Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Real Reason We Celebrate Thanksgiving!

The Macy's parade, football, food, family and friends...what could be better on Thanksgiving day? This is one of my favorite days of the year. Taking time out to think about what we are thankful for is a cool thing, especially in today's world where it is so easy to get caught up in whining about what we don't have.

I am thankful for..., friends, good health, a husband who makes me LAUGH, a daughter who frequently reminds me I am so not cool, and two golden retrievers who love the simple things in life - tennis balls, bones, and humans who are willing to pet them;

...a job I am passionate about, a home that is a sanctuary, the freedom to worship as I choose, living in a country where I am allowed to freely express my opinion, and the ability to stare in amazement at jet streams going in a million different directions high in the sky; on the table, the opportunity to grow and learn and the freedom to be who I am.

I hope you are having a great Thanksgiving day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bring on the Second Turkey

I have run into a number of people who will eat not one, but two Thanksgiving dinners tomorrow to keep peace in the family. I've known families who visit one set of parents in the morning, eat a big lunch and hang out for a couple of hours and then head over to the other set of parents for the “second turkey.”
Do you ever find yourself getting irritable just anticipating the craziness of a holiday?
This is what I know to be true...when I let that irritation get the best of me….I take it out on the ones I love the most – my spouse and daughter. The potential for a perfectly good holiday gets shot right out the window.
I have learned that things don’t have to go south. It’s true that attitude is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you choose to respond. Just like athletes prepare for a marathon, you and I can prepare for the Thanksgiving Marathon. Come up with a game plan. It could include secret hand signals that mean it’s time to go or a code word that lets the other know I could use a little help with the kids.
What creative things do you do to keep the fun in your holidays?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Divorce Costs Too Much

I was reading yesterday about couples who were wanting to divorce, but basically can't because it costs too much due to the poor economy. ( This is very interesting because one of the issues we deal with is couples making a huge life changing decision like this and not taking into consideration what it will cost now and down the road.

Maybe one of the positive consequences of the poor economy is it will make people think twice about decisions that will affect their pocketbook. Honestly, I think most people who divorce have no clue what the costs will be for running two households, back and forth visitation, remarriage, college, insurance, old kids, new kids, etc. Now keep in mind I am referring to most divorces where there is low conflict and people say they have just fallen out of love. In these instances if there is something that will slow people down and really make them think about the LONG term impact of this one decision, I'm all for it.

Truth be told, if people would expend the amount of energy they are willing to spend on getting divorced on actually getting their marriage back on track, I think they would be amazed at how much better the marriage they are currently in could be.

What are your thoughts???

Monday, November 24, 2008

On the Go!

So this weekend I was running around like crazy with my "to do" list trying to get everything done. Friday night we had a basketball game and didn't get in until late. Went to a surprise party Saturday morning, which was totally fun. Came home. Ran to the grocery store. Came back home hoping to get in a power nap before heading out to supper club. That didn't happen. Got in late and went to bed.

When I got up yesterday morning my voice was almost gone and I didn't feel so hot. I really wanted to go to church, but my body was saying NO! Normally I would have gotten up and gone anyway, but I decided that the world would not go into a holding pattern if I didn't go so I stayed home. Don't know if anybody can relate to this, but this is MAJOR PROGRESS for a driven type A.

So, I did make some chicken noodle soup and it was GOOD! But other than that I basically didn't do anything major. Just chilled.

Lesson learned: Rest is a good thing. Duh!

I am feeling much better today ready to take on the week. Hope you will spend some time resting and enjoying family this week.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Joy of Giving

WOW! Just in time for Thanksgiving folks heard a great message last night from Carol Weisman about teaching children the joy of giving. As promised, I will share with you some of her insights. However, you have to know that Carol is pretty comical when she presents. Don't know if I can transfer that to paper, but I'll give it my best effort.

So what is the right age to introduce your children to charitable giving? Weisman believes that even at the young age of three or four children can begin to grasp giving and caring for others.

She shared how she and her husband called a family meeting each year at Christmas time to determine where they would make donations. They used Monopoly money to help the children visually see where all the money was going. Weisman said one year they still had charities that they wanted to give to, but the money was gone. Her oldest son looked at his dad and said, "Well, you are just going to have to work harder because we need more money!"

I was interested in the fact that Carol does not recommend making donations instead of giving gifts to children because they then associate charitable giving with loss. Her suggestion is to tell your child that in addition to their birthday party you would like to make a gift in their honor. Ask them where they would like you to donate. If they struggle to come up with something asking questions like, What did you enjoy doing this past year? or What makes you happy? can help you make a donation to something that is meaningful to them.

A friend of Carol's who is a grandmother told her granddaughter that for her birthday she didn't want her to buy a gift. She wanted her to go and do something nice for someone and then come tell her what she did.

The one thing Carol wishes she had done through the years was keep a journal of all of the places they gave to and why.

Carol believes that whether you have a lot of money to give or you are operating off of a shoestring there are lots of creative ways to teach children about giving. If you can't give money, give time. A friend of Carol's, who is a single mother, gathered her kids together once a month on Saturday to go volunteer. They were allowed to bring a friend if they wanted to, but not coming was not an option. Despite the fact that they were barely making it, the mom insisted they give to others. Now a grown woman, one of the daughters commented that the volunteering she did with her family was one of the things that most impacted her life.

Carol contends that teaching your children to be great givers can strengthen the bonds of family and friendship. Even though their boys are grown and living on their own, they still gather for their annual family meeting. A rich closeness has developed in this family as a result of coming together to share what they valued, what made them happy and experiences that had helped them be who they are today.

We are headed into Thanksgiving week. In the midst of all the bad news that seems to be circling overhead I think the best news is that we as people have so much to give. Whether we have lots of money or just a little we all can make a difference somewhere.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Teaching Children to Give

I am looking forward to attending a seminar this morning on fundraising in difficult times. Then I get to interview Carol Weisman, author of Raising Charitable Children for the First Things First television show. I think this will be a great discussion since kids today are inundated with all kinds of messages about being consumers and it's all about you.

There probably isn't a household in America where children have not overheard or participated in conversations with their parents about the economy and how much money has been lost. But conversations about giving, why to give and to whom are not near as common between parents and children.

What is the right age to introduce your children to charitable giving? How much is an appropriate amount to give? How do you encourage your children to be generous givers? These are all questions I plan to ask Ms. Weisman so stay tuned if you are interested in the answers. I'll share them with you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It takes a team

This morning I attended a kickoff breakfast for an event we will be holding in January called Championship Fathers. It was really exciting to have folks come together from across the community who are passionate about the importance of father involvement. As ideas were generated and people got excited you could feel the momentum in the room. I LOVE IT!!!!! I think it is so easy to get busy in your own little silo doing your own deal that you forget there are other people out there who share your passion and want to collaborate. I honestly got goosebumps thinking about the potential for this event with all of us working together and sharing the load.

Sometimes it seems like the issues are just too big to conquer, but this meeting reminded me that the reality is we are the best stewards of our time, energy and talent when we work as a team.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I love Fall

I love fall! I love the crisp air, watching the leaves turn and my favorite - watching the sunrise off of our deck.

This past weekend as I was headed to get some shopping done I saw the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen. It was huge and the colors were brilliant. I pulled over just to stare.

Honestly, whenever I see things like this I just cannot help but give thanks that I can actually SEE the majesty of this world I live in. It never ceases to amaze me.
We are headed into a season where emphasis is placed on giving thanks. Lately it seems like all I hear about is how unstable the stock market is, home sales are down, bankruptcies are up, and credit card debt is out of control. If I am not careful I can easily get caught up in all the gloom. BUT the truth is, even in the midst of this craziness I still have so many things to be thankful for, not the least of which are my family and friends.
It is so easy for me to get caught up in the busyness of life that I loose track of how blessed I am. I have my health, a husband who loves me, my daughter who reminds me on a daily basis that I'm not too cool, a great job, freedom to express my opinions, friends who care enough about me to tell me the truth, and extended family who love me.....most of the time.
When I'm feeling sorry for myself because I want this or that and really can't afford it nor do I need it, something usually comes along to remind me I really have an amazing life.
So what are you thankful for?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beware of Teen Drivers

Okay so I am the mother of a teenager that is 3 months away from 16. Do I need to tell you what we talk about ALL the time???? In case you couldn't guess..DRIVING!!!!! I must admit she is a decent driver, but we have had our moments. Like when we let her drive to Huntsville. It's a pretty easy stretch to drive until you are actually coming into Huntsville where it all of the sudden gets a little tricky. She needed to get in the left lane so I told her to make sure there was no one in her blind spot. She turned her head to look and at the same time Jay and I started having a coronary because the car started veering the opposite direction barely missing the car in the next lane. Whew!!!

It has been quite comical because for those who know me I am certain you would think I would be the more uptight one, but truth be told, Jay is the one who gets pretty uptight when Ashley is behind the wheel. I consider this quite an accomplishment on my part.

The thing that has surprised me most has been Ashley's new found appreciation for how hard it is to be a safe, defensive driver. We went from her being totally confident that driving was a piece of cake to "WOW this is a lot harder than it looks."

In the process of teaching her how to be a good driver I am now having any and all of my bad driving habits pointed out to me on a regular basis. Thank you very much.

If you haven't had the privilege of sharing this experience with your child, hold on to your hat. You are in for a real treat! This sure has made me think about what I put my own parents through as I learned to drive.

Overarchingly, this has been a great experience as we continue to prepare Ashley for being out in the real world. In the midst of these teen years where it feels like a constant tug of war between dependance and independance it is clear to all THREE of us that she stills needs her mom and dad to help her as she navigates the road of life. Bottomline - that's what it's all about.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Surviving the Holidays

Not long after Jay and I married, the holidays hit us square in the face. I LOVE the holidays, but we were trying to be everywhere with everybody in order to make sure nobody was unhappy. Can I tell you this about did us in?!

It only took one holiday season for us to know we had to set some limits and make decisions about how we were going to spend the holidays. Ultimately we decided to spend Thanksgiving at my mom's and Christmas at home with both sides of the family.

Every family situation is different and people need to decide for themselves what will work best. But one thing is for sure, more so than any other time of the year, the holidays can bring out the worst in us if we aren't careful.

I myself have set some goals for this year. I am only going to put up our favorite decorations and I am going to help our daughter decorate the tree this year instead of telling her how we are going to decorate it. I love to bake and entertain so I plan on spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I will invite friends over for informal get togethers....even if the house isn't spotless instead of just talking doing it.

I am going to keep my time with my family and friends in perspective. The holidays only last a couple of weeks and then it is back to the chaos we all know as real life.

My ultimate goal is not to get so worked up over everything, that I don't enjoy the time I have with the people I care about most.

What about you? How will you be spending the holidays?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Staying sane in a working woman's world

Last week I was thinking about how ironic it was that I was teaching Staying Sane in a Working Woman's World. I had just wrapped up a whirlwind trip to Canada where I was awake for 23 1/2 hours along with being a wife, mother, working woman not to mention friend. Isn't it crazy how we swear we aren't going to over commit and then you turn around and you've done it again. At our event Thursday night as I was listening to myself speak I'm thinking in my head, Here's your sign sister!!! I did have some great points even if I do say so myself. So I've decided I'm really going to follow my own advice.

Here are a few of the things I talked about:

What are your top 5 priorities? Sometimes we put our priorities in writing, but we do not live our life that way.

As working women it is really important that we keep the main thing the main thing.

Focus on what you can control. We often expend a lot of energy getting anxious and uptight about things over which we have no control.

Keep your expectations realistic. This includes housekeeping, laundry, children's activities, etc.

So as I am thinking about the upcoming holidays I am going to ask my friends to hold me accountable for not going overboard.

Seeking to stay sane.....Julie