Find Your Wings and Fly Little Bird

Find your wings and fly little bird. See what for most is impossible.

Be intentional about your life.

Feel the wind in your wings.

Hear the lullabies of the crickets at night.

See what most don’t see in the details of nature right in front of you like the mysterious needles on an evergreen that keep their color all year long.

SING! Touch hundreds of other lives with your song.

Explore the heavenly earth.

Admire who you become through your adventures and recognize your strengths.  Yet work to understand other creations knowing their instincts may be different than yours.

Be wary of the lurking hawks. When your wings need rest or your vision doesn’t allow you to see the light, return to your nest. Yet don’t let fear keep you from soaring to new heights. There are new days ahead.  You are important to others in your flock.

Look at how far you’ve come from being just a little egg. See the miracles of your life so far. Keep following your instincts and the best of what your devoted parents taught you when they sacrificed their life for your care.

When you are mended, stretch your wings once more and keep flying little bird.  Find your wings and keep flying.

For podcast:

https://anchor.fm/findjoy/episodes/Find-Your-Wings-and-Fly-Little-Bird-e54ef6

Dear Daughter,

Dear Daughter,

Work seems to have never-ending demands. All of these years I have strived to find balance.  It’s hard to not want to be the best at both career woman and Mom.  As I look back I hate when works’ demands and running the household made me choose to work over putting you first on my list. There were so many times I wished I could quit in order to have more time with you.  Sometimes it makes me bitter, however, I realize my career has always also been a part of me. 

Now as you go off to college I wonder where all the time has gone.  My biggest concerns are what impact I’ve had on you. What lessons have you learned from how I have parented you and what I have valued? Has my ambition for my career and drive for success in my career negatively affected you?

Time seems to be running out and I find myself quickly trying to fix all the things I may have broken in you. Teach you all you need to know before you move out of the house. I want to pour out all my knowledge and life lessons to make your life easier, more fulfilled and joyous than my own.

Sometimes when I am trying to teach you all of these things or try to help you live life better, I go about it all the wrong way. I see that when I try to control your actions and your choices you do not react well.

I noticed the change in your tolerance of control around 13. You entered the time of your life where you were trying to understand yourself. You started to desire the freedom to define yourself and not let others try to define that for you. You started transforming from being a kid to an adult. Sometimes you still feel needy and yet you don’t want to feel you need anyone.

I was once like you.  I know you want to make your parents proud but also want to be true to yourself. Some days are better than others and you still struggle with who you can trust. You want to have the freedom to make mistakes as you are learning. You want to be able to have your own money and not let that be the way others have control over you. You take pride in earning it even though you would prefer to do things where you don’t have to take on adult responsibility.

There are so many things I want to know about you. So many things I want to understand regarding your individual path of life.  What are your fears, struggles, hopes, and dreams?  I want you to feel safe to share these things with me.

I want to share all my own struggles and make myself vulnerable to you so you know you are not alone. I have and still make mistakes too. I know I am not perfect. I am on my own journey of life as well. The more I can understand you and you about me the better our relationship and lives will be.

I promise to work on not controlling you. Instead, I strive to work to influence you to make the best decisions for your future. I will work to make it safe for you to share who you are with me.

All I ask is, talk to me. Trust your Dad and me with our wisdom. Count on our love for you to coach you on decisions that are for your long-term well being. Get me to listen to you, understand you and ask for guidance when you need it. 

Know that I am so very proud of you and that I love you no matter what!

Mom

I had written a similar letter to that of the above to my oldest daughter over a year ago. She is the one that said I should publish it. It was healing for me to write to her and healing for her to know how I felt. It helped bring us back together when I felt I was losing her.

Many working Mom’s ask themselves, “Have I:

-put my work ahead of my kids and made them feel less important?”

-set such high expectations of them the measuring scale seems to be perfection?”

-overcompensated to make their life easier and instead made them take things for granted?”

-taught them to find balance in their life and happiness within themselves?”

The second-guessing list goes on and on. If you are struggling as a Mom, know you are not alone. May this letter inspire you to write a letter of your own and help you find your own healing as your kids grow and start lives of their own.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis text: 741741

If you live in the Dayton, Ohio area, schedule free counseling by email: counseling@southbrook.org

To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: everythingforthesoul@gmail.com

Givers, Don’t Forget Your Worth

If you are a giver or thrive on the sense of accomplishment, often you may find you have developed such a willingness to help that you begin to overextend yourself.   It can be difficult to know when you may be giving too much versus providing outstanding service to others based on how good it makes you feel. If you often find yourself burnt out and blame it on your job, ask “is it really the job? Or is it me trying to be a superhero?”

It can become detrimental to your own well being if you have trouble saying no even when you are already overwhelmed. If you have a hard time saying no for fear of letting others down, remember your worth! Practice using this phrase for the next time you have larger priorities and want to say no but feel obligated to say yes:

“I would love to be able to help you with …, however, given my current demands, I won’t be able to give your request the attention it deserves.”

If said sincerely the person making the request will understand. Know it is okay for you to not carry the world on your shoulders. You don’t have to be a martyr to be valued and loved!

Also, learn to delegate.  When you have a huge list of tasks, write them down. What can other people help you complete?  Then keep in mind they may have a different way of completing the job.  Ask yourself, does it really matter how it is done as long as it gets done?  For the things where quality work does matter, spend time teaching given you will thank yourself in the long run.

In my own experience, I used to get annoyed when I would rush around the house trying to complete everything.  Particularly when folding and putting laundry away.  I would belabor over hanging up my teenage daughters’ nice clothes and also nicely fold everything I thought should go into their drawers.  Then I would get annoyed when I saw how they would just dump all their folded laundry on their floor and shove it into their drawers or take off the clothes from their hangers and organize it a different way.   I kept doing their laundry because I felt needed and good about doing something for them and tried to push my system on them.

It wasn’t until I had shoulder surgery where I was forced to have them do their own laundry.  When I recovered, they both admitted that they would prefer to just fold their own anyway because they had their own organization system.  It made no sense to force my way of doing it on them.  All they needed was to be taught how to work the washer and dryer, learn to sort, add detergents, and now they are self-sufficient.  It does not make me a bad Mom.  I have taught them how to live when they are on their own.  They also have a less stressed Mom! While I still need to work at setting boundaries, I have become aware that I need to caution myself from basing my worth on how much I accomplish.

We will be no good to anyone if we become bitter extending ourselves too far.   Imagine how our worth multiplies when we teach others and don’t just do it ourselves.

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.” -Brene Brown

Recommended Podcast for Working Mom’s: “Heather is in Control” by Heather Cauvin episode 448 “How to Implement a Boundary”

 She reviews:

Five part formula for saying “no thank you”:          

• Start with a compliment if one fits the situation

• Give the answer

• Say thank you

• Encourage the person

• Change the subject or excuse yourself

Teen Parenting Strength

I am not sure anything can prepare you for your kids becoming teenagers and not acting like they need you anymore. Such a painful time as a Mom. I am sure it is hard for Dad’s too. Here’s an area where I definitely don’t have all the answers and could certainly use support.

I witnessed my sisters go through it as my nieces struggled to find themselves in their teenage years as well. Now I see they are back and have grown to be mature loving amazing young women. That gives me hope my girls will make me feel I am nice to be around again someday.

Now I find myself grasping on to those moments where my teenage daughters open up even if it is 1am. In all the attempts to talk during normal hours when I am wide awake, not sure why my teenage daughters decide they finally want to open up when I seem most exhausted? Regardless, I struggle to stay awake just to listen because who knows when the next time will be where she decides to let me into her world.

Then too many times after a night of listening that person who you devoted your full attention to seems to forget all of it the next day and wonders why you even bother to try and give her a hug good morning.

How is it you can love someone so deeply and yet have moments where you can dislike them for their selfish thinking and how they can turn on you so quickly? Then in a moment they return so sweet and you wonder what they want.

It is these years where I would like to be tougher. Where I wish my joy wasn’t so dependent on needing to feel needed other than for money. Or even feel like I matter to them.

Thankfully there are those moments where times get tough they come to you for an ear because they know you will be there for them. Those times when they say “I love you too.” You say to yourself “whew I am doing okay. I haven’t totally screwed this parenting thing up.”

As hard as it is some days. I know I am lucky. I have heard stories from other parents that have made me cry. Stories of parents losing their kids to drug addictions, to mental illnesses, suicide, and numerous other painful stories.

With social media and the pressures kids are under we parents are all searching for help. Searching for techniques to communicate with our kids. To know if you are doing a good job or not. What is the right way? When should I be a friend? When should I lay down hard punishments? When should I set their curfew? What is reasonable? Am I being too protective or too easy?

We have to remind ourselves, no one is perfect. No matter how much you hear about “my kid got a full scholarship” or “my kid did…” no kid is perfect either. They could be suffering from internal pressure and looking for ways to escape it.

All I know is what doesn’t work. When I try to control, I get no where. All we can do is listen, empathize, influence and lead by example.

No matter how much I want to protect, they need to make some mistakes and learn how to persevere. Otherwise they will struggle as an adult. They will let themselves be controlled as a spouse or collapse at difficult times in their life versus rely on their strength to see things thru.

One of my favorite parental advice books is The Highly Heathy Child by Walt Larimore, M.D. It helped me realize at an early time in parenting that kids want to be heard just like anyone. When you give them your full attention and listen for how they feel and show them you want to understand then they are more willing to ask for help and be open to your suggestions. If you give advice too quick they can’t think for themselves or feel you think they can’t handle it on their own which hurts their trust in themselves.

Also if how we label or critic them matters so I try to keep in mind the quote, “What you expect is what you get.”

Some good notes I have taken from Randy Creamer the lead counselor at Southbrook Church to influence rather than control is and reinforce positive expectations are by saying:

I believe in you

I trust you

I know how responsible you are

I know you take care of your things

Your stronger than you think you are

You are capable

I have learned when I say things like it sounds like you were really hurt by … it gets them to open up and feel safe to share what they are thinking “more”.

When mistakes are made it works well to hold them accountable and then finish with ..”I love you no matter what.” That unconditional love seems to always bring them back.

May this post help you and know that you are not alone.

Please check out the resources and links for further help. Or if you have any helpful tips I am sure everyone would like you to share in the comments.

If your child is severely withdrawn and or struggles with the stress of trying to be perfect and their is concern with depression or suicide please seek help.

Hear from a parent who lost her son to suicide and what steps you can take for prevention.

Resources for suicidal teens.

For the Driven Soul

If you are driven, you have dedicated yourself to your tasks lists and may have disciplined yourself to put off enjoying life’s pleasures for later.  Whether you are in your late 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50s or 60’s have you found yourself reaching a milestone in your goals and looking back and asking yourself, “now what?”

If you are approaching your late 20’s you may have made it through college and have found yourself chasing your financial, material and career goals.   You have likely shown you are capable of having a successful career and have found yourself doing everything you can to learn what you need to get ahead and work furiously to be recognized as one of the best in your roles.  Even though you are still young, you may find yourself exhausted after work.  You begin to live for the weekend or your days off.  Then you approach 30 and say, wait what happened to my 20’s.  I was supposed to have fun!

In your 30’s you may have chosen to have children and now have even less time for yourself.  You and your spouse start drifting apart because you have a high demanding career and your kids are needing you too.  You are still concerned about your finances so you put off many dates given the cost of the babysitter plus dinner and entertainment or pure exhaustion from your never-ending to-do list.  You start wishing for ways to escape your busyness but are afraid to take a break for yourself for too long because that just means more you have to do later.

If you haven’t learned to balance yet, you are then in your 40’s and your kids are growing older.  You have devoted your life to being a good parent and continuing your career growth.  If you haven’t put the necessary time into your marriage, you may also find you have distanced from your life partner and your kids now want to do things with their friends.  You are now financially better off, have your house the way you want it and if you have done a good job saving, you have plans for your kids’ college educations and your retirement nest egg.  Although according to your financial planner, it may still not be enough.

You find yourself feeling like you have been running and chasing after your goals for twenty plus years and realize you have more than 20 more to go before you can retire.  You also are starting to feel less fulfilled by your work.  The income is now a necessity based on the lifestyle you have created for your family.  However, more money is less important and your accomplishments may become less gratifying.  You would still love to have time for your hobby you said you would do later.  You find yourself wanting a purpose and thinking about your legacy.

No matter what milestone you reach what age, those possessions do not keep you happy.  You may even find yourself feeling bitter at those who are able to let go of all their worries and just be. You may ask yourself, “why don’t you feel that joy inside you that you see in those who don’t have near as much as you?”

You started going through the motions of trying to get everything done.   You forgot to enjoy the journey.  You focused more on the to-do list than being grateful for everything you already had.  Guess what, you will never be able to get everything done.  Your life is about the people in it.

Wow!  All of this seems very sad for someone who works so hard, doesn’t it?  It is if you let your drive take over your life. I am not saying your drive is a bad thing, as it is not.  I am still proud of mine and have accomplished many things that have been positive for myself and others.  I am just pleading for you to listen to your soul.  Don’t blow off that inner voice or those wise around you telling you to enjoy the journey and let the to-do list go.  You may be asking, “but how?”

Here are some answers.  Pause and reflect and ask yourself these questions:

-If you find your work exhausting, take time to reexamine what it is that really fulfills you.

-What is it that makes you feel complete and energetic?

-Is the high income worth rushing through your life?

-Are you making time for family and friends over your tasks list?

-Is it that big of a deal if not all the housework is done?  Do you need to do everyone else’s laundry?

-Are you in a job where you are enjoying the people in your life at work?

-Are you going through the motions because your job has become a chore?

You have choices.

Are you going to choose to make them in your 20’s so you can enjoy the beauty of life while you are in your prime health to get active?  In your 30’s, are you going to embrace your kids and show your spouse how much you appreciate them for bringing joy and balance to your life?  Don’t wait until your halftime.  Even worse, don’t wait until retirement.  You may not get a later.

Here are some tips I have learned and found helpful when practiced:

-Check yourself for your ability to set boundaries and your abilities to say no.  Next time someone asks for your help, and you are strapped say, “I would love to help you however, I have other demands at the moment.”

-Write down the things you feel you need to do.  What can you cross off? What can wait until after you do what fulfills you?  If you have a hard time crossing things off the list, remind yourself you are no good to anyone if you become empty.

-Check your OCD qualities and then ask yourself  “what is the worst thing that can happen if I let that go?”  Is it a big deal if my spouse/roommate’s coat lays on the coach until he/she leaves tomorrow.  Remind yourself you can’t control your spouse/roommate so all you can do is control how you view the annoyance.  Stop yourself from doing it for them and taking on the martyr role.  Learn to say, “I feel unimportant when you leave your coat on the couch given you know how I prefer things neat.  Could you please help me keep the place nice?”  You will be surprised when your spouse/roommate hears how things make you feel.  (See Randy Creamers, Conflict Guide for Couples.) https://timetoheal.solutions/resources/

-Know it is okay to ask for help if you are truly taking on more than your fair share.  Learn to delegate.  When you teach other people, you multiply what you can accomplish.

-Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and view yourself.  What are the things I do that I wouldn’t want my spouse/friend or children to do to me?  If he/she was always busy wouldn’t I wish he/she could make time for me?

My husband and girls would agree with me that I still struggle with letting myself take a break and being present along the way.  However since I have reached 45 (aka halftime), I recognize more that I can’t take the years back.   I have been working on making sure the goals I set and what I do with my time give me purpose and joy.  I stay true to my soul to how I approach my career so I can feel fulfilled and feel I am making a difference.  Also, it is the first year for me where I have plans for using all of my vacation days.

Book your vacation days. However, don’t wait until then to enjoy yourself. Stop and enjoy the beauty around you.

Other helpful tips can be found here: Shine Bright