Walking Into Your Future

I was asked to participate in a new mentor program for freshmen in Social Science Majors at my Alma Mater. I decided quickly to fill out the questionnaire and even though I missed the deadline, they asked me to join. I am learning to try new things without a complete outline of what to expect and this was a last minute thought.

I was a bit nervous driving back to college because it had been a while and the campus has grown quite a bit. Luckily, they set up a free parking area which as everyone knows is a huge gift that eases stress to start the day. I only made one wrong turn but recovered enough to walk into the building on time. I figured being a mentor meant being prompt was a big deal. I was met with this emblem which caused me to stop and pause —

Walking Back In Time

I went back to college late in life. I was losing myself in adult choices and responsibilities and a very wise counselor helped me find a goal — one goal, something I could work toward that overruled my emotions. It gave me a chance to test my tenacity and work toward something difficult to achieve. My success or failure depended on no one but me.

College Life

I found my way to the building that housed my classes for 3 years. It’s funny the nostalgia that happens in an instant. I appreciated everything about my quest for a degree because it was such a dark choice in my past to not finish what I had started at 18. I veered off my path but second chances are the best part of life.

A Goal Fulfilled

I was met by the nicest people who welcomed me with enthusiasm. This was the start of a test program and I have always known that to be on the ground floor of anything at the beginning is always the best place to be. They matched me with my student. Funny how things work out. His mentor did not show up nor did my student. We were meant to meet. He was equipped with an audio recorder and off we went to figure out who might be helping who.

He was well organized with questions. I was happy to answer. . . .

  • Who did I admire growing up? (my maternal grandmother)
  • What was my childhood like?(outside all day)
  • Did my parents talk to me about college? (no, nor did guidance counselors)
  • What made me decide to attend this college? (location because I had a family at home)
  • Why Psychology? (my experience in family law exposed me to many broken people, I wanted to understand how to help)
  • How had the campus changed since I was there? (more buildings, parking and dorms)
  • What was the same about the campus . . . .

I had to think about what was the same. I watched the students walking the same way with backpacks and direction. I thought for a minute and realized they were Walking Into Their Future. They were showing up. They were making choices. They kept going even when it got difficult. No one kept track of them, they were independent and free. The tree in the quad was a constant and a symbol of growth.

Tree of Growth

And last but the most important questions of the day. . . What have you learned since you first started your career? What did graduation lead you to?

I had to think about that. When I was younger I would have answered quickly without a lot of thought. I wanted to help him understand what life experience can teach as you look back and have some clarity.

I learned that listening and allowing people to be who they are was not who I was when I started. I thought that my way was the best way to a successful life. I talked a lot. I was nervous and filled the silence with words that meant very little. I wanted everyone to be happy with me. I spent little time in thought about being centered and most of all, I was a shell of a person who had limited risk taking experience.

I am not completely whole yet, there is still more to do. But there was a moment when I realized that observing was an achievement that helped me feel peace. The word advice is gone from my mind and replaced with “what do you think?” People deserve to be heard, to have new ideas and be on their own journey to joy. I can watch from afar without stepping in unless asked to.

I laughed when I saw two signs of things I missed out on by going back to college late in life. I have traveled and been an enthusiastic member of the audience but I could never go back and do these things. . . .

What Fun This Would Have Been
The Actress in Me Untested

My last thoughts to the amazing student I had the pleasure of getting to know and who is just beginning to think about his career. . . Try everything, don’t say you can’t do something — you never know where it will lead. Be you! Keep going even when you think life is too hard.

Oh and don’t get into debt so that you are forced to stay in a job you don’t love!

My question to him before we ended “if you could wake up tomorrow and be in any career what would it be?” He smiled and thought. I could tell he had not thought about it that way — being practical could be off the table for a moment. He had a spark in his eye when he said maybe a fashion designer. I told him that one day he could design something for me.

I’m not sure who got more out of our hour together. I know this for sure that being around young people keeps me energized. If he walked away with a few ideas, it was a huge success. I walked away feeling grateful that I had a second chance at college. I had fulfilled my goal and watching him Walk Into His Future was a moment I will treasure.

My Discoveries. . .

I decided that once in a while I will give you a glimpse into my world and introduce some of my favorite discoveries:

(Disclaimer I am not affiliated in any way with these choices and have no monetary compensation paid to me through any of the following links)

  • My Podcast Find — The Moth — I love storytelling and I love honesty and this is a pure mixture of both. . .
  • My Book Find — On Gold Mountain by Lisa See — I saw Lisa in person at a seminar with her mother Carolyn See (1934-2016). They were so interesting and so funny! Lisa studies and writes about her Chinese heritage and Carolyn wrote and taught about writing (Carolyn’s book Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers is something I have read many times — she suggested writing 1000 words a day and to send handwritten notes to writers as often as possible). . .
  • Bodhi Leaf Coffee — everyone knows that this discovery has changed my world. I have found the place that welcomes me and helps me focus to get things read and written. I even started drafting a fictional essay about what this coffee stop might have been like in the 1800’s. . .
  • The television series Yellowstone — I wondered if I could stick with this series because it is a bit disturbing to watch. But as I’ve gotten into the story, it unfolds as a tale of a family and what leads to their dysfunction. Kevin Costner never disappoints. I like sitting down every night with a new episode and watching it with Chris.

Share What You Do

Is it okay to feel special because you know how to do certain things that others don’t? Is it right to hold that knowledge close so that no one can replace you? I was thinking about passwords the other day and realized that no one knows how to get to the treasure map of complicated paths that lead to the world I have created on my computer and IPad.

Then I read this article from the New York Times “Get Your Digital Accounts Ready in Case of Death” and I thought about sharing! (I use Last Pass as my password manager and I need to get going on the family plan!)

There are many layers to how I keep my financial records and the skill with which I handle bill paying. It is truly all in my head and I can wake up any day of the month and know what needs to be paid and when a deposit is coming. It is a fun game and it keeps me on top of things that I really want to control (my family gets me). I set up automatic payments with the skill of a surgeon. I can print a financial statement with the fastest fingers in town. I can handle the books of a small company and within a month get a glimpse of its past, present and future. This is from a girl who was failing in math in high school!

I’m not sure I want to share what I do with others. I have written down a simple “how to” guide on basic information but I shudder to think that someone might actually have to take this over for me. It would seem that my life was unfinished. I want to end this strategy with everything at a zero balance — no debits and no credits. Everything balanced and spent. Is that a life well lived?

Those who hire me to organize their worlds say that they want me to teach them what I do but when we actually sit down to start ~~ their minds wander to other things and eventually they leave a tutorial session feeling comfortable that I am doing it for them. I am happy to explain and leave them “how to guides.” They are showered with notebooks that hold profit and loss reports and projections but I think that they just feel comforted knowing the notebooks are there. I believe, though, that anyone will learn what they need to when faced with the challenge.

Is this a good thing? I think the answer is that everyone has a talent and gravitates toward creating what they do best. Our lives are valuable and each day should be geared toward what you set out to accomplish. I am a terrible cook and actually do not enjoy doing any of it. I would rather be setting up files or cleaning. Luckily, my husband is terrific at it and has become the best bargain shopper since he took over. I never price checked or cared what I brought home. I would rather go out to eat which of course is a terrible way to budget. He makes our meals stretch and they are such a treat for me at the end of the day.

Then the question pops in my mind — do we trade for a few months so that the other knows what to do if necessary at some point. I think I will just update my “how to notebook” more regularly and he has kept his recipes in a family cookbook!

There should be a checklist for everyone contemplating living with someone. Oh I just found another favorite word — checklist. A checklist of chores/duties/careers/goals all the things that come with a life. Brainstorm who takes care of what — Re-visit it every year to make sure no one wants to switch. I am on it —

Next week I will get into family photos and what to do now that home movies and scrapbooks are a thing of the past. I have two amazing friends who organize photos as their business and can help set up a system and make it fun while doing it– check them out “Memory Momentum.” This is a project I don’t want to take on either. Sadly, memories and family pictures are on phones that may not last a lifetime. The sheer volume of everyone having over 1,000 pictures at one time lessens the value they hold for us. BUT how sad if I could never find this picture —

My sweet kids

My Favorite Four Words

I substitute teach in my local school district. I created a bucket list of professions I wanted to try (teacher was one of them). They are mostly a culmination of undoing regrets or dreams that passed me by. I never give up hope:

  • Broadway Dancer (I go to Broadway shows)
  • Flight Attendant (I applied — was rejected)
  • NFL Sideline Reporter (I play fantasy football)
  • Beach Volleyball Player (I watch Kerri Walsh Jennings)
  • CBS This Morning Co-Host (this might be my long shot)

From my last blog post you know that I am none of those people above BUT — I always believe that if the opportunity came along, I would be ready.

“Luck is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity”

Roman Philosopher Seneca

So, my more realistic list is exactly what I am doing now:

  • Law Office Administrator ( I love learning law)
  • Substitute Teacher (the kids are amazing)
  • Organizer (my passion)
  • Realtor (my experience in family law is a good base for what NOT to do when deciding to buy or sell a home)

From as early as second grade I was fascinated by my teachers. I decided to substitute teach to get a sense of what I had missed out on. The students think that they will have a free day when I walk in but I have spent a few sleepless nights planning how I will tackle the day. They are met with the following on the board:

Brave, Curious, Kind and Organized

These are my four favorite words. I have found they encompass everything one needs to create a career as well as becoming a good citizen. The Carver Rule is simple—Respect When Someone is Talking. Starting this discussion in the first five minutes of the school day works for me and sets the tone for the day — I also set criteria for a “Kind Award” for the student nominated by the other students after recess for an act of kindness.

KIND

BRAVE — Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is hard to be a student. No question is too silly and never be embarrassed if you don’t understand something. I tell them that I spent my entire high school life not understanding math. I never asked for help. That was just sad. I give extra points for those that ask questions. I make them the hero by keeping embarrassment out of the picture.

CURIOUS — Never stop learning. Be excited every day about what you get to uncover. Why be miserable and dreading the classroom. Look at it as a special place that gives you knowledge. Share what you know. Bring up subjects that are fascinating to learn about. My two “go to” questions at the end of the day are “if you could wake up tomorrow and be in any career what would it be?” and “if you could travel anywhere where would you go?” I crack up because the most common answer is Las Vegas. Las Vegas is marketing to a group they didn’t even know about! The most common career for boys is a professional athlete and to my delight the girls common ground is becoming some type of doctor. Saying “I don’t know” doesn’t fly — Everyone deserves to have a dream. To those wanna be professional athletes I urge them to know their financial picture every day and plan for the future with a second career.

Kind — To me kindness makes life happier. I watch the students interact with each other and out on the playground. I want them to notice when someone is going out of their way to be kind. It can be as simple as letting someone borrow their eraser to my ultimate goal of including someone who is alone every day at recess. The Giving Keys Organization focuses on ending homelessness through employment. It’s funny how quickly kids adapt to an atmosphere of positive feedback. I tell them that names on the board are a good thing. It is my responsibility to model kind behavior.

Organized — No one does well in chaos. I realize that everyone is not going to be at the same level of organization. I find that it needs to be taught and repetitive every day. It is a learned habit and most of the time not on top of mind for kids. As a substitute teacher I cannot effect much change but I look at it as planting seeds for ideas that could grow eventually. Clutter is a common theme in most desks. There just isn’t time to address the neatness of a desk by the end of the day. One way that I introduce this concept is taking 15 minutes for desk check and encouraging help from each other. I love watching a group effort and they have fun doing it. Oh and it’s a great way to find lost homework —

Now don’t you wish I had been your substitute teacher? Ha – not a free day!

Teaching has helped me in my life beyond what I could have imagined. I have to be ready after about 20 minutes of preparation and keep a group of students interested when it is not exactly where they want to be. Not easy skills to learn but so rewarding for me.

It has taken me a lifetime to be comfortable in my chosen professions — BUT I never lose the dreams of my first list.

Choosing a Career — Find Your Passion!

The linchpin faces a fork in the road:

You can try to make your job have more. More impact, more responsibility, more leverage.

Or you can be industrial about it and try to have your job involve less. Less risk, less effort, less to fear.

Is your ideal job one where you get paid but no one even knows you work there . . . Or is it to bring your hopes and dreams and talents to a position where you can change things for the better?

Seth Godin

I have had many jobs in my search for myself and my passion. I started working when I was 16 and am forever grateful to my parents for making this a condition for participating in extracurricular activities in high school. They required me to pay for gas when I drove their car and my song leader camp and outfits. It was a turning point in my growth and feeling of independence. I started as a school secretary for the night school at my high school and then landed a retail position as the “Youth Council” representative for my high school. I attended monthly meetings and my input was taken into account for the store buyers of the teen clothing department. I was also able to pick up shifts at the store on weeknights and weekends. I was busy. I learned to show up on time. I loved getting a paycheck. I knew that if I didn’t show up that I was letting them down. My parent’s rule gave me a great start.

After high school graduation I got a job at a bank. I learned about checking and savings accounts and as an employee I was given a credit account with a $300 limit. I never realized it until the other day that I learned every job that bank had to offer. I watched everyone and decided that I wanted to be the utility person. I could fill in for anyone who was sick or on vacation. It took about a year to learn what I needed to. I honestly do not know how I came up with that thought but it planted a seed that has stayed with me in every job I have taken. Be the one to raise your hand to help.

Okay, it sounds like my work life has been seamless — not so fast! There would always come a point in any job when I felt I could do more, be more — make more money. I started a family and went back to college. I was always searching for what my perfect fit was. It led to a lot of starting and stopping. I’ve had a lot of “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Be curious and never stop learning but focus on a goal.

Every career journey is personal. No one can help or get too involved in your choices. It is about asking questions, learning from mistakes and finding people who do the job that you would like to do. It’s about finding companies that motivate your best ideas and concepts. It’s about realizing that starting at the bottom is always the best step.

Thoughts on Goals

My husband and I owned a restaurant for about 4 years. It required me to quit my law office job and become the manager. I was terrible at the day to day operations. I lived for getting out in the community and marketing what we could make happen for group activities. We were stressed every day. We drove far to get there. We had 4 kids who were not getting the best from us. The day we sold was the happiest day of my life. I re-enrolled in college and spent more time at home. It became my LINCHPIN — my fork in the road. I started to set priorities.

College gave me courage. Part time work gave me flexibility. I took part time jobs that taught me something I didn’t know and then I would move on. I began to think like an entrepreneur— I liked making decisions that felt like me. I was able to keep this going for quite a while. I graduated from college. I focused on law offices. My kids went out on their own. I traveled to seminars in other states. I learned how others made their way. I loved my journey but had one problem — I wasn’t making much money. That became a problem when my husband (the best breadwinner I could ask for) retired. It was time to put all my talk and education into action. Once the pressure of income came into my head, I lost my confidence. I had grown comfortable with the flexibility of part time, of going to seminars and thinking that was doing something, of learning how to set up my website and of listening to podcasts. Time for less talk, less strategy and more action.

I had one more challenge — getting my real estate license. My idea was to work with families/individuals to avoid the pitfalls I saw of home buying and the stress it caused. I had a plan — it revolved around what I had finally found as my passion — Organizing — I have found my center. I have variety. I have flexibility. Organization helps everyone I work with feel settled. My dream career mix (finally) —

  • Law Office Administrator
  • Substitute Teacher
  • Realtor
  • Organizer of Homes, Home Offices and Small Business Books

These tools have served me well —

  • My parent’s rule — get a job to pay for high school activities;
  • Be the one to raise your hand to help others;
  • Be curious and never stop learning but focus on a goal;
  • Starting at the bottom is always the best step;
  • Set priorities once you have some experience;
  • Know when thinking about strategy needs to end — less talk and more action —
  • Know your passion — find jobs that need it!

Tell Me More

It is impossible to not love Hoda Kotb. Watching her on the Today Show is inspiring. She loves what she does and she loves her family life. She brings a sense of accomplishment and wonder to the table. She might be the best role model for blending career and family. But all of this took her a while to set in motion and understand.

I was particularly moved on her first day back to work after a five month maternity leave having unexpectedly adopted her second daughter. She was paying attention to life during those five months and made sure we knew how magical it had been for her. She has a very high profile on morning television and it is refreshing to see her personality show through. She is real. She has waited a long time for her family life. She appreciates everyone and everything around her. She elevates anyone who sits next to her.

A great segment with guests Esther Wojcicki who wrote “How to Raise Successful People” and Kelly Corrigan who wrote the essay “Advice to My College Freshman” in The New York Times as well as the book “Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say” — gave great tips on not only raising successful people but how to navigate and accept the empty nest when your kids leave home. Esther was so calm in her approach to letting her kids discover the world around them and how they fit into it and Kelly was hilarious in her nervousness in trying to tell her daughter everything in an hour that she wanted her to know before leaving her at college.

Hoda brought up that we parents try so hard to teach our kids all the life lessons we want them to know that we push them too hard. Kelly’s book offers that listening is key by simply saying “tell me more” instead of giving solutions. I took note of these simple three words — tell me more — what a great way to not only listen but extend a conversation.

Life experience whether in career or family life does give clarity. We are meant to learn from mistakes and situations that don’t feel right. The panic and anxiousness felt in our 20’s and 30’s fades as our confidence builds. We shed friends and family that drain us to the core. We find ourselves having more moments of joy than sadness. We center our days so as to not exhaust ourselves. Seeing life through someone else’s eyes is a better way to understand and bond with them.

It is not lost on me that the way to know a person’s heart and mind is to listen to what they say and what they are fascinated by. Let them know you hear them instead of trying to help them. I am learning that all of us young and old have a creative outlet. Acknowledging that creativity is amazing. I scrolled through Chris’s pictures on his phone the other day and got an insight into what he takes note of when outside.

Dragonfly in Flight
Spider Creativity

When my kids call me — which is surprisingly more often than I would have thought — I want them to “tell me more.” Their ideas are more valuable than any solution I could conjure up. They’ve got it together. They have creative outlets. I want to know them more as adults than try and keep them young. They deserve that from me. They can now teach me.

One thing I have always had my whole life is a love for people. The journey someone’s mind takes fascinates me. I love reading biographies and following along on what it took to get where they wanted to go. It takes a while to understand what is worth paying attention to every day. As time goes by I see that learning to shed rather than accumulate is a path to feeling happy.

Retirement Through My Eyes

This week Chris and I went for our annual eye exam together. We have been seeing our optometrist for the entire 36 years we have lived in our home. All of our kids have seen him. He has witnessed all of our life changes and it’s nice that at least once a year we can catch up. He is patient and kind and relieves our worries of aging eyes.

Today he proclaimed that Chris is the perfect man. His eyes are so different in vision that they balance each other and he no longer needs contacts just a minimal prescription for reading glasses. Now, this is a big deal. I, on the other hand, am trying to find the CAPITAL E on the chart. His test of my left eye was just a big blur and I am always taking the peripheral test (the one with the Jeopardy buzzer) with sweaty palms — please let me see the green dot!

I went first. I gave as many details in my allotted time of our last year as I could. Even though I started first, Chris finished before me which tells you our relationship story without words. Our doctor made the fatal mistake of asking me what was happening with retirement and I proceeded to fill him in on how the last four years have been going — luckily I have spent a small fortune with him so he is not losing money when I come in.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • I was not happy for the first year as I was used to being home alone in my own world;
  • I am not fond of whistling — Chris is happy when he’s whistling;
  • After raising four kids, I was not in the mood to answer questions about my productivity and goal setting capabilities;
  • Chris being the amazing landscaper that he is, stepped up his weed-eater and blower duties — all which make noise and create dust;
  • I am the tech person in our home — my name was being called a bit more often to come to the rescue of wayward laptops and streaming devices;
  • I am an everything has a place girl and I am not good when things are dropped with no container underneath.

After four years, here is what I’ve learned:

  • Chris was allowed to be home — suggesting different activities or software for him to learn only put those things at the bottom of his “to do” list;
  • Whistling meant he was home and happy — unless we are in the car, I don’t hear it anymore;
  • He could in one sentence call me out on my bright shiny object syndrome; it turns out goals and objectives are a good thing in my world and have led me to the best career I have ever had;
  • Our yards are so beautiful — they have always been his place to be calm and creative — I just close the windows when I hear noise;
  • I strongly encourage reading manuals or watching a tutorial video — the technical side of life is either loved or hated and unless you love the challenge like me, just get to know what you deal with daily.
  • I had to let up a bit on my “everything in it’s place” but he takes his shoes off at the back door now. Don’t get me wrong there is never a wayward glass or a bed unmade but you will find the laundry overflowing a bit more and there are water marks on the bathroom mirrors now.
Life Is Better At The Beach

At the end of the visit, our doctor proclaimed that he will probably never retire. I told him just stay part time and ease into it.

Compromise is the key. The alternative is being consumed with loneliness. While the beds are made, the dust is barely there and the kitchen floor is clean ~~ the whistling is gone.

Celebrating Together

Fun Times To Remember

I was lucky to have a great high school life. Now don’t get me wrong there was drama and worry but for the most part I was able to come away with the best memories. As I got further away from that time, life got busy and I lost a part of that girl.

This weekend I went back. My sister and brother-in-law came to visit and we went to the Friday Night Football Game to watch a nephew start his high school football life there. So funny, those kids looked so young and we thought we were so old and grown up — making decisions that seemed at the time life altering.

It’s good to get back to who you were before the stress of life takes hold of a carefree personality. It can’t happen every Friday Night but it is good to re-set and remember once in a while.

My High School Days

I keep this picture in my office to remind me of who I was when I was at the beginning of my adult journey. It keeps me focused on what I was thinking and who I still am. I believe that none of us ever lose that 18 year old wonder and feeling that we can do anything. It just gets lost in daily life and responsibilities.

We had the weekend to discuss our lives and what we hoped for our kids and for our own futures. My sister and brother-in-law were also a part of my high school days. We’ve seen each other through all of life’s joys and sadness. It has been a comfort to know I have big open arms to land in when I need it. Chris and I are here for them too. We realized that since all of our parents are gone, we are the leaders of our family now. We are proud of our own accomplishments but we beam when talking about our kids. They are such great people. They are never far from our thoughts but we respect their autonomy and need for privacy — they do reach out often and we know that we have created a safe zone for them to talk and rejuvenate.

We talked about our home and our talk of downsizing. We never realized what having this house meant to the entire family. It reaches more than just Chris and I and our kids. It’s a place to feel happy and safe. As with my high school memories, there are many that our entire family have stored here and treasure. Our kitchen table has been the place where anyone can be fed and listened to.

Our Kitchen Table

I remember watching The Waltons Television Show (click link to see a picture) in the 1970’s and thinking that their kitchen table was so loving and welcoming. How did we get to the point of thinking that families living far from each other would be a good idea? I realized tonight that it’s time to plan more family dinners at this table. Luckily, Chris is a great cook and I love to clean and organize the kitchen afterwards. I also think including everyone in the process of a meal is a great way to create laughter and a sense of belonging.

I have always loved a comfortable family room complete with comfortable couches and blankets. So many positive discussions can lengthen when there is room for everyone to sit. When relaxed, people talk with their heart.

The Family Room Discussions

It doesn’t matter how big or small these two important rooms are. Just make sure they are welcoming and used often. I am content tonight knowing that we have created the home where everyone wants to be. All are welcome and I’m going to get better at making family time an open invitation. Scrapbooks, yearbooks, home movies and videos tell the stories that are the thread that connects us and helps us know that we are loved.

Why Organize and Where To Start . . . .

I love watching the CBS This Morning Segments “Note to Self.” Lately, I have been longing for my younger self to give her some tips on organizing her priorities.

There are goals that I could have reached sooner had I realized how simple it would have been to make some commitments early —

  • Pick the first home to be a starter to help build a real estate portfolio of rental properties — I so wish I had kept my first home that was bought for $75,000 in 1979.
  • Don’t be fooled by lower interest rates and refinancing too often, you lose ground every time you re-up any loan for the same term.
  • Don’t start the habit of accumulating things — get out and have adventures instead. It’s really only the big occasions in life that you remember what you wore — BUT — you always remember a trip and who you were with.
  • Keep active forever — feeling good is essential to getting up every day and looking forward to new life experiences.
  • Never stop learning — be curious and stay current on all new technology.

I never asked myself where I want to be in 20/30/40 years. It was not even a flicker of a thought. I never worried about retirement and what that would look like. I thought every book that professed a new idea for success was mandatory reading for me. Buying a family home was huge in my life plan but I never realized how the percentage that it took of the family income would keep adventures out of the realm of possibility. I stopped riding bikes and running on a regular basis — why?

Don’t feel bad for me. My life is good:

  • I have learned to not accumulate clothes or books — there are many of both that I have donated over the last 10 years. Especially those instant business success books that didn’t translate into my success.
  • The closets and cupboards are not hiding unknown surprises. I don’t buy the stuff that used to fill them up — never to be seen again.
  • I graduated from college with my Bachelor Degree later in life. It was a regret I could not ignore — it was worth everything to have that piece of paper.
  • I go over my financial picture every week with the help of Quicken.
  • I love to work and have created a career that incorporates all that I do well and look forward to in my day — I have had many jobs and took the pieces of each that I loved and created When House Is Home.
  • I created this website and am learning how to live in a paperless world (at work and at home). I must admit though, Minecraft still escapes me.

What would you tell your younger self? Do you regret the choices you didn’t make? Is there still time to reach your goals? I say YES!

It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been

P.S. I still need to work on bike riding and running — I will update you on my progress. . . . .

Mom Thoughts

I want to think that I was a fun mom — BUT — I do remember worrying most days about keeping the house clean and organized. My kids have all told me at one point that they would stop making their beds when on their own and there was nothing I could do about it. I don’t blame them for rebelling. No glass ever sat on the table for longer than five minutes before it was dishwasher bound. Kids want to grow up with a certain amount of dirt and chaos and mine were deprived of that most of the time, All of my television role model moms of the 1950’s and 1960’s kept their house spotless. My own mom kept our house spotless. As a kid I had chores on a list and each one done paid me five cents. Making my bed was on that list.

I have thought about who might have been a hilarious mom and Lucille Ball comes to mind.

Her daughter, Lucie Arnaz, was asked about that and this was her response:

Now, Arnaz’s favorite memory of Ball, who died in 1989, is decidedly unglamorous.

I sort of always come back to the idea that any memory where she’s just home and has time to just be with us, any of those simple, the simplest of dumbest of memories, you know, making a grilled cheese sandwich in the kitchen,” Arnaz says.

This was the funniest woman ever on television. She made life a hilarious string of unbelievable ideas on how to live daily life. She helped families at home watching television laugh together. Her daughter simply wanted a grilled cheese sandwich and time to just be with us.

It sounds so redundant to say but truly the time the kids are home until age 18 does go fast. I look back now and realize it is impossible to make time slow down while raising kids. There is always so much to do, somewhere to be, homework to get done, chores to complete, meals to cook and emotions to soothe. Kids are loud, they fight, they leave fingermarks on walls and wet towels on floors — they are busy living their thoughts. I was longing for quiet and order when I should have been listening and laughing — helping them live their thoughts.

So, it’s time for me to start to focus on each rare moment of the day as best I can. I needed to find more laughter and started listening to a podcast where I thought I could find some hilarity — “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” — He is hilarious with no script. I wonder how his kids feel about him? Is he funny at home? Does he give them time outs? Do they think he’s as funny as I do?

What about Melissa McCarthy? Does she have her kids make their beds? Can you just decide to be funny and it magically happens?

Here is Melissa’s take on disciplining her very funny kids:

On The Struggle To Discipline Funny Kids

We have very funny kids. [When they try to get out of trouble by being funny, we’re like,] ‘Good bit, strong bit. However, you still have to go clean up your room.’ It’s a balancing act. Kids are really smart. They pick up on everything and then you still have to not laugh in front of them as you tell them that something’s not appropriate, or something might be too aggressive. Then, when they leave the room … Ben and I try to write it down so we don’t forget, and then laugh a lot without them seeing. It’s a system in a web of lies. That’s what it is.

There are all kinds of moms who do their best with limited skills. I think there should be a mom class that teaches how to laugh not only at what kid’s introduce to your life but also at yourself and how you handle it. Maybe I can start one — it will start with a house full of unmade beds and I have to let that go for a day.

Life gets very complicated when you have to keep order in every room in the house. We all need creativity to express what our brains are trying to help us focus on. Noise is good — it means everyone is still alive. Wet towels eventually get washed and smell better. Fingermarks get painted over on walls but we treasure those plaster school projects with the hand imprint. Siblings stop fighting and turn into life-long friends. Scrapbooks reveal the memories that remind us that we did have fun and laugh at least once a month.

Breaking The Rules Once In A While