Parenting Reboot


5 Steps to overcome a Miserable Parenting Day

NO one is happy. Everyone is crying. Someone hates you–they all hate you. You left the house a mess. You started off late, continue to be late and spilled your coffee.

It is OK to not be your best all the time. We all have those days — days when we would rather binge watch Netflix and eat M&M’s and Kettle Corn…(mixed together BTW).

If today is not turning out to be an award-winning, memory making day, hit the reboot button. Shift your focus–recharge, restore and renew. How does one do that? First, turn off the tech…(after you read this of course.) Next, focus on the golden nuggets that are hiding in the mess.

Here are Five simple things to turn your day around

NOTICE the Light

If you look at some of the great artists, like Rembrandt, his paintings are dark at first, and they could be called ugly. But, the beauty in a Rembrandt is found in the subtleties of light. If you observe the painting long enough you will see it: the very faint touches of light on the side of a face, on an arm, on a sleeve, or a piece of fabric. Rembrandt’s predominantly black masterpieces are a study of light.

When you take the time to see the beauty, you begin to notice the smaller things you may have missed if you had rushed by. As an artist I can tell you, those values are important to making a composition work — the contrast of light to dark. The darkness allows us to see the gentle light which we would not otherwise notice.

In life, there is always some light. Even in the murkiest of times, hiding in the muck, there is something that you can find to hold onto and give you hope. Hard days, just like difficult phases in life, are an opportunity to see situations with new light. We simply need to shift our thinking by weeding out the clutter. Sometimes, we have the opportunity to do that for ourselves, sometimes life does that for us.

One of the greatest things you can learn when you’ve been stripped down to nothing is that what’s left in front of you is often what’s most valuable. (from Crushed:When Parenting is Hard)

If life has hit you hard and you feel like darkness surrounds you, stop to notice — what do you have left? You have the gentle light — the small joys– that’s what is most important. If you’re too busy, you could miss those little morsels of gold. Choose to notice. Look at your schedule and cut out anything that isn’t a top priority today.

Start there today. Begin again. What is left in front of you is where you need to focus.


Are you holding your breath? Stop that!

Take some deep breaths — in through the nose [1, 2, 3, 4,] and out the mouth [4, 3, 2, 1.] Count 4 in, and 4 out until you feel yourself relax. Stress has an awful side effect that causes some of us to hold our breath. I noticed myself doing so when out older kids were teens, in the middle of the suicide cluster that hit our community and after our son’s night in the ICU from binge drinking. I had to intentionally recognize when I was holding my breath, and force myself to breathe. If you haven’t heard of the APP Headspace, check it out. I wish I had known about it back then.

Reflection and quiet are important for your outlook. Hard times or hard days, if you see them as an opportunity to readjust your sails, could end up being powerful and pivotal moments in your life. It is usually in the quiet that we give ourselves the space to learn. Stress is the pull from what our reality is, and what we are expecting it to be, reflecting on what our focus should be is very helpful. It’s human nature to learn from our wrong turns in life, so take advantage of the teachable moment for yourself. 10 minutes could redirect your whole day.



Get out of the house, change your surroundings. Go outside; go to a coffee shop, stop in church, mosque, synagogue, or the beach and say a prayer. If you’re at work, take a break and change your location. There’s something about fluorescent lights that will make you a little nuts. Keeping yourself if one spot for too long isn’t good for you. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that make you feel good! Boost them naturally, go walk. 20 minutes of walking makes a

Your body-brain connection is real. Be attentive to how you take care of your body, and ultimately how you feel. Exercise boosts endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that make you feel good! Twenty minutes of walking makes a HUGE difference in your brain function and how you feel.


Find Joy

It’s the small things. I’m sure you all saw the Chewbacca mom. Find joy: watch something funny or reach out and talk with an old friend! Jolting the good things in your life lets joy take over the negative. Do not keep to yourself. People are socially connected, we need one another. Reach out and make a connection.

Oxytocin is the relationship bonding hormone, and like endorphins, our brains need Oxytocin —  another “happy” neurotransmitter. It’s secreted during childbirth, nursing a baby, intimacy, and by simply laughing or hugging someone. A good long hug, 20 seconds or more, could change  your whole mindset. Try taking that kid, who is driving you nuts lately, (maybe even out of school) out for ice cream.

Sometimes our lives are so cluttered that we miss the small moments. We need to stop the full steam ahead craziness long enough to recognize the simple, small, golden nuggets in the day.


Be Grateful for Something

One thing!. Be grateful for one small thing. You may look around and see piles of mess or a laundry list of tasks, but be grateful for that one bowl that made it to the sink. It’s one less thing on the counter! Score! For me, I hate laundry. We have 10 people in our family…. I

For me, I hate laundry. We have 10 people in our family…. I really hate laundry (and shoes, but we’ll talk about that another time.)

An attitude of gratefulness can change a morning of mess into one of peace.

I had a mom who was about 10 years ahead of me in the family journey help me shift my attitude about my detest for laundry. She suggested that I pray for each child as I fold their clothes. She told me to pray for every aspect of their little lives; for their friendships, character, sadness, joys, and future. Slowly, folding laundry turned into a time to focus on the gratefulness I have for the lives of my children.

So GO! Take a break. Call a friend, go for a walk. Read that cranky kid a book, take the disgruntled teen out for food, put your feet up and breathe.


You will find yourself — Recharged. Restored. Renewed.

NOW it’s ok to turn off the tech.

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You Can NOT Be Replaced December Campaign #BeAGift 2014

You Can NOT Be Replaced Board of Awesome Hurricane Sandy

Chip and I found this old notebook with one of our stickers on it from our Hurricane Sandy days a couple weeks ago. I thought it would be appropriate to tell the story of the sticker now as we head into the holidays full force.

The holiday season is a time when we all put some effort into giving; to our loved ones, friends, neighbors…and also ‘people in need’. During Sandy, we had an intimate view into the lives of ‘people in need’ and how it feels to be given help.

Receiving help is not easy.

‘UR the one’ is what we said to each person who came through those doors and would tell us ‘save that for someone who really needs it’. We would say, ‘that’s YOU! You are the one!’ Not one person was comfortable receiving help. NOT ONE. To lesson the blow of an already stressful situation we all would ‘personal shop’ and take things off the shelf for them, remind them the items were already theirs….day after day.

Hurricane Sandy Campaign UR the one

Hurricane Sandy Campaign UR the one

Its a very difficult thing for people to be flooded with ‘stuff’ when they are in crisis mode. Whether people need the items or not cant be the focus. We need to stop and reflect on how some people.. not all…feel receiving help.

People on the receiving end can feel guilty, not worthy, like failures for not being able to provide those ‘things’ themselves. Grateful, but embarrassed…it goes on. The hurricane experience was a very interesting lesson for all of us. There needs to be an emphasis in sincere and gentle giving.

During the holdiay’s we often have surges of self reward as we put that $5 candy land game in the toy bin as if we done something extravagantly awesome. We need to stop and think. How would it feel if I was on the other end of that gift… very different for a child vs an adult.

When we give, when we help ‘people in need’; remember that they are often in some kind of crisis, life transition, or turmoil. Their hearts are burdened, heavy and stressed. To truly give, to give with all your heart means to do so with sincerity, gentleness, kindness and to so quietly. We show the ultimate gratefulness for our lives when we show empathy for others, when our gift is sincerely from the heart.

The real gift we give others is in HOW we give. If we truly are to #BeAGift to others, it means our focus is them…not us.

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My Response to #BlackSuicide & A Call To Action #video #religion #suicideprevention

The recent death of actor 

Lee Thompson Young has brought a lot of press attention to awareness. This time our friend at you’re not finished has a thoughtful response to an article saying prayer isn’t enough.  It’s essential, but not enough. We need to read, we need to listen and we need to refer people to professionals. That’s all part of being prayerful in action. 


It’s kind of like the story of a man caught in flood and stuck on the roof of his home.

He prays for God to help. An OEM truck with huge tires comes. ‘Get in; we’ll bring you to safety.’ ‘NO says the man, God will save me’.

A boat rows by and says ‘come in’; the man says ‘no, God will save me.’ A helicopter comes and says ‘grab the line!’ the man says ‘no, God will save me.’ Then the water washes him away. 

As he stands at the pearly gates, he asks God. ‘I trusted you, I asked you to save me and you didn’t!?’ God replies, ‘ I sent you an Emergency vehicle, a boat and a helicopter, you said no to each one!’ Makes you think huh?

  My Response to #BlackSuicide & A Call To Action #video #religion #suicideprevention.

Elmer’s glue

ImageYCNBR likes to make you think, shift your thoughts and be creative.

I offer you Elmer’s glue. Does Elmer’s Glue change your view of the struggles and pain in the lives of others or your own life? What?

There is often emotional damage left behind in the aftermath of a life struggle.  A person can end up feeling like they are ‘falling apart’, flaking or peeling like a painting that has survived years of harsh sunlight, or that has been lost in an old building that still stands after a war.

How do we approach helping the ones we care about, or how do they take that first step forward to restoration themselves? Simple, pure Elmer’s glue.

The church we were married in is a replica of the twin churches of Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria Dei Miracoli church in Piazza de Popolo in Rome. A couple of years ago it underwent a full restoration of the art work. The transformation was amazing. The same beautiful paintings were suddenly clean and vibrant.

One day I sat watching a crew repair the amazing 100 year old artwork. I was able to chat with one of the restoration artists about the process they went through to restore the art. How could they possibly take a brush to such beautiful work? Clearly, I had no knowledge of restoration.

She said, ‘Every piece is different. Some need just to be cleaned with soft rags, q-tips or brushes. Some need special chemicals mixed added to the cleaning for stubborn stain…’ I asked her what they do when the painting is so badly damaged that the paint is peeling off. She said bluntly ‘We glue it back on‘.

Funny right? Imagine a white bottle of Elmer’s glue sitting by a master piece. How absurd! Wouldn’t you expect a bottle of fine solution that costs thousands of dollars from the rarest of ingredients to repair the damaged treasure? I did, but the answer was not complex rare bottles of potions, it was simplicity.

One of the most significant things I remember from that conversation is the thought I had when I left the building was that the restoration artist didn’t repaint the masterpiece. She didn’t try to change the original work.

She respectfully looked and evaluated the situation, then chose the simple tools that she needed to help the piece return to its original beauty. She was grounded in the fact that she did not own or create the work. She was only there to help it heal and return to its original beauty.

Sometimes to go forward you need two steps back. Clear the mess, clean it and then gently repair before you can move on.

People are the same. We can’t fix one another or change the original masterpiece that God created. Each one of us is a unique and valuable treasure.  We deserve and need to be treated with sincere, simple and honest care.

My friend Susan gave me another perfect example of this during our hurricane recovery efforts. Susan is an amazing counselor, but an even more amazing, tender and loving individual. Her greatest gift is listening. She is truly listens with her whole being, the words travel from her ears, to her heart and then she processes slowly her response. Susan is a joy to watch and learn from.

One day we had a teenage girl whose father had just died, was estranged from her mother and completely alone with no money. There was no power in her house, she was cold and had no money. She needed clothes, she was wearing flip flops in the snow (we had 5 inches a week after Sandy); she was a crying, distraught bundle of confusion.   The girl told her story, her voice shook, her pain was deep and her mind raced.

After some time she took a breath and Susan, looking her straight in the eyes was ready to reply. I waited to hear what nugget of wisdom she gave. I sat up and watched the exchange….

Susan said, “Have you eaten?”

The young girl and I stopped for a second.  What? Food?

She settled down and stopped crying. “No”.

Take a step back.

Have you eaten? Do you have shoes? Are you warm? Let’s stop, breathe and fix that now.

Glue the piece back on with simple pure love and compassion. Nothing fancy, no great phycology. Pure and simple Elmer’s glue.

We cannot fix others who are broken, or ourselves. But we can work for renewal and restoration. Be something better than the original. In ancient times, gold was used to fixed broken clay pots. Those broken pots are actually more valuable restored that in their original state.

That’s a subtle difference. But think about it.  Being a healthier version of who you are with the wisdom gained from experience becomes a gift for others. Don’t wish away your struggle, it’s your story.

Our stories become a part of who we are and enable us to one day help others restore. You may not be able to be the glue now; you might need others to do that for you. But one day, one day soon, you can be the artist who helps the masterpiece glue the pieces back together.