Happily married mother of three. (Wishing I looked as good as my bitmoji!)
I’ve been married for 25 years to my very best friend. He and I have three children. One has flown the coop. One will be leaving soon. And the youngest has a few more years before she moves on, too.
I have a masters degree in Marriage & Family Counseling which allowed me to work as a social worker and a group facilitator for teens and their families who’ve gotten involved in drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and truancy. After moving across the country in 2010, I became an Associate Librarian. Total game change! But, both professions involved working with people who had questions, needed information, and were looking to make some sort of improvement in their lives.
And now at the age of 52, I am looking to make a change. The past couple of years have been an inner struggle to find my purpose. There were a lot of things I didn’t enjoy about being a social worker. I loved my job as a facilitator, but found that my current state of residence did things differently. And, as much as I enjoy storytimes, puppet shows, and books, I was feeling like some of my talents were lost. I also discovered that I was getting increasing tired of working at the mercy of others and having to do things that I thought I’d never have to do because “I’d gone to college.” (picture clogged toilets & toddler tussles) The excitement of my current career had worn off and I was beginning to dread going into work.
Sadly, the impetus to this discovery, was the Great Quarantine of 2020 (and some previous unrest). Suddenly I was working from home and . . . loving it! I was home again with my kids (teens who slept til noon and played music in the afternoons). I was in charge of my schedule (minus zoom staff meetings). And, forgive me, I didn’t have to deal with a lot of the “crap” of the world. My environment was what I made it. (Yes, there was some furniture movement, closet emptying, and power cleaning-I’d scored a steam cleaner for Mother’s Day at my request.) But the people in my world were the ones of my choosing. And it was heaven!
This hiatus from soccer and youth activities and school (for 3 weeks) and programming and grumpy patrons and mindless checking in/out of books allowed me to focus inwardly. I participated in 6 months of life coaching. Did a lot of introspection. And was a first client for a friend who was launching her life coaching business. I came away saying, “Why not me, too?!” I could become a life coach and begin living a purposed filled life going in a direction of my choosing. What I’d lost, I’d found!
As of today, I’m at the mercy of a manager and a director. One day, I want “full custody” of my 40 hours/week and my paycheck. I want to be self-reliant. I want to be excited about my daily schedule. I want to fulfill the measure of my creation. For I believe that all of us are capable of more than we believe.
My husband has coached all of our kids’ soccer teams. I’m not much of a sports fan, but it has been incredible watching him train not only our kids but also their friends/teammates. He’s not a yeller, or a bully, but a guide. In his gentle, but persistent way, he has helped dozens of youth find their abilities and turn weaknesses into strengths. What a joy to watch them grow in confidence; believing that they can do more and watching them prove that on the soccer field!
So, that’s why I’m here. There have been some coaches in my life who helped me remember my abilities. Encouraged me to change weaknesses into strengths. Saw capabilities in me that I hadn’t seen. Seeing me be lost, supported me in finding my direction and course correcting.
Lost & Found.
Where to start after you’ve had that great idea.
Over a year ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a free, twelve week self-reliance workshop titled, “Starting and Growing My Business.” I was there as a volunteer to facilitate the program. The previous year I was able to facilitate a program called, “Personal Finance for Self-Reliance.” (Also free!) As a result, I gained some valuable information I’d like to share with you.
During one of our sessions a participant made a marvelous suggestion! Get in touch with SCORE.org. Little did I know what wealth of (FREE) information would be at my finger tips! What is SCORE, you ask.
As I was beginning my journey to become a life coach, I decided to check out this amazing resource to see what it had to offer. They did not disappoint. SCORE has a free online library of information. You can watch all kinds of webinars for free by experts in various fields. Most importantly, you can be put in touch with a mentor. Yep, also free. (Before Covid, those mentor/mentee visits were done in person at the local chapter. Now you can get in touch by phone call or Zoom call.)
I scheduled a call from a mentor. My mentor (Tom) called me after doing some research on life coaching. As a result, he had a general idea of what a life coach was and we had a great discussion about how I could use my skills/expertise. After that, Tom had a handful of practical ideas to make the business official. (Registering my business with the Secretary of State. Getting an EIN number with the federal government. Creating a business bank account. Getting liability insurance.) Additionally, Tom asked me a number of questions to get me started thinking about a niche, the local competition, and what I had to offer. Lastly, he highlighted a couple of SCORE webinars to help me with a some of areas of concern.
I was over the moon happy with my free mentor chat. Tom answered the questions I asked and he answered some I hadn’t asked. After that I started doing those official things that I’d been putting off because I wasn’t sure about exactly what to do. Woot, woot! Now we’re cooking with butter. (Or whatever low fat, organic, better for you thing you cook with.)
Done & Done
I don’t know that I had ever thought of that until a couple of years ago some friends were choosing their word for the year. I gave it some thought and chose the word ‘purpose’, painted a cute little sign with that word on it, and put it on my desk. As things changed over the years (kids growing up, moving, changing jobs, being away from friends) I discovered that I really didn’t have a purpose. I have a grasp of the BIG picture, but what were the details of my life going to be that were a reflection of having a purpose?
[ pur-puhs ] (dictionary.com)
the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal. determination; resoluteness.
to set as an aim, intention, or goal for oneself.to intend; design.
to have a purpose.
I liked the idea of having in mind the reason that something was done, made, and used. Would changing my thinking about intended outcomes and desired results change how I felt each day? Certainly I wanted more than just getting up everyday, going through the motions, and repeating it all again the next day. I was ok with the mundane if it had a greater purpose.
So, instead of getting caught up in the diapers, dishes, and dinner routines of life as simply being routines, I decided to think about each routine’s purpose was. (Is that a dangling participle?) Changing diapers became one on one time loving that baby, singing, smiling, doing early literacy stuff (yep, that’s a thing). Dishes was an opportunity to be glad that we had food to eat, to work together with my littles playing with bubbles, counting, storytelling, laughing (this was back before I had a dishwasher). And dinner, although I never have enjoyed cooking, was a time to talk about our day, learn more about each other, and laugh about funny things that have happened. (The last one is still a favorite and my kids are almost all grown.) With those opportunities in mind, life became more than drudgery!!
Yes I was a stay-at-home mom who mostly lived in sweats and t-shirts, but I was loving, teaching, and strengthening a few of God’s children in our home, preparing them to do the same (or whatever they chose). My vision was that my home was/is a refuge, a classroom, group therapy, a library, an urgent care center, a clean comedy show, a place to relax and be one’s self. A place to share emotions and learn how to handle them. A place to ask questions, stretch one’s wings, to catch each other when we fell or messed up. My vision is that all my chicks feel comfortable and want to be at home. That I can give them as many tools as I can to help them be adults.
Nothing was quite as ordinary or routine as it had been before. And sometimes I miss the days when we didn’t have a dishwasher. (Sometimes)
I’m just going to start out saying that life is harder than expected. Certainly, this life experience isn’t anything like the brochure I had read before getting here. I mean, the sunsets/sunrises are amazing. Really digging the colors of the trees, flowers, mountains, deserts, and desserts. And like these bodies we receive at birth, wow! Talk about amazing!
Yeah, the scenery is terrific. No argument there. My complaint is just how hard/dull the day to day can seem. As the honeymoon of “firsts” (steps, words, days at school, marriage, babies) eventually wears off we begin asking, “Is that it?” For me “firsts” were the exciting things we prepared and planned for. Also, “firsts” defined where we were in life. Additionally, the “firsts” we accomplished were a statement of who were and where we would yet be going. But in between those “firsts” was…
Day in and day out of homework, diapers, commutes, dinners, assignments, jobs, errands. At times, I have felt that I was arriving in places and not remembering the journey at all. I mean, at all. As in, pulling into the parking lot and not being able to tell you one thing I saw on the way there. Or, realizing that tomorrow would be just like the day before that, and the day before that. As a result, what was there to look forward to? Was there anything to look forward to?!
Right?! I’ve got a few years before grandkids, retirement, hip replacements (I hope). So, after kids and before retirement what is there to look forward to. What is my “why” for getting up every morning other than just trying to fill up that 401K and my pension?
The impetus behind this website and blog, is that I wanted to:
So, I ask: what are your next “firsts”? And what are your whys?
And you may ask, “Who helped you get started dreaming up new firsts?” These folks:
Jody Moore. Her podcasts were my gateway drug to renewed interest in myself. Diving into why and why not.
Ruth Soukup. Hard work and determination can make dreams come true. So many tools for making the dream happen.
Hal Elrod. The how-to manual. I’ve made my way through “The Miracle Morning” and am starting “The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs.”
All three of these superheroes have fantastic podcasts, resources, and inspiration. I want to be like them when I grow up!!
I love lemonade, especially pink lemonade. And, like anyone else in the world, I’ve been given a number of lemons.
I got my first lemon right out of grad school. I couldn’t get the job I really wanted, so I settled for the one I could get. (And that was one miserable year!) I earned a degree in marriage and family counseling, but in the area in which I lived, social workers were in need and were pretty much the type of family helpers that existed. I changed direction. My path as a professional changed.
Lemonade! The education I had gained became richer with the unexpected demands of a the job I didn’t really want. I knew I wouldn’t do that job forever, so I decided to make the most of it. I still use many of the things I learned with that first job.
Actually, now that I think back, that wasn’t the first lemon. I was the daughter of an alcoholic factory worker. My family was poor. And those life conditions didn’t gain me any popularity in a society that only valued folks with money. But those lemons gave me a taste for lemonade and are perhaps a topic for another blog post.
taking the sour experiences of life, learning from them, turning weaknesses into strengths, and going on to do more than I ever thought possible. Surviving and thriving. Those had become my particular set of skills.
So, yeah. If you’ve got some lemons and you don’t know what to do with them, I have some ideas.
First, breathe deeply for a bit. Calm down. Don’t panic. And don’t accept that this is it.
Next, remember the big picture. Despite the current bump, detour, or dead end, remember the big picture. “A bend in the road is not the end of the road.” Helen Keller said that. And she was certainly familiar with a life full of lemons! It just means that you are taking the scenic route, or perhaps accidentally finding an even better way. (I actually don’t believe in accidents or coincidences.)
Now, step back and look at what the alternatives are, what skills you can pull out of the toolbox? Or, is it time to learn a new skill? Take a class. Perhaps revisit a long, unused talent. Or just reinvent yourself.
plan. What are you going to do now? Write your plans or goals in a journal. Create a vision board. Share it with a friend/spouse who can encourage you, help you remember your strengths. Or share it with me. Then get back on the road, refreshed from your lemonade, and make it happen!
For many years, I’ve had to take some doctor prescribed medication. Some for pain. Some for prevention. And some of those medicines made things better. And some just helped me hobble along in life. And one day, someone suggested a little something called self-care.
Now there was a novel idea. Taking care of self. What on earth was that?! I was mostly sleeping when tired. Or trying to. I was eating when hungry. And when not hungry. Or when angry, frustrated, etc. I exercised… didn’t I. Chasing kids around, cleaning house, gardening. Wasn’t that exercise? And I visited my doctor regularly. To get the medicine described above. To have yearly exams to rule out this and that. Isn’t that self-care?
According to PsychCentral, “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.”
Hmm, that took some thought. And what I came up with is this:
First, a hot bubble bath with some Epsom salts and lavender oil, and of course a good book to read. A lovely escape.
Second, a good massage. On a regular basis. Or more often. Just feel the tension slip away and the healing begin!
Third, stay in and watch a few episodes of your current favorite show. Enjoy a good snack. Relax.
Fourth, Sleep. Make it something sacred and important. Plan for it. Prepare your environment for it. Whatever it takes for it to happen every night and for it to be the amount you need and of the quality you need.
Fifth, saying no. You don’t have to do everything. Be at everything. Run everything. Orchestrate, organize, coordinate, arrange, manage, do everything. It’s OK to say no. Say no to what isn’t needful, to what isn’t you taking care of yourself. Or taking care of the truly important things or people that make your life a happy, abundant, and wonderful. Truly meaningful. Self-care.
Self-Care 101 by Maria Baratta Ph.D., L.C.S.W. on Psychology Today.
What Does “Self-Care” Actually Mean? by KRISTEN SULEMAN on Mental Health Match.
5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life
By Elizabeth Scott, MS
My husband is a soccer coach. And when the parks & rec doesn’t need him he runs a small business of training young athletes. Last night he completed training of a group of young girls who are preparing to try out for the high school soccer team. (If the Covid doesn’t cancel it.)
For the last night of instruction, my husband asked me if I would send the ladies out into the world with some motivation for the future. So scavenged the internet for some ideas. (Not having been an athlete, I had no idea what would help these young women.) I found a blog post on Psychology Today by Meg Selig. And I probably liked it even more because she said that,
“These messages are not for athletes only! You can use them to fulfill your business plan, finish a work or home project, make a contribution to your community, or persist with any creative project.”Meg Selig, author of Changepower!
Her 8 motivating messages were great, and I had even used some of them in the past. (At the time, I thought of them more as survival techniques to help me get through high school.) But Meg is right, these are motivating messages for anyone, and I would add of any age or stage of life.
So, loving visuals, I created a poster for our soccer stars and I wanted to share it here. Be sure to check out Meg’s post for more details.
Meg reached out to her readers to see if they had any other motivational gems and she added the last two. So to paraphrase this great post from 2014:
Or do it for whatever you are doing. Starting a new business because you feel called to do so. Creating beautiful works of art just for the pleasure of it. Training for a race with a group of friends you love and because you wanted to do something for yourself (you do love yourself, I hope). Remember when you are tired that you are doing this for love.
Whether you do something stupid, embarrassing (that’s usually the case for me), or just not up to snuff, go on to the next play. Nothing good comes from wallowing in our mistakes, especially if we are in the middle of a game. And the same can be said if making a great move or the perfect shot. There is still a game to be won and you bouncing around feeling like hot stuff is just going to trip you up. Celebrate afterwards.
This was one of my favorites! “Accepting failures and glitches in one’s program is simply part of the process.” No mortal will ever be perfect, but many have arrived at excellence. So can you!!! So can we all!!!
And Why not you? Why not us? (Self Explanatory.)
Duh! How much success we would have achieved and how much stress and grief we could have avoided! Whatever happens, happens, but in the process of CREATING, (choose your favorite word below)
something amazing, amazing things will happen. Now or later. Primarily or secondarily. Who cares, it’s all great! (Or fantastic, wonderful, you get the idea!)
Read Meg’s article. And when no one in the world is encouraging you, find your own motivation. Keep your eye on the prize, and persevere. You, my friend, will win the day!
Grrrrrr. I hate spinning. I hated it as a kid being pushed around and around on a merry-go-round. I hated it as a teenager in an amusement park on those rides that spun in a circle while being spun around in a bigger circle. Just the memory of it makes be feel a bit nauseous!
Later in my teens, my brother got into fixing, building, and drag racing cars. I never understood the allure of of spinning the tires before starting a race. Lost rubber, the noise and smell. The burnt rubber on the pavement.
These days, my spinning comes from things other than park rides or car tires. The spinning is more mental and emotional.
This past six months has been a crazy barrage of information meant to warn, help, avoid, instruct, educate. So many different sources of information. Everyone had opinions. Everyone has the latest science. The latest studies. Everyone, perhaps, except me. I didn’t know who was giving out the right stuff and what stuff what just plain old stuff stuff. Most days I found it to be so overwhelming that I just ignored it all. No news. No studies. No numbers.
Then, while hiding my head in the proverbial sand (or just staying home watching streaming TV and playing games on my phone) I decided it was time to put my focus on something positive and beneficial instead of chocolaty and fattening.
So today, I find myself (mind wheels spinning) trying to learn the ins and outs of starting up my own business. Learning about websites, SEO, methods of payment, best practices, and practicing my skills. I have learned more about asking questions, listening, social media, perseverance, and my favorite motis operandi (is that latin for mode of operation?) trial and error.
As I type this, I am reminded of one of my college French professors. As I was standing at the chalk board (yes this was a long time ago) making serious errors in a French sentence and dying inside of embarrassment, my professor says, “I love mistakes!” I looked at him with a very red face and waited for the floor to swallow me up. Instead, I got a great piece of wisdom. My professor then said that it is when we make mistakes and have to correct them that we then learn to do things the right way and remember them forever. (Or some variation of that-he might have been speaking French, which I obviously didn’t know very much of at the time.)
I didn’t get an A in his class. Nor did I go on to major in French. In fact, I dropped out of that class because I didn’t think I’d ever actually get to go to France (my dream at the time). But I did eventually come to understand that spinning one’s wheels and making mistakes can be a great learning tool. The process of trial and error is fantastic for learning and moving forward and achieving whatever it is you want to achieve.
Well. Don’t give up. Keep hammering away, even if you think you are crazy for even trying or hoping. If you can’t get past an obstacle one way, try approaching it from a different angle. If your mind is spinning with too much information, slow down. Not sure where to go and tired of going nowhere. Look at your mistakes and find another way.
No, I didn’t major in French. But, I did get to live in France for 18 months. I spoke like a native when I came home. I could converse with the best of them in college French courses. Even tested out of a few classes. And because Math was an obstacle I could not seem to get around at the time, I spoke French. Mistakes and all!
What would you like to overcome today?
So, yeah. This past weekend I got a W. U. call (a wake up call). Wooo….. you can’t do that like you thought, like you used to do, like you should be able to do. I’m not a fan of this type of call (this one hurt both physically and mentally) but it shook me up and got me to thinking about my choices and where I wanted to be in 1, 5, or 10 years.
Moving to Idaho
Since moving to Idaho ten years ago, we have really enjoyed traveling all over this great state and seeing the wonders of nature so different than our previous home in Ohio. We love the mountains, the desert, the rivers.
One activity that we have been able to enjoy as a family is hiking and camping. As we have built up our equipment stash (thanks to REI quarterly garage sales, actual garage sales, and clearance from other establishments) we eventually had the stuff necessary to backpack in to more remote locations and camp.
We decided to try to get our kids together for a family trip. It was an opportunity to get to know our eldest son’s girlfriend better and reconnect with a couple of other kids that our kids had grown up with; our frousins-friend cousins.
My husband chose a new local for this trip that was supposed to be moderately difficult. There would still be patches of snow. The temp only got down to the mid 30’s during the night. And we would be right next to a beautiful lake.
Now, I never fancied myself as athletic but I had tried to stay active despite having 3 kids, a couple of soccer injuries, and 2 spinal fusions in my neck. When weather permitted I would ride my bike to work or with my family. A good friend would take me for walks around the city. I’d do the occasional yoga workout at home or the YMCA. Sometimes score a free workout at a friends gym. That’s good, right?!?! Good enough?!?!
Nope. Last year my doc noticed my cholesterol was not great. And this year my doc starts talking about pre-diabetes. But I still wasn’t listening. Then I went on a moderately difficult backpacking trip. Up hill. Or rather up mountain. €~>}%]£!.,<]€!.*!!!!!
Once we got to the trail head all the kids start hiking with us parents at the back. It didn’t take long for me to be out of breath and needing a break every 10 steps. To add injury to insult, my husband carries my and his packs so we could move faster. The last 3rd of the hike was in the dark because it took me so long to get there. It was 12:30 am before we had our camp set up and could make dinner. I spent all of the next day in pain. Took 2 naps and several doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. And because I was so worn out my husband and I didn’t even explore the other side of the lake. Gratefully, I felt much better the next day for the hike back down the mountain but I was exhausted by the time we got back to our cars. And the next day I could hardly walk! (Luckily I was working from home that day!)
So, yeah. Woo call. Hello, wake up, Bonnie!
Now I stand in an interesting place. Do I continue to ignore the advice of my doctor and husband and watch my family/friends do things without me because I can’t do the fun stuff they are doing? Or do I go the other way and make choices and spend my time taking care of this mortal Uber so I can climb the next mountain? I lOVE cookies and candy bars and all things chocolate, but I must learn to love myself more. Before I hate myself completely.
A friend pointed out to me an error in the old saying, “We’re all in the same boat.” She said that in fact we are not all in the same boat, but each of us are in our own boat riding out the same storm (currently the storm is the Covid-19). Everyone’s Covid experience has been very different even though we live next door or across town.
There are those who have lost their jobs. Others who work such long hours and have kids at home without adult supervision. We can’t visit loved ones. Maybe we are stuck in another state, or country. Perhaps our quarantine is on an island while others are hunkered down in a tiny apartment. There are those who found a way to make more money than ever before when many, many folks are living on their last dollar continually watching the mail for their relief check…in round two…or three.
I personally can’t really relate to any of that. Both my husband and myself were able to continue working and earning our regular paychecks. Our oldest son has an “essential” job and never missed a day of work. The kids still at home were able to finish school because we have internet and computers and I was home to make sure they did their work. Our interactions with in-laws were limited due to our work and their health, but we were still able to keep touch or visit them on their front porch.
To be honest, the quarantine was a much needed respite for me. I have a job that requires that I interact with other humans and a lot of those humans were getting increasing irritating. Or perhaps I became increasingly irritable. (Depended on the day!) Life outside of work was ramping up to be super busy with a kid who played two sports and was about to help out with a third. And my husband had been working on a side business that followed along with the sports. (I’m not much for sports and only tagged along because I love my family and our friends all loved sports.) So yeah, quarantine=heaven!
I got to spend six weeks working in my home office. We were encouraged to do all kinds of continuing education, improving our skills, (sharpening our saws to quote Steven R. Covey) and for some of us, continuing to work on some of the same things we did in the office. I would begin work at my regular time in the morning while my kids slept until lunchtime. (Yes, I’m one of those mothers.) I’d have lunch while they breakfasted, my oldest would decided what music we’d listen to in the afternoon, and as long as they did their school work first (which they mostly did) everything went along fine. Hubby usually got home somewhere between 1-3 pm. Snack time. Then I’d finish off my work day and we’d figure out who’s turn it was to make dinner, eat said dinner, and then wander off into our corners for an evening of doing nothing. (Hello online gaming and streaming tv!) Heck, I even started playing games on my phone-something I’d sworn never to do. Although, I’d stockpiled a bunch of books from the library, very few of those got read. (Insert my inner mother shaking her head!)
So, yeah, six weeks of relaxation. I did have a kid who graduated from H.S. via a socially distanced turn taking in the school gymnasium after waiting in line outside and watching a Youtube video of all the kids and their baby pictures. But we couldn’t really celebrate that. No crowds, no parties, not even any nice dinner out. Luckily, that child could have cared less and had no interest in all the other lost events (prom, sports, etc.). Like I said, heaven.
But now that our state is slowly opening up, closing back down, opening up a little more, being back at work is for me a stressor. I don’t really worry about getting the corona virus but all the sanitation protocols, the mask wearing, the gloves and changed procedures, the not being able to go back to normal and not knowing when or if “normal” will ever happen. The work that I really enjoyed doing is not even possible at the moment. I’m back at doing the mind numbing things that I went to college to avoid doing. That’s been the hard thing for me. Going back to work when work isn’t really back the way it is supposed to be.
And to top it all off, this mask wearing has just brought on the hot flashes (now you know about how old I am). Crap, I have to have a little fan stationed with me at whatever assignment I have at work. (And, just to add another set of parenthesis, those assignments are changing constantly.)
Never have I ever felt this way. And I’m sure we’re all riding in our boats weathering this storm the best we know how. Cheers!
The purpose of life is to be happy! Dali Lama