Monday, April 29, 2019

Music Tip- Influence Your Small Circle

Saturday night I went to the MCO concert (Millennial Choir and Orchestra) at the Mesa Arts Center with a friend. 

This choir is composed of hundreds of singers from age 4-adults and is led by two brothers who came from California where they initially started a choir like this one.  Now 11 years later they have choirs/orchestra in California, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Idaho.

The brothers, Brandon and Brett Stewart are exceptional musicians with conducting, piano performing, choral and arranging talents that are inspirational. Their focus is on religious and patriotic music. They arrange music that starts with one group singing, and then they add the other choral groups to the mix to build to a gigantic choral and orchestral masterpiece.  It truly is amazing, sometimes overwhelming and very inspirational.

As I sat listening to one magnificent song after another and pondering on the huge undertaking it was to bring all these singers and instrument players together—the composing of the music, the rehearsals, the mechanics of organizing the singers along the balconies, when to walk in, where to go when they’re not singing, getting them quickly on stage, organizing a trip to New York during the summer with all singers in the 5 states performing at Carnegie Hall, etc, etc, I began to feel very small and unimportant.  I began to feel like I am not worth anything as far as music is concerned.  All my little efforts at teaching piano, ukulele and music classes with the moms/tots were so unprofessional and puny and inconsequential, that it was almost laughable to think of myself as a fellow musician.  Sure I can play the piano, but never on the level one of the brothers who went to Julliard can.  Sure I have learned to play the ukulele, banjo, dulcimer and mandolin, but only on a very amateurish, beginner level.  Sure I have organized small groups to perform, but only for retired people who don’t care or understand how unprofessional we sound.

I started thinking that I was worthless.  These brothers have touched thousands of lives with their musical talents.  They have influenced a circle of thousands in several states—thousands of people who both perform as well as listen in the audience.  My circle of influence is tiny.

But as I listened to the last song, Nearer, My God to Thee, and heard the beautiful, inspirational music, I felt God’s love for me as He gave me these thoughts:
"You are not worthless.  I need you to bring music to others who would never come in contact with the music you’re listening to or be influenced by it.  Who would bring music and happiness to Grandpa Tom when you bring the children to his care home for music classes?  I love him just as much as everyone else sitting in this concert hall.  And Grandpa Mike, whose smile and excitement to see the children make his whole body jump with joy, even though he can’t say a word to express his delight.  I need you to bring music, joy and happiness to him as well as Grandpa Reuben and Grandpa Gene, for I love them too and in their later years, they deserve to be happy and to find joy and feel love from others.
 And remember how thrilled Danielle was to see her husband and children sing and play the ukulele?  She said she hoped they would continue to play together.  What about Chloe’s mother who said Chloe doesn’t like to be in front of people, yet there she was playing her ukulele and smiling and enjoying herself.  I have billions of children living on earth. I need you to help me.  Even though you think your circle of influence is small, I need you to touch their lives and care for them.  I have placed you where you are and count on you to share my love with others.  You are important to me and I value your contribution. I love you.”

I sat weeping, feeling God's love for me.  So now I don’t feel worthless.  I feel like I am needed and though my musical abilities are small and may not be professional on a grand scale, I feel I am talented and gifted with musical ideas and teaching abilities that I need to continue to share.  I’m excited to share music with those around me!  What a privilege and blessing!!!!!!

What about you?  You, too, have a circle of influence.  Look around you at your husband, your children, your grandchildren, your neighbors, your friends.  Be the person they need in their lives right now.  Can you cook and take them something?  Can you listen to them?  Can you just love them?  

You can, and so can I!  Let's go do a small and amazing thing!

Thank you for reading,


Music Tip - Music Wins Every Time

It's the end of April and with it comes the end of my ukulele classes and my mom/tot music class.  I'm excited to have more free time now, but sad to end my teaching of a wonderful group of children and adults. I took my ukulele classes to perform for senior citizens and my last mom/tot music class was kind of bitter/sweet.  One of our grandpas who really loved us coming and responded well was moved to another facility--so we didn't get to say good by to him.

Here are some pictures with the ukulele classes, mom/tot music class and the residents.  They love us and we LOVE them!

 Thanks for reading,


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Parenting Tip-It's the little things that count!

I love reading about the thru hikers who hike the Appalachian Trail-- a 2,200 mile long trail that goes from Georgia to Maine. I dream that maybe some day I will hike it, but then I remember I don't like sleeping on the cold hard ground!  I bumped into a post on You Tube of a family of 7 hiking the whole trail (which takes several months) and the youngest child was only age two.  I watched several of their posts, envying their days of hiking and enjoying nature, that is, after it finally quit snowing for several weeks.  They were living a life with intention.

A couple of days ago I started reading a book about another family of 7 who took a year out of their normal lives to sail from the Caribbean to New York City with their five children (the youngest with Down Syndrome).  They had little money and little experience, but they had big dreams and lots of ambition.  They were living an intentional life.

Last night I started reading a book about following your ideas and dreams, though they may appear "stupid" and not achievable, and see where they can lead you.  Your idea may be the next million dollar start up business. 

I reflected on a conversation I had with a retired doctor who was volunteering at the same refugee center where I was teaching English.  I had asked him about his past and he told me his glorious life of traveling here and there and everywhere doctoring, teaching and doing wonderful things.  When I told him I had grown up on one street in Mesa and married and moved to the next street over and had raised my children there and still lived there--a street away from my parents-- he put his hand on my forehead and said, "Cathy, we need to get you some help!"

Yes, I have lived a pretty risk-free, non exciting sort of life.  I've only hiked a few miles on the Appalachian Trail when visiting grandchildren who live in Virginia, I have never been on a sailboat, but did get the courage, once, to ride on a water tube behind a boat in Tennessee. And I've never started a million dollar business from scratch , though I have had a piano studio for 43+ years.

I obviously could never write a book about my adventuresome life.  But I have lived a life that has been intentional, fulfilling and happy.  

I have intentionally stayed at home to raise, teach and nurture my children.  I have lived in one very small home with only one bathroom (for most of the time) and taught my children how to work, how to share and how to make do with what you have.

I have intentionally taught my children to love God and to serve others who not only live far away, but may live right in your neighborhood and are just as needy.

I have felt fulfilled as a mother as I watched all my children pay their way thru, and graduate from college, then marry fine individuals and are currently raising wonderful families.  I have felt fulfilled as a grandmother each time I babysit and play with my grandchildren.

I have felt overly and abundantly happy as I watch the sunset from my kitchen window while washing dishes, or hike in the desert with a cherished friend, or finally play a song on the banjo it has taken weeks to learn.

By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.
Alma 37:6-7

You don't have to do a great and grand adventure with your family.  You can, if you want.  But please don't underestimate the seemingly small and simple things you are doing every day.  The sense of peace and security you give to your children by living your "routinely, boring" day cannot be taken lightly.  It is HUGE! 

Take a close look at your day, at your life, and at your family and marriage.  Smile and acknowledge all the good you are doing.  Go be adventurous!  Go to the library, the museum, sit and help your child practice an instrument, draw, paint, run around in the backyard.  

Whoo whee!  Life is good!

Thanks for reading,



Sunday, January 20, 2019

Parenting Tip - How to be a Student

I'm in my late 60s, but I'm a student.
I teach piano and ukulele lessons, but I'm a student.
I've already graduated from college and completed a music endorsement, but I'm a student.

I'm a student because I'm taking mandolin lessons (I'm on week 3!)
I'm a student and just enrolled in a gardening course.
I'm a student and taking a fabric art class.

But there are many other areas where I'm a student, too.
I'm a student because I'm still learning from my children and grandchildren.
I'm a student because I'm still practicing things like learning not to judge and how to have faith.
I'm a student of the scriptures and learning new things each day I study them.

I bet if you looked at your life, you would realize you're a student too!

Sometimes it's fun to be a student.  I love to learn and accomplish new things.  It's fun to learn to play a new song on the mandolin.  Other times, it's not really fun being a student.  Not when I cower in fear or uncertainty instead of exercising faith.

It's easy to say, "Well, I'm just a student, that's why my efforts were not the best.  That's why I was wrong and goofed up."  or "Hey, what do you expect? I"m just learning?"

However, being a student-- a really good student---means there are certain requirements we need to fill, certain repetitions we need to perform, and a certain amount of time needed in order to acquire our new skill.

As a teacher, I tell my music students to practice slowly and play the notes correctly so their brain understands what to do.  I tell them to play a short section of their song many times in a row, perhaps 5-10 repetitions. I tell them to watch their fingering and do it correctly each time so their muscle memory can help them later on.

As a mandolin student I play the G scale on my mandolin over and over again.  My teacher says it's important to use the pick correctly, so I play slow and carefully.   I'm making progress but I wonder if I'll ever be good enough to play fast.

My teachers are kind and encouraging, both in my music, gardening and fabric art classes. There are some days when I can almost hear God, the Supreme Teacher, talking to me and encouraging me.  "Cathy, be slow and careful in how you want to judge that person."  "Cathy, I know you've read your scriptures countless times, read them again and pay attention this time."  "Cathy, you may not think you're making progress, but you are, hang in there!"

I'm a student for life-- learning and progressing one step and one day at a time. I will take it slowly, practice carefully and correctly, and enjoy each little success along my path.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Parenting Tip - I'm Not in Control Today

Have you ever been in a bad mood?  Out of sorts!  Mad at everyone and everything?!  Having a "terrible, horrible, very bad, no good day"(s)?!

That has happened to me so many times during my life, and I'm sure in your life too.  Sometimes when I stop to analyze my feelings, I find out that why I'm feeling so mean and rotten is because I'm not in control of certain situations in my life.  Things are happening around me that I can't do anything about.  And that feels horrible.

Here are some examples that you might just relate to:
the car needs new tires--no money to pay for them--but it's new tires or an accident's going to happen
your son is dating a girl you don't like
one of your child's teachers require way too much home work, putting lots of pressure on your child
your child has no friends and you don't know what to do about it
you have no closet or storage space in your too small house
your brother has a big gorgeous home with less children and plenty of closet space
your husband is working overtime but you need help with the kids

I could go on and on with the examples, but you get the idea.

This summer when I was in Nauvoo, I was having lots of great experiences, but sometimes not having a lot of fun.  I realized it was because I was not in control of my situation.  I didn't have a car and had to rely on other people to take me where I was suppose to go.  I would make new friends and then they would leave after two weeks to go home.  Then I had to make another friend and arrange for more rides......

So after losing my first new friend when she went home, I analyzed my feelings, realized the problem and wrote this song for myself while I went for my daily walks after lunch one week.

I’m Not in Control
(tune: Mary Had a Little Lamb, minor key)

I’m not in control today
And I guess, that’s okay
I need another’s point of view
I guess they could be right--- it’s true.

I’m not in control today
And I guess, that’s okay
So calm myself and count to ten
Then breathe and count again!

(Major, happy key)
God is in control today
And with that, I’m okay
He sees a broader point of view
His ways are always true!

God is in control today
And with that, I’m okay
His tender mercies help me see
His sweet abiding love for me.

Writing this song really helped me understand that yes, I won't be in control of my situation lots of times in life, but God is always in control.  If I rely on his perspective and ask for guidance, he will help me see and understand what I can do to help myself.  And he always loves me and sends tender mercies if I keep my eyes open to notice them.

I hope you can get control of one of your life situations or at least learn how to deal with it.  When I can't control a situation and change IT,  I try to find something--anything  I can do that I'm totally in charge of.   Then I feel better.  Find a craft or sewing project, do some cooking and baking, or read a book you want to. Going for a walk always helps too.   If all else fails, declutter a drawer or cupboard.  That ALWAYS makes me feel better.  And it's so much easier to do when you're mad, too!

Thanks for reading,

PS  Have you read this book lately?


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Parenting Tip- Make the most of 10 minutes a day

I was in Nauvoo volunteering in the costume department for most of the summer - 7 weeks.  I was helping with the Nauvoo Pageant, that takes place for one month every summer.  The British and Nauvoo Pageants tell the story of the missionary work that took place in Great Britain (for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), the acceptance of the gospel by thousands of people there, and the exodus of those Saints in coming to Nauvoo to help build up the Church.  Then the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the exodus to Utah.

The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to my family:

This Nauvoo experience is taking me out of my comfort zone and making me grow and stretch.  This week I had to become more friendly, look out and befriend new volunteers who have come, ask for help and pray to be able to do hard things.  I have relied on the Savior's atonement and He has helped me learn and grow.

Someone pointed out to me all the things that have happened to me while being here serving:  my water pipe broke in the back yard, a tree in my front yard  has broken in half tearing out half the tree, and possibly ruining all of it, my laptop broke, but miraculously someone was able to fix it, my phone quit but I discovered I can use my kindle to read emails and books AND it has a camera. So yes, bad things have happened, but I have seen the Lord's hand in resolving most of them too.

I have been pondering about something here, and that is how much work and time and expense has gone into the little details that not many people notice.  Also, how important the details are and the importance of individuals--the ONE.  Example:  The pageant is put on for a month.  The core cast do the speaking and singing parts for the entire time.  But families come for 2 weeks at a time to perform the group parts and dancing.  Every week a new group comes (20-25 families).  They spend a week learning the dances and movements while watching the group from the week before who came a week before them, actually perform on stage.  Then their second week, they perform while the new families that have just come learn and watch them.  This entails directors and choreographers teaching the same dances and movements to a new group every week.  This means we rip out hems and wash costumes and remark hems and re sew hems on skirts and pants every week.  This means the logistics of housing and feeding families is huge.  BUT this means 125+ families get to participate and have their testimonies strengthened and renewed.  This means hundreds of individual lives are touched.

Another example:  There are two fabric temples used for the pageant.  One for rehearsals and one for the performance.  They are huge panels that are tall and hoisted up the tower every other night (they are used for the Nauvoo pageant, not the British pageant).  80 women in Utah sewed on them for 6 weeks several years ago.  They have cross stitching on them, soft sculpture, ribbons, applique, etc. Hundreds of hours were spent on the temple panels.  And they are used on stage for only 10 minutes during the pageant! 

I couldn't comprehend why all that work was done for a mere 10 minutes of show time.  But a new roommate came last night who helped sew on the temple panels.  In fact, it was her sister who was asked to make the panels.  She said women came every chance they could to work on them and she said what a privilege it was and how much they enjoyed doing it.  And when I said, "yes, but for only 10 minutes?"  She replied, "but they've been used for 15 years already and 10 minutes times 3 nights a week for 15 years is a lot of use!"

So I've been pondering:  what do I do, or could be doing for 10 minutes a day, that when added up, will effect my life dramatically?

What do I do, or could be doing for 10 minutes a day with my children, that when added up, will effect their lives dramatically?

Thanks for reading,



Friday, May 4, 2018

Parenting Tip - Be Inconsistently Consistent

I've noticed two main attitudes that develop in families when things get hard.  Either they quit doing the hard thing completely and let it drop, or they make adjustments, streamline the "hard thing" for awhile and then get back to doing it again.

I've seen this happen over and over again as I have taught piano lessons.  The family begins lessons with enthusiasm and commitment and practicing begins in earnest.  Then after a few months, LIFE happens.  Soccer games, illness, busyness in school and Church, financial problems--you name it, suddenly it becomes too hard to fit practice time in and lessons drop.

I've experienced this over and over again with family/personal scripture reading, Family Home Evening, and family prayers.  You have them consistently but then LIFE happens.  It becomes too hard to schedule them in because of late night games or teenagers are at work or your kids have too much homework, or Dad is out of town. And the scripture reading, FHE and prayers drop.

Life is full of HARD things.  But it is in doing those hard things, that real growth and benefit is acquired. So I propose:

                                                   BE INCONSISTENTLY CONSISTENT!

I've seen it with my piano families.  Those who keep on taking lessons and practice when they can, actually do make progress.  Example:  I teach twins in a family who is very busy raising pigs and goats and showing them at county fairs around the state.  When county fair time arrives, they have to miss a lesson here and there and they are so busy with travel, that practice time becomes 10 minutes instead of 30.  But they don't quit, they make adjustments and simplify, then get back to normal practice when the fairs are over.

Another example is my son's family.  My daughter-in-law has taught piano to some of the children, exchanged giving lessons with another mom and has even quit for awhile.  But when I visited them last week, I was amazed to hear my granddaughter and grandson playing popular music that was quite advanced.  In fact, my grandson is accompanying his school class at their Spring Concert.  By being inconsistently consistent with piano practice, these two grandchildren are enjoying piano and progressing at it.

What about scripture reading, prayers and FHE.  Each time we read and pray it becomes a thread we weave into our family's tapestry of spirituality. Some days,weeks,months we may be consistently weaving while at other times, the progress is slower.  But as we continue to try to be consistent, our pattern takes form and our tapestry grows in beauty and strength.

Teach your children to do hard things.  If you have to make a new chore chart, do it.  Give a pep talk, give it. Be a "mean" parent. Be it.

Teach yourself to do hard things.  If you have quit exercising and eating healthy, begin again.  My daughter has run 13 half marathons and 2 full marathons, but hasn't ran for two months.  Will she begin again?  Of course.  Life happened and she had to take some time off, but she is still a runner and will continue running in the near future.

Hard things are hard.  But they can be tackled, achieved, and overcome as we continue working on them.  We are not perfect and not expected to become perfect in this life.  But we can learn, acquire skills and progress as we step forward, fall back, then step forward again.  As we consistently keep trying amidst all our inconsistency, we are doing what we should be doing.

Good luck to all of us!

Thanks for reading,



Friday, March 2, 2018

Parenting Tip - Ending Screen Time Peacefully

Screen time.  That's a new phrase I didn't know when I was a young mom.  Did you mean screen door?
Screen time.  The time when your child is no longer in the world, but has entered another realm, be it fighting aliens, watching Bob the Builder, or creating his own world with Minecraft. It is very hard to come out of that reality and enter the "now" world.  It's not like going to the park and giving your child a 5 minute warning that you'll be leaving soon.  It's not like giving your child a 15 minute deadline to get his room cleaned.  At times like those, your child is still in this world, he is present in this environment and is alert to what is going on.  Not so when he is in screen time.
 French clinical psychologist, Isabelle Filliozat, has a peaceful, brilliant way to reduce screen time temper tantrums.  Enter your child's  world.  Sit down by her and gently ask a question about what is going on.  "Once the child starts answering your questions or tells you something she has seen or done on screen, it means that she is coming out of the “cut-off” zone and back into the real world. She’s coming out of the state of flow and back into a zone where she is aware of your existence – but slowly. The dopamine doesn’t drop abruptly, because you’ve built a bridge – a bridge between where she is and where you are. You can start to communicate, and this is where the magic happens.
You can choose to start discussing with your child that it’s time to eat, to go have his bath, or simply that screen-time is over now. Because of the minute of easing-in, your child will be in a space where he can listen and react to your request." 
So how do you avoid melt downs when getting your child to end screen time? I encourage you to read this brief, well written article, "How to End Screen Time Without a Struggle."  It explains the science about what is happening in your child's brain when he is in screen time and the technique for scientifically helping his brain adjust back in to the real world. 

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Parenting Tip - The Contrary Child

I have written several posts about Gretchen Rubin's 4 Tendencies and how knowing what your tendency is can help you understand yourself.  It can also help you understand others, of course, when you know theirs. 

Gretchen gave a link recently to an article about how to motivate your unmotivated student.  She says this is a "rebel" tendency.  Interestingly, the author doesn't call children like this "rebels" but "contrarians".  To each, their own!  I like the label contrarian better than labeling a child a rebel.

Here is a link to the post. 

I really like Gretchen's approach to dealing with rebels, as well.  You can't make a rebel or a contrarian do something and in fact, telling them to do something makes them NOT want to do it.  Instead you give them information, consequences and choices.  Then the situation is in their hands.  I also think you need to give rebels/contrarians space.  Walk away, don't nag, and let the decision come when they are ready to make it.  Indecision on their part, may start the consequences, but that is their choice.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Parenting Tip - How to have Resilient Children

What is resiliency?  To me it is the ability to bounce back after having set backs, negative experiences or trauma.  It is the ability to assume our role and feel comfortable with ourselves and our lives and get back to "normal" after having experienced changes in our lives. 

Your whole family has been down with the flu for weeks.  But now you are finally back to your schedule.  You aren't derailed forever.  You are resilient!

Sometimes BIG changes hit you: you just had a baby, your mother died, you are moving, your husband lost his job, your child was diagnosed with leukemia.  But seemingly small changes can also impact us and throw us for a loop as well:  soccer season starts, you get a new Church calling, your husband is working overtime and not around to help, your sweet 11 year old becomes a tween.  How do we deal with these changes in our lives so that we don't get thrown off track.  How do we maintain our family's schedule so our days run smoothly and our children feel safe and secure?  How can we be resilient?

I think we need to remind ourselves of the BIG picture.  Step back and look at what is happening now, but also what happened before and what will happen after.  Get a larger perspective of life.  Yes, your car is broken, with no money to fix it immediately in sight and you feel smothered in your house with your kids.  No, this won't last forever--though it seems like it.  Your income tax return will pay for the repair in the near future and in the meantime you can take little adventures around the neighborhood with your children.  You have managed before and you can manage again.  You are resilient!

It is important as adults to be resilient, but how do we teach resilience to our children?

Your graduating senior didn't get the scholarship she applied for, your son didn't make the team, your daughter's best friend moved and she has no friends now.  Help your children see the BIG picture.  Help them see their strengths, and new possibilities opening up. Don't discount their emotions, but let them express their feelings and empathize with them.  Help your children see other choices available to them.  Let them decide their course of action.  Listen to them without criticizing and condemning.  Let them feel what they're feeling, but gradually encourage them to "think out of the box".

Teaching children to be resilient starts when they are young.  It starts with you, as the parent, letting them make choices.  It means letting them fail, make wrong choices and own their own problems.   It is not solving your children's problem but it is offering your love, safety and confidence in them.  It is helping them see alternative solutions and possibilities.

Teaching resilience means not fixing your child's problem but teaching him to fix his own problem.

Resilience.  Not a word we talk about or hear about much.  But what a powerful word!

 Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Parenting Tip -The silent tragedy affecting today’s children

I wholeheartedly agree with this post.  It is written by an occupational therapist, Victoria Prooday on

There is a silent tragedy developing right now, in our homes, and it concerns our most precious jewels - our children. Through my work with hundreds of children and families as an occupational therapist, I have witnessed this tragedy unfolding right in front of my eyes. Our children are in a devastating emotional state! Talk to teachers and professionals who have been working in the field for the last 15 years. You will hear concerns similar to mine. Moreover, in the past 15 years, researchers have been releasing alarming statistics on a sharp and steady increase in kids’ mental illness, which is now reaching epidemic proportions:

How much more evidence do we need before we wake up?

No, “increased diagnostics alone” is not the answer!
No, “they all are just born like this” is not the answer!
No, “it is all the school system’s fault” is not the answer!
Yes, as painful as it can be to admit, in many cases, WE, parents, are the answer to many of our kids’ struggles!
 It is scientifically proven that the brain has the capacity to rewire itself through the environment. Unfortunately, with the environment and parenting styles that we are providing to our children, we are rewiring their brains in a wrong direction and contributing to their challenges in everyday life.
Yes, there are and always have been children who are born with disabilities and despite their parents’ best efforts to provide them with a well-balanced environment and parenting, their children continue to struggle. These are NOT the children I am talking about here. 
I am talking about many others whose challenges are greatly shaped by the environmental factors that parents, with their greatest intentions, provide to their children. As I have seen in my practice, the moment parents change their perspective on parenting, these children change.   

What is wrong?

Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, such as:
  • Emotionally available parents
  • Clearly defined limits and guidance
  • Responsibilities
  • Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
  • Movement and outdoors
  • Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom
Instead, children are being served with:
  • Digitally distracted parents
  • Indulgent parents who let kids “Rule the world”
  • Sense of entitlement rather than responsibility
  • Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition
  • Sedentary indoor lifestyle
  • Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments
Could anyone imagine that it is possible to raise a healthy generation in such an unhealthy environment? Of course not! There are no shortcuts to parenting, and we can’t trick human nature. As we see, the outcomes are devastating. Our children pay for the loss of well-balanced childhood with their emotional well-being.

How to fix it?

If we want our children to grow into happy and healthy individuals, we have to wake up and go back to the basics. It is still possible! I know this because hundreds of my clients see positive changes in their kids’ emotional state within weeks (and in some cases, even days) of implementing these recommendations:
 Please read the rest of the post here:

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Parenting Tip- What Matters Most?

It's a new year--2018. Time for goals, for schedules beginning again, for activities to start running into each other and for saying goodbye to the lazy days between New Year's Eve and school starting. I had lunch with a friend today as we set our new goals for the year and the month and I'm actually excited to get the new semester going again. But I'm afraid I'm falling into the same pitfall that I fall into so many times before--that of over scheduling myself. 

I like to be busy.  I like to think I'm still young and vital and involved in life.  When I really admit it to myself, though, I think I'm afraid of quiet and slow time.  It makes me feel like something is wrong with me, that everyone else is busy doing fun and important things and I'm not.  Pres Uchtdorf said,
"Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.
 The wise understand and apply the lessons of tree rings and air turbulence. They resist the temptation to get caught up in the frantic rush of everyday life. They follow the advice “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”1In short, they focus on the things that matter most."
I love that phrase and concept, "the things that matter most."  What things am I doing in my life that really matter the most?  Is it reading Facebook and looking at what others are posting about so I feel bad about myself?  Is it following someone on Instagram who is so focused on photographing every aspect of their life, that they forget to really live their life?  A friend told me about a girl she follows on Instagram.  One day my friend and her husband went to an ice cream shop, and there was the girl she followed on Instagram, posing with her ice cream cone while her husband took pictures of her.  I thought, "How sad, that you can't even enjoy having a date with your husband without thinking about your next post and making sure you get a good shot of yourself."

What Matters Most?
Am I  making space during my day so I can babysit or help someone when they call and need it?
Am I allowing time to play with grandchildren or read a book or call and talk to a lonely friend?
Am I putting my creative energy into fulfilling my role as a mother, grandmother, or Church member?

Thinking of this question has already helped me make two hard choices.  I want to play my banjo somewhere that is out of my comfort zone.  I met a person who has an "in" and can help me achieve this dream of mine, but I'm starting to chicken out of doing it.  I'm thinking of all the reasons why I shouldn't do it after all.  When I asked myself the question, what matters most, though, it helped me put things into perspective and gave me the courage to take the plunge and do it.  Well, I haven't done it yet, but I'm going to do it!

The other choice involves taking time to see out of state family, which is costly, time consuming and again, out of my comfort zone and normal schedule.  But when I ask  myself, "what matters most", then of course, it is seeing grandchildren and establishing relationships with them.

So you guessed it.  One of my goals for 2018 is to ask myself, "what matters most?"

Thanks for reading,



Monday, November 6, 2017

Parenting Tip - What Do You Say No and Yes To?

I've been listening to The Simple Show podcast for several months now and love it. It's a great walking-in-the-morning companion.  For the past little while, they have had a segment where Tsh Oxenreider, the host, and her friends discuss what they say NO and YES to on different topics.  It has made me stop and think about what I say no and yes to.  There is always a trade off--when you say no to something, it opens up your life to say yes to something else.  And vice versa.  So here are a few of the things I say NO and YES to.  Not by topic, but by what comes to my mind.

I say YES to nature.  I am somehow intrinsically bound to the weather and outside.  I open the door to check the weather each morning and I'm immediately happy when I see cloudy, stormy weather (I live in Arizona--enough said).  Because of saying yes to nature, I hike a lot with a hiking friend.  I have to.  I have to get outside and enjoy the cacti, clouds and beauty.  It's also a healthy mental outlet that I need.

I say YES to sunsets.  I check the sunsets in the evenings and randomly send out "sunset alerts" to my friends and family when I see a beautiful one.  And they send them back to me, by the way.  I say YES to stopping life and standing outside and looking at a sunset.

I say YES to grandchildren.  I am a child at heart still and love to watch children play.  I say yes to buying toys that let them use their imaginations. Lately I've been stalking the thrift stores for firefighter coats and hats.  I even converted one of our sheds into "The Kid's Club House" where last night my 7 year old grandson creatively hot glued small rocks onto a paper cup to make a fairy house.

I say YES to learning.  For the past 4 years I have been learning to play the banjo.  I learned to play the ukulele and teach it now.  I want to learn to play the mandolin and my children are buying me one for Christmas (I hope).  I've always wanted to learn to draw, so this year I have been taking an online art class.  I'm still not good at drawing, but I'm getting a lot better at lettering and doodling--which is what the class was about.  I'm thinking of taking an online watercolor class next year.
Now what do I say No to?

I say NO to feeling guilty about things.  This is an ongoing process but at my age, you would think I would have my act together.  Not so.  I have to continually analyze my actions and thoughts and specifically tell myself to not feel guilty about a situation or event.

I say NO to wasting time.  That doesn't mean I don't sit down and read a book, or look at Facebook.  But I try to organize myself to accomplish good things during the day--and evenings.  I cut down the time I spend on the internet randomly surfing and following mindless links and videos.

I say NO to shopping sales and ads.  When I need to buy clothing, I'll buy it.  If I shop all the ads, I tend to spend when I don't really need something. When I look at the ads and specials I find that I start wanting things I never knew I wanted or needed before.

I say NO to a life of misery, unhappiness or just going with the flow.  If I'm down I analyze why and try to change my attitude.  One of my favorite quotations is this one by Pres. Hinkley that is on my living room wall. 

I want to live my life so that at the end of it, I can look back on all the fun experiences I have had with family, grandchildren, friends and others.  I want to look back on the meaningful service I have given and the heart to heart talks I have had with loved ones.  I want to live an intentional life, not one that has just happened randomly as life went by.

This has been fun for me to think about what I say NO and YES to.  It really helps to put things in perspective and helps me realize what my values are.  It makes me stronger and more diligent in wanting to keep my "nos" and "yeses" intact (how do I spell that, anyway?).  I am living an intentional life.  I love that feeling.

It's something I say YES to.

Thanks for reading,


PS What a great experience it would be to talk as a family or as a husband/wife about what you say no and yes to.  It helps you get on the same page.  It helps you solidify what you want to happen in your family, how you want to spend your money and what experiences you want for yourself and your children.   It clarifies your values and beliefs and aligns your actions to those values. Say YES and see what happens!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Parenting Tip - Is Your Child an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner or Rebel (read as Strong-willed)?

I really like many of the books Gretchen Rubin has written, but I’m obsessed with her newest book, The Four Tendencies.
This is what she says about it on her website:
During my multibook investigation into human nature, I realized that by asking the suspiciously simple question “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge.
I discovered that people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding this framework lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively. The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act.
I am an Obliger (you can take a quick quiz here to find out what tendency you are ).  Knowing this has made my life easier.  I understand why I do some of the things I do and know how to deal with other aspects of my life, like accomplishing goals or saying no to people.  I think it is important to understand our family members and realize their tendencies—especially our spouses and children.  It can make family life so much more enjoyable when we understand why people act and respond the way they do.  Then we can change the way we approach our spouse or child so we can have win-win experiences and less conflicts.

Here are the Tendencies in a nutshell:
The Upholder Tendency
Upholders are those people who readily respond to outer and inner expectations alike.   They meet work or school deadlines as well as keep goals they set for themselves.
Strengths:  Upholders can set goals and ideals for themselves and stick to it.  They follow rules. They also fulfill expectations that others have for them.  They love schedules and routines.  They like to know what is expected of them and don’t like to make mistakes.
Weaknesses:  Upholders don’t like to have their schedules changed.  They are uncomfortable if they can’t follow the rules or expectations teachers or others have put on them.  They want to follow them whether they are sensible or not. They don’t like change and can be inflexible and rigid.
Dealing with an Upholder Child
Parents may enjoy having children who are Upholders because they don’t have to nag them about doing homework or practicing the piano. They plan ahead and have their softball equipment ready and like to arrive at school on time or even early.

The Upholder child doesn’t like to change his schedule.  If he needs to read 30 minutes a day for school he has a hard time letting that go if a busy day prohibits it. He has a hard time letting a task go not quite completed such as a book report project he feels he needs more time on.

Be careful about unintentionally adding an expectation or suggesting unnecessary rules.  An upholder child will exert a lot of energy toward trying to meet it.  The author states that an offhand remark like, “you should enter the spelling bee” might set off an unintended stressful chain reaction.

In dealing with an Upholder child, address his tendency value: “You like to do things that are expected of you”, “you like to be on time”, or “you like to finish your projects”.  But then address the issue in a logical way such as, “your teacher will understand that you can only read 15 minutes on some days”, or “it’s more important to go the speed limit and be safe than to be extra early to school”.

The Questioner Tendency
We all have inner expectations—things we want to do, and outer expectations—what others want us to do.  Questioners only do things that are inner expectations and only those outer expectations that they have turned into inner expectations.  Questioners want information, logic and efficiency.  They want to gather the facts and decide for themselves if something is legitimate to do, the best thing to buy, or the right thing to follow. They like logical conclusions and will research options until they are convinced.
Strengths:  Once Questioners are resolved to do something, they follow through and are reliable. They don’t just accept the traditional way to do things, so may come up with new solutions to problems or situations.
Weaknesses:  When Questioners don’t accept the justification for an expectation, they refuse to meet it.  Rules may seem arbitrary or make no sense.  When wanting to purchase an item, they may research and question so much, they can’t come to a conclusion and make a decision.

Dealing with a Questioner Child
A child who is a questioner does not accept phrases like, “because I said so”, or that’s the rule”. Questioners want to understand the “why” of doing something, and once they do, they are more willing to comply.  Why is piano practicing important?  Why should I learn the multiplication tables? Why does my school require uniforms?

Parents or teachers who are dealing with a child’s refusal to do something should find out why the child is refusing, then help the child understand the reasons behind the issue.  Help him find the justification for doing what he doesn’t want to do.  Why do I have to sit in my car seat?   Because it’s the law and you don’t want Mommy to have to pay a fine.  Why do I have to eat my vegetables?  Because they will make you healthy and strong so you can hit a home run some day.

The Obliger Tendency
Throughout a day, week and month, people are always asking us to do things.  The Obliger can accomplish things someone else asks her to do, but has a hard time meeting expectations that only she puts on herself.  For example, when you were in school, you could meet your English deadlines, but now you have a hard time consistently writing in your journal.

Obligers needs accountability.  Someone who is expecting them to bring them the results they’ve asked for.  If you are on a team and training for a game, you don’t want to let your teammates down, so you run every morning.  But after the season is over, you can’t get yourself to run anymore.  The accountability has disappeared.
Strengths:  Obligers get things done!  They volunteer, help out, and meet deadlines.  They make great leaders, team members, friends and family members.
Weaknesses:  Obligers have a hard time meeting their own needs and desires.  They need to feel accountable to someone in order to meet the goals they’ve set for themselves.  This is my tendency.  I used to always announce to my children that I would give them $10 if they saw me eat any more cookies the rest of the day.  Then it was easy for me to not eat any more.

If Obligers get overwhelmed by constant demands they are trying to meet of others, they can have a meltdown—which is usually not pretty.  They go into Obliger-Rebellion and resist doing anything.   Family members need to be aware of Obligers in their home, and help them not get overwhelmed, by helping them say “no” when necessary.  They can also provide accountability to help them reach their goals.

Dealing with an Obliger Child
I was delighted to read the author’s example when dealing with an Obliger child (which she says is sometimes hard to pick out).  She gave the example of piano practicing and said there needs to be accountability like having a practice chart, a parent’s gentle reminder or a teacher who says, “I can tell if you’ve been practicing or not.”

Help your Obliger child create accountability by enrolling him in classes, making job charts, having family rules, etc.  But be aware so your child does not begin feeling overwhelmed by meeting everyone’s needs but his own.

The Rebel Tendency
Rebels don’t want anyone telling them what to do, including themselves! They resist all efforts when someone asks them to do something and have a hard time getting themselves to do something they want to do.  For Rebels, being able to choose and have freedom of self-expression is vitally important. They respond better to people asking their opinion rather than being told to do something.
Strengths:  They don’t cave into peer pressure.  They enjoy meeting challenges especially when someone says it will be too hard to do. Rebels do things their way and want their lives to exhibit their values.
Weaknesses:  Rebels don’t like to be told to do something and resist commands and control over themselves.  They want to do things in their own way and in their own time.  They have a hard time sticking to a schedule.

Dealing with a Rebel Child (my daughter prefers to call them Strong-willed children and I agree)
Strong-willed children are hard to deal with. They want to make their own choices.  The best way to handle them is to give them information, tell them what the consequences are, and let them make their choice. And don’t watch them—then they think there is an expectation and will rebel and not choose.
Strong-willed children need to feel the consequence of their choices, be it good or bad. Strong-willed  children are motivated by identity.  Explain the situation:  “When you’re always late and delay our leaving, I feel like I can’t trust you.  Do you want to be trustworthy or not--your choice."  Make things fun for the strong-willed child.  Make up games when you’re brushing your child’s teeth or sing silly songs.  Strong-willed children like challenges: “Bet you can’t get dressed before Daddy does”.  Let them choose: “You can eat a snack, do your homework now, and then play before dinner or you can eat a snack and play first.  But if you don’t finish your homework before dinner, you will have to finish it after dinner and not have time for me to play a game with you before bedtime.  It’s your choice.” Then allow them time and space to make their choice.

In reviewing how to deal with children in these four tendencies, it seems to me that parents should use lots of common sense.  It shouldn’t be a nerve wrecking decision trying to decide what is the correct thing to say to your obliger child compared to what to say to your strong -willed child.  Good parenting  techniques cover all types and personalities of children.  In summary, here are some basic, sound ideas that work well in dealing with any and all types of children:

1.       Explain the situation to your child when a conflict arises.  Appeal to his sense of value.
2.       Listen to your child to understand what his needs are that are not being met.
3.       Explain the “why” behind rules and “why” you are asking for a certain behavior from your child.
4.       Make charts and give positive reinforcement to help establish new habits and outcomes.
5.       Give information, consequences and choice to your child.
6.       Let your child suffer the consequences of his choice and actions.
7.       Have fun with your child, make up games and challenges to spice up daily routines.

I hope this information has been helpful.  Now apply it to your spouse!

Thanks for reading,



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