The All-Time BEST Dinnertime Conversation Starter

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype

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As any parent knows, getting your kids to tell you about their day is about as easy as threading a pine tree through a sewing needle. “Good,” “Fine,” and “Boring,” are the usual responses from my tweens. Ask them for details and they can’t seem to think of anything at all; it’s as if their entire day were wiped from their memory the moment they stepped through the front door.

But a few years ago we started a new dinnertime tradition that changed everything. It’s the simplest way to spark a robust dinnertime conversation that I’ve ever come across, neatly packaged in one powerful little question:

“What was the best and worst part of your day today?”

Similar to Pat Brill’s “round robin mealtime”, this is a question that can be passed around the table from one to the next, until it comes back around to the first person who asked. Each person gets a chance to share, each has a moment to reflect on their day, and busy parents receive the yearned-for glimpse into their child’s day away from home.

At my table, we’ve used this conversation starter as a way to problem-solve friend issues at school, celebrate each others’ accomplishments, and even resolve the occasional family spat. The key to keeping this conversation productive and respectful is to make sure that each family member’s response is listened to without interruption or judgement. Consider the dinner table a “safe zone” where all feelings are allowed, and each perspective is honored. As long as the speaker is as respectful as the listeners, difficult topics can be aired and personal experiences can be shared. You’ll learn things about your kids that you never knew, and they’ll, in turn, learn things about you.

Family mealtimes are sacred in my busy, crazy little household. Since the kids eat dinner at their dad’s house half the time, our dinnertime conversations have become the glue that helps us feel connected and loved, even when we’re sleeping on opposite sides of town. And it works just as well with strangers, too. Tell me, I’m listening:

What was the best and worst part of your day today?

April Horoscopes for Single Moms

Categories: Best Practices, Hoping for Love

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Aries
You feel the urge to purge! Clutter is your worst enemy this month, Aries, and getting rid of unused items will give your home and your soul a fresh start for Spring. The second trip to Goodwill will contain a toy your child hasn’t played with in years, but which they will desperately search for three days later. Do not tell her you have given it away- this would bring much bad luck upon your household. Instead, tell her you think it might be in the car and then distract her with a cookie. 

Taurus
It’s a good month for love, Taurus! For other people, that is, not for you. You will meet two eligible bachelors this month, but when they find out you have children they will tell you that they really like you, but they’re just “not in a place to handle responsibility” right now. Your friend from work will get engaged and then her engagement video will go viral, showing up in your Facebook feed once an hour for the next three weeks. You will spitefully steal her Greek yogurt out of the work fridge and then feel bad about it and secretly purchase a replacement from the grocery store during lunch.

Gemini
Your duplicitous nature comes back to bite you when you blow off the PTA meeting because it’s your only night without kids that week and you’d rather spend it at the wine bar. A group of PTA moms will stop by for a glass of Pinot after the meeting and catch you flirting with the bartender. “I thought you said your son was sick and that’s why you didn’t make it to the meeting tonight,” they will say. “Yes… he is sick. Very sick,” you will say, trying to cover your tracks. “In fact, he’s in the hospital. The, uh, babysitter is there with him.” The moms will then look at you as if your face has suddenly turned into dog shit and you will spend the rest of the school year avoiding them.

Cancer
Great news for you at work this month, Cancer: a promotion is on the horizon! But be warned- the added responsibility will not come with a raise. Frugality is your friend! Keep buying those generic Cheerios, and you’ll have enough saved up by the end of the month to splurge on a much-needed manicure that you’ll ruin in the car on the way home.

Leo
All your hard work pays off this month, Leo, when you finally find a shade of lipstick that doesn’t make you look like an angry clown. An entire lifetime spent wearing only ChapStick leaves you unprepared for this new facet of femininity, however, and you’ll attend an important meeting at work with lipstick coating your front teeth. But remember Leo, there is a silver lining in everything: this unintentional slovenliness will prevent Icky Isaac from the office down the hall from asking you out. Phew!

Virgo
You will have sex on Wednesday (for the first time in seven months, you poor thing) so don’t forget to shave your legs tomorrow. You also need to shave your armpits and your bikini line, and you’ll need to do it with the rusty Bic you keep in the shower because you’ll forget to get a new one, so take care not to nick yourself because your tetanus shot isn’t up to date. Afterwards, when you’re laying next to each other and your partner gazes into your eyes and asks what you’re thinking, go ahead and lie. Yes, your library books are overdue, but that’s not a romantic thing to say and you don’t want to wait another seven months, do you?

Libra
An unexpected encounter with a handsome stranger will leave you dizzy this week, Libra! It may raise a few eyebrows, but just explain to the other mothers that your child is the one sitting on the bench playing games on her phone and she hasn’t let you push her on the swing for years, so you were drawn to this chubby-cheeked toddler on the tire swing like ants to a forgotten piece of popcorn under the couch. Resist the temptation to smell his hair though, Libra, because his parents won’t understand and will call the police.

Scorpio
A long-awaited package arrives this month, Scorpio, but you won’t be home when it gets there so you have to ask your boss if you can leave early the next day in order to pick it up from the post office before it closes. Your boss reminds you that you need to be there all day to train the new intern, and tells you to ask your husband to pick up the package for you. When you remind her that your divorce was final three months ago, she’ll look at you with such sickening pity that you’ll need to excuse yourself to go vomit in the restroom. But lucky you: there’s one stick of half-unwrapped gum left in your purse that will cover up the puke smell! When you dig for it you’ll also find that earring you thought that you lost last year. 

Sagittarius
You’ll finally lose those last few stubborn pounds this month when your preschooler brings home a stomach virus! It will be a rough few days, but you’ll look amazing in that pair of pre-baby jeans you’ve been waiting to fit into for the last four years. The recovery will be slow, so don’t take on too many new projects in the next few weeks. You’ll have gained back the weight by the end of the month, plus five extra pounds, so take a new Facebook profile picture between the 10th and the 14th while you can still zip up the jeans.

Capricorn
An unexpected visitor arrives this month. In fact, there will be 37 unexpected visitors and they’ll be laying eggs all over your daughter’s head! Although you’ll quickly evict these unwelcome guests, you’ll suffer psychosomatic itching for the next six weeks. Since there’s no one there to check your scalp, you take measures into your own hands and douse yourself with a chemical-laden shampoo that makes your nostrils burn. As a result, the left side of your hair inexplicably and permanently loses all of its curl, leaving you with a persistent case of bed-head. An old woman on the bus will offer unsolicited advice about how to get more “bounce”. Do not listen to her; she thinks you’re a four-foot blue rabbit named Stan and has had zero reliable training as a hairstylist.

Aquarius
Your anxiety catches up to you this month, Aquarius, and you begin waking up several times each night. Resist the temptation to research your symptoms on Web MD at 2:00 am because you will become convinced that you have SARS and then you will cry. Your best bet for relaxation will be to watch every episode of Doc Martin on Netflix. When you run out of Doc Martin you can switch to Ally McBeal. Hang in there, Aquarius! Things should start looking up in about 8 to 12 years.

Pisces
An exciting twist of fate will leave you trapped in an elevator with the adorable IT guy from downstairs! Unfortunately, you won’t have had the energy to make your own dinner the night before and the dinosaur-shaped “chicken” nuggets you wolfed down will not be sitting well. You’ll spend the entire 15 minutes concentrating on holding in the gas that rumbles like a herd of one thousand elephants every few moments, causing IT Guy to eye you with alarm. When maintenance finally frees you, you smile sweetly at IT Guy and rush for your office but your shoe will squeak just as you exit the elevator, sounding exactly like the thing you were trying to hold back. You’ll avoid IT Guy for the next eight months.

Things My Kids Say That Make Me Feel Old

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype

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“What’s a pager?”

“I heard that in the olden days, moms used to wash kids’ mouths out with soap when they were bad.”

“What’s a pay phone?”

“Mom, were cars invented yet when you were a kid?”

“Mom, can you skip to the next song? Why not? What’s a deejay?’”

“What’s a cassette tape?”

“This is boring, I don’t want to watch it with you anymore. The Fraggles don’t even look real.”

“I love Napoleon Dynamite’s boots, they’re so old-fashioned.”

“Why would anyone want a Tickle Me Elmo?”

“Can I have electronics time now? I want to read my book.”

“I already turned in my homework; I just shared the document with my teacher.”

“How did you watch movies when you were a kid if you didn’t have the Internet?”

“Tupperware? What kind of party is that?”

“You had chalkboards in your classroom?”

“What’s a ‘dial-up?’”

“What’s a Polaroid?”

“Did they have Justin Bieber when you were a kid? MMMBop? That’s a dumb name for a song.”

An Open Letter to My Children’s School Regarding the Excessive Amount of Papers You Send Home

Categories: Best Practices

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Dear Elementary School,

If you and I were to enter into a romantic relationship, get married under a beautiful wisteria-draped arbor in the spring and then ultimately end up in marriage counseling, our marriage therapist would be incredibly impressed with your communication skills. In fact, she would probably look at the two of us sitting in her office– you with your eager, straight-backed posture and a file folder of color-coded newsletters balanced carefully on your knees, and me slumped in the corner of the couch whispering aggressively into my phone trying to convince Siri to remind me to pick up my prescription later– and shake her head woefully, wondering just what it was that brought the two of us together in the first place.

The truth is, School, I was awed by you at first. You seemed so organized, so responsible! You seemed like the type who’d never accidentally run out of clean underwear or sandwich bags. Back then, I’ll admit, I was a little vulnerable. The divorce had really pulled the rug out from under me and I was frequently forgetting to shower, sleep, and drink water. I was a mess, and your blurrily-copied permission forms arrived at home with such reassuring regularity that I couldn’t help but be drawn in to your stolid presence. But that was then, School: it was a simpler time when accent walls seemed like a good idea and young women would definitely kiss you on the first date if you sent home an invitation to an ice cream social printed on a sherbet-colored rectangle sprinkled with Comic Sans. Things are different now.

The kids have gotten a little older, and I no longer worry that I’ll forget which day it is. Emails from my ex-husband don’t make me cry anymore, and I no longer rely on the government to keep us stocked up on bread and Life cereal. In short, I am pretty close to having my s#!$ together these days and I would really appreciate it if you could stop making me feel guilty by filling my recycle bin with a small forest each week.

I know this is confusing for you because I have two children, but one newsletter is really all I need. The second copy is unnecessary and excessive, as well as the second copy of every announcement for all of the things I’ll never go to because I work a lot and really don’t feel like spending my Wednesday night stuffed in a cafeteria with other parents planning next year’s walk-a-thon. I just want to eat dinner with my kids and fight with them about whether or not they need to use toothpaste when they brush their teeth, so please stop inviting me to stuff. Also, as I mentioned earlier, Siri pretty much runs things around here now, so your second, third and sometimes fourth reminders about wrapping paper sales and roller skating parties are redundant and if we’re being completely honest here, Siri is probably a little offended by them. She’s got this, okay? Back off.

In conclusion, I’d like to point out that while your after-school programs for K-2 students sound like a whole lot of fun, neither of my kids are eligible due to not being in those grades anymore, so we probably don’t need those lists of program costs and descriptions. And at the risk of being labeled bitter or resentful by our marriage therapist, I’d like to remind you that I’m never going to volunteer in the staff copy room because I work fifty hours a week at three different jobs, so if you could stop rubbing it in my face that some mothers have time for these things, that would be great.

Sincerely,
A Parent Who Is No Longer That Into You

3 Quick And Yummy Snacks For Busy Moms

Categories: Taking care of mom

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If you’re anything like me, your morning is spent in a flurry of getting everyone ready and out the door for the day. In between drying my hair and letting the dog out to pee I’m making kid-friendly breakfasts and school lunches and trying to sneak in a few sips of black coffee before it gets too cold sitting on the counter. On good days, when we’re on time, I also remember to leave food out for the poor cats. And then suddenly it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and I’m spacing out at my desk, unable to concentrate. At this point I realize that I have forgotten to feed myself completely (and on really bad days, I probably haven’t had any water to drink, either!). Due to the unfortunate frequency of this scenario, I’ve learned it’s best to keep a few emergency snacks on hand to give me a much-needed energy boost on days when I need it most. Here are three of my favorites.

Yogurt Parfait
I call this a parfait to make myself sound fancy and French, but it’s actually a very healthy snack and a great option for breakfast, too!

Ingredients:

1 serving of fat-free vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup chopped or sliced roasted, unsalted almonds
1/4 cup sliced strawberries

Mix the sliced strawberries in with the yogurt and sprinkle generously with almonds. Delish!

Brie and Apple Sandwich
This is my favorite go-to lunch when I want something simple but classy. The painless preparation is a bonus!

Ingredients:

1 demi-baguette
2 ounces of brie
1/2 Granny Smith apple

Slice the demi-baguette in half and spread one of the halves with brie. Slice the Granny Smith apple into thin slivers and layer on top of the brie, then close the sandwich. Voila! Your heavenly lunch is complete.

Apple-Cinnamon Quinoa
This is a perfect make-ahead dish that is tasty right out of the fridge or easily reheated.

Ingredients:

1 cup white dry quinoa
1 apple
Cinnamon and sugar to taste

Cut your apple into bite-size chunks or slices, leaving the skin on. Boil 2 cups of water, and add the quinoa, apple slices and cinnamon and sugar all at the same time. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water and the apples are soft. Remove from heat and serve warm or cold. Tip: Rinsing your quinoa thoroughly before cooking is the best way to reduce any bitterness.

We mothers do a great job of taking care of the ones we love, but it’s easy to put ourselves- and our health- last. These yummy snacks will give you the nutrition and energy boost you need to make it through a busy day!

Summertime, and the living is very scheduled

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype

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Some of my happiest childhood memories come from those long, languid summer days spent hunting for tiny shells along the beach or planting marigolds in my grandmother’s garden. My sister and I would run wild, our hair tangled and gritty, our filthy bare feet toughened by gravel driveways and the rough bark of the cherry tree. We’d sway side by side on the backyard swings, one hand gripping the sun-warmed metal chains and the other holding a gooey tunafish and pickle sandwich. I love these memories almost as much as I loved the days themselves. They were such a relief from the constant structure and social pressure of the school year. During the summer, I was free to explore and read and daydream as much as I wanted. I could just be me.

I was reminded of those precious summer days as I emailed back and forth with my ex-husband last week, planning our daughters’ summer schedule. Every moment is accounted for. Every day has an elaborate plan attached with transportation, childcare and even meals already figured out. Although living in two households certainly complicates the matter somewhat, the fact is times are just different. When I was little, neither one of my grandmothers worked. My summers were split between their two nearby houses. All of the grandparent figures in my children’s lives (meaning their actual grandparents or the parents of our new partners) either work full time or live out of state. We don’t have the luxury of dropping the girls off at a relative’s house while we work during the summer, so the girls go to camps. They’ve never had a summer like the ones their dad and I knew growing up, and they most likely never will.

This, I think, is very sad. I find myself compensating for this lack of a carefree summer by inserting chunks of “free time” into our weekend schedules, days where we have nothing planned and nowhere to be. I firmly believe they need this time desperately. I just wish I could give them more of it. How do other mothers do this? Is a summer without schedules simply the luxury of the married, non-working housewife? If so, what does this mean for the millions of children whose parents and, increasingly, all members of extended family, must work full time in order to stay afloat? What will this do to their imaginations, their creativity? What will happen to our artists and dancers and explorers and scientists?

I fear that in trying to make sure my kids are safe and cared for while the grown-ups in their lives work, we’re effectively scheduling them right out of a childhood. Tell me it isn’t so. Tell me there is hope. Tell me there’s a TED talk out there for working mothers whose relatives can’t step in to help.

There must be a different way to do this.

One mom’s reason for keeping an Oscar-free home

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype

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I’ve never been a huge fan of awards shows. When I was a kid I found them excruciatingly lengthy and boring (the same reaction I have always had to televised parades), and as an adult I’m usually lost after the first five minutes. I recognize only a small number of the actors, directors and other industry professionals, and have usually seen only a handful of the films that will be honored during the show. The combination of this awards-show aversion, plus our family’s Roku-only lifestyle, meant that there were no Oscars in my living room last night. But I’ve found myself wondering, as I read some of the post-Oscar reactions and commentary today, how my girls would have reacted to the awards, and what they would have learned about the way our culture reveres beauty over almost everything else.

Are awards shows inherently bad for kids to watch? Probably not. But I think the danger with the entertainment industry is that these types of events perfectly illustrate the value our society places on beauty, and how it blatantly outweighs, almost without exception, the value we place on skill, natural talent, and effort.

This being said, I do acknowledge that my lack of experience with awards shows such as the Oscars doesn’t put me in the best position to judge their merits. So I invite you, fellow moms, to share your thoughts on the subject. Did you watch the Oscars with your children? If so, I’m curious: What values, if any, do you feel your children learned from the awards? How did you discuss these values with your kids?

If you did not watch the Oscars with your children, why not?

I look forward to your comments!

5 reasons to keep birthday parties simple

Categories: Best Practices, Missing Parent

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At some point after the divorce, it became my ex’s job to plan and host the girls’ birthday parties, even if their birthdays didn’t fall on “his” weekend. Since he makes about one frillion times more money than I do, it was easier for him to bring their elaborate birthday fantasies to life and throw some truly amazing parties. I loved that he wanted to be involved in these celebrations, so this arrangement worked well for all of us for several years.

This year, however, he was going to be out of town during Eldest’s birthday week, so it fell to me to plan, host and bankroll her 11th birthday party. We decided to have a low-key sleepover party with just three friends from school, followed by a girls-only breakfast at a local crêperie and a couple of hours to explore the Seattle waterfront. Not only was the party an enormous success, but I was reminded of how much I love simple birthday parties.

Here’s why:

1. There is more than one way to show your kid that you care. While expensive party venues, designer cakes and copious amounts of presents are one way to celebrate your child on their birthday, they aren’t the only way. Spending quality time together and simply taking a day to let your kid know how glad you are that they were born doesn’t require having a big chunk of disposable income, and it can be meaningful for both of you regardless of the budget.
2. It’s important to slow down. Our day-to-day lives are fast-paced, stressful and chock full of activities, and our poor kiddos are dragged along for the ride. It’s necessary to take a step back from the craziness once in awhile and give our kids a chance to just be. Sometimes it’s the quiet moments, and not the forced excitement of activity after activity, when the best memories are made.
3. The “value” should come from the guests, not the party. I want my children to learn that it’s the people in their lives who matter, not whether or not they got to hang out at the latest trendy birthday party spot for two hours on a Saturday.
4. Getting creative together opens the door for a deeper relationship with your child. When was the last time you sat down to collaborate with your child on, well, anything? We tell them how to clear the table, when to clean their rooms, which homework questions to fix and when it’s time to leave, but we so rarely get to learn more about how they see the world. Planning a creative party together can be such a wonderful bonding experience with your growing kiddo, and gives you both an opportunity to see each other differently, even for just a few moments.
5. Everything can be an adventure. I think it’s easy to forget that our children (with their PS3s and iPhones and laptops and all the other spoils of our modern lives) are just as capable as any generation of children to turn a stick into a magic wand or a tree into an enchanted castle. Their imaginations are wonderful and powerful and aching to be given a chance to run wild.

As soon as each of Eldest’s three guests arrived home after the party, I started receiving phone calls and text messages from their mothers telling me what a fantastic time their daughters had.

“She loved visiting the gum wall!

“She can’t stop talking about watching the parrot do tricks at the market!”

“I haven’t seen her smile this much in a long time.”

The girls had a great day exploring and chatting and just having a chance to be themselves. And I was lucky enough to experience this day with them, learning more about my daughter and her beautiful friends with each perfect, unstructured moment. We’ll all remember this day fondly for a long, long time.

Parenting a bullied child (cue the nausea and rage)

Categories: Daycare Doldrums, Trying to figure it all out

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For the past few years, Eldest Daughter has been struggling with a couple of “mean girls” at school. It’s a tricky situation: one of the girls (let’s call her Stacey) has been an on again, off again friend since Kindergarten. Although they are not in the same class this year, they see each other at lunch, recess and almost every after-school activity. When things are good between them, they are very, very good. They enjoy each other’s company and have fun together. But when things are bad they are nasty. Stacey has the manipulative prowess of a woman four times her age, and although I would like to say that I love all of God’s children and would never think to question the innocence of a fifth grade girl, I admit that there have been several times I’ve wondered whether or not everyone would be better off were this horrid little beast packaged up and mailed to Siberia.

Due to the many hours they are together at school each week, Eldest believes that life is easiest if she can keep the peace. She has resigned herself to keeping Stacey happy, because when she is happy she is less cruel. As you can imagine, this leaves me feeling angry and powerless and just plain heartbroken for my sweet, generous child. The adults at her school are aware of the situation but have been reluctant to get involved because, like any seasoned bully, Stacey is on her best behavior around teachers and staff. She saves her most terrible, cutting words for times the girls are out of earshot, so no adult has ever witnessed any of this behavior.

Until recently, my ex-husband and I have focused on giving our daughter tools to deal with Stacey on her own. We talk through the things that happen and how they make her feel, and then we talk through possible ways to respond. We ply her with encouraging words and tell her how proud we are that she is too kind-hearted to lash out at Stacey, but that it’s not her job to keep this girl happy. It’s her job to be a kid, have fun at school, and stand up for herself when necessary. Usually these conversations seem to help. But last week she stopped being able to sleep at her dad’s house. She said her mind was too full; she was stressed and overwhelmed and dreaded seeing Stacey at after-school care. So we decided it was time to talk to her teacher.

It turns out that Eldest isn’t the only girl in her class who has been victimized by Stacey, and Eldest’s teacher was livid. “No one treats my girls this way,” she told me (bless her), and vowed to do something about it. But I was, and continue to be, very torn. On one hand, I’m incredibly relieved that Eldest has an advocate at school, an adult who is willing to help keep her safe. But on the other hand, we are all too familiar with the skill and secrecy Stacey uses against her victims. She holds grudges. She is very, very patient. And she does not hesitate to strike the moment an adult isn’t watching. If she finds out that Eldest’s “tattling” was in any way related to whatever consequences this teacher finds appropriate, Eldest’s life will be a living hell. And god help us, we haven’t even reached middle school.

What can I do? How can I help my child? Oh, how I wish for the relative simplicity of boys. I wish Eldest could just pummel this girl, assert her confidence and dominance, and be done with it. But the spider web that is the female social hierarchy is so wicked and complex; even as a relatively well-adjusted adult, I find this system nearly impossible to navigate. It kills me that my beautiful girl is suffering at the hands of another kid. If I could, I would keep her by my side always and protect her from everything painful and awful in this world. But parenthood is never that easy. And she will inevitably get hurt. This is the horrible truth that no one tells you when they hand you your wrinkled newborn for the first time, her skin still wet from your womb. You cannot protect her from everything. The only thing you can do is love her, fiercely, through it all. And if you’re lucky, that will help.

A pledge to my 40 year old self

Categories: Tentative Steps

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I turned 30 this weekend, quietly and without fanfare. Rather than the laughing, sparkling gathering I had imagined, full of lovely friends and wonderful food and witty, heartfelt toasts, I spent the weekend at home with a feverish child and a cat who nibbled on my birthday bouquet then promptly vomited all over the kitchen floor. It was nothing like I had imagined it would be; but then again, nothing ever has been.

Ten years ago I was married with an infant daughter. We had recently purchased our first home, a nondescript beige box perched at the top of a ridge, overlooking a fertile farming valley. In the mornings, when our baby girl woke early with bright eyes and an enormous gummy smile, I’d dress her for the day and gaze out the window at the green pastures far below. I tried to imagine who she would grow up to be and I would picture her childhood that was stretched out before us, ripe with potential. The possibility of divorce, of single parenthood, never once occurred to me. I had no idea that within five years her father and I would no longer live together, that I would struggle to make a life on my own for her and her little sister.

Not only did my 20s turn out completely differently than I had expected, the “surprises” that decade brought were so thoroughly catastrophic that the woman who emerged from them would be wholly unrecognizable to the one who held that little baby and watched the tiny dots of cows grazing far below. So what, then, can I expect from this next decade? It may be safer to avoid this topic altogether.

Rather than set expectations, or even imagine the details of the next ten years, I have decided to make a pledge to the woman I will be at 40. I know that whoever she is, she will be stronger and wiser and much, much sexier than the woman I am today, and I know it will take some serious living to become her. So for the next ten years, with her in mind, I pledge to do the following:

I will be more forgiving of my failures. I know that these very failures are what will ultimately make me strong. As Leonard Cohen says, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

I will actively seek peace. Peace in my community, peace in my workplace, peace in my home, and peace within myself. Remember what the poet Rumi says: “What you seek is seeking you.”

I will not fight the changes. But I will also remember these wise words from the lionhearted Maya Angelou: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

I will love. In my words I will love, in my actions I will love, in my decisions I will love and in my thoughts (the most difficult of all) I will love. And when this is so difficult to do that it seems impossible to go on, I will remember what Anne Lamott’s Jesuit friend Tom says: “Left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe.” And then, “Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe.”

Ten years from now, when I look back at the woman who wrote this piece, I know I will love her more than I do today. I will see that she was bravely forging ahead, tackling life with dignity and grace, even though it felt like stumbling at the time. I trust in my capacity to grow and evolve, and I trust in the woman I will become. I just have to make sure I give her room to show up.

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