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.