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T’was the Night Before Fifth Grade

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This “Back to School Eve”, my 10 year old son, “Munchkin”, made my heart smile. My children, more times than not, do things that impress me. They oftentimes make me proud with the decisions they make and how they navigate themselves in certain circumstances.

However, on the night before the first day of school, I was especially impressed by and proud of my Munchkin.

Normally, the night before the first day of school, I am doing last minute preparations. I am labeling notebooks with names and subjects. I am color coordinating folders to match subjects areas, if that even makes sense: The science folder has to be green because green equals earth and the study of the earth is geology, which is a type of science, right?? Right??
Don’t judge me.
I am usually popping tags off of new shirts that were purchased, and peeling sizing labels off of new pants. You get the picture.
My need to organize all of their things takes me to my happy place and usually leaves my children staring at me, wondering if I sniffed the new bottle of glue or the sharpie marker that I am using to label said bottle of glue.
But this year was totally different. This year I was not in my happy place. This year there was no new glue, no new folders, and definitely not as many tags to pop and labels to peel. This year my household took a financial hit and an unexpected household repair that did not allow for my husband and I to make the purchases that we are normally able to make each year. So that night as I placed my 10 year olds freshly washed backpack from the previous year on the living room sofa, I felt like I had let my children down. All children want to feel prepared for their first day of school and I had failed in helping to make this possible. I was disappointed, my 13 year old Papi was disappointed, and my Munchkin actually said out loud, “we are so unprepared!”
But then something amazing happened….
My Munchkin remembered all of the many notebooks and folders and pencils and erasers that we have stashed down in the basement stationery drawer. Yes, I have a stationery drawer. It’s filled with the overage of notebooks, folders and things that are purchased each school year. I hadn’t thought of that drawer in my “no school supplies funk” because I always expect to buy new things for the new school year. But my Munchkin remembered. He went downstairs and came up with five folders, four notebooks, and a marker. He began labeling his own notebooks and pairing them with folders that he designated for each subject. He did not color coordinate them, but I had to let that go. He was in his own happy place. He smiled from ear to ear as he pieced together his own supplies. “This is for my math class, and oooh, this is my folder for science, and look mom, I found this pencil case so I’m putting all of these erasers and new pencils in here!!” He was so excited. He was in a zone, people!
And slowly but surely, I realized a few things. I realized that I had been demonstrating a lack of faith in believing that everything would work out. I had almost allowed a lack of material items to put a damper on a special milestone day in my life and the lives of my children. And I also realized that my children don’t need me to organize their materials for school anymore. They got this! They no longer need to be spectators as their mom goes “label crazy”. I realized something else that evening, which was probably the biggest epiphany of all: I probably should have stopped being “label crazy” mom a while ago. My boys should have been a part of the folder and notebook designating process from the time they were able to write. Getting ready for school should have never been about my happy place to begin with. It should have always been about their happy place. It should have always been about their growing independence and maturity. My Munchkin made me so proud with his silver lining response to what I saw as a dark cloud. It’s amazing how on the day before school, I was taught a great lesson by my own child.

Talk to you soon,
Serene

Share with me: How do your children partake in the preparations for the first day of school?

The Garden that Grew Guilty Flowers

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“I wonder what is at the root of your guilt… Serene?”

That was the question that was posed to me one Monday morning during an hour long conversation with a woman at my job. It was an impromptu conversation that came about from me just passing her office to say “good morning”. This woman happens to be a mom and a very spiritual person, so I always enjoy my encounters with her. However, this particular morning, my brief hello turned into an insightful conversation that left me in tears, with a new life-changing question to reflect upon: “I wonder what’s at the root of your guilt…Serene?”. I don’t even know how we got to the point where the conversation took such a thought provoking turn, but before I knew it, we were discussing our outlook on motherhood, work, and self care. It may have begun with the question, “How was your weekend?”, my simple response of “Oh, we went to church and I did the usual: Laundry, food shopping, etc”, somehow led to us both discussing the “Sunday Night Mommy Monster” that was all too familiar to us both. That monster, she came out each weekend due to the anxiety of only having two days to reset our homes for the week to come.

Until this conversation, I thought that I was the only one who transformed into that green creature with the purple ripped shorts around 6pm every Sunday.

I thought I was the only one whose family feel victim to the “Hulk Smash”, once she realized that she was not going to accomplish everything on her weekend-to-do-list. I thought I was the only one who single-handedly destroyed any trace of a great weekend, as I complained about failing to accomplish the goals of the weekend. I wasn’t the only one and this Monday morning conversation opened my eyes to that.

Then our conversation took another turn and, I was telling her about my insane need to sit at my desk all day at work, to complete a daily to do list that was longer than any human, or small team of humans could complete in a 7 hour work day. I revealed to her how hard it was for me to take a lunch break each day because I felt bad about abandoning my work for something as trivial as eating. She shared with me the struggle she once had with leaving the office on time to get home to her family. This made me realize that if it wasn’t for the fact that I have to pick my little girl up from the day care at 5:45pm each day, I probably would stay at work until the building closed. She explained how well she understood my struggles, because she had once battled with similar issues, but she went on to share how she had taken a stand against being a slave to her work and that she had even kicked the habit of coming to work on the weekends. She even shared how she had come to realize that it was so important to take care of herself and do the things that she enjoyed. She explained how by doing those things she had discovered a peace of mind that she had not known before.

I stood there looking at her with admiration, as my mind entertained all the things in life that I would love to do just for the sheer enjoyment.

I thought about how wonderful it would be to leave work while it was still light outside. I thought about how wonderful it would be to eat lunch without worrying about getting spaghetti sauce on the keyboard as I answered my work emails. I thought about watching a movie on a Sunday night with my family so that we can all feel relaxed before the new week begins.

Just as I started to feel comforted by all these thoughts, this awful feeling from the pit of my stomach began to rise up and dampen my whole mood. “I would feel so guilty doing many of the things that I would like to do because I would feel like I’m abandoning my responsibilities” I told her.

Her response was a sympathetic tilt of her head, as she looked at me and asked, “I wonder what’s at the root of that guilt? That’s the real question, Serene”.

She said those words to me.
We exchanged a few more words, she passed me a tissue for my tears, she gave me a few words of inspiration to meditate upon, and I went on to start my day of work. But that entire day, that entire night, that entire week I kept replaying that question over and over in my mind. What was at the root of my guilt? The funny thing about that question is that I actually knew the answer. Deep, deep, down inside I always knew the answer, but the voice was so small that as it whispered the answer, I always drowned it out by constantly keeping myself busy. Now that I was actually thinking about the question, the answer seemed to grow louder and louder until I couldn’t ignore it.

At the root of my guilt, there was my idea of perfection. My idea that a perfect mom makes sure that the kids have everything they need and most of the things they want, a perfect wife gives her husband the time, the attention, the affection, the support that he needs at all times, the perfect daughter fits the mold that her mom intended for her to be. The perfect director runs her program in a way that pleases all her staff, all the parents, and keeps the company CEO pleased at all times with her work. The perfect friend calls her girlfriend multiple times a week to laugh and cry about life. And the perfect Christian woman never complains while achieving all of these goals. That was at the root of my everyday belief. I believed it because I thought this was how I was suppose to operate based on the responsibilities that were given to me.
However, the thing that stemmed from that root was disappointment in myself for falling short of that belief. At times, my children would want something that I couldn’t give them and on those occasions, I’d think: I failed them. At times my husband would want intimate time with me but I’d be striving to be the perfect director, so I’d be doing work in our bed, all the while thinking: I failed my husband. At work, teachers would complain, budgets would go off track, and I’d think, I’m not working hard enough: I failed as a director. My mother and I would argue over the simplest things and I’d think: I failed as a daughter. I’m not hanging out with my friends cause I can’t find the time: I failed as a friend. Then to top it all off, many days as I worked to achieve this perfection, I’d grow tired and weary, I’d complain and I’d think: AND I failed as a Christian.

Ideas of perfection at the root, thinking I failed everything at the stem. All that blossoms from this kind of plant is GUILT! And there it was!!!

My epiphany!! I discovered the root, I had figured out why my guilt had grown and why it was choking me so much. I had allowed the garden, that is my mind, to be inhabited by weeds. I had watered roots that needed to be pulled before they had a chance to flourish. Then the thought that I failed as a gardener started to cross my mind as well, until I quickly recognized what was happening again. I snapped that thought out my head. I told myself, I must be thankful for the revelation that I finally received and now I had to do something about. It was time to take back the garden of my mind. I declared from that day moving forward, I was going to pull every single weed that disguised itself as a precious flower.
And this is where I am in my life right now. I’m gardening. I’m detecting the weeds of my mind. I’m discovering that some of them are so big, they are so hard to pull, but I’m pulling. I’m clawing at them. It’s a messy job, but I know that I must do this. Not for my family, not for my friends, not for my job, not for my mother, not for husband. FOR MYSELF!!

Talk to you soon,
Serene “Sweetpea” Stevens

Share with me: What’s growing in the garden that is your mind? How are you nurturing it each day?


 

Little Packages, Big Gifts

Children are a blessing or so the saying goes, but have you ever stopped to think about why they are such a blessing? How exactly can something that takes so much energy, time, not to mention, money from you add so much value to your life? Well, during a moment of reflection I had a revelation of why my children are a blessing to me and why I am so very grateful for them. Sure, they bring me happiness (the majority of the time). The laughter of my two year old daughter “Bean” makes the very depths of my heart smile. And my boys (Papi,13 and Munchkin, 10) make me proud as I watch them grow to be intellectual and kind-hearted young men.

But it wasn’t until I looked at myself B.C (Before Children) and compared it to the present day Serene, that I understood that these three little people have helped shaped me to be the woman that I am and am still becoming, and it is because they are, that I am.

As I mold myself around who they are and who they need me to be, day by day I understand and accept my transformation that was meant to happen. All 3 of them were uniquely designed like special keys to unlock doors that lead to me fulfilling my life’s purpose. I am thankful for my big gifts in these little packages and while at times, they make me want to run for the hills, waving my white flag, I know that there is no “return to sender” and I am fortunate to be the recipient.

Talk to you soon,

Serene

Share with me:

Do you have a story to share of how your particular child (children) transformed your life, your mindset, and/or purpose? I’d love to feature your story in my new Sweetpeame.com series: When the Student Becomes the Teacher.

Please email me at 123sweetpeaandme@gmail.com
All entries are due by April 1st and stories will be posted throughout the month of April.

 

Confidence is My Kinda Thing

Words cannot describe the feeling I get when people comment, “Oh my gosh, she looks just like my…!”

My name is Aniqua Wilkerson and I am a crochet artist/designer specializing in doll making. About two years ago I quit teaching in pursuit of a more creatively free career. Art had always been the tool I used to be a more effective teacher, but being a classroom teacher was a bit too rigid for me!

I didn’t have a real plan. I just wanted to be as creative and as innovative as I could possibly be.  You see, crochet is an old art form and millions of people do it. I didn’t realize at the time, how important it would be to stand out.

My real journey didn’t start until I decided that I wanted to make dolls. I began by looking in different places for inspiration and discovered something very interesting.

I couldn’t find many African American crochet dolls. I saw lots of white dolls, but brown dolls were scarce.

There were two ladies on Etsy, that made really cute African American dolls, and both designers were white women. I wondered why there were so few brown crochet dolls. I knew there were African American crocheters, so why was it so hard to find African American crochet dolls?

This discovery led me down a path that I hadn’t anticipated when I set out to be artistically free! What do you do when you don’t find what you’re looking for? You create it yourself!

Even though the two designers I found made decent brown girls, there was so much more to be seen. Different shades of brown, and different types of hairstyles; afro puffs, braids, beads, coils, curls, afros, etc. The variations were huge, and the obstacles were enormous!

Artistically, this was an awesome challenge because I had to start from scratch. I had to figure out innovative ways to manipulate yarn to resemble all the different ways little brown girls wear their hair. It became a real project for me. But I learned so much more.

Biggest obstacle, “Is this brown too dark?”
An absurd question, but yes someone really asked that! Would you believe that some people feel that way? My immediate response was “absolutely not!” I have a beautifully brown niece who just happens to be that shade, it would be utter betrayal to say yes, not to mention offensive and untrue! It made me think about the attributes to a “pretty brown girl”. I gained what has become my golden rule for creating these girls, “No brown is too dark!” The shade of brown NEVER matters.

My Kinda Thing pic 1My Kinda Thing pic 2

From that point on, I had a mission. A wonderful and scary goal. Being a girl is hard enough when the world shows you imagery of who you should be and how you should look. What happens when you don’t fit the model presented? Our girls not just brown girls are being taught to alter and adjust physically and mentally in order to meet the “standard”. No longer are we taught to love who we are.
Dye your hair, straighten those kinks, enhance this and cut away that… the list goes on. Self hate is on sale every where! There are payment plans for these “enhancements” and some of us have suffered heavily in the name of beauty.

What if we teach our girls that who they are is much more wonderful,
What if you knew, that being you is already beautiful?

When I create these unique dolls, my head and my heart goes into it. My head says, “make it resemble a little girl”, and my heart says, “make her uniquely wonderful!”
And so begins a conversation between the creation and creator:

Only make her once. I never use patterns so they’re always different.
In that way, she won’t ever have competition.
Keep in mind the person she is created for, her purpose, because my dolls have been gifts of love, comfort, healing, support, and encouragement.
I know it sounds funny but yes, we talk! And by the time I am done she is a whole 360 degree depiction of someone who is beautiful because she was created with a plan and a purpose. She goes to her new home with a hand written note that says so. If this is true about my dolls, couldn’t this be even more true about you?

I create these dolls because I want to encourage pride and confidence in girls. Show them that they are beautifully and uniquely made, like my creations, only much much better!

For more information on Ms. Aniqua’s uniquely wonderful creations, follow her on
Facebook: www.facebook/mykindathing 
Instragram and Twitter: @my_kinda_thing
Talk to you soon,
Serene

 

Girl World

Being Confident in “Girl World”

A few weeks ago I asked my friends on Facebook for inspiration for my next blog topic.  I love writing about my own experiences but I thought it would be different to write about a requested topic.  One particular response that came from a friend of mine was to write about boosting confidence in young girls. I loved the idea of that topic. After all, I am a “girl”, I’ve taught girls, and I have a daughter. Piece of cake, I thought. Boy, was I wrong. I sat in front of that computer and my mind went blank. What was wrong with me? I usually have no problems writing about topics that I’m passionate about it. But this was just not coming to me. Although I have a little girl, I realized that trying to boost her confidence was not something I had begun to think about.  After all, she’s only 15 months so this was something that really didn’t need to be on my radar yet, or so I thought.  A week or so after my “brain fart” and non-existent promised blog post, I had an experience that made me realize I had better start thinking about this, and quick:

While over at a friend’s for a fun Friday night gathering, my daughter sat on the floor with another little girl who was around the age of 3.  As the girl sat coloring with a marker, a huge bag of at least 70 additional markers sat next to her. Being curious, my little Bean tottled over and  reached in the bag to pull out a marker, when the 3 year old snapped out of her drawing trance and with squinted eyes, yelled, “Hey! stop I’m using those!” Immediately, I switched into my teacher voice, hoping to diffuse the situation, “Sweetie, you have a lot of markers. Can you please let her use one and when she’s done, she’ll give it back to you?”  That ought to do the trick right? NOPE, it didn’t.  The little girl just stared at me and responded just as snappy as before, “No, I’m using them! I don’t like her!” Wow, I did not see that coming.  Naturally, all my teacher instincts went out the window.  And as I pictured myself snatching the bag of markers from the little girl and perhaps bumping her slightly with my bottom, I looked at my daughter who had already moved on to the next thing, totally unfazed by the whole situation.

And it was at that exact moment that it occurred to me that I am the mother of a little girl and having been a little girl myself, I know that “girl world” is a heck of a lot different from what I was use to when raising the boys.  I had to start thinking about building her confidence much sooner than I thought.

I had an epiphany that evening and I realized that it has to be one of my many goals to make sure that I raise a little girl that is so confident, she will be able to walk away, unfazed, moving on to the next thing if someone else says “No, I don’t like you”.  But how? Where do I begin?

When it comes to raising a girl, it’s so common to hear people say, “make sure you tell her she’s beautiful” so that she can be confident.  But somehow, I don’t think that’s enough.  Sure, this has to be one part of building her self –esteem.  Girls, people, and the world can be cruel and judgmental when deciding what look is “in” and what features are favorable.  My little girl will definitely need to know that she is wonderfully made both inside and out.  And though I think that this is a small part of creating a confident little girl,  it is going to take something big from me. I have to first understand that I am her first example of what she will aspire to be. With that said, I have to show her what it looks like to love myself, flaws and all.  I have to continue to embrace my natural hair so that she can embrace hers. I have to love all 4 foot 11 inches of me no matter how tall everyone else stands around me.  I have to resist the urge to show signs of self-loathing, realizing that every time I critique my cellulite, and inability to acquire the perfect hourglass figure that my Bean is watching and she will criticize those same things on herself.  I will have to tell myself that I am beautiful and show her that we are beautiful.

But this is not enough. One day my daughter may encounter someone else who tells her “You can’t use my markers”, “You can’t come to my party”, “You can’t be my friend” “I don’t like you”.  Her knowing that she is beautiful won’t help her to walk away unfazed.  The only way that she is going to be able to keep it moving, head held high, when she is rejected is if she understands that people who didn’t make you don’t have the power to break you.  She will also need to understand that she can move on to the next thing and that there is something out there made especially for her.  As her mom, I’ve been charged with the job of truly seeing my daughter for her talents and skills and I must nurture those things so that she can grow to understand how special she is.  If her eyes are bright and focused on the goals that she and I set for her, then she will be too busy in her own world to care that someone has rejected her from theirs.

But even that may not be enough.  One day, with her knowing that she is beautiful and having a goal in mind, she may be told that she still can’t do something just because she is a girl.  Well for that, I simply say, thankfully she has two big brothers to run side by side with.  She already tries to keep up with them and they have already proven to be her biggest supporters.

I don’t know if this is the perfect formula for raising a confident girl.  I’ve never raised one before but I’m thinking that with beauty, drive and strength my baby girl will also have the courage and determination to walk tall (no matter how tiny she may be), and proud as she navigates her way through “Girl World”.

Talk to you soon,

Serene

 

Share with me: Where does your confidence come from? Who helped you to gain that confidence? What did they do?

Pot of Sweet Peas

Boxes, Doors, and Windows

On Sunday, I worked in my basement, attempting to once again unpack boxes that came from the old apartment over a year ago. It seems as if the boxes multiply over the week because I could have sworn there were not this many boxes when I was down there last weekend. As I pulled out items that I knew were garbage-bound, I looked around and suddenly became overwhelmed. It was my goal to have the “My Sweetpea and Me” program up and running by September 2014 but now as I looked around, and it dawned on me that it was way past September 2014, the thought that this may not happen any time soon washed over me. Then I looked to left of me. Was that a leak in the wall? Yep, it sure was.

I stood up,throwing an item of clothing that neither of my boys can fit anymore back into the box, placed my hands on my hips and just looked around.
I’m not at all the kind of person who gives up easily or backs down when faced with adversities but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how this was going to come to pass. Then I began thinking about the supplies that I would need to make this vision come to pass. Chairs, a rug for children to sit on, play equipment, shelving units. The list seemed to go on and on and as it grew, so did my discouragement. All I could do was look to the heavens and ask “How?” Feeling a bit defeated, I decided to just leave the basement and focus my attention on something else.
The next day while at work, I was sitting at my desk half present mentally. All of sudden I get a phone call on my personal phone. The voice was a familiar one that I had not heard in about a year. It was a former teacher that I use to supervise who was also a friend and mentor to me. For the sake of confidentiality, let’s call her Robin. Robin was someone who I really grew to admire for her sound advice and insight into oh so many things. After our time of working together, she went on to build her own early childhood program. She and I lost touch for a bit so while I was happy to hear her voice, I couldn’t understand what would warrant a call from her. Funny enough, just like my mom, Robin also calls me “sweet pea”, and what she was about to say to me was so pivotal to my present day journey. “Hello there”, she says and we begin our small talk, “I am calling because the school (name not needed) is not working out and me and my partners are going our separate ways. We have a ton of supplies, and I was wondering if you had a need for them?” Now, I know she said some other things after that, but my dropped jaw must have also hindered my hearing. When I came back around, in disbelief, I asked her, “what kinds of supplies are you getting rid of?” She began her list, “a rug, some chairs, some dramatic play furniture that includes a practically new kitchen set, some toys, some blocks and some other things that you are free to just look through. Take what you want and toss what you don’t need” she said. At that moment, I became so overwhelmed with emotion. It did not matter that I was I work. I wept like a small child and became so filled with thankfulness. Needless to say, I thanked Robin over and over again and explained to her what I had been going through mentally. She told me that she was glad that she could help and we made plans for me to retrieve the items.
After I hung up with her I took a moment to reflect and I had to kick myself for ever doubting for a moment. What I am finding out is that with a little bit of faith, a lot of prayer, a bunch a perseverance and an ultimate goal, ALL things are possible. This situation, amongst others was another reminder that this vision that I have can and will happen. I have to just continue to move forward. Every door that looks closed is not necessarily so, and every closed window may not stay shut forever.

Talk to you soon,
serene

Share with me: What’s your ultimate dream?

Pot of Sweet Peas

Oh Well!!

This world is full of standards.  The New Oxford Dictionary defines standards as “A level of quality or attainment”.

There are standards for how one should conduct themselves at their place of business. These are listed in one’s job description. There are standards for what a child should be doing by a certain age. Depending on the setting these can be called milestones, benchmarks, or if you work in a New York City public school, Common Core Standards.  There are even standards for how much you should eat as per the suggested serving size on any given food item.  The list goes on.  And then there are unwritten standards that we place upon ourselves in our daily lives. My house must look a certain way, my children must be in a certain amount of activities, I have to look a certain way, or wear a particular type or brand of clothing, or this is the bar that I’ve set for my spouse or the person that I am dating.  All of these standards.

Now before I go on, I don’t want anyone to think that I am “Anti-Standards”, if there is such a word. After all, I do recognize that “If you ‘stand’ for nothing you will fall for anything”, which to me,  can mean that if you don’t set a level of expectations, then anything goes, which also means you may end up with no job, a house full of children that have no goals and aspirations, and a spouse or partner who just does whatever because there’s never been a conversation about expectations.  Those type of standards are not quite the issue I’m having at this particular time.  The standards that I’m having a problem with are the standards that we set for ourselves, that we almost kill ourselves and hurt others to achieve. The standards that make us feel intense pressure and threaten to crumble our worlds if they are not reached. The standards that make us feel like we are complete failures or not worthy of our titles if somehow we drop the ball.  The standards that we punish ourselves for not achieving by depriving ourselves of sleep, hanging out with friends, and spending quality time with our mates all because we didn’t finish doing something that has no impact on anyone or anything whether it is achieved or not.

And where do these standards come from? Well, I can’t answer that for anyone but myself.  For me, they come from outside influences that sneak into my thoughts and whisper things like, “you don’t know how to ‘keep house’ if you go to sleep with dishes in the sink”, “your children won’t be well-rounded if you don’t put them in piano, soccer, pottery, karate, and Spanish lessons all while making sure they are on the path to the honor roll in school”, and the best one that knocks any ounce of self esteem that you have post-pregnancy is the voice that says “you have to hurry and get back to your pre-pregnancy weight quickly and it doesn’t matter that you just got home from the delivery room two weeks ago.

These are the standards that I am sick of!  These are the standards that cause me to miss out on the real things that matter cause I am so busy trying to achieve a 48 hour job in 24 hours all the while complaining that there are not enough hours in the day!! These are the standards that create tension because hey, do you know how hard it was to rub every grass stain out of your football jersey to prepare it for your game tomorrow!! NO ONE NOTICES ANYTHING AROUND HERE!

So today I’m making a stand of my own.  Today I am setting a new Standard for myself and it’s called “OH WELL!!!”

Under the OH WELL standard I will set a goal, I will attempt to achieve that goal and just when I feel like the attainment of that goal is going to almost kill me or at least exhaust me and drain me of all strength and energy I am going to say OH WELL!! I am going to be satisfied with knowing that I gave it my all. I’m going to realize that I am only one person and I can’t do it all.  I am going to understand that I operate under a higher power but I, myself AM NOT that higher power.  I am going to sleep when my body needs it, I’m going to postpone some extracurricular activities for my children when I feel like we are coming and going as if our home had a revolving door.  And I am going to leave a cup or two (or three) in the sink over night and trust that the dishwashing liquid will still be there in the morning.

And when that little voice comes around to say “Hey, that’s not what you are suppose to do!!”, I’m going to stand up tall (as tall as someone 4’11” can be), I’m going to place my hands on my hips, squint my eyes and shout “OH WELL!!! You are not the boss of me!”

Talk to you soon – Serene

Share with me: What are some standards that you aim to achieve on a daily basis?

Pot of Sweet Peas

A Healthy Balance

As a mom it’s very easy to have a one track mind and I’m definitely not referring to sex cause let’s face it, usually when you have little ones running around, sex is the last thing that you can focus on.  But, back to the topic at hand. As a mom it’s really easy to become so absorbed in the daily “have to’s” that you develop a tunnel vision and can only see the things you have to do. I have to pull out dinner for tonight.  I have to cook dinner for tonight. I have to sign trip permission slips.  I have to make sure these bills are paid. I have to wash laundry so that clothes are ready for basketball practice.  And the list goes on…and on.

Too often this chant becomes so embedded in us that we forget one of the important “have to’s”, which is ” I have to find a healthy balance or I just may lose my mind!!”.

For me, that realization didn’t occur until child number 3.  Prior to her arrival, I tried to be superwoman and as a result I suffered from panic attacks and overall mommy burn out. But now I have come to realize that Mommys are people too (who knew!!?) and with that comes a need for a balancing act. So what are the keys to a healthy balance? I’m glad you asked:

Here are my top five absolute necessary keys to being a healthy and happy mommy.

  1. Spiritual health: For me this is key. Without the strength from my higher power, I don’t have the patience, determination, and sometimes the will to do any of the other much needed things.
  2. Mental health: Every now and then I have to assess the situation at hand and come to a conclusion of whether I want to tackle it or leave it be. This applies to many things from dealing with a loved one to dealing with a load of laundry. Every situation does not have to be handled by me at that exact moment.  Knowing that AND accepting it is great for the mind.
  3. Physical health: Every morning I wake up 45 minutes before anyone else in the house. For those 45 minutes I take out the time JUST FOR ME!! I spend 20 minutes doing a workout focusing on whatever area of my body that I want to for that day.  Then the last 20/25 minutes is spent getting dressed and primping in the mirror. (Physical health is as much about looking good as it is feeling good).  For those 45 minutes, it actually feels like pre-children days. Then 6 o’clock hits and mommy duties call.  Back to reality!
  4. Social/emotional health: Once I became a mom I quickly learned why it’s great to have a best friend. Someone you can vent to, cry with and have an adult conversation with. Having children will make you forget that you have a well developed vocabulary. Thank God for friends.
  5. Cognitive health:

It’s so very important for me to be a student forever. In this world there is always something new to learn and there is always room for growth. I challenge myself often to learn something new. Right now I am in the process of trying to perfect my Spanish. I can speak the language but I aspire to read and write it. Lucky for me… There’s an app for that!!

Stay healthy moms, your babies depend on you. – Serene

Share with me: What do you do for your healthy balancing act?

 

Pot of Sweet Peas

Completing a Puzzle

The decision to move from the classroom to an office was a really tough one for me to make. I had worked so many years hands- on with the little ones that I didn’t think that I could be happy sitting behind a desk pushing papers; even if the papers did relate to programming details.  

After turning down an opportunity to work as an Education Director twice, I finally excepted the offer on the third go round.  I had completed my Masters Degree and although I was going to really miss my summers off (one of the perks of being a teacher), I decided to make the transition after a very insightful conversation with my hubby.  

One night in a moment of panic, while I was trying to decide whether or not to say yes to the offer, my husband asked me why it was so hard to decide. “what if I miss the classroom? What if I’m not good enough? What if I’m just meant to be a teacher and not a director? I had so many “what ifs”.  My husband sat me down and reminded me that I had been the very same person who other teachers had already came to with questions about their own teaching strategies and practices. I had been the one who had researched and planned curriculums for not only my class but also the classes of others. He was right. Then he said words that I will never ever forget. He said ..

“You are a teacher and you are great at what you do. You have been making a big impact on your students for years. But now it’s time for you become a teacher to teachers so that you can make a greater impact.  You have to affect the masses. It is your calling”.  

Those words made the light bulb click on. I had my ah-ha moment.  And I knew that I had to say yes.

3 years later, I am enjoying every minute of being an education director, no regrets whatsoever. Lesson learned

In life, there are things that we are good at and then there are things that we are great at.  Usually those things come so naturally to us that we are surprised when others look at us with admiration while we are doing those things.    When we discover, or in my case, someone reveals to us,  what that thing is , we may have actually found our life’s purpose. Some may call it our “talent”.  But it can’t be ignored and it can’t be avoided. And once you step out on faith and answer the calling on your life, everything begins to fall into place and it’s like finding another missing piece to a puzzle.  

Talk to you soon!

Share with me: Are you fighting against your purpose? Why? 

Children Learn What They Live

When it comes to raising our children, we always try to keep in mind that whatever we expose them to will have long lasting effects on them and it will shape who they become as adults.  The job of parent is one of the most important jobs in the entire world.  Just think about it:

Many of us are products of what our parents did and did not do or did and did not give us. 

And because there are so many different types of parents, our world is full of many many types of people (I know that you know a few who you can only sigh and shake your head when you think of them).  

More food for thought: Think about your own childhood and how it relates to who you have become. Think about the things that shaped you.   Pretty deep, right?  Parenting carries A LOT of weight.

When I first had my children something that always stood out to me was the poem by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D. titled, “Children Learn What They Live”.  Because this poem meant so much to me, I printed it out and it hangs framed in my living room.  And now I would love to share it with you: 

Children Learn What They Live

  • If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
  • If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
  • If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
  • If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
  • If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
  • If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
  • If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
  • If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
  • If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
  • If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
  • If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
  • If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
  • If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
  • If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
  • If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
  • If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
  • If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
  • If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
  • If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Talk to you soon!

Share with me: What kinds of things do you make sure your children live with and what do you hope they will learn from it?