Before You Get Angry at the WHAT, ask WHY?

Before You Get Angry at the WHAT, ask WHY?

People are angry these days, and justifiably so.

The government is a mess, kids are getting shot in schools and the world just feels like a scary and dangerous place.

Unfortunately, the justifiable anger from some of these big-world-issues seems to be spreading into our small, every day personal interactions.

  • Cursing the guy who cuts you off in traffic and speeds off.
  • Starting a fight with the person who is being a “Sancti-Mommy” online.
  • Snapping at your kid because they forgot something important at school.

I’m not above it.  We’ve ALL done it before.  Heck, I have probably done it today.

Recently, I have been listening to Jenny Nash, Book Coach, on the Mom Writes podcast. One of the main points she brings up frequently is that when it come to writing a story, it’s not about the WHAT, it’s about the WHY.

For example, if someone posted on Facebook highlighting the “WHAT” details of a story about a teenage girl who snuck out at night to go to a party, even after her mother expressly forbid it, the comment section would be on fire.

“Teenagers these days have no respect for their parents!”

“Where were the parents? My kids would never be able to sneak out because I pay attention to my kids!”

“I bet that girl is having sex and doing drugs!”

Now, what if the original poster of the story clarified, “actually, the story is Cinderella.”

When you know the WHYs about the evil step sisters, the prince and the pure, kind, innocence of the girl that you just branded a slut in the comment section, you’re able to make judgements based on the whole story not just a few select details.

I think that a lot of us could take this book-writing concept of what vs why to heart in day to day life.

Perhaps:

  • The guy who cut you off in traffic was distracted because he just found out his wife was taken to the hospital and he’s rushing to get to her.
  • The “Sancti-Mommy” on Facebook is overprotective of her child because she lost a sibling when she was young.
  • Your child forgot their book at school because they were distracted trying to help protect a friend from a bully.

Now, I’m not saying that there’s always an excuse for bad behavior – sometimes people are just jerks. But perhaps the next time you feel a rage building about the “what” that someone just did, take a few minutes to consider there just may be a “why.”

SusanneKerns.com

 

This post is from “Wish ‘n Well Wednesday” at my Dusting Off My Parachute Facebook Group.  Join us there for more daily micro-resolutions.

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For more great writing tips, definitely check out the Podcast, Mom Writes (with Abby Mathews, Melanie Parish & Jennie Nash,) and Jennie Nash’s Author Accelerator Program.

The Cinderella example was from a great writing workshop I went to recently by Jennifer Ziegler.  Check out her books here.

Today’s F-It Friday is brought to you by the Austin Half Marathon whose motto should be: “The Austin Half Marathon: the race that’s impossible to train the appropriate 12 weeks for because the prior 12 weeks include Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every negative weather condition known to man.” (That wouldn’t really fit on a bumper sticker though.)
 
So today’s F-It is me giving up my hope of illegally selling my race bib to someone else and risk being permanently banned from future races and accepting the fact that, F-It….I guess I’m running a half marathon in a thunderstorm on Sunday!
 
The additional F-It part is that I’ve given up the hope of *running* it and have accepted that this is going to be a *run/walk* (emphasis on the WALK part) not just because it would probably be impossible to run the whole thing at this point, but also because it’s just irresponsible to risk injury since I haven’t completed the proper training.
 
Do a little early Wish ‘n Well for me since I’ll be wishing that I’m still well enough to walk on Monday morning.
 
What standards are you lowing for yourself on this F-It Friday?Join us at my Dusting Off My Parachute Facebook Group and let us know!
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Thank A Teacher

Thank A Teacher

I love teachers.

Sure, everyone “loves” teachers, but I LOVE teachers. I am in awe of their patience and grace under the pressure of handling the demands of 15x more kids than I’ve ever had to deal with, FOR SEVEN HOURS A DAY!  EVERY DAY!

My favorite example: I was once visiting my daughter’s fourth grade classroom to take class photos for the yearbook. The class that her teacher team-taught was gathering, very enthusiastically, in the hall for a class trip to the Nutcracker. She came out to greet me, while nonchalantly holding a trashcan that a student had just puked in and simultaneously arranging escorts to take said student to the office and getting students filed off onto the bus.

To me, even just as a spectator, this experience was so traumatic that I’m still writing about four years later.

To her, it was Thursday.

That’s when I truly realized that even when I’m not there to witness it, teachers are addressing every conceivable combination of child-related issue you can imagine at least a hundred times a day.

And then there are the non-child-related issues: the parents, the administration, the money they have to take from their own pocket to care for their students.

And then there are the truly unimaginable situations: The fire drills. The earthquake drills. The tornado drills. The gunman drills.

And the situations when those drills are not drills.

When we see the tragic accounts about school shootings like yesterday’s in Florida, no one is every surprised to see headlines like, “Geography Teacher Died Saving His Students.” We know that in addition to all the gifts of love, patience and learning that our teachers give our kids every single day, that they would not think twice when it comes to protecting their kids from danger.

Because they are their kids.

Quantitatively, they spend more waking hours with our children than we do every day. Qualitatively, they likely know as much about the inner workings of each of those kids as their parents do, if not more.

I hope that I will never have to say “Thank You” to a teacher for giving that ultimate gift of risking their life for one of their students, but I will use this tragedy as a reminder to give thanks to teachers for the gifts that they give our kids every day.

I hope you will too.

SusanneKerns.com

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Kids > Guns

Kids > Guns

Sorry, everyone – there won’t be anything funny posted here today. In fact, there will probably be a lot of completely unfunny things posted here.

You see, I just finally watched one of the many videos from the latest school massacre.

I have to admit, I was too cowardly to watch them yesterday. I was also too cowardly to watch them today, but one autoplayed in my Twitter feed and I saw it.

I didn’t want to see it, because I did not want to feel it.

I was afraid that if I saw it, and felt it, that would make it real.

Like a Schrödinger cat. I didn’t want to “open the box” and make 17 people die.

But I did see it.

I saw dead children lying in pools of blood.

I saw the look on the surviving children’s faces as they were forced to file out of the school, stepping over their friends’ dead bodies and strewn backpacks.

To the NRA, the fear mongering lawmakers, and all the American citizens who support them through their ideals and their votes: it is time for YOU to see it too.

It is time for you to value our children’s lives more than you value your precious guns.

It is time for you to stop blaming mental illness while you strip funding to care for the mentally ill and strip the laws that limit their access to guns.

It is time for you to value the life of school age child as much as you value the life of an embryo.

It is time for our children’s lives to be worth more to you than donor money or the next election cycle.

It is time for you to sit down in front of hours of footage of gunned down children, toothpicks holding your eyelids open, Clockwork Orange style until you finally SEE it.

Until then, I’m sending you my thoughts and prayers, because, if there is a God, you are going to hell. And if there’s not, living without the capacity for empathy or compassion must be its own special hell.

Let’s “Take Two” to Talk About Taking a Number Two

Let’s “Take Two” to Talk About Taking a Number Two

Today, in an exercise in efficiency, (and laziness,) I am combining Take Two Tuesday and Wish ‘n Well Wednesday into one handy post.

In my defense, there’s actually a good explanation for combining the two: My wish for your wellness is that you “take-two“….as in a #2

Yep, as in:

Take 2 For a #2

The inspiration for writing a post about going #2 appropriately came to me in the waiting room of my Proctologist, right about the same time I posted this on Facebook.

SusanneKerns.com

 

I’ve been sitting in proctologists’ waiting rooms since I was in my twenties due to chronic issues with hemorrhoids. Since I have a well-earned aversion to the H-word, I’m just going to call them “Piles” from now on, which is actually the proper word for them. It is also the french word for “batteries,” which has nothing to do with anything, except for the fact that I’m trying to think about anything but piles right now.

How does a woman in her twenties end up having dozens of pile-removal procedures which escalate into the grand finale of having a hemorrhoidectomy at age 40?

Part of me thinks it has something to do with my unnatural fascination with all of the Preparation H commercials that used to play during The Price is Right back in the 80s. I was a bit of a hypochondriac and wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to catch whatever it was for. No one in my family would give me an acceptable explanation for what “inflamed hemorrhoidal tissue” was so I was left to rely on a very young Bryan Cranston, and confusing cartoons of “oxygen” bopping into what appears to be a large mosquito bite, to explain it to me.

Like that author of “The Secret” says, what you concentrate on, you manifest into your life….or in my case, you manifest into your anus.

The more likely cause of my piles of piles was a bit of hereditary misfortune combined with years and years of holding it.

SusanneKerns.com

Holding it because I didn’t want to poop among all my co-workers in the company restroom.

Holding it because I was convinced that every patron in every restaurant was timing the length of time between me entering the restroom and exiting.

Holding it because I didn’t want some boyfriend to know that I didn’t just store decades worth of food tidily in my intestines.

So, instead of facing a few moments of pooping embarrassment, I’m now paying penance by offering the ultimate embarrassment to the Pile-Gods by sharing my ass-woes with the entire internet.

Since most of you are moms, and you have become accustomed to pooping with a full audience, you have probably let go of your poo inhabitions.

SusanneKerns.com

But I’m hopeful that my pain can be your gain, and that you’ll pay it forward to the next generation. If your kiddo is having a poo issue, nip it in the BUTT (I know the saying is bud, but I couldn’t help myself.)

Here are a few handy articles for helping kids not get in the habit of holding it.

Parents.com – When Your Child Just Can’t Go

Today’s Parent – What to do When Your Kid is Afraid to Go Poo

And as a little reminder for all of us from WebMD:

Eat fiber. A good way to get it is from plant foods — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.

Drink water. It will help you avoid hard stools and constipation, so you strain less during bowel movements. Fruits and vegetables, which have fiber, also have water in them.

Exercise. Physical activity, like walking a half-hour every day, is another way to keep your blood and your bowels moving.

and of course…..

Don’t wait to go. Use the toilet as soon as you feel the urge.

 

Look forward to the next installment in my TMI butt series: “How NOT to Reflexively Punch Your Doctor In The Face During Your Post-Hemorrhoidectomy-Check-Up.”

You can leave comments to this post on the original post in Facebook.

SusanneKerns.com

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Monday ME-Search – Sharing Our Stories

Monday ME-Search – Sharing Our Stories
 
I received two pieces of news this week, from near and far, about friends who lost loved ones very unexpectedly.
 
It has been weighing on me, and I thought about using it to guide today’s Monday MEsearch, but didn’t want to be too much of a downer. Then I remembered the post I did last year around this time as I was traveling to attend the funeral of a dear woman – my husband’s aunt, who I love so much I also claim her as my own. I don’t always believe in *signs* but it seemed like a pretty good hint that this is something worth taking a few moments for this week.
 
Unlike the news from this week, losing our aunt was not unexpected or sudden, as she had been battling cancer for years. Long goodbyes bring a unique sort of grieving, and although the loss is just as painful, in some cases, there is the opportunity to use each of your remaining moments as a gift, and that is exactly what she did.
 

The greatest of those gifts was a series of videos that one of her nephews made of her after the initial news of her cancer’s return. He flew across the country, camera and pages of interview questions in hand, and filmed hours and hours of a documentary-style video covering every imaginable angle of her life.

We watched a few portions of the video at her memorial and it was so incredibly healing to be able to laugh and cry along with her stories and insights on life. This will be a gift that her daughter can treasure forever, and even potentially share with her own children someday, giving them a glimpse of the spectacular woman who raised their mother to be the strong and incredible young woman that she is today.

Although our aunt had a medical diagnosis that drove the urgency to get her stories on tape sooner than later, the news I received this week was a reminder that for many people, the urgency is there and they just don’t know it.

As this week’s ME-search, I encourage you to take a step toward sharing your story or asking someone you love about theirs.  Yes, it will probably feel awkward and uncomfortable. I cannot even imagine the courage it took for the nephew to contact our aunt and basically skip asking permission and just tell her, “this is what we’re going to do,” before showing up on her doorstep with a camera and tripod.

  • What two things do you want to make sure your kids know about YOU.  Not just how much you love THEM, but something about YOU.  Your favorite book when you were their age. What your first school dance was like. How you met their father. What you wanted to be when you grew up.  What made you follow/not follow that path.
  • What two things do you want to know about your childhood that only a parent, relative or childhood friend can answer for you?  Ask now.
  • What two things do you want to know about that parent, relative or childhood friend?

You don’t need to do a full video documentary to make this a valuable exercise (although that was truly amazing.) Just a phone call, an email, or even a text.

As I mentioned in last year’s post, life is unpredictable – live and learn to your fullest every day.

SusanneKerns.com

 

This post is from the Monday MEsearch series over at my Dusting Off My Parachute Facebook group.  Join us there for more daily prompts for micro-goals and resolutions.

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Say No So Someone Else Can Say Yes

Say No So Someone Else Can Say Yes

Women are notorious for saying yes to things that they have neither the time nor energy for, (or even any interest in.)

  • Taking the volunteer position at school when your plate is already full.
  • Accepting an invitation to an event when you want a night off at home.
  • Taking a promotion at work instead of pursuing another field you’re interested in.

There are hundreds of articles out there trying to convince us to start saying NO to help with our sanity and stress levels, yet we continue to say YES because we’re more worried about letting someone else down than our own well-being.

After all, it’s hard to convince a people-pleaser to look out for their health and happiness when nine times out of ten, they will base their choice on what they think will make someone else happy.

Perhaps we’re thinking of this the wrong way.

What if when you say no, you are making someone else happy?

By saying no, you are giving someone else the opportunity to say yes.

Did you ever stop to think that there’s someone else out there who would love that volunteer position that you just begrudgingly took on and are going to do a half ass job at while neglecting the things you really want to be doing? By saying yes, you just took away their opportunity to say yes.  By saying no, you would have given them the chance to say yes to a role they would have been excited about and would have brought 100x more energy to than you will.

Maybe when you said yes to that concert you didn’t really want to go to and spent the whole week complaining about how much the ticket cost, you actually were taking the ticket from someone who loves that band and has been dying to see the sold out show.

When it comes down to it, by giving yourself the permission to say no, you’re not just doing yourself a favor, you’re giving someone else out there the chance to say yes.  That should be a pretty compelling argument for all of us people-pleasers.

So the next time someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do, do everyone a favor and just say no.

SusanneKerns.com

Note: I did not come up with this wisdom all by myself. I recently spent an amazing girls’ weekend at the Strawberry Pines Ranch and Retreat where a dozen writers spent the weekend sharing ideas, advice, laughs and lots of cheese products. This Yes/No idea was shared as advice from a pastor of one of the women at the retreat and another woman had heard something similar on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, and I SO needed to hear it and thought maybe you did too.  

This post is from my “F-It Friday” on my Dusting Off My Parachute Facebook group.  Join us there for daily micro-resolutions focused on taking time for, and getting to know yourself. Join us!

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Thank-Full Thursday – Thank You Notes

Thank-Full Thursday – Thank You Notes

Happy Thank-full Thursday – I’m thankful you’re here!

The most simple interpretation of Thank-Full Thursday is to say “Thank You.” Last week, we practiced saying proper thank yous to people during day to day interactions, (instead of just mumbling thanks while staring at our shoes), but this week we’re stepping it up a notch: there’s postage involved.

How much would you love it if you went to the mailbox today and there was a card in there from someone who you haven’t seen in months (or who you saw yesterday) that just said a simple “Thank You.”

  • Thank you for picking up my kid from school that time.
  • Thank you for telling me I had something in my teeth.
  • Thank you for always bringing your amazing cheese dip to parties.

Often we only say thanks to people when they buy us something. Or in my case, I *intend* to say thanks, but then put off writing the notes for so long that my kids have been known to pass out thank you cards for the previous birthday at the current year’s birthday party. (Wrote all about that here.)

But today, let’s start a plan for saying thanks “just because.”

Today’s (and February’s) goal:

  1. Put together a list of 4 people you would like to thanks to this month.
  2. Pick out some super cute cards that you’ll love sending, or make them yourself. Target always has tons, and I found some great Amazon Prime ones too. http://amzn.to/2rZlq7Q
  3. Dig your stamps out of wherever you shoved them after mailing your holiday cards.
  4. Write (and MAIL) one card a week for the rest of February.
  5. Thank yourself for brightening someone’s day.SusanneKerns.com

 

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Is It Your Thyroid? Thyroid Awareness Month.

Is It Your Thyroid? Thyroid Awareness Month.

January is thyroid awareness month. Despite the fact that I’ve been taking daily thyroid supplements for almost thirty years, I was not aware of awareness month.  Even worse, like 60% of people who suffer from thyroid issues, I spent years not even being aware that I had an untreated thyroid condition.

So, although I’m writing this on the very last day of thyroid awareness month, I encourage you to be aware of thyroid symptoms all year-long because although thyroid conditions are so common (12% of the US population will develop one) that we often talk about having them like having a cold or a bad knee, the health implications of having being hyperthyroid (overactive) or hypothyroid (under active) can impact every part of your body and every part of your life.

According to the American Thyroid Association:

The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.

Every tissue in the body.  That sounds pretty important, huh? Yet many people suffer from vague, misdiagnosed symptoms for years before getting the proper treatment. For me, that meant spending over a year during college confined to the space between my couch and my bed.

Here are some of the symptoms to look out for

https://www.providr.com/tag/thyroid-treatments/
Source: https://www.providr.com/tag/thyroid-treatments/

 

Fatigue? Brain fog? Weight gain? Mood swings?  That sounds like just about every mom I know, so you can see how easy it is to carry on daily life while attributing symptoms to getting older or being busy.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been taking a thyroid supplement called Levothyroxine for almost thirty years. I go in every six months to get a blood test to make sure my levels are good and although I wouldn’t describe myself as a bundle of energy, I’m far from the days in college when I couldn’t walk more than ten feet without having to lie down.  Problem solved, right?

That was until a couple of years ago when I started suffering from horrible anxiety symptoms, (I wrote about it here.)

I started anti-anxiety meds and have been virtually symptom free for the past two years.  Hooray!  But then in the past year I started gaining weight and last month finally went to my doctor about it.  It went a little like this:

Doctor: What are you here for today?

Me: Well, I’ve gained ten pounds in the past several months and I wanted to see if there’s a medical reason.

Doctor: Actually, you’ve gained FIFTEEN pounds in the past year.

Me: You’re a mean doctor.

She went on to try to tell me that, “I’m getting older” and “I’m not technically OVERweight yet” and since my recent thyroid labs looked normal, I should probably just lay off the queso and margaritas for a while.  But then while she was giving me a quick look-over, she noticed some lumpiness around the right side of my neck and suggested that I go get a thyroid ultrasound and meet with an endocrinologist.

Aside from having a lab tech squirt KY lube all over the neck, the thyroid ultrasound was pretty uneventful and in the end just showed what I’ve known all along, that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (a fancy way of saying that once upon a time, my body’s immune system decided to attack my thyroid, and now it doesn’t work any more.)

The real exciting part was meeting with an endocrinologist – and even learning that there’s such a thing as an endocrinologist.  In addition to confirming my doctor’s discovery that I have a “very easy to feel” thyroid gland (thank you?) she informed me that studies are now showing that some people’s bodies are not good at turning T4 into T3.  To which I responded, “I don’t understand the words coming out of your mouth.”

In the most simple (and potentially inaccurate) terms: The medication I’ve been taking for thirty years gives my body T4. Most people’s bodies take that T4 and turn it into T3, and T3 is the stuff that all your organs actually want and need to work properly. Well, some of us semi-defective humans’ bodies don’t do a good job of turning T4 into T3, so although thirty years of lab tests have shown that I have the right amount of T4 in my body, NO ONE HAS EVER THOUGHT TO CHECK MY F*ING T3 LEVELS, which, as you can probably tell by the all caps, are not optimal.

If you want to learn more about this in official medical terms, I recommend reading this report by Dr. Gary Pepper (there are other similar reports available, but I chose this one because how often do you get to refer to someone named Dr. Pepper?)

Now, in addition to my T4 supplement, I’m on a new T3 supplement, which may or may not make a difference in my weight gain and overall health. But at the very least, I finally have information about a condition that has impacted me for more than half of my life.

So, in honor of this final day of Thyroid Awareness Month, I encourage you to be aware. Be aware of the symptoms of thyroid disorders and just be aware in general when you don’t feel “quite right.”  And if your doctor waves you off or just says “it’s what happens when you’re in your 40s,” get a new doctor, or at the very least, stand up for yourself and your body and get a second opinion and more information.

Be aware. Be informed. You’re the only YOU that you’ve got.

For more tips on taking care of your mind and body, visit my Dusting Off My Parachute Facebook Group.

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Take 2 Tuesday – 2 Minute Stretch for Your 10 Pound Head

Take 2 Tuesday – 2 Minute Stretch for Your 10 Pound Head

Before you jump into “Taking 2,” take 1 second and notice how you’re standing or sitting.

My guess is that you’re not sitting in a perfectly aligned, yoga like position and instead your head is jutting forward over a phone or keyboard, putting 10 pounds (YES 10 POUNDS) of pressure on your poor neck. We shouldn’t be surprised when our backs and necks hurt, we should be surprised when they don’t!

SusanneKerns.com

Now that I’ve posture-shamed you, it’s time to get into our “Take 2.”

Here’s a great little video demonstrating a series of stretches you can easily do at your desk in TWO MINUTES (and if you have 6 more minutes to spare, the guys go into a bunch of reasons you should be stretching after the exercises.)

If you don’t have 6 more minutes to spare, here’s a quick list of reasons it’s worth “Taking 2” to stretch today (and every day.)

  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Increases circulation
  • Increases energy levels due to all that great circulation
  • A great mid-day pick me up
  • Improves flexibility
  • Improves your posture

You only have one you – take care of it.

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