Will You Be The Hero?

Conflict. In my experience, which could be saying something right there, it happens in every relationship.

Sometimes it’s easy to forgive. Sometimes it’s easy to move on.

But sometimes it’s worse in one relationship than in another – or worse at certain times. Sometimes, it’s more painful. Stinging. Sometimes it leaves you a little breathless, feeding anxiety and bitterness and doubt, until its resolved. And even then, sometimes, it lingers.

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The Great Thaw (or Oh Yeah, Love is a Choice)

It’s twelve days into the new year, and my resolution to love people better so far has been a big fat flop.

From the outside, I am almost certain my relationships still look like giant, frozen popsicle-trees on the landscape of my life.

Bizarre and unmoving.

And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know how my insides get so taut, how I turn into a rubber band drawn all the way out until I run out of stretch.

I know.

There are several nuances, but generally, it’s always a combination of poor self-care and unmet expectations. Lack of sleep is also a factor. Always.

I know what causes it, how to prevent it and even how to fix it, and yet, here I am again. All wound up, locked down, and iced over.

But on the inside, I am feeling the thaw.

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Why You Should Keep Making New Year’s Resolutions + Mine.

It’s three days into 2018, and I’ve avoided writing this. Why? Because really it is a confession that, underneath it all my perky, I am a Scrooge.

In the past, I have been on both sides of the resolution-fence – the side that makes and the side that rejects. This year, after a long, grumpy period of being a rejector (no judgement), I felt myself shifting.

Like an icy breeze blowing in through poorly insulated windows, it was unexpected. Brr.

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Three Ways to Motivate Your Child After School

This is part two of a two-part series about intrinsic motivation. Read part one now.

One of the hardest times of the day to inspire intrinsic motivation in a child is after eight hours of academia of any kind. But that doesn’t mean its not worth the effort. Why? Because there is a truly invaluable lesson to be learned at this time of the day for all of us:

How we find it in us to keep doing what needs doing when we really don’t want to.

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The Gift of Imperfection for Tweens: Part One Lesson One

Brene Brown Discusses Courage, Compassion and Connection

This portion of the Brene Brown The Gift of Imperfection course was easier for my tween. She was excited to start crafting with her mom, loved the idea of looking through pictures of herself, and wasn’t too challenged by the topics yet.

Observations and Adaptations

1. Permission Slips – At first, my tween claimed she didn’t really “get” why she needed a permission slip to participate in the course. But after we watched the video clip and dug just one layer deeper into the conversation, she came up with a profound response. 

Like profound.

I won’t share it here, because it’s hers to share, but I encourage you not to give up if your tween doesn’t take a flying leap out of the gate when you start the course! Give it a moment. Be vulnerable first. Then try again. I was so impressed…

2. Perfection Pledge – I may have actually gotten more out of this one in the moment than my daughter. She doesn’t realize she is a “pleaser” just like her momma, so my hope is some day she will look back at this entry and experience the healing it intended. 

So what did I learn from this exercise? Your tween is still growing in not only WHO they are, but also in their awareness of who they are. It was both interesting and informative to observe that my daughter didn’t recognize the perfectionist in herself yet.

We also had a lot of fun this night – she loves seeing pictures of herself, and hello, permission to Sharpie on your hand? She was into that.

“Brene

3. Courage is a Heart Word – Things got a little squirrely here. My daughter became insecure about her crafting ability, and I noticed her comparing her work to mine. 

We had a healthy discussion about not comparing ourselves to others – especially in exercises like these in which we were supposed to embracing our real selves. And I was able to share stories about how I compared myself to one of my parents quite a bit growing up and what that did to me and my self-image.

We agreed to work at the same table together but not look at each other’s work. (Note: This lasted for exactly ONE night, and then she was over it.)

On a topic related to the exercise, we had a great conversation about who the important people in our lives really were. We discussed what good, true, forever friends were, and she was able to name one. We talked about the kinds of things we might share about ourselves with those individuals. And then we talked about who just “regular friends” were, what to share, and how to protect our hearts.

This conversation, while important for us adults to keep in perspective, I felt, was infinitely relevant to her life stage! 

I hope this was helpful to you! To see how my tween and I adapted and experienced other lessons, go back to the main post here: The Gift of Imperfection Adapted for a Tweenager.

Adapting Brene Brown’s Course “The Gifts Of Imperfection” for a Tweenager

I love Brene Brown. I love her work. I love her spunk. I love that Oprah loves her. And I want to take all her classes. I feel like when I do, I might finally understand myself and become more of a grown up. Ha!

But when I came across the class The Gifts of Imperfection on Oprah’s Own Life Classes platform, it was my daughter I was excited about. 

She needs this. 

About The Gifts of Imperfection

The book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown encourages readers to live the “authentic version of you” and to accept, understand and believe that version, no matter how imperfect, is enough. 

““The”

What tweenager – whether they are 11 or, ahem 35 – doesn’t need to hear that message?!

Having said that, my daughter and I don’t have a lot of time together. Between her being only 11, her visitation schedule with her dad and middle school and my raising three kids while expecting twins, running a house and writing, we were not going to be able to sit down and read this book in a way that would be meaningful. 

But we could do art here and there, and that’s how Brene’s class became a family bind for us!

About the Class

I came across the course Oprah and Brene partnered on while researching something else, and instantly knew it was going to be the way to go with my tweenager.

The online course is only $70 (at the time of this article), and consists of easy-to-digest video modules and light text that includes crafty (totally unpinnable) projects designed to make the participant think. 

Each module also contains reading from The Gifts of Imperfection, but again, I didn’t feel like we had bandwidth for that this go-around. (More on that later.) 

Many of the projects require access to family photographs, and it is helpful to have basic art supplies – markers, watercolors, stickers, etc. We also enjoyed having scraps of art paper and magazines.

Projects take 30 minutes give or take but could take a lot less or a lot more depending on your level of craftiness and the conversation you might find yourself having – either with your tweenager or self – about the work.

Adaptations for Tweens

Depending on the maturity level of your child, vulnerability and authenticity can be hard topics to explain, understand and, therefore, to discuss with a tween. Especially in our current culture, when much of what a tween faces is centered on “keeping up appearances,” even conversations with you as a parent, conversations that should be safe and free and real, can end up being awkward.

I found this out the hard way in this course. And I almost gave up. 

Then I decided not to.

The course is NOT designed for tweens. I would also say the course would be a stretch for many adults! But as a tool I was hoping would generate conversation between my tween and me while we bonded over some light crafting, it was invaluable. 

And it didn’t have to be done perfectly – hello, that’s what the whole point of the course is!

So I adapted to keep my tween engaged. And here’s how. 

(Each week I will add links to posts about our adaptations below for quick reference!)

Three Ways To Promote Intrinsic Motivation In a Child Before School

Whether or not you know it yet, the child you want to develop through your parenting efforts is a self-motivated one. Why? Because intrinsically motivated kids are empowered to take care of themselves when you’re not looking. Or micro-managing. Or fretting.

Here are three ways to develop intrinsic motivation in your child before they head out the door for school.
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When Child Support Stops

One day it didn’t come. It just stopped. It wasn’t the first time, but somehow we are never ready for it when the child supports stops.

Surely it was just because of the long weekend. 

It was Labor Day. I’m sure that’s the lag. It will come. 

And sometimes it does, but if you’ve been blessed enough to have the financial support of the other parent for any amount of time, you know the rhythm. And this time, the rhythm said, “It’s not coming.”
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There Ain’t No Elf On My Shelf (And That’s Okay.)

An opportunity for bright, new holiday traditions – without obligation.

The holidays are a challenging time of year for single, step and blended families like mine. Traditions that once had sweet roots in the family I created find themselves soured in “the other family” we have become.
Every year, I’m confronted by those traditions. Every year, it’s a lump of coal come early. Continue reading

Family, Creating a Place to Belong

Where do I belong?

I see it in my kids’ eyes when they look at me when we reunite after a weekend with their dads. It’s a quiet searching, a longing, an uncertainty reaching out for reassurance. It’s a question:

Where do I belong? Do I belong with you?

And I see it in their actions. As soon as we get home, they check their rooms, “Can I go see my room?” They flit around the house perching briefly here and there, noticing little changes, arranging and visiting their things before they “settle.”

Did anything change? Is it all how I left it?
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