THE DEVIL IN COMPARISON

THE DEVIL IN COMPARISON

COMPARISON SHAME

We’re all guilty of it. The “IT” I’m referring to? COMPARISON. You know, the evil thing we do to ourselves when we’re already in a down place. However, for some unknown reason our mind takes us FURTHER down by pulling out ONLY the good someone else has going for them. Consequently, making us feel less than adequate. Oh, the devil in comparison. Even when our rational brain tells us not to do this and there is more to the story, our guilty mom brain takes us there. Blerg.

Last week, I enjoyed an evening of social distance visiting with three fellow mom friends in a parking lot. If you haven’t tried this yet, I highly recommend!

Regardless, I was overcome with a sense of sadness throughout the conversation about what is going on for parents right now. Each expressed the feeling of “not being enough” for instance, whether it came to routine, schoolwork, family meals, engagement beyond video games… You name it, we covered it.

In particular, what intrigued me the most about this conversation was where those feelings REALLY stemmed from. Comparison.

SOCIAL ISOLATION- THE DEVIL IN COMPARISON

One particular comment stuck with me for days. Our school has a Facebook page specifically dedicated to this time of quarantine. For student engagement, we’re encouraged to post images of art, music, gym, and various challenges the school puts out each week. While it’s a great idea for engagement of the kids and keeping up with connection, I think from a parent perspective it may be having an unintentional counterproductive effect. You know, the devil in comparison.

The comment made was something along the lines of, “it’s just so frustrating. I see EVERYONE posting on the Facebook page about these fun activities they are doing with their kids during this time and I feel like a failure. We’re barely staying afloat through the schoolwork and then our own jobs.”

STOP RIGHT THERE! (my best Meatloaf, Paradise by the Dashboard Lights impersonation…. You’re singing it now, aren’t you?!)

Holy smokes, the post is a five-minute snippet into their day! Maybe the parents are doing the activities for their own sanity and are using it like a coffee break from their work. On the other hand, maybe the parents require doing the creative activity to release their own guilt for then allowing a day full of video games. Or it represents a shred of DOING something in this strange time we’re in.

Whatever the case, guilt at the base. Case in point, me.

TAKE ME AWAY- COMPARISON

I posted a few times over the last two months showing a couple of the art projects. My kids have more toys and gadgets than I can count and there has been an overwhelming amount of guilt in me about how the days of E-Learning have gone. Frankly, it’s a mad dash. Hurry through the requirements of E-Learning materials and then off to the races for independent play for the afternoon so Jeremy and I can get SOMETHING done work wise. And those aforementioned toys and gadgets to spark creativity? Zip. It’s video games.

One particular post of mine showed the kids lying on sheets in the yard trying to create a scene for their art project. We (read: me) had this amazingly creative idea of Jake floating away holding balloons on a blue sheet (the sky) while Bryce grabbed his feet from the green sheet (the ground) to save him.

The picture captured both boys laughing. Actually, correction. Jake was making a face that was supposed to look like he was panicked about floating away. In reality, he just looked like he needed to poop. Bryce’s face in savior mode with smiles but you can’t see this because he turned his face into the sheet EVERY…. TIME…. I took a picture. I stood on a chair on our second story deck trying to capture this just right. To clarify, just right includes my 11-year-old barking orders such as, “don’t get the grass in the picture around the blue sheet and balloons mom!” Sure…. Easy enough. Said no one ever.

TAKE ME AWAY- THE REAL STORY

First off, the above scenario was fun, and we did get a good laugh about this project in the five minutes of the photo shoot itself. Second, what the photo doesn’t show is this:

  • Fighting with BOTH of them about doing this art project to begin with. “Do we HAVE TO do this MOM!??!” Response internal: Yes, because I need you to do SOMETHING creative.
  • The initial attempt at this photo in the garage where the ceiling was too low for me to get high enough to get both of them in the shot. I then hit my head on the ceiling while on the ladder sending me into a temporary rage.
  • Bryce stomping up the stairs not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES to go get the blue sheet after me telling him exactly where it was. He came back empty handed each time, but I refused to cave into doing it for him.
  • The two minutes after the picture where the boys desperately wanted me to edit this image in photo shop to take out the grass. In fact, they wanted me to upgrade the program I use so we could enhance the photo more than my free program allows. NOW they were suddenly really into this project they didn’t want to do in the first place, but I no longer had time to participate with a client call starting in four minutes.

Shall I continue?

The Devil in Comparison- two boys pretending to float away with balloons lying on sheets

Art at its finest – balloon boys floating away

YOU ARE ENOUGH

We’re all smart enough to know what we see on social media doesn’t show the whole picture. But if I’ve learned nothing in my time as a mother, it’s still REALLY hard to stop our minds from going there. Furthermore, it’s easier to forget there is a backstory or remembering the five minutes we just saw doesn’t represent their entire 24 hours. Shaming ourselves into believing we aren’t good enough somehow takes less time than rationally thinking through what we’re seeing.

Well my sweet friend, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

It’s ironic, I started this blog article back in January when I planned out the year of cadence and topics. While comparison and competition were to be the topic, the examples within have changed dramatically with our world being flipped upside down. Even so, the take-away remains.

Telling someone to take comparison out of their head is like telling a red head to calm down in the heat of a moment. Good luck. Like when I hit my head on the ceiling while on the ladder…. Good times, good times.

REMOVE THE DEVIL IN COMPARISON

Even so, what are some things you can do to pull yourself out of this mindset of comparison? In fact, REMOVE the devil in comparison.

First, we can continue to remind ourselves social media is a snippet of life. The more we utilize positive self-talk and genuine excitement for others, the more we are able to shift our mindset. There are all sorts of studies around gratefulness and how our mindset changes with a renewed focus towards the positive.

For instance, what if we started a practice of gratitude for someone sharing a snippet into their world? This likely won’t happen overnight, but if we continue to focus on why we are grateful for what someone shared, we will then see a shift in our initial response to a post. In turn, moving from a triggered response of comparison to an auto response of gratitude.

Second, analyze what it is about the comparison really triggering you. So often, we think we should push those thoughts and feelings DEEP DOWN because they are “wrong.” Why not try to give those feelings their moment? Then ask ourself questions around what REALLY is bothering you. Likely, your emotions are trying to get you to realize something. Utilize the intel. Shoving the emotions down are just going to make them come on stronger in the next devil in comparison.

Lastly, view competition differently. Competition can be a good thing. Think about sports. We all love them. They can be healthy. Is there something in your brain gnawing at you with what you are seeing? Could this comparison be inspirational to you? Motivating you to do something you have always wanted to do but it was easier to talk yourself out of rather than take the first step?

IN SUMMARY- THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMMM

We all have our priorities. After analyzing why our head went to the space of comparison, move forward with the intel gained on a new perspective. More importantly, I beg of you to give yourself grace always, but especially in this time of social isolation.

I listened to a podcast the other day by Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She has a net worth of over $1 billion dollars and is an absolutely fascinating entrepreneur. Even so, she is married, has four children, and is way more relatable than you may think. When asked her advice for this time of quarantine, parenting, and running a business, her response was this: “Lower your expectations of yourself during this time.”

There you have it. In this world of high achieving, picture perfect social media posting, how about you cut yourself some slack. You are enough. Look the devil in comparison in the eye and tell him, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself.

Bill Gates

 

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IT COULD BE WORSE

IT COULD BE WORSE

BUT IT COULD ALSO BE BETTER….

First off, let’s talk about what is going on right now in the world? It could be worse, but it could also be better. I’m an extrovert through and through so this whole stay home thing is having more of an effect on me than I originally thought it ever would.

I had a conversation with a friend about how I feel like a phony. For the Seinfeld fans out there… like when Mike Moffitt tells Kramer that Jerry Seinfeld is a phony? YEP, THIS! Consequently, I have been training for situations like this for the last year. To be a coach. Trained to change mindset. Furthermore, to know how to deal with personal controversy and shift not only a client’s energy, but my own as well.

On the other hand, here we are. For the last few weeks, I have sucked. Particularly when it comes to patience, which I have had zero. Last week’s two days of E-Learning can SUCK IT. You may be sitting there thinking, “yes Heather, but there are 5 days in the week, so 2 isn’t THAT bad.” Subsequently I will tell you, we technically only had 3 days of E-Learning last week. In short, blowing up 2 out of 3 days is not a great batting average.

The texts I sent to some of the other parents when the Zoom link didn’t work were downright terrible. Make a sailor blush kind of language and I didn’t give a s***. So frustrating. I am a college educated, in the work force for 20+ years person and this shouldn’t be this complicated kind of exhaustion and pissed off-ed-ness…. I’m fully aware this is not proper English, let alone writing etiquette. But for the Love of Sweet Jesus, who is with me???

REFLECTION

In spite of this, I took time to reflect on where these emotions, such as the anger, were coming from. To summarize, I think we’re all hesitant to say just how truly frustrating all of this is because it could be so much worse. Correct, it could be worse, but it could also be better. I mean…. We’re not sending our kids off to war and standing helplessly by. Nope. And for God’s sake I’m not comparing having to stay quarantined in my beautiful home with my healthy children, fun-loving husband, plenty of food, and amenities beyond my own comprehension to THAT. Abso-frickin’-lutely not.

Nor am I comparing my own cushy situation to a single parent family not knowing how on Earth they are going to get by another day of juggling on their own. Or the family not sure where the next meal is going to come from without school to take the strain off of two meals in a day. Nope, not that either.

In our effort to fully acknowledge we could have it SOOOOO much worse, I think we’re forgetting something. And here it is. It is OKAY to get frustrated about the current situation and ACKNOWLEDGE it.

Yep, I promise. It is. Me saying I am frustrated as HELL with Class DoJo and Canvas and Lexia and DreamBox and… and… all of the zillion other programs we’re trying to keep straight in a day, not to mention our routine being flipped upside down and it sucks, is absolutely okay. This does not make me uncompassionate about others dealing with their own frustrations. Acknowledgement of the frustrating moments or the various emotions we’re feeling actually supports us in moving through them.

The Mom Huddle- It Could Be Worse- Not Today Covid19 sign

ACKNOWLEDGING IT COULD BE WORSE

Admittedly, this is what has been keeping me up at night. It should be noted, sleep has never been an issue for me. For this reason, when I started to have these sleepless nights it was definitely time to reflect. In this case, sleeplessness had very little to do with the state of the world. Sure, I’m worried about the world, but in general I have a very “this too shall pass” attitude. Always have.

I broke this down for myself and asked the tough question. Why am I in such a funk about this and so frustrated?? The answer definitely surprised me in a lot of ways. Guilt. Guilt over feeling I didn’t have the right to be frustrated. Even guilt over being frustrated with my own children, husband, school, routine disruption, all the things going on right now when in my heart of hearts, I know there are others who have it so much worse.

This is where “phony” really started to set in. I spend a lot of my days now listening to people. In general, I listen to people and regurgitate back to them what they said to me so they can listen to themselves. And when this happens, there is an epiphany. True story. I may have just given away the secret of coaching!! Moreover, here’s the even crazier part…. Coaching will always be around because people in general don’t listen. ESPECIALLY to themselves. For this example, case in point…. Me.

You phony… you can’t even get your own mindset right about this. How can you REALLY support others in doing so? 

SHIFTING

I feel as though I have the tools and mechanisms to support people in shifting mindset, setting goals, and working through their blocks. With a number of my clients right now, we talk through how they feel about things going on in the world. Shifting their mindset from a negative outlook to one of opportunity and focusing on where they DO have choices. Despite the positive mindset, we are not shoving the worry and anxiety of things going on in the world down deep… that does no good. Alternatively, we look to acknowledge the feeling, decide what is within our control about the situation, and then create action. All while setting the anxiety and worry on the shelf, not shoved in a closet.

While I coach on this, in the same way, I was not even listening to myself. I literally sucked at listening for the last week. To be fair, probably longer because in some ways the thoughts and feelings on the current state of affairs were just shoved down and masked with positivity. Last but not least, when the true feelings came out, they did so with the vengeance of Medusa caused by a 5th grade class Zoom call fail. 

And if you were anywhere near my office last Wednesday….. #$%^&*$%^&*%^&*%^&* is basically what you heard every ten minutes or so. I hope you are laughing, and this is resonating with you in an “OH MY GOSH, ME TOO” way.

Optimism isn’t believing nothing bad will happen. It’s about believing in your ability to handle it when it does.  – Mel Robbins

FINDING PEACE- YOUR VERSION

With this in mind, what CAN we do about these frustrating moments? It’s important to me to give you take-aways. Truth be told though; you should take these and make a version that works for you. I’ll give you thoughts, but each scenario is unique. As a result, I encourage you to use this as a launching pad to think about what YOU want during this time.

Patience.

I’m kidding! This was to see if you were still paying attention. Of course, we want to have patience!! However, telling someone to have patience when they are in the middle of an E-Learning lesson with a child scrolling UP and DOWN, UP and DOWN while they try to read the instructions – well, it’s going to go over like a turd in a punchbowl. Just ask my husband, he’s still licking his wounds. Do your personal best. And if personal best in a moment means walking away or giving them a smack over the head…. So be it.

Reflect on what you need.

Take a few minutes to reflect on what you desire or need in a day. Do you crave 30 minutes of alone time? How can you make this happen? Take a walk. Put in earbuds with loud music and close yourself in the bathroom. Make everyone go to bed 30 minutes earlier.

What does this look like for you and what is one small action step you can implement to get there? It should be noted, make these small steps. As humans, we don’t typically go from couch potato to marathon runner in a week. In this same manner, set your mini goal up with success in mind.

EXPECTATIONS AND GRACE

Re-set your expectations.

A lot of the women I’ve talked to over the last month had one interesting thing in common. There is this overwhelming urge to ACHIEVE during this time. Easy there sister. You may not have a commute right now or your work may have slowed. In spite of this, you have the added pieces of facilitating schoolwork from your kids’ teachers, making meals and 35 snacks in a day, maybe sleeping in a little bit, probably utilizing some time to play more games or have more family fun. I’m the QUEEN of projects so believe me, I get it.

However, know there are some intangibles right now you may overlook as things taking up time. In turn, give yourself space and level set your expectation on all the “should be doings” with what you actually want to do with this time.

Finally, Grace.

There will be bad days. The biggest take-away for me through this last month is being okay with a bad day. I don’t have to feel guilt over being frustrated or losing my cool as long as I’m trying. My frustrated feelings do not diminish the real problems of the world, but rather make me human. Give yourself grace when it comes to your thoughts and feelings. Not only grace, but acknowledge them.

The Mom Huddle- It Could Be Worse Pandemic pic of boys putting hearts on neighbors door

Jake & Bryce decorated the neighbor’s door with hearts to cheer them up!

IT COULD BE WORSE, BUT IT COULD ALSO BE BETTER

This too shall pass and it hasn’t been all bad. In fact, I’ve had some really surprisingly fun moments with my family throughout. So much so, I want to figure out a way to have more of those moments when we go back to a normal existence.

In summary, I leave you with this challenge. With the benefit of hindsight, think of one thing you will NOT be adding back into your normal when the world opens up again. It’s amazing to think about what we enjoy not being a part of our day-to-day right now. Why add it back in? Likewise, think of one thing you WILL add into your new normal which was a nice surprise coming out of your mandated staycation?

Stay safe, stay sane, and support each other!

 

Some days, doing ‘the best we can’ may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect – on any front – and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.  –  Mister Rogers

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Meet My Co-Workers

Meet My Co-Workers

WHO ARE YOUR CO-WORKERS?

I’m sure you have seen the hilarious challenges floating around on social media asking people to name something their kids or pets do as if they are co-workers. It’s pretty entertaining. Obviously, we are all searching for things to keep us entertained and furthermore sane in the craziness of life as we know it right now. To that end, I had an idea. Meet my co-workers: Jeremy, Jake, Bryce, Thor, and Gary.

I’ve referred to this place as the Lowey Fraternity House, otherwise known as my home. Weird stuff goes down here all the time. Nevertheless, when you are used to it, it’s really just normal life. Then I remembered while a lot of the things happening here are normal for us, it’s probably eye-opening, entertaining, or disturbing (maybe all of the above) for others. I hope you enjoy the story of my co-workers in this co-living and co-working space.

Most importantly, I pray you and yours stay healthy and sane in this crazy time.

The Mom Huddle Meet My Co-Workers: Employee of the Year sign with cat Gary

Employee of the Month: Gary

MEET MY CO-WORKERS: GARY

I will start with the sweetest of my co-workers. Gary. Mrs. Gary if we’re being formal, but on the contrary, SHE is anything BUT formal. Correct, Gary is a girl. Rumor has it she had a pretty rough upbringing. I mean her adoptive parents changed her name from PJ to Gary even though it was discovered she was actually a girl. Apparently, she was abandoned and lived in foster care for a few weeks before being adopted. This SOUNDS great, but her adoptive situation was utter chaos most of the time. I’ve heard terms like Lowey Fraternity House and nut house thrown around. Constantly people at the house, kids running amuck, a real three-ring circus kind of place.

Anyway, back to her work. While she is an absolute sweetheart, she does some super weird things. For example, earlier this week, she walked into my office, looked right at me and threw up on the floor. Then she continued to sit there and look at me for a little while longer. Eventually, she walked out of the room without saying a word. To make matters worse, my co-worker Jeremy walked into my office and stepped in it. For the record, he kind of lost his ever-loving mind. Oh well, he gets this way about messes in the office.

I think everyone really loves Gary around here though because she has such a sweet demeanor. In fact, she loves to give hugs. I swear, she is snuggly with even the strangers who come into the office. Weird if you ask me.

She does this super odd thing though of jumping onto the break-room countertop. Heat up lunch or prepare a coffee and she’s likely to be sitting on the countertop watching. Weird office behavior, but what can you do when she is getting employee of the month every other month. Truth be told, I have NO IDEA what her job is, but her boss, Bryce, loves her. He even laughs when she walks around the office carrying nerf darts in her mouth. WTH? 

The Mom Huddle Meet My Co-Workers: Employee of the Month sign with cat Thor

Employee of the Month: Thor

MEET MY CO-WORKERS: THOR

I mean, you guys seriously need to meet this guy. When he gets bored or angry, he literally uses his nails and scratches furniture!! Who does he think he is… God of Thunder or something? He’s a real piece of work.

Additionally, he is super curious and likes to perch on the back of chairs. Sometimes even when someone is sitting in the chair! I seem to be the only one around here who thinks this is odd behavior.

He is also a total micromanager. Watching every little step with big curious eyes. When he does it to me, I stare back but it honestly doesn’t seem to faze him. Jake talks to him during those zone out moments but doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact Thor just stares back at him. Typically, Thor doesn’t even answer and often just walks away mid-sentence.

Frankly, he’s pretty lazy. Constantly sitting in the sunshine from windows and doors, even if it’s in the way of someone’s entry to the building.

Thor’s favorite employee is Bryce, which is kind of funny since they are in different reporting lines. Jake does get a bit jealous with Thor’s favoritism towards Bryce when it comes to reviews (bedtime). I keep trying to make Jake understand it’s because Bryce brings Thor food all the time, but Jake disagrees.

The Mom Huddle Meet My Co-Workers: Employee of the Month sign with son Jake

Employee of the Month: Jake

MEET MY CO-WORKERS: JAKE

This one, boy does he complain a lot if he’s having a bad day. He definitely thinks he does ALL the work around here. Carrying more than his fair share of the workload. Jeremy tries to explain if he wouldn’t rush through things so quickly, he wouldn’t have to re-do tasks and feel so overwhelmed. It falls on deaf ears most of the time.

The funny thing is, he rides a hoverboard around the office from the minute he walks in the door at 8 am until he makes his way home (to his room) at the end of the day (bedtime). It’s hard to take someone seriously for management potential when they ride around on a hoverboard all day. On the contrary, he thinks he is totally ready for a manager position and wants to sit in on all of Bryce’s reviews. Always a comment with this one….

He is lighthearted though and tries to turn most tasks into a game. Why we have so many Legos in the office, I will never know. Regardless, he took it upon himself to sort them by color this week. Even made a basketball game in plastic containers by color for sorting. Again, management material? TBD. But Bryce, Thor, and Gary all got in on the action for a while. Leadership potential for sure. Too bad it wasn’t a more worthwhile business task like balancing the budget or doing the taxes.

Jake has natural leadership skills, so I think with some good mentorship, there is a lot of potential. He has aspirations for being a CEO one day, but time will tell.

The Mom Huddle Meet My Co-Workers: Employee of the Month sign with son Bryce

Employee of the Month: Bryce

MEET MY CO-WORKERS: BRYCE

I can’t get a read on this guy. He’s SUPER helpful one minute but conversely flies off the handle the next over seemingly nothing. It’s borderline cray-cray if you ask me. For the record, no one does. I just sit over here and write emails, update websites, write for our publication, pay the bills, manage operations, party plan, meal prep for in-house functions, you know, just a few things…. But who’s complaining?!

Anyway, back to Bryce. He and Thor are super tight, like I mentioned. First off, they even go to the bathroom together. Jeremy is so weirded out by this. I’ve even had to have a discussion with both Bryce and Thor about it. They claim they just like to take their breaks together, but someone caught Thor watching Bryce in the shower after they went to the gym the other day. Next, I guess I’ll have to address THAT.

Bryce loves to bring food in for all of the employees. His specialty is zucchini bread and it is a crowd favorite. Although Jeremy’s calorie counting always suffers when Bryce does this. Then we all subsequently have to hear about how many calories are in various foods. BORING…

Even though he can be a bit temperamental, Bryce does help everyone around the office with their workload. He also takes his position as the office philanthropy chair very seriously. Pushing us to ensure we get our volunteer hours in each year.

The Mom Huddle Meet My Co-Workers: Employee of the Month sign with husband Jeremy

Employee of the Month: Jeremy

MEET MY CO-WORKERS: JEREMY

As much as everyone gives him a hard time for his Dad-like demeanor, Jeremy believes in setting the bar high for this team. In addition, he does the lion’s share of the work. Not only does he bounce from call to call, but also assists with operations and other thankless tasks. He even makes lunch for the whole office various days of the week which is a nice treat!

Gary spends a lot of time in his office, which CLEARLY gets the rumor mill going about the two of them. Despite the rumors, I think they just enjoy spending time together in quiet. The rest of the office environment is so loud and boisterous throughout the day, it’s hard to get anything accomplished.

Jeremy is looking to promote Jake or Bryce to give them some additional responsibility. I’m just unsure of who is ready for it. We’re here together all the time and I can’t take any more complaining or questions on how to do something. It can be maddening and really cuts into time for the start-up business division I’m creating.

 

The Mom Huddle Meet My Co-Workers: Employee of the Year sign with Heather

Employee of the Year: Heather

 

MEET MY CO-WORKERS SUMMARY

As for me, clearly, I’m perfect in every way and should be the president of this company. I’m being told if I prove myself over the next two months, it’s highly likely. Fingers crossed I can practice empathy, patience, compassion, and not losing my s**t long enough for this to occur.

Last but not least my friends, I wish you grace and sanity with your own “co-workers” as you try to maintain normalcy in work AND home life. In all seriousness, if you feel you are losing it, stop, take a breath, and decide what would serve you best in the next moment. If it means stopping for a good cry, do it. Additionally, if it means seeking out someone to talk to, do it. Find something supportive to you and furthermore, don’t be embarrassed for whatever it is. As I mentioned in my last post, the only judgment you are going to get from me is if you are shaming someone else.

And with that, I leave you my most favorite tweet yet since this pandemic began:

If there’s a baby boom in 9 months, it’ll consist entirely of first-born children.

– Winston Chang @winston_chang

(Thank you Winston, this has made me laugh over and over!)

 

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Enjoying a Mandated Staycation

Enjoying a Mandated Staycation

HOW TO ENJOY A MANDATED STAYCATION

It’s all in the mindset. “I hope you are enjoying the time at home with your family right now!” This is how I’m starting every email to clients, potential clients, friends, basically everyone right now. Why? Two reasons. First, a positive lead in to the conversation can start to shift the mindset out of the gate.  Second, mandated time at home and everything around us being cancelled can feel like we’re not at choice. However, we CAN choose to look at this differently. In fact, even enjoying a mandated staycation. 

Last month, I wrote an entire article about Hitting the Pause Button. No, I’m not Agent Zero of the start of the Coronavirus, but the irony of this is not lost on me. While it’s a bit of a forced pause, maybe it’s exactly what we’ve all been looking for.

“Heather- you crazy….” (said in my best movie character voice) I know. I tend to see opportunity in situations no matter how dire they may seem to others. It’s a blessing while also annoying as hell to others I’m sure.  

There are absolutely going to be days/weeks as a part of this time at home where we may lose our ever-loving minds. Folks, I’m not s**tting rainbows and riding around on unicorns, I promise. I did the same exasperated sigh when city and state officials held the press conference announcing school was going to be cancelled for at least three weeks.

Pretty sure I said something like, “Jake and I may not make it out of this alive.” In fact, Jeremy and I took a long walk after the announcement talking about our approach for the next few weeks and how we were going to “make it through.” (yes, very dramatic) Afterall, I’m starting a business and having two kids at home doesn’t exactly scream productivity.

But if we are going to ask our kids for help in making this work, shouldn’t we at least have a mindset of enjoying this mandated staycation?

POPS OF POSITIVE

I keep seeing pops of positive that frankly make my heart happy. Friends talking about family meals around the table because all sports are cancelled. Family game nights more frequent because no sports are on the tv. Let’s get our own family competition on! Kids actively wanting to read because at some point, how long can you watch movies and play video games? Neighborhood kids playing for hours on end when they are normally interrupted because of schedules. These aren’t BAD things folks.

I’m not blind to the fact this is an absolute struggle for some families both from a financial standpoint as well as logistically. You want to know what else I’ve seen? People posting on social media how they can and will help with meals if you reach out to them with no judgment around the need. Neighbors offering to watch kids in an effort for more community. Individuals offering to support local people who are considered high risk to run errands for them or just have a daily phone call for some interaction. Humanity stepping up in a time of need.

What is my point? There is the old saying about life giving you lemons and making lemonade. Well, maybe life is giving us Corona right now to make a better Community.

Here are my three pieces of advice for having some fun and furthermore, a positive outlook for enjoying our mandated staycation.

#1 – STOP WATCHING THE NEWS AND SOCIAL MEDIA 24/7 

Being informed is great. However, over informed and constant information creates panic and a serious amount of “what-ifs.” If you don’t know what I mean by the what-ifs, there is a great children’s book called Bruce Moose and the What-Ifs, by Gary J. Oliver and H. Norman Wright. You would actually be surprised how often I refer to this book when coaching with clients.  The premise is about worry and how it can consume and paralyze us, but only if we let it. How we immediately go to the negative space of what could go wrong. But what could go right? Bringing us back to the mindset that there is a silver lining to all of this if we just dig a little deeper.

When life gives you Corona, have a party at home. Yes, I’m stretching, but come on. We HAVE to laugh. 

Speaking of, yesterday I saw a meme that made me laugh really hard. It was about how we’re all glad to know the way every random sweepstakes, vendor, and rewards card we’ve ever encountered are handling the Coronavirus. SO TRUE! Stop looking at your emails and/or just hit delete. I am assuming you don’t need to know how Delta or the Marriott are handling this unless you have upcoming travel. I literally just went through my email and grabbed the first five I saw….. Groupon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Monogram Hub, Michaels, and Papa John’s, noted. Not sure why I need to know how you are handling things. 

EVERY BLESS-ED ORGANIZATION is sending out an announcement. At some point, WHO CARES?!?! You are an adult. Your organization is run by what I assume are adults. Furthermore, my assumption is you are handling this to the best of your abilities. Stop telling me to wash my hands. Got it. Noted. I do not need the company I ordered a chair from in 2004 to remind me to wash my hands and stay home if I’m sick. 

And the social media posts….. OMG. Unless they have Dr. before their name or an LPN, RN, CAN, NP, PA, MD, EMT, RT, CRNA after their name (thanks Tonna Randolph for this list!), I LITERALLY DON’T CARE AND DON’T WANT YOUR TAKE ON WHAT SHOULD OR SHOULDN’T BE DONE. For the love of God. MAKE IT STOP. To every Tom, Dick, and Harry who are the resident expert on everything because they saw one headline from one news source and are spreading panic and questioning all authority, kindly….. SHUT UP. In fact, hole up in your house. The world will be a better place for it. And for more reasons than just the spread of a virus.

Just for the record, I’m fully speaking to everyone. Not just one side or the other of the political s**tshow. ENOUGH! If you were my children, you would be grounded and sentenced to write, “I will be nice and treat others with kindness,” until your hand needs surgery. All of them!

#2 – STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS

This one is a full-time mindset, not just in a time of a global pandemic. However, for our purposes today, we’ll talk about this in terms of having your kids at home with you for the unforeseeable future with no extracurricular activities. I was on a hilarious text chain last night which verified my thoughts on this.

If you are the most organized, June Cleaver mother and have amazing activities with color coded time slots for entertaining your children for the next 3 weeks, awesome. If you are polar opposite of this and are handing over the remote controls and setting up a soda and snack station by the Playstation for 3 weeks, also awesome. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! 

I’ve seen some amazingly creative things on social media. It should be noted, I don’t think anyone posting their charts are doing so for bragging rights per say. (On the other hand, there are probably some, but let’s be kind.) Hopefully the intent is purely providing others with ideas.

But parents, first off, if it’s not going to work for you, don’t do it! Secondly, stop feeling bad about it. Setting up unreasonable expectations of yourself and your kids is only going to create more frustration in an already tense time. Suddenly asking your child to read 2 hours a day when you can barely get them to read for 20 minutes has DISASTER written all over it, for instance.

We’re somewhere in the middle on this schedule thing. Jeremy and I came up with an additional house chore per day for each kid and then a few school related things for them to do each morning. The boys choose whatever order for these activities and if they complete without argument and complaining, then basically the rest of the day is playing outside with neighbors, video game tournaments, puzzles, and Lego building. We’re mixing in some family walks in there when we’re off of calls, but we’re not scheduling this. Again, because THIS IS WHAT WORKS FOR US.

Stop judging each other for what is going on. Everyone is in survival mode with this new schedule. Furthermore, comparison during this time will be the root of all evil. I will only judge you if you start shaming others. Think about that.

#3 – ENJOY YOURSELF- THINK OF IT AS A MANDATED STAYCATION

This goes back to the mindset thing, but what would happen if we allowed ourselves to actually enjoy this time at home? Thinking of this as a gift of time. Time is one of the top reasons people sight for not doing things. Following dreams. Making phone calls. Playing games. Getting in shape. Spending time with family. Reading a book. Doing a puzzle. You name it, TIME is the factor.

We’ve all just been handed the GIFT OF TIME. Schedules opened up. Kids present with us now with clear schedules. What are you going to do with this gift? The present is a present. (I know, so corny… but so true.)

I’m not telling you this as another thing to stress yourself out over. Instead, just take some time to think about it. Be intentional about what you want to do with this time. Your mind will inevitably go to the what-ifs sometimes and that’s okay. But after you have acknowledged this worry, move back to a space of enjoying this time with your family. Relax a little. At some point, “this too shall pass,” and when it does, we’ll all be back to 100 miles per hour every day. 

So hit the pause button and enjoy some time with your kids.

ENJOYING A MANDATED STAYCATION

We live in a country of complete abundance. I have full faith we’ll get through this and life will go back to activities and fun. So why not take some TIME to enjoy this staycation? Mandated or not, we still have a choice in this. That choice is our mindset. Every day isn’t going to be rainbows and sunshine. Your kids are going to drive you crazy. That’s what early bedtimes and bottles of wine are for.

My advice? Enjoy this gift of time.

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Hit The Pause Button

Hit The Pause Button

HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON

Recently, it has really dawned on me how important it is to hit the pause button. Life is crazy busy and frankly, it doesn’t matter what stage your kids are in. The type of busy just evolves. While I talked about this a lot in The Sport of Busy post a few months back, today my focus is on specific motherhood moments to hit the pause button.

Pausing sounds so cliché. AMIRIGHT?!?! Those overheard conversations where another woman talks about how amazing it is for refreshing herself with the pause button…. I know. Easy Karen, keep on moving to your yoga class. Enough already with the Namaste talk.

First off, I’m kidding. It is absolutely important to hit the pause for ourselves. Even though I’m joking about it, my intent is not to undermine the value. However, I want to talk about three specific hit the pause button moments for motherhood. For me, those have become snuggle, sharing, and laughing moments.

Full disclosure, I was struggling a bit about how to make this come from a place that didn’t sound braggadocios. We are far from perfection on this end. In fact, I have a real fear of any of my writing sounding like I’m trying to brag about something we do right without balancing with the real, raw, far from perfect moments.

Then this morning happened. We headed to church and I was annoyed with Jake, he was annoyed with Bryce, Bryce was annoyed with Jeremy, and Jeremy was annoyed with me. We sat down in church and the irritation was palpable. Then the annoyance made a shift, not to forgiveness, but rather like a slow, squeaky wheel reversing in direction. Meaning me annoyed with Jeremy, Jeremy annoyed with Bryce, Bryce annoyed with Jake, and Jake annoyed with me. As I sat there trying to keep my cool, I laughed to myself and thought, “there it is!” This is the back to reality moment to talk to you guys about. The balance if you will.

The below discussion is about moments in time. Not all the time. Not a mindset you can have 24/7. So, my point is about pausing in THAT moment and enjoying it. Figuring out ways for yourself to hit the pause button in special motherhood moments unique to you. Furthermore, knowing it’s not going to be all the time and THAT IS OKAY!

Enjoy!

SHIFTING THE MINDSET- ALLOW YOURSELF TO PAUSE

My kids are now almost 11 and 8 AND A HALF. Never forget the half at this age. Admittedly, I did not consciously do a lot of pausing to savor the snuggling, sharing, and laughing moments until recently. It should be noted, I absolutely enjoyed them so please don’t think they were all just fleeting moments not burned into memory. But on the other hand, I don’t feel I was as intentionally present as I am now. There were always thoughts of what NEEDED TO BE DONE next coursing through my mind, for instance. Pulling my attention away from what was right in front of me in the moment.

Before you think I just tossed my to do list out the window and have closed my mind from wandering, let’s be clear. I still have both. And they rear their heads at inopportune times when I really want to be fully present.

I’ve mentioned this journey I have been on over the last year and the first main lesson out of this has been to SLOW….. DOWN…… This is tough for someone who has literally been compared to Judy Hopps, the rabbit in Zootopia dealing with a sloth at the license branch. For real. Even so, let’s hit the pause button.

SNUGGLE MOMENTS- HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON 

This past Monday was President’s Day. I had full intention of getting up and doing at least an hour of writing before a couple of coaching calls. However, Bryce curled up next to me and said, “we should relax and snuggle for a while Mom since we don’t have school.” Music to my ears! I had a smack me in the face realization as he curled up and pulled my arm around him. This isn’t going to last much longer. (cue the tears!)

We snuggled and giggled about something on the tv and I didn’t think about the growing list of things on my to do list. Not about the dishwasher needing cleared out or even the piles of laundry waiting for me since we went to parties all weekend instead of taking care of house chores. I literally hit the pause button and stayed present in this precious moment with my 8-year-old.

This sounds all well and good, but it hasn’t always been this way. Even though I may have stayed and snuggled, it would have been in mental turmoil. Knowing what my heart wanted to do but also knowing my brain wouldn’t allow this pause.

HOW DO WE HIT THE PAUSE?

Rewire the brain. While there is a ton of research out there suggesting how to rewire the brain, I literally had to find what worked for me. First off, it required me segmenting time for certain things. Allowing space for various pieces of life instead of trying to multitask.

Second, I had to be willing to compromise. Adaptability is huge. Things are going to pop up and what good is being annoyed. Conversely, adapt and compromise. Call the audible in your schedule and move on.

This didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s still a work in progress and frankly, it has taken a good year to be mediocre at it. But I learned something over the last year. Not only am I more at peace when I’m being intentional, adaptable, and not trying to multitask. But also, I’m more productive. Weird, I know!

When the thought pops into my mind during snuggle time of the “should be doings,” I’ve started to acknowledge it, make a mental note to add a section of time for the task, and then set it to the side. For me, this works. Something about the act of setting the thought to the side versus trying to push it away allows my brain to realize it’s not in conflict with me anymore but rather just needs its own space. Therefore, honoring the busy body in me while still honoring a snuggle session with my sweet boy!

SHARING MOMENTS- HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON

I’ve recently talked to a few friends about this stage of 11-year-olds we’re in. I’m unclear if it’s a change in my approach or the age, but regardless he has begun sharing more. In particular, in the car. We spend a lot of time there to and from all of their activities, as I’m sure you do too!

We talk about what’s been going on for him with school, with other kids, and in sports. Additionally, he has taken an interest in my new business ventures, even asked some very thought provoking questions about starting a business, coaching, and people’s thoughts and feelings.

First off, this has been kind of a shocking evolution. Previously, the standard answers of “fine” or “I don’t know” or “we didn’t do anything today” were a regular part of the vocabulary when discussing school or any subject for that matter. And before you think I’m a miracle worker, there are ABSOLUTELY still days where this is the standard answer!

The evolution of sharing I do believe has come down to being present. He wasn’t falling for the half-in, half-out conversation. The distracted responses. The multitasking.

Ultimately, something crazy has happened here too. The more I’ve been present in discussion with him, he then goes off doing his own thing and becomes less needy. I don’t feel guilt over being half-in, half-out so I move on to the next thing without negative feelings and freeing up more time and mental space. Another win-win.

LAUGHING MOMENTS- HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON

I have funny kids. They are obviously still trying to figure out what is funny and what is not. Humor can be confusing! Furthermore, figuring out where to draw the line after making an initial funny can be a challenge! Yep, lots of those.

But just like the sharing moments, the laughing moments have become more frequent. They absolutely say inappropriate things. Right or wrong, I’m probably laughing at it.

As someone who lost their own mother too early in life, I often think about the things I want my kids to remember about me. In my own life, I remember the fun times with my mom. Obviously, there were some not so fun times too and lessons I had to learn. But those aren’t where my mind goes with memories. It’s the fun we had.

Subsequently, I want to live life in a way my kids are going to remember how their mom had a great sense of humor and always laughed with them.

Others may want different characteristics remembered by their children and that’s great! My point is to be conscious about it. Hit the pause button when you are in the moment so it can not only burn into your memory, but theirs as well.

YOU CAN GET THIS PAUSE THING DOWN

For each awesome moment or conversation we have in the above stories, we have an equal number of tough ones. Times where I blow up because they are being ungrateful or not listening. Times they blow up because someone pissed in their Cheerios (figuratively not literally… I think). Please don’t read this through comparison eyes to your own life. Read it from a place of curiosity and potentially noting some things to try.

The key is, hit the pause button. Take the mental snapshot of your child in a moment you want to cherish. Be in a fully present state versus pulled in twenty mental directions. Do what it takes to figure out what that means for you.

Key take-aways:

  • Rewire the brain. For me segmenting time for certain things seems to be working!
  • Resist the urge to multitask. You may just find you are actually more productive NOT doing it.
  • Becoming more present in a moment could ultimately lead to not only more time, but also less mental turmoil.
  • Figuring out the key moments important to you is a good place to start in the recognition of where you want to pause.

I gave some suggestions but only you can figure it out for yourself. It takes trial and error. Additionally, it takes commitment.

All I can say is, you’ll be glad you hit the pause button.

 

To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees—these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude, and grace.  -Brene’ Brown

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New Year, New You – Why??

New Year, New You – Why??

2019 YOU TO 2020 YOU

We have officially closed the books on 2019, therefore moving on to 2020. Who’s ready?! Incidentally, doesn’t matter if you are ready or not. It happens just as sure as kids fighting over Christmas break. NEW YEAR, NEW YOU. This statement seems to be plastered all over the place this time of year and it is seriously bugging me. NEW YEAR, NEW YOU has the feel there was something drastically wrong with our 2019 self. Subsequently meaning our 2020 self NEEDS to be a new person. We HAVE to get our act together. In fact, create a version of ourselves far removed from the pathetic 2019 version in our rearview mirror.

In my mind, this is simultaneously setting ourselves up for failure. While this may sound drastic, on the other hand, think about the implications of this mindset. If we march into this new year thinking everything about ourselves is wrong, full of regret, even shameful, what does this do to our ability to sustain change about one week into the NEW YEAR, NEW YOU?

At our core, we are who we are. Without a doubt, there will be those who disagree with me. But hear me out. I’m actually coming at this from the lens of God’s amazing creation. We are unique, special and beautiful in God’s eyes. If this is the case, then why do you HAVE to create a NEW YOU just because we’ve embarked upon a new calendar year. By all means, there are characteristics we can evolve to make ourselves a better person, Christian, friend, parent, spouse, neighbor, etc, taking the opportunity to Level Up. However, take a moment and revel in what amazing strengths God created in you. You are here for a purpose just as you are.

I think this is where the NEW YEAR, NEW YOU statement bugs me. It does not have to be a NEW YOU, but rather an Upgrading, Up Leveling or Evolving You.

NEW YEAR, NEW YOU

Obviously, I’m not blind to the fact NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU doesn’t have the same nice ring. Regardless, let’s talk about the meaning.

According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. 80%!! I loved the article by Daniel Wallen regarding the failures of New Year’s resolutions. One line stuck out to me: “You’re Treating a Marathon Like a Sprint.” As a Life & Career Coach, all I can say is #truth.

Despite the myriad of reasons resolutions or just goals in general are not accomplished, I want to focus for a moment on expectations. Imagine with me two very different scenarios:

You walk into 2020 focused on all of your failures from the previous year. You and your spouse argued. Your kids were rude in front of your mother-in-law and you snapped… on more than one occasion. The promotion you thought was all but inked fell through at the last minute. The scale crept UP another five pounds instead of decreasing by the ten you set out to hit. Fill in some “fails” as you think about this. At this point, clearly 2020 just HAS to be a NEW YEAR, NEW YOU.

NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU

Conversely, you walk into 2020 feeling positive about how you lived out the last year. In terms of parenting, your kids of course had their moments, but in hindsight really proved to you through action they are doing kind things for others. Additionally, you set out in 2019 to be more intentional about engaging conversation with them (read: put the phone down) and aside from August when you were all tired of each other from summer break, it was absolutely a success.

While the scale crept up a few more pounds, you feel in shape with better all-around well-being because you honored a work-out plan for the year. You and your spouse took a couples only vacation and showed the kids it’s important to focus on each other.

Not getting the promotion opened your eyes to perceived value at your company. This eye opener has you now considering a shift to something really lighting your soul on fire. Again, fill in some of your own wins here. In addition, view areas you want to focus on for 2020 as opportunities. NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU.

THIS to me is the difference in NEW YEAR, NEW YOU versus NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU.

POSITIVE SPIN

Indeed, this undoubtedly has the art of spin hard at work (I was a PR major after all). However, which version of the above supports you more impactfully? Even sets you up for moving in a POSITIVE direction in a SUSTAINABLE way.

Just slightly different than the marathon version, right? You know the one… where you sprint out of the gates only make it to mile two before sputtering out and throwing in the towel.

Positive spin or not, NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU is starting to have a more soothing ring to it.

Now you have a more positive view of yourself. What is the next step? Where is your opportunity?

Here’s a hint… make it achievable. No, this isn’t cheating. It’s still considered a change, but making a sustainable change is about making a new HABIT. Additionally, why not use the power of momentum to further you towards your goals?

ACHIEVABLE CHANGE

I’ll take you through one small but effective change for myself, as an example. I wanted to establish a more consistent bedtime this year. While I always thought I thrived as a night owl, I started to notice the toll on my body with the inconsistency of my bedtime routine. Bedtimes ranging from 8:30 pm when I was too exhausted to keep going one night. Conversely, 1 am the next night because I was on a roll. Circadian Rhythm for me was not a thing. (hint: not good)

First, I made a few negotiations with myself:

  • This bedtime thing had to be reasonable.
  • Weeknights between 10 and 10:30 pm.
  • Weekend couldn’t be super regimented, or I would not stick with it. Goal for weekends then became about getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep versus a set time.
  • Putting away the phone and turning off the tv at 10 pm if not before.

Second, there needed to be a measurable success with the attempt:

  • Feeling a difference in myself after one week, two weeks, etc.
  • Quantifiable successes- increased time spent in REM and Deep sleep according to my FitBit, lowering resting heart rate.

Finally, the success of this has led to additional goals set:

  • With the new focus on resting heart rate, I now want to get it below 60. Why? Well, why not? I’m already really close!
  • Reading just 10 minutes before bed has also increased my sleep score for more restful sleep. There is an added goal of reading time now. Which is, of course, a win-win.

NEW YEAR, EVOLVING ME.

HAVE TO VERSUS WANT TO

I hope this example is resonating my point for you. It starts with one small step but being very intentional about it. This step then snowballs into another step and another. Maybe even a step you would not have created in the first place as it wasn’t on your radar before, like my resting heart rate!

Without a doubt, you will want the goal and strategies for achievement to be a WANT TO, versus a HAVE TO. Putting you at choice out of the gate. It should be noted, this is a biggie for me. Over the last year, I have changed my language. Moving away from have to, should, and need to statements. BE GONE non-choice words!!! If I’m setting out to do something, it’s because I WANT to.

Give it a try. Make a statement saying: “I HAVE to ______.” Now say the same phrase “I WANT to _____.” Your body even reacts to this language.

Of course, one could argue no one WANTS to unload the dishwasher. Feels like a have to, right? Reframe with me for a moment. I want clean dishes and an organized kitchen of an evening for a clean slate tomorrow. So, I WANT to clean out the dishwasher now, get it done, and I’ll be so much happier tomorrow when it comes time to make dinner. A means to an end. Knock it out. Okay, now let’s go!

I didn’t say you had to go into the kitchen screaming out chants like a cheerleader about your excitement over the dishwasher. All I’m suggesting here is looking at the task a little differently. It’s a means to an end for something you WANT, so theoretically the act of clearing out the dishwasher is a WANT as well. Not a need to, have to, should do item. In fact, make the choice. Do you want to do it or not? If you don’t and tomorrow you are frustrated with yourself, well make a different choice the next night.

There is great joy and freedom in choice. However, we too often forget we are at choice when it comes to making changes in our life.

SUMMARIZE NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU

The key to any goal is sustainable change. Furthermore, sustainable change typically doesn’t happen by going from couch potato to marathon runner in a week. Change takes time, but it has to start somewhere. Why not start with one small change.

As you look to your 2020, try something a little different than previous years. Focus on the positives. Focus on your strengths. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done in 2019.

Now look for opportunities of personal growth and figure out one small change. Focusing on the following:

  • Want to language for your change
  • Achievable and reasonable goals and strategies to get there
  • The feeling you want out of accomplishment

It’s a NEW YEAR, time to EVOLVE YOU into the best version of yourself. Enjoy the process!

 

If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.  – Maya Angelou

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