Holiday Grief

Glass sphere with fir-tree abstract background

Yesterday my son took a Christmas music box my mother gave him off the shelf and stared at it. He turned it on. He watched it.

He’s eight years old. He’s a child who wants to act like a man.

I knew what was going to happen before it happened – the way a mother does. I felt the ripples of grief move up and down his body even though nothing had changed on the outside.

“Mom, can I speak to you in private please,” he said, like a man in a child’s body.

As soon as we were alone, he collapsed in my arms. “I miss grandma so much. I am never going to see her again.”

My mother died 17 months, one week and two days ago (but whose counting). This is our second Christmas without her. I did my masters in psychology with a focus on grief counseling, so I have the benefit of knowing the second of everything is usually harder than the first, when it comes to grief.

Watching my son walk this journey in grief has been a gift. Don’t get me wrong, I’d give anything for him not to feel the pain he feels at my mother’s passing. They were incredibly close. She understood him the way I fear I never will.

Little M honors his grief. He gives it its space, and although his need to be a man affects where and when he cries, he does not judge the time or space he needs to heal. He is sad when he is sad. And he is also perfectly fine with laughing hysterically on the way to school 5 minutes later. He sees nothing wrong with enjoying life alongside his grief. There are no “shoulds” in his process.

Grief has no set path. There are no rules of engagement, as much as some of us wish there were. And as much as this holiday season is one that is filled with joy and love and peace, it is often the point in the year that hits a grieving person the hardest.

I miss my mom like hell. I watch the families near me who have lost so much more and feel a deep sadness that we live in a world that creates so much pain. I also love dreaming about my children’s faces when they open their BIG Christmas gift. I’m excited for my daughter’s first Irish Dance recital. I am happy about their future.

I am going to love more this holiday season, not despite my grief, but because of it. Because grief reminds me of what I truly value.

If you are feeling grief because of a loss you understand or for no good reason at all, be gentle with yourself. Allow it to flow and be as it is. That flow will bring you back to joy and peace, I promise. And if you can’t quite believe that right now, I want you to know I am praying for you. I have been in that darkness. Maybe not your darkness but that place where it feels like happiness will never return. So I can hold that faith for you, even if you can’t.

And if you are one of those blessed people who is free from grief this year, I celebrate that with you and wish you many years of the same! I know you are probably holding the candle of faith for someone else right now, and that is a beautiful gift. Thank you.

No matter where you are – may peace and light, love and joy find their way to you this holiday season

With love,
Patty

Holiday Shopping

Guest Post By Kara Wiegand

I LOVE the holidays.  I love the feeling I get when I picture my family sipping on hot chocolate, sitting around the Christmas tree illuminated by the perfect hue of holiday lights.  Now, let’s be honest: as a wife and mother of two young girls (Avery & Bryn) and two dogs (Kona & Sparkles), I am 100% certain that this perfect moment has never occurred.  But still, there it lives in my brain and I will continue to believe in its possibility as I dream of holidays to come.

Holiday shopping, on the other hand, has the exact opposite effect on me.   When I think about buying gifts for my friends and family, the stress and anxiety hits me like a ton of bricks; and now more than ever before.  Over the past few years, I have been educated more and more about the way the world works and the impact our U.S. dollars have on the lives of people around the world.  It is not pretty, people.  The more I learn, the guiltier I feel about being a consumer.  Believe me, as a woman and mother, the last thing I need is MORE GUILT!

Don’t worry, there is an answer! Just research everything you buy and make sure that your purchase doesn’t exploit anyone, support bad trade practices, use materials that are hazardous, destroy the environment or send the wrong message to our children about gender roles, body image or their overall worth.  What’s that you say?  The mineral used in the coolest new electronic gadget is contributing to the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where women are being raped and people are being murdered in mass numbers?  Scratch that idea. Come again?  The new toy that my nephew wants was made by another child forced to work 14 hours a day in dangerous working conditions?  Nope, can’t do it.  Oh, really?  The Barbie my daughter has been begging for will cause her to hate her body and fuel feelings of self-loathing and disgust?  Crap, now what?

Oh yeah, and after you make sure of all of these things, make sure it’s something that your family or friend is not going to hate. As a mom, I struggle with this especially when shopping for my girls. I strive to teach them the true meaning of the holidays: the importance of family, of spending time with loved ones and coming together to show love and support for others. For a 5 and almost 3-year-old, the concept of fair and ethical trade is hard to grasp, especially in the face of this year’s latest and greatest.  Do I sacrifice morals and values entirely and succumb to consumerism?  Do I only shop fair trade?  Do I meet in the middle somewhere?

In writing this, I realize that my choice is clear.  My choice is to live my truth and make choices that support the vision of who I want to be in the world versus choosing an inauthentic path driven by my desire to have people like me.  Who do I want to be in the world?  I want to be a loving, compassionate, empathic, empowering, inspiring woman.  And, I have a choice to be that every minute of every day.   This holiday season, I will be taking the time to make informed decisions about my consumerism and make purchases that positively affect others.  Are some family members going to be disappointed that they didn’t get exactly what was on their wish list?  Maybe.  Is someone going to see me as preachy or self serving or on my high horse?  Possibly.  Is this going to wage World War III with my kids when they open their gifts to realize the newest Disney princess is not in the box?  Most likely. Oh well, some things are just too important.  Time to start shopping!

Kara WiegandKara Wiegand is a founder of Threads Worldwide, a social enterprise that provides sustainable income opportunities for women worldwide through the creation and sale of fair trade jewelry and accessories.  Kara is passionate about empowering women because she believes it is the most effective way to eradicate poverty, strengthen families and better our global community.  She has over 12 years experience in the non-profit sector with a focus on business development, sponsorship, accounting and finance. She holds a B.A. from Tufts University, and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Colorado at Denver. She is a proud wife and mother of two beautiful young girls who inspire her daily to be courageous and honor her passions. In her free time she enjoys playing the guitar, singing, playing volleyball and spending time with her husband and girls in Boulder, CO.

Let Them Eat Candy, Mom!

Each Halloween I inevitably find myself engaged in a conversation with parents worried about their child’s candy consumption and more importantly how to control it.

Why?angel

It is one day a year.  Candy overload one day a year does not a sugar-addicted child make.

I get the argument that sugar is poison.  (I don’t agree but I do understand that perspective.)  But let me offer you another way to see it:  Candy to children is the most understood form of currency.  It brings them pleasure and generally their access to it is limited … except on Halloween.

On Halloween they dream big about what is possible.  They come up close and personal with the true meaning of “abundance.”    They can grasp that what they desire (a bag full of candy to eat) is within their grasp.

That feels alot like the perspective most of us are trying to experience – that the Universe is abundant.  Making sure my children see the world as an abundant, loving entity is one of my highest priorities and Halloween is one of the easiest ways to teach it.

Halloween is a night of fantasy.  A night to dream and escape reality.  A moment to be different, a time of excitement and adventure.  Why can’t we just let it be that?

So although I normally ask you to “leave your children at the virtual door” when you enter the world of Mom Gets A Life, I am going to make a plea to you on their behalf.  Let them eat the damn candy.

Just give them a moment to experience life without limits and at the same time give yourself a night off from the rule-enforcer and be the teacher of magic.    Who doesn’t want that?

P.S. Each Halloween I let my children eat as much as they want.  They are gleeful when they first start but barely eat three or four pieces of candy.  What I notice they do is throw alot of what they are tasting in the garbage.  Somehow access to unlimited abundance makes them much more picky about what they shove down their little gullets.

It’s that time of year! Football season is here!

keep-calm-football-season-is-hereI’m already dizzy from the head-to-head combat – of course I’m talking about my husband and me.   

The minute pre-season games start, I bristle. My husband loses all sense of time and priorities when his precious Patriots are on the screen. Need to have a family discussion? Not happening. Chores to be done?Only if they can happen in front of a television.

And so I get myself all worked into a frenzy over the gall my husband has to carve out three hours for himself each week. The soundtrack in my head goes something like this:

“Well it would be lovely for me to just plop down in front of the television for three hours… it must be nice for SOME people to just do whatever they like even though the house looks like a tornado hit it…. Oh I’d love to say a short good night to the kids when my favorite show is on…”  on and on it goes.  

Sometimes I even hiss at him as he watches the games.

This lasts a week or two until the inevitable happens…

I listen to myself.

And I remember I do have the choice to take three hours off in the middle of the weekend.

The problem isn’t that my husband carves out some much-needed me-time for himself. The problem is I don’t. Or at least I don’t during that crazed back-to-school time when it seems there is absolutely not enough hours in the day to fill out all the forms the school sends home.

And of course my husband doesn’t complete the forms properly so I do them. There are lots of things I do that “my-husband-can’t-do-properly-so-I-do-it.” And pretty soon when all those things-he-can’t-do start to pile up and I haven’t had a moment to myself the world comes crashing in because (gasp) my husband has the gall to watch football.

So here I am in week three. My sanity has returned thanks to a couple of weekend movies, a night out with a girlfriend and a few yoga classes. My me-time has returned and so my husband doesn’t look like a selfish beast for grabbing his.

I’d like to say next year I’ll know better but I won’t. I’ve come a long way in this area but this has happened four years in a row so I’m not holding out hope my back-to-school amnesia won’t kick in.

The good news is that it used to take me until Halloween to realize why I felt my husband was the lowest form of humanity simply because he watched football. Now I can usually figure out that my hissing is in direct proportion to how well I’m taking care of myself in just a few short weeks.

What about you? Any chance one of your husband’s irritating self-indulgences has more to do with you than it does with him?  Yeah I know, that question hits where it hurts but if you get to the other side of the answer there may be a little piece of bliss waiting for you. What do you think?

4 Steps to Getting Anything You Want – by Traci Shafer Bild

GYGB_Traci_Logo2013 has been an amazing year for me. My Company, Bild & Company landed on Inc. Magazines 500/5000 fastest growing private companies in America, the Florida Fast 100 (growing companies), I was featured in Real Simple Magazine for an article on mentoring and most exciting, I signed with a book agent, Linda Konner Literary Agency for my forthcoming book, Get Your Girl Back (www.gygb.com) Interesting how things hit all at once rather than over the span of one to five years. Yet it makes me think – and be incredibly grateful for these milestones.

I was recently at my 25th high school reunion when an old friend of mine, someone I played with every day in junior high came up to me and said, “Man, I remember when I would come to your house. Your electricity would be out, you wouldn’t have any food and the food you did have would be in a cooler on ice sitting by the fridge. It was rough!” I just looked at her, stunned. “Really,” I said, “I don’t remember that.” It was a sort of out of body experience because I knew she was telling the truth and I knew things were rough but I don’t recall them being that bad.

My husband Dave always says that I have a knack for remembering the good and forgetting the bad. It’s true. The past is in the past and that is where it belongs. I refuse to be prisoner to memories that may give me pause, or an excuse to fail and in turn miss my destiny. What I do remember is how hard my mom worked to put a roof over our heads, the sacrifices she made for her three children, including marrying a man she did not love; simply to provide us with a home.

So as I reflect on the great year I’ve had, yes, I take great joy in seeing the fruits of my labor. What I take even greater joy in is knowing that others will read this blog and realize that I’m nothing special. I had no wealth or family connections, scraped my way through college bar tending, started five businesses from scratch with no money to speak of, and I was a C student.  

So how did I end up earning the accomplishments I began this blog with and more importantly, how can you do it in your own life? While we could talk for hours, I’ll boil it down to four simple steps: 

1) I set goals every year, no exception. I don’t worry about if I can accomplish something; I just decide to do it.

2) I back my goals with specific action steps that if done consistently over time will lead to the accomplishment of those goals

3) I follow through- on everything I say I will do, no excuses.

4) I invest time and energy in developing great people into leaders who can support my vision so I can move on to the next great project that I’m excited about.

That’s my story- what’s yours? What is it you want to do in your life? How are you going to get there? Stop to take the time to figure it out. Oh, and that dream- it will be yours in no time!

Want support and encouragement as you pursue your dream? Sign up for Notes from Your Girl and I’ll be here to remind you of what you are capable of every day – http://gygb.com/#notes

How to Get UnStuck

Last week a friend and my soon-to-be book coach, Angela Lauria, emailed her list of budding authors with advice on how to get unstuck in the writing process.

She said (simply) Write the Acknowledgements.

She was referring of course to writing those few pages at the end of the book where an author thanks all the 036people that contributed to making the book a reality. 

Doing this creates three powerful benefits:

  • It puts you in a vibration of having finished the book and that alone will move you forward.
  • It reminds you that you are not alone, that there are many, many people cheering for your success and willing to help you
  • It moves you from a space of experiencing lack (not having what you want) to gratitude (amazed at the abundance of your life.)

Which energy is more likely to move you out of a funk – lack or gratitude?  Exactly!  She’s brilliant!

I realized this is the same process I used when preparing for the Mom Gets A Business Conference.  Any time I hit a roadblock or felt “this is too hard” I would go to a very specific moment in the future.  It was the moment I would bring my kids on stage to thank them for their support.

Months before that moment happened I could feel it, touch it, taste it, smell it.   Although it hadn’t happened, it was real to me.   Whenever I felt down, overwhelmed or confused I would go to that happy place.    I saw the look of pride on my son’s face.  The look of shy wonder in my daughter’s eyes.

There were nights I didn’t put my children to bed and weekends I couldn’t participate in family events.  Those were real sacrifices my children made to help a very big dream come true.  As a result, when things got hard I was able to move forward because I was determined to create something worthy of those sacrifices.

I’m happy to say that when I did bring my children on stage (in real life – not in my imagination) that moment was even better than I could have imagined.  I’ll share more about that moment in another post but for now let me just say that Gratitude and Focused Postive Thought are some pretty powerful forces!

Are you feeling stuck?  Are you trying to make something happen and it just feels too big?  Can you find that moment in the future when you thank the person or people that held your hand through the rough spots?

If you can I promise you it will un-stick you and you will be able to move forward once again.

Got a great gratitude story?  Share it in the comments below!

Do You Make It Harder Than It Has to Be?

galets en équilibre, stabilité, performance, créativitéA few months ago my sister and I took a retreat to Sedona, AZ.  There is a beautiful place called Buddha Beach filled with hundreds of rock cairns (tiny piles of rocks.)  

We read that it was a tradition for visitors to create their own rock cairn when they visit the beach.  My sister easily piled three smooth fat stones and smiled.  We walked on.

I squatted down to put my own pile together.  Carefully I chose interesting shaped rocks with varying sizes.  Each time I tried to assemble the cairn it would topple over.  The rocks were chunky and not easily pile-able.

Over and over again I attempted to pile these not-made-for-piling rocks without success.

My sister laughed “If a psychologist was watching you right now they’d certainly learn a lot.  Why are you making it so hard on yourself?”

Why was I?  I hadn’t realized it but somewhere deep down in the darkest parts of my psyche I felt it would be spiritually “advanced” to pile these more challenging stones than the nice fat smooth ones my sister chose.

With that single realization the underbelly of my psyche shifted.  Although no one event came into my mind clearly I could feel the deck on my memories being reshuffled.    There were so many places where I had asked “Why is this happening to me?” when I should have asked “Why am I making this harder than it has to be?”

Since that day memories of times of struggle have popped into my head.  Without understanding how the entire geography of my brain was re-arranged I see clearly now how hard I make life on myself sometimes.

This blog is one of them.  I know I’m not conveying the total power of this profound experience but I can’t quite get the words.  In the past I would have sat here writing and re-writing it.  But my children are waiting to go play and I’d like to play with them.

This does not need to be hard.  I’m choosing “done” over “perfect.”

What about you?  Do you make it harder on yourself than it has to be?  Tell us your story in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!  

Finding Light in Darkness

SparksWhen something horrific happens, like the tragedy in Boston, it is hard not to notice darkness. The news is filled with images that leave us feeling things that aren’t helpful.

There are a few articles and links that have helped and comforted me this week and I wanted to share them with you now.

Stephen Colbert did a tribute to Boston that made me laugh and cry. Laughter and tears are equally important when we feel confused and afraid: http://www.boston.com/news/source/2013/04/video_stephen_c.html

We have an obligation to grow our light in the world and create love. If we didn’t understand that before we must start to see how critical this is. Love is the only true weapon against hate and violence. And our children deserve a world filled with love.

The more love we create, the less room anger has to breathe. My friend Lisa Hayes shared an article about how to be a hero today. When we keep our fear from turning into anger we offer the greatest gift we can. It is a challenge that is easier said than done but I know she is right.

Finally these two articles here and here helped me focus on what to do to support my children this week. Darkness cannot live in light. Please share your light with the world. We need it more than ever before.

If you or your family was directly affected by the tragedy that occurred in Boston I am praying for you. If there is a more tangible way I can help please email me at patty@momgetslife.com.

The Mom I Want to Be

This morning I was running late.    “Late” has been the norm since we hit the final stretch of pre-conference  ramp up.worlds_greatest_mom_mug

“OK kids grab your backpacks and get yourself buckled into the car!”  I sing-songed the way I imagined “good moms” do every day – pretending I wasn’t stressed at the thought I’d be pulling into school on two wheels once again.

I hopped to the garage door pulling a sneaker on with one hand and balancing my water, computer and conference postcards in the other, sunglasses gripped between my teeth, wondering if I could open the door with my nose to shave a few seconds off my exit. 

As I opened the door the whiff of fresh spring air greeted me and I knew that could mean only one thing…. My kids headed out the garage door instead of getting into the van.

Grrrrrrrrr

I wanted to bark at both of them to get in the G*D* car but since they are only 5 & 7 I try to limit the cursing I do in front of them.  They can find out how salty their mother is later on.  Besides I had made a pledge that morning to be “the mother I want to be” – and 8:30 am seemed like too early an hour to break that pledge. 

I don’t find I can be “the mom I’d like to be” on a daily basis but I try to do it on a consistent enough basis that my children have some fond memories of their childhood to share with the therapist.

(Definition of “the mom I’d like to be”: the mom who doesn’t yell, has endless patience and sees her children 100% of the time as the gifts they are.)

“Little M” I said smiling through gritted teeth.  “Why didn’t you get in the car like I asked?”

“Oh mom!  Look at the sky – it is such a beautiful color of blue!”  he exclaimed with the wonder I often worry is disappearing with each moment he spends on his DS.

And that is when I remembered why I run my own business – because I can stop and look at the sky with my little boy whenever I like.  I don’t have a boss and my deadlines are self-imposed…

And when my daughter tells me that she would really like me to be the secret reader in her class a second time this month I can say yes.

And, even though my stomach sometimes flips at the bigness of the Mom Gets A Life mission, having my own business lets me be the “kind of mother I want to be” even on the days I don’t believe I’m succeeding.

I may not always do it perfectly but today I stopped and watched the sky with my seven-year old son.  So no matter what else happens today I am the mom I want to be. 

How about you?  What helps you be the kind of mother you want to be?

If running your own business can help you get to the kind of mother you want to be please think about joining us at The Mom Gets A Business Conference April 26 in NYC.   We’ve got a whole host of cool successful women coming to share their secrets to wealth + momhood that works.  We’d love for you to join us!  Register today: www.momgetsabiz.com/register/.

Can’t join us in person?  There is even a way to participate from home – just look at the bottom of the registration page!

Feeling Lucky?

The other day my daughter asked if we were lucky.  Uh oh – I felt a slippery slope approaching in that question.

As a child luck was something I very much believed in and my sense was that where money was concerned we weren’t very lucky.  Luck felt illusive and random.   

shamrock luck

It took me a while but I eventually learned that luck was something you create.  It’s the result of being inspired and then following that inspiration with action.  When I came to understand that a whole world of opportunity opened up for me.

I wanted to make sure I taught my daughter this version of luck and not the one I grew up believing in.

But how?    How did I make her understand that every day we have the choice to create our life?  The action we take and the thoughts we think create our reality.

How do I make her understand that sometimes the thing that will lead us beyond our current reality into the life we want takes so much courage that we back away from it.  How do I help her understand that the courage to go after what we want is our “luck” and that it’s the courage that can sometimes be illusive?

At five could I make her see that when she asks for help, she creates her luck?  Could I teach her that everything is possible even when it seems impossible if we just call in support from above and do what we can with what we have?

These lessons feel big even when I share them with adults.  They sometimes feel overwhelming to me and I have proof they are true.

These are the moments when the job of “mom” feels too big too.

So I took the easy way out and asked her “What do you think K-girl?   Are you lucky?”

Her answer?

 “Oh yes.  I’ve got my lucky grandma in heaven.  I’ve got God and you and sometimes my brother and definitely dad….”  She went on for a few more minutes listing the reasons she’s lucky and that is when I remembered the most important aspect of luck:

Have the faith of a child.

I don’t have to teach her what luck is.  She came knowing it.  My job as mom is to just make sure no one (including me) helps her un-learn it.

Each of us knows how to have the life we want – some of us just stopped believing in our own luck along the way.

What about you?  Are you feeling lucky?

If  your version of lucky includes starting or growing your business check out The Mom Gets A Business Conference http://www.momgetsabiz.com.  I’ve put together a team of “luck angels” to teach you how to grow a business from home while still getting to be the kind of mom you want to be!