Pray without Ceasing

Source: Pray without Ceasing

Posted in Parenting | Leave a comment

“Mama, do you believe in Santa Claus?”

There I was on Christmas day when my son, Chris was six-years-old and my daughter was three.  We were at my divorced & childless sister’s house, where we spent Christmas eve (yes, I DID haul all the presents!) and Christmas.

Chris was mopey.  He’d play with gifts, but it was clear that his heart wasn’t in it. Perhaps he was tired, but I had to ask.  And his response knocked me on my parenting butt!

no-santa3“Santa didn’t come!  I tried to be a good boy all year” (he WAS very well behaved, except for the black basketball on the ceiling incident!), “But Santa still didn’t bring me the Superman action figure,” he whispered.  The tears spilling from his eyes were the size of tablespoons.  My gut wrenched.  My empathy had me in tears, too.

What was I to do, being a mindful parent who had pledged never to lie to my children?   How was I supposed to answer when my ex-husband’s new wife had given Santa gifts last year and I’d chastised her (I chastised my ex, but of course, he HADN’T shopped or wrapped; he had a new wife!  And what a good thing that I was totally great with THAT!)

If we’re to be honest, we ruin a childhood fantasy.  If we lie, we’ll later be pillaged and used as an example any time our children do something we’ve told them not to do. My own mother would have said “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t!”  She would have offered NO sympathy nor wisdom, rest her soul.

So, I simply had never mentioned Santa Claus to my children.  There weren’t “Santa presents” under the tree.  If they ‘asked Santa’ for something, I hadn’t seen the letter, because that WOULD have led to a discussion.  It just was a non-issue in our house.

Yep, there I was.

“Oh, Sweet Heart, I told you we couldn’t find that action figure anywhere.  You found it in a comic book from when your dad was a child!  I told you several times that it wouldn’t be under the tree!  I looked everywhere I could!” (Note:  Amazon had not yet been invented; neither had eBay)

magic_of_christmasI took him aside and laid it all out for him.  “Do you remember any gifts you’ve ever gotten from Santa?  No?  Well, honey, while lots of parents find the magic of Christmas is something they can’t explain, I believe the magic of Christmas is love. And I believe honesty is really important. I didn’t want to lie to you.”

Yep, I probably broke his heart.  This was a huge parenting moment to me, as (about three years later) was the first time Kate (then Kate-IE) asked if I believed.

By the way, I sent this essay to Chris and asked him if he remembers and wished to comment.  He said

I like the post.  Sadly (thankfully?) I do not remember this, but it sounds like something a young me could have done.

So what did you learn from it?

(also, is the emphasis on “hadn’t”, or should it be on “he”?)

Always a critic… but, in my humble opinion, a mindful & rather well raised one.

Well, I had learned to be honest, and not necessarily to tell the entire truth.

“Mama, do you believe in Santa Claus?”  “Well, Katie, I believe in the magic of Christmas: love.”

Enough about me, how about you?  What do you think of our use of Santa Claus? I’d love your comments.

Unending Love,


Melissa Pazen


Live Inspired: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently!


Posted in Coaching, Inspired, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you a Parent Planning for your Purpose? Are you focused?

I got a traffic ticket a few weeks ago.  A police sergeant saw me driving 56 miles per hour — in a zone where the limit was 30.

speeding_ticketAnd while children weren’t present, I was passing a school! What was I thinking? (Or even, WAS I thinking?) I don’t remember, but I had what’s called “highway hypnosis”, since I’d just come off a limited access tollway.  And that isn’t good enough for me! I know better (I even know what it’s called!) and if I’d been paying attention, it would not have happened! To top it off, I then lost the ticket, so I couldn’t go to ”bad drivers’ school’. I had to pay it, along with the court costs. That isn’t good enough for me! I’m focusing to do better!

Perhaps you’re thinking, “At least no one was hurt.” Well, I’m certainly grateful for that. And more importantly, perhaps I needed a reminder to focus. In driving, my focus must be on direction, control of the car and , YES, how fast I’m moving.  

In life, purpose includes immediate as well as long term. I was driving to work (purposes: driving, getting to my job). At work, I have tasks to complete and goals to accomplish (both are purpose). Since I love my work, I was living out my ultimate purpose.

For my life, I have realized that I’m here to serve, to help, to bring the next generation of humanity to be skilled at living as well as skilled at learning and working. And the ultimate focus on purpose means that I need to be mindful of a number of purposes simultaneously. Fortunately, our gracious God has given me the ability for mild multi-tasking.  When focused, I can drive and think at the same time. I just need to be more aware of each.  

Are you finding some of the same? Can  you focus on the child you’re raising? Can you keep your wants and desires in check when you’re tired and your child is cranky and behaving in a way you don’t like? My chief goal for my children was to raise them to be able to solve the challenges of life with some independence and freedom from the standard solutions. Are you able to remember your goals for your children? And are those goals showing in the behavior of your children?

Perhaps one of the most important life lessons I’ve learned is to take time to breathe when I start to get excited.  

(Five-three-five breathing: exhale as MUCH as you can. Slowly inhale for the count of five; while holding your breath count slowly to three; exhale while s-l-o-w-l-y counting to five. Four-square breathing: exhale while slowly counting to four; hold that four the count of four; inhale slowly while counting to four; hold for four [this is where your body gets best use of oxygen].  Repeat until your mind is off whatever provoked the anxiety.)

I remember a time when my children were in high school and junior high.  I was tired. IPhoto on 11-9-13 at 7.00 AM was cranky. It was dinner time and I was hungry. AND I was starting to act that out toward my kids. My son, Chris (the older), suggested I might want to take 15 minutes to read and have quiet. He sent me to my room!  

I was tickled that he had learned the true purpose of a time out — to calm down, get away from the stimulus that was agitating to me.  I laughingly headed to my bed. I sat for a few moments with my legs up and the book I was reading at that time. And I breathed.

A bit later, my breathing had returned to normal, the emotional load had been lifted from me, and I was again sufficiently filled with resources (physical, mental) to work with the child whose day it was to make dinner safely and lovingly.

Have you realized how grateful I was?  Talk about an “AHA moment”!

So what are you finding brings you pain or is a challenge you’ve yet to overcome?  Need to focus?  May I help you, please?

Unending Love,


Melissa Pazen

Inspired Coaching, Melissa Pazen

39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

Live Inspired: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently! 


Posted in Coaching, Inspired, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do you know your purpose? May I help you, please?

beecher quote-woman-s-great-mission-is-to-train-immature-weak-and-ignorant-creatures-to-obey-the-laws-of-god-catharine-beecher-324296When I began the decade in 2010, I knew I wanted change.  I knew two things:  I love the little ones and I love to love & help.  Here I sit almost four years later and I still know those things.  

I know another, now.  While I call myself ‘inspired’, unless you’re close to me, I don’t share that I mean “God-inspired”.  

It’s time.  I live my life as a woman led by God.  I live my purpose: loving and helping, grab cup and stayby praying for and/or with my coaching clients, if they wish.  

That said, I’m an extremely faithful yet liberal Christian.  I’ve worked with Buddhist clients, helping them to practice their meditation and fulfill their purpose.  I’ve prayed with clients seeking to change careers.  I’ve also worked with clients who didn’t care how I lived my life, they just didn’t want me to put my opinions on them.  Agnostic, atheist, spiritual practice of any type; I’ve worked well with them.  I center myself with God before beginning conversations.

Those whom I can help include those are looking for someone who can bring them along spiritually.  AND while this may alienate a few, I’m hoping it will make it clear to those who might otherwise only be a bit interested in working with me… or think I’m weak or wishy-washy about my faith.

Leading from that, I have room for two pro bono clients.  That is, I do it for good.

For those who know me, if you want to find your purpose and live your life with it, tell me.  Feel free to let those you know who might be in need of my coaching.  If you don’t know me, feel free anyway.   I can coach over the phone, so distance is no obstacle. FaceTime and Skype are options.  If you don’t know my name or number, feel free to send this contact form, substituting your info:   

Do you know your purpose?  If not, or if you want help to live it, give a shout.  

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Live Inspired: pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Posted in Coaching, Inspired | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love the Fool

“I must learn to love the fool in me–the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of my human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my Fool.”

Theodore Isaac Rubin (born 1923);

psychiatrist, author

How true, Doctor Rubin.  We all must!

Perhaps if we do this before having children or by the time they’re four-months old, we can help out children do that, too.  I suspect many mothers wonder whether or not they’ve done a good job in raising our children.  Most of the time, I’m certain I did not a good job, but a great one.  My children are now adults with whom I love to spend time!


My children: Chris (l) and Kate (r) on a Christmas morning!

But sometimes I hear their insecurities, the fact that they don’t love every part of themselves.  Or wish they were different.  And then I think…  this was an area where I was not mindful.  Oh, I told them they were smart, beautiful/handsome, funny…  but I would welcome thoughts on how to help a child to do exactly what Dr. Rubin proposes…


Will you help me?  What do you think helps to build self-love in our children?

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Right to Play

Last night, my cohorts in my women’s group were talking about the busy-ness of this time of year.   How can we get ready to celebrate Christmas if we’re so bogged down with “gottas” and have little time for “wannas”?

I suggested booking time for ourselves on our schedules.  Even 15 minutes is useful.  A half hour is even better.  Listen to music.  Look at things and try for a new perspective.  Close your eyes.  Read.  Pray.  Knit.  Whatever makes you happy.  Whatever makes you loving.  Whatever makes the world a slightly better place.

Today, in the box I grabbed to put my packages for the cookie exchange, I found a small piece of prose.  Bruce Williamson wrote it.  I don’t know where else it was published and I hope I’m not breaking copyright protection.  I found it without the circled C at


Certificate of Lifetime Membership

By this certificate, know all that the holder of this Certificate
is a lifetime member in good standing in The Society of Childlike Persons
and is hereby and forever entitled to:

Walk in the rain, jump in mud puddles, collect rainbows, smell flowers, blow bubbles, stop along the way, build sandcastles, watch the moon & stars come out, say hello to everyone, go barefoot, go on adventures, sing in the shower, have a merry heart, read children’s books, act silly, take bubble baths, get new sneakers, hold hands & hug & kiss, dance, fly kites, laugh & cry for the health of it, wonder around, feel scared, feel sad, feel mad, feel happy, give up worry & guilt & shame, stay innocent, say yes, say no, say the magic words, ask lots of questions, ride bicycles, draw & paint, see things differently, fall down & get up again, talk with animals, look at the sky, trust the universe, stay up late, climb trees, take naps, do nothing, daydream, play with toys, play under the covers, have pillow fights, learn new stuff, get excited about everything, be a clown, enjoy having a body, listen to music, find out how things work, make up new rules, tell stories, save the world, make friends with the other kids on the block and do anything else that brings more happiness, celebration, relaxation, communication, health, love, joy, creativity, pleasure, abundance, grace, self esteem, courage, balance, spontaneity, passion, beauty, peace, and life energy to the above named member and to other humans & beings on this planet.


Further, the above named member is hereby officially authorized to frequent amusement parks, beaches, meadows, mountaintops, swimming pools, forests, playgrounds, picnic areas, summer camps, birthday parties, rodeos, circuses, cookie shops, ice cream parlors, theaters, aquariums, zoos, museums, planetariums, toy stores, festivals, & other places where children of all ages come to play and is encouraged to always remember the motto of The Society of Childlike Persons:

It’s Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood

And, is hereby and forever more appointed as:

Chairperson, Committee on Reminding Everyone That The Secret To The Game Of Life Is Fun.

Funny how that showed up, huh?

Melissa Pazen © 2012

Live Inspired:  think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Over the River, Through the Woods, and Into Dysfunction? No, Thank You, Not Me!

Several years ago, I started telling my family that I’d made other plans for Thanksgiving. It was true. My plans were to avoid my family on the holidays. I simply could not abide the squabbles, the nagging, the insults, the disrespect, the lack of boundaries.

Suffice it to say that my family takes all the fun out of dysfunctional!

And then a few years later, my children told me they wanted to spend holidays with their aunts, uncles and cousins. Really? Yup. So what was a sensible, emotionally intelligent woman to do?

I thought about it for a long time & finally came up with an idea. I invited all to our house. I said there would be a lovely dinner and each of my siblings (or sib’s spouse) could bring one favorite traditional holiday dish. I am delighted to roast a turkey, and I make one that’s moist by stuffing the cavity with fruit & fat (yes, butter). As long as I’m reminded at the proper time, I’ll even make gravy. But I will not serve a meal with five different types of starch. And I declared a truce before anyone stepped foot in the door.

“There will be only comfort and joy in my home. This is the holiday tradition I want my children to remember.”

I was saying that I would absolutely insist we all say only kind things to one another (well, at least NOT to say anything mean-spirited; silence IS golden, after all). I didn’t want anyone exhausted before we sat down to eat.  And I did not care if the football game was watched during dinner.  Uness a niece or nephew was being harmful to self or others, we would let them be (they never have learned how to swing from the chandeliers and I’m childish enough that I have a lot of cool toys in the house). I found some pass-times (mad-libs continues to be a favorite) to give us group tasks.

Mind you, my brothers still need to jibe at one another a bit. Pazens go for the joke at any expense. Sarcasm was taught to us by my parents, at early ages. The “hairy eyeball”, as my husband calls THAT look, and a bit of re-direction can usually cajole them to a kinder, gentler way of interacting.

The only war involves pie crust; it’s over whose is best.

It takes careful planning on my part. The turkey starts to be brined on Tuesday (in the largest cooler I ever found). By the time I go to bed the night before Thanksgiving, the tables are set for dinner, anything that can be cooked ahead and still be tasty is complete.

AND, I always keep looking until I can find people who are not part of our birth family and likely unknown, so that brothers and sister and in-laws alike will feel as if they are in public. It’s amazing how well it works.  I also assign one non-family member to each family member about whom I’m most worried.

I don’t make them tell me for what they’re giving thanks this year. The meal is not perfect nor is my family, but by the time the dishes are done by the teen-agers (Yessir, that’s what I’m talking about!) everyone is relaxed and ready to nap or head home.

If you don’t have time to try this for Thanksgiving this year, you may also try it on Christmas, Easter, and any day you recall as most troublesome.  And let me know how it works for you. And if it doesn’t, either your family is not like mine or you should call me and we’ll make better plans for the next time.

Interestingly, I AM grateful for my family — each member — along with a home, heat, enough to eat, freedom and dogs.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Live Inspired: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Campaign’s Over; What Did We Tell the Kids?

During lunch yesterday (Tue., 11/6/2012), we were talking about how glad we were that election season was almost over.  I’m delighted that I don’t have to watch the mud-slinging between candidates for several offices.  On many recent evenings, we’ve found that a negative ad for one candidate was followed by one for his/her opponent, over and over.

To me, the least attractive aspect of these ads is the message they send to our children.   Once again, what children see on TV doesn’t demonstrate the values that parents’ want to teach to their children.

One of these values is respect.  Those of us who believe human beings are worthwhile are appalled.  I believe we need to teach children to be kind and caring.  These “He’s used his office to better only himself”  and “She’s a cheater” ads are the opposite of how I want my children to speak of others.

Another value is integrity.  With the contradictory statements made by opponents, it’s hard to believe both sides could possibly be telling the truth, statistical spins aside.  We’ve heard a lot about fact checking in this election year.  I want my children to do their research, check the facts and be accurate as well as honest.

Along with freedom, these are the kind of values upon which the US was founded.  I believe in freedom of speech, but wish we would speak the truth.  I wish we would use politeness and be cordial with one another.  I wish we would listen before we strike out at the speaker.

One of my lunch mates noted that she wished each candidate would simply draft a statement of where s/he stands on issues and ignore the opponent.   It sure would make it easier for people like me to choose a candidate and to choose one I could be proud to support!

I read the following quote on election day morning.  It’s from William Ewart Gladstone, a British Statesman in the 19th Century (Prime Minister four times and Chancellor of the Exchecquer) AND one who spoke of dreams similar to my own. His statement is this:

“We look forward to the time when the power of love will replace the love of power.  Then will our world know the blessings of peace.”

I’m raising children who understand the power of love, respect, and integrity.  I’m helping others to do the same.  Join me.

Live Inspired:  think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; forgive easily; laugh frequently; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Essential Parenting Wisdom: “Instead”

(following was presented at the global conference Parenting 2.0 Talks, on August 17, 2012)

In 1991, my son Chris was almost 8; Kate (then insisting she was KaTIE) was 5. Armed with my Master of Social Work degree, I was helping to administer a community mental health agency.

Social Service professionals often don’t like to consider ‘the filthy lucre’ so I did the fund raising.  In March, I was deep into the planning of our annual fund raising event.  It always included an auction, so I’d pick up the children early and we’d collect the donations given to the agency.

One lovely day, as I arrived at the day care center to get the children, I was greeted by KaTIE who handed me a colorful, abstract drawing on card stock.  “Here Mama,” she said “It’s for the auction!”    Well, the art may not have been Picasso, but it certainly touched me.

And then a shoe dropped as I thought,  “How can we sell this at the auction?”  Katie needs to know this is valued!

I blithely went to a local framer and asked for something inexpensive, yet classy, as a donation.  She laughed and was happy to comply.  I picked it up a week later.  It was charming!  And on the back, my darling wrote “Hope you like it!”  and signed it in CURSIVE “Katie 4.4.91”

How many of you in the audience have more than one child – raise your hand if you do.  (Melissa raises her hand to model)  Uhuh.  How many of you would NOT have a dilemma on your hand if one child spontaneously gave something and the other hadn’t even considered it?

Yes, Chris was disappointed that he hadn’t thought of it first,  “I want to give something too, but I’m not a good artist!”

“Well, Sweet Heart, let’s think about what you ARE good at doing, INSTEAD?”

I don’t recall whether or not it was his first idea… often it’s about the 2nd or 3rd or 27th idea!  Here’s what he decided: his best skill/talent at the time was reading.  He would read a book into a recorder and then the book and recording would be the auction lot.

I approached the local independent bookstore and asked if they’d be willing to donate a children’s book.  Asbolutely, up to $10 value.

Chris got to choose the book and selected Caps for Sale, written By Esphyr Slobodkina (the name is pronounced ess-FEER sloh-BOD-kee-nah).   We had some technical challenges, like how to let the reader/auditor who was following along know when the page was turned (I think we found a bell), and the book & recording were finally packaged the ready for the night of the event.

I could tell you more of the story but let’s stop there.   My essential wisdom, my gift to you today is “INSTEAD”.   This panel is about communication yet I believe “INSTEAD” is a revolutionary concept to have in your trick bag that leads children to have amazing ability.  There are truly very few limits to the human spirit; and thoughtful, deliberate parents can lead their children to stretch those limits.

Raising children with excellent life skills, to me, is all about plan B…  sometimes all the way to plan X.  Thomas Alva Edison, who the Americans credit as the discoverer of the way to harness electricity said “I haven’t failed; I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”  My next sentence is almost always “OK, then, what can we do instead?

When I was invited to address this group, I knew I wanted to talk about “Instead” because, to me, it’s the basis for teaching ALL Life Skills.  And I couldn’t come up with a thing that I hadn’t already posted in a P20 Discussion.  So, “instead,” I dropped an email to my children, now 29 and 26.  Who would know better than they what the philosophy is all about and how it guides children?  I reached Kate by phone.  She said she’d been thinking about this ever since I dropped her the note.  She had two stories.  I chose this one.

She said it illustrates for her what can come of guiding our children while allowing them to be who they are.  It brings out the best in them.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

One Sick Puppy…

Have you needed to talk with your children about death?  How have you handled these types of situations?  What’s worked and what hasn’t?

Mr. Magoo (one of our dogs, aka Googoo) needed to be put down this morning.  When I got home, our neighbors Chloe (9) and Ryan (6) were in the back yard with their mother, Andrea.   They listened carefully as I explained kidney failure and the process of putting an animal ‘down’.

I’ve learned from books and experience that honest communication with children, in words they understand, is best.  That’s no surprise, right?   Our conversation went just about like this:

me:              Hi Andrea and Ryan; how are you?

Andrea:       Fine Ms. Lissa how are you?

me:              Not good.  <sniff>

Andrea:       What’s wrong?

me:              Mr. Steve and I just came home from the Animal House (Note:  honest, that’s our vet’s practice’ name).

Andrea:        Oh no!  What happened?

me:              It seems Googoo had been keeping his age from us (note:  he was found at an adult age).  He’d been very sick the last few days and the doctor couldn’t make him well again.

Ryan:            What was wrong?

me:              There are these things in your body called kidneys.  It’s their job to keep your blood cleaned out.  When you go to the bathroom, you get rid of the junk the kidneys cleaned out.  Goo’s kidneys weren’t working any more and the junk couldn’t get cleaned out.  We decided with the doctor that since Goo wasn’t ever going to feel well again, we should put him down; put him to sleep.

Chloe:           So what did you do?

me:               Mr. Steve and I went to say good-bye, because we loved him so much. The doctor came in and gave him a sedative so he was really sleepy.  Then she waited a little while longer and gave him enough sedative to stop his heart.

Ryan:              Where is he now?

me:                  In heaven, that’s what I want to think.  His body got left at the vet’s office and they’ll take care of it.

Chloe:              I loved Googoo.  He was my favorite.

me:                   Mine too, but don’t tell Daisy or Buddy!

Chloe:              I won’t!

me:                  Ryan, what book were you reading?

and we went on with the conversation about our days.

I think this went pretty well and the children seemed satisfied.  I’m not sure why I said he’s in heaven, except that playing with dogs is my definition of a heavenly time.   I’m eager to know what you think.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Was it My Eyes that Were Examined?


“We will always learn what we have chosen to teach.  ‘Ideas leave not their source’ which is why we are always a part of God, and why our ideas are always a part of us.”  ~ Marianne Williamson

Yesterday, I drove from gentle Geneva to chagrinning Chicago.  I’ve probably been to ten optometrists during my 51 years of wearing prescriptive lenses.  I drive the 45 miles to see Michael Ciszek, OD, the best optometrist I’ve met and one of my very best friends.  Seriously, he’s been honored with awards and is very talented!

I had last trekked to Clark Street and Foster Ave. in 2010; lately I’ve been hurting my neck trying to get my eyes to the proper level to read the computer screen.  It was time!

Since marrying Steve-o (if I’ve not introduced him, he’s the spouse in my house, and I love him dearly), I’ve headed in to see Michael as half of our pair; two of us in the car, talking or not as couples do.  This year, Steve was busy and didn’t want/need to have his eyes checked.

Yesterday, I went alone.

As is my way when I’m alone, the car is my monastery.  During the drive, I visually focus on the road and psychologically focus on all things spiritual.  I talk a little bit (inside my head) and listen for inspiration.  I was having a wonderful mystical time, praying for those God brought to my mind and thanking God for remembrances triggered by the sights.

Then I exited the Kennedy at Lawrence Ave. and at the top of the ramp as I stopped, I glided past a woman with a folded up piece of cardboard under her arm.

PSYCHIC JOLT:  I remember this!  When I lived in the city, my budget included five dollars ($5) per week for those working harder than I do by darting in traffic, holding a pithy explanation and a pitiful plea. Some weeks the first beggar got all five singles (kept in glove compartment in an envelope); sometimes less was given.  This was one of my ways of fueling the economy; some merchant must have made a sale due to my tiny ‘largesse’, and I chose not to be the judge of which, the liquor store or grocery store of the closes fast-food establishment.  (Once I even happened to come into one who was in MacDonald’s and one of my regulars.  He told me he had made enough money the previous day to sleep in a sleazy motel the night before.  He had luxuriated in the shower the morning I saw him!)

If I carry more cash, I spend more.  Therefore, I usually only am ‘loaded’ if I know I will need.

So “short story long”, I serenely stopped at the light, pushed the power window-down button and said in my least threatening voice “Hey, whatcha doin’?”

“Trying to survive!  I’m waiting for my disability to come through for two years,” she replied.

(Nota bene:  I am liberal, you need not agree with me, gentle reader.  Besides, I seldom have the opportunity these days.)

I told her I used to carry cash all the time for these occasions when I lived in the city, and haven’t needed to do so for several years. reached in my purse, cleverly concealed between the captain seats in my ‘mommy-van’, and found I had three singles…  nothing more.  I handed these to her and told her I’m hopeful that all will be well for her.  She thanked me and I continued on my way.

At ‘Visionary Eyecare’, Michael’s business, my eyes and vision were carefully examined, a new prescription was provided and I made plans to collect my new correction in a few weeks.

I headed home, encountered a man in worse shape than the previous woman on the streets and fished .53 from the well between the cup holders.  He admired my 13-year old Buddy (I’ll tell you about Buddy another time, if you remind me.).


As I sit here this morning, in my warm home with my fabulous new-to-me iMac (thank you Christopher, you’re the best son a mother could want), and a reheated cup of coffee, God brought these two street people back to my mind.

Comment yourselves silly, if you disagree with my action.  I know I live in a conservative area now.  I’m blessed with clean streets and little need to see those who for whatever reason are less fortunate than I.

Jesus (whose way I try to follow) chided his disciples for not listening to him once, we’re told, by saying “The poor will always be with you.”  Sorry “Jeez” (as I called him at age four walking into church); that’s not very hopeful.  So I not have made a difference for the universe yesterday; but as for the woman (and the man) I encountered…  made a difference for that one.

I believe my vision was corrected yesterday, perhaps even more than my eyesight.

Live inspired!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Helping your child develop self-discipline

Many experts debate whether or not to discipline or punish children.  I wish more parents were equally concerned with raising a child who has integrated self-discipline.

Here’s the thing, I’m overweight (we won’t go into numbers, now, will we?) and somehow I cannot discipline myself about what food (or how much of it) I put in my mouth.  I’m not still blaming my parents, I’ve managed to become disciplined in other areas.  I think if I’d learned to discipline myself by the time I was nine or ten years old, I’d not need to continually struggle over weight.

As another example, I’m punctual, but only because it’s really important to my husband and I feel it respectful to be on-time for clients and friends.

So, enough self-disclosure, let’s think about how to help a child develop internal discipline.

Consistency and normalcy are key

There are many children who believe what happens in their nuclear family happens everywhere…  because they’ve only ever lived in that familial culture.

“Five rules followed 100% of the time beats ten rules followed 50% of the time.”

Consider whether or not it matters

If lights out at 8:00 p.m. is critical for your child’s mood the following day, so be it.  If you have a child with a low sleep need, this may not be one of your rules…

Expect a normal child (i.e., don’t expect more than your child can deliver)

A child’s social development to follow ‘rules’ starts at approximately the age of three-years old.  If your child is developing quickly, your child may internalize or learn rules earlier.  Chances are the rules you care most about are the last to be learned.

Assume good intentions 

At least for the first time, chances are your child DOESN’T know better.  Eventually the child will know better, but by then s/he could be away at college.  (See above)

Emotions often muddy the issue:  stay calm

You wanted your child to do x, your child did y or the opposite of x.  You’re disappointed; You’re angry;You’ve gone over this 27,000,000,000 times before and that kid STILL doesn’t do as you’ve asked.

If you act out your emotions, all the child learns is how to be emotional.

Use a time out — together

Ask the child to take time WITH you and focus on this.  And take the time needed to calm your child, sit together to talk, get the child oriented to this subject.

Even though they remember what you forgot to put on the grocery list, it’s hard for them (yes really) before the age of seven- or eight-years old to practice self-control and internalize all the rules.

Avoid punishment unless it’s necessary

When you explain and guide – even if that means YOU do the bulk of whatever it is that’s needed, the importance of the task is stressed.  The more routine it becomes, the easier it will be for your child.  Ultimately this becomes internalized and your child will practice self-discipline.

If you don’t want your child to hurt others physically, eliminate physical punishment.

If you believe punishment must be used, the ‘sentence’ should suit the ‘crime’.  If your emotions might be getting the best of you, check yourself.

Now, do you think I never lay hands on my children?  Ask me about the time my 2 year old son darted between cars into the street.  He was so excited to be going!  He wiggled away from me and headed for our car — across the street.  Thank goodness, he was not hit by a car.  However, when it became clear that reasoning wasn’t going to make any impact, I calmly told him I would demonstrate what a car could do to him.  He got a very hard smack to his posterior.  Oh, did that get through to him!

Feel free to talk to the experts about punishing a child or disciplining your offspring and whether or not these are useful.  I’ll be over here, trying to teach children how to grow up to become self-disciplined adults.

Live inspired!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Charles Schulz Philosophy

(Disclaimer:  I took this from an email I received; I did NOT write it.  However, I like it so much that I want to share it with you and this is the only way I know to do it.)

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip.

You don’t have to actually answer the questions. Just ponder them.
Just read the straight through, and you’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

None of us remember the headliners of yesterday.   Now, these are not second-rate achievers.  They are the best in their fields.  But the applause dies; awards tarnish; achievements are forgotten; accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people with whom you enjoy spending time.


The lesson:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards.

They simply are the ones who care the most.  Pass this on to those people who have either made a difference in your life,
or whom you keep close in your heart.

”Be Yourself. Everyone Else Is Taken!” ~ Oscar Wilde

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Children, families and holidays — a musing

Yesterday, I baked traditional Christmas cookies.  My sister invites everyone in my family.  I was joined by my sister, her daughter, my daughter and her beloved, two of my brothers, one sister-in-law and nieces/nephews.

Baking these cookies is something I love doing.  We make several recipes from the Scandinavian Cookbook, published in 1955.  I have my mother’s original copy.  My sister found one as an adult that is in much better shape than mine.

Mandelspritsar (almond spritz cookies), pepparkakor (ginger cookies), and pecan crescents dusted with powdered sugar come from this cookbook.  We also make “Mrs. Price’s Cutout Cookies”.  These have cream of tartar that makes them taste what I’ve always called ‘ashy’; if a cutout cookie tastes ‘ashy’, it reminds me of my childhood!

My niece and sister-in-law laughed about how the cookies need to be placed neatly and evenly spaced on the baking sheets.  They call it “the Pazen way” — we always want to make things just a little bit better.  We were raised in the “continuous improvement model.”

*  *  *

On Saturday, my friend Nae-Nae planned a ‘footie pajama parade’.  This started when she & her kids went to see The Muppets Movie in footie-pajamas.  Then it grew to a parade wearing jams and bringing jams for a child.   There IS a Santa Claus for the children who’ll get the footie-pajamas.

Last night, Sixty Minutes commented on a a story they had broadcast two weeks ago on homeless children in Central Florida.  These children lived in cars and campers.  They cleaned up in gas station bathrooms before school.  Their parents were out of work and the shelters were at capacity.

The follow up is that viewers had donated more than $1,000,000 toward solving this problem.  People offered work for the parents, all of whom now have jobs.  Housing for them has been secured, using the donated money.  Colleges have given scholarships to the children. There IS a Santa Claus for these children.

*  *  *

This morning, my friend Mary told me she, her daughter & niece had taken the children ‘essentially abandoned’ by her nephew to the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights.  They’d gone out to dinner and she’d bought the three children winter coats and boots.  She managed to extract Christmas wish lists from the children and will fulfill the requests.  There IS a Santa Claus, where Mary’s concerned!  There IS a Santa Claus for her three great-nephews.

The pathos of these children touches my heart.  Their mother isn’t stable, but has total custody of these three children, by default.  She does well enough with them that she will continue.

*  *  *

I remember the words of The Rock Will Wear Away, written by Holly Near:

Can we be like drops of water falling on the stone
Splashing, breaking, dispersing in air
Weaker than the stone by far but be aware
That as time goes by the rock will wear away
And the water comes again

This holiday season, I pray for joy for all children.  I pray that every will know that s/he is loved beyond the wildest imagining — no hunger, no exposure to extreme cold without proper clothing, a secure and acceptable place to live.

Let us be the drops of water, as are the people who paraded, those who buy coats, boots & Christmas presents for family in need, those who responded to Sixty Minutes.   And let us do it throughout the year.  It should be much more than just “the Pazen way”; it should be “everybody’s way”.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Habits/values adolescents need to have in order to manage money

It’s my philosophy is that it’s easier to help toddlers develop habit than adolescents. That’s why I center my practice on soon-to-be and young families. AND I am delighted that human abilities include the capability to change. With that, I’m happy to list these values/attributes I believe adolescents need in order to manage their finances.

1. Respect for resources and belongings: Take care of what you have and you won’t need to replace it as quickly. Reduce, re-use, recycle.

2. Respect for self & others: Benjamin Franklin said “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Before it’s time to go out on one’s own, developing good habits show you respect yourself and your abilities.

3. Respect for self & others: No whining! If you don’t have the money, you don’t have the money.

4. Discipline: review income (allowance, earnings, gifts) and determine percentage of each to save. (I work more with parents and suggest they model good money management and be honest with your child about decisions to save/spend and choices among purchases.

5. Discipline: avoid frivolous expenditures if there are bills to pay or more important expenditures to come in soon.

6. Responsibility: While family and friends can help you budget, you’re in charge of your money — now AND later! Learn this now and your credit rate will be better.

7. Flexibility: So you planned and saved to buy something. Then an unforeseen expense comes along. Growing up means dealing with the things that “happen while you were making other plans.”

8. Attitude of Gratitude and Abundance: Especially in the US, we’re beyond fortunate. So many of us have more than we need. Recognize that what you have is good and make a point of keeping a gratitude journal or stating thanks to keep yourself and your desires in perspective.

9. Charity: Even if you have only a dollar, a few pennies can be given to others. Again, we’re very fortunate. You probably know others who aren’t.

10. Deal with Reality and make Realistic Goals: While you may not have everything you want today. A realistic appraisal of your skills and abilities will allow you to plan your life, (and your money). You most likely can be anything you want to be. It will take work, but nobody ever said life was meant to be easy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Integrity is the sound follow through of your heart, and an important part in the process of manifesting what it is that you aspire to…  Don’t lie to yourself and to others, follow through. Complete yourself. Expand your consciousness.”
― Will Barnes

“So,” you think, “I wonder what Melissa did to resolve the conflict?”  (As you’ll note in my previous post, I had a nasty interchange with another volunteer when I had arrived to do my monthly task, and I haven’t gone off like that in YEARS.)

I did write an email of apology for my behavior and explained what had set me off.  And a week later, I was still feeling horrible when I saw the other volunteer (fortunately, across a crowded room).  I took the coward’s way out at that point and slinked (slunk?) away.  I then went to the person who often finds the volunteers for this organization and asked if I could set time to speak with her.

During our meeting, I kept saying “I totally can understand someone else being tense.  What I’m agonizing over is how to resolve this.”

Wisdom struck, and my ‘advisor’ suggested I simply smile the next time.  She suggested, essentially, I get over it.  (And I’m the queen of saying “I’m over it.” when someone else makes a mistake; I really do try to rebound quickly.)

Wonderfully, by the time I got home from the conversation, the mail had been delivered.  A card with an apology from the other volunteer was included, with an explanation of what led to the tension.

I wrote back to the volunteer; with gratitude.  I’m glad it’s over!

How do YOU handle mistakes, tiffs, and situations like this?  Feel free to post a reply!

Posted on by inspiredcoachpazen | Leave a comment

Conscious Awareness? A True Confession

“You cannot change what people say, think, or do.  But you can change the way you react to it.”

~ Corina Kinsmore; Entrepreneur, Marketing Professional, Personal Development and Success Education Mentor, Lifestyle Coach; Victoria, Australia

I preach planning and measuring your words before saying them. I suggest people attempt to be mindful, purposeful, consciously aware. I suggest people practice situations that have led to undesirable behavior in case it happens again.

Oh, if only I’d practiced what I preach for yesterday.

Will you read through this and let me know what you would suggest?

I walked into a room to do a volunteer task I perform monthly.  The woman with whom I normally work is a joy; smart, funny, organized, patient and flexible!  She was out of town and I’d been asked to sit in with someone who used to do her job.

From the moment I entered, everything felt wrong.  The person who used to do her job seemed agitated and possibly, disapproving of me.  Now, I can’t tell you it was all the fault of the other.  I merely know it seemed I was acting off of a VERY old script that culminating in the other screaming at me.

I came home in a total emotional shamble.  Worse, I don’t know this person well enough to know what to do.  I talked to my dear husband, Steve.  I cried.  I said I should apologize for my behavior (not believing I was the total cause, but believing that adults who feel disquieted by their actions feel better after expressing it).  Steve said “forget about it”.

I did write an email of apology for my behavior and explained what had set me off.

And this morning, reading Corina’s statement, I find myself thinking I need to be more mindful of situations that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Trying to look forward (instead of dwelling on the guilt), I’m planning what to do if I ever find myself in such a situation again.  In Social Work school, I was taught that classical problem solving calls for flushing out all solutions.

  • be honest and state my discomfort
  • sit quietly and do my task, praying/repeating mantra until the task is complete
  • excuse myself earlier or find a way to break the tension earlier -send the link to this blog to the person
  • consider anxiety medication or treatment, go back into therapy
  • move to another country

I know I’m only human –  weak and flawed – not one to attempt perfection, but only to strive to be a bit better.

The first three ‘solutions’ seem as if they’d sit best with me, but what do you think?  I’d love your thoughts!  Please comment on this one!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Ten Ways to Help Your Child Develop Self-Discipline

Last week, I led a discussion at a back-to-school brunch on self-discipline.  Sometimes parents don’t realize that things we do lead our children toward adulthood.  Following are ten tips that are especially helpful.

  1. Teach your infant/toddler to respond when you call.  Likewise, when your child calls your name, respond immediately.  You may say “Just a moment, please; I’m in the middle of something.”  But if you hear your name, model immediate response, whatever the response may be.
  1. Give your child your full attention when s/he speaks to you; children can tell if you’re not looking or listening.  Likewise, expect your child to stop and look/listen to you.  (This is also a basis for helping your child have respect for self and others.)
  1. Help your child to make transitions.  Know that almost all children make transitions better if they are given a warning a few minutes before the change is required.  “We’ll need to leave in five minutes.  Start getting ready!” is a typical warning.  Some children need a five minute, three minute, and one minute warning.  However, don’t string out the time and leave later than you planned.  If your child has difficulty with transitions, you’ll find warning your child, and then going through the preparation process together will help.
  1. Bed-time is usually an opportunity for your child to practice self-discipline.  Keeping in mind your child’s temperament, observe how your child “winds down” or prepares for sleep.  Some are worn out and ready to sleep, others want to be up ‘just a little longer’.  A very tired child may not need special activities before bed.  An excited child may need quiet games/books/activities in the evening in order to be able to settle him- or herself.  By following the same process at the same time daily, your child will develop the habits.  Bathing or wash face/ brush teeth, pajamas, book or story are all examples of what your child’s bedtime routine may include.  Be aware: some children need/want parental accompaniment during this time until they are far older than others.
  1. Set expectations for a self-disciplined lifestyle:  clean up one game/task (yes, you can help; great modeling!) before going on to the next; put away all toys before bed; once in school, make the backpack ready for the morning before bed.
  1. Teach your child to tell time as early as possible!  In many cultures, humans live by the clock and show respect by honoring agreed-upon times.  Three year olds can learn to use the clock for timing intervals.  The old-fashioned (analog) clock led us to say “The long hand is on the three, we need to leave when it’s on the five” or “dinner should be ready when the long hand is on the twelve; keep an eye on the clock and wash your hands when the long hand is on the ten”.  With digital clocks, it’s easier!  As soon as your child recognizes the numbers on the clock, you can begin.
  1. Help your child make good use of time.  I grew up knowing how long ½ hour and one hour were because that’s how long TV shows lasted!  My children learned about time and smaller increments, and then we started timing them.  How long does it take to make your bed? (This also leads to the basics for subtraction.)  How long does it take to make your lunch?  How long does it take to shower? Once your child understands how long things take when focusing on the task your child will understand why he/she needs to start a certain number of minutes before something else can happen.
  1. Look at your own special and unique child.  Think about the outcome you want.  Think about what will cause that outcome.  Plan to make it happen.  Help your child to organize until your child organizes automatically.  Some parents find charts with steps in the process help; find your own best method!
  1. Be consistent and firm.  Be confident and calm.
  1. Lead and engage your child through this development process.  Using love and respect, taking the time to work through this with your child, you’ll find that of course, your child can do this!

If any of these tips lead to questions, feel free to send email to me at



Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Encouraging Cooperation

Wherever there are two or more people gathered, there can be a difference in opinion.  How we handle the differences is important and an amazing thing to observe.  Cooperation is a cornerstone for living in a civilized society and part of a parent’s job is ‘civilizing’ or ‘socializing’ the children.  It integrates and demonstrates respect for others as equals.

Some of us are too concerned with taking care of ourselves.  Others don’t practice self-care and may end up as door mats.  Both of these are rooted in what we learned when we were very young.  You can save your child years of difficulty by encouraging the give and take needed in a healthy family.

I met Melanie when I was ten.  She came to the door of our house and said she’d heard a girl her age had just moved into the house.  Very true, I am one day younger than Melanie!  We were close all the way through high school, worked at the same part-time job our junior and senior years, and stay close friends today even though we live more than 1,500 miles away from one another.

But, as youngsters, we disagreed quite a bit.  And if one of us didn’t want to cooperate with the other, we’d argue or turn a cold shoulder.  At least I, maybe Mel too, had already learned selfishness as self-preservation.  I hadn’t yet learned how to settle the differences between us.

Today, I am in awe of my daughter and Sabrina, her best friend since first grade.  (They are currently 25 years old.)  Both girls were shy and their teacher thought they might do well together.  Wow!  Did they ever!  These girls were practically like two peas in a pod and they benefitted greatly from one another’s company!  And still they just plain ‘get along’ with each other.  Perhaps it’s just that they are SO alike.  Maybe it’s because they’d learned respect.  Maybe it’s because they had both learned to trust, take turns and to cooperate.

Humans are born with the desire to relate with one another.  By fostering an infant’s desire to relate and to be happy together, you will raise a child who trusts.  Stemming from that trust, your child will enjoy cooperating.

First, your child needs to have his/her needs met.  The infant learns from this that you care to remove the source of discomfort or distress.  A new-born almost certainly needs your attention when s/he cries.  The new-born can’t resolve difficulties alone; your assistance is needed.  By responding to your infant quickly, you teach your child to trust you.  When your child trusts you, your child will be more likely to cooperate with adult requests.

Even at an age between six and twelve months, your child can be guided to share and cooperate by being placed on a blanket on the floor with toys.  It there’s a second child, sometimes two of the same toy is helpful.  Letting the children lie on their tummies and trade off and watch each other in ‘parallel play’ is one way of encouraging it.  I’m the type who will lie of the floor and play in parallel, trying to engage the infant.

By the time your child becomes a toddler, if you’ve been trustworthy, you’ll find your child likes to copy what you do.  Share toys and items with your child.  Invite your toddler to help you put things away after playing, “We need to clean up the toys and then we can have lunch.  Do you think you can carry this to the toy-box and I’ll get the ball and the elephant?”.  Expect cooperation.  You’ll probably get it!  That said, toddlers continue to be governed by their physical states:  an hungry or tired tot doesn’t have the energy to cooperate.  So, choose your times wisely!

Three year olds are more independent.  So, if you’re starting with a child who is already this age, be prepared to occasionally see a lack of cooperation.  It’s no cause for concern on your part; it’s actually a good sign that your child is beginning to know that you are two individuals.  Be patient and in a few minutes try again to make a game out of the task.  Working puzzles together or rolling a ball are effective ways to start, especially if your child has chooses the activity.

When you cooperate with your child, you’re demonstrating the behavior you want to see.  Modeling is the strongest teacher for children.  When my children were school age, we’d make a game out of putting clean laundry in the proper drawers.  First, we’d have a ‘sock-athon’ in which we’d see who could find the most pairs.  The other child and I would clap for the winner.  Then the socks and underwear would get sorted, “Who wears these socks?  Whose under-roos are these?”  Finally, we’d take all of Chris’ to his room and put them away, then all of Katie’s to her room and put them away, then to my room to put mine away.  There was always a lot of giggling when I tried to put my underwear in their drawers. This was one of the ways in which I helped my children understand that we all have responsibilities.

Talk your children through the process of cooperation.  Explain why they need to work with you or help each other out.  When my pre-schooler and one-year old started to fight over something instead of sharing, I’d sing the song from Sesame Street.  They soon both knew that cooperation means working together and helping each other out.  There’s solid reasons for cooperation and it’s amazing how early children can grasp the concept and put it into practice.

Pointing out examples of others cooperating, reinforces that the practice of cooperation is well-accepted; it’s the norm in our society.  And a respectful parent uses the words please and thank you with the child, or at least doesn’t order the child around without using good manners.

I continued to find ways to help my children cooperate and become responsible.  When they were ages of nine and six; my children each had one night each week on which to plan dinner and helped to prepare it.  Chris ‘cooked’ on Wednesday and Katie was in charge of Thursday.  Each would decide what we would have for dinner and get it out of the freezer and to thaw it in the microwave, if necessary.  Dinner needed to include a protein, a starch and at least a fruit or vegetable.  It could be more, but those three were basic.

Chris was ready at that age to take on oven-fried chicken, with my assistance putting the pan in the oven and taking it out.  Thawing three boneless, skinless breasts then shaking them in cornflake crumbs was fun for him.  We’d add french fries from a bag or I’d slice potatoes and cook them the same way as the chicken.  With broccoli or green beans, the kids were happy.

Katie liked ‘picnics’ at first.  Cheese and crackers with apples delighted her, and required no knives or stoves/ovens.  The same was true for any pre-sliced meat from the deli or a left-over meat that I sliced.  Katie also was a fan of pastas.  Tortellini or ravioli with pesto made her happy and served with spinach or carrots, we had a good meal.

Again I remind you, children raised to be cooperative succeed in pre-school, social situations and their entire lives.  It’s one of the habits that makes people like-able.  Most adults agree they like to be asked to help others.  We like to be needed.  If they hadn’t learned cooperation, that simply wouldn’t be the case.

Live inspired!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Humans don’t do nothing

When I studied early childhood education, I learned that telling a child “Don’t…” leaves the child with uncertainty.  But being directive (“Do…”) guides the child.  So, I learned to substitute for “Stop running!” with “WALK!” repeated until the child heard and did as I asked.

As the child grows and develops, the introduction of critical thinking helps the child to solve this problem or uncertainty.  “I don’t want you to run in the house, it’s dangerous for you and for my pretty things.  What could you do instead of running?”

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and Lent has started.  Whether you’re spiritual or not, I believe you’ll find that having a substitute helps you to avoid falling back into a habit you’re trying to unlearn. Nature abhores a vacuum.  Humans don’t do nothing.  So whether you’re trying to quit smoking, give up sweets for Lent, or get rid of the obstacles that prevent success, try considering the positive opposite of what you’ve been doing.

  • What would be a good thing to do instead of having a cigarette?
  • What could you do when you want a cookie?
  • If you don’t spend time watching TV on playing Farmville or sitting around fretting, how could you use the time to take your business to the next level?

I recall a marvelous list of suggestions that I first heard a few years ago in the context of ‘celebrating Lent’:

“Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal Truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.”

– William Arthur Ward
(American author, teacher and pastor, 1921-1994.)

If I focus on the feasting on good things, I can trick myself into not even noticing that I’m fasting.  And that, to me, seems like a very good idea.

I plan to practice these types of things ‘throughout these forty days’. Maybe you could too.  It’s certainly a long enough time to build a new habit.  And you know, the time’s going to pass anyway!

Live inspired!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My philosophy: “Instead”

If you want your child to be the best he or she can be, be your child’s mentor — not adversary.    Be an active parent, set goals and consider parenting a full-time job.

Some of us have been fortunate enough to have been raised with respect, in which case you most likely have self-esteem and may not need to read this article.   The rest of us can integrate respect into our personalities with practice.  Consider the cordial nature with which you relate to strangers.  Then, practice carrying that way of relating to your nearest and dearest.

Realize that there is no ownership in your relationship with your child.  Your child is a totally different and valuable human being, and if you treat your child as valuable, self-esteem will grow on its own.

This does not mean that your child gets to do whatever s/he wishes.  Additionally, your method of setting limits and helping your child to learn to make good decisions independently is what “parenting” is all about.

A parent needs to be mindful of what a child must learn at certain ages.  For example, one of the skills to be mastered by a six- to twelve-month-old is to release something he has grasped.  (The grasp is called the palmar reflex; you’ll see it immediately after birth.  When a new-born child’s hand is relaxed and open, stroke the palm.  The infant automatically grasps at the stimulus.)

While it seems simple to you and me, watch the six- to twelve-month-old child.  Until ‘release’ is in the baby’s neurological trick bag, letting go is random.  Then slowly, the baby releases by reaching for something else.  (Spilling is common for this age.)  Finally, the child learns to release with no other stimulus and can gently let go of objects.

If you watch a child at this age, you’ll note that the baby seems to enjoy playing a game we called “into and out of” – especially with really fun things like the garbage (if left where the child can reach it.).  When I noticed my son crawling toward a waste basket or the kitchen trash, I’d grab a plastic bowl and small, harmless items (spoons work well).  Then, I’d engage him in a game of transferring the items in and out of the bowl.

I never said “NO” (or worse “no, no, no”) to my son nor to my daughter; I substituted a developmental activity INSTEAD.  My children are adults now and they will tell you that I’d make the substitute sound fun and say “why don’t we ___(fill in the blank)___ instead?”

Building on the example above, if you were to ask a five-month-old to give you what she’s holding, you’d be wasting your breath.  But, knowing that the child has no notion of what you’re asking, you could begin to practice cooperation by saying “May I have that, please?”  and gently prying her fingers open.  Then, through positive reinforcement (“Wow!  Thank you!”) you can start laying the groundwork for kindness between your child and yourself, between your child and others.  For a six- to twelve-month-old, try to exchange items.  (“I’ll give you these ___, if you’ll give me that ___.”)  You’ll be helping your child to learn to release and to get along well in the world.

A child who shares and cooperates is a child who feels comfortable that there are enough resources for everyone.  But realize, the path to becoming comfortable is paved with experiences.  Direct your child in a positive way.  A child who won’t share or cooperate may be a child who has already learned that items will be taken away and not returned.

Truly, tell your child what you want him to do.  Avoid telling your child what you DON’T want.  A child told to listen to the music will understand what you want;  A child told to shut up won’t know to listen, only that you’re displeased and disrespectful.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“Ask for What You Want”… great post

Check out:

my friend, Lynn Baldwin-Rhoades, is an amazing marketing guru and social networker.  She’s been an inspiration to me and I’m delighted to know her!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Loved this! “How to Comfort a Crying Woman” from WikiHow

Men can be baffled by women’s explanations of how they should react to something they see as a simple problem that will eventually solve itself without their intervention. Yet, how wrong this assumption is!

If you’re a man who desperately needs to be told how to handle your girlfriend when the floodgates open with no warning, follow these instructions. Keep in mind that you may need to omit or repeat some steps, and no matter what else, always be courteous. If you’re a man who simply wants to be prepared in the event of a crying female coworker or friend flinging herself at you with apparent intent to drown, then you will also find help from these steps. And finally, but not least, if you’re a woman, you might want to show this to all the men in your life on whom you may end up crying at some point. They will thank you.
Keep in mind that this article is not intended to be sexist in any way; rather, it seeks to demystify one of life’s often poorly understood realities by providing a lighthearted but sensible explanation of how you can help when a woman is crying on you. (Editor’s note:  It really is a fabulous spoof on wikiHow!)


If a woman decides to cry on you, let it happen. If she’s not already your girlfriend, be aware that this means you may have a chance with this particular woman, since women tend to select males they can cry on as potentially viable mates. If the woman is comfortable enough with touching you to bury her face in your shoulder or chest and pour out all of her emotions on you, then she may be comfortable enough to touch you under other circumstances,

Whatever you do, do not try to stop her from crying. She will just divert the tears to storage for later. Let her cry as long as she wants. Be aware that when a woman is crying on your shoulder or chest, time slows down to less than 50 percent of normal speed. It may seem like she is crying on you for an hour, but many women do not have the stamina to actually do so, because they avoid crying as much as they can. If you look at any clock, you will notice that very few women are capable of crying for more than 20 to 30 minutes.

If the woman crying on you is not your girlfriend and your girlfriend is watching another woman cry on you:

Pat the crying female awkwardly on one shoulder, and do not in any circumstance embrace her. You may still let her cry on you, but do not give any indication that you are enjoying this or are experiencing any emotions other than surprise and act thoroughly bewildered at this uninvited gesture.

If your girlfriend is watching you or the other female with narrowed eyes, raised hackles, or her tail is thrashing from side to side, it is recommended that you make a panicked expression and mouth the words “I don’t know where this woman came from or why she is crying on me” and make some small effort to dislodge the errant female. If the small effort does not work, resign yourself to being cried upon by the stranger and get your side of an argument ready about how you are a gentleman, and it would have been very impolite to deny the stranger woman your shoulder to cry on.

Also, tell your girlfriend that you will do the same for her if she ever needs to cry, with the addition of back rubs and chocolate. That should get you out of your girlfriend’s wrath zone.

If the woman is your girlfriend, first think back through the past few minutes and try to determine what you did/said/thought to upset her. If you find it, apologize and embrace her. Stop doing that behavior immediately and never do it again. If not, think back through the past day. If you still can’t find anything you may have done, said, or thought to upset her, then you may, in fact, not be the problem. But you can be part of the solution! This is where the real technique comes in.

Have a handkerchief ready, but do not use it until the woman has stopped crying, unless she appears to be drowning in her tears.  To let her wade in a sea of tears and an unsightly runny nose would be very un-gentlemanly.

If you are somewhat familiar with this woman, it is usually acceptable to pat or rub her upper back a few times during her crying attack. Always rub between the shoulder blades, and never, ever let your hand stray within snapping distance of any breast-restraint devices she may be wearing. If you are very, very familiar with the woman, you may rub her lower back. Never, ever, ever go lower than her waist. If you grab a buttock accidentally, prepare to be slapped. Also be prepared to be known as a pervert by everyone in this woman’s social circle. If you touch any of these “no-zones”, even accidentally, you deserve the punishment.


When the woman appears to be running out of tears, it is acceptable to either embrace her gently and quickly around the shoulders if you are familiar, or gather her to your chest if you two are intimate. This helps to squeeze out any leftover tears, and you may experience a temporary increase in crying from the woman. This is completely normal, and nothing to be worried about. If this happens, it is acceptable to murmur something to the line of “There there,” or “Shhh, it’s alright.” or something more close like “It’s okay, I’m here for you baby.”, if you two are a couple.

When the crying stops, offer up any sort of wiping device, such as a handkerchief, Kleenex, or even toilet paper, as long as it is sufficiently soft for her nose. To test this, rub a bit of it between your fingers, if it’s not two-ply or you can see through the sheets, or it makes a crinkling sound when crushed, don’t offer it to her.

If the woman is still so incapacitated from the emotional effort of crying that she cannot wipe her own nose, it is most often acceptable to dab at her eyes gently. This will usually rouse her enough from her emotional fugue to take over.

Once she has had time to wipe her eyes and nose, ask her what is wrong in a soft voice, and don’t expect a coherent answer. She may simply burst into tears again, and you may repeat all of the above steps of this procedure in the knowledge that either whatever made her cry was really, really important, or it’s that time of the month and she will cry again as soon as her tear-reserves replenish. Women’s tear-producing organs work at 300 percent of their normal capacity when they are menstruating. Keep this in mind.

If you don’t understand something she says, don’t shrug it off. Tell her that you don’t understand or didn’t quite catch it.

If what is wrong is evident, such as a funeral, just be a strong and supportive listening post.

If the woman tells you what is wrong, first determine if you can help her to fix the problem. Show her that you are a gentleman, or at least a decent guy. If you can help her fix the problem, tell her so and ask her if she wants you to help her fix it. This is especially effective with girlfriends. Then, actually help her fix it. However, be very, very careful offering unsolicited advice – offering to fix things is a world apart from offering advice that can only lead to more tears, often tears of frustration.

If you see no way that you are able to help her fix the problem, then apologize and tell her that you cannot help her fix the problem. If you know anyone whom you think can help her fix the problem, recommend that she talk to them and enlist their help. Tell her you hope she gets her problem fixed, and if the woman seems not to be too wrapped up in the situation or scary, tell her she can talk to you again if she ever needs a shoulder to cry on.

Always have a spare shirt or jacket handy in case of a crying woman attack. You never know when women will cry, but if you do the right things and help them through careful support and comforting, you will be known as a true gentleman. Keep in mind that sometimes women will cry on you just because they need to cry at that time. The woman who does this will sometimes tell you so after she has gotten rid of her excess tears. Tell this woman that you are very glad to be of service, and that you hope she had a satisfactory crying experience. Then go find a new shirt or walk in the sun to dry your current one.


Always respect women, regardless of how irrational they may seem by your standards; remember that it’s possible they view you as being irrational too, for not “getting” it.

Silk handkerchiefs are the most gentlemanly thing you can offer a lady to blow her nose with. Have a large supply at the ready at all times if women are prone to crying on you.

If the female who is crying on you is in a romantic relationship with you, it may be acceptable to kiss her on the forehead lightly and murmur quiet reassurances into her ear. You may also hug her a bit more tightly when her tears start to ease up. Girlfriends usually have more tears than strangers, and helping her expel these tears may be beneficial to your relationship. Hugging her also shows that you care about her.

If she tells you to go away, stay with her. She is testing your loyalty, and if you go she will be even more hurt and may find some other male to cry on. If you stay, you are telling her that you care about her and her emotions. However, as women age and feel more confident in themselves, go away can really mean go away, so learn the tone and heed it. You’ll get the idea if she says something along the lines of “Crying makes me feel better, I need to do it by myself, and I’ll call you when it’s done. Now leave me alone please.”

After the tears have passed, offer her something. If she is a coworker, it may just be a cup of coffee and a doughnut. If she is your girlfriend, it may be a shoulder massage, bubble bath with all the aromatherapy oils she wants, or even just a quiet cuddling session. If she’s a coworker you’d like to turn into a girlfriend, use discretion.

When all else fails, offer a woman chocolate. Try to ascertain if she likes dark or milk chocolate, but if all you have is Hersheys, she won’t hate you for trying.

When you tell a woman you’re going to do something (wash the dishes, replace the faucet, squash the saucer-sized spider that tried to crawl across her pillow), do it as soon as humanly possible. Women prefer promises to be filled sooner, rather than later. Crying resulting from your lack of doing something around the house will result in tears of frustration and you risk outbursts when you ask what’s wrong.

If she admits to needing feminine hygiene supplies, do not under any circumstances run away. Follow her instructions as to how to get them and do so promptly. This is a test of your bravery and ability to follow instructions under duress.

Apologize, even if you have no idea how you could be related to the cause of her crying. This shows that you are sympathetic of her plight.


If you ever disrespect a woman intentionally, be prepared to be shunned by her entire social circle. Women are incredibly complex social beings, and their finely honed gossip skills mean that you’ll never get a date in your town again.

If you wouldn’t use it to wipe your own nose, don’t offer it to her as a tissue substitute. Industrial grade paper towels are an especially bad choice. If you have to use them, you’re better off offering up your sleeve. It’s a sacrifice well worth it.

Do not, under any circumstance, touch a woman in any way that could be construed as even remotely sexual. This is a very, very un-gentlemanly thing to do, and you deserve whatever punishment you get.

Never express exasperation with a crying woman. She will hate you for not caring about her emotions. If you can’t handle it, bite your tongue and just sit next to her patiently working through next quarter’s figures in your head.

If the woman crying on you is a coworker, address her by her formal name and try not to move too much while she cries on you. Keep any patting or hand contact above the shoulders and try to look bewildered.

Never, ever leave a crying woman. This is a mortal sin in female eyes, and it tells them that you’re a cold-hearted person who doesn’t care about them. You have a flight to catch? Too bad. To a woman, especially a woman you know well, their emotions are more important than that flight (naturally, with the exception of farewell tears as you get on the flight).

If your girlfriend sees you with a crying female, she has every right to be angry, because in her eyes you are her territory and that other female is an intruder. Be prepared to separate and gently subdue the two females if your girlfriend attacks the stranger.

Also get a few responses ready for when you girlfriend inevitably becomes angry with you for letting another female touch you. Be sure to include the fact that you are a gentleman, and that providing a shoulder to cry on was the chivalrous thing to do for a woman so obviously in distress. Tell her you will do the same and more for her, and follow through.

Things You’ll Need

Handkerchief, tissue (Kleenex), your shirt sleeve

Related wikiHows

How to Comfort the Dying

How to Encourage a Sad Friend

How to Hug

How to Stop Crying

How to Hold Back Tears

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Can a parent spoil children with Christmas presents?

I’m a parenting coach and expert in childhood development.  I also have a 28 year old son and 25 year old daughter.  If your budget allows for several hundred in gifts, that’s wonderful.

There are 365 days in a year to raise your child, only one of them is Christmas.  I suggest considering how you’re doing as a parent all year around before you begin to shop.  Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Is it good for YOUR child to get lots of gifts?
  • Is your child already good at sharing?  Have you spent a little time with your child considering toys that are ‘outgrown’ and should be put/given away?
  • Does your child demand every toy advertised?
  • Do you feel like you owe your child everything you can afford?
  • If you have more than one child, does one feel s/he is entitled to everything the other is getting?

Getting at the roots of the reasons for giving make a lot of sense; taking time daily to raise a disciplined, responsible child means you’ll be happy on Christmas… and all the other days of the year.

Still not sure what to do?  Contact me.  The first coaching session is free.  It’s to see if we might work well together.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quote for September 7, 2010

“If you don’t think you’re a winner, you don’t belong here.”

~Vince Lombardi

“If you think you’re a winner, you can be one!”  ~Melissa Pazen

Attitude is very much a part of where we go.  One of my clients had troubles making his follow up calls.  We talked for a while about why he was calling.  When we finally found a phrase with which he was comfortable, the calls became almost effortless.  It was in the attitude.

Have you ever noticed the people who seem to have ‘delusions of adequacy’ (not grandeur, just adequacy) and they do just fine.  It’s in the attitude.

Have you encountered those with the perseverance of a terrier?  It’s in the attitude.

Remember the cowardly lion?  “What puts the ape in apricot, what makes the hottentot so hot? (he was on a roll here.)  What have they got that I ain’t got?”   (But then he looked around and lost his attitude…)  “Courage!”  It’s in the attitude.

Decide to be happy.  Adopt the attitude of a winner.  You can do it!  If you really keep trying, you can!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quote for September 4, 2010

“It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before…to test your limits…to break through barriers.

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

~Anaïs Nin

Change is difficult for many of us.  We have to think about it and remember to do it, instead of being on auto-pilot.  It’s work.  Yet, Nin noticed that when it’s more painful to remain the same than to change, we’ll do it.  I’ve heard that stated less eloquently in other readings.

Some of us make a decision and stick to it.  Disciplined and self-controlled, we move on.  Some of us need to remind ourselves daily.  Some of us pray and try to continue to focus.    Some of us need an ‘accountability buddy’, with whom we check in once a week and who won’t let us off the hook.

I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to develop a habit.  I also know that it takes 12 weeks to recover from a large change or crisis or high stress.

Here’s to those of us who do change; who take control of our lives and ‘blossom’ in the way we are meant to be! I congratulate you!  I celebrate you!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quote for August 26, 2010

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

  ~Mario Andretti (born 1940);
  Italian-American world champion racing driver

Andretti has certainly been successful.  But if you were ask anyone whether or not s/he desires success, would anyone say ‘no’?

What makes some of us determined and able to commit to our goals — able to achieve them?  Maybe more importantly, what keeps some of us from doing it?

Some of us just don’t want to work that hard.  Some of us think we need to let others make the decisions for us.  Some of us have spent years trying to force our  desires to the backs of our minds, because we’ve been told that it isn’t for us.

I have found that by making an agreement for accountability, I’m less likely to try to ‘pull the wool over my own eyes’.  When I meet with my coach, he asks how I’m doing.  I don’t want to report, “not well.  I haven’t don’t any work on this.”  It’s less painful for me to do the work than to have to look at why I won’t.

I don’t want to be undisciplined.  I don’t want to be stupid.  I don’t want to be unable.

And I guess, if I want to achieve, I better do my work! 

My goal is to be done with the ‘day job’ by 12/31/2010.  I’ll be dipped in manure if I’m not able to give notice by Dec. 15!  Let’s go!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quote for August 17

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you will not see the shadows.”

~Helen Keller

Helen Keller was certainly an inspiration to us all!  I remember watching Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker.  I’m not sure if I tried to teach dolls to spell, but I began finger spelling.  And I was totally disapproving of the parents who had let Helen live like a feral animal in their home!

Once her mind got tuned to what she wanted to do and how she might do it, Helen Keller WAS amazing.  And talk about the proper attitude:  “stay happy and you won’t need to dwell on (or get stuck in?) the sad” would be my way of saying it, I guess.  I’m not nearly as poetic as she was.

She and Mother Theresa both have quotes that run something like “I long to do great things, but it is my task to do small things as if they were great.”  For a while, I tried to settle for ‘small things’…  now all I know is I have been given the gift to help others determine their courses.  And that’s simply all I want to do!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Today’s Quote

“I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true — hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice.

If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.”

~Ray Bradbury (1920-) Writer

I read some of Ray Bradbury’s work when I was younger.  I had a class in Chicago literature in high school and since Bradbury’s from the northern suburbs, I Sing the Body Electric was included.   In fact, Dandelion Wine remains one of my favorite books.  I don’t remember the above quote, but as of today, it has become one of my favorites!

Few of us want to work hard, but when the specific work is what you love, it doesn’t feel as much like work anymore.  My work as a coach energizes me.  I get excited when one of my clients makes a big step forward.

I want your work to be the same for you.  Let’s explore the possibilities!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Today’s Quote…

I was working with a client earlier this week who has been trying to get ready to take a licensing test.  Or at least, that’s what he  said he wanted to do.  But he never made time to study and put the test off a couple of times.  What I’ve heard between his words is that he really doesn’t want to join the industry for which he’s preparing.  I finally asked about this.   WOW! Am I glad I did. 

We spent the remainder of the session addressing his emotions and discussing together what it might take to decide where he REALLY wants to work.  I’m excited that next week, he plans to bring a copy of his resume.  His challenge for this week is to highlight the duties he’s enjoyed and cross out the duties he has not.

This is about to get VERY interesting!  And this will be the beginning…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment