Friday, April 18, 2014

When you should tell your child - young or grown - to quit a dream

Got dreams? You'll need this
In honor of all those athletes who will realize their long term goal of running in Monday's Boston Marathon, it seems fitting to write today about "grit". 

And quitting.

About a year ago, Angela Lee Duckworth, a management consultant-turned educator-turned -University of Pennsylvania psychologist  gave a Ted Talk about the concept of "grit". It is here.

In her presentation, Dr. Duckworth talked about successful kids and the usual correlates:  talent, upbringing, socioeconomic station, etc. Her conclusion:  even more than intelligence, a significant predictor of success is "grit": The tenacity of motivated people to pursue a long term goal without quitting.

This month, an essay writtenby Alfie Kohn, author of "The Myth of the Spoiled Child" has been appearing in different publications. In his argument, he debunks and characterizes the concept of "grit" as a trendy, wrongly accepted link to success, one he fears will turn parents into task masters and their children into frustrated, disappointed worker bees trying in vain to meet impossible goals.

Here is an excerpt:

"The problems with grit... To begin with, not everything is worth doing, let alone doing for extended periods, and not everyone who works hard is pursuing something worthwhile. On closer inspection, the concept of grit turns out to be dubious, as does the evidence cited to support it. Persistence can actually backfire and distract from more important goals."

I have a problem with all of this massive point-missing.

For  detractors to confuse "grit", which deals with the dreams of passionate people, with "persistence" which deals with the habits of productive people, is to confuse dreams with plans, skills with gifts, effort with drive, and all the other things that separate tenacious super-achievers from hard-working drones.

And for proponents to treat the notion of grit as a "discovery", a link to success, something to incorporate into our psycho-speak and foster in the classroom as teachable behaviors, is as much a failure  to "get" grit and understand its role in the work of very successful people.

First, while many possess strong work ethic, grit is rare. Really, how many thirty-year-old millionaires do most of us have over for dinner? Thirty-year-old millionaires are too busy to eat dinner.

Second, it isn't a single behavior like time-management or careful note-taking.  It co-exists with passion, the way dreams co-exist with imagination. 

Third, it can't be taught any more than confidence can be taught.  You can't go buy it or find a grit expert to talk to the class. You've got grit if you've got other things first, like vision and scary-competitive drive.

Fourth, where it is present, it is involuntary. Grit is as willful in a dream-maker as breathing, and it's foolish to treat this as something that we should, or even can, dial up or down in another person.    

And this brings me to the title of my post: When to tell a child, young or adult,  to quit?

Where there is grit, there is passion.  To urge our children away from "gritty" behavior because a passion in our view is "not worthwhile" or, so that they can "pursue other opportunities" is to dishonor that passion. And however gently we do it, to suggest that someone give up on their passion is like asking them to live without a digit, to accept a lifelong feeling of having left something unfinished.  

To live with "might have".

What an insult to people who, fueled by their own spirit, spend years creeping toward a  goal, all while developing the patience and pace and maturity to know it may not - but may - happen at once.

The person who is advised to quit, who quits out of frustration, who must quit out of  necessity may live free of those spiritual muscle cramps that come with journeying toward a long term goal, but dreams die slowly. When it's all over, we only trade those cramps for a limp. I did this. Frustrated over my sluggish success as a published writer, I stopped writing a while back to "pursue other opportunities" and I died a little more every day.

When I was able to return to writing full-time, I started publishing like nobody's business.

To be sure, mindful parents should realize when a child is spinning their wheels in pursuit of a goal that will never be met - crappy baseball players will not grow up and play for the Red Sox.  Sometimes there really are opportunity costs and good parents can and should help their kids identify their particular joys and talents.  

And yes,  anyone with a near-impossible dream should have their own plan B, a way to support themselves, an order of priorities that enables them to live independently and not drag dependents if there are any, through a life of skeletal expenses and late notices.

We once joked - sort of - about putting all of our kids through bartending school so that they could always pay the rent, dress for the weather and keep their lights on while they went after-  or didn't - the thing they had to do with their particular talents and spirit.  

Like love, a passionate pursuit doesn't always give back right away. But to be blind to the difference between plans and dreams, to ever nudge our children away from pursuing a passion, is on par with asking why they would bother with love at all - when they could spend their time and energy on something "more worthwhile".

When to tell a child, young or adult, to quit a dream?


Friday, March 28, 2014

A tiny little story about love

Last night, I co-hosted an event to promote our local Boys and Girls club. I had a chance to catch up with an old friend I haven't seen in at least  a decade.  We talked about where our kids were in their lives and eventually came around to the subject of when our daughters fell in love and how we reacted to the idea of them getting married.

When my friend thought things were getting serious, she said to her daughter, "You'll have to tell me when it's time to love him."

Later, after the daughter and boyfriend had moved in together they gathered with their parents for dinner. As they left the restaurant, the boyfriend leaned over and said quietly to my friend, "It's time to love me, now."

That's what I said, too.

Friday, March 21, 2014

"I only know I'm going"

Disclaimer:  This post is going to be about how much we help our kids get into college. We did it, you did it, and according to the book of Good Parenting, which is also known as What Everyone Else Does, it is what we should do. This is not a post that thinks there's anything wrong with "helping", even though it is about what can happen when we don't.

Once I had a psychology teacher who said to the class, "When you get that feeling in your stomach that you're being manipulated, you are."

I have been reading about the changes in the SAT.  Among other things, the writing requirement will be removed, the subject matter will be updated to align with contemporary culture and curriculum, and kids previously unable to avail themselves of expensive SAT prep will find it online for free so that nobody is left standing behind the rope.

It means a lot of kids will get into college who might not have before.

I'm getting that feeling in my stomach.

It's not for us, because Sam graduated high school two years ago; it's more of a sympathy tummy ache for those who believe that  the easier getting in part has anything to do with the staying in and getting out parts, which have everything to do with initiative, drive, maturity, intelligence and of course, a compelling desire to run their own lives. Things for which there is no standardized test.

Most of us who have raised our children with the expectation that they WILL go to college gear up to "help" in the junior year and are full-on "helpful" in the senior year, when every conversation between parents and their seniors starts with "Did you", or, "Don't forget".  

Our own refrigerator door was so full of (cheerful! Always cheerful!) post-it reminders, it annoyed even me. It did not annoy Sam because he went to the refrigerator for little pizza snacks, and cherry Coke, not information. 

Here would not be a bad time to cultivate that initiative (or at least glimpse it) but this is when many of us move from full-on helpful to "I'll just do it." We schedule the SAT, pay for the prep, hire the tutors and suggest essay topics. We leave the Barron's guide where they'll trip over it, and have many, many meetings in the living room to "narrow things down". We read up and panic ourselves about the "difficulty today of getting in" (And by the way, there has never been a "today" when it wasn't difficult for one reason or another) and we cheerfully, always cheerfully, urge our students to bring their grades up when they get a chance. We send them to take the SAT every quarter. We book flights and tours. We send them  links.

Why do we? Two reasons, in my opinion:

First, because the thought of leaving life-altering, critical priorities and deadlines in the hands of people who start big projects eight or nine hours before they are due, is terrifying.

Second, because everyone else does it. 

What if we didn't? 

What if the helpful-parent culture suggested that getting into college belongs to our kids as much as staying in college does? What then, would we see of readiness?

A parent once said to me about her exasperatingly mellow junior, "I told her, 'This is in your hands. You don't research where you want to go? You're not going.'"

What if we meant it?

Think for a moment, if we parents stopped the college-prep bus, moved over and asked the kid to drive, how far they'd get. What if you left the entire project in their hands? Made them buy their own Barron's guide, organize their tours, pay for their apps and their own SAT prep? What if we ceased the nagging, and said, like the friendly neighbor over the fence, "How are you doing with the whole college thing? Good?"

Can you imagine? I can.

I met that kid.

She is one of the teens at our local Boys and Girls Club who is competing for "Youth of the Year", the Club's scholarship program. There is a $500 scholarship for participating, another $500 if they win, and at the state level, a $10,000 scholarship to the college of their choice.

When I began working with her on her essays and speeches, she was a junior who had  "never really thought about college" because nobody in her family had ever gone. Family expectations of her amounted to graduating high school, finding a job and moving out. She was self-conscious when she talked about her college plans with me as if she were not convinced by her own words on the subject.  

I wondered how her ambition would be sustained with no money, no role model, no support from home. No refrigerator door with post-its..

"I only know I'm going," she said.

At school, she took on an ambitious course load, including a sprinkling of AP classes, the strain of which, on top of managing a household in the dawn-to-dark absence of her parents, reduced her to tears more than once.

Still, she pulled her GPA from the low threes to a 3.8, and took a job bagging groceries twenty hours a week to pay for the SATs and college applications. The first SAT "really, really sucked" she said,  but scores from the second one were much better because "she knew what to expect." 

There's your free SAT prep.

She applied to six schools, five where her major is offered and a "safety". As of this month, she has been accepted into all but one.

She has no idea how she'll pay for it. Her guidance counselor responded by telling her she wasn't the only one going to college, and to come back after she'd done more digging on her own. I took her to the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation for financial counselling.

"So how can I help you today?" asked the counselor. 
"I have no idea how to do this," said my B & G teen. 
"Well, then, we know where to start," said the angel-counselor.
And she was off.

Last week, she competed at the local level for the Youth of the Year title and gave a speech describing her "story". Afterward, she answered questions before a panel of seven judges about her life. When she was asked the question:  "Where do you see yourself  in five years?" she looked straight at the judge and said, "I'll be a marine biologist. And," she laughed, "I'll be in some pretty big debt." 

She won the title and the money. In May she'll compete for the big money.

With no family culture that reinforced the importance of college, with no funds and then, with that dismissive response from the school's guidance office, my B &G teen still found a way because she has one thing: a compelling desire to move on with her life.

There's your level playing field.

Parents who can support their kids should. And many kids would not get as far as my B & G teen did without the lifelong expectation of a college education like a hand at their backs. Conversely, many kids who are walked through the process as our kids were, go on to set up very impressive staging for their futures on their own.  

But here's my sympathy tummy ache:

We should not be manipulated by our culture of parent-dependent achievement, or, the industries that profit from parent-anxiety, into thinking our kids lack the initiative to do the college thing without us. 

When they are driven to move on with their lives, even without post-its on the refrigerator, they can. 

And will.

Friday, March 7, 2014

John Travolta, old women, and other post-Oscars shark bait

Post-Oscars party
The piece I began writing for this space turned out to be so big, awkward, clunky and sprawling that to finish it in time was becoming, as Anne Lamott would say, "like putting an octopus to bed". 

So I'm just going to post about John Travolta and Kim Novak and Liza Minnelli instead. 

Is it important that John Travolta mispronounced the name of Idina Menzel last Sunday? No. Do we really care? No. Is it news? Of course not. Do we care that Kim Novak looks old? Or that Liza Minelli was ill-informed about her Oscar outfit? No. We don't. It barely rises to the level of a distraction.  But you'd think it was worth our attention from the social media feeding frenzy that began minutes after the Oscars and didn't let up for days. 

I'll go off topic for a moment to make this observation: The most vicious comments came from media-savvy people who appear to be in their twenties and thirties. Much as I adore this generation - because they are the huggiest, kissiest, loveiest and selfie-est of any I've observed - they also popularized the phrases "don't judge" and, "don't hate" and in general seem very attuned to the feelings they feel in the places they're at. Is it all just a secret, attunement-handshake, offered only by one twenty or thirty-something to another?


When, and why, did people become unsatisfied with being merely snarky and develop such an appetite for meanness?

Because we are. We're mean. We're past funny-mean, we're vicious-mean. When it comes to skewering people who can't punch our faces for the things we say, we are appallingly insensitive and disrespectful.

As Slate magazine reported, "81-year-old Vertigo star Kim Novak - who was roundly mocked for turning up onstage, two decades after her last movie, exhibiting extensive plastic surgery - might as well be dead."

From comedian Rob Delaney: "Will they have time to edit Kim Novak into the In Memoriam section?"

And, also from the Slate piece, "...Matthew McConaughey's mother, who last night aspired only to the role of proud parent, was eviscerated for rocking a keyhole-neck gown that gave the world a peek at her cleavage...which Twitter commentators deemed "leathery," "ancient," "inappropriate," and "terrifying."


Liza Minnelli, considered to be a model for female impersonators and drag artists, was described by Ellen DeGeneres as "the best Liza Minnelli impersonator I've ever seen," and then, referred to as "Sir."

Everyone loves Ellen. But if it was funny for Ellen to see Liza's smile drop from her face in embarrassment, well, for me anyway,  it kind of takes away from that sweet gesture of buying the car for the single-mother server.

There's always a little schadenfreude going on when giant people stumble, but I feel for John Travolta. He was reportedly mortified, and the stories of crowds-of-Travolta-fans-so-huge-during-the-filming-of Saturday-Night-Fever-they-had-to-film-at-four in-the-morning aside, it must have stung to realize the appetite that exists for your public humiliation. Forget that you've endured a failing marriage and the death of a child and have donated tens of thousands to charities  which support first responders, special needs children, environment, and families grieving the loss of members. You're John Travolta. You are a celebrity with a lot of money and your own plane. To Buzzfeed, with you and your bad wig.

I'm a user and a fan of social media and I've seen how easy it is for people to be vicious without consequence on the internet. If it were not, last Sunday's Oscar "highlights" would have been a hiccup. What intrigues me is why we become mean, and I think I realize why.  

Because we want attention. On the internet, we are seventh-graders who would rather be a mean girl's friend, than a kind one. We can be noticed now at the drop of a cruel comment, and in the meantime, if only in our own minds, we can be little celebrities ourselves if our newsfeeds and comment threads heat up enough. 

Maybe my octopus-piece is making me impatient. But when people delight in holding up another's faux pas to the light, or when people attack someone for showing themselves to the world as they are, and in so doing, launch a tweeting trend that becomes a social media chew-fest, well, I grow a little ashamed of us.

I would bet that many of the commenters who ran this trend into the ground are also people who champion anti-bullying laws and will teach their children to respect the feelings and places of others.

Or maybe they aren't. 

On the upside, John Travolta may have inadvertently advanced the career of Idina Menzel with all that focus on her correct name. 

I hope so. It would be a very nice way to say I'm sorry. And bad wig or not, he showed the class to want to apologize for his verbal misstep.

Sharks on the other hand, wait for the next feeding.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sliding out of the comfort zone for fun

Two things before I begin my post, which is not about the Winter Olympics, despite the sporty graphic.
Skates that I would not wear but would 
like to have made into shoes

First, many Winter Olympic seasons ago when I was in my twenties, I said to a good friend who had invited me to play tennis, "I won't win, but I'll play. Is that okay?"

"Interesting," he said.

You can fire people up by convincing them that you'll win. But you can make them drop their guard if you apologize in advance for losing, was my strategy. Fun? What fun? Game on.

Second, I've been thinking, for all my talk of seizing the moment and following dreams and trying new things and leaving no day unturned for the magic and meaning and discovery that awaits, I haven't been working very hard at being my own example.

And just like that, I was invited to go skating.

I used to ski, and skied well until I was injured. Then, I skied against medical advice and injured myself again. Then, because, and only because I had just purchased an expensive, flattering outfit, new skis, and a season pass to Loon, I was advised by my sensible and witty doctor that unless I had to (ha ha), it would be a good idea not to ski anymore.

I'll go off topic for a second. Skiing is an attractive sport. First, even if they're sometimes puffy and you have to wear them in the freezing cold, most ski outfits are flattering. We all look a little more youthful and healthier in them. And, if it hurts to move that fast in the freezing cold, we're apt to wind up with a little windburn at the end of the day which makes us look "outdoorsy" as well. An "outdoorsy" look, in my opinion, says "evolved". When I see a person with an authentic winter tan who hasn't been on a cruise, I think of him/her as someone who probably uses their intelligence, strength and spirit to, as everyone likes to say, "live out loud". A reader of real books. Possibly a wearer of expensive woolen socks. Probably  a late afternoon juice drinker and massage have-er.

I can't remember the last time I skated, and I am so unaccustomed to outdoor winter activities since I stopped "having to" ski, my first thought was: What will I wear?

Then, I thought about not being in my twenties anymore. I thought about how my right ankle hurts sometimes for no reason. I thought about the multiple surgeries I had on one leg until, eventually, they yanked my deteriorating kneecap and replaced it with a fake.While I'm not exercise-averse, I am cold-averse, willing to circle parking lots to secure the closest space possible to the door, start my car fifteen minutes before I leave the house, and refuse to check the temperature ahead of time knowing the information will just make me feel colder than I have to feel. 

Then, I accepted the invitation.

When I woke the next morning, my heart had opened to the idea. I thought about how some good things can only come from hard things. I thought about how I'll look back on it, now that my mental attitude toward performing is - for real - one of  participating over triumphing, and playing over winning. I thought about the many times I've reached an elusive goal the minute I stopped hitching my happiness to the end result and focused on the rest. What fun? That fun.


So now, I will buy another outfit. A warm one, or maybe a few pieces which I might layer and wear at the same time depending not on how cold it is (because I won't know that) but how cold it feels which is a much better guide. I particularly look forward to wearing the skates because, like ski outfits make us look more youthful and healthier, ice skates make everyone look like they at least plan to have fun.

Whatever happens, I will survive the cold, I may discover a new activity, and if nothing else, I will have nice, rosy outdoorsy cheeks when it's over and look like I could be meeting these people for lunch:

I don't know these people, but
 I'll bet their socks are nice

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What entitled behavior of adults teaches the kids


First, I will use the terms "entitlement" and "rudeness" interchangeably in the following post because they are the same thing. 

Second, none of this applies to the beleaguered parents of uncontrollable children we see in airports, supermarkets, or other places where they have to be, and are already miserable enough without the pursed-lip scrutiny of strangers. In those situations, if you're a nice person, the thing to do is tell those parents that someday they'll miss these times and should enjoy them while they can, so that at least you can make them  laugh.  

Please continue.

In my travels around the internet last week, I came across the story of Grant Achatz, a chef in Chicago who is considering a ban on small children in his restaurant, Alinea. The story goes that, short a babysitter, a couple brought their infant with them to the pricey Alinea where dinner runs about $265 a plate. The baby cried throughout the evening (of course) and diners who'd secured their non-refundable plates months in advance, were outraged.

I'd like to be appalled by the entitled behavior of this couple but entitled adults are everywhere and you can only be so appalled by the same thing for so long.  However, I caught a glimpse of entitlement in the making, just last week.  

Which was appalling.  

We were meeting friends for dinner in a restaurant, which, on the scale of eateries in our little Concord, NH is more "up" than "down". It is known for quiet ambiance and is popular among couples in their forties and fifties rather than twenties and thirties. The menu is comprised of old family recipes, the prices are on the higher side.

It was around 6:00 and not that busy yet, so we took a seat at the bar to have a glass of wine and wait. 

A party of six entered the restaurant, two couples, each with a child of about three or four. 

So far so good; cute kids, nice adults.

Within ten minutes, the kids were standing up in the booth and tossing things across the table, while the couples looked past them to chat with each other. The noise level increased and a server appeared to get things rolling. A moment later, there were sounds of a disagreement and the manager headed over.

I began to eavesdrop, first, because that's my job, and, second, because I was sitting right there.

"Why can't you?" one of the men asked the manager.
"Sir, the entrees are served as they are described."
"My kids don't eat like that."
"We can't create and price new entrees to order."
"You can't just throw a little pasta and butter together?"
"It disrupts the kitchen to part from the menu."
"You have, what, like ten people here? I don't see why you can't accommodate us."

This went on for a while. 

"I can't do that." 
"You just don't want to do that."
"I could check with the chef, but I know what the answer will be."
"I've been here many times, tell the chef that."

The manager started for the kitchen, turned, came back.

"On second thought, I'd like you to leave," he said. "I don't appreciate your attitude. It isn't what you're asking for, it's your attitude. "

The man was  incredulous. "You got to be kidding me."

"I mean it," the manager said. "Find another place to eat."

"Just stop," one of the women pleaded,  "Just stop it."

Nothing happened for a few seconds while the manager stood his ground and the man gaped. 

"Go ahead," said the manager, "find somewhere else."

The couples and their children slid from the booth and started for the door, the two men making loud, over the shoulder comments about rude, unaccommodating restaurants to which they would not return, to which they would make sure their friends never returned, or anyone else to whom they would be sure to report what happened, etc.

At the bar, the manager was noticeably upset. 

"Nice job," I said. "I was wondering how far away from them you could put us."

"I never do that," said the manager. "It was his attitude."

And this is the thing about entitled people. They make you feel intolerant when you refuse to put  up with them, and passive when you do.

A year ago, I saw the same kind of thing in another upscale bar (we have three) where my husband and I met for dinner after a week apart. A couple entered, their small, tired, complaining kids in tow, and proceeded to order drinks, appetizers and entrees while their restless children hopped on and off the stools, saying, "Mama, I'm bored." Over a row of planters was an enormous dining room, nearly empty, where Mama might have made her bored children more comfortable, but where, evidently, she did not prefer to sit.  They not only couldn't have appeared less concerned about how their kids were behaving, they couldn't have appeared less concerned about how everyone else was affected.

And this is the other thing about entitled people. They address obnoxious behavior by normalizing it, using lazy rationale like, "Kids will be kids".

I'm fascinated by entitlement; what people expect just for waking up in the morning.  But as satisfying as it is to watch adults who behave this way get their comeuppance, it is discouraging to see them model this behavior in front of their kids who will first be kids, and then be adults.

Entitlement begins at home, where children learn that only some people deserve respect, while others don't, where one's own needs are more important than anyone else's and where demanding and sulking bring faster results than negotiating or compromising. They grow up to treat servers badly, refuse to wait in line, abuse customer service people on the phone and bring their crying babies to very expensive restaurants where they feel they have as much right to stay put as anyone else who paid.

Chef Achatz tweeted the question: "should babies be banned from expensive restaurants?"

They should be. Cell phones are banned in nice dining rooms and like cell phones, babies can go off anytime. But more than that, a restaurant owes me a nice dining experience in exchange for my non-refundable cash, more than they owe entitled, rude people their good manners.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

More than thirteen things I learned in 2013

"What a year."
--Writer cat Gus Bonifant
This is my favorite time to post for two reasons. I don't  have to apologize for being preachy because you can't write  a "what I learned" post without being preachy.  And, after a year of paying attention to people - the things they say and don't say, the ways they are treated and how they treat others, what they expect, what they ask for, what they turn from - it's finally time for my book report.

First, I'll say this.  2013 was not an easy year, but it could have been harder.

I experienced more grief than I saw coming when my brother died, and joy that made my head spin when our daughter married. I became closer to all of the people I love, found the ones I need to know better, and learned who I will never really know at all. Working with teenagers at the Boys and Girls Club gave me a chance to give back, and taught me things about  spirit and resilience that improved my own life. 

And now, here are some observations about marriage, kids, friends, achievement and other stuff that occurred to me in 2013 which I find worth mentioning. If anything makes your life a little better, a little easier or a little anything-er, it will have made those scribbled post-it notes that are all over the house and in my car worth it.

Help yourself.

  • Any marital issue can be resolved more easily if you know going in that you're going to stay together.  If that's your assumption, issues make you stronger.  If that isn't your assumption, issues  become grounds.  
  • There is an art to disagreeing in a marriage.  It starts with your intention: I want to agree with you, versus I want my way. One makes each future disagreement healthier. The other just shortens the list of things you can talk about. 
  • It's amazing what great depth and deep connection can exist in a marriage and never be discovered, until you need it most.  It hides. You might not find it until you trip over it and nearly kill yourself in the fall. But then, you won't want to live without it.  
  • Sooner or later in your travels, you might realize you're  not who you thought you would be. You might also be someone you never imagined you could be. Cut the engine and look around.  You've arrived.  Life doesn't always look like it did in the magazine. 
  • Therapy isn't what crybabies do. What crybabies do is complain without doing anything about it.  If you're unhappy, and you're not looking for someone to talk things over with because it's easier to just complain, that's one choice. But that is what crybabies do. 
  • Mind, body, relationships. Do something each day that will improve all of these things and don't keep track. In a month, look back at how much better your life is. Even in areas that didn't need improvement, there will be improvement. 
  • Never be without something you're looking forward to on the calendar.
  • Once, a person I knew who was living a terrible life with small children, no husband, no money, no confidence, no job, and no friends wrote a poem about how grateful she was. She showed it to me. I recognized it from somewhere else. I told her she was brilliant. It was the best lie I've ever told
  • Once in a while, give money to a person on the street corner who is holding a sign that says "Homeless, anything will help." Give them a bottle of water with it. Instead of thinking you're  contributing to their delinquency,  just for a few seconds, make their life easier.
  • The things that repeatedly throw you off track might be the track, so pay attention. 
  • If you're on the fence about doing something because it seems too big or tiring, make yourself do it. If you're making yourself do something you dread because of  some notion that it is expected of you, find a way to make it worthwhile or cancel. Life is short. 
  • Once,  I described a  problem to a friend and she said, "What will you do about that?"  I was surprised to realize I had an answer.  Say this to  anyone who comes to you for a solution to something.  Statements tell others who we are. Questions teach others about themselves. 
  • When you feel conflicted, unsure and afraid it isn't because you don't know what to do that makes your tummy ache.  It's just the opposite - it's because you do know exactly what you have to do. Act.
  • If you want to give your children the best advice, first, pretend you're not related. 
  • Connect with a teenager while there are still questions in their eyes. It won't be long before you'll see answers instead, and not always the ones you would have helped put there.
  • If you know a child who is moody, snarky, and generally hard to be with, deal with it but be grateful. It's worse when they only feel free to be wretched in private. 
  • If you are saying goodbye to a teenager with whom you have been clashing, you may be sad about the lost chances to have a better relationship. Don't do this. You've only lost the chance to have a worse one.
  • Relationships with grown children get better, richer, happier and joyful with every conversation that takes place after a separation. 
  • If you find good, mindful and responsible parenting hard and confusing and exhausting and rewarding and baffling and gorgeous, you're doing it right.
  • The things we could say to clear the air with another can be as hard to part with as a coat in the cold.  They expose us.  But if a relationship is worth having, expressions of disappointment,  like expressions of love,  must be shared. Left unsaid, they  will erode the soul. 
  • When you're lying, people usually know it, whether they do anything about it or not. 
  • Don't be a person who claims to "hate drama" and then discusses a conflict with someone behind their back.  If you do, you not only don't hate drama, you create it. If they're worth knowing, face the people with whom you've clashed and keep it between yourselves.
  • Sometimes people don't love us as we wish they would, no matter how often we ask them to.  And it may require great sadness to understand your invitation has been declined. Stop asking.  Be the one to let go. There will be plenty of people left who would do anything for you. 
  • Be proud of things you've done that required hard work, tenacity and faith. But be proudest of things you've accomplished that required you to overcome something else  first. Like fear. 
  • Confidence isn't something you get. Nobody can improve it for you or tell you where it is.  Confidence comes from doing something you're not good at until you can't remember what it was like to be bad at it.   
  • No amount of anti-aging products, make up or new clothes can compete with the first good night's sleep after you've done something very hard. 
My thanks to you for stopping by. As I said last year, if you like it here, come back soon and bring your friends. 

And, it is worth mentioning, that I love you for reading.