Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Shifting My Perspective" Has A New Home

     I'm thrilled to announce that I am moving my blog "Shifting My Perspective" over to WordPress, another blogging host site!!  Through them, I was able to purchase the address of:  www.shiftingmyperspective.com.

     My hope is that the new site will be more user-friendly.  I was getting word that people were having difficulty commenting when they wanted to.  Hopefully that won't be the case at the new address, because I LOVE when people comment (hint, hint)!

     Unfortunately, those of you who have already subscribed here will have to subscribe again over at WordPress.  I sincerely hope that you do so, as it wouldn't be the same without you!  All you need do is click on this link: www.shiftingmyperspective.com and then put your email address in the field in the right margin of my new home page.  It's that simple.  Those of you who haven't subscribed yet, I would LOVE you to do so, following the same steps, so that each week's post simply falls right into your email inbox - no need to go searching for it. :)

     As always, I am immensely grateful to all of you for following my blog, and for voting for me by clicking on the cute pink and brown "Top Mommy Blogs" icon in the upper right hand margin of the "Shifting My Perspective" home page.  

     I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by, and mindful of, all the blessings that you have!

With gratitude and blessings,


Friday, November 21, 2014

Putting The "Play" Back In Playtime

"If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes."       Luke 19:42

     Joni Mitchell has a song called Big Yellow Taxi that says, "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."  I get it.  As a mom of young kids, I know I'm supposed to "seize the day."  For years, old ladies have been stopping me in the grocery store, all saying the same thing: "enjoy these years," "cherish every minute when they're little because they grow up so fast."  
    Consequently, I've been putting a concerted effort recently into playing games with my kids two or three evenings during the school week.  This is no easy feat.  It's a very small window between when they get off the school bus, and when they have to go to bed, especially when you have to cram in homework, after school clubs, karate, piano lessons, clarinet practice, dinner prep, dinner itself, the clean up after, and baths and showers.  It's a marathon we have to run every day.  But I've been lectured for so long to "cherish this time."  So cherish it I'm trying.
     However, my vision of "game time" is a Norman Rockwell painting: all of us agreeing on the same game, sitting criss-cross applesauce in a circle on the family room rug, smiles on all of our faces, really connecting and enjoying each other's company.  Jocelyn and I play like this all the time when the boys are in school.  So it can happen, right?  
     The real reality, though, is that ten and eight year old boys don't do criss-cross applesauce on the family room rug when they're having fun!  Furthermore, when four year old girls see this, they morph into crazy, energetic jumping beans.  So "game time" turns into kids doing karate moves, handstands, and wacky dance moves between taking their turns.  Weird and obnoxious noises get vocalized, for no apparent reason, and grate like fingernails on a chalkboard, but with the volume turned up to one hundred.  No one pays attention to the rules.  No one knows when their turn is.  And pouting abounds when anyone loses or doesn't get the card or game piece they want.  I spend all of my time and energy refocusing them, trying to teach them to "dial down" the volume, lecturing them on how no one likes a soar looser, and trying to re-form the circle with these wound up little bodies bursting with frenetic energy.  
     I do start out the process with patience and calm, trying to use a quiet voice and gentle manner to teach them and control their energy.  But it doesn't take long for that well to run dry.  Before you know it, I'm yelling, tossing around threats like confetti, and have a tension headache between my eyes and at the base of my scull.  In what dimension is this scenario peaceful or enjoyable for anyone?
     I thought my job as their mom was to work with them to get them to that place where we were living out the Norman Rockwell painting.  I realize now how wrong I was.  
     This scripture passage "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace," has taught me that I have been defining "peace" all wrong.  I have been defining it as "calm, controlled, and quiet."  That's what my energy level at 6:30 at night is ready for.  But my kids' energy levels are on the other end of the spectrum.  Those Energizer Bunnies are still going at full speed, even more so because their batteries were just recharged while staying in their seats and having good table manners during dinner.  "Peace" looks different to them:  it's movement, it's noisy, it's freedom, it's letting the lid off their ids!
     What I have been missing is the fact that their joy in action is their open display of just how excited they are to play with me, and each other.  I should be deeply grateful and humbled by that.  If they came to the family room rug moping, wishing they were elsewhere, I would be hurt beyond words.  If they had any disabilities that prevented them from dancing and jumping and yelping with glee, I would be pounding the gates of Heaven with prayer to make them healthy, energetic, joy-filled little beings.  I have all of that right in front of me, right now, but it has been "hidden from my eyes" because I had a different vision of "what would bring me peace."
     I can't live the Joni Mitchell song any longer and only recognize what I had after it's gone. This is it - the time is now!  I need to change my approach, and my perspective, not change my kids by trying to stifle their enthusiasm.  I constantly preach to them that it "doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game."  I need to go a step further and say, "Who cares how the game is played!"  The game is just a springboard for playtime with my kids: it's not the end all be all of our time together.  Instead of criss-cross applesauce, I have to appreciate the cartwheels and dance moves.  Instead of controlling the volume, I have to tune my ears to the excitement and delight within it.  Instead of following the rules of the game, I have to go wherever the wave of energy and joy takes us. (I do draw the line on the weird and obnoxious noises, though.  A mom can only take so much after a long day!) 
     Before it's too late and I create and cement a miserable environment where my kids don't want to be, I have to put the "play" back in playtime!


I would be immensely grateful if you voted for my blog.  If you're not already on the home page of "Shifting My Perspective," click on the title of this post.  Then simply click the cute pink and brown "Top Mommy Blog" icon in the upper right hand corner of my home page.  It's that simple!  That wonderful site ranks mommy blogs based on votes.  So feel free to vote up to once a day!  Thanks so much!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Purging Is Hard Work

There is a time for everything... a time to keep and a time to throw away.                Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 6

     I just finished up what is, in my opinion, one of the worst chores of motherhood:  the kids' seasonal clothing turnover and purging that every mother in New England dreads.  No matter how hard I try, it always equals umpteen loads of laundry, and a week and a half of clothing strewn all over the upstairs hallway.  The piles are mind boggling and hard to keep straight: what gets handed down to my nephews' kids who are smaller, what still fits, what out of season clothing needs to get rotated to the top shelves of the closet, what of Zack's goes into the attic to be worn later by Mason, what hand-me-downs that Jocelyn has received from family and friends that fit and don't fit, what goes to Goodwill, and what I had to buy to fill in the gaps.  Multiply these piles by three kids, and my hallway is a minefield.  Then add to that the usual laundry that needs to get done and I'm buried under it.  Please tell me how mothers of seven or more kids ever complete this chore?!!  
     I am someone who, if my outer world looks chaotic, my inner world is a disaster.  Needless to say, I've been frazzled for over ten days now!  But knowing there was an end to the project kept me plowing through.  I couldn't wait to get to the other side: where my hallway would be clothing free again, drawers would be filled, tubs of clothes would be back in the attic, and what needed to get passed on would be in the hands of those who could benefit from them.  
     I kept thinking that once my outer world was organized, my inner world would become peaceful again.  But then I started tripping over all the piles in the hallways of my head and heart: routines that my kids and I have outgrown and aren't working anymore, toxic relationships that are exhausting to maintain because they're so imbalanced, habits I've developed that are taking me off course, and laziness in certain areas that is holding me back.  In the face of working through all this, I'd much rather wash load after load of laundry and side-step piles of clothing in my path.  
     However, if I want to become the person God envisions me to be, I have to do the hard work.  I need to spend the time to develop new routines for who my kids and I are now, so that I'm teaching them responsibility, independence and team work, and I am being productive.  I have to either step away from some relationships and let them die their natural deaths, or if they have the potential to be healthy and balanced, invest the time and energy to make them so.  I need to find the self-discipline to reverse my bad habits - knowing that I'm role modeling everything for my kids.  What they see is what they will become.  Furthermore, I want to demonstrate for my kids that it is possible to overcome laziness, fear, self-doubt, and whatever other obstacles there are between me and becoming who God wants me to be. 
     I'd be embarrassed if my kids were walking around town with pants up to their shins and shirts two sizes too small.  By no means do I want them to become vane, but I do want them to take pride in their appearance.  God created them amazing little beings; they should carry themselves with dignity.
     So too, I don't want to be embarrassed before God, walking around, still stuck in my old ways that don't fit anymore.  He made me an amazing being too.  I shouldn't disrespect that by clothing myself in old routines, bad habits, and laziness.  If I want to hold my head up high, carry myself with dignity, knowing deep in my heart that I'm doing the very best that I can, it's time to do the hard work of purging on the inside.


I would be immensely grateful if you voted for my blog.  If you're not already on the home page of "Shifting My Perspective," click on the title of this post.  Then simply click the cute pink and brown "Top Mommy Blog" icon in the upper right hand corner of my home page.  It's that simple!  That wonderful site ranks mommy blogs based on votes.  So feel free to vote up to once a day!  Thanks so much!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Four Year Old Is A Hoarder

"Look at the birds of the air.  They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not more valuable than they?"   
Matthew 6:26

     My four year old daughter Jocelyn is a hoarder.  She walks around the house with purses and bags loaded with random toys and trinkets that she vehemently declares she cannot do without.  It makes leaving the house a big ordeal, as she scurries around, collecting all her "stuff," making us late because she "needs to have it all" for the car ride.  I try to reason with her, but she's four!  Sometimes it's just easier to give in and help her collect and carry it all, rather than argue with her and end up later than we will already be.  It can be so frustrating!
     But then I step into my pantry and realize that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.  Not only do I have two of everything, I have three - a back up to the back up.  If there were any kind of national crisis, just come to my house.  I can keep a small village fed, single handedly, for quite a while.  Looking at my supply makes me happy; it makes me feel secure.
     So when the local grocery store chain went on strike for six weeks over this past summer, I thought I would go into panic mode.  I have been a loyal shopper there for years and know it so well, I can write my grocery list in the order of how the store is stocked.  The cashiers and baggers know my daughter by name.  I had to support them.  I couldn't cross the picket line.  Although I had no choice but to give in and buy perishables from the super expensive grocery store down the street, I didn't want to blow my kids' college funds on the dry goods there (seriously, this store is that expensive!).  So we ate our way through the pantry instead.
     As my shelves got more and more bare, I kept waiting for anxiety to set in.  But it never happened.  I was surprisingly okay!  I gained a new sense of self-satisfaction that I wasn't the hoarder that I feared I was.  Then, finally, after those six long weeks, the store chain reopened.  I immediately restocked my pantry, and life returned to normal.  Until that random day in October...
     That day, for the first time ever, we were bringing the mommy-and-me program I run to the local retirement community to make it inter-generational.  As I went back and forth from my car, unloading bucket after bucket of snacks and crafts and toys, the temperature and humidity kept rising.  I hadn't watched the weather report.  I was dressed for an October day, not the 80 degree day, with extremely high humidity, that the day was turning out to be.  I started to sweat and overheat.  To further exacerbate things, the temperature in the retirement community was set to the mid-80's, as the elderly's blood runs thin.  I was wilting fast.
     In addition to the wacky health problems I have, I also have an immense sensitivity to heat and humidity.  It is my kryptonite, my achilles heel, whatever term you relate to for my complete undoing.  With every passing minute, I could feel the life being sucked out of me.  By the time the program ended and I had repacked my car, I felt like I had the flu: I felt weak, nauseous, and extremely exhausted.  Those of you who have had miserable first tri-mester pregnancies that kept you couch-bound can probably relate.  All I wanted to do was go home, turn my A/C to high, and crawl into bed.  But I had a very important meeting scheduled for just an hour later.  It was a meeting with someone I greatly admire and had been wanting to meet for a while.  Canceling it wasn't an option.
     I raced home, changed my clothes, had some lunch, and gulped down Gatoraide, trying to recharge.  But the damage was done.  I couldn't get beyond the extreme weakness.  It was then that it became evident that I couldn't go to that meeting alone.  I wasn't capable of it.  I had nothing left to get me there.
     In the face of my weakness, I had to admit that I truly was a hoarder.  I sow and reap and store away my strength, confidence, and self-reliance.  I have always been able to burn the candle at both ends, jam a week's worth of work into a day, and still have energy left over.  That had become my identity, and I gave myself credit for it all, not God.  Now here I was, at the dead opposite end of the spectrum, not able to even drive myself the three miles to the church for this meeting.
     But I did have God, and I did have prayer.  I had no choice but to rely on both.  I was humbled and stripped of all self-reliance.  I was just like the birds of the air, trusting that God would gift me with the strength I needed to get to that meeting, and get through it.  When I got to the church, I had to double that trust when it was suggested we meet outside, as the other women wanted a change of scenery from the offices they work in every day.
     Although I did have to go to bed at 6:30 p.m. that night, God not only gave me the strength to get through that meeting, He went above and beyond and gave me the strength to get through homework time with my kids, dinner prep, and dinner itself.  It was pretty amazing to get to live Philippians 4:13: "I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me."  
     It is still hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I am no longer the self-sufficient person I used to be.  That is a huge blow to my ego and my self-confidence.  In fact, as a control freak, it shakes me to the core.  But I know for sure that this is exactly where God wants me to be.  It is the only place where I can learn to truly lean on Him, not on myself anymore.  Stocking up on extra cereal and pasta is practical.  But stocking up on self-sufficiency and my own ego is self-centered, not God-centered.  It's okay for my four year old to be a hoarder; it's part of her developmental journey.  But my journey now is to stop clutching on to my own abilities and strength so that my hands are wide open and ready to be filled by God's. 


I would be immensely grateful if you voted for my blog.  If you're not already on the home page of Shifting My Perspective, click on the title of this post.  Then simply click the cute pink and brown "Top Mommy Blog" icon in the upper right hand corner of my home page.  It's that simple!  That wonderful site ranks mommy blogs based on votes.  So feel free to vote up to once a day!  Thanks so much!

I'd also like to thank all of my readers for voting for me!  Because of you, my blog is #1 in the category of "spiritual and religious" on Top Mommy Blogs.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!