What’s Keeping You From Pushing the Pause Button?

Labor Day was enacted into federal law in 1894. It’s nice to think of the day as a national pause day. As a nation, we are choosing to take a timeout from our busy work life and making a collective effort to have some fun. Dr. Perry, from his blog MakeItUltra 

It’s Labor Day in the United States. If you’re a working person, I hope you’re enjoying a day off. If you’re a working person without the day off, I hope you get a break soon.

Americans leave 658 million vacation days on the table every year. More than half of American workers leave vacation time unused. The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single, legally required, paid vacation day or holiday. By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation.

Research shows that workers who take time off are more productive, mentally alert, healthier, and have greater work satisfaction. 

Affirmation: It’s ok to hit the pause button.

Coaching questions: What’s keeping you from taking vacation days? Do you see value in making a change?

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Share Your Scars and Be a Lighthouse For Others

The scars you share become lighthouses for other people who are headed to the same rocks you hit. Unknown

When I was researching, Mom’s Gone Now What?, over fifty women came forward to share their mother loss stories. Truly, their scars have become lighthouses for others. 

They shared their stories through their brave tears and, in doing so, powered their light to reach further “out to sea.” Their light empowered me as well. I will be forever grateful for their willingness to give of themselves.

We are frequently tempted to show up without scars. When asked, “How are you?” we often say, “Just fine.” What if we honestly shared a bit of our true selves? A scar or two? How then might we become a lighthouse for others? 

Affirmation: I am a lighthouse.

Coaching question: How can you be sure your light is keeping others from the rocks?

Photo by Joshua Hibbert on Unsplash 

Give Your Daughter Coping Skills For Her Years Without You

Everyone has inside her a piece of good news. The good news is you don’t know how great you can be. Anne Frank, German diarist

On social media and personal contacts I often read/hear laments by adult daughters who, after the death of their mother (sometimes years after the death), feel helpless, hopeless, identity-less, and floundering without an anchor. 

Their plight brings to mind some tips to help your daughters successfully cope with life after your death.

  1. Encourage your daughter to internalize the reality that she will probably (and hopefully) outlive you. Help her recognize that this is the natural order of things. No one lives forever—not even mothers.
  2. Before she becomes an adult, prepare your daughter to be an independent person, a person who can successfully, confidently, and joyfully live her life and make good decisions without your constant input. 
  3. Help your daughter discover and embrace her own identity apart from you and her role as your daughter.
  4. Help your daughter understand that she will not be responsible for your death (unless, of course, there’s mistreatment).
  5. As you age or draw near to death, help your daughter understand that her death will not mirror your death—not the day, time, or manner. Each death is unique. Daughters generally have anxiety over the anniversary of their mother’s death (especially when they reach the age of their mother when she died). You speaking to your daughter about this may give her peace in the future.

These are the hard truths I’ve learned as I’ve interacted with countless motherless daughters. I hope there’s a take-away for you, Dear Mother.

Affirmation: I will do all I can to help my daughters (sons too) thrive after I’m gone.

Coaching questions: If any of these tips resonate with you, what will you do about it? What action will you take? What conversation will you have?

An independent mother raising an independent daughter.

Respect–the Cornerstone of Relationships

Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. Tecumseh, Native American Shawnee warrior and chief.

As I research Native Americans living in Nebraska in the mid-1800’s for my upcoming book, I’m reminded of the lack of respect shown to our brothers and sisters during that time.

Tecumseh was among the most respected and celebrated Indian leaders in history and was known as a strong and eloquent orator who promoted tribal unity. Unfortunately, he learned about disrespect at the hands of the U.S. government.

Respect is the cornerstone of relationships; friend to friend, colleague to colleague, or country to country. As we respect the life experiences of others, including our differences, we are enriched in our own journey. At all cost, we must hold on to our mutual respect otherwise, as Confucius says, “We are no better than the beasts.”

Affirmation: I respect myself and others.

Coaching questions: In an age when disrespect has become the norm, what can you do to hold on to the power of respect in your life? Where is the line between respect and groveling?

Photo by Boston Public Library on Unsplash 

Learning To Rejoice With Another’s Good Fortune

Let age, not envy, draw wrinkles on thy cheeks. Thomas Browne, English author

My mother would have been 102 today. She’s been dead for sixty-seven years. A friend of mine recently lost her mother—she was 102. I’ll attend her funeral on Saturday and celebrate her long and well-lived life. 

Do I resent my friend for having her mother all these years? Absolutely not! I’m thrilled that this is how life worked out for her and her mother. And yet, so often I read posts from motherless daughters who are resentful of others who still have mothers. If this is your attitude, I challenge you to dig deep and look for the roots of this feeling. Do you wish others pain because you have pain? 

From my experience, this attitude is more common in our society than one might realize—not just with some motherless daughters. Social media only adds to the FOMO (fear of missing out) attitude or envy about another person’s good fortune. We’re all sisters in this life—I beg you to find a way to rejoice with each other as well as expressing empathy for those who are hurting.  

Affirmation: I rejoice in the good fortune of others.

Coaching question: If you’re a motherless daughter, what do you feel when you see a daughter having a good time with her mother? Feelings, of course, are neither good or bad, but if you throw negative energy onto another—that’s something to take a look at. What can you do to shift your attitude?  

Winnifred Martyn Horn – 8/18/1919 – 5/24/1954

What Will Be Your Next Adventure?

Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. Ibnb Battuta, a Muslim Moroccan scholar and explorer who travelled more than any other explorer in pre-modern history. 

I’ve been “on the road” for six days exploring Nebraska (mostly the North Loup/Sandhills area) and doing research for an upcoming book of historical fiction. I’ve been Facebook (friend me!) posting photos and stories of my travels out of my joy in what I’m seeing and who I’m meeting.

The highlights:

—Walking the paths and entering the buildings of reconstructed Fort Hartsuff where my great grandfather was a boot maker from 1875-1877 and having, Jim, the superintendent of thirty-seven years, who helped rebuild and excavate the fort, as my guide. 

—Experiencing the peace and beauty of the Sandhills and learning about the eco diversity.

—Touring a chalk mine that was discovered just before my great-grandparents arrived in the area and having an 84-year-old-woman with a walker as my expert guide.

—Meeting not one, but four women who personally knew my namesake, Mershon Smith, and learning that she was a “classy lady.”

—Meeting two families who had cabins next to mine on a ranch in the middle of the Sandhills. The fathers/husbands were originally from South Africa and offered me lamb cooked the traditional South African way over a braai (a unique style of barbecue).

—The peace and confidence that traveling alone in unknown territory brings. 

Affirmation: I love the adventure of traveling.

Coaching questions: What does traveling mean to you? What would it be like to travel by yourself? Where do you want to go on your next travel adventure? 

Taken on an eco tour of Switzer Ranch near Burwell, Nebraska

How Would You Benefit By Seeing Through Another’s Eyes?

In all things in nature, there is something of the marvelous. Aristotle

Teach me good judgment. Psalm 119:66

Tomorrow, I’m on a week-long trip to Nebraska to do research for my next book, The Boot Maker’s Wife. People frequently judge Nebraska from what they see from out their car window as they cruise up I80 at 80 MPH. This is not all there is to Nebraska. 

Nebraska was my first home, it’s where I grew up, it’s where my ancestors, on both sides, began their journey to make a difference. The endless horizon, the friendly people, the fields of grain, and the smell of cattle bring me joy. Even though I’ve lived away for fifty-five years, my heart is still in Nebraska.

The beauty of nature, as all things, is in the eye of the beholder. Behold the beauty of Nebraska. (Watch for my daily, “Nebraska Through My Eyes,” photos on Facebook)

Affirmation: Nature is marvelous.

Coaching questions: What do you judge from the place of limited knowledge? Where does your heart live?

Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash 

We All Need What Bunnies Need

Whoever said, “It’s just a rabbit” has obviously never loved a rabbit. Best4Bunny.com

This summer, my daughter and her family are fostering bunnies. Yep, it’s a thing. People buy bunnies, decide they don’t want them or have more bunnies —“I thought they were both males”— then take the unwanted bunnies to a shelter.

 A shelter also has dogs and other animals who are natural enemies of bunnies, causing them fear and anxiety. So, bunnies go to foster homes where they get lots of love, attention, and treats in a safe environment where they can flourish. They also learn what’s it’s like to be a family pet so, when they’re adopted, they’ll be ready. 

The world can be a scary place for humans too. We also need love, attention, a secure environment, and treats—lots of treats.

Affirmation: I thrive in a safe and secure environment.

Coaching questions: What makes your environment feel safe and secure or not? How do you create a safe and secure environment for others? Who/what makes you feel anxious? 

How Do You Deal With Your Mental Health Issues?

Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it— just as we have learned to live with storms. Paulo Coelho, Brazilian novelist

Recently, we’ve seen how mental health issues can affect elite athletes. But, as Coelho writes, “Anxiety was born in the same moment as mankind.” We all experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues from time to time. 

If you’re currently plagued by anxiety, Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself, offers this suggestion. “Reel yourself back to the present. Panic attacks can often make you feel like you’re dying or having a heart attack. Remind yourself: ‘I’m having a panic attack, but it’s harmless, it’s temporary, and there’s nothing I need to do.’” 

In addition, fact check your thoughts, identify three things you see, hear, and parts of your body, exercise, stay away from sugar and stimulants, watch a funny video, talk to someone about your feelings. 

Affirmation: I care about my mental health and the mental health of others.

Coaching questions: How do you deal with your mental health issues? If you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, what’s one step you’ll take to address your issue?

Photo by Zoë Reeve on Unsplash 

Think Like An Olympic Athlete

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well. Pierre de Coubertin, primarily responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1894

The 2020 Olympic Games, although a year late, are officially kicking off tomorrow. I love everything that happens on and off the “stage” at the Olympics—the competition, the stories, the drama, the excitement.

One thing I’ve learned from listening to world class athletics is not to wait to feel motivated in what I want to accomplish. “Just do what you do,” they say, “and the motivation will follow.” Drive to the gym, go to the walking trail, show up at the party, open your computer and start writing.

It’s a little like love—at first it’s a feeling but many days it’s a decision. You may feel motivated at times, but to emulate the Olympic athletes, sometimes you have to decide to do something whether you’re motivated or not. 

Affirmation: I just do what I do.

Coaching question: What do you want to accomplish?