#prayforparkland

I have no idea how this post is going to be accepted…I may lose followers…I may lose friends…but I just feel a need to post.

I feel a need to post because the tragedy that occurred on February 14, 2018, in one of Florida’s safest cities is heart-wrenching. And I feel that I need to say something because it is weighing heavy on my heart. I know that this school shooting will become a hot topic for political pundits and lawmakers, arguing the stance of gun rights and the role of mental health – both for the right and the left, yet I feel that there is so much more that could be looked at – like the role of the family unit.

But here goes, love me or hate me, I hope you just appreciate a view that is the same as yours or if it’s different than yours, you’ll appreciate the fact that we live in the greatest nation in the world and have freedom of speech.

Columbine

In 1999, the massacre at Columbine High School happened. I was in college, had just recently moved out of my parents home and my little sister was still in high school. I tend to get fixated on certain news-making events…this school shooting was one of them. I became obsessed. It was all that I watched on TV. One of the Vice Principal’s of my sister’s high school worked out at the gym where I worked and I quizzed her about whether or not my sister would be safe going back to school. Later there were bomb threats at my old high school, so I quizzed this same Vice Principal some more. I had to force myself to stop watching news about the tragedy so that I could get sleep. I just didn’t understand why someone would do something so horrific.

I didn’t understand who would hate people so much to want to do this. How could life be so miserable for someone that they would want to end lives – people they were barely friends with and some they didn’t even know??

Parkland

Fast forward to 2/14/18, and I’m asking myself if I should discuss homeschooling with my ex-husband. And this is coming from a mother that knows that she would have to say prayers to the good lord above every hour in order to get through each school day because while I love my children more than my own life, I also know my limitations, and teaching them is not my strongest attribute…but I also know what I’m willing to sacrifice in order to keep my kids safe.

But then the conservative (really more of a libertarian), gun owning, side of me pokes her head out and says, “why would I allow idiots to scare me into taking my kids away from teachers much more qualified than I am to educate my three beautiful souls?”

It’s because I’m a mom and it scares the living daylights out of me that one day I’ll get the call that 17 parents in Parkland received today.

So much will be made of gun rights and mental illness in the next few days and weeks, yet nothing will change…nothing.

(this is where you may start disagreeing with me…)

Nothing will ever change. I stand behind those backing the second amendment and I also see some of the points made arguing the opposing stance and then I ALSO see the point of view arguing that it’s irresponsible gun owners that cause these issues or the lack of certain types of background checks. But nothing will ever change, regarding gun laws, because each of these views have valid points that can stand alone. We are a nation of great minds and hearts…these things won’t change – and in my personal opinion – this is what makes America great – the ability to have such a debate without one side being able to dictate to the other what will happen.

Then the debate about mental health will be raised. And yet, no one will have a perfect solution for this either. After witnessing and living in environments with people that are affected by mental health issues, I can tell you, firsthand, that one person, that I knew and loved, that was severely affected by bi-polar disease, was the most careful and educated and cautious, multiple gun-owning conservatist that I’ve ever met. My kids weren’t even allowed in the room where the guns were kept in massive safes, each with their own combination. And this was a man that knew his disease and was treating it.

Yet, what if you don’t know if you have a mental illness? How do you diagnose a mental illness, when a mental illness hasn’t been recognized?

Consider…

Maybe no one realizes that someone is experiencing depression because this is the first person in their family that is experiencing it and the rest of the family doesn’t recognize the symptoms. Maybe the family brushes it under the rug as puberty and the emotional changes that go along with being 16 and feeling rejected by classmates. I had an amazing experience in high school but I wasn’t always accepted by the peers I wanted to be accepted by and I didn’t even think that the solution would be to kill a soul, so what would make someone snap and want to make this type of decision? Is there a sure-fire way to know what the trigger would be or what the danger signs are for every person?

The parents of this 19-year-old Parkland shooter will likely be in hiding for years to come…and can you blame them? (and maybe they’ll be different than previous school shooter’s parents and be terrible parents that handed him the guns, ammunition and bomb making schematics – only time will tell.) The parents of the Columbine mastermind only just recently spoke within the past couple of years about that horrific day. The guilt that must lay on their hearts, the record that they keep replaying in their heads of what they could have changed or what they could have done differently as parents has to be unimaginable and terrifying on a daily basis.

But this is the thing, or at least my view – when someone isn’t allowed to purchase a gun for one reason or another, yet they desire to do so, they will find a way. So focusing solely on mental illness as a way to cure America of these types of senseless tragedies is a weak strategy…in my humble opinion. And the only hope that this strategy would be successful is that a person would clearly declare that they are mentally unstable when purchasing a weapon. There may be ways that gun purchases could be regulated differently through a checks and balances system with multiple organizations to check for mental health, but think about it this way – if a person is mentally ill enough to want to harm people, don’t you think that they will be able to find a crazy way (pun intended) to make gun purchases happen anyway?

We always want a reason. We always want an explanation. We always want to be able to look at the situation and say ‘this is why this happened.’ I think that sometimes, there just isn’t a reason. There is just evil. Maybe we’ll find out that Cruz had this planned because he was bullied (and that’s a whole other issue), maybe we’ll find out that he lost his marbles and stole his parents weapons and decided to act out a video game that he played after being expelled from school, or maybe we’ll just find out that he wanted to be glorified on the news and receive attention, albeit bad attention. Whatever the reason ends up being, nothing will explain this tragedy to the 17 families now facing funeral arrangements for children.

Look within instead??

What if we take this and look at our own families…with the blinders off (as much as possible)? Would we be able to recognize a 12 yr old that is struggling to make friends? Would we show them how to make friends and cultivate friendships through our own example or would we tease them for being different? Would we tease them in front of their friends about how skinny they are and that they need to put some weight on if they are ever going to be able to play a sport? Or could we teach them how to be confident in their own skin because they’ve seen our example? Would we go out for drinks with our buddies, ignoring the fact that our kid asked us to help with a major project for school? Or would we teach our kid that their needs come before our own and then reschedule the guys-night for the next week?

I think sometimes the questions should be asked, “Are we serving our own needs before our kids or are we listening to them, watching them, spending time with them, relating to them, showing them that we care, disciplining correctly, talking WITH them not at them? Are we remembering that they didn’t make the choice for us to be their parent – WE made the choice to have a child and it is our responsibility to raise them in a safe, secure, and sound environment?”

There is COMPLETELY a time and a place for alone time, as an adult, parent, spouse, etc. but the kids should come first. They’ve never been 13 before – we have…teach them, guide them, respect them, love them. If you do the hard work first, invest the time and love in your kids first, then hopefully, if there are mental health issues, the issues will be clear, recognizable, and addressed early on…not ignored until they are 19 and the issue is so humongous that no one knows how to deal with it and the kids get ignored until they need attention so badly that they end the lives of children and educators.

I guess my point in ticking so many of you off with my viewpoints, is that I wish, in addition to the arguments about guns and mental health, there were more discussions about the family; about how ‘the family’ can cope, deal, learn from and become stronger after these tragedies so that other horrific events like Parkland were prevented because the family unit has been so closely knit that mental illness would come to the forefront faster. And that there was an accountability and love that was so strong that the desire to harm another human heart didn’t exist. Focusing on the family could be fun, cheaper, and could make this country stronger than it already is. I feel so fortunate to have come from a solid family and let me tell you – I wouldn’t have my sanity, after divorce #2, had it not been for my family and closest friends.

This morning when I saw my mom, I was very focused on confirming some appointments on my phone. My mom paid attention to my body language and felt as though I was sad and checked in on me a little later, when in reality I was fine – actually great – just super focused. But the pure fact that she cared enough to check on me meant a lot AND the fact that she’s active in my life enough to know my moods, sets me up for strength during one of the toughest moments in my life. It’s not just teenagers that need support sometimes.

Regardless of what side of the arguments you are on, there are families in South Florida tonight that are feeling the tremendous loss of a loved one, likely a child, that had their whole future taken from them in the blink of an eye. Their pain must be so great. Please keep #Parkland in your prayers.

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i will never apologize for being me again. my new goal: stop being a people pleaser.

Okay people pleasers. This is a lesson for us…for you…and especially a reminder for me.

I’m a people pleaser.

If you’ve been around me for more than 10 minutes, you’ll quickly figure out that I’m a people pleaser. I truly admire those that are the opposite of me because it’s a black hole that we get ourselves into, those of us that are people pleasers. We can’t stop ourselves. We want everyone to be happy even if it’s at our own expense.

So we bend and twist and give in to everyone else’s needs until we realize that we can’t please everyone…and then we start the next day and try a different route to please everyone for something different. It seriously is an addiction.

And when we get into a relationship, it’s easy for us to lose ‘us’…to lose who we are in a relationship with, order to adopt our partners wants and needs so that we can make them happy. And in a way, it’s not a bad thing because that’s who we are…making people happy makes us happy. But the problem begins when we choose partners or friends that don’t understand who we really are and they take advantage of our personalities instead of giving back to us in order to make US happy too.

My newest life.

I’ve given up, at least at this moment, in the hope that I’ll ever find a guy that can fully understand who I am and give to me unselfishly, just to make me happy because they love me. And that’s ok with me. It’s oddly calming to know that I can take care of myself. I think that my friends have clearly shown me in the past 90 days that I have people in my life that love me and they want nothing from me other than for me to be happy, which is more than what I’ve experienced from either of my ex-husbands.

My life has been packed with social events and it’s because I’ve opened myself up to me…doing things that make me happy, regardless of what others think I should be doing. And the biggest thing that makes me happy is experiencing life with others…with other people that make me laugh, that understand my humor, that don’t judge when I’m not perfect or when I say silly things or can’t focus on a darn thing and jump around from topic to topic. That’s who I am. I’m imperfect. And I’m proud of it.

I love life. I love to be silly. I love to laugh more than anything in the world. My poor sister used to get in so much trouble, when we were growing up, because she would sing at the dinner table and try to eat at the same time in order to prove my dad wrong – that she could sing and eat – and she’d get in trouble and then I would laugh. This occurred probably five nights out of seven. I couldn’t help it. I’m that girl that laughs at the wrong times. I did it this weekend when my own son was getting in trouble by his grandpa for being gross at the table. And I don’t care anymore. It’s how I’m wired and I am no longer apologizing for how I’m wired.

If laughing at the wrong times is the worst thing I do…then I’ve lived a good life.

I’m not perfect.

Unfortunately, laughing at the wrong times is not the worst thing I’ve done.

I’ve said the wrong thing at the wrong time. I’ve insulted people unintentionally. I’ve insulted people’s talents without realizing it. I’ve judged people without seeing the whole picture. I’ve thought that I was better than people, unfortunately a lot more than I want to admit. I destroyed my sons lives by leaving their father. I’ve cut people off in the church parking lot because I was starving. I’ve critiqued my ex-husbands choices. I’M. NOT. PERFECT.

BUT, I am who I am.

When you screw up, it’s how you deal with the screw up that will really define who you are. That’s where I think I do ok and why my incessant need to please everyone comes in handy. I care about others and their feelings a lot! And if I even think for one second that I’ve insulted them, then I internalize it, over think it, send an email, send a text, call, send another text, just to say I’m sorry.

So, I’m just a little proud of myself for being able to say, “I am who I am” without caring if anyone approves of my choices or not (and in all honesty, I do care still a little, just not nearly as much as I used to).

Dating Life 3.0

So…as I’ve started thinking about dating, flirting, or whatever with men…I’ve really decided to just be me. I’m not going to apologize, ever. I’m a lot to handle but I also have a lot to give…a lot of love…a lot of attention…a lot of intelligence…a lot of a lot to give to another person. So if the worst thing that they have to deal with is that I have a lot of emotions, then if they can help me keep my ‘up’ up, then we’ll be good, because I’ll be willing to devote the same amount of effort into that person that they put into me.

Whenever I date again, I refuse to hide who I am. I likely won’t lay it all out there on date #1, but I will be who I am and not feel bad. If nothing else, it will give the ‘other party’ the opportunity to think “holy crap, this girl is for me” or “holy crap, this girl is nuts”. But even if he thinks I’m nuts, I won’t internalize that to be “I’m not enough”…it’s simply, “He can’t handle all I have to offer.” And that’s how it will be and that’s ok with me.

And I will no longer accept that they can’t handle me because in reality, they aren’t mature enough to realize that I’m not a lot to handle…I’m a normal woman, normal human being, normal person that has emotions…and if they can’t handle grown up emotions, then they can leave. Sorry, they missed out on a grown up. And if they walk away, then I’ll know that they weren’t a grown up because I promise, the issue isn’t me. I don’t require large sum deposits in my bank account, big presents, lavish dinners and date nights…I require attention…anything that anyone else wants.

So until then, I won’t ever apologize for being all that Staci is, again. If they don’t appreciate it, then it sucks that they won’t be a part of my amazing life. I refuse to ever apologize again for who I am. And neither should you. You’ll find the perfect person for you if you are never ashamed of everything you are – the good and the bad (or at least what YOU think is the bad).

So one day, when I’m ready, I’ll write my bio for an online dating site and it will be nothing but the truth…just bullet points (because I love bullet points):

* camo lover
* jeep lover
* country music lover
* fine dining expert
* a passion for roller coasters
* has a love of scary and girlie movies (and anything with Marky Mark in it)
* lover of sushi and Mexican food
* would love nothing more than to throw her hair into a pony tail and hat in order to go fishing, eat matzo ball soup, and go to Gator football games

Perfect girl, right?? I think so…and at this point in my life, I don’t care if anyone else agrees with me. 🙂

Who cares what everyone else thinks!

Keep your chin up. A lot of us love you out there!

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!

school year goals: hockey sticks and pink bows adventure #7

One thing that I’ve learned from my previous work-life is that until you actually write a goal down, commit to it, create a plan to reach it, verbalize it to someone else, ask them to keep you accountable to it, and take the first step toward reaching it, goals are simply just words. Nothing more.

And it doesn’t matter if this goal is set when you are 5, 15, or 55 years old. So, I’m starting my boys out young and when my little redhead hits Kindergarten or First Grade, she’ll do the same thing.

We needed to set school year goals – otherwise, what is there to look forward to??

I need to rethink that question though, because if you ask my 10 year old he’ll tell you that he goes to school to talk to his friends, play football at recess, and see that one special girl that holds his heart (currently). And my #2 man told me that “all boys are supposed to like a girl by third grade” so I have one year left to help him get a good footing in study habits and basic skill sets (reading and math) before I lose him to the sassy blonde at the front of the class.

Personal Goal Setting

When I started my blog, I ran with it. I jumped in, feet first, body first, no stopping, all in, kind of jumping in. Then I realized that I really loved this, loved writing, loved being honest, enjoyed the therapy, and needed to figure out where this was going.

So I stopped. Everything. Until I figured out my direction.

And I wrote down my goals. My mission statement. My dreams for the blog. My purpose for the blog. And it gave me even more strength and determination to get my voice heard, my mission understood, my knowledge out to those that needed it.

It was empowering. Truly mind-blowing, to type out my reasons behind what I was doing. And it gave me purpose; helped define my goal so that I could speak to others about it; set my goals. I was then a woman on a mission, which was the most powerful thing in the world.

I knew where I was, where I wanted to be, and how I was going to get there. It helped me set daily goals, weekly goals, and monthly goals. While I haven’t met each and every one, by having them ‘written’ out, I’ve been able to go back and review, revise, accomplish, and dominate. There have been achievements that I have reached that I didn’t even know were possible while others fell by the wayside. I’ve been able to redefine the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘when’ for each goal. It’s truly been incredible…especially in the midst of a divorce that I don’t want, that could have brought me to new lows…I have been riding new ‘highs’ because of my accomplishments with my blog. And this is all in addition to putting in quite a few hours for a job that I’m really enjoying, working social networks (verbal, in-person, and online) to increase business for a fantastic construction company.

Be proud and define your goals.

My accomplishments may not be mind-blowing to some, but to me, I have built my confidence through my own efforts, words and intelligence that I hadn’t even given myself credit for in the past. BUT, I don’t think that I would be as proud of myself or increased my self-confidence if I hadn’t taken the time to define for myself, where I wanted to be, specifically for each facet of the blogging-world. So simply saying, I want to be able to support myself in 12 months with blogging wasn’t enough because that is truly daunting. That gives me no vision, no marketing plan, no accomplishments to be proud of on the way to the true dream in my head.

Writing these goals down is key and setting up a plan is even more important. Asking someone to keep you accountable is another great step and finally constantly reviewing weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or etc., is critical.

Start ’em young.

So Adventure #7 focused on teaching this life skill to my boys.

I was shocked…this more than any other adventure so far, has been discussed almost on a daily basis since each of us wrote our goals down in our notebooks. My youngest is really the one that keeps asking if we can review our goals to see if we are closer to reaching them…and he’s seven years old. I’ve interpreted this to mean that regardless if you are 7 or 77, written goals hold you accountable and give you a mission, sometimes a purpose, for doing what you do every day.

I review my goals on a weekly basis and sometimes I struggle to find the time, but I force myself, and because I’ve spent the extra time doing this, I’ve reached some goals that I didn’t think that I would reach for another two months. It’s given me purpose.

I loosened the ‘review period’ for the boys so that we had more time to reach their goals because I had no clue what kind of goals they would set. For all I knew, they would tell me that they wanted to get a phone call from Sidney Crosby because he saw a video online that showed their hockey skills. (In reality, their goals were much more realistic, like learning how to write everything in cursive before their teacher asked.)

For this Adventure, we did the following:

1. We only spent 15 minutes on this adventure. Depending on the age of the kids, there are very few that will last longer than this.
2. Resist the urge to ‘hint’ to them what they should write down. They’ll surprise you.
3. They may need help with the ‘how’ to reach the goal. Offer suggestions but let them decide how THEY want to reach the goal.
4. Read through, out loud, each goal that they’ve decided they want to reach. And I would highly recommend that they are the person that reads these out loud. This is the accountability piece. They may be a little embarrassed at first but by the end, you’ll hear how proud they are of themselves. And they’ll see how proud you are too!
5. Set the goals aside. Don’t put daily pressure on them. I promise they’ll bring it back up – my seven year old did within three days.
6. Review at the holiday break in December. It’s likely that they’ll be halfway there anyway but they will feel proud of their accomplishments. If nothing else, you’ll help them realize how critical that it is that they set goals every day for the rest of their lives.
7. Use the second half of the school year to really help them reach their goals. Don’t add extra pressure to ‘homework’ life, but offer opportunities to improve a certain skill that they want to improve when you know there won’t be much homework and you can do it ‘undercover’.
8. Review their accomplishments at the end of the year…and celebrate it in some way, shape or form. Show them how rewarding it is to set a goal, work hard, and achieve it.
9. Sit back and take a picture of the proud grins on their faces and then tag me on Twitter so that I can celebrate with you! @stacielizabeth

Remember these tips for going on your own adventures:

#1: Get them excited! Excitement is contagious – if you are excited, they will get excited.

#2: Materials: I printed each of the flyers above so that we could keep them in our scrapbook.

#3: During our adventure, I made sure that the paper that they wrote their goals on was saved in a special location, in order to avoid their sister’s apple juice spills, and added them to our scrapbook.
Our next adventure will repeat this process – I printed out a description of the adventure, and a collage of pictures from the adventure. Then added it to a notebook/folder so that when the year is over we can go through and relive some wonderful memories.

 

divorced mom guilt

Divorce, when you have children, includes a HUMONGOUS side of guilt. Especially, if you are the one that decides to divorce.

Everyone experiences it differently – some deal with it by buying everything that the kids want; some take them to every event that the kids want to go to; some ‘fight’ figuratively to be the one that is loved the most; and some fight to be the one that is the ‘most fun’. There’s no right way to deal with it unfortunately because in reality – all of it is wrong. If we excelled at this thing that we called life and marriage, we wouldn’t be divorcing and causing this pain to children that have no control over what we put them through.

Early Choices…first moments of guilt

My boys dealt with divorce when they were still in preschool. Not many can say that. There are some that make the choice to end a marriage as early as I did but the majority don’t make that choice until the kids are roughly in middle school because it just takes that long to make the decision. I’ve found all kinds of statistics online – many say that if a marriage will end in divorce, eight to twelve years is the average mark, and with many marriages not starting until people are in their late twenties or early thirties, a good majority of marriages end when the kids are in early middle school or late-elementary school.

And this is where, unfortunately, a large portion of my friends are at right now.

And ‘statistic-me’, I’m on divorce number 2 (also known as the last time I will EVER marry someone) and my friends are on number 1. Makes me sound like such a winner, right?? I promise – if you met my ex’s, you would completely understand that I let my heart guide my brain WAAAAYYY too much (aka – I have too much faith in people when I should listen to my brain more than my heart). I gravitate toward ‘big personalities’ BUT ‘big personalities’ also translates into the fact that they love attention on ONE PERSON only…and it ends up not being me or the responsibilities that they committed to.

When my oldest son and I have our ‘talks‘ it’s very common that he will mention, multiple times, that he feels the sting of the divorce because he feels like none of his friends live the same life. He hates feeling like people wonder why his mom has a different last name than him (so now I go by my boys last name at their school) and he feels like there is a spotlight on him because he has/had two dads (dad and stepdad). And he feels alone in the pain. And the guilt that engulfs me when he tells me this, is incredible but somehow I can hold it together to listen to all he has to say.

The one thing that I will say is that my #2 man was young enough, when his dad and I divorced, that the life we lead is ‘normal’ to him. My ‘Big D #2‘ is the first time that he will actually remember what happens, so if nothing else, I will strive to not repeat my mistakes with ‘Big D #1’ so that he isn’t as ‘scarred’ as my ex and I left my oldest.

Then guilt continues when my #2 man constantly asks ‘who are we with tonight’? God love him…he’s only asking because he honestly doesn’t keep track (one – because he’s seven, and two – because he forgets the schedule because we have such a weird co-parenting plan compared to most co-parentors because of my old work schedule).

And then, when they realize that hockey is starting back up again this week and they’ll possibly have to see their stepdad at the rink because he works there, they stress. So much so, that their dad and I have had to tell my scummy-soon-to-be-ex-husband that he’s not allowed to initiate contact with them because of their request, not ours.

And it’s embarrassing for them because no one else understands, at that age, what a divorce is…yet (unfortunately). And I TRULY hope none of their friends family’s have to go through this, ever.

And more guilt…

After I remarried this year, I volunteered to go on a field trip for my oldest son’s class. I was selected, and when my son’s teacher asked him what my last name was, he stumbled…because no one had asked him that question since I had remarried and because he didn’t want people to know or ask questions about why my last name was different than his. So not only was he embarrassed because of his ‘stumble’, he was embarrassed because he thought his classmates would think badly of him because my last name was different than his.

We’ve discussed this in detail and I’ve offered solutions to him and it’s fine now but these are the type of things that run through my head when my almost-ten year old asks me for a glass of apple juice. I know very well that he could take care of this, but then, because I’m ‘Mom’ I think, “he’s gone through so much and I’m standing right here, I can do it.” So I do it…for him and for all of them…because of the divorce guilt.

The guilt never ends…

I wish that I could give you the perfect advice about how to avoid this guilt. Unfortunately, the only advice that I can give is to not get divorced, to work it out. If you choose to divorce (and I’m not judging you for that choice)..but if you choose to divorce, just know that we all feel that ping of guilt and there’s not much you can do to avoid it. In reality though, parenting comes with a side of guilt, every day, for something. All you can do is roll with the punches, not diminish your children’s feelings, acknowledge their feelings, help them cope, and keep moving.

All you can do is choose to make the most sound choices for your kids as possible.

my kids are a little nutty – mid-week motivation

All I can do is laugh

I’ve said it before so forgive me for repeating myself but I love to laugh! This is the last week before school starts which means that by this point in the summer I’m driving my boys nuts and my boys are driving me nuts and my little redhead has entered the terrible two’s early. So at this point, all I can do is laugh because I’m an ugly crier so I try to choose to laugh.

Lately it seems like every time I turn around the kids are doing something that makes me question my sanity or laugh. The choices that they’ve made this week have me wondering if I’ve taught them anything or if they just decided to turn their ears off all summer.

So I thought that I would put my week to meme’s to give you a chance to laugh. Your kids may have been able to top these but I thought I that I would share so that you could commiserate with me or laugh with or at me. This stuff really happens…unfortunately on a regular basis, in my household.

The last 7 days with my kids…in meme’s