6 Things I know for sure about being a mom……

6 Things I know for sure about being a mom….001

“Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.”
— James Joyce

It’s not about me and it’s not about my children, it’s about the minds of the human beings I have been gifted to guide and stand with in times of trouble and triumph, laughter and rest.

In April of this year I wrote about how my older son came to me to tell me that he and his friends were going to move to Florida and make a life for themselves together, far from where they have always called home. They had no real plan other than this wild, 18 year old being impulsive, I gotta be free to be me idea. My first reaction was shock and speechlessness.

I’ve always been the kind of mom that doesn’t quickly fly off the handle until all information has settled in. Then I go a bit coo-coo if all the information doesn’t add up to logic on any level. I remember each time my kids would come home with a scraped knee and blood was everywhere and tears were everywhere I remained calm. I even caught myself each time thinking, “wow, I’m really calm right now, how am I doing that?” It was instinctual for me to behave that way. I don’t know why or where it came from it was just the way I always reacted to high stress situations regarding my children, keep them calm by remaining calm; my husband, not so much. I save all the “flying off the handle” at a moment’s notice just for him. What a lucky guy.

So I listened to what my son was saying and I decided that little by little I would throw up road signs for him to watch out for in the hopes that these signs would put enough doubt in his decision to leave and he would choose to stay home and keep going on the road he was already successfully navigating.  You know, those “what if”, “how will you”, “what will you do if” signs. Nothing deterred him and so he drained a portion of his savings account, packed his bags, quit his job and left. I deeply hoped that he would just take my advice and not put himself through all of this turmoil and hardship. For one very long month he navigated his own life, made his own decisions, experienced life on his terms and then…… he came home.

The very first thing my son said when he walked in the door was, “Well, that was quite an experience but I don’t think I want to go back. It wasn’t what I thought it would be.” Are those not the words a mother wants to hear? (Just so you know, when he left the room some time later, I did a little jig in the kitchen, twirling myself around and around with a smile on my face so big that my cheeks hurt.)

What happened next was life changing and again left me speechless. My son decided to enroll in a university not too far from home but far enough away that he would have to live there. He knew the financial implications of a decision like that but it was what he thought would be the next right move. He thought also that living at school would be a better life experience than having to navigate his life completely on his own, away from most of his other friends, and away from access to home. As a backup plan he made an appointment with the community college where is started as a freshman and decided that just in case he didn’t get in to the university he would give himself this final option and talk to an adviser there.

He picked up the mail on his way to his appointment at the community college and waited until he parked in the parking lot before opening the letter from the university. He didn’t get in. The university did not like his first year college grades.  Disappointed, he got out of the car and headed in to the community college and met with is adviser. The adviser was very honest and blunt with him telling him that if he wanted funding to be reinstated, if he wanted to attend any university after community college, and if he wanted to pursue the degree he was planning on then his grades needed to go way up and his commitment needed to be true and sure. When that ordeal was done he took himself to his old employer and asked for his job back. It wasn’t easy for him to actually take those footsteps toward this final decision. He said he was nervous and a bit shaky to have to actually go back to community college and to have to face his former boss and colleagues but he said he knew what he had to do and was glad to have the option as opposed to no option at all.  He got in to his old school and he got his old job back, both welcoming him with open arms and big smiles. Is that mature or what? Who is this kid?

When he came home to tell me what he did, I just stood there with my mouth open, again, speechless. This is becoming a pattern with him. What I noticed right away was that not one time did my son complain, or show an angry face or balk at the choices that were taken away from him or express anger in any way. His attitude was one of calm but disappointment and most of all perseverance. The disappointment came from within him. He was disappointed in how he performed at school and how that led to him not getting in to the school he wanted and the funding he desperately needed and he was disappointed that he wasted time in not working. However, he then said that he viewed this as his second chance and he wasn’t going to screw it up this time. How did the boy become such a man overnight?

What I know for sure about being a mom is this….

1)       Keep talking. Most importantly keep talking even when you see and feel like you are not getting through. Know that you are. When the words come from your heart, when you are completely engaged in your child’s well-being the words will come and they will get in. You have to trust this most of all.

2)       Keep believing. I knew deep inside of my soul that my son was capable of making good decisions and that he was just lost right now. I knew who he imagined himself to be when he “grew up”. Don’t give up what you know to be true about your children. Believe in them and they will ultimately believe in themselves.

3)       Keep being you. My children count on me to be me and all that entails. I talk too much and admit it, I cry when what I am trying to convey what touches my heart so deeply that I can’t hold back and I don’t hide my tears from them, I yell when I am at my fraying point and just so overwhelmed at their behavior, I stop talking completely when I know that I don’t have it in me to say something helpful or kind. Your honesty and authenticity is what they count on most of all. It is what sets you apart from the rest of the world and the people in their world. You become the one person they know will live in truth for them and with them.

4)       Keep the faith. I knew from my core that my son’s path was on the right track well before he decided to leave home. I believed with all of my heart that he was making a mistake but had faith that he would come to understand what I already knew. Faith is an unshakable belief in something or someone; it is confidence in that something or someone’ it is believing in something unseen. It doesn’t mean that you don’t question within yourself what you know for sure. That is natural but keep the faith anyway.

5)       Allow them to make mistakes. Each of us has free will. The greatest lessons learned are the ones that touch us from the inside out. My son couldn’t possibly understand or learn from just my words or my own experiences. He needed to feel for himself and experience for himself what I was trying to tell him. As hard as it was for me to know what he was up against I had to let go and trust enough that he would find his way. That trust alone allowed for him to create, on his own, the pathways out of his own mistakes. When he told me what he had done in terms of school and his job he was filled with self-pride. AWESOME!! It means everything that he took action to help himself out of a bad situation and it came from within himself. Now he knows what he is capable of. Now he has started the pathway to trusting himself and his own decision making processes. Now he sees and feels the difference between when things are “right” and when they are not “right”. Isn’t that what a parent wants for their children, that feeling for their child of “I did this”?

6)       Remember what it felt like when…..The greatest advice ever given to me was from my mom when my first child was born. “Lisa, remember what it felt like when you were 5,7, 10, 13, 18, 21…” etc. Staying in touch with who you were will help you better understand the roads your children will travel and navigate. Their personal experiences may not be exactly like what you went through but the life lessons are the same. Keep your heart open and your words flowing and your hugs at the ready.

bigmattThere will absolutely, guaranteed be more mistakes down the road but the fact that I now know he can learn from those mistakes and prevent them from becoming failures is uplifting and encouraging and respectful. I now have a much deeper respect for my son and I don’t see him as a boy anymore. I can now start to see him as the man he wants to be and I realize that it is going to take some getting used to in how to relate to this man I see before me. And just for a moment I allowed myself to also realize that my role as “mom” has just shifted and I allowed myself to miss the young mother of a young boy I used to be. It made me want to have another baby and start again but then I thought, no. This is right, this is the next chapter; this is how it should be. There is a time and season for everything and I welcome the time with open arms and a most grateful heart.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.”—Thich Nhat Hahn

I have to say that my son is happy. He is happy with his decisions, he is happy with his action steps and he is determined and ready to take even more control of his life and all that goes in to making his life. He has always had an idea of the man he wants to be and now he feels like he is on the right road toward becoming that man he sees in himself; and he did it all on his own. Fantastic!

Please share with me your experiences about motherhood. It would be an honor to stand beside you on your journey through this amazing experience.

Lisa has been featured in Parent Magazine and in the book Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money by Liz Folger.

Coaching is a great vehicle to help navigate through those sticky tough, tumultuous times of parenting, career and life itself. If you would like to see how coaching can help please write to me lisa@journeyoncoaching.com and let’s chat in a judgment free, empowering, uplifting space.

 

 

“Fake it ’til you make it…”

fake it 001Whispers from my Wallpaper

 

          Fake it ‘til you make it….

Have you ever heard this phrase? What does it mean to you? I think it takes on different meanings depending on who is applying it. For me it calls to something deep inside, confidence and attitude. It asks me to challenge myself and dare to live “as if…”.

My oldest son is leaving home next month to test his independence and his self-confidence by moving far away from home, away from his safety net, his foundation, his comfort zone. As his mom it is hard for me to come to terms with his decision, but if I step back and put myself in his shoes I can almost taste the excitement of the adventure and feel the energy of ownership of making his own decisions, his own space, and his own time. Who among us doesn’t remember the feeling of wanting to take life into their own hands? He always imagined himself a leader, a doer. He is now faced with faking it ‘til he makes it; to dare and live “as if”; putting on the mask of the person he wants to one day become.

“The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Anna Quindlen

And boy oh boy is it ever hard work to become yourself. Are you even there yet? Can you remember when you were little and dressing up for Halloween? The costume you chose, whether to be a superhero or a princess? Each costume came with a mask or make-up that allowed you to transform into the idea of who you wanted to be. Can you remember what you felt like once the mask and costume were in place? There was a sort of empowerment, ownership of this imagined you. Maybe grown-ups didn’t really believe who you were imagining yourself to be but you felt encouraged to go on and be your Batman self or your Little Mermaid self. You would never know that the grown-ups could see right through because they always greeted you as if you were the superhero or the princess. You were emotionally invested in the persona. Faking it at a young age gave you the freedom of your imagination and creativity to keep on putting on masks and trying them out as you got older. What stuck? What did you ultimately believe about yourself?

Emotions play a big role in all of our life pursuits. Emotions are our fuel. In his book, Happier, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar writes, “Emotions cause motion; they provide a motive that drives our actions; emotion, motion, motivation are intimately linked.” It is absolutely emotion that is driving my son to seek his independence and declare his abilities to himself and the world. Whenever I try to talk to him about this big step he gets emotional just trying to talk to me. It is emotion that drives the idea of “fake it ‘til you make it.” It is with emotion that we chose the costumes that we did when we were little. Emotion feeds our determination to conquer whatever we choose to do in life.

I have to wonder what his personal questions were:

1)      What motivates me to consider this move?

2)      What is the opportunity?

3)      Who do I need to be in order to become who I want to be?

The philosopher and founder of American Psychology, William James believed that  ”acting a certain way could make you feel that way.” In the thought processes of “fake it ‘til you make it” that is exactly the case. Hundreds of experiments have proved this theory correct. For example, a Clark University study showed that smiling, whether on purpose or naturally induced, made people feel happier. Try this experiment when you don’t really feel like smiling, smile wide and hold for 20 seconds. Take notice of how you feel during the experiment and at the end. Keep trying it and you will start to believe in the emotional effects of smiling.

Perhaps you are not taking a leap of faith and going out to conquer the world in the way my son has decided to do. Perhaps you are or will be a new college graduate and wondering what now? We live in tough economic times and finding a job in your field of study is not easy. You may and probably will have to take a job way outside of your degree in order to start paying back those student loans. Will you fake it ‘til you make it? Will you have the self-confidence and positive attitude to push forward no matter what? What mask will you choose to wear so that people outwardly will believe in who you are trying to become inwardly, but more so that you will start to believe in who you are trying to become? In every job experience you will have you will always need to ask yourself these questions:

1)      What gives my life a sense of purpose?

2)      What do I enjoy doing?

3)      What am I good at?

Answering these questions might guide you toward a calling or help you get through each phase of your life in general. Staying true to who you are and how you answer these questions will always lead you to doing good work. You might not yet know the answers to these questions because you are about to test them all out in the real world. Fake it ‘til you make it. Try on different masks and costumes until you find what fits.

DO smile always. People are attracted to smiling people.

DO stand up straight and tall and proud whether you feel like it or not. People will believe in your inner strength if they see it outwardly.

DO contribute where and when you can. Talk to people and be part of conversations. Make an effort to believe that you have something to say because you know what, you do have something to say, you do have worth and substance; you are enough.

DO know that you are not alone. There is a world full of people faking it until they make it; practicing to become the person they want to be.

DO know your own strengths. Take time to discover all the great success characteristics about yourself. It will empower you to smile more, stand taller and contribute endlessly.

DON’T hide in corners or find distractions like using your cell phone too often in social situations. Make people see that they matter to you and you will matter to them. People like to feel validated (and so do you).

DON’T gossip. Don’t tell tall tales and don’t talk about others behind their backs.

Dr. Ben-Shahar writes, “Happiness at whatever level, does not require a constant experience of ecstasy nor does it require an unbroken chain of positive emotions. To be happy, we have to feel that, on the whole, whatever sorrow, trials, and tribulations we may encounter, we still experience the joy of being alive.” There was pure joy in wearing those costumes so long ago. There can be joy in allowing life to be the teacher now. Putting on the fake it ‘til you make it mask has a more positive impact on the overall experience.  Despite feeling frustrated or let down by not getting that all important job in your field of study right away, smiling anyway, choosing to take each experience for all it’s worth goes a long way to help you and everyone around you believe that you are right where you should be. I know that my son will have no choice but to fake it ‘til he makes it because as far as the real world is concerned he is a newbie and at the same time doesn’t want his inexperience to shine brighter than his determination.

At the University of Rochester, researchers gave subjects an unsolvable problem. Those people that folded their arms in a stubborn pose persevered twice as long as the people that did not display any body language. A study in Singapore revealed that clenching your fist powers your willpower. Try some experiments to see if you can empower yourself to get through some tough moments.  Turn your have-to situations into want-to situations by readjusting your confidence and your attitude. Live “as if” this is exactly where you want to be, “as if” you are experiencing exactly what you hoped to experience. How we perceive the work we do, how we perceive the situations we are in matters more than the work or the situation. My son perceives his life’s journey to be in a different location from where he grew up, with different people surrounding him and influencing his perspective. He is approaching this with zest and humor and courage. What more could a mom ask for?

“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

What thoughts will you produce? What actions will you take to make your moments uniquely you? Will you smile anyway, will you laugh anyway, and will you allow for gain in the experience? What words will you say to start living “as if…?” What about you will you allow to bear your signature? Fake it ‘til you make it and enjoy the ecstatic experience. Journey On…

 

If you would like to explore how coaching can help move your life forward powerfully and purposefully, email Lisa for a complimentary 30 minute coaching consultation at: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com

Journey On Coaching Services would like to extend condolences to the victims and their families of the tragic Boston Marathon Bombing. I encourage all my clients to give to the American Red Cross or any charity in support of a stronger, happier, healthier America.

Chapter 2: The College Decision

Chapter 2: The College Decision 

Congratulations! You made it! You have graduated from high school and made it through 12 to 13 years of mandatory schooling. You’ve studied hard, crammed for tests, joined clubs, performed community service, played a sport and tried to be as well rounded a student, a young adult, as you could be all in the hopes of beefing up your transcripts so that a college will choose you to represent them. Whew! That was exhausting. Can you just rest for a while?  Well, actually, no, no you can’t. If you thought these years of mandatory schooling have been hard wait until you start this next chapter of your life.

Chapter two begins with the question, to be a college student or not to be a college student? The well rounded answer is, be the college student. The realistic answer is not if you are not ready. The very first lesson to learn in the “real” world is whatever you do, be ready for it. If you are deciding to do something, do it with a full heart and full determination to succeed.

“Nothing really worth having is easy to get. The hard fought battle, the goals won with sacrifice are the ones that matter. ” –Aisha Tyler

I know, I hear the questions…..”but my grades were not good enough to get into a good college, who will accept me?”….”but I can’t afford the college I want, where can I go now?”….”but I don’t have a clue as to what I want to study, how will I possibly succeed?”….”but I’m not ready for college and my parents want me to go, what should I do?”

Relax. Take a deep breath. All the rules are different now. There is no script to follow. You are now allowed to decide for yourself what road you would like to take. Sit down, preferably on a very comfy couch and hug a pillow to your chest. These are all very good concerns, questions, doubts. Take a moment and write down your answers to these questions, and no, this is not another test to pass:

1) What is important to you right now?

2) What scares you the most about this new chapter of your life?

3) Where do you want to be, what would you like to have accomplished in 3-5 years from right now?

What I know about you is that you are creative and resourceful. Look at you. You made it through these difficult 12 years, messy as it’s been, and you have a diploma to show for all that hard, messy work. What you need to know is what you can commit to do with your life now? The easy answer is to stay a student because it’s what you know, it’s what is familiar. No matter what you do after high school you will have to learn something whether on the job training, or sitting behind a desk at school or learning hands on through vocational training and education, learning something is in your future forever. Embrace this concept, make friends with it. Once you have a solid handle in your brain that you are always a student whether in school or out of school you will be infinitely more prepared to allow the life lessons in to your soul.

“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.”  ~Vernon Howard

If money is the issue as to whether you should even consider a college education or if the school you want to go to is too expensive, start at community college. There are ways to make it work that won’t cost you much money if any money at all.

The one thing to know at this point is that the first two years at any college is made up of required classes. Basically it is  like cramming 4 years of high school into 2 years of college so why pay more if you don’t have to right away? All you need to do is be open to learning but most of all, be open to learning how to navigate your path, your road, your own life. It takes time to learn the ropes. Ask questions of everyone you meet. Their life story will undoubtedly help you with your life story. While you are attending community college you can work part time and start saving money to transfer to the college you want to go to for you bachelor degree. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to finish school now. There are no schedules to keep anymore. You design your life so be creative, take the scenic route. The path less traveled has way more adventures tied to it than the conventional path.

If the thought of more school right away is weighing you down then don’t go yet. You have the option to wait for a semester or 2 and work for a while until your thoughts become more clear and focused. Standing still with no decision should never be an option. In the words of Henry Ford, “Indecision is often worse than wrong action.” At this point everything is possible.

Where will you place your stepping stones to get to where you want to go? What adventures do you want to experience along your path to your best life? Journey on….

If you are a high school junior or senior and would like to explore how coaching can help your next life chapter be successful or if you are already in college and need more clarity on why you are there at all please contact Lisa at: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com