancement requirements.

He told us he loved the independence and freedom of being away and making decisions for himself. I'd like to believe we prepared him adequately for that by allowing him to do things for himself at home.

It was such a great week of personal growth for all of us!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

If You Knew Tomorrow Might Not Happen What Would You Do Today?

If you knew tomorrow might not happen, what would you do today? Let me share with you what my sweet friend Monet did before she put on her angel wings last Saturday. I am posting the write-up about her life from her local newspaper. Allow it to cause you to examine how you spend your time every day. Are you doing things that really matter?


Early this week, Monet Armenia sat in her bed at her home in South Orange, N.J., writing out future birthday cards to her two sons, Aidan, age 9, and Jackson, age 7. "This one is for when Aidan turns 21," she said, looking perplexed. "Should I tell him to be safe, or suggest he order my favorite drink?"

She paused from her writing to reach for a hug from another friend who'd come to see her, some bringing her Italian cookies, some asking where they could put the folded laundry. She pushed the cards aside to find her iPad to buy Jackson the Nike shorts he'd been begging for all morning, a cross for Aidan to match the one his brother has, and her favorite blanket for both of them, which they will get at Christmas.

The doorbell rang again. This time it was the hospice nurse. 

Two days later, on July 19, 2014, Monet Rachelle Armenia (nee Caputy) died peacefully at home, surrounded by her family and close friends. She was 42 years old. 

Monet, who grew up in West Seneca, N.Y., was a top student, a Cornell graduate, a consultant at Ernst & Young, and the type of person who got every job she ever applied for, but she wouldn't necessarily want you talking about that. As Monet liked to say, "Why stress about work? It's life that really matters." 

This was just one of the lessons that Monet has instilled in the people she touched, in the countless number of close friends and family she's left behind, from Buffalo to Boston to Florida to New Jersey. Lessons like:
  • Always remember everyone is fighting their own battle. 
  • Take time each day to snuggle in bed with someone you love (preferably on high thread-count sheets). 
  • Always dress nicely, even for the doctor. 
  • Take long naps. 
  • Use Aveda hair products and good hand lotion. 
  • If there's something you really want to do, stop hesitating, and just do it. 
  • Things are better with red wine, potato chips, and onion dip. 
  • Nobody will be your strongest advocate but yourself. 
  • Buy organic. 
  • Lunch at Swiss Chalet is a must when in Canada. 
  • If Pink is in town, gather your girlfriends, get the tickets, and dance until you can barely stand. 
  • Don't wear ill-fitting jeans. 
  • If you can't decide between the pasta or the pizza, get both. 
  • Whatever it is you're going through - even if it's metastatic breast cancer - always ask others how they are, and really care about their answer. 
  • Your family is who you love, and true friendship is not always measured in years. 
  • It really does take a village, so do your part. 
  • If you show people love and kindness, you will get it back several times over. 
  • There is always hope. 
  • And cherish the things that really matter. 
Above all that Monet cherished in her life - her friends, her independent spirit, travel, good music, and long conversations - the thing she cherished the most was her family. She was an adoring, wonderful mother to Aidan and Jackson, and a loving wife to her soulmate and best friend, Joe Armenia. She is also survived by her adoring parents, Frank and Alison Occhino Caputy, and her two sisters, Deanie Newberry and Natalie Burns. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Tenth Amendment

Here it is! The 10th Amendment. This one says any power that is not given to the federal government is given to the people or the states. This wraps up our journey through the Bill of Rights. I hope you've learned as much as I have!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Amendment 9 is pretty interesting. I would recommend some research on it. In quick summary, it was a compromise. It means there are other rights that may exist aside from the ones explicitly mentioned in the Bill of Rights, and even though they are not listed, it does not mean they can be violated. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Courts Uphold Our Constitutional Rights

Some may be wondering why I have been spending time reviewing our first 10 amendments over this past week. This Jurist article from July 9th is just one of many examples of how some are trying to take our constitutional rights away from us. Kudos to the courts for this decision. 

The Right to a Speedy Trial

The right to a speedy trial, a public trial, a lawyer and more ... these rights are all yours simply because you are a U.S. citizen.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

We Have the Right Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

This is how the Fourth Amendment came about, according to an online dictionary. Interesting. Makes me grateful for this amendment.

The Framers drafted the Fourth Amendment in response to their colonial experience with British officials, whose discretion in collecting revenues for the Crown often went unchecked. Upon a mere suspicion held by British tax collectors or their informants, colonial magistrates were compelled to issue general warrants, which permitted blanket door-to-door searches of entire neighborhoods without limitation as to person or place. The law did not require magistrates to question British officials regarding the source of their suspicion or to make other credibility determinations.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Amendment III

On the 4th of July I felt a great deal of gratitude for being an American. Then, on July 7th, a story in the Sun-Times said 29% of Americans do not know any of their first amendment rights. Yikes! That got me all fired up about what a great country we live in. I'm letting that passion take me on a day-by-day review of our first 10 amendments. Here is the third.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Right To Bear Arms

Continuing on from yesterday's post ... here are our second amendment rights for your review!

Monday, July 7, 2014

29 Percent of Americans Can't Name Any First Amendment Rights

There was a story in today's Chicago Sun Times that said 29% of Americans can't name any of their first amendment rights. I'm sure that's none of us here, but it has been a long time since we first learned them, so let's review, anyway!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

In God We Trust

Today at Mass we heard from our priest, Father Gilbert, about the significance of the 4th of July to him. This year was only his fifth 4th of July in the US. He is originally from a village called Bwanjai in Tanzania.

He wanted to share with us what he thinks is the most unique thing about our United States. He said it is not our big buildings or big cities or big highways that make us unique -- he believes any country can build these things.

What makes the U.S. so unique is that our country was founded on FAITH -- so much so that our formal currency says, "In God We Trust."

He pointed out there are five references to God in the Declaration of Independence -- two in the first paragraph, one in the middle and two in the last paragraph.

It was a great reminder on this 4th of July weekend that our country was founded on Christian principles. I pray those in leadership positions in our country will remember this.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Be Bold! Be Brave!

I heard this quote twice yesterday, so that's my signal to share it with you! Hope it inspires you in whatever you have been called to do.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Change in Perspective Makes all the Difference

Recently while visiting family and friends in Fort Myers, Tyler had the honor of being able to altar serve at our old church -- it was a request made by his grandparents to the church where they have been parishioners for more than 25 years.

As if that wasn't awesome enough, my BFF's daughter, and Tyler's good friend, just happened to be altar serving that day also. What a gift! I was so excited! 

But then, a worry crept up in me as I sat in the pew before Mass. What if the other altar servers were upset about the last minute changes made in the serving schedule to accommodate Tyler? What if they were excited to perform the duties that were handed over to Tyler at the last minute? What if their parents were upset? I let that worry overtake the joy for a minute.

Then I whispered my concerns to Paul. I followed it up with the joyful feelings filling my heart, "I am so excited to have him serve in front of his grandparents and with Cassidy. It is so special." Paul's advice was short and sweet, "Let's focus on that."

"Oh." I thought to myself. "Yes, let's focus on that." Those words have helped me every day since.

It reminds me of a little quote from a big book, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Marriage is What You Make of It

Marriage is what you make of it. It is a choice. I made a word cloud this morning while I was reflecting on what marriage means. Enjoy!

Monday, June 2, 2014

It is Better to be a Lion for a Day, than a Sheep all your Life

Katy Perry

Came across this quote today and decided to do some research on the lion in my Animal Speak book. What I found surprised me and convinced me to place the quote with a female lion instead of a male lion.

I really wanted to use a picture of the male lion, because they are so stunning, but it is the female lion that really deserves to be in the spotlight.

The lion is symbolic of the assertion of feminine energies and of the female sun.

It is a symbol of the sun and gold. Lions usually live in groups called prides, which signifies communities in our world.

Within the pride, the females are the best hunters and they do most of the hunting and rearing of the cubs. They work together cooperatively to do so. The cubs are lavished with affection and their parents are patient.

The males do very little work in the prides and are said to be jealous of the lionesses. But they do protect the pride against predators. When hunting they use their roar to scare prey toward the lionesses.

The lion does not fight for the sake of fighting. It avoids confrontation.

The lion symbolizes an opportunity to awaken to a new sun. Trust your feminine energies -- creativity, intuition and imagination. Don't be afraid to roar if you feel threatened or intruded upon.

The lion has shown up for me recently, so I am taking in these messages to see how they apply to my current life situations. It's got me singing a little Katy Perry, "You're gonna hear me roar!"