Remember When The Kids Played Outside?

Frequently, in conversations, the subject of “the way things used to be” comes up.  Oh no, you may think, it’s a story about the good old days when times were hard, but the old folks managed to survive!  Not exactly.  First of all, I don’t consider myself “old”.  Besides that, you’re as young as you feel.  Secondly, the times I’m referring to weren’t so hard.  If they were, we didn’t seem to notice.  The kids especially were able to overcome the times just by being kids.

 The setting is summer.  No school to have to worry about the next day.  At the time I was a stay-at-home Mom, so everyone got to sleep in a little the next morning.  As I finished my coffee the kids would begin to stir downstairs, and upstairs.  After breakfast, feeding the critters we had accumulated, listening to something on the TV, there would always be shopping, cleaning (yes, the kids had chores!).  The day goes by pretty fast with all the routine things that needed to be done.  When their tasks were done, they may have played video games for awhile – we started with Atari, and eventually upgraded to Nintendo!  We were high-tech!  Sometimes there would be bickering, sometimes laughter.  Someone always had to get into the bathroom when someone else was there!  Eventually, phone calls interrupted the day or the doorbell would ring and it was usually one of the kid’s friends wanting to play.

 Now with 4 kids, just one extra person for each added up pretty fast!  Still, they usually didn’t hang around long, because they were off on some adventure.  We lived in a small town, and even though there might seemingly not have been much to do, the kids always got some things going.  Good things.  I’ll never forget as the kids got older and the “I’m Bored!” syndrome found it’s way into our haven.  At one time, my sister had let us know that they were going to visit us with their 3 kids.  Now they were living inTexas near a huge amusement park, but her kids were “bored!” and could hardly wait to see us and play in the Wave Pool our town had!  Imagine!

I love recalling those summer nights that would wrap around the sound of children’s voices calling, “Tag, you’re It!”, “Olly, olly, oxen free!”.  Listening to those giggle-filled, carefree exchanges meant the kids were safe.  We were a community where everyone watched out for each other’s kids.  Is there a town like that anymore?  The times have changed.  We have since left that small town and I’m not so sure I would be able to feel that my kids would be able to roam around freely anymore.  Does safe, small-town America still exist?  If it does and you live there, enjoy it!  The memories will last a lifetime!



What?!  Success?  Opportunity?  Which is it?  Well, I decided that one word supports the other, so why not combine them?  I know, pretty corny.  So, what is it that creates success?  Money?  Time?  Knowing the right people?  Timing also becomes a part of the formula.  We could have all of these things at our disposal, yet none of them work out unless we take, (here it comes), the opportunity to use them.  Success isn’t always measured by how much money we have, though society seems to put a huge emphasis on that.  Success is relative to what you are working toward. It can also be determined by the time we invest in relationships.  Opportunities to do good things are always available.  We just have to become more aware of our surroundings and pay attention to how we can make someone’s life better.

Stepping out of our comfort zone, is, well, uncomfortable.  There are so many missed opportunities due to our looking inward so often.  We have bills, deadlines, school, appointments.  Success depends on what we are willing to do to achieve it. Look at faith. It takes a lot of faith in ourselves, and sometimes we are the only ones who believe in ourselves, to make that leap that could change our lives forever. Sometimes the leap begins more like tripping over the curb, but it’s a start!  Usually, it just takes that first step for the momentum to build.  To be courageous enough to take that chance, is a step in the right direction.  Scary?  You bet!  Still, no one is going to do it for you.  You will probably be amazed how empowering it feels just making the decision to move ahead with your life.

Next comes the part where you are in it for the long haul.  Perseverance is not for the faint of heart.  It is certainly necessary, though.  Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Where would we be if instant gratification was the answer to all success?  Hmmm. Let’s look at where THAT has gotten us.  Fast food – we’re fat.  Fast cars – faster accidents.  If it’s not worth working for, it’s not worth having.

Planning is important.  Still, with all the planning there will come a point that you will need to decide whether to take that step or not.  If toddlers never attempted to walk, they would never accomplish running.  If we never have faith, we will never know what accomplishments we could achieve in our lifetime.  One person can change the world one person at a time.  Are you willing to be successful and see what great things you can do or are you just going to stand there?


Humor Has It

We live in a fast-paced society.  With everything that needs to be done, we barely have time to sneeze let alone all the projects that are looming ahead of us!  We have obligations, responsibilities and deadlines.  Now that’s quite a word, DEADLINE.  Who came up with that word?  No wonder we are stressed.  DEAD-LINE.  Sounds more like a dance in a zombie movie!  This is serious!

The reality is that stressful things are going to happen.  It’s our reaction to stress that we need to look at.  We have allowed our minds to be programmed to react negatively to situations around us.  Look at what we are bombarded with daily.  We are told that we are nothing if we don’t get back at someone who embarrassed us.  We stew (another interesting concept) over something that happened at work.  We fret about things that haven’t even happened yet.  We need pills for this and relaxation coaches for that.  We stand in lines and find out our coupons have expired while we waited!  Where do we draw the line on how stress affects us?  I understand that there are things that we do have serious concerns for, and we should conserve our energy for those matters.

Maybe it’s time to put a different spin on our perspectives.  Let’s ask ourselves some questions before reacting.  Is what happening life-threatening?  Is there blood?  If it’s not either of these things, then maybe there is another answer.  Maybe humor has it!  Treat your mind by doing a 180 inside there and go for a spin on the humor highway!  It could be that since we would have to consciously think about this that it won’t be very crowded and no one will cut us off here.  If they do, it will be with a smile!

When I was a young mom of three very young daughters, one day in particular was building up to being very stressful.  Several feet of snow had blanketed our area.  My washer had given up the ghost and was in the repair shop.  The diapers were stacking up in the pail, waiting to be washed.  (Yes, my babies were raised in cloth diapers, pins and all.  As primitive as it seems, it was functional and economical).  So I would be taking a trip to the local Laundromat (of which I was grateful for).  Of course, I would need to load all the clothes in one of the two vehicles we had.  The more practical of the two would be the little orange metal box on wheels referred to as a Pinto.  Hopefully, there would be room for the kids.  Car seats for kids were optional in THOSE days.  Anyway, they would be so secured by the mounds of laundry that they couldn’t move if they wanted to!  Normally, this is not a big deal, but my husband needed to use the “car” to get to work.  Why, you ask, couldn’t I use the other vehicle?

Due to a freakish circumstance that I came to accept as normal when you live in arctic areas, our pickup fell victim to a very sad case of irony.  As my husband started the engine to warm up the pickup to go to work, there was this horrific scraping sound of metal on metal.  He jumped out and opened the hood.  A streak of fur flew out, racing down the street.  The truck took the brunt of the damage.  I can only imagine the scene under the hood as the engine roared to life and the fur-flying frenzy that ensued!  The cat had decided that our truck engine was a good place to take up residence during the frigid night.  The radiator now had a perfect circle cut out of it as the feline foe knocked the fan askew enough during its attempt to escape certain death or injury.  Neither of which happened.

So there I was with three little girls whining and crying (myself, not the girls).  I was at the end of my rope.  How does one cope?  I did the most logical thing that anyone would do.  I made sure everyone was safe in the house and then I put myself in time-out in the bathroom.  You need to understand that I was and still am a very God-fearing person.  On this day however, not even God was going to stand in my way.  They say we should fear a woman scorned.  I say, never underestimate the power of a woman who is washer-less!  At that point I was ready to confront whatever the Almighty sent my way!  Humor?  There was no humor in this situation!  And I proceeded to let God have it!

“How can You expect me to continue on this way?” I demanded.  “Everything is piling up.  The kids are constantly here.  They whine and fight.  They always want fed.  I can’t even go to the bathroom without someone sitting outside the door.”  Then something inside me snapped and I cut to the chase.  “You say you understand, but you don’t”, I cried.  “You don’t know what it’s like with diapers and runny noses and other runny things”.  Then I drove the stake to the heart.  I said, “You had one child and you had some woman raise Him!”

There.  I said it.  The realization of what I had just said hit me immediately.  I waited for a lightening bolt to take care of me right at that moment.  Nothing.  I stood up, washed my face and opened the door to my world.  I won.  I had confronted God and lived through it.

Humor.  Who needs that?  You tell someone which way the stick floats and life turns out just fine.  Just like it did for me.  The washer and truck got fixed.  The snow melted.  The diapers got washed.  All just in time for me to be able to get up and tend to the demands of our newborn son a year later.

Never underestimate God.  He has a sense of humor.


Game On!

Game DayOver the last few years something has been gnawing at me. I wish it could gnaw some of the pounds off, but that’s another issue! This concern has to do with a trend beginning during my children’s school years, ‘way back in the 20th Century. There was this thought that there are no losers. Everyone is a winner! Really? Maybe it was an attitude conveyed from the “winner” that soured someone on seeing someone else succeed. Maybe, it was our attitude (that green-eyed monster, jealousy) that caused resentment. I always thought excelling is what makes us better than we thought we could be. To give our best should bring out the best in others.

This idea that everyone’s a winner is catching up to our society. There seems to be a lack of dedication to doing our best. We’ve had to lower the bar so everyone can benefit. This affects all of us. We give accolades to substandard work, so why should anyone put any effort into something worthwhile? When a child is in elementary school, these young people should begin to understand that some things take effort. Remember I said “begin”. Small steps. Yet, all along the way, there should be the understanding that one is rewarded accordingly for their efforts. A goal is established for everyone to reach. The bar should be raised. The impression that there are no wrong answers is the wrong answer!

I realize that there are those who struggle. Sometimes to the point of what’s the point? Still, putting everyone one the same level is not the answer! I think it’s time to quit whining and start putting more effort into our lives. Don’t believe everything we read or hear. We have the ability to find out answers for ourselves. Let’s be winners because we made the effort, not because someone thinks we should be winner. Along the way, encourage others. The journey is much more pleasant when shared! Let’s not settle for everyone receiving the same ribbon. Instead of being like the bucket-full of crabs pulling each other down to their level, I think it would be better to soar above with the other eagles. What a goal! And you know what, you can do it!


The Bully Factor

Your child comes home from school, crying, upset, distraught.  When you finally get the story on what is bugging her, you hear that she has been bullied.  There has been a lot of discussion on this topic recently.  Who hasn’t been affected by a bully?  The impact can be devastating.  For the victim it produces feelings of weakness, vulnerability and helplessness.  It is important for children to understand that someone is listening to them and they are not at fault.  This is where we as parents and mentors come  in.  Children need to know they are not alone in this.  Also, it needs to be reinforced that this kind of behavior will eventually stop and is not acceptable.

There are some rules out there that make this a frustrating experience to get a handle on.  Sometimes we are made to feel that we can do nothing to defend ourselves!  I believe it is imperative that we become involved in every aspect of our children’s lives.  When they see that they are loved and have support, it helps to take some of the sting out.  This will take commitment on our part as they have to face those bullies the next day.  What then?

One suggestion I have is to encourage your child’s interests and develop these into something they would love to pursue.  Reading is an excellent avenue for children to learn about themselves and the world around them.  Talents take time to hone, but if we keep in tune with our children, we can help them build self-esteem through their own special interests.  It is amazing to see a child transform when they discover that they have a talent special to them.  They may still get bullied, but now they have something else to concentrate on that helps them to grow and eventually gain the respect of their peers.  Once your child’s attention focuses on his or her own abilities, the effects of bullying will lessen and your child will be able to concentrate more on their personal ambitions.

Unfortunately, we may never eradicate bullying, but if we choose to value ourselves and others, we may be able to make the affects a little less painful and allow ourselves to learn how to make lemonade out of lemons.


Tick Tock

Seconds turn into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into years, years into decades, decades into well, you get the picture.  Time.  “My, how time flies!”  “Where have the years gone?”  “I can’t believe how they’ve grown!”

Isn’t it the truth?  Those times when we are in the midst of changing diapers, making dinner, picking up those toys for the seemingly one hundreth time, we feel that
time has stood still.  Yet, when we’ve gone beyond such times, we look back and can’t believe it.  It seems time actually has flown by.  I look back at those times and wonder how my husband and I got through it with four kids, three dogs, three cats and a plethora of other critters that shared our home.  We hoped we made the right decisions in raising our family.  Sometimes, the decisions were tough.  We did a lot of second guessing of ourselves at times.  There are so many facets of parenting.  Sometimes we got lost in life and forgot to live it.

Through the tests of parenting, we measure the outcome over time. When our children were young, we went down to their level so they could rise up to ours when the time was right.  I look at our children, of whom some are themselves parents.  All of them are independent, productive members of society, and I can’t help but think we did something right.  We gave them the best of our lives, in order for them to be the best they could be.  During their formative years, we spent the most valuable thing we had with them.  Time.  We made sure we got involved in as much of their lives as we could.  As I watch our grandchildren today, I see that maybe we did a few things right.  Their parents, our children, are emulating us.  They make time for their kids while leading busy lives.  I believe our time was well spent.  I hope your New Year will find you resolved to give the most precious gift to a child.  Your time.


The Face of Family

What could melt a person’s heart more than watching a child sing holiday songs?  We recently had the pleasure of watching our grandchildren perform in both Thanksgiving and Christmas programs.  This time of the year more than ever, it seems that people have a certain peace in their hearts, especially when we gather to watch our children in some kind of activity.  Parents and grandparents beam with pride and are quick to point out which child belongs to them.  The children gthemselves are making the same connection by looking out into the audience, searching until they find that familiar face that lets them know they are the most special little person in the world!

Think about all the different faces in the world.  It is said that everyone has a twin, but for the most part there are no two faces alike.  We anticipate the birth of our children.  Once born, the first thing we want to see is their face!  What does my baby look like?  Now, through the wonder of technology, some parents are fortunate enough to see what their baby looks like before it’s born!

Throughout our lives we connect with and find comfort when we see a familiar face.  The family is where our children learn to interact with other humans.  Like the children searching through an audience, we learn to make a connection with each other through experiences and taking actions that allow us all to support each other in all areas of life.  Sometimes other people may challenge our self-worth.  Sometimes it’s hard to overcome negative comments.  It could take some time to recover.  If we have someone in our corner, someone with a familiar face, overcoming challenges becomes easier.  Be that person that someone searches for in the crowd.  You may have just given them a moment in time to remember that they are special!


How to Foster Acceptance and Growth

Cheering a child on at a sporting event, swishing down a slide with a grandchild, sitting around the table after breakfast talking about the way things used to be with grandma and grandpa.  Such things can bind a family together.  We can learn a lot about life and how to cope with difficult times in our lives.  No matter what our age, we continue to learn by example.

Bite into a red, juicy apple and what do you experience?  Hopefully, not half of a
worm!  The sweetness of the juice, the crunchiness of the flesh, the crispness of the skin combine for a very satisfying experience!  But, what if the apple tree decided it didn’t want to grow apples?  Maybe it wants to produce bananas or papayas?  An apple tree is designed to produce apples.  Fortunately for us, it accepts the function it was made for, and it works pretty well!

Becoming involved in activities as a family is crucial to fostering growth and acceptance.  If children see that we consider what they do important, and that we accept them whatever the outcome, they will have been given the tools to develop confidence that allows them to pursue further interests.  This gives them the chance to become a part of something bigger than themselves. Given that assurance, they will be more apt to accept that failure occasionally happens and learn that they can grow from it.

It should be emphasized that it does no good to run away or play the blame game.  It is important to understand that we are all responsible for our actions.  Once we come to terms with that, it is important to learn to accept our postion and move ahead from there.  Take the lead.  If our children see us forge  on from setbacks, they will be more apt to follow our example and move ahead to become successful in their lives.  Just as the apple tree is happy to produce apples, our children will be more apt to accept what they are designed for and flourish for a lifetime.


The Importance of Family

Pamela Hurd and FamilyA building is only as good as its foundation.  A solid foundation sets the stage for a secure structure.  Such a structure offers safety, warmth and refuge from the fiercest storms.  It offers protection from intruders and other
influences that could threaten the welfare of its occupants.  We all reap the benefits of a sound house.

Families are designed to provide the same benefits as a house.  Each family is unique and has the opportunity to shape confident, self-sufficient members whose strength stems from roots of love and trust.  Like the house, a family provides a place of refuge wrapped in the embrace of warmth and security, where acceptance is learned, forgiveness is practiced, where laughter comes easily and imagination is encouraged. Parents must provide these things as the foundation for the child to
grow on.  A family takes time, sacrifice and patience.  If a family is to
experience success, selfishness cannot dwell here.  Since a house can provide the necessities for living, think how much more important a family means for the successful growth of a child.

With a house there will always be maintenance, repairs and sometimes additions.  Building a family is also a constant work in progress.  When a family builds on a sound, sturdy foundation, it can withstand any storm that comes its way.  Conflicts are not pleasant, but these tests must be dealt with to achieve cohesiveness within the family.  When such times are handled correctly, the family can reinforce the structure that is theirs, making it even stronger than before.  With support like this, any child would be encouraged to strive for success in everything they do.  As parents, let’s do what we can to give that support and encouragement.


Picking Yourself Up After Mistakes

A mistake is defined as “an incorrect, unwise, or unfortunate act or decision caused by bad judgment or a lack of information or care”.  All things in consideration, I
think it would be safe to assume that we all have made mistakes.  Such actions make us feel vulnerable and can lead to feelings of insecurity, loneliness, and rejection.  Dwelling here, we can wallow in self-pity and stagnate.  Happily, we have another choice.  We can use this as an opportunity to develop growth through a challenging time.  Taking responsibility for our actions is the first step to developing a healthy resolution to complications caused by mistakes.  No one is perfect and once we accept responsibility, we will be more open to moving forward, giving ourselves
the opportunity to a life filled with depth and meaning.  We will be free to see that our lives have a purpose, that we can accomplish more than we could ever imagine.

Most children react with great difficulty to making mistakes.  They tend to dwell on the resulting bad feelings, not understanding that such things can be overcome.  They live for the moment and have not experienced enough of life to realize that it is not the end of the world.  As mentors, we should make sure that we don’t place unrealistic expectations on children or ourselves.  Children should be given the liberty of making decisions.  Sometimes, mistakes will be made.  When such times occur, we need to be ready to guide and support them, helping develop the tools that will teach true growth and how to cope with overcoming mistakes.

The same is true for adults.  Picking ourselves up after mistakes is just another character-building attribute that reinforces our “human-ness” and allows us to connect with the humanity around us.  Let’s give ourselves a break, forgive ourselves and move forward. There is one mistake we should avoid, though.  That is to think we are incapable of making a mistake.  Remember, we’re only human.