My prayer for a day like today…

Today, I have spent more time than usual obsessing about mortality and the safety of my children (and your children for that matter).

It is devastatingly insufficient, but I have spent some time thinking and praying for my neighbors in South Florida. I watched the videos the students took of the shooting; I read the story of the football coach who used his body to shield his students from the bullets. I cried for them, and, as useless and meaningless as it may be, I prayed for them.

And then I did the most courageous thing I could think of: I took my daughter to school. And I just thought, “her teachers are so brave.” Not only do they spend 8 hours a day with a room full of four and five year olds who are full of flu germs and asking “why” all the time, but they know that we live a world where people do this kind of thing. And they came to work today anyway;they brought their smiles, their lesson plans, and just did it.

I’ll admit, I had the thought “I know what to do. I’ll keep *my* kids safe. I’ll homeschool them – then they won’t be bullied…or murdered…at school.”

And homeschooling might be right for your family (I’m not judging). There’s a million good reasons to do that, but fear is not one of them.

I have learned from watching Finding Nemo 87,000 times, that when you try to keep “bad things” from happening to your children by isolating them – other bad things happen.

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I feel so deeply that the problem we have isn’t just guns (but maybe we could work on that), and it isn’t just parenting (and we could all be better parents, too) – it’s that we’re all trying to do this alone. And when we feel alone we destroy ourselves…and sometimes we destroy other people, too. It’s the most obvious on a day like today. When 17 families, and the hundreds of friends, acquaintances and snap chat followers are coming to grips with the fact that a person they new, loved, liked, disliked, whatever – is gone.

The mere act of living has always required courage. Perhaps it is more obviously courageous to walk into a school today – the day after such a horrible tragedy. But, for many of our kids (and let’s be honest, ourselves) it requires courage to go to school, work, church, the grocery store, or even get out of bed every day.

We all worry about fitting in, about being judged, about offending our friends with *another* long-winded post.

But we need each other. 

Yes, I’m talking to you, friends who are reminding me that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” And I’m talking to you, other friends who would prefer “policy and change” to “thoughts and prayers.” I think that we can say yes to all of those things. I’m not here to change your mind.

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Today, I don’t want to ask more of anyone. 

Parents: I know you’re doing the best you can. 
Teachers: I know you’re doing the best you can, and I don’t think you’re supposed to be a security guard or a savior.
High School Students: I know you’re doing the best you can (and that you stopped reading a long time ago b/c TLDR)
I know that we all need each other. We need the people we disagree with. We need the people we don’t like. We need the people on the *other* side of all the issues. We need more hugs. More grace. Less pushing people out for being wrong. 

I just want you all to know that I’m sending you ALL love, hugs, thoughts, and prayers. And I’m supportive of whatever you need to do today (and tomorrow and the next day) to nourish your soul, love your family, and help and support the families who are hurting so deeply today.

If you’d like to do more than think and pray (but seriously, if you’re doing those things – do those things!):

Join Moms Demand Action and Everytown USA grassroots organizations working for common sense gun reform

 

Let’s not jump to conclusions just yet

Today, my daughter came home from preschool in a huff.

She was so angry.

“SHE THREW AWAY MY RED STICKER!”

Apparently, my daughter’s teacher had given her a sticker for doing something good. Another girl in class (claiming she believed it was a piece of trash) took it off my daughter’s shirt and threw it in the trash can.

Naturally, Naomi’s teacher tried to fix this problem by simply giving Naomi a new sticker.

Problem Solved?

On the contrary, Hell hath no fury like a five-year-old deprived of her sticker.

Naomi marched home, informed me about how angry she was at the other girl.

I had mercifully had breakfast, a morning of almost total silence, and I just finished reading Glennon Doyle’s book Love Warrior – so I’m basically a zen master today.

Me: “It sounds like your really angry.”
Naomi: “I’m so angry! She threw away my sticker!”
Me: “Your special sticker that your teacher gave you!”
Naomi: “Yes! And she threw it away. She was not being a good girl.”
Me: “Sometimes it’s hard to act like a good girl.”
Naomi: “Well, I’m a good girl at school every day.”
Me: “It’s hard when something is easy for us, but hard for someone else.”
Naomi: “I don’t have to put up with that kind of behavior.”
Me: “What do you think you should do?”
Naomi: “I’m going to take away her sticker.”
Me: “It would make you feel better to take away something from her.”
Naomi: “Yes! Can I have a piece of paper?”
Me: “Sure.”

Naomi went into her room, and spent a long time drawing pictures of herself, her sticker, the girl at school, the girl at school throwing her sticker away, Naomi throwing the other girls sticker away.

The Great Sticker Theft of 2018

I believe this is a picture of how Naomi and her friend will feel when all the stickers are thrown away

I’ll be honest, I was beginning to worry about her soul and where I had gone wrong.

Then, she asked for more paper and found a copy of her Moana book and went back to her drawing.

A few minutes later, I came into her room: “What are you working on?”

Naomi: “I making a Moana book for my friend, so she has one, too.”

Yes, the “friend” is the girl from her class. The sticker thief. The bad girl. The girl who she’s spent the last hour imagining stealing stickers from. The friend who was a “bad girl.” The friend who we had no mercy for a few minutes ago. Now, we are making this friend a picture book?

Me: “That’s great, Naomi. I bet she’ll really like it.”

Tefiti

17 Lessons to carry into 2018

The Three Thirty Project

For me, 2017 was a year of inviting and accepting paradox. I believe (and perhaps this is a little “woo woo” but it’s how I feel about it) that life is always sending us lessons: the sooner we listen, the less painful it will be.

The biggest lesson I feel that life has taught me in 2017 is that many times, the action, attitude or belief I’m looking for lies on the razor edge of paradox. As we say goodbye to 2017 and hello to a new year, I want to share some of the paradoxes I have come to accept (often the hard way) in 2017. tumblr_n09kfduO0y1trprbro1_500

  1. Say AND instead of But. Say YES instead of No. Whatever follows can be the same: ‘and’ and ‘yes’ open up your life to more possibilities, and when a NO is required, it is stronger.
  2. Slow progress is not the same as no…

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Basic Hygiene Doesn’t Count as Self Care

Last month, I attended the Orlando MommyCon.

It was a ridiculously fun day – I left my kids at home with my husband and enjoyed learning, listening, and all the things. I thought the speakers were great, the shopping area was tempting and fun, and the whole event was super family friendly. All the rooms had toys for kids to play with, there were lots of diaper changing stations, quiet areas, and gobs of super nice people – it was almost enough to make me wish I’d brought my kids with me.

Naturally, when I saw an event about reclaiming motherhood hosted by Amy and Ilana of Apple Cheeks cloth diapers, I knew I had found my people.

Amy and Ilana started off the session by asking, “What do you do for self care? Oh, and basic hygiene doesn’t count as self care.”

I sat there stumped.

It’s been over a month, and I’m still not sure I have a great answer. I mean…self care? Caring for yourself? What does that even mean? Foot rubs? Getting a pedicure? (Just FYI: I hate having other people touch my feet…so no…). Massage?

“What would you do if you had a day just to do what you wanted.”

I have one day off a week, and I usually spend it catching up on laundry, trying to get my yard to a state where we won’t get voted out of our neighborhood, doing my grocery shopping, and cleaning my kitchen. And…no blame here: my husband is right their with me, because we know that if we don’t do these things on our day off, the whole rest of the week is going to be harder. So…setting up my week so that I have fewer tantrums from my kids, eat reasonably well, and don’t get a letter from my neighborhood association about my lawn is kind of like self-care, right?

In these situations, I think it’s helpful to remember the words of Gretchen Rubin. One of her personal commandments is to: Be Gretchen. 

So…if basic hygiene doesn’t count as self-care, I’m pretty sure that lawn work and grocery shopping doesn’t count either (although, those things are important, too!). But I don’t think I need a weekly pedicure to feel cared for. Or a massage. Because I have a seriously hard time relaxing when strangers touch me.

For now, I have a working list of what Self-Care looks like for Maggie:

  • It looks like going to MommyCon without my kids.
  • It looks like taking time to post on my blog, even if there are typos and no one reads it.
  • It involves color coded lists.
  • It involves making playlists of music mostly from animated films
  • It involves reading children’s literature because that’s what I like to read
  • It actually involves a lot of reading
  • It involves exercising, even though I probably don’t feel like it
  • It probably involves buying non-maternity clothes to wear since I haven’t been pregnant in over two years and all my clothes have holes in them…but I’m not there yet.

I’ve also been thinking about some things that it’s not.

  • For me, a glass of wine at the end of the day doesn’t feel like self-care. I feel like drinking a glass of wine is supposed to be what every mom loves, but ever since I had babies, my body doesn’t like alcohol. When I DO drink, I get tipsy super fast, behave badly, and then have a headache for two days afterwards. So…not part of self care.
  • It is NOT distraction. I find it very hard to manage my social media usage. So, this weekend, I deleted all apps off my phone and set up parental controls. If I want to download an app (I’m looking at you Facebook), my husband has the password and I have to get it from him. It’s nice to have to sit down at the computer if I want to access Facebook or another social media account, and easier to not get lost on these sites.
  • Also (unfortunately) self care is not eating chocolate chip cookies or flour tortillas. Flour tortillas are my go to stress food. Any time I am having trouble dealing with a situation (for example: my daughter’s dismay that her favorite dress is dirty), I tend to pull out a flour tortilla and eat those feelings. And if it’s really bad, I bake cookies. I have relied on food to handle my stress for as long as I can remember, but…when I’m uncomfortably honest…I recognize that they don’t really put me in a place where I’m better able to handle my problems, and they don’t even taste good.

The thing about things that AREN’T self-care is that you kind of want to keep trying just in case they suddenly start working for you. I love this comic from Anemone Lost:Cqf_Q6sWIAAgynV.jpg-large

“Shhh, it’s working.”

That’s how I feel about my not-self-caring coping strategies. They’re obviously not working, but I hope against hope that they’ll make my problems go away.

 

So, that’s where I am today. On a journey to better self care. I can do it for myself – you know – because I’m worthy of love and all that stuff. I can do it for my kids – so I don’t lose my mind and yell at them for having needs. I can can do it for my husband – so I don’t hate him and run away from life. I’m working on it…that’s all for now.

5 Steps to get out of Credit Card Debt

I know this may surprise you, but I have a credit card. Actually, I have three.

For many years, I treated my credit cards like cash, paid off the balance in full every month, and paid no interest.

Don’t hate me, the story gets better.

Then I had two kids, Christmas, a hurricane, got really into organic food and cooking, blah, blah, blah – now I have a bunch of credit card debt and need to pay it off.

For months, I tried to pretend that the credit card debt wasn’t a problem and that sometime in the future I would have enough money (maybe when I won the lottery?) to pay if off all at once.

But, I don’t play the lottery.

Months went by. I’d make a big payment and feel like I was making progress. Then, the balances would creep back up. My credit score started falling. I went through the stages of spending grief.

Denial: It’s really not that bad, I’ll have enough money to pay it ALL off in a few months.
Anger: This isn’t fair! I deserve nice things!
Bargaining: I’ll pay off my credit cards when I get my life in order.
Depression: I’m never going to have enough money to do anything nice for my family again!
Acceptance: This problem isn’t going away, and I have to be willing to make some tough choices to fix it.

debt-mountainIgnoring my growing mountain of debt wasn’t making my money problems going away.

And then, one day, I reached my actual and proverbial limit. All of my credit cards were declined at the grocery store because they were maxed out. I didn’t have my debit card or cash with me, and I had to call my husband to get the number for our debit card so the customer service person could key in the number and I could pay for my groceries.

I expect that I’m not the only one who not-so-secretly hopes that if I close my eyes and pretend that I don’t have a credit card problem that the problem will go away. Or that maybe, one day, I’ll come into a lot of money and it won’t be a problem anymore. But the truth is, I’m may not have more money in the future, especially if I keep spending more than I have.

For the past few months, I’ve been slowly chipping away at my balances. Unfortunately, there’s not a quick fix here, but at least I see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Actual Credit Card Statement

Here are a few tips I’ve used to work on my credit card spending habits.

  1. Look at your credit card statement

And when you look at your credit card statement, look at the information that’s important to you, not the what’s important to your credit card company. You may notice that on my statement, the “Minimum Payment Due” is featured in bold letters that are easy to see.

Your statement will also let you know that if you pay only the minimum payment, it will take you 15-20 years to pay off your credit card, and you’ll eventually pay three times more than you actually put on the credit card. They also suggest a number that is slightly higher than the minimum that you can pay that will allow you to pay off the card in 3-5 years.

Pro Tip: THE MINIMUM PAYMENT IS NOT IMPORTANT.

IN ORDER TO PAY OFF YOUR CREDIT CARD YOU MUST LOOK AT DIFFERENT NUMBERS.

img_75942. The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging.

You must Pay Off the amount you have purchased and the new interest charged to make any headway on your total balance

When I am making my payment every month, I look at the Purchases I’ve added to the card and the fees and interest charged (if you’re paying on time, hopefully there are no fees!) and no matter what happens, I MUST PAY THAT OFF EVERY MONTH!

HOLD THE PHONE: Wait, Maggie, I thought you said you took your credit cards out of your wallet.

Yes. I did. And, I have a few things that I automatically pay on my card – like my cell phone, and a monthly donation I make to World Vision every month. It’s more convenient to me to continue to pay these things on my credit card, and now that I’m paying off the balance every month, I feel like it doesn’t make a big difference if this money is coming out of my credit card or checking account.

3. Get out of the hole

Back to your credit card statement: Look at your Previous balance.

You want your New Balance to be LESS than your previous balance. If it’s not – YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO PAY OFF YOUR CREDIT CARD.

Pro Tip: Try using cash instead

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For me, for now, credit cards offer too much temptation. It’s just too easy to add something to my cart at the grocery store, and Target is basically credit card kryptonite for me. So, I took the cards out of my wallet and am using cash instead.

To stick to my budget, I have started using cash (yes, actual paper money) for my discretionary purchases (groceries, toiletries, gas, etc.). For me, it’s much easier to avoiding excess spending when I’m using cash.

4. Figure out what payment you have to make to pay off the card

You can put your balance and interest rate into a free online calculator. Here’s a link to one or you can do a google search for credit card payoff calculator.

To find the interest rate for my credit card, I have to flip WAY back of the last page of the statement to find the interest rate (mine is probably too high…)

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The calculators are fun (yes, I said fun, because getting out of debt is SUPER FUN!) because you can see how increasing the payment can change the amount of time it will take to get it all paid off.

For my cards, I’m on track to pay off my cards in about 8 months.

Would I like to pay them off faster? Yes. But, I would also like to eat. And I feel like I can live my life on my current budget. And when I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself, it’s easier to stick to good spending habits. So, I’m willing to take a little longer and know that by the end of next year, the only debt I’ll have left to pay off is my house.

5. What are you spending money on anyway?

A few months into my quest to pay off my credit cards, I realized something that kept getting me off my budget. Every month, some random thing would come up that cost about $500.

  • One month our car needed four new tires.
  • One month we had to get supplies, make repairs and had less income due to Hurricane Irma.
  • Another month we had dentist visits and my daughter had to get a cavity filled.
  • One month, my dog developed a mass on her leg, and we needed to got it biopsied to see if it was cancerous

When I noticed this was a pattern, I realized that in order to actually stick to my budget and stop increasing the balance on my credit cards, I had to have $500 in my budget for to the “unknown unknown” to quote Donald Rumsfeld. And maybe, this month, if there turns out not to be an unknown unknown event, I can put that money in savings or pay extra on a card to get out of debt faster.

The point is, having that awareness of where my money was going helped me budget more effectively and has made my spending plan more sustainable.

Now is a good time to dig deep

I wish that we could do good on the scale that we can do harm.

Whether it’s a rude gesture, an unkind word, a horrifically evil act – you can cause a lot of hurt at once. Can you imagine if we could rain down healing, reconciliation and friendship on people the way we can rain down gun fire?
But, even when you know that healing, reconciliation and friendship are available to you for free at any time – it’s still a process. It’s still a journey. And it’s easy to get off track.
We have to decide to act kindly, to act in a spirit of love, to offer grace and forgiveness over an over again. Acts of love and kindness are like seeds: you have to water them, tend them, fertilize them – it’s a lot of work and most of us aren’t very good at gardening.
We don’t have to pretend that something good can come from an unspeakable tragedy, give meaning to the meaningless, or say “this happened for a reason.”
Hundreds of people are waking up today to find out that they lost a family member or friend last night in an act of meaningless evil. We can honor their pain, their lives and their loss today by trying to find understanding, trying to be kind rather than hateful, digging deep to see other people’s perspective before we act out of anger, fear or defensiveness.
Kindness, love, self-control, forgiveness – and even happiness – all take more work than cynicism, snark and blame. It’s easier and more satisfying to throw fuel onto the fire and watch it burn.
Our world is full of problems without easy solutions. And it’s easier to insist that they’re someone else’s problem and not ours. It’s easier to insist that it’s someone else’s responsibility to fix it. But the more we insist that the right politician can solve our problems, the more we share memes as a substitute for conversation, the more we repeat ourselves without acknowledging the ‘other’ point of view, the more we say we’re “thinking and praying” without actually thinking and praying – the bigger the mess we’ll have to clean up when we realize we can’t fix anything until we work together.
We can’t fix anything until we accept an imperfect solution that’s going to take time. We can’t fix our common problems until we accept that it’s going to require that we all give up something that’s important to us. And we can’t fix anything until we all acknowledge that we’re all responsible for our part of the problem. We’re all doing something that makes it worse (see how I’m sharing a blog post instead of donating blood or money right now?).
We can give our friends and neighbors (and for that matter, our enemies and strangers) the benefit of the doubt. We can think before we comment. We can read before we share. We can keep temper our cynicism and blame with grace and empathy.
If someone seems to be struggling, suffering or in pain, we can offer to help them before we judge them.
We are not powerless against the tide of awfulness in the world. Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t give up on each other.

Yes, doing good takes more work. But, at least it’s work worth doing.

Friday 5: Great resources for parents

  1. Common Sense Media
    logo-commonsense
    I love Common Sense Media. Sometimes, as a parent, I’m not really sure what movies are appropriate for my daughters – it’s been a long time since I was 4, and I love Beauty and the Beast, but I don’t want my daughter having nightmares because Gaston tried to hurt the Beat – or if I want to go to red box, Netflix or the movie theater, I don’t want to be surprised by anything scary or violent.Common Sense Media to the rescue!!!They have independent movie reviews, lists of great movies to see, and parent reviews. We have a “family movie night” every Saturday, and I always check Common Sense Media’s Best Movies for Kids list for ideas!But WAIT! There’s MORE! They also have advice for navigating the digital age as a parent with advice from everything dealing with cyber bullying, rules for cell phones with your kids, apps for kids, and more.

    It’s an amazing resource, and I go to it ALL the time.

  2. PBS Kids
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    For Hurricane Irma, I invested in a $7 antenna for my television set. This opened up the world of digital television to me for the first time in several years. Including, but not limited to, my local PBS station.I have got to say, PBS Children’s programming is FAR superior to all other children’s programming. It’s slower, more interactive, diverse, educational and really developmentally appropriate for young kids. I am trying to limit my kids’ tv and screen time to less than an hour a day, but I feel a LOT better when that screen time is spend with Elmo, Thomas and Friends, Daniel Tiger or any of the other great programs on PBS kids.
  3. The Gottman Institute7P-Book_1
    I’m a big fan of John Gottman’s books: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage work is a classic that every married person should read. He and his wife also co-authored And Baby Makes 3 – a great book for helping parent’s preserve their relationship through the crucible of their children’s infancy.

    But, if you’re too tired to read a book, they have this great (and free) email newsletter you can sign up for called The Marriage Minute. Twice a week, they’ll email you a newsletter that you can actually read in a minute. It has reminders, tips, articles you can read to help keep your marriage growing, which can be really hard when you have kids. A few weeks ago, The Marriage Minute suggested you try a 7 week Fondness and Admiration Challenge that is in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. I’ve really enjoyed this daily moment of connecting to my husband!

    Also, they have a positive an uplifting Facebook page that (if you’re on that platform) will fill your feed with good things.

  4. Amaze.org
  • Are you dreading having “the talk” with your kids?
  • Do you want to teach your kids about consent without giving them nightmares?
  • Do you want to be accurate and give your kids information they need without being graphic?

    Then, let me introduce you to AMAZE Parents!

5. They have resources for talking to your kids about bullying, being a good listener, sexual health, safety, consent and more. They’re great jumping off points for opening the conversation with you kids. I’m SO glad this resource is available!

NASA Space Place

I live on Central Florida’s Space Coast. Which is code for – very close to the Kennedy Space Center where I can LITERALLY see things launch into space from my backyard several times a month. It’s SUPER cool.

I love the short videos and information that are available for me and my kids to learn from and enjoy. One of our favorites was learning about the recent solar eclipse! Again – I am working on limiting my kids’ screen time, so I like that these videos are just a few minutes long, and their full of great information!

What are your favorite websites and resources for parents on the internet? I’m also a fan of parenting joke blogs – because I think laughter is a key to survival. I also really like Pinterest for finding easy recipes. Feel free to follow me on Pinterest so you can find all my favorite easy recipes!

 

Still Searching for Sunday

The Three Thirty Project

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been experiencing an eight year-long crisis of faith.

Maybe faith isn’t the right word. It’s been a crisis of church. I feel a homeless, and I don’t know where to go.

Like basically every Christian I know, one of my favorite writers on Christianity and faith is C.S. Lewis. There is a moment in the fifth The Chronicles of Narnia book The Silver Chair where some of the kids and a Marshwiggle named Puddleglum get trapped under ground, and the Emerald queen is trying to convince them that there is no Narnia, that Aslan is a dream, and that only the darkness of the cave is real.

Puddleglum finally says:

Puddleglum_walking

Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all of those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is…

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More Lessons from Irma

My husband and I host a podcast called My Coffee Break. On this week’s episode, we talked about some lessons we took away from waiting out Hurricane Irma from our home in Central Florida. I wanted to share a few personal thoughts I had about our experience in Hurricane Irma that didn’t make it to the podcast this week. 

IMG_7218The thing about a storm – whether it’s a named hurricane or a metaphorical storm: an illness, a failure, a big move, a relationship struggle, a project falling a part – is that they have a way of putting your life on hold. It’s hard to handle, do, or think about anything else, because the storm is all-consuming.

The storm leaves you feeling powerless (and sometimes literally without power) because there is nothing you can do to stop the storm. As much fun as it was to joke about telling Irma she didn’t need the land, blowing fans, or restoring her heart Moana style – the storm was going to hit land somewhere, and while we could prepare to mitigate the damage and repair once it was over, there was absolutely nothing anyone could do to change Irma’s course.

For that reason, I feel like Hurricane Irma has taught me some lessons that I would like to hang on to, now that the storm has passed.

Lesson 1: Fight or Flight instincts have a purpose



A hurricane is a real threat. There were real things I could do about it – I could put up hurricane shutters, stock up on gas, make sure I had shelf-stable food on hand, get a generator.

This means that the fear and anxiety I experienced in the week leading up to the hurricane wasn’t meant to torment me, it was a signal to action. Some people took that signal, got in their cars, and headed out-of-town for a “hurrication.”

And that is a totally valid response.

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Storm water, creeping towards my house!

Some people bought a generator and a bunch of food, and boarded up their house.

That is a totally valid response.

What would not be a valid response would have been to not do anything, close your ears and pretend the hurricane isn’t coming. Because that is a sure way to get blown away by the storm.

Lesson: Your stress is telling you to do something, and you should use the stress not be paralyzed by it. 

This can be hard to do when the threat isn’t quite as easy to identify. Maybe you’re afraid of losing your job, your home, your family, your health – that stress can stay with you for a long time. In that case, it can help to identify what you’re afraid of.

Lesson 2: Identify what you’re afraid of.

We had initially told our 4-year-old daughter that we planned to evacuate from the Hurricane. But, as the forecast put Irma hitting south Florida instead of the east coast and traffic out of Florida got crazy, we decided that we would probably be safer waiting it out. It wasn’t that we didn’t believe there would be any risk – but we felt that the most likely scenarios – heavy wind and rain at a category 2 or 3 level, were threats our home was built to withstand. Our home is not in a flood zone or close to a coast. We felt like we could handle it.

But, when we told our daughter that we changed our plans, she was terrified! She cried and said, “When there’s a hurricane, there are stayers and leavers. We need to be leavers!”

There was a part of me that wanted to honor her fear and get out of dodge. But, I didn’t think that was the best decision this time. I believe that fear is an important emotion, and I wanted to help my daughter learn to experience and wrestle with her fears – rather than run from them.

Instead of being a “leaver,” I told her: “It’s okay to be scared. When you’re afraid, it’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to prepare for something.”

Fear is a call to action.

The action we took was to think about exactly what we were afraid could happen and what ALL the likely outcomes of the hurricane were. We put our predictions into four camps:

  1. The storm took a different path, we had a rainy day and nothing happened.
  2. Our home experienced mild to moderate damage to the roof, our screens got damaged, a tree fell in our yard, things like that. The power went out. We didn’t have water for a few days.
  3. We experienced major damage – like our roof getting blown off or our house flooded.
  4. We experienced a catastrophe – someone in our family was severely injured

We felt like the first two were the most likely outcomes and the 3 was significantly more likely than 4. Again – this was our situation, with our home. We live in Florida, but we don’t live on an island or on a body of water. The water is always with us, but we had no reason to believe based on the forecast or where our house is situated that we were at increased likelihood for a catastrophe.

Giving our fears a name helped keep them under control. Knowing what we thought was likely to happen helped us prepare for those situations, and as it turned out, we were basically right. We did spend some time huddled in our closet while there was a tornado warning in our area. But, we were lucky, it passed us by.

We had to clean up some water damage and fallen branches; we didn’t have power for a few days, and it was pretty unpleasant. But, basically, we’re fine. I feel really blessed, but I’m also not surprised. Because…this is what I expected would happen.

3) Shame

There are people out there – whether they’re friends, family, well-meaning strangers on the internet, or know-it-alls – who will try to use shame to get you to do what they believe is best for you. And this is hard to deal with. Because, I think we all seek other people’s approval.

I saw someone comment on a friend’s Facebook page: Be sure to write your social security number on your arm so they can identify your body.

Ouch!

There’s no reason to say that to someone.

Each day, I struggle to remember that I am not responsible for other people’s feelings or actions. Even my husband and children – the people who I am closest to and care the most about in the whole world – are responsible for their own feelings and actions. And if I can’t do enough to make THEM happy, how on earth could I make a random stranger on the internet happy?

Many emotions come with the storm – fear, stress, anxiety, anger, shame. Our feelings blow around like the wind and rain, and there are projectiles that get picked up from other people’s “yards”: a rude comment from someone at the store, fear that gets out of control, tornado warnings blaring at you from your phone and send you into your hurricane fort to hide throughout the storm. And, you’re supposed to remain calm and cool through it all?!?!

Tips for getting through a metaphorical storm:

1. Don’t make it worse



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The morning after the storm, the winds were still strong. Not time to clean up yet.

Don’t go outside in 110 mph winds and try to start cleaning up. Sometimes, it’s better just to wait until things have calmed down and then clean up.
2. When you’re ready, clean up. 



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When it’s over – there’s a MESS to clean up. For us, we had a tree down in our yard, a little flooding at work, and no power for a few days.

3. Recognize that we’re all in this together.



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Thousands of line workers came from all over the country to repair Florida’s power grid! ❤

With a hurricane, it’s pretty easy to empathize. You know your neighbors, friends, and co-workers are all going through the same thing. You know they’re worried, and you know why. But, with other storms in life, it’s not so easy to see that we’re all doing our best to keep it together.

It doesn’t matter if some other place got hit harder or is in a more direct path, you can still be worried about your home and your family and your community.

Suffering is not a competition. A friend told me this week: life isn’t a competition, it’s a marathon. We’re all just trying to make it through.

If you’re afraid or stressed, your body can’t really tell the difference between category 3 or 5 hurricane, layoffs at work or being eaten by an alligator. You have the same fear and anxiety that we have to live with and deal with.

We’re ALL in this together.

4. Accept help



I did something really hard for me this week. I asked my daughters’ nanny if I could use her electricity and charge my phone in her house. This was difficult for me.

I love being a helper. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But asking for help? That’s a different story.

It drove me nuts that I didn’t have electricity at my taekwondo school for a few days because I wanted to provide the place where people could come, charge their stuff and leave their kids to have a fun day while they went to work or clean up their homes.

Instead, I was the one without electricity or air conditioning – and it was really hard for me to accept that help and love back. So, I decided on Tuesday that if my power didn’t come back on, I was going to take a shower at someone else’s house. Because…I had been sweating for two and a half days, and I smelled bad. And I’ve found that I can handle discomfort a LOT better when I’m basically clean.

We all go through storms of one kind or another every day.

This week, the metaphor of the storm was very available to me. I had a LOT of things I wanted to do this weekend and this week that just had to wait. There was a storm, and I had to deal with it.

I hope that you know you’re not alone in the storms your weathering, and that you have the courage to ask for the help you need to make it through!

The best things on the internet this week #HurricaneIrma edition

So, I’m a little busy today, because (I don’t know if you’ve heard) but the biggest hurricane ever recorded is coming to Florida. And, you guessed it, I live in the middle of Florida. But, I still have some positive things to share this week!

  1. #UnitedWeFan 

    Everybody Points their Fans at the Hurricane to Push it Away

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    This is guaranteed to make you smile. This Facebook event was started as a lighthearted way to channel hurricane anxiety, and has really gone viral. I love it! And…if you’re reading this on Friday or Saturday – there might still be time – get your fan and point it at Irma! She could still change course!

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/internet-responds-fla-man-plan-blow-hurricane-irma-article-1.3480937
    https://www.facebook.com/events/281828308983096/permalink/284833662015894/
    https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/1584559544967497/

  2. NOAA and the National Hurricane Center

    I am so grateful to have the National Hurricane Center. They have GREAT interactive maps that are updated regularly throughout the day. If you don’t like to watch your weather on television (because, let’s be honest, they’re a little hysterical) It is really nice to be able to look at unbiased information and see what your risk is and evaluate what you need to do.

  3. Support Paid Family Leave on Labor Day

    I’m a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg. I think that she uses her voice and position as COO of Facebook to really help people who need a voice and an advocate, and I really admire that. This week, she co-wrote a Washington Post Op-Ed about the importance of paid family leave in our country. I think it’s a valuable read about an important issue. I’ve written a little about my own struggle to find a family/work/life balance here and I know what a difference it would have made to me to not feel like it was financially impossible to take some time off after my babies were born to recover and get my feet under me. I’m sure we’re all affected by this issue in one way or another, and I hope that paid family leave becomes a reality for everyone in our country.

  4. Birthdays! 

    This week, my “baby” turned 2! I guess I’ll have to start referring to her as a toddler. But, I’m glad she’s here and doing well! And, you guessed it, she’s getting a hurricane for her birthday (and possibly a generator!)

  5. Anxiety ManagementI feel like I do an okay job managing the anxiety of every day life. But, for me, Hurricane Anxiety is the worst. There’s nothing you can do about it. Either the hurricane will hit or it won’t. Either it will cause a lot of damage or it won’t. I think that’s why I love the Blowing your fans at the Hurricane thing…it helps you feel like you’re doing something! Here are some anxiety management tips I share on my Facebook page, I think they apply to many types of existential anxiety – about politics, global warming, nuclear war, etc. 

    Hurricane Anxiety Management Tips:

    1) Check the weather at set intervals. Maybe every 3 hours. You will know if something changes, but for the most part, the 87 weather pages you’re checking all say the same thing.

    2) If you are staying, make sure you know some other people who are staying, so you can check in on each other.

    3) If you are friends with someone who is staying, assume they have a sane plan, and just be supportive of them. They’re very busy and don’t have the time or mental energy to explain their personal reasons for their person decision to you. Your job is to be supportive – if you’re worried about them, please ask someone who is not in the path of Irma to help you manage your anxiety on their behalf.

    4) If you’re leaving, staying, whatever – be nice. The people working at Target, the home supply stores, the grocery store, the gas station – they have homes, families, dogs, cats, friends and things that they are worried about and would like to be taking care of, too.

    5) Breathe. Big breath in, longer breath out. Do it 10 times.

    6) Make your worst case scenario plan – think about it, and do what you can to make it better.

    7) Remember – we’re all in this together. Love you all!

      

    If you’re in the path of Hurricane Irma, please take care! If not, please be supportive. It’s pretty scary!