Thursday, December 20, 2012

Filling Your Life With the Stuff That Matters

Stress is a Choice
An Empty Pickle Jar

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty pickle jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two glasses of chocolate milk from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.

The Moral of the Story - The professor waited for the laughter to subside....

"Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things...your family, your children, your health, your friends, your favorite passions. Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."

"The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your home, your car."


"The sand is everything else...The small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are critical to your happiness."

The pebbles, the balls, and the sand are different for everyone. My golf balls are my family, friends, health, reading, writing, and music. The pebbles are my job, my home, my truck. The sand is cleaning, cooking, errands, laundry, and the things I agree to do that I don't always want to do. 

My goal for the next year is to spend more time on the golf balls and pebbles than the sand.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Co-parenting, Extended Family, and Birthdays

This year, for Cami's tenth birthday, the four adults went above and beyond to give her a wonderful birthday. The four of us get along and try to keep life drama-free. This is not always the case with all four sides of our extended family. It is one thing to be married and have in-laws, but quite another to be divorced and remarried, with eight sets of grandparents. Each grandparent is quite different, with their own set of morals, and limits . Not everyone would prefers our blended approach to parenting. They would prefer we were the traditional divorced family, who does everything separately, not happy about spending time with all of us.

Cami and Ayden
Cami did not want to have four separate parties. She decided on a family dinner, with Bob, myself, her father, her step-mother, and all of her siblings together. She will have a slumber party in January. Last night, we all went out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse (her favorite) to celebrate.
Molly and Ali

 Yes, the four of us took all four children out for Cami's birthday, and yes, we all sat at the same table together. I think Jeff and Bob were probably a little nervous anticipating awkward feelings, but it went very well! Bob, Cami, Ayden, and I sat on one side, while Ali, Molly Jeff, and Peyton sat on the other side. Ayden entertained us, dancing and clapping in his highchair while the wait-staff danced, laughing when Bob picked up a slobber-covered cup, and pulling the birthday girl's hair.

Peyton attempted to gnaw the table and kept her dad very busy. I noticed while we had dinner that caring for two babies at once is like juggling, with several balls constantly in the air. It made me appreciate Molly, the girl's step-mom all the more. She takes care of two babies, AND puts up with my teenager!

I brought a homemade birthday cake, and we left the restaurant full and happy. The girls both seemed to enjoy the night very much, and commented after we left that we are the best parents EVER. There were a couple of memories brought up from when Jeff and I were married, which I always worry will make Bob or Molly uncomfortable. Other than that, it went very smooth. I hope that one day we can try to have a holiday together, but I'm not sure the men are quite ready for that yet!I think it is more awkward for both Bob and Jeff than it is for me, Molly, and the kids.

I think we have put our children, all of them first, in every way. We all sat at the same table celebrating our daughter turning ten, and we made her feel special and cherished, which is the best gift we could ever give her.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Find Your OWN Passion, for the Sake of Your Children

I have been a mom for almost 14 years. When I was a young mom with babies, I thought everything had to be perfect. I thought I was expected to have a spotless house, cook home-cooked meals, and when I wasn't doing all  of those things, I was playing with my children. I lost sight of my passion for awhile. I put everyone else's needs before my own. I was happy with my children and family, but felt something was missing.

 I started writing again and something shifted. I realized what had been missing before--the thing that lights me up from the inside. I also realized something else. I have never heard someone on the death-bed say, "I should have cleaned more," or "I wish I would have made everything from scratch (unless cooking is your passion)." People usually say that they wish they would have spent more time doing what they loved. There will always be something to clean, laundry to do, cars to wash, errands to run. Some of that stuff can be put aside for an hour, a day, etc. Another option is to ask for help doing those things.

I also noticed that most men don't seem to have a problem doing what they enjoy If they love to golf, they make time for it. If they love hunting or fishing, they make it happen. If their passion is cooking, they make time for it. Woman are a different story. Why do most women feel that it's okay to put themselves last? Would you want for your daughter to put herself last?  One important thing to think about is that our children learn by watching us, not just what we say, but especially what we do. If we put ourselves last, our children will learn to do the same.

Something I have said since my early twenties and constantly reminding myself is that on every single airline, they tell us if the oxygen masks drop down to put ours on first. You can't help anyone if you are dead. You can't teach your children about passion if you have none of your own. No matter what lights you up, you must make time for yourself, even if only a half an hour a day.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Personality Types-Blue, Yellow, Green, Red

Photo Source:
Color Chart

While I worked in the doctor's office, few years ago, one of the nurses had all of us take this personality test to better relate to one another. It was eye-opening for me to better understand my co-workers and everyone else in my life. The most interesting thing is that my results are different now when compared to when  I took the test a few years ago, which I assume is because I have changed as a person. I was tied Red and Blue when I took it at the doctor's office. I posted my current results below. I am a blue, with red and green close runner-ups.

To take the test, go across each row with the square in each that you identify the most with the highest number. For example: if you are a methodical planner, next rational and curious, then cooperative and idealistic, with spontaneous and Impulsive last: it would be a 4 in yellow, 3 in green, 2 in blue, and 1 in red. Once you complete each row across, add the numbers in each color column. My results are below for example.

Red Yellow Blue Green
First Row Spontaneous, Impulsive, Impetuous Stable, Methodical, Planner Cooperative, Idealistic, Wants Harmony Rational, Curious, Complex
Second Row Adventurous, Daring, In a Hurry Traditional, Responsible, Dependable Catalyst, Compassionate, Inspirational Logical Analytical, Loner
Third Row Love Excitement, Explorer, Unpredictable Dutiful, Teacher, Industrious Authentic, Empathic, Motivator Intellectual, Inventive, Problem-solver
Fourth Row Energetic, Expedient, Jokester Makes Rules, Orderly, Prepares Supportive, Self-Aware, Caring System-Thinker, Independent, Perfectionist
Fifth Row Bold, Witty, Risk-taker Loyal, Reliable, Likes Structure Romantic, Flexible, Self-actualizing Theoretical, Ingenious, Individualist
Total- Total- Total- Total-

I value rules, tradition, and authority. I have a clear idea of what people should do. I want to belong. I handle details well, and I'm a hard-worker. I am useful, productive, a contributor. I like to care for others--look out for them. I want to anticipate and prepare for the future. The home & family are the core of society. It's important to have rules, laws and control. I appreciate awards and public recognition. I demonstrate my love in practical ways.

1. Loyal
2. Dependable
3. Punctual
4. Trustworthy
5. Structured

1. Resistant to change
2. Conservative
3. Rigid
4. Easily flustered in situations of change

Needs others to provide
1. Follow through on details
2. Focus on tasks
3. Logical approach

I like being free to do things on my own way. Where are the new frontiers? I want to explore. Life is a wonderful game--let's play! Where's the action (or problem), let me at em! Variety and excitement are fun and stimulating. Give me a challenge--I'll handle it now! I love the spotlight--watch me perform. Let's find a new and different way to do it. Freedom is important to me, don't fence me in. Rules that don't make sense can be broken. Bells are for ringing and mountains for climbing.

1. Getting immediate results
2. Making quick decisions
3. Persistence
4. Solving problems
5. Taking charge
6. Looking self reliant
7. Accepting challenges

1. Insensitivity towards others
2. Impatient
3. Overlook risks
4. Inflexibility, demanding of others
5. Talks too much
6. Inattentive to details at times
7. Resenting of restrictions

Needs others to provide
1. Attention to routine tasks
2. Caution
3. Focus on details and facts

Searching, learning, and understanding are fun. I love puzzles, problems, and finding solutions. I like to work independently. Intelligence, justice and fairness are important. I want to be correct--to do things right. It would be great fun to explore the universe. Once I've found the solution, the others and take over and put it into action. My calm exterior may hide some inner turmoil. I love to create a brand new idea. Being competent is absolutely essential. I want my brain to manage my emotions.

1. Supportive
2. Agreeable
3. Loyal
4. Self control
5. Consistent
6. Good listener
7. Independent

1. Resist change
2. Trouble making deadlines
3. Overly lenient with people
4. Procrastinates
5. Indecisive
6. Holds grudges
7. Overly possessive
Needs others to provide
1. Push to try new challenges
2. Help in solving difficult problems
3. Initiative and accepting change

Relationships are important to me. I want to have lots of friends--share and care. I have integrity, I'm authentic and unique. I like helping others become what they can be. Emotions are okay, and I show mine easily. People are lots more important than things. I enjoy flowers, music, and romantic movies. I love to help friends solve their problems. My hunches work. I'm very intuitive. Empathy and sympathy are both easy for me. I thrive on recognition and acceptance. I'm really good at motivating people.
1. Orderliness
2. Conscientious
3. Compassionate
4. Creative
5. Imaginative
6. Diplomatic with people
7. Analytical

1. Indecisive (looking at all data)
2. Get bogged down in details
3. Rigid on the "how to's"
4. Avoids controversy
5. Low self esteem
6. Hesitant to try new things
7. Sensitive to criticism

Needs others to provide
1. Quick decision making
2. Help in persuading others
My Results:

First Row
Spontaneous, Impulsive, Impetuous         2
Stable, Methodical, Planner         1
Cooperative, Idealistic, Wants Harmony           4
Rational, Curious, Complex          3
Second Row
Adventurous, Daring, In a Hurry 2
Traditional, Responsible, Dependable       1
Catalyst, Compassionate, Inspirational        4
Logical Analytical, Loner               3
Third Row
Love Excitement, Explorer, Unpredictable   3
Dutiful, Teacher, Industrious        1
Authentic, Empathic, Motivator 4
Intellectual, Inventive, Problem-solver             2
Fourth Row
Energetic, Expedient, Jokester 4
Makes Rules, Orderly, Prepares 1
Supportive, Self-Aware, Caring    3
System-Thinker, Independent, Perfectionist   2
Fifth Row
Bold, Witty, Risk-taker               4
Loyal, Reliable, Likes Structure  1
Romantic, Flexible, Self-actualizing   3
Theoretical, Ingenious, Individualist    2

Total- 12

 Since I have some Blue, Green, and Red tendencies, it explains why I sometimes feel like I am more than one person rolled into one. I love to play practical jokes on people, yet when something is bothering me, I retreat into my own head like a turtle into its shell. I love being around people, but most of the time I prefer to be alone or just with my family, especially when I'm going through something difficult.One thing I am definitely not is traditional, and the yellows are the people I have the hardest time relating to.

Below is another personality type article that I found interesting.I think I am a combination of analytical and expressive.

More information from:
Personality Types Communication Styles

A simple way of personality typing

All of this is only useful if you can easily establish the personality type of both yourself and the other people involved, and often it’s not appropriate to ask. Luckily, Industrial psychologist David Merrill came up with a handy alternative back in 1921, when he realised we could usually ‘type’ people by watching their behaviour. Merrill called his types, ‘communication styles’, and named them:
  • Analytical
  • Amiable
  • Expressive
  • Driver
The characteristics of his personality types share commonalities with the types identified by most of the popular typologies:

Analyticals like a lot of data in order to make decisions – information is their comfort zone. For this reason, decisions can take a long time, because Analyticals need to be sure. They are not good with blue-sky thinking or with taking fuzzy orders, especially if they have to hurry or approximate anything. They like detailed reports and well-worked arguments. They will talk through points at length, often frustrating Driver and Expressive personality types. They are less tuned in to abstract concepts and inferences than other types. They are often happiest working alone.

Amiable personality types are the faithful Labradors of the personality set. Without them, no work would get done. They are the grafters, the planners, the cheerful completers. They can do anything, and if they can’t, they know a man who can. They are the conscience of any project, making sure everyone who needs to be told or consulted about something is told or consulted. They are tolerant, and will be the quickest to forgive the extremes of the other styles. They will work until the job is done. They love to be asked for their opinion or for help, and can take a lot of responsibility, but they dislike uncertainty, so have your broad plan or direction, and your desired outcomes, worked out before roping them in.

Expressive personality types are the cheerful advocates of the profile set. They are sociable and happy, the loudest voices in the office, along with Amiables the best networked, and the ones most likely to drag everyone off to the pub. An Expressive will finish your sentence. They are imaginative and creative, and will take your idea and build it into something you never dreamed it could be. Expressives are approximate, fast-moving, broad-brush and blue-sky. They don’t do detail, and they hate slowing down. They tend not to deal with conflict well, because they want everyone to be happy and comfortable.

Drivers are the managing director personality types. They are natural leaders, making decisions quickly and delegating naturally. They are fast-moving and results-driven; often frustrated by others’ preference for caution and detail. They can be prone to aggression, and to leaving people behind as they punch through barriers, but they will deliver the job on time, under budget, and with all measures exceeded, albeit with a few casualties along the way. They have and set clear vision, and are generally good motivators of others.
It is useful to picture the personalities on a wheel, so that their interplay can be more easily seen. Drivers are opposite personality types to Amiables, and Analyticals are opposite Expressives.
A similar ‘shorthand’ for personality types has been adopted by the Insights organisation ( Insights use colour-coded the types, so that (as a rough correlation), Analyticals are blue, Amiables are green, Expressives are yellow and Drivers are red. Insights also allow for the personality types which sit between the predominant four, so, on a wheel, a person might be a red-blue or a red-yellow or a green-blue.

Another personality test and my results:
Human Metrics-Personality Test
My results from the Human Metrics Test:
Introvert(39%)  Intuitive(62%)  Feeling(75%)  Judging(22%)
  • You have moderate preference of Introversion over Extraversion (39%)
  • You have distinctive preference of Intuition over Sensing (62%)
  • You have distinctive preference of Feeling over Thinking (75%)
  • You have slight preference of Judging over Perceiving (22%)

Friday, November 2, 2012

School Functions and Co-Parenting

Photo: Single Parents

My post next week for Her View from Home is about divorce and school functions. I try to post similar, yet different information on this blog.

So many things can contribute to how school functions during and after divorce are handled. No matter what is happening or has already happened, your children need you to be the adult, swallow your pride, and shut your mouth around your ex. It isn't easy, as a matter of fact, it just plain sucks at times, BUT it must be done for the sake of the children.

The middle school orientation was tough for my daughter last year. My ex husband met us at the school (us being my husband, Bob, and my other daughter, Cami) and brought his baby. He didn't bring a diaper bag or a car seat into the school. Her baby brother barfed on a teacher's leg in the cafeteria and all over the linoleum floor. My youngest scrambled to find napkins for her dad, who had vomit on him as well, while the middle-schooler hid her red face. Each time we walked into a classroom to meet one of her teachers, the teacher would look at each of us, pleading for a clue to who's who with their confused gaze. From that point on, Ali asked that we not all go to her orientation.

We try to listen to her input and plan accordingly, as long as not having all parents there does not interfere with anything. I think that is the most important thing that someone divorced can do, is listen to your children, and to remember who is the adult. It is not easy to put feelings aside. Concentrate on the child. Keep the relationship with the ex cordial and business-like.

Check out more on the topic on Her View From Home

The below information is from:

Tips for Coparents Who Attending School Events

How to Handle School School Events Like Back-to-School-Night & Conferences

By ennifer Wolf:
Single Parents School Functions

1. Make an Effort to Attend Your Child's School Events

Attending school events is an extremely important way to show your children how much you support them. Of course, there will be times when you have scheduling conflicts and valid reasons why you cannot attend. However, when you can go to events like Back-to-School-Night or a special concert, play, or sporting event, make the effort to be present. Don't let hesitation over seeing the other parent keep you from being at events that mean a lot to your children.

2. Focus on the Kids During School Events

Remember, it's for your children's benefit that you want to attend school events. This is not for the purpose of making an impression on your ex, school personnel, or anyone else. Instead, you're doing this because it's an important part of playing an active role in your children's lives. Don't make the mistake of underestimating how powerful your involvement really is.

3. Coordinate With Your Ex Regarding School

Communicate with one another beforehand so that there are no surprises at the event. Also, remember that you don't have to drive to the function together or even sit together. If the event is parent-teacher conferences, you can opt to request separate meetings with your child's teacher. However, it is important that you keep your meeting focused on your child's progress, not your personal situation.

4. Be Courteous to One Another at School Events

When you see your ex at the event, make an effort to be courteous. This means, at the very least, acknowledging his or her presence with a nod or a wave. Even if your situation is extremely contentious, make an effort to treat your ex as you'd like to be treated yourself. This sets an important example for your children about your ability to put your differences aside and get along for their sake.

5. Tolerate Some Discomfort For the Sake of Your Child

Frankly, the need to attend school events at the same time will probably make you feel uncomfortable for quite a while, especially if you are newly divorced or separated. If it is helpful to you, make plans to attend the event with a friend or neighbor. The distraction of making small talk and knowing ahead of time who you'll be sitting with may help you tolerate some of the discomfort and focus on enjoying the event.

Divorce School Activities

Woman's Divorce Parenting Tips

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

For My Daddy

I posted something for my mother around Mother's Day, but I did not post anything about dads. My childhood was dysfunctional, but who's wasn't? My parents did a MUCH better job than their parents.

My father and I had periods of time when I was extremely angry at him. After my parent's were divorced, there would be weeks that we did not speak. Six years ago, my dad had a stroke while he was living in Texas. Luckily, I had already taken time off from work for another reason, and my mother agreed to drive me to Texas. We drove all night. I was thankful that my mom was able to swallow her pride and all bitterness, due to the divorce, to take me to my dad.

My father was in worse shape than I had anticipated. One side of his face drooped, his speech was slurred, he could not walk or use his left arm. He was left-handed, so he could not even feed himself. The stroke caused so many secondary issues, such as: seizures, confusion, horrible itching all over his body, and the worst anxiety I have ever witnessed. It was torture to watch my dad lay there in the hospital bed. The social worker in the hospital told me it would be near impossible to transport my dad to Omaha without thousands of dollars. He was unable to travel without a nurse or paramedic. A flight would have cost closed to $10,000, and an ambulance ride from Texas to Omaha would have cost nearly as much. I looked the Social worker in the eye, and asked what I should do. She said there was not much I could do.

The last words I said to my father before I left him to return home to my children, "I will NOT leave you here like this. I WILL get you to Omaha, somehow."

We both cried and hugged one another, and I could see the fear in his eyes. He was terrified he would be put in a home in Texas, left alone for the rest of his life. When I returned, I made call after call on my father's behalf. I heard of charities who flew patients, complete with medical care, free of charge. I found an organization to fly my father, lined up a hospital to take him BEFORE his Medicare/Medicaid had been approved (the hospital where I worked at the time), found him a doctor, and a facility to take him after he finished with rehab. I made a phone call to that social worker in Texas, and told her to never say never.

I was so relieved. I am posting some links to free medical flight websites:

Air Charity Network
Angel Flight NE
Angel Flight Inc
Air Care All

My dad was flown here, in rehab for a few months, followed by a place for head-injured people, and has been living in his own apartment for years. I assist with his finances, getting him to appointments, and renewing his insurance yearly. I was remarried last year, and the song my dad and I danced to was, I'll Stand by You, by The Pretenders. The song still makes me cry.

Something good came from the stroke. I got my daddy back, not just physically, but emotionally. I no longer held onto all of the pain and resentment, and when I looked at him I only saw love. I know now that my dad always did the best he could with the tools he had at the time, and he ALWAYS meant well. He would never knowingly hurt me. I am an only child, and I did not have a perfect childhood. I am grateful for the childhood I had, because so much of who I am now came from who I was and who my parents were. I am strong, independent, creative, funny, and forgiving. I would not be all of those things if not for my parents. My dad has always believed in anything and everything that was and is important to me. He never doubted me or discouraged me. He nurtured my creativity and independence.

Dad, I want you to know how very important and irreplaceable you are to me. I love you unconditionally and without expectations. I am grateful to you for all that you have done for me. I am thankful that I get to be your daughter, and I think you were and are the perfect dad for me in this life. If I could go back and choose a father, I would choose you every time. I don't want you to think you haven't done anything important in this life or that you should have done something more. You are a father, a grandfather, and an inspiration to me. I love you so much, Daddy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween with A Blended Family

Cami, Ayden, Grandpa Dave, and Ali Halloween 2011
My second post on Her View from Home is about how we do Halloween with our unique family.

Divorce can completely change the way your family plans the holidays. Even Halloween can be so much more complicated when you insert exes, step-parents, and step-siblings.

The first Halloween during our separation was extremely uncomfortable. My ex-husband went trick-or-treating with us, with two mutual friends of ours as a couple. The girls ran ahead of us, racing one another to each house, leaving the adults to walk together, in awkward silence. I had to continuously remind myself why we were trick-or-treating together in the first place. We had to be grown-ups and put our differences aside for the kids for an hour and a half if we wanted to truly put them first. I kept my mouth shut and we made it through that hour and a half. Once we each met someone, holidays became even more complicated.
Trish and Bob Halloween 2010

During mediation, we decided to forgo swapping Halloween every year and to each take the girls for a couple of hours on Halloween. They grow up so fast, and neither of us wanted to miss a single Halloween of trick-or-treating, school parties, and costumes.

This year, the girls will begin trick-or-treating with their dad, step-mom, and siblings early in the evening, and will finish the night trick-or treating with us. We take turns assisting in the classroom parties, and this year Molly and I both plan to help during Cami's class party. Cami does not have to worry that it will be awkward or that we will not get along. The only thing she worries about is how everyone else reacts to our unique situation. People are not usually understanding about our family, and many make comments. It is never easy to put the children first, but I believe it is worth it. Follow the link to HVFH to read more.

HVFH -Halloween With A Blended Family
Bob and the Girls Halloween 2010

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Our Blended Family

Ayden and Ali
My first post about my blended family is on the Her View From Home site. I am truly honored to be a feature writer for this wonderful mom site. My bi-weekly posts will explore life during and after a divorce.

I was married the first time for twelve years, and we have two beautiful daughters, 13 and 9. My ex-husband and I have both remarried. This is my husband's first marriage, and he has no children. He is absolutely wonderful with our girls.

My ex-husband and his wife have two little ones of their own, a one-year-old boy and a six-month-old daughter. My ex and I share legal and physical joint custody our two girls. When we first separated, it was important to my ex and I to make the situation as comfortable as possible for our children. Children deserve to be able to talk openly and kindly about either parent without criticism from the other parent.

It isn't always easy to place the children's needs above your own anger and pain, but I believe it is essential to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids. Molly, my ex husband's wife and I talk almost daily. We discuss the girls and their behavior, and all decide on their punishments as a team. The four of us discuss everything that involves the children and work together as a team.

Cami and Peyton
One advantage to all of us getting along so well is it makes situations where we have to all be around one another much easier. The children don't have to worry about their parents and step-parents fighting at their choir programs or softball games. They also know if they try to bate one parent against the other, it will not work, because we have open communication.

Follow the link below to Her View From Home, to my first post.

Her View From Home-Blended Families, by Trish Eklund

Ali, Ayden, and Cami
Photograph of the three kids by, Kristen Kirkelie, Kirkelie Photography
Kirkelie Photography