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What Lies Beneath

While I was doing my laundry in the basement with quarters, I buried my face in the fragrance of hubby’s clean shirts and felt thankful. At the moment, I live in a big old drafty urban apartment building. I wash my dishes by hand, and I cook out of a ridiculously limited kitchen. But I’m still #livingthedream with all my heart and mining the gold right where life has me today.

I just felt to remind you not to allow yourself to be DEFINED or LIMITED by your current circumstances. Your abode may be in chaos today, your laundry breeding, your kids challenging you at every turn while hubby sits on your last nerve. HGTV, Pinterest and social media keep reminding you of what you’re lacking with their trickery.

Refuse to allow your circumstances to determine your attitude, your level of generosity or your dedication to parenting well. Greatness works from the inside out, not the outside in – and it seems to me that what many people strive for, go in debt to buy, lean on, trust in, and base their self worth on is often only smoke and mirrors. Don’t fall for it. March on, head high and be the bada$$ mama God’s called you to be! Need some more muscle? This post should help Click HERE to read Power for Your Parenting!

Thank you for reading, I’m truly honored. If you’d like to read more, subscribe for my updates and grab my TRANSFORMATIVE  freebie, 7 Steps to Cure an Unhappy Kid and Revolutionize Your Home Life by clicking HERE.

Who Is That Little One Sleeping in His Bed?

Happy 32nd to our second born son, Benjamin!

Who is that little guy sleeping in his bed?
Is he a doctor, a lawyer, a CEO, a trash collector, a manager, a pastor, a landlord? Who will he become?
Where will he make his impact?
Will he marry and have 8 children?
Will he paint marvelous portraits?

Oh, the wonderful, magical surprises God has for that little one.

How would we live if we knew in advance, the wonderful things He has prepared for the sons and daughters born to us?

We would invest wisely.
We would carefully tend to their souls.
Our prayers would be genuine, costly and intent. Our covering, strong.

Who is that little one sleeping in his bed at your house tonight? How are you attending to his destiny?

CLICK HERE and be inspired by the story of one young man’s destiny unfolding…”Who is That Little One”

#benunion #parenting #sons#destiny #music #seattle #stay #theperseveringartist#happybirthday #birth

Live Life this Summer!

There are days when my heart is so full, it could burst.
Today is one of those days.
Because…


I’ve been busy living life and pausing most of the rest.
We live in the Pacific Northwest – good lawwwwd this weather will torture your soul.
Promises, empty promises time and again of forecasted sunshine that doesn’t show up – or it shows up at 7 or 8 pm. Whoo hoo.

I’ve boxed with the weather here, but she always wins. No option but surrender.
I hasten to say the natural beauty here is unmatched. Hashtag paradise.

But there’s a price to pay for all this green. An infinity of misty, rainy gray days. Although we’re around 40th in the U.S. for rainfall, we’re in the top 3 (yes, with Portland) for gray days.
Can you feel my pain?

This weekend was our summer breakthrough weekend and when the sun comes out in Seattle, baby, you don’t hesitate to seize the moment.
You say “yes” to spontaneous walks with friends. You stop everything and sit in the sun with hubby, chatting about life and serving him a cold drink while he relaxes, drinking in the rays he’s been starved for all winter.

When the kids pop in to share your coveted private urban sunny balcony, you pull up more chairs and engage.


You silence your phone; you listen without distraction.

You clear the calendar, plan picnics and beach days and ignore email, phone calls and unnecessary chores. You fire up the barbecue at the last minute, because…sun, friends, and yum.

You play with your grandkids. You pause to hear the nuances of their beautiful childish amazement…an unusual rock, a new word, a bug, a flower, a story you’ve heard twice before; an ouchie they got a few days earlier. A song or rhyme or funny joke. Their wish is your command.

You make good food to share because…food! Right??!

I’d rather live life than write 7 poignant points about living life.
I’d rather live life than Instagram or Facebook or Tweet about living life.
I’d rather live life than take perfect pictures of living life.
I’d rather live life than dream of ‘someday’ REALLY living life.

I plan to be intentional about living life this summer with my precious people, discovering the hidden gems I’ve missed in the PNW, and endeavoring to be present for what matters most, so I’ll be adjusting my blog posts a bit and shaking up the every-Monday posting schedule as needed to flex with what presents itself in this glorious season in our city.

I encourage you to do the same wherever you may be living because we’ll blink and it’ll be pumpkin spice everything, the aromatic scent of burning leaves and football mania here in the US…and we’ll be glad we didn’t waste our summer on BUSY.
Let’s do this!

Your Two-Minute Takeaway
1. NO procrastinating. Ask for the extra time off you deserve. Refuse to allow your cell phone to determine your schedule. Plan ahead to make this season count with your spouse and kids. Don’t take no for an answer. You’re not promised tomorrow.
2. Unplug the kids. Seek nature. Think outdoors. Morning walks, patio, swimming pools, roller skates, jump ropes, barbecues, spray parks, ballgames, sidewalk chalk and reading aloud under the shade tree on a blanket. Camp out in the backyard. Ration movies so they’re truly unusual treats to enjoy together with popcorn and special friends.
3. Journal simply. Make notes at the end of every day on a spiral notebook, listing the true value you experienced. Simple, special, memorable, moments whatever they were for you and your brood. Cooking with the kids, Iced coffee, crossword puzzles, neighborhood pool fun, anything that spoke to your soul and filled up your cup! You’ll be amazed at what was accomplished!

Thank you for reading, I’m truly honored. If you’d like to read more, subscribe for my updates and grab my TRANSFORMATIVE spring freebie, 7 Steps to Cure an Unhappy Kid and Revolutionize Your Home Life by clicking HERE. 

Your Discomfort Zone – Where the Magic Happens

Yesterday I walked into the kitchen to prep my daily green smoothie. I suddenly remembered – facepalm – I was out of power greens and celery. Hmmm. I’m not easily dissuaded, so I shook down the fridge and found baby arugula and romaine lettuce (surprisingly, romaine lettuce is a solid source of protein).

I packed my Vitamix full of these optional greens, blueberries, a chunk of fresh ginger, chia seeds, maca powder, avocado, organic protein powder and pure water. It was disgusting. And I guzzled every drop to get it down the hatch quick. Why? Because the goal wasn’t pleasure, but nourishment.

Mark Hyman, MD, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine says, “Food is the most powerful drug on the planet. It can improve the expression of thousands of genes, balance dozens of hormones, optimize tens of thousands of protein networks, reduce inflammation, and optimize your microbiome (gut flora) with every single bite. It can cure most chronic diseases; it works faster, better, and cheaper than any drug ever discovered; and the only side effects are good ones – prevention, reversal, and even treatment of disease, not to mention vibrant optimal health.”

I’m determined to do everything in my power to maintain optimum health and that means enduring some discomfort on a daily basis, whether that be a nasty green sludge smoothie, a power walk including steep inclines, or an early bedtime to get plenty of sleep. (Click here for a quick read on feeding your kids for best outcomes.)

It occurred to me that much of my life has been spent living intentionally in my discomfort zone, from which I’ve reaped many priceless benefits.

Anything you want outside of normal is likely going to be produced in the discomfort zone – that awkward, uncomfortable, at times miserable, redundant, tedious, costly, trying, testing, lonely, d..r..y place.

The place average achievers intentionally avoid.

It’s really the only place to be often if you want to initiate real living, bring about true change in your life and family, and have an impact in the world. All that accomplishment doesn’t take place binge-watching Netflix with a bag of chips and soda every night, yet stats tell us the average person spends 3-8 hours on the internet daily.

Marriage

When I got married 6 months out of high school to a self-confident Italian 11 years my senior, I was walking the razor edge of heresy according to some. Was I ready for marriage? Is anyone ready for marriage?! Because, let’s be honest, strong marriages that last are not built in you and your partner’s comfort zones. Can I get an ‘amen’?! 38 years later, I’m so glad we determined to push through all the uncomfortable days. (You can read more about that HERE.)

Motherhood and Home Education

When I found the joy of motherhood and continued having babies, one after another to the dismay of some vocal family members – you guessed it, discomfort zone. Then when I decided to homeschool them all with no formal training, well, let’s just say it was unfamiliar territory I had to learn to navigate on a daily basis, despite the jeers in my ears. Life found us pioneering, blazing trails; trudging along bumpy and lonely roads at times over the years, but one step always led to the next, even when it seemed like we’d hit the wall.  33 years later, the outcomes were worth any discomfort. (Read HERE for a glimpse…)

 

Your New Normal: the discomfort zone

If you’ve got your sights set on building a strong marriage, raising great kids, growing healthy bodies, serving your fellowman, increasing your intelligence, achieving the dreams in your heart, and conquering life’s mountains along the way – just remember the motto of the U.S. Navy SEALs, “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday,” and gird up for extended periods in the discomfort zone. 

Your Two-Minute Takeaway

  1. List the top 10 accomplishments you see as paramount in your life. Ponder how much time and energy and emotion was spent in your discomfort zone that bore such fruit. How can you apply this same determination in your marriage, child rearing and physical health? Make a plan!
  2. The average person looks at their smartphone at least 100 times a day where they find delicious, comfortable, indulgent, audio and visual delights every millisecond to anesthetize them briefly and distract them from real life and real relationships. Refuse to use your phone for anything more than an absolutely necessary call or text for the first two hours of your day for a week and jot down the affects of your mini-fast.
  3. Embrace the effects of your discomfort zone-you aren’t failing, weak or going backwards. Reframe the thoughts and emotions that feel so heavy and dark – turning them into a buoyant victory march toward the finish line of success. Be the badass you know you ARE deep down inside.

Thank you for reading, I’m truly honored. If you’d like to read more, subscribe for my updates and grab my TRANSFORMATIVE spring freebie, 7 Steps to Cure an Unhappy Kid and Revolutionize Your Home Life by clicking HERE. 

 

Parenting: The Priceless Treasure Hiding in the Everyday

Some mothers seem to sail through, knowing just what to do and when. Never obsessing about the details. Not me. I am Queen of Obsession. I can fixate on any minute detail – your choice.
Just ask my kids.
I’ll consider, pray, ponder and get whiplash just trying to make the perfect, life-altering decision.
I’m getting better at menus.
But we’re talking kids. Futures. DESTINIES!

While raising my boys, I could freak out and melt down (and I did at times) about what party they could attend, which girls were calling, how late they should stay up, how early they should rise, whether to say yes, whether to say no, whether to ignore it and it would go away…if you’re a parent, you get me. And sometimes, even after hunger strikes, praying, and collecting the counsel of my trusted advisors…I still think I messed it up.

My glaring inadequacies loomed large. My endless piles of disorganized efforts – my untied loose ends. My #fears and #fails. But I clung by faith to my dreams for my sons like a hungry dog with a bone, and I trusted God to meet me, day-by-day. And He did. Beyond what I could have imagined.

What’s important for you to remember, mom and dad….most days of child rearing aren’t mountain-top days, no matter what Facebook or Instagram tries to tell you. They are plateau days full of ‘dailies.’ Bumps, bills, tangles, re-starts, emotions, disarray, rinse and repeat.

Yes, there were perfect days that shone bright, breathing new life into my mother heart, energizing me to press on toward the finish line, but there were many more quiet, unassuming days of routine and hiddenness…seemingly inconsequential.

But the thing about God is this: He more often than not, hides the significant in the seemingly insignificant.

And that’s exactly why so many women miss the boat.

They get restless amidst the tedium, and begin to scan the horizon above their kids’ heads for something…more…meaningful, lucrative, consequential. Completely unaware that those little ones under their noses are, hands down, the most mind-boggling, remunerative, explosive investments they could ever buy into,

Once upon a time, my five sons were little boys around my feet. Playing G.I. Joes, writing spelling lessons, doing household chores, delighting my heart with their childish antics. The greatest joy of my life on this earth. But I’ve found that as time goes on, their value multiplies exponentially like compound interest on a massive 401K. God’s miraculous nest egg.

Robert Brault put it this way, “Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

We liberated women have become so smart, we can put a pencil to paper and figure that it’s cheaper to hire out our kids’ training to someone else so we can busy ourselves creating more income and status, building investments for the future, when actually, our children are our future. 
Can I say that again a little louder? Because it’s become so real to me in midlife.

Our children are our future!

I feel quite emotional this very moment as I consider the times along the way when I couldn’t see beyond myself and I missed out on some things of much greater value right in front of me. We all do it. I just want to warn you to do it less!

Let’s think twice about what we think we know about everything. The value of our kids, our marriages, our character, our lifestyles, our daily schedules, our pressing to-do’s. Things aren’t always as they appear. Let’s soften our hearts and look again below the surface of things. We just might find the treasure we seek in the things closest to us.

Your Two-Minute Takeaway

  1. Think for a moment: Are you content with your weekly schedule as it pertains to nurturing those souls entrusted to you? If you hesitated to answer that question, what’s bothering you? What would you like to change?
  2. Where did you learn your parenting style? Did you consciously choose it, or did it become your default because it’s all you knew growing up? Is it serving you and your children well?
  3. Fast Forward 20 years and imagine what kind of friendship you and your children will have, based on the friendship you’re building today. What would you like to add to your recipe?

Thank you for reading, I’m truly honored. If you’d like to read more, subscribe for my updates and grab your free gift, 7 Steps to Cure an Unhappy Kid and Revolutionize Your Home Life by clicking HERE. 

Happy Tax Day! Congratulations to the Winners of my Drawing.

Click here for the Big Reveal-VIDEO-Drawing winners announced!

Happy Tax Day! Thank YOU for providing your PRICELESS feedback on my recent survey – the $25 Amazon gift card winners are: Dianne J. C., Sonya, Nanci H, Angela T, Stacey F, Michelle M, Cheryl B and Isabel S. Congratulations and enjoy shopping! You’ll receive an email shortly with details to collect your prize. Have the BEST day ever!

My blog this week is on the priceless role of Grandparenting – the dessert on life. Read it HERE <3 

6 Secrets to Becoming an Irresistible Grandparent

Grandchildren.

 

They will tire you to the bone, break your stuff and trash your clean house, but there is nothing sweeter than the innocence of a child. Wet cement we get to put our fingerprints on. A hungry heart, ready to absorb all we are, all we give. A little friend, eager for our companionship in a cold and lonely world. Treasures without measure are these little people.

If you’re privileged to be a grandparent, here are 6 keys to building a positive, rich relationship with your precious little person.

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff…(it’s all small stuff). Spilled juice, broken dishes, scratched doors, stained clothes – does any of it really matter? If you’ve got a Hummel you’re saving to sell for retirement, hide it somewhere safe of course, but when you boil it down, most of your worldly goods are probably like mine – fairly worthless. 

Hubby surprised me with a pair of polarized Roxy supercool sunglasses. One day at the park as I was rushing to make sure my granddaughter got the last available swing (Rawr!) they flew from my head to the concrete and incurred permanent scratches. I winced as I scooped them up for inspection. Did I act irritated and pissy? Of course not! Put it all in perspective. Guard those nasty negative auto-reactions of impatience and aggravation when your stuff gets ruined. Value those kids more than your junk.

2. Be a Good Friend:

For a season our oldest and only grandchild had a standing date with us on Wednesdays while her Mama held a part-time job. One day my 18-year old son commented, “when I hear you guys talking in the kitchen, it sounds like you’re talking to your little sister.” Even at age 3, she and I could already carry on a meaningful conversation. I realized I was enjoying a very satisfying friendship at a particular level with this vibrant toddler, and I treated her with gentleness, respect, and lots of laughter as I would any friend. As I cared for her, she became my best little friend, and to this day, we share a special bond that I endeavor to nurture. 

3. Be Prepared: My granddaughters were coming for lunch with their mommy last week, so I prepped everything ahead of time. Firstly I didn’t want to be in another room working and stressing out when they arrived, robbing me of just ‘being’ with them, and two, it seems to me that when we prepare for others it makes them feel special. Was it an extravagant lunch? No. Simple organic turkey and cheese sandwiches, chips, fresh veggies and fruit.

I pulled out two colorful, divided plates, cut the crust off the bread in Nanny fashion, and added a yummy dip to the veggie crudités, arranging everything attractively. To put the bow on top, I took out two clear little cups and created ‘mocktails’ with sparkling water, juice and a fresh lemon slice. When my oldest granddaughter walked in and saw this simple display, her face lit up and my heart melted. Score! 

It’s also helpful to arrange a few items in advance they can be occupied with such as puzzles, crayons and paper, little cars, building blocks or a whiteboard and markers. They can freely gravitate toward these items without asking, entertaining and contenting themselves. I also put my phone on silent and clear my mind, my schedule, and my tablespace of ‘work.’

4. Be Cheerful and Buoyant Life is generally stressful and filled with challenges of all kinds. In the presence of your ‘littles,’ choose to live with a smile on your face despite your problems and irritations. Bounce above the bumps you encounter together. Practice looking on the bright side. Fix your mind and your mouth on this ‘habit of happy,’ leaving your grandchildren with reflections of a Nana or Papa who was consistently full of grace.

 

If we’re grumpy grandparents, we leave a stain upon the memories we make with these little ones. Recognize moodiness and depression as predators who will rob your priceless relationship to your grands.

5. You Can’t Hide Your Crap from Your Grandkids

Robert Fulghum says, “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” Kids are incredibly discerning. During my sons’ growing up years, I made it my aim not to engage in gossip or expose them to extended family drama, always wanting them to see the best in others, and to shield them from unsavory issues. I was later enlightened to realize their keen sense of intuition was like constant radar, picking up the vibes, good or bad in those around them. 

 

The late Carrie (Reynolds) Fisher, Princess Leia of Star Wars fame and daughter of 1950s megastar Debbie Reynolds, illustrates this fact with a vivid memory of her grandmother in her book, The Princess Diarist.

One day when I was about 12 I was sitting on my grandmother’s lap – not a good idea at any age given that Maxine Reynolds was, to say the least, not a cuddly woman – when she suddenly asked my actress-mother, Debbie Reynolds, “Hey did you ever get those tickets to Annie that I asked you for?” She regarded my mother with suspicious eyes. (My grandmother had three looks: glaring suspiciously, glaring hostilely, and glaring with disappointment.)

“I’m sorry, Mama,” my mother responded, “Is there another show you want to see? Annie seems to be sold out for the whole month. I’ve tried everywhere.”

My grandmother pursed her lips, giving the appearance of someone who smelled something bad. Then she pushed air out of her nose and pronounced a very disappointed, “hmmmmmmmm,” and ended with, “it used to be something to be Debbie Reynolds in this town, now she can’t even get a few measly show tickets.” I involuntarily squeezed my grandmother as if to do so would push all future demeaning remarks out of her stocky little body. 

A sad story and all too common. Our grandchildren not only ‘hear’ what we say, but they observe and absorb so much more than that. Let’s be the best version of ourselves when we spend time with them, and work to become what we want them to be.

6. Seize the Day: Recently our oldest granddaughter, Jael, commented about her younger sister.

”Sienna was really into Elmo…but that’s OVER.” 

And just like that, my 7 year-old prodigy granddaughter set me straight on the bittersweet fact that our little Sienna is growing up and slammed the door on her ‘two’s’ without a thought of our pain. All-too-soon blankies and rocking sessions are gonna go, too. Boo-hoo.

Pardon my cliche, Nana and Papa but time is flying! This season of opportunity to build a relationship with your magical grandchildren will be gone in a minute. Everything changes in the tweens as their world widens and their lives get populated by so many others. Build a foundation that can last a lifetime **NOW** while your grands still think you’re the sun, moon and stars! 

I see grand parenting as a second chance to impact the world. Another level of parenting that is, indeed, grand. How could men or women in midlife ignore such a great calling as this, the role of grandfather or grandmother, trading it for temporal pleasures of distraction?

Your Two-Minute Takeaway 

  1. Which point spoke loudly to your spirit? Jot down the words that jumped out at you while you read this post and determine what adjustments you can make today to enhance your relationship with your grands.
  2. Do you live long distance from them? Consider FaceTime or Skype so you can interact, read them stories and share in their realtime lives. Look ahead and book an airline reservation or a road trip as often as you’re able, so you get it on the calendar and make it happen.
  3. Create little coupons for them to redeem special times with you like baking cookies, shopping for toys/trinkets at Dollar Tree, seeing a matinee or playing and picnicking at the park and remember to use them!
  4. Are your grandkids older and you long to make up for lost time? Don’t delay. Children are forgiving and flexible. Don’t let your insecurities and guilt keep you at a distance. Find what they’re interested in and nurture that desire whether it be crafting, electronics, the beach, music or horses. Find a way to spend time with them enjoying these things together.

Thank you for reading, I’m truly honored. If you’d like to read more, subscribe for my updates and grab my TRANSFORMATIVE freebie, 7 Steps to Cure an Unhappy Kid and Revolutionize Your Home Life by clicking HERE. 

SHOP AMAZON ON ME! (last call)

Last Call.
Tell me what you want in one minute or less.

CLICK HERE!

I’m giving away 8 – $25 Amazon gift cards – for just a moment of your time to answer 3 Click and Go Qs, YOU’LL BE ENTERED into tomorrow’s drawing.

That means if you win, you’ll have made $25 a minute…not too shabby.

And you’ll get to fill YOUR Amazon box this Tuesday. Good luck!

Denise