My husband, daughter, and son-in-law coach an 18u women’s softball team. Last year was their first year coaching this team. The team consisted of some players who had played together and some who had never met each other. Throughout the year, the team had its ups and downs, its wins and losses. And when it came down to the final moments of the final game, you could see the strong emotions brewing in the dugout. For some of these ladies (many of whom had played softball since the age of five) this was going to be the last time they played competitively. It was a joy to watch them come together as a team and establish lifelong connections.
The parents of these ladies became very close friends by making connections and building relationships as well. In those final moments, I saw the parents sitting together in the bleachers, fighting back tears, as they talked about their children. They too were closing a chapter of their lives. Their summers would no longer be spent sitting in the bleachers, cheering on their children, and cajoling with the other parents. This time in their life was over.
Once the final out was made, the girls left the field to have their post-game meeting with the coaches. They sat in a circle for what seemed to be a very long time, and I could see tears being wiped away even from a distance. I’m grateful I had my sunglasses on because I was tearing up as well. The parents were then waved in by the coaches to meet with their 18-year-old children. My daughter, the head coach, said, “They don’t want to leave the circle. They want you to come to them because they aren’t ready to leave each other.”
As we approached them, the tears became even more apparent. You see, it wasn’t about wins or losses. It was about the connections they had made with each other and with their coaches. This group had spent five days a week together for the last six months. They had connected with one another, laughed together, supported one another, told each other jokes, and worked hard together. Being part of a group of people who worked so hard together to achieve a common goal and who spend so many hours together to develop skills isn’t something easily left behind.
As the crying, hugging, and picture-taking wrapped up, I reflected on the positive impact these connections will have on that group of women. They’ve built character, sportsmanship, strength, encouragement, and friendships that will last. They’ve gained skills they will never forget. They’ve created positive experiences and relationships that will have a meaningful impact on their lives.
What I have learned: It’s not always about the wins and losses. It’s about the connections made.
Sounds from the Midwest
If only I could describe the sounds I am hearing on my walk tonight. At 7:50 p.m. on a rainy Wednesday night, I looked down at the rings of my activity tracker and realized I’d only walked 4,000 steps that day. I had just finished editing some blogs, and I thought I should probably get going because it had stopped raining.
It can be hard for me to lean into silence and stillness because I like to keep my mind busy. But that evening, I forced myself to go out, take a walk, and embrace stillness. I made the decision not to listen to a podcast or create any content while walking, but…here I am…stopped in the middle of my walk, talking into my phone’s notes because I have to share this amazing experience with you.
As I came out of my house, I felt the humidity hit immediately (a feeling any Missourian is familiar with). It can get humid very quickly here. I began my walk through the tree-lined road. The branches bend over to cover, shade, and protect the road. It always seems as if I am walking through a leaf-covered tunnel. I heard the water droplets trickling down from the top leaves all the way to the ground. On occasion, I would hear and then feel a giant plop on my forehead. As I continued my walk, I turned the corner of the street. I began to hear crickets and tree frogs with their gentle croaking and clicking. The evening sounds of the Midwest bring a smile to my face, even as I realize summer is coming to a close. Outdoor walks are about to become less common, so I take every opportunity to soak these in while I still can this year.
As I continued to walk on that Wednesday evening, my senses became more aware. I began to hear the birds chirping. Just past the horse stables, I heard the scrappy little dog barking and the two horses let out a welcoming winny as I walked by. Then, I am stopped in my tracks by the hooting of an owl. We’ve had owls in this area forever, but you don’t always hear them. To me, it’s a remarkable sound and, when you get to see them, it’s an exciting sight.
The air was crisp and clean. There was a freshness as the dust of summer had been washed off the mailboxes, houses, and cars by the rain. As I made the descent back to my house, the skies opened up to clear blue with puffy, white clouds. Approaching the pond, for the final phase of my walk, the crickets became louder and the locusts began to sing. The closer I got, the louder the sounds of the tree frogs became. The birds began to soar from branch to branch. Porch lights switched on, as it was now 8:15 p.m. I am so grateful I got up from my desk and made myself take that walk.
What I have learned: Stepping outside can change your mental state and bring you immense joy. There’s a lot of wisdom in the phrase, “Stop and smell the roses.”
Make each day what you want it to be. After a busy weekend of traveling to a softball tournament, coming home, unpacking, and making dinner for my family on Sunday, I have to say I was exhausted by the end of the evening.
I woke up Monday morning exhausted and tired. I started the mindset of, “I wish I didn’t have to do anything today”. At this time, the school year was starting and teachers and students were needing support. I wanted to be available and mentally ready for my teachers on Monday morning so I can be there to support them with their needs but I wasn’t feeling very enthusiastic about the day. I was tired!
But, guess what? One of the greatest things that I have figured out in life is how to make each day the kind of day that I need it to be for me. I can make my day and my morning anyway I choose it to be. So, when I realized this I got up and decided to make my husband lunch so that his day would start a little better, I know he was tired, too. Instead of me rushing to get to the gym by 6:30 am, I decided to take today a little slower. I went in to my yoga room and I added some peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils to my diffuser to get that started, while I changed into my workout clothes and decided that today I would just do some yoga stretches at home. I was battling in my mind that due to being out of town, I haven’t been to the gym in two days but through self talk I was able to give myself permission to take it a little slower today. The gym will be there tomorrow or even this evening. There's no sense in trying to fight traffic and getting frustrated on a day when you’re already a little overtired. So I got in my yoga clothes, went into my yoga room, did some gentle stretches and a lot of deep breathing. As I went from pose to pose, my mindset was changing a little bit more. I was feeling less stressed. As I was feeling better, I decided to lace up my tennis shoes and tell myself I’m just gonna work on getting a few steps in today. When I went out into nature it was a cool crisp morning and I was able to take some more deep breaths. I finished a mile walk and felt much more accomplished for the day. My mood and energy level was perking up.
Giving yourself grace is going to help your body and your mental health as well. Allowing yourself to be guilt free from the fact that you listened to your body and changed your routine. Notice I didn’t call in sick to work and I still took time to move my body. But, I was more gentle with myself instead of going at the light speed pace I normally would’ve gone. My usual schedule is: get up at 5:30, get dressed and out the door for the gym by 6:20 and back home by 6:40 and get myself ready for work by 8 o’clock. No, today was much more gentle. I find that when I prepare myself in the mornings, my day runs much smoother when I give myself time on the days when I’m just not feeling so full of energy. Or I should say on the days when I’m lacking energy from a very busy weekend. When I am in a calmer state, I feel better. When I am in control I greet my job with a brighter attitude. I can also better help my own family when I am calm and in control of my emotions. Which means sometimes listening to what your body needs.
What I have learned: It’s easy to tell other people what they need but sometimes it’s hard to figure out what YOU need every day. Take a good look inside of you, what do you need today and make that change?
The old adage “it is better to give than to receive” still holds true today. I remember a long time ago sitting in church one Sunday morning with two small children listening to the priest talk about how they were requesting community service and help from the congregation. I thought I would love to help in someway or form but I just I’m so busy with these two little ones and I didn’t have any extra money to donate extra to the church at the time. And then the priest at about the same time I was thinking that said, “It’s okay, those of you who have young children, know that you are doing your job right now of raising your children. There are many community members in this church that are available to help so please don’t feel stressed because we asked about service today.” I cannot tell you the relief that came over me. I wanted to help but I was already burning the candle at both ends.
It has me thinking because there’s so many different ways that people can give of themselves and to make an impact in the world. There are a variety of ways to give to others. You can give of your time, you can give of your energy, you can give of your spirit, and you can give of monetary means.
Giving of Your Energy - You can bake cookies and deliver them to friends in the community just because or even if you know that they’re going through something challenging. Giving doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg a home baked item shows you care.
Giving of Your Time - You can physically volunteer at a food pantry a few times a year or monthly. You can reach out to your church and seek out volunteer opportunities. You may meet new friends in the process.
Give of your Spirit - You can also spiritually give by sending prayers out to people who are in need prayers. Spending time offering up your prayers for them during your daily devotionals or before bed or at meal time around your family. Thinking positive thoughts about a person brings them good energy and helps to lift their spirits. You can send them a text of a bible verse or a quote that lets them know you are thinking of them.
Giving Monetarily - And then if you are financially abundant helping out organizations and giving monetarily is greatly appreciated. You do not have to be rich to give money to organizations, every little bit helps. And if everyone gave a little bit then the organization would thrive.
Finding ways to help others takes the focus off of you and puts your mind to work for someone else. It feels nice to make someone smile and to help them get along a little better in life.
What I have learned: It is better to give than to receive. Helping others helps fill you up!
What does really taking care of you look like? I know self-care is the big buzzword these days and people are so tired of hearing about it. Yet, some people still can’t figure out what it means. You hear all phrases and see it everywhere “self-care isn’t selfish and take good care of you”. But if you really break that down into what that really means, do you do it? Think about it. What does it mean to really take care of your mental health, spiritual health, and your physical health?
Let me share with you what I think it means and maybe you will agree.
Taking care of your mental health means setting up boundaries saying no to things, seeing a therapist when you are needing additional support and advice in your life. It also means taking medications like anti-depressants if you are prescribed them on a regular basis. You also should be doing the work that you have to do to keep your mental state in check whether it be journaling, exercising every day, not drinking, removing toxic people from your life, changing your brain and your thoughts to positive things as opposed to negative things.
Taking care of your spirit is as important as taking care of your mental health. Practicing your religious beliefs or being still and surrounding yourself with nature helps to increase your spirit and spiritual life. Doing good things for others is fulfilling to your spiritual nature and it helps the world and the community. There are small things you can do and there are large things that you can do that help fill your soul and your spirit on the inside. You can donate large sums of money to an organization of your choice or you can lend a helping hand to your neighbor. All things are important and finding time to give to others whether it be physically, monetarily, or through prayer is fulfilling.
I’ll never forget the day I had a conversation with a friend we were just chatting on the phone one day. She said to me, “You were in my morning devotional today.” I was shocked and taken aback. I thought why? I am doing well and everything is great. I asked her why and she said, “I really want you to find success in your book writing and the things that you are doing because I think they’re really important.” That comment and her prayer filled me up so much. She had no idea the impact that she made on me by saying a single prayer for me one day. I texted her later in the day and I thanked her because on that day I was starting to have some doubts and she really helped lift me up and motivated me to keep moving forward
For your physical state it is important that you keep up with your yearly exams, keeping up with your blood panels making sure that all of those things are in check. If they are not, then seeing a physician to help you with that. Setting a goal for getting in physical activity every day whether it be that you want to just get to 5,000 steps a day or you really think you can do 10,000 steps today or that you want to train for a marathon. Taking care of your physical body means you’re listening to your body's needs.
Sometimes those nutritional areas need additional support and reflection. Maybe you need to keep a food journal. I know that I do I love to eat and I find much pleasure in eating but I can also sabotage my body through food. Getting a food journal and being aware helps me with the needs of my physical body. I have created a journal called Kickstarting Wellness, that would help you get on the right path of great health.
As you finish reading this, take a moment and reflect upon your own self-care and what area of self-care do you need to improve on. Write an action plan decide to type decide which category of self-care you need to work on.
I believe in you. I know you can take good care of you.
What I have learned: Self-care is important but each day self-care can look a little bit different based upon what you are needing that day.
When life gives you lemons……
You can fill it in however you want but regardless of how you fill it in, you must do something with the lemons. Even doing nothing with the lemons leaves you with rotten lemons. So what do you do? How do you handle the adversity that life throws at you?
Maybe you were passed up for that promotion you were waiting for or you received news about something that has changed the course of your life. How will you handle this? Ignoring it will cause it to fester and bring you much anxiety. Becoming angry will give the negative situation energy and therefore leave you exhausted and more upset. You have to give it time to unfold to see what happens and you have to a give yourself time to wrap your head around it. But, sometimes you have to just go with the flow and know that better things will be coming. Walking through the hard times in our life is always for a reason. A reason we may not know the answer to at the time and it is difficult to see the positive in tough situations. When we go through these times we grow and evolve. The lemons teach us a lesson as sour as it may be. What we go through, may give us the knowledge and experience to help another person. It may help us to make better decisions in the future and gives us the wisdom we share with others.
Something that I have had to work very hard to allow in my life is the phrase below:
“This too shall pass”
The mantra is key to solving the lemon issue. Really whatever lemons life has thrown at you will eventually pass so try to handle it with grace and positivity. Looking at life as if the lemon was purposely sent to you to give you a lesson to learn or to open a new opportunity helps to make the lemon not taste so sour. Try to embrace life and make lemonade or at least take a shot with it. The choice is yours because you will get lemons every once in a while.
What I have learned: This too shall pass.
On Saturday mornings, I host a room on Clubhouse, Coffee and Kids, where we talk about parenting (join my Clubhouse here). In our latest chat, we talked about celebrating parenthood. We can sometimes get bogged down by focusing on the negative aspects of parenting. We complain when our kids won’t do their homework, aren’t getting good grades, or don’t clean up their room. We grumble that they don’t listen to us EVER. I would be willing to bet you have thought and even said those things yourself. But in our last Coffee and Kids chat, we decided to shift our perspective to focus on celebrating being a parent and talking about our parenting wins.
We discussed how much of a blessing it is to actually have a child. We also acknowledged that there were times when we didn't realize that having a child is a blessing and that there are so many women who struggle with infertility and challenging pregnancies. The conversation just kept returning to the fact that human life itself is such a gift. When you start focusing on basic gratitude and love for human life, you feel a very powerful and overwhelming emotion. It is certainly something for which to be grateful.
One call participant, who lives in the Caribbean, talked about being frustrated with her daughter for not cleaning up her room. She shared that she really wanted to raise her voice and get angry with her daughter but instead decided to just hug her. Her daughter was about 14 years old at the time. In the moment, she made the decision to show love and gratitude for her daughter rather than starting a fight over a messy room. She shared that she hugged her daughter and said, “You know what, let's not argue. Let's talk about what you want to do today and what we are going to do together.” She was grateful for the mere presence of her daughter. That acceptance was her way of honoring human life. They decided to let the room be for the weekend and instead enjoy spending time together. The room could wait another day.
Then, our conversation shifted to parenting wins. I shared the story of when my ten-year-old daughter came to me with some friends who couldn't quite get their plans together. She said, “Let's go talk to my mom. She's great about making Plan B.” As a mom, I was really excited that my daughter had been listening to the words I’d said for so many years. She always knew that I would be able to make a backup plan, so she didn't have to worry about derailed schedules or routines. There was always another way around a failed plan. In that moment, she was coming to me for advice, and I considered that a parenting win.
Another participant chimed in and shared a similar story, and I loved how she phrased it. She said, “If the mountains are in the way, are we going to dig a hole, or are we going to go around them? We are going to find another way. We don't let the mountain stop us.” That is a GREAT parenting win - showing your kids how to plan for and get around obstacles in life.
One other person, who was raised in Cuba by her father, shared that she spent a lot of time sheltering her son early in his life. She found out later in her parenting years that she needed to “remove the umbrella and let the rain fall on him.” She meant that she could not protect him from everything, but she could be there for him when he needed her. She stated that she wished she had closed the umbrella earlier than she did because sheltering him from too many life experiences was not as helpful as she had anticipated.
It is so amazing to meet these women from around the world and to hear their parenting experiences. We all have one thing in common: We are all parents who love our children.
What I have learned: Look deeply at the gifts of being a parent and celebrate your wins.
Catch us on Clubhouse, Coffee and Kids, on Saturday mornings at 9:30 a.m. CST.
Do you ever find yourself focusing on the things that went wrong in a day? Do you have trouble letting things go? Maybe you had a difficult day at work, made a few mistakes, and carried those with you for the rest of the day. Focusing on the negatives can really put you in a bad mood, so I encourage you to shift your focus, change your perspective, and acknowledge the positives.
Yesterday my brain seemed to be stuck. In my mind, I kept replaying the one thing that did not go well at work. I was struggling with the fact that I interviewed a candidate who did not have the proper certification, so the interview was a waste of our time and theirs. That mess up seemed to bother me for most of the day. Why did I let that one little thing cause me such turmoil?
Take a moment to think about the good things you did today. Then, make a list. I bet you can’t even write them all down. Maybe the only positive thing that happened today was that you got out of bed. Maybe you made yourself get dressed and leave the house. Even if much of your day didn’t go as planned, I’m sure you could find some positives if you tried. Maybe you were in total survival mode, but you still fed the dog, fed the kids, got the groceries, cleaned up the house, and did 10 loads of laundry. Maybe you ate healthier today, made better food choices, exercised, and got your steps in. Those are WINS! There are so many things that you do right every day. Focus on them.
When I left the gym today, I started thinking about this blog and wondered what my day would look like. I decided to make my own “Things I Did Right” list.
That was all before 8:00 am. By taking a closer look, it was easy to see I was off to a pretty good start for the day. And just thinking about this list made me walk a little lighter. I had already felt accomplished for the day.
I encourage you to ask yourself what you have done right today. Instead of focusing on the tasks you did not get done or the things that went wrong, how many little things did you do right? How many little things went well today? How many little things did you orchestrate today to make the rest of the world go round?
I bet you have a list going in your mind right now. I imagine you will probably run out of paper writing them all down. Go ahead and make that list and focus on the positives in your life.
I often write down my positivity lists in Kickstarting Wellness. It’s also a great place to write down goals, keep track of your moods, and focus on bettering your life.
What I have learned: Flip your brain and focus on the things you did right today!
Never depend on others to supply your joy. If you’re waiting for your partner to bring you flowers, you’ll end up disappointed every time they come home empty-handed. But, what’s stopping you from buying yourself those flowers you love so much? You are worthy of loving yourself. You deserve to treat yourself to that beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers or whatever else brings you joy.
I have never understood why some women get upset when their partners don’t bring them flowers. To me, that doesn’t mean they don’t love you. I see it as either being not that important to them or not how they express their love for you. It’s likely they have other ways of showing their love. Whether you’re a flower-lover or not, don’t start relying on someone else to supply your happiness.
While special gifts and surprises are nice, don’t expect them because you may be let down. If you want jewelry, then save your money and buy yourself jewelry. You don’t have to wait for another person to give you the things you want in life. Don’t get me wrong - Staying within your budget and not going overboard are great tips to keep in mind. However, don’t wait on someone to surprise you with that necklace you’ve always wanted. You may be surprised at how good it feels to give yourself something that you have been wanting.
You are in charge of your own happiness. Be good to yourself because, not in spite of, what your partner didn’t do. ALWAYS be good to yourself. There isn’t anyone you should love more than you.
Doing things for yourself does not mean that others don’t love you or that you don’t love and need others. We all do. But, do not wait for people to make you happy. Take charge of your joy. You are responsible for bringing yourself happiness.
What I have learned: You are in charge of your own happiness. Do things that bring you joy.
We are now six months into 2022…Where are you with your New Year’s resolutions or goals? Take a minute to review and reflect on how you are doing. Did you stay on track? Did you stay on the right course? A couple of things to think about:
1. If you fell off the wagon and have lost sight of your goal, this is the perfect time to get back at it. Perhaps your goal was centered on weight loss. Because the weather is warming up, it’s the perfect time to get up and move your body. It is also a great time to focus on good eating habits. If your goal was career-oriented, take a minute to reflect. Ask yourself, “Is it time to update my resume?” Or maybe you should create an account on LinkedIn to begin networking. This time of year, people are moving and shaking while companies are settling down, so it might be a good time to review your goals.
If your goal was to look after your own mental health, it is time you review that goal too. Have you given up on setting boundaries? Have you stopped taking care of yourself? It's not too late to jump back on the wagon, start taking care of yourself, and setting firm boundaries. A great way to get started is by using Kickstarting Wellness. This journal is filled with prompts to guide your personal wellness journey by providing space for journaling and creating healthy habits.
2. The second tip I would suggest is a mid-course correction. A mid-course correction is when you review the progress of your goal and make changes that will help you reach that goal. Perhaps you're on the right track, but things just aren't going the way you would like. If your goal is weight loss and the weight isn't coming off the way you want, maybe it's time to change it up by adding some weight to your workouts or modifying your diet. I've had to do that myself with weight loss goals by adding more carrots and less chips. Your mid-course correction may not be as much fun, but I think the results will be better. Less wine and more water probably would be helpful too…
If you are looking at your career and needing to make a mid-course correction on that goal, think about marketing yourself a little differently. Perhaps you modify your resume by reviewing your skills to see where you could be more marketable. Perhaps reaching out and networking with different people or looking into a completely different field might widen your opportunities.
If you have been working on your mental health and wellness, take a minute to think about what needs to be changed or modified. How are the boundaries you set up for yourself working? If they're working well, then keep them where they are. If they are not, then make some changes to the boundaries. Take a look and see if there are other areas that could help enhance the already great strategies you have been using. For example, you might already be working out and eating well, but you've been staying up too late working. It might be a good idea to turn your cellphone off by 9 pm or stop working late in the evenings to promote better sleep and further improve your mental health and well-being. Maybe you need to incorporate more meditation and deep breathing in your day.
Whatever your journey, take a moment to check your progress on your goals. Reflection is a large part of growth, but using what we have learned from our reflection and acting upon that is a huge win too.
What I have learned: Take a moment to reflect on your own progress. You may need to restart a goal or make mid-course corrections. Either way, you're headed in the right direction.
Tania Farran is an educator, mom, business owner, and an author. Her blogs tell about balancing all of these things in life! Laugh or cry with her and maybe learn a thing or two.