Not doing it all and definitely not at 100%

sunny dayHi friends.  I have been missing you so I thought I’d pop in to say hey and see how everyone’s doing.  Thank you to those of you who reached out to see where I’ve been.

The school book fair is DONE! Whew it’s a lot of work! From pre-sale gift certificates and conference call planning to the class preview days to the actual L O N G week of sales to wrapping it all up and calculating the financials… when it was over I didn’t want to see another child or hear another voice for at least 24 hours.  I spent maybe 50 hours there and I didn’t sleep much last week, probably from the adrenaline of it all, plus having to be at school by 7am each day with my daughter.  Luckily Mr. B was in town at the beginning and at the very end of the week to help with that.  It was a lot of standing and moving and my body was in extreme protest and I’m still recouping.

But… I gained so much from the experience.  I met almost all the school’s teachers and faculty and many other parents.  I feel involved and appreciated.  I have a boatload of ideas for how to make next year even better.  Yes, I’m excited about doing it again.  :)

Somewhere in there also since I’ve been away were hosting a very successful neighborhood block party, taking the Daisy troop to Disney on Ice, and various meetings and birthday parties and doctor appointments.

Next up is hosting Thanksgiving, a long-needed trip alone with Mr. B, various meetings at school and with some faith leaders and our mayoral candidates re: handling city issues, a Daisy Scouts meeting, girl scout cookie training (shoot me now please), a 7th birthday party, some home repair projects, Chanukah gifts and festivities, some travel and some visitors, and all that December brings.

Mr. B sometimes hears my to-do list and asks me if all that absolutely must happen today. Mostly it doesn’t.  So I’m seeing what can be dropped from my list.  For Thursday, I’ve ordered in fajitas (I absolutely despise the traditional meal’s foods).  Holiday cards might not get hand-addressed this year.  We may not make it to that mid-week 6pm dance class performance.  Dinner may be outsourced.  Who knows!

Since being out of the house for over a week, today I’m looking around at all the stuff we have and tossing junk and running a carload of knickknacks to Good Will.  Who knew I had three jugs of dishwashing soap from 2007 that was hiding in the cabinets above the washer/drier???

So thanks for your patience as we get through this busy season.  I’ll be in and out through the next few weeks as I can.  I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Xmas, Winter Solstice (or Summer Debra!), or whatever makes you happy.

It’s new for me to be ok with doing things halfway.  Honestly, there’s only so much one person can do! I can’t help everyone with their projects and host perfect events with a clean house and still get rest and time with my family.  Well, I could if people don’t mind coming for Thanksgiving and having no forks.

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Wishing you the best

trees and sky

Walking to school yesterday morning, I looked up at the sky and could hardly believe how resplendent it seemed.  I realized that I don’t look up nearly enough.  Looking down at my phone’s calendar and to-do lists isn’t nearly as fulfilling.

Since I frequently write about being kind to yourself and listening to your intuition, I think it’s wise to take a dose of my own medicine.  Life has been crazy.  Good, but hectic.  I’ve been managing multiple commitments and juggling events and not getting enough rest. So… I am taking blogging off my to-do list for the next 3 weeks, just until things settle down and I can do one thing at a time again.

I wish each of you a fulfilling few weeks.  Mwah.

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“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” ~Wayne Dyer

new car bow-001One thing I believe I’m supposed to learn in this lifetime is that I am worthy… of true friends and their love, of time to have fun and relax, of my home and the goodness inside it, and just abundance in general.  Most days I feel overwhelming gratitude for it all.  I read about girls on the far side of the globe who have to walk two hours to school and think how fortunate I am to have been born into a family in the US who believe strongly in education. I hear about human trafficking and feel such relief that I don’t have any experience with it aside from local activism groups I’m part of and some books I’ve read.  And on and on.

I realize that coming to terms with abundance sounds like a good challenge to have. Becoming comfortable with it is a slow process for me because it taps into so many other issues of self-worth, self-esteem, and even fears that if something good happens now, will something bad follow later? So much goodness seems unlikely and hard to accept.

I heard Brené Brown say on Oprah that when she was on her flight from Houston to Chicago to do that first show, wouldn’t it have been just peachy if her plane went down, just as she was about to meet Oprah… so her solution was to focus on gratitude.  For her life up to then, her family, and for the opportunity itself. Gratitude is the opposite of fear.

Sonia Choquette says in this short video that the more you receive goodness, the more it amplifies.  Pay attention to good things that come your way.  What do you receive and are you comfortable with it? Abundance = expect it, accept it.

Fortunate-001I say thank you for all the gifts.  Thank you for my family’s health.  Thank you for the sunshine and the rain.  Thank you for the ability to travel to interesting places.  Thank you for a life partner who respects and loves me.  Thank you for a life of relative ease and peace of mind.

I hope with all sincerity that my life is a blessing for others.  Going about my day, I strive to live up to what I’ve been given.

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How to decode secret messages in your child’s behavior

For the first time, Sweet Girl had a friend spend the night.  Their plan was to pretend to fall asleep, wait for us to go to bed, and then: 1) art activities 2) play doh 3) play Shoots and Ladders??? – can’t decipher that one 4) dance and 5) snack.  Too cute!

to do list-001

“Every day, children tell their parents exactly how they need to be parented.” That’s how Carol Tuttle begins her book The Child Whisperer: The Ultimate Handbook for Raising Happy, Successful, Cooperative Children.


Carol writes that “or you to begin this experience with your own child, you need 3 key principles. They involve thinking about parenting differently than most parents do—I promise that thinking this way pays off.

Cooperation Principle #1. Your children WANT to cooperate.

Cooperation Principle #2. Every struggle is a secret message.

Cooperation Principle #3. Parenting shouldn’t wear you out.

If you feel exhausted, cranky, or a tiny bit resentful at the end of the day, that’s a warning sign.

That’s your inner voice telling you that this version of parenthood isn’t supportive to you.

I’m excited for you to have tools to feel energized as a parent.”


Remember me telling you about Dressing Your Truth®, a Beauty Profiling system that identifies those four main types of beauty that women (and men) express.  This is sort of like a personal fashion makeover from the inside out.  Well it works on children too.

Our daughter is primarily Type 1.  Her nature is light and boyant and she does her best when interacting socially and when using her imagination. T1 children resist too much structure and get cranky when they don’t interact with others enough.  When she is with us at home, in her most comfortable environment, she is all over the place, flitting from one idea to another, active and physical.  She is enthusiastic about just about everything.  She needs to be reminded to clean up one project before jumping into another.  She seems to physically need social interaction and frequently wants to engage in pretend play, which usually requires another person.   She does two or more things at once.  I have had to remind her that when I am reading her bedtime stories, all the other things she is doing might be fine for her, but she is distracting ME! And OMG, she talks during every. single. tv show.Every child is unique.  The fun-loving T1 child relates socially.  The sensitive T2 child relates emotionally. The determined T3 child relates physically.  The more serious T4 child relates intellectually.  You can go here to see which type your child primarily is.  Remember, we all have all four types within, but one expresses itself most dominantly.

She also has a great deal of Type 2 in her that gets in the way of enjoying her social, playful, creative self when she’s outside our house.  The kiddo we see at home is not the same one that other family or teachers see.  At all!  They may even wonder if I’m making up all these dance parties, pretend You Tube videos, and other shenanigans.  Since I am a Type 2, I identify and understand how hard it can be to move outside your comfort zone.  She appears to be shy, which she definitely is not.

princessHow you go about teaching your child to be in the world should be consistent with their Energy Type.  For her, I’ve never felt that Time Outs would work because she has huge trouble being alone and because emotionally she would feel abandoned and misunderstood.  So we do a lot of talking things through, sometimes more than once.  I have learned to be more authoritative (not authoritarian!) while still hearing her side of things.  I can speak the Type 2 language, but the Type 1 has been more of a challenge.

For bedtime, varying the routine a bit here and there is what works for her.  It can’t be too serious or structured.  It must be light, playful, and interesting.  Battles ensue when we resist her inner nature.  “It’s time for bed” or “because I’m the adult” just doesn’t fly with her!

Type 1’s need creative fun, outlets for their imagination, and lots of social interaction.  Providing her with these helps eliminate possible conflicts.  If I think back to times when I would usually raise my voice out of frustration, the situation was one where she wasn’t getting her primary need met.  She was either sitting still for too long, doing a solitary activity for more than 20 minutes, or feeling otherwise restricted.  If only I’d known about this before! Going forward, this is going to be a huge help, especially in the teen years I’m sure.  You definitely don’t want to discipline a T1 like you would with a different one.  T3 and T4 may be fine with Time Outs (T4’s love the time alone), but T1’s can’t handle stifling their energy like that and T2’s emotional response would be a damaging thing.

This knowledge has been hugely helpful in smoothing daily routines.  If she doesn’t want to go to bed, I propose we have a race there or do something silly on the way there like walk backwards or see who can carry the most things (cleaning up is tough for her too unless it’s fun).  She really protests brushing her teeth, but I made that into a fun game a few months ago, with various toothpastes, guessing games, and silly ideas.  I haven’t figured out the picky eating thing yet, but making food look fun has helped, as has having fun games at the table.

word search

Why just walk to school when you could do a word search on the way?

If I need cooperation from my T1 daughter, I’ve got to make it fun for her in some way.  As a T2, this can be exhausting sometimes.  Type 1’s need to be asked “what can we do to make this more fun?” and T2 “What do you need in order for this to feel comfortable to you?”

Also, since discovering the EP method, she and I are able to discuss openly each other’s strengths and tendencies.  By Dressing My Truth as a T2, I am showing her how to embrace your natural self.  When I tell her that she hurt my feelings by talking to me a certain way, which she’s long forgotten, she respects that.  Interestingly, the most important thing for a T1 is having a happy and stable home.  If someone is irritated or frustrated, my daughter does. not. like. it.

Once adolescence hits, I am going to have to remember to lay off giving her too much structure.  Her random nature and natural free-spirited energy might be hard for me, but I don’t want to push her away by being too restrictive about cleaning her room or following through with ideas.  I’m hoping that I’m teaching her at an early age that we clean up after ourselves and we value our possessions.  As she grows, her friends will become very important to her and honestly, I am looking forward to that.

Since reading this book, I have made it a point to tell my daughter that her enthusiastic energy and creative ideas are valuable.  She really is a gift and she really does make those around her smile.  I want her to know that she doesn’t need to change in order to be considered worthwhile or to be loved.

Carol has a very cool infographic about all of this right here on her Child Whisperer blog.  You will also find there incredible resources to help you in parenting or grandparenting a child … Also, I highly recommend this blog post called “15 Things You Should Give Up To Be A Happy Parent.

Her weekly Child Whisperer podcast draws 30,000 listeners.  I am catching up on the dozens of topics in the archives.  Oh, and read my original post about how you might be fighting your true nature too!

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October reads

October books

October was FULL.  Mr. B traveled most weekdays and I was busy at home with school book fair prep, girl scout organizing, and other volunteer commitments.  There was a virus or two, lots of birthday parties, putting up and taking down a sukkah, and a few trips to the vet (pancreatitis).  I would do anything for this little buddy, but he’s not been a fan of the medicines. :(

Mo in sun

Oh, and I cleaned out the garage! I’m still not sure what to do with it because, due to it’s angle and a huge structural pole just outside it, we can’t park our cars in there.  We’ve thought of using it as an office, but we can’t get permission for that.  I’ve thought of it as an art studio, but the extreme heat would ruin all my paints.  So for now, I’ve just been going in to admire how lovely it is and then leaving.

garageThere are a couple books I left out of October’s report because I haven’t finished them yet, but I’m already excited about November’s book report.  Let me know what good ones you’ve been reading lately.

Exit Berlin: How One Woman Saved Her Family from Nazi Germany by Charlotte R. Bonelli

This is a piece of history told in correspondence.  Luzie, a German Jew, fled to the United States from Germany in 1938.  Unlike most letters that have been found from WWII, Luzie has copies of the letters she sent as well as the responses, which has created a complete picture of one ordinary family’s attempts to escape Nazi Germany.  The complexities involved in gaining visas were something I’d never realized before.

I have many times wondered why the American community and government didn’t respond more immediately to the situation in Germany, but through Luzie’s cousin’s letters, I can see that his perspective simply couldn’t have included such atrocities that came out later.  Only those who actually left Germany could intuit what was going on. Highly recommend this quick read.  

Hugo & Rose: A Novel by Bridget Foley

“Maybe … maybe that’s what dreams are. Maybe the people we see in our dreams are real people who have something to teach us, some way to help us.… But we’re supposed to wake up from our dreams. Our dreams are supposed to help us live our lives … not keep us from living them.”

Rose has dreamed about island adventures with Hugo every night since she was 6 years old.  But then she meets Hugo in real life and the true story begins.  I just don’t know what to say about this novel.  I loved the first half, but the second was beyond odd.  I can say that the writing really carried me away.  Foley is great at conveying emotion and characters.  The premise of the book is a unique one, but there was just something about the story that made me feel that the book went on far longer than it should have.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

You know, when you buy and read a book on Kindle, you never really see the cover.  I don’t think I’d have bought it if I had! Jenny Lawson is laugh-out-loud funny, but this book wasn’t as hilarious as her first one.  I think I only peed my pants twice.  So disappointing.  Anyway, in this collection of life stories, she discusses her bouts with anxiety and depression.  Those are, of course, in between random tales about herds of swans trying to eat her and talks with her therapist.

This is my absolute favorite quotation ever about depression.  I could read it over and over again shouting “That’s right!” each time.

“I can tell you that ‘Just cheer up’ is almost universally looked at as the most unhelpful depression cure ever. It’s pretty much the equivalent of telling someone who just had their legs amputated to ‘just walk it off.’  Some people don’t understand that for a lot of us, mental illness is a severe chemical imbalance rather just having ‘a case of the Mondays.’ Those same well-meaning people will tell me that I’m keeping myself from recovering because I really ‘just need to cheer up and smile.’ That’s when I consider chopping off their arms and then blaming them for not picking up their severed arms so they can take them to the hospital to get reattached. ‘Just pick them up and take them to get fixed. IT’S NOT THAT HARD, SARAH. I pick up stuff all the time. We all do. No, I’m not going to help you because you have to learn to do this for yourself. I won’t always be around to help you, you know. I’m sure you could do it if you just tried. Honestly, it’s like you don’t even want to have arms.'” 

One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi by Alan Lew

Known as the Zen Rabbi, Alan Lew tells a series of short life stories that describe his search for a spiritual path from Zen Buddhism to Jewish Rabbi.  He finds there are many similarities between the two.

“Meditation and Jewish practice lead us to experience the oneness of all beings. We are all connected; each of us is created in the divine image, and other people’s suffering is our own… But the first noble truth is that everything is suffering, and both Judaism and Buddhism insist that the only appropriate response to this suffering is to turn toward it, to attend to it.

On the merit of meditation in any tradition: We all have such a map. We all have such a key. And it waits to be discovered, not outside of us, but right there on the tip of our tongue, right there on top of our heart, not outside the window but in the window itself. The bad news is, we can’t find it if we look at it directly; the good news is, it will come and find us if we let it. It will come and find us while we’re praying, while we’re trying to focus on these prayers, on this ancient communal call to God. God will answer us, if we’re listening.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

This is a short portrait of a marriage.  The narrator begins single and becomes a wife and mother. The writing is profound and there were many times I underlined a sentence because I identified with it. The entire book can be read in an hour.  Still, it’s told from what seems like an uncaring distance.  I didn’t get attached to the characters and I can’t say I love this book.

“How has she become one of those people who wears yoga pants all day? She used to make fun of those people. With their happiness maps and their gratitude journals and their bags made out of recycled tire treads. But now it seems possible that the truth about getting older is that there are fewer and fewer things to make fun of until finally there is nothing you are sure you will never be.”
Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche by Bill Plotkin

“Contemporary society has lost touch with soul and the path to psychological and spiritual maturity, or true adulthood. Instead, we are encouraged to create lives of predictable security, false normality, material comfort, bland entertainment, and the illusion of eternal youth. Most of our leaders — political, cultural, and economic — represent and defend a non-sustainable way of life built upon military aggression, the control and exploitation of nature’s “resources,” and an entitled sense of national security that ignores the needs of other species, other nations, tribes, and races, and our own future generations. These values do not reflect our deeper human nature.”

Plotkin presents an integrated path of discovery.  He says that most spiritual quests aim outward toward connecting with a larger wholeness.   His method encourages turing inward to develop a way of life that emphasizes meaning, celebrates our individuality, and helps reintroduce to Western civilization a turning inward to our own souls.

The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell

One of you readers told me about this one, but I can’t remember who.  What a fun and interesting read! Russell and her husband were living in the UK at a feverish pace, sort of disliking their jobs and wishing to get pregnant, when an opportunity arose to move to Denmark for a year.  They discover “the happiest country on earth,” a social welfare state that provides just about everything you could want… amazing work/life balance, nursery care, free higher education, family allowance, and on and on.  Of course, even paradise isn’t perfect… there’s inequality even here.  I’d read this book for her descriptions of the pastries alone.

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

This is as much an adult novel as a young adult novel.  I found it excellent.  I love reading rags-to-riches stories about hard-working good people.  I won’t give too much away about this one, but I loved the main character so much and I definitely recommend it.

“It sometimes seems to me as if I live in a world where everyone thinks I’m worth nothing… and there’s nobody on my side at all, with Ma dead and Miss Chandler sent away.  But I know I’m not nothing.  And somehow I’m going to fight my way forward, though I don’t know how, and I don’t know where I’ll end up.”

“The truth is, most of the time, I don’t think of myself as the hired girl  I think of myself as somebody “disguised” as the hired girl.  After all, I’m not going to be a servant all my life.  It’s temporary.  At some point I’m going to get an education and become a schoolteacher, just as Ma planned.  It isn’t as if I was born to be a servant.”

We Are Not Ourselves: A Novel by Matthew Thomas

I borrowed this one from the library to read on my Kindle.  When I’d read quite a bit and felt that the story should surely be over by now, it said I was only 12% through the book.  Oh boy.  While it was an excellent story, it was rough getting all the way through because it moved so slowly.  I’d say it’s preferable to read this book than watch golf, but not any other sport.  And I don’t like sports.

“Have you ever felt like life was getting away from you, and people were lapping you and you couldn’t catch up? And if you could just stop the world and take it all in, and nobody would go anywhere for a little while, you’d have enough time to understand it? I wish I could do that. I don’t want anybody or anything to move an inch.” “People move,” she said. “That’s life.” “I’m lodging my protest,” he said, and he put the ball in his pocket and rose to go inside, leaving her alone on the stoop.”

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Introversion and self-knowledge

Next week, we will resume our Monday/Thursday publishing schedule.  I’m finally caught up!

Do you know about the Introvert, Dear email list? They send out short quotations like this about once a week.

This one struck me as particularly relevant for me.  I have been observing myself to see what situations cause me to feel authentic and positive.  We each have strengths that we can apply toward offering our best selves to people, to work, or the world at large.  It’s true that I haven’t been comfortable determining a direction until I know exactly what would be best for me.  It has taken all of life thus far to determine what works (organizing, books and book-related topics, nurturing, being interested and engaged, feeling good about something) and what definitely does not (lots of chaos, uncontrolled variables, many people in one place).  I’m looking forward to being better able to jump in to new projects since I now have enough knowledge about myself.

If you are highly sensitive or introverted, do you find this to be true about you?

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