Archive for the encouragement Category

Turning My Attitude Around in One Easy Step

October 12, 2012

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is more common for me than I’d care to admit. But I am making a conscience effort to keep my attitude in check and do a better job of getting out of my funk so that my family and those around me don’t have to live a life of walking on egg shells. And frankly, when I’m in a bad mood or in an emotional tailspin, it effects me too. I don’t LIKE to be on edge or short-tempered with my kids, my loved ones, those around me. Ick! I want to be pleasant and come at life even-keeled. It’s just better for everyone!

So after I recognized that by 7 am, I was already at the end of my rope and there was a LOT of day left, I got the kids off to school, changed into my workout clothes and went for a bike ride. I had decided where I was going to go ahead of time, but once I got there, I realized I just hadn’t worked hard enough to ride far enough away from my bad attitude, so I kept going. I swear, I left the house as the wicked witch, with Toto in my basket

and returned a sunshiny, energy-filled M.O.M.,

who was not only ready to attack the day, but took it on full force! I made cookies, put chili in the crock pot and tackled all the work for my clients (ok, not ALL the work, but a lot of it!). That one physical act changed everything.

It’s no joke that physical activity reduces stress and helps in a host of other ways too. When I was working out each morning, I had a ton of energy, lost my dependence on caffeine and was able to handle the MOST stressful time in my life without losing my mind. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

All I have to lose is my Mommy Muffin Top and my little grey rain cloud, so I will continue to use activity to combat my ick days. And I encourage you to do the same.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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365 Days Later

July 1, 2012

Yesterday marked 365 days since I put my kids into the 15-passenger van to pull away from the home and life we’d known for the last 12 years. I drove away jobless, homeless, with all my belongings (except some clothes and this computer) in a storage unit and the realization that my Passat had been repossessed while I slept the night before. I was truly leaving it all behind and driving away into the unknown.

My title is 365 Days Later because this last year was lived one-day-at-a-time. From the very beginning of my journey out of a bad marriage and into an unknown future I held onto the belief that it MUST be done one-day-at-a-time. I couldn’t predict what was ahead or what would need to be done tomorrow. All I could be sure of and handle was what needed to be done today. Each day brought it’s own focus and taking this journey in small pieces; 24 hour chunks, kept me from loosing hope and allowed me to clearly see how God was working in my life.

I look back on this year in disbelief. There were some REALLY rough patches and days that I questioned myself. But I walk through this house each morning, before the kids are up, and  I open the windows and breathe in the newness of another day and I think of all I must do. I thank God for the beautiful people who have formed my safety net and have kept me from hitting the ground with each time I’ve tripped. I say thank you for my ability to write and my understanding of social media, that was gleaned through this very blog and that it has now turned into the tool that puts food on our table and gas in the van. I still get into my van and can’t believe that I a was able to go buy a car, in my own name. I send the payment away, each month, with a measure of pride.

The journey is still taken one-day-at-a-time. I understand that it’s all a part of the big journey of my life and that even though there will be milestones (such as these past 365 days), that the end won’t come until my last breath is taken.

Here’s to faith, beautiful people and the belief that everything happens for a reason and as it’s supposed to.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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No BS Friday

March 16, 2012

It’s Friday and I’m just saying it as it is. Thursday evening didn’t end smoothly and this morning didn’t get off to the best start. I’m recognizing that I can do things better and that sometimes kids get angry just because they don’t like chores or other imposed things from parents. And I’m saying it like this because I know I’m not the only parent out there that drops into bed feeling frustrated or defeated and who wakes up to face another day of trying to do it right, only to have it all seem like it must be going wrong.

It’s my goal to live life with a focus on the good and the many blessings that come to me each and EVERY day. And while that is an important goal and focus, sometimes it gives people the impression that there isn’t great struggle over here. So I’m making sure there’s no BS on the table and telling you all that I feel your pain and frustration and I’m down in the trenches with you. Sometimes we do need a good cry and sometimes the proverbial dishtowel gets thrown in. It’s ok to feel defeated, overwhelmed, overworked and alone. Just make sure you let it out, take a good look at it and then go pick up that dishtowel (the dishes still need to get done!) and take a second and different look at it all. It will look and feel different after you allow yourself a few moments of self-pity.

Ok! Now to pour some coffee, call or text someone who will make you smile. Set a goal of doing one thing, JUST ONE THING, with a little more patience or kindness or whatever it is that’s going to make you feel accomplished toward a greater good and get back into the fight.

I’m going to go pour my coffee (3rd cup…don’t tell!) reapply my makeup and make that phone call and then, well…then I’m going to get on with this day.

Doing the Dance of the Children, Right Along With You~

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Emmaus Ministries-Worth Reading, Sharing & Supporting!

February 21, 2012

I don’t believe I’ve ever asked you to read a write up on a cause before, so I’ve saved up until now.

I ask that you take a few moments to read these heartfelt words that Kateri, my 22 yr. old daughter, has put together about her upcoming, 2nd year on this mission. For those of you who don’t know Kateri, I’d like to preface this note with a few words;

Last year, when Kateri briefly described to me how she would be spending her Spring Break, working with homeless, male postitutes in Chicago, I was both in awe and frightened for her safety. I felt blessed that my daughter had become that kind of person who would even consider such a thing and prayed for all those going on the mission and those that they would be working with. She came back with a heart so full of true love for people that most of us wouldn’t want to even glance at, let alone share a table and meal with. I’m profoundly proud of Kateri and all the young adults that are choosing to spend their break in this way. I ask that you read what she has to say and that if you are not able to help fund the team that you, please, keep each of these people in your prayers.

Now, a word from Kateri;

The Chicago Mission is a 10 day trip to Uptown Chicago where a group of fourteen college students stay and work with Emmaus Ministries. Emmaus is a ministry center that serves men that either have been or are involved in a lifestyle of same-sex prostitution. Emmaus is a safe place where these men can get their lives back together, they can wash their clothes, do chores, take showers, go to prayer groups, it’s a place they can have mail sent, where they can make phone calls, it’s their home.  My favorite part of the mission is that everyday for lunch everyone stops what they’re doing: all the staff, all the volunteers and all the men who have come to Emmaus that day, come together at a long table, right in front of a huge mural of the Last Supper, and have a meal together. They pray, they eat, they laugh. For some of the men at Emmaus it’s the only place they’ve ever had a meal like this: around a table, in a safe place with people that love them.

Something I didn’t realize until I had the opportunity to go to Emmaus last year was that male prostitution is a totally different culture than I had imagined.  When I think of the poorest in society I think of the homeless.  Many of these men are addicts, alcoholics as well as homeless; they’ve come from impossible backgrounds without family or shelter and most often without love of any kind. They sell themselves for mere dollars, often to get their next “fix”.  They can’t go to homeless shelters because the homeless know who they are and often beat or rape them.  Emmaus is a safe haven where they don’t have to worry about being hurt, they don’t have to explain themselves, they are just loved and cared for, they are given the opportunity to get their lives back on track.

Emmaus had a profound impact on my life, in ways I never expected. I went to Emmaus ready to serve the men. Ready to smile and laugh with them. Ready to cook and clean. Ready to listen and have conversations with the men I’d meet.  I did these things but what I wasn’t expecting was the way that the men would serve me.  There wasn’t a day I was there that one of the men didn’t open a door for me, pull out the chair for me while we sat down for lunch. I was never allowed to clear my own plate, God forbid I try to take theirs!  I may have cooked, but they ALWAYS did the dishes.  They loved me without strings, without expectations.  I quickly realized that we are all prostitutes in one form or another, “we are all poor and broken.  The only difference between me and the men of Emmaus,” as the founder of Emmaus, Deacon John Green, once said, “is that we know where the food is.” We are all on a walk to Emmaus the difference is that I know where it leads.  These men have such a profound ability to love and they each had an incredible impact on my life.

One of these men was David. He was a firefighter who had been in an accident and had suffered severe brain damage. He lost his job, his wife left him taking the children with her. He began drinking which then led to hard drugs. Before long he was living on the streets with all he owned in a duffle bag and a tent that he slept in.  He turned to prostitution to pay for his next high and no one left who cared.  Emmaus was a place where people noticed when he wasn’t there, it was a place where people knew his name, they knew his story, they loved him.  We’d go outside and smoke cigarettes together, he didn’t say much but he’d come because he knew I’d give him cigarettes and if he ignored my questions long enough I’d leave him alone.  So we’d sit outside in silence.  One day I caught a glimpse of his eyes and was so taken aback by their piercing color and vibrancy that I had to tell him.  His reaction is still fresh in my mind as I write this.  He looked up, straight in my eyes and smiled. He talked for maybe 10 minutes about his parents’ eyes and how his were such a mix of the two. He told me how he thought they were his best feature and that no matter what he had gone through, or what he looked like, they were still the same.  We finished our cigarettes, he hugged me and we went inside.  I think about him and pray for him everyday.  Emmaus is a place for men like David, who have had to turn to prostitution because of the impossible situations they’ve found themselves in.

The week we get to spend with Emmaus is life changing. I feel so blessed to be going back this year as a co-leader, ready to share the experience I had with 11 new people who are eager to meet the men I have such a great love for.  The Chicago Mission leaves on March 9th, just over a month away! Our goal is $12,000 and unfortunately we are still thousands of dollars away.

Please help us get to Chicago this year.  Time is running out but although we have a ways to go, we are confident that your generosity will get us there! You can donate online at: https://giving.franciscan.edu/sslpage.aspx?pid=383 in the “designation” area put “Chicago”.

Please keep our mission in your prayers and know that you are in ours.

God bless~

Kateri Lang

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any further questions or would like more information:  kateri.l.lang@gmail.com

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Another Step Forward

January 4, 2012

The last few days were full of uncertainty and decision making. It was time to hand the gas-guzzling 15-passenger van over to be sold but that meant I would have only my VW Passat. There were 2 problems with that-It wasn’t running properly and it didn’t fit myself and the 6 kiddos that I have at home. I had NO money for a downpayment on anything and NO money to fix the VW even if it was what I was going to have to drive. On the first day of the uncertainty/decision making the decision I made was to curl up on my bed, cry and take a nap. Hey, at least I made a decision! Day 2 is when the work began. 2 of the most beautiful, loving, hardworking friends you could ever ask for started asking me questions. Real questions, like-what do you owe on each vehicle?, what is the VW worth?, can you get any $ for a dowpayment?, what are you looking to drive?. You know, the stuff that makes you actually start tackling a problem and finding out what you can and can not do. Once I started gathering information I realized that I had the title to the VW and (as long as I could drive it to wherever I needed to get it to) I could trade it in. Then out came computers and Iphones and the search began. After looking and talking and visiting dealers, I came away with a 2010 Town & Country that seats 7, with a warranty that will keep my mind free of worry. I had someone by my side who knew all the things I do not and who offered moral support when I needed it.

As I signed a zillion papers the tears started to flow. I just bought a car! Me! In MY name and with all the things I decided were important to have for my kids. I am now completely responsible for this vehicle. It scared me and made me proud at the same time. One more step to knowing I’m ok-to knowing I can do what needs to be done and that I have a loving support system to hold my hand and pat my back and help me heal and be whole. It still chokes me up! How did I get to be 40 yrs old, have 9 children and not know what I was capable of? I am thankful EVERY day for all the beautiful, strong, encouraging people who surround me each day and have helped me lay the stepping stones on this path I’m walking.

With faith, love and trust I will continue to find out that I am strong, whole and entirely capable of all that needs to be done to get my children successfully into adulthood and myself into living the life ahead of me, fully!

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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One of Those Days

December 31, 2011

Today I set out to tell you about all the beauty I found in this year. I pondered the challenges this year had brought and the beautiful people who stepped into my life to help me overcome them. I thought about how far I’d come since last December and all I thought was impossible that now IS. I started to write about it all and then…THEN…A ton of life hit me upside the head and I realized that the year wasn’t quite over. That there were still challenges and friction, speed bumps and  monkey wrenches that hadn’t yet shown themselves in this calendar year and that these challenges weren’t happy to not have gotten their chance. I spent the entire day in shock, awe and challenge. Ick! I see that 2011 isn’t done with me yet.

Ok!

I guess I’ll tell you about all the beauty I’ve encountered after I make it through this current torrent of yuck. The beauty is there. The strength, growth and promise…it’s all there. It’s just not ready to be presented. So, I will spend tonight and tomorrow finishing the undoneness of this year. Then, I’m gonna tell you about some seriously Good Stuff!

Finish it up 2011. Let me know what you’ve got and let’s get it over with. I’m moving forward. Ever forward!

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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November 14th and I’m Feeling Thankful…Again~

November 15, 2011

Reasons to be thankful today-

Hugs even when I’m a drippy-nosed, mouth-breathing, cold infested-wreck

Being able to easily get work done because of internet access in my home-finally!!!!

A conference filled with good news from today’s parent/teacher conference

An unbelievably kind/thoughtful/loving/generous/trusting friend

Meeting with a new friend and feeling so connected

Moving furniture because tomorrow I get my carpets cleaned for a review of the company’s services

Meeting with the owner of a local shop and confirming that I’ll be doing StoryTime for them this week

A glass of wine and a quiet house after a L-O-N-G but full day

Good Stuff!

G’night…Don’t forget to count your blessings~

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SST meeting for Max-Good Stuff!

November 10, 2011

A little later today I’ll sit down with several people from Max’s school for an SST meeting to get a 504 plan in place for him. This is such Good Stuff! This means that there will be an actual set of tools in place that move from year to year with him so that each teacher isn’t trying to develop their own system each year. It will help take the guess work out of what works well for him and will help him feel more confident when he has challenging situations in the classroom.

Because Max isn’t academically challenged, he doesn’t qualify for an IEP, so it can be quite challenging to know what makes for a successful Max day in the classroom. I’m excited for moving forward!

Stay posted for more info!

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Have a Cup of Coffee & Help End Human Trafficking!

September 27, 2011

I’ve been spending time each day exploring all the new places around me and this is by far, one of my VERY BEST finds! There are global issues that make us all feel so small and helpless and Human Trafficking is at the top of that list for me. As a mom it’s one of those things that absolutely hurts my soul and I’ve never known what to do, except pray for the victims.

A couple of days ago, Lex and I were on the hunt for a new place to grab some iced tea or coffee and I saw the sign for Origins Coffee & Tea. It intrigued me because it said something about making a difference. A coffee house making a difference? I had to go in and see what it was about. I’m sure glad I did!

Origins Coffee and Tea was started by dads who couldn’t let this issue go without a fight. You can read Chad Salstrom’s blog here. Arianna, Maddi and I went in today to find out about volunteering and we were able to meet Chad, get a tour and hear a little of his personal perspective. The shop is run by volunteers who are asked to give a minimum of 4 hours a week for 3 months. These are people working for free to help this important cause. You can easily sign up to give a little time, but if that won’t work for your schedule, you can simply patronize the shop. It’s spacious and comfortable, offering free wifi and is open from 6:30am-11pm each day. Chad showed us the meeting room they have available for groups looking for a place to hold a meeting or a gathering. There’s no charge for this room! Think about holding your next meeting there and let the coffeehouse provide your drinks and refreshments.

I’m so excited about this shop and what they’re doing! The girls and I are signing up to donate our time and plan on visiting the coffeehouse often. I’m drinking coffee anyway, my caffeine addiction might as well help out those in need!

This is seriously Good Stuff! If you’re local to the Rocklin/Roseville area, consider visiting the shop, bring your laptop, your friends and your goodwill!

Doing the Dance of the Children With the Hope of Helping a Little~

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Some Good Stuff to Share From M.O.M.

August 12, 2011

In the midst of all my moving and trying to get kiddos set up for school that starts NEXT week, I had the opportunity to speak with Gretchen of MommyCast as a Mom Correspondent for the show. Check out the show here. And the topic?…Moving with children, of course!

Doing the Dance of the Children and Sharing the Good Stuff~

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August is Full of Good Stuff!

August 4, 2011

Each new day, new week, new month, new year holds the potential for Good Stuff. We all look at the newness before us as another chance to get it right, to fill our lives with peace, joy and purpose. I have to say that the month of August has been full of just that. On August 1st I handed over the deposit on the new home for my kiddos and myself. Tomorrow I do the walk thru and sign the lease, which means getting the keys! I’m hopeful that Clay’s request for a DITY move is approved (he’s offered to move our things from San Diego to the new house so that we get everything right away instead of waiting up to 3 weeks for the movers). The kids will start their new schools in just a couple of weeks. My 15 yr old daughter will finish up all she’s been doing in San Diego and come join us in this beautiful, new home. Tristan will turn 12 at the end of this month. And to top it all off, I was able to record 2 podcasts with Gretchen of MommyCast that will be released soon. I have to say that August is looking GREAT!

Yes, there’s lots of work ahead-getting back into the school routine, juggling sports, Boy Scouts and finding a new church to get involved in, getting settled into our new home and learning the area, finding our new favorite stores and places to visit. Lots of work and lots of life ahead and I am ever-hopeful that it continues to fall into place and bring more beautiful, supportive people into our lives.

Believe!

I’m looking ahead with joy and hope and glancing behind at the long road I’ve walked and holding onto it so that I remember that even in the toughest of days there’s hope and that with each new day you have to start with the belief that all the Good Stuff is lying ahead, ready for your to grab it, own it and find joy in it.

Thank you for all the good wishes, loving support and prayers that have come my way during this journey. Look, they worked because we believed!

Good Stuff!

Doing the Dance of the Children Full of Faith in All That’s Good~

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There’s A Gift To Find In Each Day

July 20, 2011

I didn’t mean to let so many days go by without writing about what’s going on. The days are full of keeping the kiddos busy, looking at houses and heading to bed late, wishing I’d gotten more done. But each day has held Good Stuff-visiting with family and friends, touring the Empire Mine, swimming…

What I had to key into is the fact that I get this unique, little piece of time to spend on my kids in a way that I don’t usually get. When I’m at home with them there’s all the housework and running around that needs to be done. Yes, I’m WITH them each day, but I don’t get uninterrupted time to just focus on them. I’ve WISHED for time like this! Granted, I didn’t wish that it meant I was homeless and living off of the good graces of others, but you need to notice your blessings when they’re in front of you! This time isn’t going to last long (right?!), so I need to enjoy it while it’s here. Before I know it I’ll be knee-deep in unpacking a house, homework and sports schedules.

Encouraging us all to see the blessings in each day.


Max Ta Shunke Witko (Crazy Horse) under his namesake’s bar sign in Nevada City


Tristan (very excited about his meal) at lunch with family


Me and the kiddos at the Empire Mine


Gabi and Lex checking out the Reflecting Pool at the Empire Mine

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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We Are More Than Our Labels-Staving Off An Identity Crisis

July 8, 2011

The last few days of not having my kids with me, not having a home to go to, not having a schedule or what feels like a purpose have brought me to the brink of an identity crisis. I’ve felt fragmented and completely out of every element I’ve ever come to be comfortable with and in. I’ve had to do some serious soul searching to figure out what was going on in me.

For 22 years I’ve been a mom. I’ve been the primary care giver to all of my children over ALL that time. It’s not only been a label I’ve been wearing, but it became woven into the very fabric of my being-shaping every move I’ve made, every schedule I’ve written and lived by. During a great deal of those 22 years I also wore the label of wife. It took me a a long time to come to terms with peeling that label off. Now I’m dealing with how it feels when our labels become intertwined and  I’m learning to draw the line between where one ends and another begins-how you can take one off and still wear the others. Nothing will ever change the fact-FACT that I’m a mom, not just A mom, but M.O.M. and whether my kids are here or elsewhere, my heart still beats with that label. Now I need to find myself, beneath the labels. For a great many years of my time as a mom, I focused only on that part of me. Honestly, between having babies and moving around, because of military orders, there wasn’t much time or energy available to focus on anything BUT being a mom and military spouse. Then one day I discovered that I had a voice and that all those schedules I’d been writing and all the morning memos I’d put together might, in some way, benefit others.

Once I decided to speak people starting telling me that they believed in the good of my voice, that it had great purpose and that it, surely, shouldn’t be silenced. So I started to write and I started to podcast. Immediately people said, “more!”. I rearranged schedules and found time to pick my own brain for what information my years of raising children, moving around, organizing a household of many and living as a single-parent, might be useful to others and began to write shows, blogs and even magazine articles. I began to wear new labels-Published, paid, writer/working mom/podcaster/blogger/organizer/motivator, all of them empowering and beautiful. People started sending me other labels-”McGyver of Food”/”Relentlessly Optimistic”/”Super Mom”/”The Martha Stewart of Holiday Projects”…Soon my labels were vast and I enjoyed them all. I believed I could continue to juggle them all and that they each identified me in a certain way. Now, I have to gather all the pieces of me that have been stuck to each of these labels and put the puzzle together. I’m naming each of these things so that I can step back, read them all and see that just because I removed one label doesn’t change the WHO of what I am-that I am still whole and full of purpose and that I must continue to believe in what God has given me.

This is all important stuff, this self talk. I must hold my own hand and pull myself from the brink of the cliff of this identity crisis. I must own my own being and purpose and decide to move forward, no matter what bleakness or unknown a day may bring.

We must all remember that we are whole beings, no matter the labels we’ve come to depend on or associate with. It can be hard! We tend to decide that we ARE the label. We are so much more!

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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The Fruit of Life

June 2, 2011

Today I went grocery shopping and I bought a lot of fresh fruit. With so many wonderful fruits in season and on sale, I loaded up with watermelon, strawberries and others. I knew the kids would appreciate it all and how much each of them likes certain fruits. It all got me thinking about how we think and how we set standards.

Each of us has cut into or bitten into a fruit that sets the standard in our minds of how that fruit should taste. At some point we’ve bitten into a perfectly ripe strawberry that set for us what a strawberry “really” tastes like or we’ve cut into a watermelon and decided that it was exactly as firm, sweet and juicy as a watermelon “should” be. From that point we set out to recreate that same experience. We continue to buy the fruits, hoping to taste exactly what we have before. Yet, there are countless times that our strawberries are too sour or we cut into a watermelon only to find it mushy and tasteless. But we keep trying. We don’t decide that the standard is now these, less than perfect fruits.

This is what keeps me believing in the human spirit. We set our standard by the best that we’ve experienced and we keep trying over and over to recreate those experiences. Having tasted excellence, we move through life, giving each shopping trip, each day, another chance to bring us another taste of what we know to be the best. I believe this shows that we are innately positive and focused on the good. We don’t stop buying our favorite fruits, even though it may be that the majority of our shopping trips turn up fruits that are less than the gold-standard that we know is out there.

Once we’ve tasted, felt and smelled excellence, we continue to move through each day looking for it and giving each new day, each new basket of strawberries, each new watermelon, the chance to show it to us again.

Never give up on striving for excellence. You know it’s out there. You’ve tasted it.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Believe!

May 16, 2011

I’m writing this for each of you as much as I’m writing it for me. Sometimes life becomes so overwhelming and the hurdles so high that we find it terribly difficult to see beyond them-to see the horizon and all the possibilities that this life holds for each of us. I’m writing it because I need to look beyond the hurdles and focus on all the potential the future holds. I need to focus on my potential and my God-given gifts and talents. I need to look beyond the fear of the unknown and pull from the place in my heart that knows-KNOWS I can keep putting one foot in front of the other and walk the path laid before me into the beauty of the great unknown. While I was self-talking and reminding myself of all the good and all the positive and all the strength and all the accomplishments, I thought that it might be a really good thing to give what I’m finding to all of you too.

Believe! Dream! Trust!

We were not made for nothingness. Even when we feel so very small and so very helpless, our potential still lies in wait. Find your inspiration. Pull up from your memory every good, strong and positive word that’s ever been laid at your feet or thought by your mind and let them all wash over you. Let them be the loudest and to quell the voices of negativity that threaten to bind you. You know the truth! Stop begin afraid and trust. Have faith!

Believe!

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