Listen With Caution

You might need to be uncomfortable in order to get happy. Be brave and ask a lot of curious questions so that uncomfortable choices are wisely made.

Remembered experiences, and the feelings we associate with them, form our thoughts about who we think ourselves to be. The older we get the more experience we have thinking of ourselves in a certain way. It’s how we come to know who we are.


Knowing ourselves makes decision-making easier. We can make good predictions about the future based on our memories of similar situations from the past. Our ability to predict the outcome of a choice is possible through our associative memory. Thanks to our hippocampus, a part of our unconscious mid-brain, we can store memories about people, places, and things as remember feelings. That means that we’re likely to feel good about something new if we’ve stored good feelings about something similar.

Living Inside the Box

It stands to reason that most people choose that which makes them comfortable. The problem is that feeling comfortable may be nothing more than having familiarity with something. Just because it’s familiar doesn’t guarantee it’ll be good for you.  So, if all of your choices are made so that you feel comfortable, you might find yourself trapped in an uncomfortable box.

Follow the trail – is it comfortably bad or uncomfortably good


To “feel” is simply thinking in the past.


Sometimes you might have to choose to be uncomfortable in order to get happy. Be brave and ask a lot of curious questions so that uncomfortable choices are wisely made.

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10 Things a Peacemaker Parent Knows

Knowing who matters and what you’re good at are 2 of the 10 things a Peacemaker Parent knows.

1.   Know who matters most.

Who are you most interested in influencing?  Annually update the list; though your kids and close family remain constant, others come and go according to family dynamics and the ages of your kids.

2.   Know how much you have.

Define your available resources of time, energy, focus, money, etc. and prioritize best uses to help you quickly say ‘yes’ to opportunities and ‘no’ to mere possibilities.

3.   Know what you do well.

Honestly evaluate your strengths, talents, interests, challenges, and dislikes.  Update/hone skills where you can and find quality replacements for everything else.  Always play to your strengths.

4.   Know your parenting promises.

Hold your parenting promises top of mind and measure every decision and action by its ability to help you make good on them.

5.   Know when to help others.

Share wisdom freely with your kids, family, parenting peers, etc., but only with permission.

6.   Know how to expand. 

Think collaboratively rather than competitively and consider new options.  Yes, you’ll stretch your comfort zone, but that’s a good thing.

7.   Know your options.

Do your homework before making choices.  Consider knowledgeable advice, recommended guidelines, peer reviews, and always rely on your own sound judgment.  See number 3.

8.   Know what you’re doing.

Set reasonable goals that can be objectively measured.  Consider the abilities of others so that you avoid frustration or self-handicapping.

9.   Know how to pamper yourself. 

Ensure you’ve reserved plenty of time to care for yourself.  Without you, all the work is for nothing.  Keep in mind the distinction between selfishly generous vs. selfishly self-righteous.

10.  Know what’s next for you.

Plan your encore career—the awesome thing you’ll do once you’ve set your kids on their sturdy legs. It’s like working yourself out of your job – when they don’t “need” you to run their lives, how will you use your time and experience?


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Motherhood’s Bad Rap

Sharp stabs were felt by mothers across the country last week thanks to Hilary Rosen. Accurately measuring the value of a mother’s work is tricky; perhaps that’s why so many mothers struggle to feel valuable.

Sharp stabs were felt by mothers across the country last week.  The debate in Washington over the contribution value of stay-at-home mothers got me thinking:   Why would Hilary Rosen, a working  mother,  assume Ann Romney, a career mother, couldn’t add  useful insight to the topic of world economics?  Ms. Rosen’s comments imply a lack of something on Mrs. Romney’s part:

  • A lack of access to current information, perhaps?
    • Nope, Mrs. Romney is front and center as she supports her presidential candidate husband, Mitt Romney.
  • Maybe a lack of hardship that brings context to information?
    • Nope, she’s had her share of hard knocks dealing with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer.
  • A lack of experience, then?
    • Nope, she’s been involved in politics most of her life, first as the daughter of a town mayor and then as Mitt’s partner for almost 50 years.
  • Possibly a lack of intelligence?
    • Nope, she completed her undergraduate degree through the Extension School at Harvard University.

As a long-time political analyst for the Democratic Party, Hilary Rosen is well aware that Ann Romney isn’t lacking anything.  I’m guessing Rosen was simply intent upon creating controversy for political gain.  Okay, I get it, but what about the sharp stab felt by millions of other stay-at-home mothers?  Comments like Rosen’s are more than political sniping because they weaken families.


“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  This Spanish proverb cautions us to withhold judgment of quality until quality is demonstrated.   So what’s the preverbal ‘pudding’ made by a mother?  Tricky question to answer for three reasons:

  1. A mother’s work and results are subjectively measured and unique to the individuals involved.
  2. There are two kinds of ‘pudding’ to measure
    1. Short-term – day-to-day squabbles over chores and homework, for example
    2. Long-term – the quality and character of the adult child—we won’t see that for 20 years.
  3. Short-term tactics and results often appear contrary to the ultimate long-term goals.
    • A skinned knee today may not look like support, but it is.

Am I good enough yet?

Accurately measuring the value of a mother’s work is tricky; perhaps that’s why so many mothers struggle to feel valuable.  The Rosens of the world make it harder because they shift our energy away from the work of motherhood into defense and justification.  I know many mothers who divided their time between a job and children solely to impress Rosen-like critics.  When that’s the case, everyone loses—especially the mother.

A professional mother

Motherhood has a bad rap because mothers lack confidence and pride.  Every job is hard if you lack confidence and pride; in that regard motherhood is no different than a political pundit’s job.   The only way to ease the workload of any job is to fully embrace it, perfect your ability to perform, focus on your short- and long-term goals, and then play full on.  Image how differently the world would come to view a mother if she approached her job like a professional.

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