Mercy Me! I've got work to do.

Mercy Me — I've got work to do! making the world a better place – starting with me.


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The problem of gratitude

It’s been decades since I have been in grammar school, so when I think of Thanksgiving, pilgrims or Indians don’t generally come to mind. I think of whose bringing what, where am I supposed to go, when will I get my Christmas shopping done and why, oh why, do men watch so much football.

Back in 1621, there were no parades, no Black Friday circulars, and no grocery stores to buy the bounty. There were just groups of people from different cultures celebrating thanks.

I do think I would have liked to be an Indian though – to wear my hair in braids, with a papoose of babies in the front and bow and arrow on my back. I think that would have been super cool. It appeals to me so much more than being a pilgrim girl and wearing one of those confining bonnets tied around my neck.

But whether you wear braids or bonnets or even flat iron your hair, most of us celebrate Thanksgiving. It makes us feel good to count each one of our many blessings from hot coffee to warm hugs, and having an excuse to eat copious amounts of food is like adding gravy to the mashed potatoes. It just makes everything that much better.

I only wish the spirit of this holiday lasted more than a day – that I could remember to be thankful all year long

But somehow, I usually forget.

I tried to start a gratitude journal once. I committed to write down three things everyday that made me thankful. On the days that I did it, I never wrote just three. There was no way I could limit myself when so many came to mind.  By the time I wrote three blessings, three more came to mind and then six, and then nine. At some point I realized math was happening- that gratitude was increasing exponentially and that the more I acknowledged my thankfulness the more there was to acknowledge.

I wrote about such moments as holding my nephew, going on a trip with my husband, coming home, lunch with my mom, walking with my friend, a song that reminded me of being pregnant with my first born and for times when his younger brother gently playing with my hair.

I also wrote some dubious things on my gratitude list that included sweating, hiding under the covers (no doubt from myself) and cleaning mildew.

It didn’t matter that it sounded kind of hodge-podge. It mattered that I felt gratitude and it mattered more that I took a few measly minutes to acknowledge it.

If it were an algebra problem, and it is perplexing enough to be one, then the unknown in the equation would be if it was indeed so great, so magical to recognize all the things I had to be thankful for — then why did I quit?

It was the giant X in a problem that ultimately had a very simple answer – choice.

To know gratitude is a blessing in itself, but it doesn’t happen on its own. Like so much in life, it is a choice. It is a decision we make, time we take, and selfishness we forsake. (That has a nice rhyme to it, so don’t be surprised if it shows up in a rap song someday.)

But when we don’t take time to choose gratitude, we choose otherwise.

Perhaps the lyrics of the song Freewill by the rock band, Rush, say it best “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

We have to choose to pause, to notice, and to acknowledge, otherwise by default, it seems we’ve made an entirely different choice. We inadvertently ignore the blessings of gratitude.

Each day we have the chance to notice all the abundance in our lives, all the beauty in nature and all the hope in humanity. 

It’s easy enough to make the choice on a day such as Thanksgiving when we are surrounded by food, family, and if you are a fan, you could even add football to that list. It’s the rest of the days that the choice of gratitude often gets left undecided.

I am thankful that the Indians and pilgrims chose gratitude and for the generations who followed them who kept the tradition thriving all the way into a new millennium, so that centuries later, I am reminded of my own choice.

The legacy of thanks is one that can expand into infinity, if we choose to decide, and if we don’t, well, we would do well to remember that we still have made a choice.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to list the three things I am thankful for today.

  1. Sleeping cats
  2. Goodbye kisses
  3. No mildew to clean

 

And of course, each of you.

What are you thankful for today?


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How to parent your teen — the manual that made it in the trash

My son turns 13 years-old on Black Friday. Could there be a more ominous sign than that? While hoards of shoppers are waking up at 3 a.m. to suffer through lines and duke it out for deals, my sweet baby, ever so dear, will be entering the darkness that often accompanies the teenage years.

As if he is already rehearsing for the big day of black, my house has recently been filled with a cacophony of slamming doors, woeful sighs and whispers under the breath that I am pretty sure do not include any sweet nothings. It sounds like a coarse symphony that does nothing to evoke my sympathies.

I called a friend a few weeks ago and in a prayerful plea, asked in the name of all that is holy, all that is sane, and all that is merciful, to lend me every parenting book she owns.

She brought me five.

The small stack of books sat in my office and my younger son asked me why I had so many teenager books. Before I could even formulate a response, he answered his own question — obviously remembering his brother’s upcoming birthday.   “Oh yeah, it’s going to be a long seven years…,” he said prophetically.

Seven years? Why do the terrible twos get all the notoriety? That’s one measly year and they are still small enough to be restrained.

As I read, I began strategizing, thinking of systems to implement and solutions to employ. I realized that, if necessary, doors could be unhinged. He would inevitably realize that not loading the dishwasher would be to his disadvantage.   And, I felt hopeful that discussions could be facilitated without anyone actually dying.

Ah, I was going to be the most brilliant teenage mother ever.

I started writing a sort of manifesto for the teen years. I clicked away at the computer thinking to myself that I was doing the holy work of writing the instruction manual for parenting that I always wished I had.

Although my business interests have never evolved passed retail and at that, only on the paying side of the cash register, I had ultimately written my first business plan.

It read like a contract, with caveats and consequences included for clarity. It featured equations for various if/then scenarios and it clearly proved that my naiveté is boundless.

I actually believed that what I had written would be embraced – that is until I proudly emailed a trusted friend with the teen manual, which I intended to present to my son. She is tactful to a fault, so when she suggested that my glorious parenting plan would evoke a middle finger response I was stunned.

Really?

I reread my work. It was so beautiful. It had italics and bullet points and fancy words like parameters, privileges, outlined and occasionally.

I guess I could see where it was kind of bossy pants-ish, but it did include a smiley emoticon and an I love you.

I signed it not with the slang, Yo mama, but with the sincere, sweet, your mama that was so obviously me.

Later that night, with my two-page, single-spaced manifesto by my side I sat down and spoke with my son. Maybe it was because I was lulled by the soothing sound of the dishwasher that my tween ran without my mention, but I was uncannily calm. We talked about grades, basketball and ways he could earn extra money.

We didn’t hold hands, or hug or do anything that would invoke Norman Rockwell to paint us, but we talked. I didn’t boss or dictate either, yet I didn’t digress from making my expectations clear.

When we finished talking, he kissed me goodnight and there I sat – the manifesto, a mostly-read parenting book and myself.

I thought about ripping up my beautiful plan I had written about how the teen years would unfold in our home, but I didn’t have the energy to be so dramatic.   I simply folded it into a little square to put in the trash.

I guess what I realized is that maybe the reason children don’t come with instructions is because parenting isn’t meant to be precise. It might be insightful to read some books, or even to write your own plan about how you intend to parent, but often intentions and plans don’t really have much to do with raising children.

Like the rest of us, children are unique and, like it or not, have plans of their own. They will make their own path in the world and it’s our job to guide them as they do. It is a delicate balance between letting go and holding on. Sometimes it’s letting pieces fall where they may, and sometimes it means picking up the pieces and starting over again.

Maybe parenthood could best be described as prayer – a combination of something we hope for, ask of, praise, repent, and offer thanks. It is an active petition that is said every time we discipline, praise, share affection, or just sit and talk. The prayer does not end, like love, it endures time, tantrums and even teenagers. It is an offering of the best of ourselves so that someone we love can become the best of their selves. It is sacrifice, surrender, forgiveness, and humility.PatanganFamily2014_107

Parenting may be described as more gut-wrenching than glorious, but it is no doubt the most Holy work we can do.

While my son may turn 13 on a day dubbed Black Friday, it’s no coincidence this falls the day after Thanksgiving. After all, he has been a blessing everyday of his life. He is a prayer and a gift.

Of course, I know the years ahead won’t be easy, but I can’t help but feel excited about all that awaits.  The spectrum of joy, discovery and promise that lies ahead is sure to be anything but black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Why you should consider a life makeover

Whenever I feel like things in my life are more chaotic than calm, I say I need a life makeover.

I wake up and have no gas in the car, no milk for the kids, no idea where my keys are and no sense of how I will ever get through the day’s to-do lists – mostly because I have no idea where I put it.

Well, ever since I finished my year of doing Works of Mercy I have felt as if I needed a blog makeover.

I have thought a lot about whether I want to keep Mercy Me! going and, if so, what I want it to be.

Towards that effort, I have rewritten my About Me page so many different times I was starting to feel like Sybil battling multiple personality disorder.

But makeovers are far different than mental illness, although sometimes they do make you feel a little crazy.

Whether you are trying to change your look or your outlook, makeovers really aren’t about becoming someone else. They are about refocusing on who you are and reevaluating your life to make sure who you are and how you are living are in alignment.

I know that’s not how the makeup gal at Sephora would explain a makeover. But despite her efforts, finding the perfect shade of lipstick is often the result of trial and error and the help of a really honest friend.

I think the same is true whether you want to makeover your family, your spiritual life, your career or, in my case, this blog. We evolve, and giving ourselves a makeover is just part of being mindful about the way we want to live and the things that need to change to make that happen.

For the direction of the blog, please check out the makeover of my new About Me page https://mercyme40.wordpress.com/about/, and if you have not already signed up to receive the blog via email, please do so.

From what I understand, Facebook has changed its algorithm to make it harder to see posts from businesses or blog sites. While I have no idea what an algorithm is, it sounds like it could be related to Ebola or worse, algebra. Either way, signing up for email is really the only way to ensure you will receive posts.

I hope you will also take some time to reflect on your own life. What do you like about it? What needs to change to make you like it more? What is no longer serving you that you could let go of? Do the people you cherish know how you feel?

It’s never to late to live the life you want, until it is. So consider giving yourself a makeover.

Or if all that feels too overwhelming, just go buy yourself a new lipstick … and smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Art of Aging – how to turn wrinkles into a masterpiece

I don’t know if there is an art to aging. Certainly, there is more science involved. Cells breakdown; muscle tone sinks further beneath dimpled skin; lines grow like vines– first around the face, then down the neck until they travel throughout the body wrapping themselves in and around every crevice– confirming the theory of gravity first introduced by Sir Isaac Newton himself.

Yes, there is plenty of science behind our journey towards decay. However, I have never been too interested in science. All those formulas, hypotheses and experiments don’t begin to explain the incredulous emotion involved in realizing that the image in the mirror is reality, while the one you identify with more closely can only be found in old photographs (like the ones taken with actual film.)

Pondering this is enough to give anyone frown lines.

I was stunned when I found my first gray hair. My hairdresser literally pulled it out of my head to convince me, because I kept insisting that what he was calling gray was actually a sun-kissed streak of blonde. Unfortunately there was no mistaking the silver, wiry thread pulled from my scalp. I took it home with me secured on the back of a hot pink post-it note. It sat on my desk for a month before I finally threw it out, more so because I didn’t like the clutter on my desk, than because I had accepted that my head was the origin of the hair.

Like an adolescent who is wavering between urges to become a woman or stay a child, I too feel confused reconciling that beauty and youth really do fade despite my ardent efforts to retain them, and our culture’s obsession with marketing them. Yet in some ways I feel more beautiful and youthful than ever. Not because I am, but because my chronological age has allowed me the experience and wisdom to feel confident about whom I am which turns out is so much more than how I look.

I can spend an entire day in workout clothes, no makeup and hair twisted haphazardly in a rubber band, without any shame. Sometimes I feign shame, but really I am only trying to be socially appropriate. I have no shame. I never could have done this in my twenties – neither the feigning nor the fashion faux pas.

In some ways I feel like I am at the perfect point in my life. I am still fortunate enough to be in good physical shape and I know how to successfully conceal the occasional blemish or circles under my eyes.

But best of all, I feel good. I am happy and somehow that in itself makes me beautiful and youthful. I finally know what I have and at the same time can benefit from the wisdom to know that it’s fleeting. The phrase “use it or lose it,” finally means something to me. Because of my age, I’m not afraid to do things that scare me, I am afraid not to.

I may not look as good as the girl I used to be in old photographs, but that poor girl never realized how good she looked.

Aging is of course, relative. For my children, it is a conduit to freedom. The oldest who is still plenty naive, idealizes the notion of adulthood. He doesn’t see the responsibilities it brings, but only the liberation to eat hoards and hoards of candy. (Like that ever happens in adulthood, at least without unsightly consequences.)

What is that old adage — youth is wasted on the young? Instead of enjoying the exploration of fantasy, imagination and all that is magic in childhood, he is lamenting the limitations of his youth.

Trailing him is his younger brother, who is so eager to do all of the things his older brother does that he gets upset when their age difference is relevant. We just tell him he has more happy times left than his brother, hoping it will teach him the joy of looking forward instead of feeling like he needs to rush to keep up.

Perhaps the real challenge is to learn to appreciate the advantages of whichever age you find yourself whether it’s seven or seventy, knowing that each offers something unique. And all the happy times that make up a life don’t come at a single age nor do they stop at a certain one either.

It’s not that I think aging is so terrible. It would be foolish to not to recognize the wisdom and perspective that it brings. It’s just that it is such a reminder of our mortality. And while I have been aging since conception, it is only now that I feel like I am on the cusp of really grasping the enormity of it. Not just the wrinkles, but the time that they define.

What have I filled that time with?

The answer to that question is where the art of aging is most brilliant. Coloring experiences within the lines of time to create the life you want.   That is an art. Not the life you have. Not the life you settled for. Not the life you squandered. Not the life of perfection. Maybe not even a gravity-free life. But the life you created following your own unique desires. It will be the true legacy that has left color on this world. It is what transforms the science of aging into an art form.

So whatever you decide to fill your time with, I hope you will make it your masterpiece.

 

 

 

 


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Why firewood is the perfect birthday gift – 5 ways to live simply

My birthday was last week and instead of getting diamonds, pearls, or even something useful like shower gel, I received a box of firewood as one of my gifts.

Yep. Firewood.

I would show you a picture of me posing with it on the big day, but somehow no one managed to capture the surprised look on my face.

Surprise isn’t really the right word either. I was more confused than surprised. I wondered, is there a diamond wrapped in the box of firewood?

No, it was indeed a box of firewood.

Believe it or not, it was actually one of the more thoughtful gifts I have received from my husband.

The other gifts did not include lighter fluid, matches or charcoal either. In fact, over the years, he has bought me lots of nice presents that did not involve kindling.

As I grow older, or just grow, I find that I want fewer things. The material becomes immaterial as I focus on creating moments that matter instead of curating a collection of more stuff.

I want to live more simply, and my feeble attempt to express that has been to tell my husband that I want to live like people do on a farm.

That’s what the firewood was all about. It wasn’t so we could have a fire this winter and talk about what crops we were going to plant in the spring. It was about giving me some of the simplicity I crave.

He knows I am kind of over my suburban lifestyle.

For one, I am tired of buying in bulk. It’s heavy. I feel like I need a farmhand just to load it all in my car.

Then, there is the waste. My Sunday ritual now includes throwing out all of the food we didn’t eat during the week. This week that included smoked salmon, two hard-boiled eggs and some left over quinoa. I am of the generation that grew up being guiltily reminded about the starving children in Ethiopia so I cringe every time I throw away food.

And while I am grateful for health insurance and good medical care, my children have had more x-rays, cat scans and seen more specialists than I have in all of my 42 years.

On the farm we would just see the doctor if we were dead, dying or bleeding to death, and the doctor would make house-calls. We would not have to drive across town to a medical complex and hunt for a parking a space that will fit our tractor-sized SUVs, only to have to crawl out the hatch back since all the spaces are made for compact cars.

Instead of waiting for the doctor in your own bed like on a farm, you go wait in an icy room with a bunch of magazines about crafts you can’t do, recipes too complicated to make and fashion that nobody could actually wear off of a runway. Eventually you see the doctor, but that’s only a blink of an eye of the whole experience.

But alas, I don’t live on a farm and thus will take my son to an orthopedist tomorrow – in my own SUV.

After listening to my conversations about farm living, my son has told me he can’t do chores on the farm with a separated growth plate in his right shoulder. I explained that on the farm he would just have to use his left arm, and like Gloria Gaynor, he would survive.

While I, myself, might be a little bit like Eva Gabor on the seventies sit-com Green Acres if I actually had to live on a farm, the concept of living more simply appeals to me.

So I have been trying to take small steps that really don’t require overalls or a move to the country. The only thing they entail is a decision to live mindfully.

Here’s my list of some ways I want to live:

1. Shop locally. I have always tried to do this, but have made more of a concerted effort lately. I know there is Amazon.com, mega malls and credit card points, but there are also small businesses who thoughtfully help you as you shop. They aren’t worried about making commission. They are more interested in conversation. One of the best things about shopping locally isn’t just supporting neighborhood retail and all they offer communities. It is that they carefully wrap whatever you purchase in crisp white tissue paper and put it in a bag that’s made out of paper. I love that. It feels so special — like you just sold the farm to make that purchase and they recognize that.

2. Buy what you need. I am not going to say much about this because the truth is we don’t need much. Not things. We need friendship, family and fellowship. We need love and mercy. We need God and goodness. We need conversation and conversions. Other than that, we just need a toothbrush, a little food, and some good wine.

3. Use what you buy. The waste drives me mad. It just feels gross, indulgent and disrespectful. I am trying to be more conscientious when I shop. I am trying to buy better food. Food that feels special. Food that looks beautiful like it was grown on a real farm. One night, I bought 4 chocolate covered strawberries for our dessert. One for each of us. It was perfect and somehow felt decadent to have only exactly what we needed.

4. Offer thanks. There is so much to be thankful for and you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to acknowledge your life’s blessings. If you don’t think you are blessed, go outside. Feel the sunshine on your face – or the rain. Feel the breath you inhale. Feel the gentleness of the wind. Feel alive with possibility. Just let yourself feel — until you get it. Feel the fullness that is gratitude.

5. Light a fire. You don’t necessarily need firewood to do this. You just need a spark – something that gets you excited, people who make you feel warm; passions that make you feel purposeful. Life is short, and we really never know how short either. Birthdays are finite. So it is important to live it like it matters, so the people in it know they matter. IMG_1825

Because in the end, whether you choose city life or green acres, it won’t really matter. It’s the time you spend enjoying moments such as sitting by the fire with someone who somehow always knows exactly what you need – that will ultimately matter.

Those moments are the best gifts you can give, and the best gifts you can get.

Do you have any ideas to share on ways we can all live more simply? More deliberately? Be a good farmer and share your crop of ideas with us!


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5 Things I learned from my middle-schooler about life

I don’t think I ever learned in school a fraction of what I learn from my children. Childbirth alone was an education – even with the epidural.

From their birth on, my boys continue to enlighten me. Recently, my 7th grader switched middle schools and in doing so taught me a few new lessons about life.

  1. Change is okay. You know that song by Davie Bowie, Changes? Ch ch ch ch changes – turn and face the strain… Well, first off it turns out I have been singing it wrong my entire life. Who knew? I thought it was “strange” not “strain!”

 

After all, change is strange. My son had been at his school since pre-school and only had two more years left before he would graduate to go to high school. He loved his friends. He did well academically. I did not see any reason to change.

But he did.

He was open to the experience of an academic magnet school, to be the new kid, to start over.

Starting down a new path is probably one of the bravest things we can do. To risk the unknown is scary. To walk away from the safety, the comfort and the convenience of our situations to try something unfamiliar can be daunting. But by allowing the possibility of failure we also allow for the greater possibility of success.

Ch ch ch ch changes…

  1. Listening is really important. While we did not consider the magnet option until the beginning of the summer, I could hear the need for change throughout the past school year.

 

Only I didn’t listen.

When he talked to me about being bored at school, I thought he was just being a typical adolescent. I was not as open or as patient with him as I should have been. I thought the problem was with him. Rather it was with me.

We all go into situations and conversations thinking about our own point of view, and often are not very open to hearing anything, which doesn’t support that. However, listening to another perspective with the intent to understand is often more enlightening than interpreting conversations into our own viewpoints.

  1. Pigeonholes are for desks, not for people. I assumed my son would never consider leaving his school because I thought I knew him.

 

After all, he is my child and we have spent a considerable amount of time together.

I would have told you that he would NEVER switch schools. And, that he would be traumatized from that kind of change.

But I saw him from my own perspective, which is colored from my own experiences. I would have been devastated to switch schools at his age so I assumed he would have too.

One of the greatest things about life is that we can start over. We don’t even have to wait until tomorrow. We can start anytime we want. We tend to get stuck in our labels and in our self-defined regimens. Worse still is that we pigeonhole others.

We fail to see the multi-dimensions of our neighbors and ourselves. I am a mother, a Christian, a writer, a friend, a wife, however I am not singularly any of these things and together I am more than the sum of these parts.

Free yourself and the people in your life from the constraints of what you think you know. If you want to change, then change.

Fly free, little pigeon.

  1. Fight for what you want. Once I realized that my son needed something different than what I planned for him, I dedicated myself to making sure he had it. It wasn’t easy. There were forms, rules, bureaucracy and waiting lists. So, I made phone calls to guidance counselors, principals, county school administrators. I showed up uninvited and unannounced – I asked questions and asked for prayers (from the people working in the public school office no less — they probably prayed that they would never have to see me again.) I did everything I knew to do that remained in the bounds of sanity.

 

But the truth is, it was out of my hands once I turned in the application. Still, I couldn’t be complacent when my child wanted this so badly; when he felt like it was what he needed.

So I fought.   Often, it really isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about knowing you did all that you could. It’s about showing someone else that you believe in them; that they are worth it to you; that even if you don’t prevail, you persevered.

There is really no losing that kind of fight.

  1. Endings are really just new beginnings. I hate when things are over. I get nostalgic and weepy. I cry until my eyes burn and my head aches. I don’t know if that is normal, but it’s just what I do so I try not to beat my self about it.

 

So of course, this was no different.

But I realize he couldn’t embrace all that awaited him and remain where he was. He was indeed giving up a very special community of friends and teachers, a place where he had been loved and cherished, a place I knew he would miss.

Still, at the moment of his goodbye he was on the cusp of a new beginning.

Sometimes in life we have to let go of something so we can make room for something else– new experiences await, new friendships, new ideas. The possibilities are endless and they begin with an ending.

So those are the most recent lessons I have learned as a parent. I am all the wiser for what my son taught me and only hope to be so brave as “I turn and face the strange… ch ch ch changes”

I really think “strange” sounds better than “strain.” I think I am just going to keep on singing it wrong.

Sorry, David Bowie.

 

Often children are our best teachers.  What have you learned from your miniature-guru?  And, perhaps just as important, do you think strange makes more sense than strain?!  Ch ch ch changes…

 

 

 

 

 


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One word you need in your life right now

The transition from summer to fall is always difficult for me. September through December is jam-packed with, you know….everything.

Seriously, if I listed it all out, you would be breathing into a paper bag right now. I know because I just wrote about half of the activities here and had to run to the kitchen to look for a bag. Of course, I could only find plastic bags, which seems like a suffocation hazard. So, I decided it would be better to just delete that paragraph and save you all from hyperventilating and searching in futility for a paper bag.

Bracing myself for the upcoming chaos, I tried something last month that I had not done before.

I picked a word.

It was not just any word, either. It was a word that conveyed a feeling of “you’ve got this, boss.”

To find your word, ask yourself what you need in your life right now. What do you want more of – or less? What do you want to remember? Or forget? What do you wish to cultivate in your life and what do you need to make that happen?

It could be peace, friendship, forgiveness, faith, gratitude, strength, compassion, healing, or determination. It could be anything. But, it has to be yours.

What is it that you need?

I love all those words. Still, the word that I thought of was confidence.

I knew I needed confidence to juggle all I had to do during the upcoming month – not just the to-do lists, but all those unplanned moments both welcome and unwelcome which make up a life.

Confidence was my word. It was my comfort. Everyday I would think about it. I did not set aside time to do it. I simply kept it in my company – a polite companion with which I traveled.

Whenever anything went wrong, I thought of confidence.

For instance, I was on deadline to turn in a news story and had 3 percent charge left on my laptop. I went to plug my computer into the charger, only to realize that my darling cat used the cord for a chew toy. A tantrum, a trip to Best Buy, and $90 later, I had a new cord and turned in my article – with confidence.IMG_1443

During the same month, I also made a huge decision to switch my middle-schooler from the school he had been attending since pre-kindergarten. I needed confidence that I was making the right decision, and that if I wasn’t – if I was making a huge mistake, it would be okay. I could come up with a new solution.

Because the truth is, I knew I could. I always step up. I always get things done. Most often, things work out. I needed to honor that and have more confidence in my abilities to juggle the demands of life.

It’s not like having the word changed the way I handled anything, but it made me believe more in my capacity to cope.

I told a friend of mine with a recent cancer diagnosis about what I was doing and the word I chose. He thought it was a great idea and chose discipline as his word. He needed it to follow the healing regimen assigned by his doctors.

His daughter heard us talking about it and decided her word would be strength. As an athlete she meant it in the physical sense. But she also said she wanted strength to deal with the pressures of high school.

I thought the simple act of picking a word worked so well that I decided to do it again this month.

I chose positive. Three days in – I can tell you, I hate the word.

However, the fact it challenges me to understand what I am supposed to feel positive about when I am cleaning my child’s vomit off the floor at 5 a.m. (because nothing says back to school like the stomach virus) makes me feel like I chose the perfect word.

So what is your word going to be? I hope you will share it in the comment section. I would love to check back next month and see if choosing a word helped any of you.

I am positive it will.

See, it’s working already.