Four Lessons and a Butterfly

Yesterday my sweet sister-in-law beamed into heaven.  I was compelled to write because, as I told her many times over the past ten years, she was my hero. Here’s why. She rarely complained. Really. She suffered through a divorce, breast cancer, uterine cancer, radiation and chemotherapy and the permanent loss of her beautiful long thick hair. The radiation for her breast cancer caused lymphedema of her arm which meant that it was permanently swollen to three times its normal diameter.  She wore a tight elastic sleeve every day to keep the swelling in check.   Two types of cancer required her to have multiple surgeries on her thin body.  After raising three of her four kids, she moved from Ohio up to the northern Michigan tundra to be closer to family. She did this all by herself. And honestly, whenever we asked how she was, she consistently replied, “Oh, I’m good, how about you?” Nancy loved to run but over the past year, the cancer crept into her bones and she was forced to walk instead. After only a few months of walking, she resorted to slow limping because of the pain. Last spring, she pulled out of her annual half marathon race. Each time she ran in years past, she wore a hat on her baby- bird hair covered head and a thick sleeve on her swollen arm.  One of the reasons she was so anxious to get to heaven, I believe, was to run again. As Nancy was dying, her true colors showed (dying does that to a person.) They were brilliant. She smiled and said that...

Do You Understand Your Value as a Mother?

If you are like most American moms, you are far too critical of the job you’re doing. You want to get it right and you critique your performance daily. Here are three ways to work on understanding your value as a mother and putting this habit into practice: 1.  MAKE A LIST Many of us mothers don’t know what we are good at, what we can accomplish, and what brings us real pleasure. We obsess so much about what we don’t like in ourselves, and we completely fail to define ourselves by what we do like. So stop with the negative! Make a list of the things you are really good at and write them down. Write down what you are, what you like, and what you dream about, and whenever the negative thoughts come, think on these things that are positive. Then go a step further: Act on them. Buy an outfit that shows off the best part of your figure. Schedule an activity that makes you feel good about your life. Make a date with a friend who is upbeat and who likes who you are. Start being the kind of friend you want to be and stop thinking about how you let your friends down. Tremendous amounts of energy leave us daily because we exhaust it in trying what not to be rather than embracing what we want to do. 2. LIVE TO IMPRESS NO ONE Women who have a healthy sense of their own value are delightful to be around because they never play games, put on airs, or try to impress anyone. They don’t...

7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons

In my book Boys will be Boys, you will learn how to raise healthy and happy boys-boys who are honest, courageous, humble, meek (in the sense of willingly withholding their power), and kind. There are secrets to raising such boys. Among these secrets are the big seven. They’ll appear here over the next few days. Secret number one is: 1st Secret: Know how to encourage your son. One fault is babying and spoiling him, but another is being so harsh that you lose communication with your son and destroy his sense of self-worth. We’ll look at how to strike the right balance. He doesn’t want you to buy him stuff, haul him to hockey games, or work longer hours to buy a nicer home (though he might try to convince you of all these things). He needs to see you smile when you are proud, see you work through your problems, and how you deal with tension and frustration. And most importantly, he needs to know that you will be there when he needs you. Once he knows this, the center of his world will feel tight and secure. Give him that security and he will feel free to work hard at school, pay attention during his piano lessons, and enjoy all the good things that can be a part of...