Friday, November 21, 2008

High School Nerves Can Pop Up Anytime!

Three years ago I moved back to my home town of Winter Park, FL. I have loved running into “kids” who now have kids of their own, even going off to college. Of course our hair is a little greyer, balder, and we might be a little fatter, but the faces are the same and their personalities are usually more developed and secure.

There are still times however, that the old high school nerves pop up, and today is one of those days!

Today I’m giving a seminar to 6 lawyers. It’s not like I haven’t done this before. Two weeks ago I spoke before a crowd of 400+ and barely had a second of nerves. But today? Two football player studs from my high school will be in attendance. And it starts in 1 hour!
Can I teach them something valuable? Will they learn something they didn’t know?

And of course the less secure thoughts…

“Will they like me? Will I dazzle them? Will they wonder… “wow.. she’s really come a long way.. or Yah.. I always knew she had pizzazz in high school!”

Okay.. how silly! It’s the content I’m excited about teaching because I’ve learned so much while prepping for it.

Still.. that little insecure side of me that is creeping up… is still there..

Human nature.. such a bizarre thing.

I’ll just chalk it up to.. I’m human!!!

Wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Down Day during the Down Times

This week I received an amazing gift. It made my heart happy and when I said thank you it was genuine and enthusiastic! The person who gave it to me quickly shared everything about the gift and was just as excited that she was able to give it to me!

What was it?

Not a “traditional” type of gift, but the best kind of gift for a mom who has had a child who is a bit high maintenance at school every day!

It was a note from my son’s Language Arts teacher who told me that my son had a really great day the day before, and was focused, attentive, quiet and read his work really well.

We both were ebullient when talking about the change in my son, and she suggested that whatever we had done that morning, was WORKING! It was a Monday morning that he had the great success and I explained to her that on Sunday, we didn’t do ANYTHING all day long. Jeremy never even got dressed and we just laid around the house all day long and built a fire in the fireplace, I cooked from sun up to sun down, had delicious aromas floating through the house, and my husband, me and Jeremy just enjoyed being at home, and relaxed like most of us never get to do. We watched a little TV, but just a movie at night, while my husband went to church for all of us. I felt it best to keep Jeremy home since the day before he went to the beach and crabbing with our friend Bruce and his two kids and came home very, very content, but had a scratchy voice, which because he loved the sound of it, he kept talking more and more and more!

Most of our week is scheduled down to the minute. I pick up Jeremy by bike at school at 3 in the afternoon, then we race home and have a snack and get his homework done. Then we ride our bikes to the YMCA and he has swim practice for an hour and I work out. Then we go home and I cook dinner, then we either do more homework or play a family game like dominos and then we do the bed time routine. That can take a while of course, because he always likes to get another snack and prolong it as much as possible!

When Friday comes, we don’t have swim practice, so we do “Fun Friday”, which means visit friends, go to Disney World, or hang out at the park with other families. Saturday is usually swim meet day, and chores, and then Sunday morning we go to Church and Jeremy has religious education. There aren’t many days where we do absolutely nothing and enjoy it.

Truth be told, I worked my tail off that day, cooking and cleaning and keeping the fire lit and doing laundry, but it was all at home and we weren’t on any schedule and I was able to make a beautiful, restful and peaceful home for my family. … the kind I always loved when I was a kid.

Little did I know how hard my parents were working to give me that amazing and so oh so needed rest!!

Having a “down” day was exactly what we all needed to give us that boost that we needed to start the week. When the body is tired, it doesn’t function well, and the better it’s rested, the more productive we can be.

Perhaps all of us now need to take a pause, and to readjust our schedules. Perhaps rather than running all of our side businesses, keeping up with the Jones, running here and there and everywhere to try to get it all done, perhaps we should all just take a rest every week and do nothing. Put on some classical music, light a fire in the fireplace or put on some candles to set the atmosphere, and break out the family games.

The rest and the comfort of doing nothing, will probably give you the extra strength to manage the stress that comes along whether you want it to or not, and will probably be exactly what you and your family needs, during this difficult and down economy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Having Friends during the Trials…is WAY Better than having Stuff!

At Beyond The Stuff we’ve all made a commitment to take certain days to blog. Yesterday was my day. (

I missed it.

I did try. I sat down and started to write. But all I could come up with was this:

“God help me. God help me. God help me”.

Why? Well, because I live with a son who has been diagnosed on the Autism spectrum. And when we are feeding him 100% organic, no preservatives, limited dairy, glutten, wheat, and he takes all of his 12 vitamins a day and is on NO sugar, and exercises every day, we live a relatively normal life.

When we have Halloween and I cave to his thousands of requests for pop tarts and other sugar infested crap, our life takes a nose dive…. like it did recently.

The stress can get so bad because my son can’t sit for more than a minute at a time. I can’t get him to eat, I can’t get him to get dressed and my beautiful, funny and charming son has his own agenda, and mommy and dad often lose their cool.

Luckily, we understand that ALL parents need breaks, but especially those with challenging situations… and I had off last week, so I gave my husband a few days “off” where he got to stay with my parents to just relax and focus on whatever he wanted to.

Today is a different story. Things have gotten better. The sugar is coming out of his system and the exercise and the low stress/stimulation in our home is working. And most importantly, God did help me. And how did He help me? By sending amazing people my way to support me.. in so many ways. But here is an example of complete amazing support…

I've been on set the past couple of days but just wanted to send you some strength and positive energy. I can't relate to what you're going through, but I do sense in you a unique resolve to handle even the most challenging circumstances. Sending you my best. Peace”,

“Hi Mary; Sorry you're having a rough time. . I can imagine that it must be very hard for you. (It makes raising my 3 teenage boys seem e-z.) If you want to talk on the phone, please let me know. Hang in there.”

“I'm right there with you, Mary.Here's praying the help continues to come showering down upon you!!!”

“I am sorry that you are having such struggles in your life right now -- butI know that if God is with you, you will overcome whatever life throws at you. "With God nothing is impossible." You and I both know that, but sometimes it takes a lot to really know and trust it. The hard part is applying it to our lives, to put it into action. May I offer one thought? You are not failing at life right are succeeding at standing while the tempest of life swirls around you. Having the ability just to stand, in the midst of the storm, is a very courageous thing to do. And, even more courageous because your child depends on you to do so. Actually, I am moved and impressed at the way you are standing. So,not a failure at all. "Be still and know that I am God," is the requirement of the day.

“Mare, hang in there, you’re doing great things and you’re helping so many of us parents know that there are others out there who understand so thank you”.

“Mary, please feel free to use our mountain house anytime you guys want to get away”

So you can imagine how great I feel today. In addition, my son’s teachers have been extra helpful and understanding with us being late, and with me bringing shoes and socks because he couldn’t put them on without freaking out this morning, and to top it all off, my darling, sweet mom came and cleaned my house yesterday.

These are the things that are important to a person who are dealing with a chronic disability or going through a tough time.

Here are the things that have helped me:
1. Just a kind word that I’m doing the right thing
2. Extra prayer support – and they really do it.. don’t just say it!
3. Words of wisdom and understanding… or just told me to SHARE and VENT.
4. Help with my HOUSE
5. Help with my child- mom did homework with him… WHAT a relief! (And another family offered to take our son for a weekend… which was so generous… and VERY tempting! )
6. Gave my husband and I an opportunity to get away.. as a family or as a couple
7. Bought me lunch – and gave me an opportunity to just get OUT and feel NORMAL.

Were any of these expensive? Nope! They took time, and effort but not a lot of money.. the most was lunch….. and that was about $10 and can I tell you how grateful I was!? Immensely!

So today I sit here thankful, that I have friends and associates who are really, really good human beings. They took a minute out of their day to share their warmth with me and support.. and it has been amazing.

So now, because I’m so grateful, I have ½ hour and I’m going to send notes to people who I know that I can support.. and tell them that I am praying for them.. and that I care for them.

I saw this poem lately that also gave me strength:

Happiness keeps you sweet.
Trials keep you strong.
Sorrows keep you human.
Failures keep you humble.
Success keeps you glowing.
But only God keeps you going!

And God provides us friends! Thank you everyone! You got me through.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Social Skills 101 for Elementary Schools

Social Skills 101

I. Introduction – What makes an interesting and dynamic and polite person?

II. The Introduction
A. My name is…..
B. It’s nice to meet you (NAME)
1. Show enthusiasm!

2. Look in their eyes when you say their name

C. Response- “it’s nice to meet you too (NAME)!
1. Show enthusiasm!
2. Look in their eyes when you respond.

III. The Handshake
A. Nice firm handshake
B. No squeezing – NOT NICE
C. NO wimpy hands either!

IV. Listening Skills
A. Ask questions of others and show interest!
B. Make sure if you’re talking – that you share the conversation like cutting a pie!

V. Be Sure that Everyone in the Group has someone to talk to
A. Don’t leave anyone out!

B. Be kind to all people- remember: “Everyone is Different”
C. Be a good friend to others and you will have good friends!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

There is Life Without the Blackberry

I was in shock!!!

It changed my life!

I couldn’t believe it but then decided that it was just the way it was supposed to be from about a minute after I discovered it.

I walked in the bathroom to find my blackberry in the sink. Okay, not really. It was in the toilet! It fell out of my jeans when I sat down I guess!

How appropriate. I bet my husband was praying that’s where it would end up!

It was one day after I had called AT&T to get a new blackberry which was still under warranty and a new one was on the way. Only now, I couldn’t send the old one back, because now it had water damage.

What was I going to do? It was my life and connection to the outside world! I lived by email, texting and calling. And now?

Let me share!

I’ve been cooking!!! I’ve made beef stew and served 3 meals including lunch for my parents and dinner and lunch for my husband and me.

I made manicotti, which I served last night and have 2 more meals frozen.

I made a pork, pineapple, green pepper with brown sweet gravy which is delicious and will be served over rice tonight.

I made mini mushroom sandwiches which were browned in butter and brown sauce with provolone cheese!

What else? I’ve been cleaning!

I cleaned out and washed and got out my winter clothes which we only wear for about a month here in Florida… but I’m ready!

I’ve been making fires in the fireplace!

My son and I have had a blast using our fireplace for the first time in 2 years and figuring out what burns best and finding paper in the house that will start the logs on fire.

I’m learning how to use my camera!

I’ve been reading up on my new camera and learning how to post pictures and videos from it. Sounds easy but I just haven’t taken the time.. was probably too busy texting!

I’ve also been reading!

I read LEFT TO TELL, about the Rwandan woman who survived the Holocaust and have been reading cookbooks for recipes. I also have 2 other books lined up.

I even went to the library to get the books!

What I have in my head now is stuff like “how can I make my yard nicer” and “what can I make to eat for my family when I’m out of town starting tomorrow” I’m also thinking about clients and writing and my TV project/show.

I can’t say I don’t miss my blackberry and having the ability to be in silly conversations with friends who also are addicted to their blackberries, but I can say that I am getting a lot more done, and I do feel like I’m learning something different now, about a love for cooking that I had no idea was there! It just feels so good to me to actually create something that people enjoy and that I can create an atmosphere of a home where people can relax and enjoy some good food and wine!

I’m learning that without some of the stuff that I was doing before like relying on my blackberry for the connection to friends, that now I can focus more on my home to create a warm and loving home environment for my family. I thought I was doing that before, but now, I know I’m doing it!