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.
I was recently getting ready for a gala to benefit St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness. I’d bought a cute black cocktail dress and chunky black heels for the occasion, and I was now debating on what jewelry to wear to enhance my dress. Then, I looked at my Apple Watch (which I wear religiously and am pretty much tied to). I decided it wasn’t going to look good with my outfit. This thought sent a bit of panic through me. What if I’m at the event, my phone is silenced, and I receive an important text? I then thought, “Everybody that’s important will be with me, so what does it matter?” My internal voice shot back, “Well, how will you track your steps tonight? You’re at 7,000, but don’t you want to make sure you get to 10,000?” I paused and thought to myself, “Hm…maybe I’ll just put my Apple Watch in my purse in case I need it.” Finally, I scrunched up my face, shook my head, and decidedly put the watch down. “Need it?” For what? What would I really need my Apple Watch for in my handbag? When I paused and processed, I realized how ridiculous it was to think my Apple Watch was a necessity for the evening.
At that point, I decided that I’m going to live in the moment! I’ll have my cell phone in my purse and will check it periodically, but an Apple Watch on my wrist at all times is not needed. Continuous updates about text messages, emails, or a plethora of other notifications just aren’t necessary.
Living in the moment can be really challenging in our lives today. Honestly, the concept has sent a bit of panic through me with thoughts of: How will I survive? What will I do? Then I remind myself that back in 1985 I didn't have an Apple Watch or a cell phone, and I was able to live in the moment without worry by simply enjoying the people around me. The decision was made. Tonight at the gala, I was going to listen to the speakers intently and observe my surroundings closely. I would focus on watching the sights and sounds of the silent auction and the live action. I would wholeheartedly listen to the survivor stories and enjoy being there alongside my mother and my children.
Just so you know, I did survive the evening without my Apple Watch. Once parted from the device, I was quickly at ease. The evening was a blast, and I was able to engage with others at the event, all the while, not checking my watch a hundred times. I was able to enjoy living in the moment by laughing with others and meeting new people. And not to worry, my feet hurt so bad at the end of the night that I’m sure I reached 10,000 steps.
When was the last time you lived in the moment? How hard would it be for you to detach right now, leave your cell phone at home, and go to the store? While I love my Apple Watch and iPhone, I am also learning to love leaving those things behind. These products provide immediate responses and supply constant information, so we’re never completely focused on the task at hand and we’re constantly distracted by notifications. We are tied to technology and are drawn to the immediacy and availability of getting information.
I encourage you to take on this challenge and live in the moment today. I bet you’ll love it. I imagine it will be difficult at first, but I think you can work through the roller coaster of emotions and feel much more relaxed in the end.
What I have learned: Live in the moment. You will make it through and be much happier for it.
When I was a child, I remember asking my grandmother why she didn't have a pet. I thought it would be perfect for her to have a dog because she loved visiting our dog and it would be great company for her. She responded by telling me that she was never going to let another dog break her heart and was never going to shed another tear over a dog. I remember wondering, “Well, that's just silly. Why would you do that? It’s way more fun to have a dog.” I also remember thinking how much joy and laughter our dog brought to the family. With their snuggles, their soft and warm fur, and their loud barks, they made us feel comforted, secure, and protected. I just couldn’t understand why my grandmother wouldn't want that too.
As an adult, we had a dog named Tippy. She was a beautiful mutt, a mixed breed of Collie and Chow. She was sassy and had a mind of her own. After living with us for 13 years, she passed away from cancer. Our children were young when she passed, and we were at a very busy time in our lives. It was an incredibly devastating and difficult decision to put her to sleep and let her go, but we could see how much pain she was in and knew it was the right thing to do. We cried and said our goodbyes as best we could. We created a small shrine that included pictures of her, a piece of her hair, and her collar. We've kept it up for years. Some dear friends of ours painted a beautiful watercolor painting of her too, which is also still displayed in our home. Much like my grandmother had said all those years ago, my husband told me he didn't want a dog ever again after Tippy passed. I promptly shot him down and reminded him our kids were little and they would want another dog.
My husband quickly had a change of heart about getting another dog. About eight months after the passing of Tippy, he was on a job site and saw a black labrador-shepherd mix running around. They were building a church in the middle of nowhere. It was a very rural area, and there were just a few houses around. The dog was about eight months old, so we assumed that someone had him as a puppy and then dropped him off in the middle of nowhere.
The dog would wander around the job site, eating the construction workers’ leftover lunches. He quickly fell in love with my husband, following him around and jumping into his truck when he opened the door. At this time, the holidays came and went which meant that my husband was not on the job site for about two weeks. When he returned in January, he called and told me that the stray dog was still there, but that he was getting really thin and probably wouldn’t make it through the coldest part of the winter. He then asked how I felt about him bringing the dog home. I told him we would first have to take him to the vet, and I reminded how I felt about animals. I made sure he remembered I believed if you bring an animal home, they’re yours forever. I reiterated that he had better make sure he was making a good decision.
Of course, my husband ended up bringing the dog home. We named him Rocko. Let me tell you - this dog was a wild animal. He had no manners, no spatial boundaries, and had obviously never been on a leash. Luckily, he was a quick study. He was ever so grateful for the fact that we took him in. Every morning, he would wake me up by jumping up onto our bed. He was so excited you could see it in his eyes. It was like he was trying to tell us, “You’re still here! I’m still here! This is awesome! I love being with you!” He was always so excited when we came home, and he loved to go anywhere with us.
He was loving and gentle to our children and to anyone that came into our home. When I would set out the Christmas decorations during the holidays, you would often find him snoozing under the tree at night. Present opening on Christmas day was pure joy for him, as he loved tearing up the tissue paper and acting like he was destroying the enemy! Rocko loved a party and would stay up with us until the wee hours of the morning if the evening went long. He loved sleeping outside on the patio when my husband was watching ball games on TV. He was just plain cool!
I think he was one of the most loyal dogs I've ever had. His loyalty to us was shown in so many ways. He would sleep at the end of the hallway by the girls' bedrooms for most of the evening. Then, he would join us in our bedroom at about 3:00 a.m. for the rest of the night. Whenever my husband was out in the yard working, he had to be with him. He did his nightly patrols of our backyard by roaming the perimeter and looking for anything out of place as if he was the king of the jungle. He barked at anything that moved outside. He was our protector, always watching out the back windows, the front windows, and paying attention to everything. He lived with us for 14 amazing years.
At 14 years old, he passed away peacefully at home. Rocko picked a day that everyone was available to spend time with him before he passed. He always was a bit of an attention-seeker.
The previous evening he had a sleepover with one of our daughters and her dog Luci, who was his best bud. In the morning, of course, he had mom snuggles over coffee. Then, he went over to our other daughter's house and played with her dog Nelly in the backyard. After a great day together on December 23rd 2021, he took his last ride in the truck with my husband. Before he passed, he was able to say goodbye to everyone. He was a great dog, and he is truly missed.
Our hearts are broken, and we are really struggling with healing. His bed is still in our bedroom. I can't bring myself to wipe his snot marks off the back windows yet. Our daughter had a friend paint a beautiful picture of him, which we put alongside our dear Tippy’s picture. We still look for him sometimes when we come home. We still find ourselves waiting for him to greet us at the door.
My husband and I were just recently talking and trying to figure out why this loss has been so hard for us. I think it's because we don't have little ones at home to distract us, so it's far too quiet. I'm not sure whether or not we will ever get another dog. I think we both are starting to feel a little bit like my grandmother. I’m definitely not ready for another pet to break my heart. I don't really know that I want to willingly go through that pain again.
The day after Rocko passed away I met a very good friend for breakfast. I was really struggling. I was trying to hold back tears while also trying to rationalize why I was crying over a dog. She listened, understood, and said something so profound. She told me, “You had 14 great years with him and just one really bad day…the day when he passed away.” She was right - 14 years of love certainly outweighed that one bad day. That comment has stayed with me every day since then. Our family, Rocko included, had 14 years full of great memories together that I don’t regret one bit!
What I have learned: The joy of loving a pet outweighs the pain of losing a pet. I am working on opening my heart up again.
If you missed last week’s Clubhouse chat, we had a great discussion about connecting with our kids. We shared ways we care and express love for our children. There were ways in which we were similar and ways in which we were very different.
Grab your coffee, set your kiddos up with an activity, and join us on Saturday mornings on Clubhouse at 8 a.m. CST. We have some great conversations. The guests bring a lot of really great ideas. You’ll learn so much, meet a lot of neat people, and have a great time!
Here is a bit of our Coffee and Kids conversation about Making Connections. Below is my contribution to the conversation:
The way I showed my children I cared for them when they were younger was different from the way my husband did. We both provided food and a stable home for them. I showed my kids love and compassion by telling them how much I loved them and by talking to them, being there and present for them, and being honest with them.
But there were times when I raised my voice or flew off the handle. I’m not a perfect parent, and it was definitely difficult to be a working mom. When I say the word “working,” I’m not just talking about the nine-to-five jobs outside the home. Stay-at-home moms are working moms too. So how do you balance working and giving your kids the care, time, and attention they deserve? I would encourage you to put your phone down, turn off the TV, and listen to your children. I would take the time to listen to my daughters’ needs and respond the best I could. I would show them that I was paying attention with nonverbal and verbal feedback. As my girls have grown up, I’ve continued to use these parenting skills.
Make sure you emphasize that the things they’re saying to you are important because they ARE. I really didn't use material items to show my kids I cared about them (not that they wanted for much of anything). I took the time to show my kids I cared about them by spending time with them and giving them my full attention. It can be difficult to carve out this time, especially with everything else going on in our lives. When my daughters were young, Saturdays consisted of grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning and organizing the house. Throughout the day, I would always find moments to stop and pay attention to my kids. It was a challenge with everything going on, but we were able to carve out precious moments together.
As adults, my daughters and I still spend a lot of time together, giving each other time and attention. Hugs and encouragement are still needed into adulthood.
You can read more about connections and nurturing in my book Raising the Well-Adjusted Child: A Parent’s Manual.
What I have learned: Giving people your time and attention is healthy for everyone involved. Stop what you’re doing, put down your phone, and listen to the person talking to you.
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.