The Challenge of Raising A Gentle Giant


He wasn’t my first-born, but the moment they placed the sweet little bundle of boy in my arms I knew there would be different challenges in raising him. He was a healthy baby and thankfully those challenges wouldn’t be of the medical sort, but the difference in raising a boy are always present. As he entered the years of playgrounds and sandboxes, there began the instances of little boys wanting to play a bit rougher than I had witnessed my daughter and her playmates at that age. Pushing and shoving, sticks in the air, and mutterings of “boys will be boys” filled the playground and my little guy’s world. They also filled my heart with trepidation and a little despair as I wondered how I would raise the kind of man I wanted my son to be, the kind who was compassionate to others, who was aware of someone’s need and was willing to help them, the kind who would be strong yet gentle.

Inevitably, my sweet little boy gravitated toward sports, specifically football, and I was faced with yet another challenge. Raising a boy to be tough in sports can be a double-edged sword. Even with the best of coaches, and he’s had some amazing ones, the sidelines are filled with shouts to “tackle harder” and “get that guy” and “you’re tougher than that” none of which are intended to encourage aggression off the field, yet teaching them to leave it all on the field takes constant reminders and discussions I wish I didn’t have to have with my son at such a young age. A love of sports comes with an interest in professional athletes some of which didn’t learn to “leave it all on the field” and are in the news for domestic abuse, animal abuse, and other behaviors that maybe stem from a belief that they are invincible and will hear the cheers no matter what they do. It’s not that I don’t expect to have these tough conversations with my kid, but having the “when a girl says no, it means no” conversation was one I thought would come a bit later in life.

football, gentle giant, compassion

5 Things I Want My Gentle Giant To Know:

1. Being a great athlete is more than being great on the field. The world is your field and when your days of sports come to an end, it is on this field where your performance will truly matter.

2. When a girl says no, it means no, but she shouldn’t have to say no. You should be aware if she’s uncomfortable and back off. Truth is this goes for anyone in any situation. 

3. Always be the guy who stands up for what is right instead of the guy who lingers in the background, knowing he’s witnessing something very wrong, but is uncomfortable speaking up.

4. Don’t get caught up in messages like “man up” and ” real men don’t cry” and the idea that men are superior to women or that being part of a wolf pack ups your cool factor. Be you, whatever that looks like.

5. Be aware of your surroundings in all you do in your life. Being present and being aware of those around you will make you the best person you can be as you will be truly in touch with others and those who might need a little compassion in their life.

As a mother of a daughter and a son, I share this advice with both and try to raise my children equally. The truth is the world still demands differences from each, sometimes subtle, sometimes not. I encourage my children to be the best they can be in all they do, including sports, and I am always their biggest cheerleader. However, it is my job as a parent to have the difficult conversations, to constantly remind them of what is truly important, to raise compassionate human beings no matter their gender.

I’m raising champions, but I also choose to raise gentle giants. What do you choose?


This post was part of this month’s #1000speak. Add your post by following the link below.

The Red String Of Fate


“It is part of scientist Matthew Lieberman’s case that our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water.” Lieberman who is a Professor and SCN (Social Cognitive Neuroscience) Lab Director at UCLA Department of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences conducts research on social cognitive neuroscience which focuses on how the human brain carries out social information processing. His research has led him to a connection between physical pain and social pain. Next time someone tells you their heart is broken or their feelings are hurt, stop and think about that for a minute.

Red String Of Fate2

I personally believe we are wired to connect and crave that social acceptance on some level. However, as I’ve told my children with every relocation, you only need one good friend to make it feel like home. Some believe they need to be surrounded by people to feel accepted, invited to all the parties, hit a certain number of likes, followers, or “friends” on social media. When I think of that feeling of coming home, the kind that illicits a deep, satisfied sigh as the corners of your mouth inevitably form a smile, I think of the people I have truly connected with through the years. I have been lucky enough to meet people from all walks of life in my many moves, and am a better person for it. And yet, during each of those periods in my life there were only a couple whom I felt in my very soul I had been destined to cross paths with, meant to connect with if only for a short time.

In those instances, I always recall an old folklore:  Walking home one night, a young boy sees an old man standing beneath the moonlight. The man explains to the boy that he is attached to his destined wife by a red thread. He shows the boy the young girl who is destined to be his wife. Being young and having no interest in having a wife, the young boy picks up a rock and throws it at the girl, running away. Many years later, when the boy has grown into a young man, his parents arrange a wedding for him. On the night of his wedding, his wife waits for him in their bedroom, with the traditional veil covering her face. Raising it, the man is delighted to find that his wife is one of the great beauties of his village. However, she wears an adornment on her eyebrow. He asks her why she wears it and she responds that when she was a young girl, a boy threw a rock at her that struck her, leaving a scar on her eyebrow. She self-consciously wears the adornment to cover it up.

According to this East Asian belief, the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. There are different variations including that those connected to this string which can stretch but never break are destined to be lovers, even married at some point. From what I’ve experienced, soul mates come in all forms.

Red String Of Fate

My red string has stretched and pulled and at times felt like it would physically snap in two, but someone on the other end always seems to take a step closer loosening the tension and bringing us even closer together once more. I like to believe there isn’t just one person on the other end of that string as that responsibility shouldn’t fall on one single person. When I picture who is connected to my red string of fate, I can see all those who love me unconditionally whether the string is extended farther than humanly possible or so close I can see its fraying edges. Those I’ve truly connected with will always be on the other end of a string that leads right to my heart. And, if you see me on the other end of your string and ever need me to take a step closer, just give that string a little tug. I’m here.

Whom do you see on the other end of your red string of fate?

This post was part of this month’s #1000speak focusing on the theme of connection.

This Is Not Just A Sweater


“If I close my eyes, I can see her sitting on the brown velour seventies couch in our living room wrapped in that ugly green sweater, relaxing with each passing minute as though cocooned in a blissful state of peace.” – Little Miss Wordy

My little tribute to my own mom is featured today at What The Flicka?

I hope you’ll check it out and remember a little something special about those who’s motherly

role in your own life made a difference.

Ten Things Of Thankful


1. I’m thankful I have the physical ability to drag myself to the gym every day even if the enthusiasm isn’t always there. I’m always thankful I did it when it’s over.

2. I’m thankful my family and I never go hungry. Our hearts are full. Our fridge is stocked. Our souls are fed.

3. I’m thankful for making new friends at this stage of my life. When you’re in your 40’s, making a new friend is an unexpected golden nugget that brightens your world.

Birds and Leaves2

4. I’m thankful to have experienced “normal” at our house these last two weeks when my other half wasn’t traveling for a change. “Normal” looks good on us.

5. I’m thankful to have discovered a new coffee flavor for my Keurig. That morning cup sets the tone for the rest of my day and a delicious flavor is a great start.

6. I’m thankful to have discovered a poem that inspired me this week. It stayed with me for days so I shared it here.

Birds and Leaves4

7. I’m thankful for those I’ve loved and lost. In the loving and losing I’ve grown bigger than the biggest elephant on the tallest tree.

8. I’m thankful my children still want to scoot over on the couch and rest their head on my shoulder without any prompting from me.

9. I’m thankful for friends near and far who reach out when they sense my heart may need a hug.

10. I’m thankful for the drive within me that may dim for a brief time, but never goes completely dark.

Head over to Lizzi Rogers’ Ten Things Of Thankful linkup here.

Imagine A Woman


Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her needs and desires.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who acknowledges the past’s influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
Who has healed into the present.

Victoria's Secret, Undressed, Lingerie

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine yourself as this woman.
– Patricia Lynn Reilly

The Bully Within


Bullies are all around us. They come in many forms, making us victim to unspeakable feelings, but the worse kind of bully is the bully within, the one that resides in your mind and heart.  Don’t give in to self-hate, doubt and regret. You deserve a little self-compassion.

“Anti-bullying starts by facing the bully within.”


No name, no sex, no gender, no race

Anonymous lurking in every face

Out of dark, dusty corners evil shadow to defend

At your side push, push until you bend

Innocents dismiss its presence

doubts seep in become their essence

Sinking through layers of confidence it sets

the table for second guesses and regrets

Unwelcome dinner guest feeds without restraint

on self hate, past failures and pain

Cozy on up, pull up a chair, make yourself at home

Not in this heart continue to roam

No solicitors, don’t want what you’re selling

Your sales pitch is convincing but also telling

Of your own demons hiding within

inviting others to join in

Dinner party pity party the more the merrier

Guest list with no barriers

Come one come all

Clock ticks Last Call

Open your eyes, turn on the lights

See what’s right before your eyes

Turn the lock, flip the sign, closing time

Don’t give in…not this time.

This post was part of this month’s #1000speak movement where bloggers all over the world come together to flood the internet with compassion. This month’s topic is “Building From Bullying.”

Link your post here.

The view out my window

To The Woman Who Owned My House


Compassion. Ten little letters which on their own are insignificant. Yet, when placed side by side, come together to spell a feeling so strong it can move mountains. And, when that word takes action, the world is a better place for it.

#1000Speak, Compassion, Key

To The Woman Who Owned My House,

My family and I looked at many houses during our search for a home to begin the next chapter of our lives. Some were professionally decorated, perfect paint colors and gleaming hardwood floors fit for the glossy pages of a magazine. Some felt like the word “home” would never find a home in my heart as I walked from room to room trying to imagine my family in them. When we first visited your home it was apparent it needed a little TLC, but not enough to turn us off to it. You see, I had already gathered you were recently divorced and had been living in the home on your own with your youngest of three children for a while so I expected some wear and tear to be evident as I imagined touch up paint and home maintenance may not have been at the top of your priorities nor possibly in your budget.

As we walked through your home, I saw the carpet that needed replacing, the walls that needed a fresh coat of paint, and the landscaping that needed some sprucing up. I also saw years of love, of life and memories on the walls (your children’s growth chart marked on the door frame in the pantry brought tears to my eyes).

As we continued our home search, we began to refer to your house as “the one with good bones, a solid house with great potential that just needed a little TLC” and came back for a second visit as we moved along in the decision process. With each visit, I began to envision tucking my children in at night, each in their new bedrooms and walking down the hall to the master bedroom to wrap up another full day of living in our new home. I could see us around the table in our new dining room, enjoying home cooked meals and conversation. As I slowly made my way through your home, the picture began to take shape as each scene painted the house as my home. With each step I took, I could more clearly see my family creating memories in each room much like yours did through the years.

compassion, #1000speak, home

At the closing, you rushed in late, looking a bit out of sorts. You ran back out to the car, having forgotten something. I watched you through the conference room window and tried to imagine what you were feeling. I felt sad that the end of your chapter was the beginning of mine as though I was taking something from you that didn’t belong to me.

I suppose that’s just how it is.

Life is an endless revolving door of experiences where one person exits and the other enters. Each compartment only allowing for one person to be fully present in that moment. 

You took a deep breath as you settled in across the large, mahogany table from me, and only then did you look at us. In that moment, I wondered what was going through your mind as you took in my husband, myself and our children. Were you taken over by flashbacks of your own family, once intact, as you raised your children in the home that was about to become ours? As you handed the keys over, after documents were covered in ink, I saw tears in your eyes. I wanted to stand, make my way to you, and give you a hug. Instead, I simply said, “Thank you. Know that we are excited to make this our home and will create many happy memories in it.”

After we moved in, you and I texted about forwarded mail, trash pickup, etc. You could have ignored my queries as I’m sure you didn’t need to prolong the transition into your new life. I could have ignored your messages when your cat went missing and you were sure she had tried to come “home” once again. We didn’t.

As the weeks came and went, text messages became a bit more personal as we asked each other how we were settling in, how the kids were adjusting, how we were adapting to our morning cup of coffee in a new place. With each new message, I could see the transformation in you as you went from a woman whose life experiences had her doubting her future, hesitantly closing the door on a life lived and taking her first steps into the unknown to a woman who has not only embraced her new place but ultimately her new place in life.

I want you to know that your home has become our home. We have embraced it with love and excitement and are already creating memories we will carry for a lifetime. We may have painted, re-decorated and spruced things up a bit, but we were right when we described this house as “one with good bones, a solid house with great potential that just needed a little TLC.”

Apparently, that description fits the prior owner as well.


The Woman Who Has Made This House A Home

Check out #1000speak posts all in one place!

Will The Internet Catch You When You Fall?


The internet is a funny thing. It can suck you into a time-consuming black hole of social media, leaving you informed on news you could have lived the rest of your life not knowing. Last year, I wrote “When 547 Facebook Friends + 832 Twitter Followers = A Negative Number.”  It was about a beautiful friendship between two men who started their journey as childhood friends, sharing treasured experiences throughout the years, only to have that journey end tragically with a cancer diagnosis. In that post, I touched upon the fact that I believe real life friendships, the kind that allow for eye contact, hugs that stay with you forever and the day-to-day that comes with it are unique and can’t be experienced in internet friendships. I don’t mean a real friendship can’t exist, but in my opinion it’s not the same. There’s something to be said about holding a complete conversation with your best friend without saying a word because you know each other so well that one look is all the communication you need or how one little squeeze of the hand can give you the strength to face your biggest fear.

Hand in Hand 21

However, a movement called #sogladtheytoldme, by blogger Stephanie Sprenger of Mommy For Real has stirred something within me that wants to address this in a whole new light. Sprenger wrote a response post to  “They Should’ve Warned Me” about motherhood and the warnings or lack thereof that new moms are given by experienced moms in their lives. In her article, “I’m Glad They Warned Me” Sprenger spoke in detail about the fact that she respects experiences such as the one Jenny Studentroth Gerson had as a new mother where all went smoothly and she simply embraced motherhood like a natural and  felt they should have instead warned her of all the positives of motherhood.  More importantly, and the reason I believe Sprenger’s post went viral is her focus on making sure all readers, especially new mothers, understand it is okay to have a different experience.

Motherhood is a very personal journey and no one should feel pressured to have a storybook pregnancy or feel like a failure when the whole nurturing thing doesn’t come easily. Colicky babies, postpartum depression, raw nipples, and sleepless nights are a reality many mothers face.

#Sogladtheytoldme is allowing mothers everywhere to know they are not alone. And, if you’ve ever felt truly alone in your plight as a new mother then you understand the magnitude of Sprenger’s movement.

Lisa – She can’t keep her eyes open after weeks of sleepless nights with her newborn baby girl. She has finally gotten her down for a nap though has failed at getting her to sleep in her crib yet again. As she tries not to disturb the baby, asleep on her chest, she gently shifts her body on the couch and reaches for her phone. She knows she should sleep when the baby does, but she’s also desperate for some adult interaction even if it is online. Lisa scrolls her Twitter feed coming across the same hashtag time and time again. Mother after mother shares a story, a photo, a simple line, all conveying the same message, #sogladtheytoldme. And, with her newborn snuggled to her chest, Lisa no longer feeling alone, drifts off into a peaceful sleep…if only for twenty minutes.

Like Lisa, I can’t help but wonder how many other mothers are being touched, saved, by knowing they are not alone in wanting to run away some days or wondering if they just aren’t equipped to be a mother. Single mothers, working mothers, first time mothers and mothers of three can all relate to navigating the course of motherhood like a newbie at a Spartan race. I wonder what they feel like when they come across another mom online admitting they are so glad to have been told it’s okay to not be a perfect mom all the time or even half the time. It’s okay to cry because you feel like you are failing this precious gift you were given, yet maybe don’t truly deserve. You’re not the only one.

I still believe there’s nothing like having a friend that can show up on your doorstep when you need them most. I still believe there are certain experiences only to be shared in person, but I think I may have been wrong when I said, “The internet won’t catch you when you fall.” Stephanie Sprenger has proven just the opposite.


A Christmas Tradition


“Lord, give me strength.” She pulled up to the house in the dark of night, cut off the engine, and leaned her head back against the seat. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. And so began her nightly ritual as she arrived home from her second job each night. She reached across the seat and grabbed the small bag containing toilet paper, toothpaste, a gallon of milk, and a loaf of bread before exiting the car. She prayed it was enough to hold them over until Friday when she would once again stretch her small paycheck like a magician pulling colored scarves out of a hat.

Gold Cross1

She quietly entered the old house, treading lightly across the creaky old floorboards so as not to wake anyone. After placing the milk in the fridge, she willed her tired muscles to carry her up the stairs, knowing once she reached the top her exhaustion would be forgotten as she stopped in for a glimpse of her sleeping angels. Her life wasn’t always that of a single mother with three children, but life doesn’t always turn out the way we once dreamed. She was living proof of that. And yet, she wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world if it meant erasing the three greatest blessings in her life. As usual, she found the twins cuddled up together in one twin bed as though reverting to the comforting days of the peace they experienced in the womb. She covered them with a second blanket, kissed their foreheads, and made her way down the hall. She passed Jacob’s room, knowing she would find her ten-year old son asleep in her bed once again. She no longer moved him back to his own bed, taking as much comfort from sleeping with him as he did with her.

As she did every night, no matter how late she arrived, she filled the tub and soaked for a bit. Surely, it made more sense to take a quick shower and jump in bed, but she needed these baths. It always felt like a cleansing of sorts as she imagined washing away all her troubles before laying her head on her pillow. Otherwise, she knew her worries would circle her mind and sleep would elude her when she needed it most. Thank goodness she still had her mother with her to stay at home with the kids while she worked. She wouldn’t know what to do without her help, but she also knew she was getting older and that wouldn’t always be the case.

This time of year was always the hardest and loneliest for her. It was when she seemed to feel the full brunt of being a single mother the most. She wanted a magical Christmas for her children, but she had stopped believing in magic long ago. How do you continue to help your children believe when the world has stripped you of your hope, your dreams, your faith? As she lay beside him, she watched her son sleep and realized the tranquil look he once possessed was beginning to fade even in his dreams. “Lord, please give me strength.”

She woke before the sun. Gathering the envelope labeled “Savings” in her nightstand before heading out once more. She hoped to make it back before the kids woke up. As she pulled into the Kmart parking lot, she ran the numbers in her head and knew she would have to choose only one item on the list for each of her children. She didn’t have enough for the rest of the items she had placed on Layaway, but Christmas was just days away and she had to have at least one gift under the old Charlie Brown tree in the living room.

She asked the Layaway attendant to please pull up her list so she could select the items she could afford. The list wasn’t long, although she had surprised herself that day by allowing herself to dream for a bit, imagining she actually had the means to give her children the items they asked for this year.

The young girl hit a few keys and said, “Paid in Full.”


“There must be some mistake,” the woman said and repeated her name. The young girl gave her the biggest smile she had ever seen. “I was working the evening shift last night, when a couple came in with their two young children. I heard them explaining to their kids the meaning of putting something on layaway and how blessed they were to be in a position where they had never had to do that. They then asked me to pull up a layaway list that included children’s items and paid it in full. When I asked them if they wanted me to contact the person, they said no. Just tell them we said, Merry Christmas and God Bless.”

The young lady then proceeded to hand the items over to the woman who stood motionless, tears streaming down her face. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” The young lady handed over the final item and said, “Don’t thank me, that family gave me faith that magic still exists. Merry Christmas to you and your children.”

This is our yearly tradition with our children, and all of us have come to look forward to it more than any other aspect of our holiday season. The story above is just one of the versions I’ve imagined in my heart throughout the years.

How do you give back during the holidays?