Raising a Child without a Village

Desert Rose Plant a symbol of hope during the dry times.

I grew up hearing the phrase “It takes a Village to raise a child”, and with social media today you see many posts with people thanking their “villages”. Any time their kids go through life struggles or reach major milestones they make social media posts thanking their village. When I read these post’s, I have this empty yearning feeling inside. I wish I knew what that felt like, to have the support of others during tough times, or be there when you accomplished something big. I have never understood this feeling because growing up I was always alone, even though I had 6 other siblings. For some reason, when I got married and had kids, I thought things would be different for my kids, and I would find this “village”.

When I married, I moved to the city my husband grew up in and found myself far from all my family and friends. I left my job, put my goal toward my college degree on hold and had my first child. I found myself trying to adjust to living in a new state and a new home, trying to make new friends, adjusting to being married and being a new mom; all at the same time. If anyone needed a support system this was definitely the time. I discovered with painful clarity that I had no “village”; or what a village symbolizes, a support system. My family lived 600 to 900 miles away, nowhere close enough to lend a hand when I needed help as a new mom. 

My husband and I had discussions that I figure most married couple’s have; what traditions we wanted to keep from his family, what traditions from my family, and what new traditions we wanted to add to our family. We talked about how we wanted to raise our children; discussing discipline, fundamentals such as bedtimes and routines, and many other things new parents discuss. As a couple we agreed on some things, but also had differences that we had to have many discussions together in order to come to an agreement. 

My in-laws and I did not see eye to eye on many things and it quickly became a battle ground. The decisions that my husband and I agreed on together; his family assumed were free to weigh in on, and up for debate. My husband’s family did not like us wanting to plan times to get together instead of always spur of the moment, criticized my belief in schedules and routines for our kids, or really just any boundary we felt was important. Instead of a support system to help with all the adjustments I was going through, I was being pressured to change what I thought was best for my family and criticized to fit in with what they wanted. 

I grew up as a people pleaser and had a fear of rejection so I felt I always needed to prove myself to people. I tried for a long time to “compromise” in order to make things easier for my husband’s family to accept the differences now that he was married. The problem with “compromise” is that I was the only one making adjustments; therefore, I was only compromising what I felt was important.  I would give in to something in order to make them happy; and the more I compromised and gave in to them the more they would try to take. And the worse I would feel. I was losing control of my own life, my identity, and my boundaries trying to appease my in-laws. 

After having my second child I suffered from post-partum depression. I was already feeling squashed from the lack of support and the criticism of who I was, I began having severe anxiety. I was being judged and criticized so often and being told over and over again “what a big problem I was”, that I began having full blown panic attacks every time I knew I would see my in-laws. Which then led to having anxiety attacks every time I was around anybody. I did not have enough people in my life who spoke positivity to me or helped me feel as though I was doing a good job with all the new aspects of my life. This was causing severe anxiety and I was beginning to question everything I did, even questioning myself. At this point I knew I had to do something to save myself and my children. My ability to be a mother was being severely affected and I could not be the mom I wanted to be or the mom they needed me to be. I was having difficulty making friends to build a support system outside of family because of my anxiety. I was becoming more and more isolated from any positive support.

After I began having panic attacks, I was unable to leave the house to attend my kids school events, parent teacher conferences, or other events for my children until I began a medicine for anxiety. It finally got to a point that my husband and I decided it was important for us to stand up for our boundaries. This resulted in verbal attacks every time we stood up for our boundaries, or did things the way we felt we needed to, and I was being accused of destroying their family.

The extended family environment for us was such a toxic one that we had to choose to cut contact. So, from that moment on we had to raise our kids without a village. The most painful part to admit to myself was that I had never had a village. I had always been alone and now I had to accept that we would be raising our children alone without support as well.

“People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.”

Kim Culbertson

My family lived too far away and we were not able to see them more than once a year. My husband’s family created so much tension for us to have them babysit and feel comfortable. We were unable to find consistent babysitters, so my husband and I never had date nights. I took the kids with me everywhere unless my husband could watch them. My husband and I did not have time alone, the kids did not know what it was like to spend time away from us and feel comfortable away from us.

I have heard some people say they don’t believe in the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child”. I cannot say what their reasoning for this is, but what they don’t realize is they probably already have a “village” or support system helping them.

The need for a support system is necessary and incredibly important. We all need support at many times through our life, but when you are trying to raise children, this support becomes crucial. A support system is important for simple things such as help with babysitting for parents with things like doctor’s appointments, running some errands, or giving parent’s date nights so they can stay connected. Children benefit from this as well by spending time with others that care about them, learning about caring for others while watching others that are there for them, they learn to form connections with others, feeling they have others to turn to when they need help, and children just need breaks from their parents as well. Another important aspect of a support system is having people who have experienced parenting before us to help with advice or perspective when parents feel overwhelmed. 

I don’t think anyone intentionally wants to do anything hurtful, but sometimes the unintentional; not paying attention to when others need help because they are too focused on what they want. The unintentional can be the most hurtful things. Our society is becoming more and more self-centered that the aspect of supporting one another is getting lost.

We should be willing to show kindness, love, and support for others. Especially parents who are trying to parent the next generation. If we want each generation to learn important values and integrity, how to care for others as well as themselves; we have to be willing to reach out and support each other as parents. Every child should know what it feels like to have people outside of their parents to show them love and feel the support of others and witness their parents receiving that same support. 

It is sad that my children will never know what it is like to have those relationships with extended family. It is even more upsetting they did not grow up with grandparents that showed up to their school or sporting events, or love on them when they felt like home was too much. It was heart breaking to me when my oldest son was preparing for his high school graduation and I knew the only people in the stands for him, would be his dad and I, and his little brother.

Having to do it all without help, I have learned what is important and what can be let go of. I know the real importance of support, and hope I can be better at lending support to those around me when I see they need it. I challenge myself every day to look for others who may be in need of help and reach out to them. I challenge all of us to look within ourselves and ask if we are lending the people in our lives support when they need it. Are we trying to force the new parents in our family or friend circle to do things our way or are we giving them the freedom to be the parents they are meant to be and lending them support to grow their family the way they believe it should be?

It takes a Village to raise a child.


If it takes a village to raise a child, then it should take a village to support the child’s parents and relate in an encouraging way for the positive growth of the child.

Struggle as a Sports Mom

Up to bat!

This morning as I was trying to get back to sleep after telling my son good-bye for school at 6:00am, I began thinking about sports, specifically the sports he plays. He has always been an athletically talented kid and it didn’t matter if he had never played before or was a seasoned player, it didn’t take him long to learn and become proficient at the game. I have always loved to watch him play.

My issue with sports in the past was always the crazy sports parents. The ones who yelled criticism from the benches, yelled at the kids when they made mistakes (not that these kids didn’t already know their mistakes), or simply acted like sideline coaches.

In the area where we live and the high school my son attends that is not the problem I have now. The families with kids on the teams are there to cheer each kid on during the games and their attitudes, toward the players maybe not always the umpires or refs, are always positive. My son does not get to play much for his baseball team, but when he does it warms my heart as a mom to hear the other parents cheer him on and encourage him.

My son plays football and baseball for his high school and he loves them both. I have always loved watching him play baseball and his freshman year was his first time even playing football, but that has been amazing to watch as well. He has a new found love of football and I love watching him play. When he began playing his freshman year it didn’t matter to the coaches that he had never played before, they found his talent and begun building on that talent. When he plays football, he gains confidence in his ability and talent as a player, he feels like he is a part of the team; actually, they feel that they are a family and are all there working together. He knows where his strengths are with the sport and where his weaknesses are and that does not hold him back. His coaches give him feedback whether that is yelling because he made a mistake (which is what a football coach does) or praising them and building the things they do well. That is the biggest part of the equation though, the yelling doesn’t bother them because the positive feedback with the football coaches always outweighs the negative and he always feels his worth with the team.

Now baseball…. I used to love watching my son play baseball. My son has always dealt with anxiety or been a bit more nervous about experiences, but when he would walk out on to a baseball field, I was amazed out how all that fell away and I felt like I was looking at a completely different kid. He would get out on the field or go up to bat and I could just see the confidence in him, because he knew this was something he was good at playing. He was always the big hitter, was good playing the field especially first base, and he had begun to do well with pitching also. After having played teams before when my son would get up to bat, I would hear the other teams coaches yelling at their outfielders to move further back in the outfield. His specialties were to hit the ball clear out to the outfield or he had these power line drives that the pitcher either moved quick to get out of the way of or get hit. (His coaches got really good at moving quick as to not get hit at practice from his line drives.) 

It has been disappointing for me to see how cliquish the sport of baseball has become as they got older. We moved out to a new area and the coaches and teammates did not know my son. They had never played him before or seen him play. So, since they didn’t know him, they would not give him a real chance to show what he could do. Enter his anxiety and nervousness to prove himself because they were not letting him play. Now for the first time in his life I see him doubting himself when he gets up to bat or goes out on the field. 

This has been the fourth year he has been on a baseball team in this area, and the second year at the high school. He plays one inning every other game, maybe, and gets up to bat only once during a game. Not one coach has let him play enough to show his talent to them and the team, or to remind himself of what he has always done with the game, but at this point he doesn’t even believe in himself anymore. He has become so critical of himself because when he finally gets a chance to get up to bat, he strikes out. He is not getting up to bat often enough to get a hit but doesn’t see that even the other players who bat at least 6-8 times a game, strike out half the time. He is not given a chance to show that he can get a good hit, but he sees it as a personal failure or he thinks it means he is not good enough.

I am not saying the coaches are bad, they are nice guys and my son likes the coach he has now, and has always liked the head coach but they stick to the kids they know or have their favorites. Like I already said, cliquish, if he is not known he either had to do something extraordinary right out of the gate or get stuck on the bench. The head coach told us his freshman year when he made the team that he saw something in my son and thought he would be a good pitcher, but then my son didn’t get to play more than a handful of times the entire season. My son’s confidence plummeted to an all-time low because in his mind the coaches didn’t play him in the games because they believed he was a horrible player. Nothing I or his dad said could change that feeling. We would remind him of what he could do and what we have witnessed him do on the baseball field, but to him this was just parental love. He believes that we could not judge his ability realistically and the coaches were more accurate in their judgement. I wish he could see that it is honestly us that see his talent more accurately than his coaches or teammates. This year has been a repeat of last season. He will never develop as a good pitcher or anything else if his confidence continues to plummet because he is never allowed to play and develop that talent. Now whether he is at practice or a game he cannot find that talent because it has been hidden by his self-doubt and discouragement of the past couple years.

The reason I sit and write this today is because I am in a tough spot and I think my son is at a crossroad. Do I sit quietly and let him continue playing on the team hoping that someday they give him a shot because they see his continued hard work? Or, do I ask him if he believes this is worth the work or not and encourage him to quit the team? 

 I hate the thought of encouraging him to quit anything! However, I am beginning to hate baseball more and more each game I go watch and my son never plays or only gets up to bat once and strikes out. Knowing the frustration, and self-destructive feelings he is going to feel when he comes home. Watching his confidence plummet with every little mistake he makes or each game he doesn’t play. Every time I go to watch one of the baseball games I sit in the stands with a knot in my stomach and watching every kid play, other than my son.

So, I reach out to the universe or internet-verse to see if there are other parents of sport teens who have had similar experiences. As a parent what do you do, encourage to fight the fight and keep going or opt to save their mental health and encourage them to quit and move on to other rewarding things? 

Does anyone in your house stuff Mom’s stocking?

With Christmas quickly coming up on us I have been thinking about Christmas traditions and the excitement of Christmas. My kids are older now and so Christmas has a different feel from when they were younger, but it is still exciting.

I started to think of traditions and how the holiday’s are celebrated. The thought of equality came to mind and my thoughts of husband and wife dynamics that could stand to change. As a woman who believes wives should stop being seen as the “homemaker” or the one to be expected to do all the grunt work at home, the behind the scenes workers. I began to think of Christmas traditions and how Mom’s sometimes get forgotten.

When I was growing up my siblings and I would wake early on Christmas morning, run downstairs and look through our filled stockings, and then proceed to open all of our presents. After which, my mom would have made us a yummy breakfast. It was exciting and fun, but to be honest, I never noticed if my mom’s stocking was filled or how many gifts she opened.

When I married and had kids we celebrated Christmas the same way, until my older son turned 3 years old and my youngest was a baby. I started to notice that after opening a couple gifts my oldest would start to get a bit overwhelmed and leave the room. We decided after that year our new tradition would be different. We would wake up early, because I don’t know a child that lets their parents sleep in on a Christmas morning, and first thing we would do is go through our stockings. We would then all go in the kitchen to make coffee, juice, and breakfast. After breakfast we would open a couple presents and then stop to take the toys out of the package so the boys could play with what they had already opened for a bit. After a break we would then go back to open a couple more. This process lasted all day after pausing for lunch and pausing to play with what we had opened during day. For us it added so much to the Christmas experience, we were able to enjoy the day and make it feel so relaxing, without feeling like it ended so abruptly before 10am. I love my Christmas’ with my family!

My Christmas traditions bring me joy because I have always felt as included as the kids and my husband. My mom came to visit us years ago and stayed with us for Christmas. I bought her presents but also bought gifts to fill a stocking for her as well as everyone else. Which began my thinking about Christmas’ when we were younger.

Did she have a stocking and did her stocking ever get filled?
What about all the other Mom’s out there shopping for all their families, Who fills their stockings?

Recently I saw a question about this on Facebook and the comments I read made me cry. The number of mom’s out there that wake on Christmas morning to empty stockings (unless they filled it themselves) was heartbreaking. Here is a list of some of the comments I read:

  • “It is always empty.” (More than half of the comments listed this one)
  • “I fill it myself, with gum, mints, and lip balm.”
  • “I fill it myself. It used to make me sad, but now I just smile because I get myself the good treats.”
  • “Mine is always empty.”
  • “I fill my own, but just with little things, and everyone else gets nicer things.”
  • “Apparently in my house – they think Santa really does fill the stockings because mine is usually empty.”

I feel lucky in this respect because my husband has always filled my stocking for Christmas. However, those few of us that have a husband that fills our stocking should not have to say we are lucky. How is it that people in families don’t think to fill the Mom’s stocking? When kids are little and believe in Santa, obviously Mom’s stocking would be Santa’s job to fill. So Santa, Dad, should be filling Mom’s stocking. This year it would be nice to start seeing the Mom’s in the world a new way. Make sure at Christmas that everyone has filled stockings or gifts, and are able to celebrate or enjoy Christmas so everyone is seen. Make sure the Mom in your life feels loved this Christmas and make sure she is getting the same as what she gives to others.

So my challenge to everyone is to make sure each person in your family or in your home is getting gifts and filled stockings so they all feel seen and loved this Holiday Season. Also, for myself as well, maybe reach out and fill a stocking for your parents or do you know any single or divorced friends who would enjoy a little extra gift for the Holiday Season.

I hope everyone reading this enjoys a wonderful Christmas Season or if you are celebrating another Holiday Season have a great season!


Today being Mother’s Day seemed like the perfect time to write about my mom and mother’s.
My mom has been an amazing example to me and my other siblings for so many reasons. I believe my mom is such a strong and incredible woman. She has gone through so many different struggles and adversity, and many of these on her own. Her strength is that through all the struggles she has always shown kindness, gentleness, love, patience, and generosity. She has never had a bad word to say about others, she sees someone in need and helps them, even if she is struggling.
Growing up I always had what I needed because of my mom. I had breakfast, lunch, dinners, and amazing desserts that my mom just naturally made. I had a beautiful home that was always organized and clean, clothes when I needed them, entertainment, and someone there when I needed. I saw my mom as “a mom” and that is who she was, she was always there when I needed and must have anticipated my needs because when I needed something it was there. Many of us, sadly not everyone, but many people can relate to the perspective of seeing mom as just “a mom”. With my mom I saw her this way, not on purpose because I thought less of her, but because she was such an amazing mom who wanted to do everything she could for her kids.

Mom with her grandboys!

After I had kids, and now as I am trying to get my writing career going, I have looked at my mom in a different light. I do everything I can for my kids, and like my mom probably do a little too much for them because I love them and want them to be happy. But I have days when I get frustrated trying to juggle taking care of my family and my writing career. I wonder if they even notice that I am trying to accomplish a dream and goal I have when they interrupt my writing for the 15th time to ask what snacks we have for them to eat or if I will go to the store because we are out of everything, or I need to run them to what ever sport or school thing is happening. I then began to realize that they see me in the same way I always saw my mom. I do everything they need, just like my mom did for me. I felt this way about my mom because no matter what I needed she dropped everything to be there for me, and this is what makes her amazing. 

I began wondering then, what dreams did she have when she was younger? I know she wanted to be a wife and a mom, and she accomplished being an incredible mom to seven kids, but was this all. Did she want other things as well, did she have any goals other than being a mom, did she have any dreams that after years of taking care of a husband and seven kids that she forgot? She turned 84 this year and unfortunately her memory has declined a lot, and I wish I had come to this realization years ago. I wish I could have asked her what dreams she ever had so that I could have maybe been there to encourage her toward a dream that she always wanted so I could have given something back to her after years of her giving up for me. 

I encourage anyone who reads this and has an amazing mom like I do, maybe look at them a bit different today and see them as a person just like you, who may have dreams, goals, and interests outside of their family. We celebrate moms today for being mom’s, which is awesome because all moms deserve a day to be celebrated for everything they do on a daily basis. This year though, for those adult children, I encourage you to see them as more than a mom, find out what dreams they have or had that may have fallen to the side while raising their children, and maybe encourage them for a change. 

I want to tell every Mother out there that you are needed, important, special in what they do, and are doing amazing work everyday. 

I especially want my amazing Mom to know that she is the closest thing to a perfect mom that I could have ever been blessed with. 

Happy Mother’s Day!


We all have a Story!

We all have a story!  We all have our struggles and pain! We all have joy!

As I have been trying to improve my writing I have realized I need to feel comfortable about opening myself up so I can put feeling and more of myself into my stories. Some days I feel like I can barely do the things I need to do as a mom and not feel judged and criticized, some days I get up immediately feeling that I am not good enough and have to attempt to boost my confidence, and other days I get writing done but I don’t always put enough emotion in it to make the reader feel what I am trying to say. I realize I have my struggles and a story to tell, but everyone has their own story to tell, we all have our own struggles and challenges to bear. I then thought about some of the stories I heard of some of my ancestors.

I come from a long line of strong, hard working, determined – maybe even stubborn, and resilient people.  The stories I know show of struggles, pain experienced, and maybe they even wished for circumstances to change or be different, but I believe they lived amazing lives throughout it all. I sometimes fight to live each day with the pain that continues to nag at me from the life I have lived. Some days I feel that I cannot keep going, it feels like it is too much of a struggle to believe in my dreams and myself. 

Then I remember the stories that I know of family before me. I think if they went through what they did and kept going then I can follow, knowing their blood courses through my veins, alongside the copious amounts of coffee, and my stubbornness to keep me fighting. I wish I had known these amazing people but even though I never met them, the stories I have heard and the admiration I have for them lives in me along with the strength passed to me through their genes. I want to share just a couple stories of my amazing ancestors with you.

Great Grandpa Evertsen

First up is my maternal Great-Grandfather, Dirk Evertsen. He was born in Holland and lived the biggest part of his life with only one arm. At 16 years old while helping his boss move a stove upstairs in the shop, he forgot to put a lid on the top of the stove. So instead of continuing up the ladder he simply tried to reach up to put it on and that was when the right sleeve of his jumpsuit caught in the gear shaft of a big fan. It spun him around by his arm 24 times before he was freed. The result of this caused 5 broken ribs, both legs broken, and twisted his arm so much that it caused enough damage to need amputation. In 1930, he then moved his family to the United States. He lived a long life, with struggle I am sure, but also had a great life with family, kids, grandkids and probably loved his life.

Grandpa Vowles and his telephone

Second up is my paternal Grandfather, Douglas Dee Vowles. He worked as a civilian engineer, was married, had 4 children, and when he was 38 years old a cyst developed on his spine near the neck. The spinal cord became damaged and he remained paralyzed from the neck down for 21 years of his life. After many years of being paralyzed he managed to have a special telephone installed in his home that he operated with his lips and chin, which connected him to an operator who would dial the numbers for him. He sold insurance, books and candy around Christmas, and also a cosmetics line. He also believed there were others worse off than him and began helping on a committee arranging outings for and calling to cheer up people that were physically handicapped. My Grandfather, I am sure, had many bad days, struggled, and wished his circumstances were different. This was a struggle for not only him but the whole family as well; however, I am sure they had joy and good times. His struggle was hard but his inspiration is far reaching to all who heard his story, especially his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Last for this story is my paternal Grandmother, LaPreal Vowles. I believe she is an amazing example of strength and the most irrepressible woman in my ancestral lineage. I was only 4 years old when she passed. Her early life did not have many physical struggles but I can only imagine how much she struggled raising 4 kids, taking care of her husband who was paralyzed, taking care of her home, and working jobs to help with money as well. She worked in church offices and also worked as a taxi driver. Later in her life she was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), which added physical struggle and pain to her later life. My Grandma I am sure felt so much stress, struggled with life early on and then struggled when she was older, but had to have enjoyed her life as well.

I look to these examples of resilience in my life not to compare my life or minimize my struggles but to have as a source of strength when I feel like I am falling under. I do not like it when someone is struggling and others say “Think about how others have it worse than you do”. I believe everyone deserves and needs sympathy, empathy, and the chance to experience their own struggles and pain. We all need to feel like we are being heard, to have a chance to talk about what we go through. We need to feel and experience our pain without minimizing it or comparison, in order for us to work through the pain and move to the other side of struggle to joy. 

There will always be someone who has a struggle worse than us, and others who may not be going through as much; but everyone’s pain or story is tough for them. We should never diminish another person’s pain or compare it to someone else, but we can walk though life with the help from others examples of strength through adversity.I challenge all who read this to look at how you communicate to those around you that struggle and make sure they are feeling the support they need. Also, I challenge you to look through your own history and see what examples of strength you can find in your life that may bring you hope when you feel down because of their resilience. 

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

Helen Keller

Suicide Prevention – 8 Years Without Jeff

My younger brother Jeff

I know it is now October but this is something I have been writing over and over for a while. September is National Suicide Prevention month.  I am a suicide survivor, not because I have attempted suicide, but because my family and I have survived the aftermath of a loved one who committed suicide. So because of this, every month, and every day, feels like suicide awareness to me. The last few months of every year are difficult for me; September- because I want to write something about awareness and help lead an openness about suicide, October- because it was the day before Halloween that I lost my brother, November- because this is his birthday month, and December- because Christmas the year before he died was the last time I saw him. Every year I think of him and want to write and help share my perspective about suicide and open people up to begin talking about it more, but every year I stop half way through because it is too painful to write. 

This year it will be 8 years since my brother Jeff passed away. I wish I could say it is easier today than 8 years ago but it isn’t, suicide doesn’t work within the normal parameters of grief. There are so many questions, guilt, knowledge that it was their choice and anger, then guilt again, bargaining thinking maybe they made a mistake and it wasn’t him; but for me I feel there is never acceptance. 

For me, after my brother died, I felt I was granted a glimpse of how my brother felt and others feel when they are so depressed and alone, and feel afraid to talk to someone about their thoughts. Normally the social etiquette when a person dies is the community around the grieving family brings food, flowers, and offers of help and support. When I told friends and people from our church that my brother had died and committed suicide, no one brought us meals, or even offered us support; in fact people stopped talking to me altogether. Even a pastor at our church only talked to me for about a half hour and then never spoke to me again. I was so angry because of this and lost faith in people. I felt so alone and ashamed to talk about my brother and how he died. I realized how this would be all the more difficult for someone so depressed and thinking about suicide to find someone to open up to about their feelings.

I have realized over the last 8 years that many people are afraid to talk about suicide. They know someone or think they know someone who is depressed and suicidal and think if they bring it up to them it might make them put real consideration into going through with it. But I guarantee you the thought is already there and if you don’t bring it up there is no helping them. When you don’t talk to people about suicide, the person who is depressed is still thinking about it and coming up with countless reasons why they should follow through with it, but you never get to help them come up with countless ways for why they shouldn’t go through with it. 

We need to be there for each other.  We cannot do life alone!  We need to let people know we are there to support each other, lend a hand when you feel too weak to go forward alone, bring laughter to a dark day, cry with each other when the tears need to fall, and love each other so we know there is always someone around to pick each other up when we fall.  We never truly know how another person is feeling. Our automatic response when someone asks us “How are you doing?” is to reply with “we are fine”, but this is not always true. We are afraid to let people know our true feelings and what is happening in our lives. We are afraid to let others know we are not perfect and that sometimes we are falling apart. So we need to really listen to people and pay attention to others when we talk to them. We need to be aware of when to ask more questions, because sometimes people want to tell us what is going on and they need someone to talk to but they are afraid to come out and say it. People are afraid to burden others with their own problems because they know we all have problems of our own.

If we have family or friends who are struggling we should sit with them and let them talk, while we really listen.  Listen with an open heart so we can hear what is being said so we can give them what they truly need.  We should take time for each other and not rush when someone needs to talk and pay attention to our words. Make sure that instead of passing judgment we are showing mercy, instead of criticism we offer encouragement, and instead of voicing disapproval we are giving unconditional love.  Realize that our words and actions are powerful and they can either build someone up or tear them down.  Learn how to plant seeds of hope in someone who desperately needs hope.

I am not different from anyone else. Our lives get stressful and busy and there are times when we don’t want to stop and talk to someone that we know needs to talk, we are afraid it will take too much time away from our already over-booked schedule.  However, 8 years ago I learned the importance of listening to my heart and hitting pause for someone to give them something that could have a life altering impact. I would give anything if I could have one more time to talk to my brother Jeff. I am not perfect and still at times say I am too busy for something; but I try each day to listen to my inner voice when it tells me to stop and talk to someone, insist on giving someone help who is struggling, give someone a hug or stop and pray with them.  It is important to let others know they are not alone and with each other we can overcome anything. 

Who has been on your heart or mind recently that you can call or stop by to visit? When you feel in your heart to do something for someone else, can you stop and do it without over thinking it or making excuses why you can’t? Find ways to give something to someone this week, someone who looks like they need a friend, a smile, or just someone to talk to and be there for them. If you are someone who is depressed, reach out to someone today!

Our last Christmas together

★ Thankful Thursday ★

I think with everything that is going on in the world right now: division among people because of politics, and people worried about the Covid-19 virus, it would be nice to have a day to reflect on positive and good things.

I am thankful for some great neighbor friends that I go to lunch with all the time and during this pandemic we have continued to share fun texts all the time even though we haven’t been able to do lunch. 

I am thankful that after years of feeling alone from moving to a new city and having a difficult time making friends I have had the opportunity to meet and build new friendships.

I am also extremely thankful for a friendship that has spanned 10 years, ever since our boys were in kindergarten. Even though we don’t have a chance to get together a lot she has always been there any time I reach out to her.

And last, I am thankful for my husband and children, our good health, and so much time recently to spend some quality time together. We have become closer during this time at home.

What are you thankful for today? 

Empowering each other

As I was editing one of my short stories I began thinking about how we interact with others around us, especially mom’s. We want to be good mom’s and do the right thing for our kids but too many times we do not help each other out the way we need it because of the fear of not coming across as perfect.

I am at fault so many times of not asking for help because if I ask for help everyone knows I can’t do it by myself. The thing is no one can do it all; we all need a little help from time to time. That is the hardest thing to admit sometimes;  that we need help or even just a friend.

I remember the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child”, this is true but our villages have disappeared because we do not feel capable of asking for help. We listen to or participate in passing judgment on others so we feel better about what we feel are flaws in ourselves, while others sit back quietly suffering because they don’t want to be judged. What we all need is to stop judging each other as women or moms and simply look out for others who need our help or those who can help us. Maybe if we spend more time showing love and compassion to someone who needs a little love we will feel less like judging.

We need to accept that we will all make mistakes and give ourselves and others Grace for mistakes and stand next to each other holding each other up, because nothing is stronger than the empowerment of each other.

A Woman is like a tea bag: you cannot tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. –Nancy Reagan

I need help everyday to be a good mom and I want to spend each day building up other moms who need help as well. How can you help another mom around you today? What can you do to build up someone else today?


Writer’s Block

This last week has been a crazy one at my house. The flu hit with a vengeance here and not only was I down for the count but it took the two boys down as well. Nothing kills creativity like a brain that has been through a three-day fever and then taking care of fevers in two other people while still in a fog.

I was unable to do anything that I normally make myself do within a normal week and I wondered how much of what I juggle is truly important. Now that I am trying to pull myself out of the pile of everything left in our wake; piles of Kleenex throughout the house, medicine cups strewn all over the kitchen counters, cough drop wrappers on the floors, and homework piling up for not only me but my boys as well, I wonder if I can do it all. Do I put too much pressure on me as well as my boys to always live up to all the responsibility and not leave enough time for the good times? Did I wear myself out so much that when I got sick, it took me out?

One of my short stories that I wrote is about a new mom trying to feel that she is “good enough” to be a mom, wondering if she will be able to raise her kids and not be a failure. I believe that I feel that way too often and last week when I was at my weakest, the wonder of if what I do for my kids is enough was at its strongest.

  • Am I feeding them healthy enough?
  • Am I spending enough time with them?
  • Am I letting my teenager know he can turn to me when he needs help?
  • Am I teaching them the lessons they need to learn?
  • Am I helping them enough in school?

All the questions and pressure is certain to make anyone sick! That was when I realized I had gotten completely out of balance. I was trying to be the perfect wife, finish up my school with nothing short of all A’s, start my career as a writer and I was trying to raise my children to be the men I hoped they would be and help them get through school to be successful but I was causing it to be so urgent that it had to happen perfectly now, not a process like life always is.

I was forgetting the most important parts;

  • grace for when we make mistakes!
  • fun times so we can all recharge,
  • and God to help us with what we cannot control.

It wasn’t until day three of watching my children stare at a television and my severe case of writer’s block that I realized we all needed time to recharge and also reconnect outside of our responsibilities. I will not take life so seriously all the time. I will get back to the love of writing, spending time with my kids, playing outside and reading before bedtime!

Keep healthy everyone!


“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.”

Heather Schuck, The Working Mom Manifesto

Following my Dreams

It’s funny how when we were children we knew exactly what we wanted to be when we grew up. It might have changed a few times through the years but we were confident about what we said we wanted to do when we grew up. So when does that change? Why is it when we reach college age, suddenly some of us have no idea what we want to do or we change our mind to something “realistic”. Our dreams fade as we let other people influence our decision of what career we should choose.

     Sometimes, to be truly happy, you have to follow your heart, no matter what everyone else may think. –Ali Liebegott

I knew at the age of 8 I wanted to be a writer. I still have a school project that I did in second grade where I had to write down “What do you want to do when you get older?”, and in my 8-year-old handwriting I answered; I want to be a writer. Somehow as I grew up I lost that for a while. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college right out of high school and I floundered for a while not knowing what I wanted to do. Finally, I made the decision to go to college. When I began, I searched through the catalog trying to decide what I wanted to get my degree in and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I finally settled on Psychology because I was interested in the field and thought this was the most “reasonable” career choice.

Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for. –Ray Bradbury

Fast forward a few years later (about 12 years) after putting college on hold for marriage and kids, which was worth the time spent with my family, but now both kids were in school and it gave me time to focus on my goals. I met with a college advisor and was given a timeline of classes I would need to take to finish my Psychology degree. During the time of contemplating my return to college my younger brother passed away and this added a new perspective to my way of thinking. Suddenly I realized that if I was going to spend the next 2 years finishing up my degree, I was going to do what I felt passionate about. I chose to go back to my original love of writing so that I could enjoy and love what I did in my life.

Here are some of my suggestions for following your dreams:

  1. Find what you are passionate about. This may mean thinking back to when you were a child. What was it that gave you the most joy? What did you see yourself doing?
  2. Make a plan. If you changed your path for your career, where would it take you? Set small goals to get you to the place you would like to be the most.
  3. Go For It! Take a leap of faith, step out, and choose to be happy and go after the life you want. Choose to have a life you love.
  4. Foster the Dreams of your Children. Talk to your kids and listen to what they want to be, watch them and see what they are good at doing. Try not to plant your own dreams and influence what they “should be” in life.
  5. Encourage those Dreams. Encourage kids to be confident in what they love and go after their dreams. Show them by your example that it is never too late to go after something you love.

Sharing the love of reading and books with my children, I believe, opens their world up to any possibility and I try to ensure I foster their dreams. If you have kids, what do they want to be when they grow up and are you encouraging their dreams or planting your own?

So I ask you, if you could go back to when you were younger and dreamed of what you would be when you grew up, what would you be doing?

Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming. –Alice Walker