DIY Myth: There’s no Shame in Asking for Help – Heart Beings article

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Asking for help makes you seem weak or overwhelmed, right? Wrong. In fact, by not asking for help, you’re not only overworking yourself but making it hard for others to appreciate you. See how NOT doing it all yourself makes you stronger.

by Barb Vitelli, Contributing Writer Monday, 27 June 2016

I was once a “do it all myself” kind of person. I took pride in never asking for help. I wanted to show people I could manage a lot and still come out on top. And I told myself I liked being busy, having my hands in a lot of things.

But a slow change began when I entered the work force, got married, and had four children. I feel it even more now that I have returned to work after twenty years. Over time, I have learned, at glacier speed, that projecting the image that I could do it all by myself, and then feeling the burden of making it happen, had some negative effects I had never considered.

At my first job out of graduate school, I wanted to project confidence and capability, so I never said no to assignments. I let the bosses pile on the work, seeing it as their test to justify hiring me. I was young, and woefully inexperienced in the tricky area of asserting myself, and I even once heard the top boss laugh and say I was “as green as a salad.” I never said no or asked for help, but I fumed inside when my peers didn’t step up. More work piled on. I was loaned out to other departments. I did the work, thinking I would prove myself, move up quickly and reap the rewards. What I learned was the new person who takes on more and more work without asking for help becomes the person who gets more work, and doesn’t get help, even when she needs it. Instead of feeling capable and valued, I felt overburdened and unappreciated. Although I couldn’t have seen it then, I can say now that it was completely my fault! No matter where you are on the ladder, and at home and in personal relationships, letting go of the “doing it all” attitude will make you happier.

In a September 2014 article from Inc.com, “5 Mistaken Beliefs About Asking For Help”, Lori Corcurea notes, “The act of asking for support and openly receiving is probably one of the hardest life skills to practice, yet it’s the skill that can make you a better human being and a stronger leader.”

Corcurea is CEO and co-founder of Spark Creations, an organization that focuses on creating and inspiring loving human connections at work and at home. She outlines the reasons why people have a hard time asking for help. Many people believe it’s a sign of weakness and worry that it will make others think they are losing control of the situation. In addition, people think they are the only ones who can finish the job in time, that it’s faster to just do it alone.

Corcurea contends that asking for help makes leaders stronger because it allows them to retain focus. In addition, it gives others the opportunity to share their talents. Leaders who recognize that no one can do it all develop stronger bonds with their team. The result? “There is strength in being vulnerable, in being human. We were designed to co-create life changing experiences together,” she says in the report.

Margie Warrell, a keynote speaker and bestselling author of Courage, Stop Playing Safe and Brave, agrees with this idea. In a March 2015 article from Forbes.com, “Asking For Help Reveals Strength, Not Weakness”, she states that fear is what holds people back. Warrell defines these worries as: “Fear of over-stepping a friendship. Fear of appearing too needy. Fear of imposing. Fear of revealing our struggle and having people realize we don’t have it all together after all.” She adds, “The truth is that we all have gifts to share – time, talent, connections, insights, experience, skills, resources, hospitality. And most people love to share them!”

As a student of learning how to let others help, I’ve learned a lot about collaboration in my new job at our local library. At work, I’m completely dependent on others to explain how things are done and to ask for help when I need it. And because our team of librarians works the reference desk in shifts, cooperation is key. Jobs that aren’t finished when the shift is over are picked up by the next person.

But this advice is not just for the workplace. A busy household is the perfect place to establish a collective dynamic. I have been a slow learner at home, too. As a mother with little children, I often refused help, even when I needed it. Even today, I often think, “isn’t it just faster for me to empty the dishwasher and put everything away, rather than explain where each dish and utensil go?” In the long run, letting go of the idea that my way is the only right way makes me a happier mom.

So now, before I head off to work, I ask for help. Sweeping, doing laundry, setting the table, and emptying the trash are on the family’s list. And the dishwasher job? I’m happy to see it done, even if the spatula is in a new place!


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If you liked this article, click here to visit the Heart Beings website and get to know its creative team.  It’s full of articles, podcasts and videos that educate, entertain and empower!


You may enjoy my other articles on Heart Beings:

“The Epic Minivan”
“Texting Your Way into Empty Nest Happiness”
“Doing It Right the First Time”
“A Small Moment Becomes a Lifeline”
“Is That Mood of Yours Contagious?”
“Choosing Yourself Over Perfection”

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Choosing Yourself Over Perfection – Heart Beings article

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The Gifts of Imperfection

Choosing Yourself Over Perfection

Review of The Gifts of Imperfection – Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Are you a perfectionist? Or do you always feel like you’re not quite enough? Learn how to be accomplished without being overwhelmed.

I tried to be perfect that day. I had practiced the music routine for weeks. At age fourteen, I desperately wanted to be a twirler for my school. On tryout day, the music played and I marched and twirled to “Feeling Groovy” by Simon and Garfunkel. I thought it was going pretty well and, at the start of the next move, I confidently grabbed the ball of the baton and prepared to throw it in the air. But at the moment I swung my arm, something went terribly wrong. The ball came off the end and, instead of going up, the baton went cartwheeling to the side, nearly taking out one of the judges. If the judges hadn’t been sure about me before this moment, seeing my baton hurtling toward them made their decision easy. So while many of my friends were selected for the twirling squad that day, I didn’t make the cut.

Although I was able to bounce back from the experience, not making the cut was the first time I was told I was not good enough to be a part of something I really wanted. Rejection is an unavoidable part of all our lives and can lead us to opportunities and careers that suit us better. But everyone processes it differently, and that’s the tricky part. Some people fuel comebacks with these feelings. They return stronger or they excel at something new. And hard work does pay off. Coaches successfully use this strategy to prod athletes into improving their game. Students study harder and get better grades. People work harder at their jobs, get promoted and recognized for their achievements. And while some are happy with the challenge, for others, this feeling of never being good enough, or worthy, becomes a debilitating trap. Always striving for perfection can permeate our thinking. It’s a mindset that can ruin relationships and prevent people from experiencing their imperfect, authentic, and happy selves. And in the end, no matter what successes we have achieved, it’s our happiness and our relationships that are most important.

Brené Brown has a solution. Brown has spent years researching and studying the damaging effects of what she calls “shame storms” and has written a guidebook to help people avoid the pitfalls of trying to be perfect. As a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, Brown writes and speaks regularly about her findings. In The Gifts of Imperfection – Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, and in her very popular TED Talks on The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame, she shares her personal struggle for perfection in a warm and engaging style. She encourages readers and listeners to take an honest look at their own lives and examine how they can change their way of thinking to become successfully happy people.

Brown offers ten guideposts to what she terms “Wholehearted Living,” a lifetime practice of cultivating the positive things in life and letting go of the negative ones. She suggests the only way to true happiness is to get away from the feeling we have to “hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving.” Instead of worrying about being perfect, about what people think, and insisting on certainty, Brown suggests alternate strategies such as cultivating authenticity, self-compassion, a resilient spirit, and gratitude. Practicing these strategies is the key to feeling worthy.

Brown’s message is both powerful and freeing. It’s not about becoming a slacker. It’s about embracing who you are. She writes, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It’s about cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

I moved on from the twirling debacle years ago, but now I’ve found Brown’s book at just the right time. As I am learning to juggle a new job with my responsibilities at home, as a mother and director of all household activities, I will need to remember that perfect is not always necessary. My family will still love me if our dinners aren’t as exciting or if my kids are down to their last clean pair of socks. I accept Brown’s “invitation to join a Wholehearted revolution;” in a culture that places such value on achievement, this one is a win-win!


Heart-Beings_free-to-be-meIf you liked this article, click here to visit the Heart Beings website and get to know its creative team.  It’s full of articles, podcasts and videos that educate, entertain and empower!


You may enjoy my other articles on Heart Beings:

“The Epic Minivan”
“Texting Your Way into Empty Nest Happiness”
“Doing It Right the First Time”
“A Small Moment Becomes a Lifeline”“Is That Mood of Yours Contagious?”

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Is That Mood of Yours Contagious? – Heart Beings article

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Is That Mood of Yours Contagious?

We know yawning is contagious, but how about your mood? What if the way you look at someone or the way you nod affects a person’s day? Studies have shown the littlest of things count.

We all know how our moods affect the people close to us. But have you ever wondered about the impact these moods have on complete strangers? Is there a certain vibe we send to people when we’re out in the world, giving off good or bad mood signals? And do the people we “share” our feelings with send us something in return?

Not long ago, I was driving down a long, winding, two-lane road near our house. I used to like that road and enjoyed looking at the corn fields and the empty farm houses along the way, but after thirteen years of countless trips up and down it, the drive has become a bit of a bore.

On my recent trip down this road, a car approached from the opposite direction and, just as we met, I looked inside to see its driver in the middle of a huge yawn! I laughed at the joke of it; someone else agreeing with me that our road was less than exciting. And about a minute later, I was yawning just as wide as the other driver. In that split-second interaction, we had communicated without a word. I felt lifted by our exchange. It made me feel part of the bigger world of people working through their days.

I think a lot about the people I interact with every day in my community – people I may see only once in my life and others I see regularly, but only know their faces. I am often amazed at the power of their impact on me. Most of these interactions happen spontaneously and unconsciously. I doubt the people who boost my mood simply because they are in good moods themselves are even aware of their influence.

It happens in my car, in line somewhere, at a store, or in a doctor’s office. Occasionally the effect is negative. I bristle when a driver cuts me off or when someone is rude to me, but more often, the small things that happen are very positive, and they’re contagious! I get a tremendous lift when I pick up a positive mood from a stranger, especially if I’m under a personal and selfish cloud. I feel a little humbled when a car lets me into a busy merge, for example, and that makes me want to do the same for someone else. Besides the lift, I think of it as a good reminder to reach out a little to my fellow driver, line-waiter, or shopper and be nice.

… you’d be surprised at the power of a little kindness or a friendly remark to the person next to you.

Some people just want to get from A to B when they’re out there, preferring to mind their own business and close themselves off to others. But people who avoid contact with strangers may be missing out on some positive human interaction.

In the article “Hello, Stranger” from The New York Times (25 April 2014), Elizabeth W. Dunn and Michael Norton report on a behavioral study by scientists Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder, in which commuters on a train were asked to talk to the stranger next to them. The study then compared the experience with a second group which was told to follow standard commuter norms – keep to oneself, make no contact. The first group reported a positive experience – that “lift” I’m talking about – and felt better about their commute than the second group.

The authors explain, “Most people imagined it would be difficult to start a conversation. They estimated that fewer than half of their fellow commuters would want to talk to them. But in fact, not a single person reported having been snubbed. And the conversations were consistently pleasant.”

They add, “When the middle-aged woman starts playing Candy Crush Saga after she sits down next to the hipster scrolling through his iTunes library, they both miss out on an opportunity for connection.” A reader in the comments section to this article put it just right, “Positive interactions with strangers make you feel better simply because they remind you that there is good in the world. There is nothing simpler than being treated kindly and treating others kindly.”

Of course, street smarts are always necessary and common sense about personal safety is still the rule. But you’d be surprised at the power of a little kindness or a friendly remark to the person next to you.

For me, these personal encounters have become a special part of every day. To the tall mom at the grocery store who helped me reach the last jar of chicken bouillon and to the little boy walking with his mom who smiled and waved at me, you made my day and I will pass it on!


Heart-Beings_free-to-be-meIf you liked this article, click here to visit the Heart Beings website and get to know its creative team.  It’s full of articles, podcasts and videos that educate, entertain and empower!


You may enjoy my other articles on Heart Beings:

“The Epic Minivan”
“Texting Your Way into Empty Nest Happiness”
“Doing It Right the First Time”
“A Small Moment Becomes a Lifeline”

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

A Small Moment Becomes a Lifeline: A Review of “An Invisible Thread” – Heart Beings article

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A Small Moment Becomes a Lifeline: A Review of “An Invisible Thread” by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

There are some connections that last a lifetime, and there are others that were meant to be before our lives even started. When Laura walked past Maurice, she had no idea that the moment she met the eleven-year-old boy would change both their lives, and many others.


What would you do if you saw someone in need? What if that person was asking you for money? What if he was an eleven-year-old boy who asked because he was hungry?

In 1986, Laura Schroff walked right by Maurice Mazyck, a young boy panhandling on the corner of New York’s 56th Street and Broadway. He’d asked her for money, but she was busy.

“I ignored him, very simply because he wasn’t in my schedule,” she admits. But something made her turn back and offer to buy him lunch at McDonald’s. That was the beginning of their thirty-year friendship and a time in which Maurice grew up and out of a dangerous and unstable world of poverty, neglect, abuse, and drugs, into a successful and happy life full of family and love. And it all happened because of the moment when Laura, unaware of the magnitude of her gesture, threw him a lifeline.

An Invisible Thread is the story of this remarkable friendship – how it began and how it grew. Written by Laura L. Schroff and Alex Tresniowski, it explains an unlikely connection which Laura calls destiny. She compares their meeting to the ancient Chinese proverb that says, “An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance.”

Laura was a busy ad executive, living in New York and enjoying the perks of her successful career when she met Maurice. Maurice lived in a welfare hotel on West 54th and Broadway, two short blocks from Laura’s luxury apartment. He’d been panhandling for a couple years by then, getting enough change to buy himself food each day. A child on his own, “Maurice came and went as he pleased; no one ever asked him where he’d been or where he was going, no matter the time of day or night. He answered to no one, and, in turn, no one really looked out for him.” Imagine being a kid with no one to look out for you.

Every Monday for four years, Laura and Maurice met and she taught him the rituals of a stable family life, knowing how important they were. She took him out to eat. Sometimes they went to the park or to a baseball game. Soon, he was visiting her in her apartment where they cooked dinner and baked cookies together. They played board games. He did his homework at her kitchen table and she made him extra food to take home. She bought him clothes and helped him with laundry. When the holidays came, Laura brought him with her, showing him the joy of sharing special times with her siblings. These were the normal activities of a stable home and they were part of Laura’s lifeline to Maurice.

Maurice came from a family plagued by drug abuse. His father, Morris, was a violent gang member, an alcoholic, and a heavy drug user who abandoned the family when Maurice was five. His mother, Darcella, was addicted to heroin and crack cocaine, and was in and out of jail during most of Maurice’s childhood. They shared a one-room apartment with his grandmother, his two sisters, and an ever-changing number of uncles who used the place to buy, sell, and use drugs.

Laura’s friendship with Maurice drew skepticism and concern from her friends and co-workers. Her boss warned her, questioning how it looked and saying that their friendship could be misinterpreted. Others suggested that Maurice’s family could resent her, and that Laura was compromising her own safety, but Laura had a strong feeling about Maurice. She could see that he was a good kid caught in a bad situation. She was careful to show his family respect and she resisted the strong urge to be a mother to Maurice, choosing to be his friend instead. She also explains that, although she and Maurice came from very different backgrounds, she shared his feeling of insecurity as a child. More than anything, she wanted to give him a place where he felt safe and loved.

How did Laura know all this? Her upbringing couldn’t have been more different. She grew up in a solid middle-class town. She always had a roof over her head, plenty of food to eat, and clothes to wear. As one of five children, she had a strong bond with her sisters and brothers. But Laura’s life was only stable on the surface. Her father was an alcoholic and was a disruptive force in their family. “My father liked to drink, and drinking changed who he was,” she writes. Laura and her siblings tried their hardest to protect their mother and their brother, Frankie, who were their father’s frequent targets. They worked to keep the house perfect, and they hid in their beds when he raged over a mislaid item. Together, and in silence, they suffered the effects of his abuse.

As time passed, their situations changed. Laura and Maurice continued to meet as much as they could until Maurice turned nineteen, but for two unsettling years, each would face unique challenges that threatened their connection. Fatherhood and its responsibilities reminded Maurice that he needed to break out of his dangerous world, but he struggled with his choices. For Laura, a marriage she thought would mean family and acceptance changed the ease and flow of her friendship with Maurice. When Maurice stopped calling, she stood by. She hoped their friendship was strong enough. Maurice faced hard choices, but thinking of Laura made him do the right thing. “The thread may stretch or tangle,” the proverb explains, “but it will never break.” When Maurice’s mother died, he understood who his real mother had been. He picked up the phone and now, after thirty years, Laura and Maurice know they are family.

I think stories like this serve two purposes. It feels good to read about someone who, with the help of another, breaks out of a desperate situation. We might tell others about it and we can share in their happiness. But the deeper purpose, of course, is to create an awakening – an awareness of the people around us who would benefit from a lifeline like the one Laura threw to Maurice.

Emily Zak says it just right in her Heart Beings article, “No Longer Looking the Other Way.” She talks about the many lost opportunities to help the homeless. She asks, “What if we stopped for a moment and took the time to acknowledge the humanity in homeless people all around us?” If it’s a matter of not knowing what to do; the answer is simpler than you think, she explains. Instead of passing by with your head down, show some respect, offer what you can, and think about helping with initiatives to end homelessness. After all, small gestures can lead to big changes.

An Invisible Thread is proof that one person can make a difference and a feel-good reminder to do the right thing. For more information about Laura Schroff’s story and her initiatives to help others, visit her website at aninvisiblethread.com.


Heart-Beings_free-to-be-meIf you liked this article, click here to visit the Heart Beings website and get to know its creative team.  It’s full of articles, podcasts and videos that educate, entertain and empower!

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Doing It Right the First Time – Heart Beings article

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Doing It Right the First Time: Building Character Behind the Azaleas

“Make sure you get the roots or they will grow right back.”

“Don’t forget the weeds behind the azaleas,” my dad reminded me.

I was ten years old and I hated weeding. I hated the heat, and how the backs of my knees were sweating, and how the bugs and twigs tickled my arms and legs. I wiped the sweat off my face and glared at the weeds growing around and in back of the bushes. It was a big job – an impossible job for a girl my size, I thought. I could hear my best friend, Eileen, calling me with our secret signal from one street down at her house. It was the signal we used instead of the phone to announce we were outside and ready. I wanted to quit and run to her house.

Today was my day to help my father in the yard. I thought Dad was showing me the simple importance of doing my part, but in the end, he was helping me see life’s larger compassions, and teaching me about building character.

He worked hard in his garden and in the yard, I thought; harder than I knew how. He tended his tomatoes and green beans, cut back bushes, dug out weeds. I could find all these jobs on a list he kept on his desk in the den. If I looked, and I often did, I would see his detailed plans for our yard. I didn’t think anyone could do that much. My father did it all.

I think he liked doing all that yard work, as his own father did. I had other things to do and I wanted to finish fast. “Don’t go so fast!” was the advice I always heard as a girl. I didn’t understand this advice. I couldn’t focus on the value of taking the time to do it right.

I looked at the insides of my arms, itchy and red from brushing against the bushes. “I can’t do this,” I wailed to myself. Feeling miserable, I knelt down and yanked out the weeds one by one.

I remember Dad’s voice: “Make sure you get the roots or they will grow right back.”

So much like my father, thinking carefully of the future; teaching me, I supposed, about the importance of doing something the right way. Perhaps he was remembering a day earlier, how I’d stuffed my clothes in a tangled mess into my drawers, and shoved my board games, pieces loose and mixed, under my bed. I’d been quickly cleaning my room before he came to look, and I didn’t think he would see the barely hidden mess.

His voice was kind, but firm when he reminded me: “You’re better off if you do the job right the first time, honey.”

Looking at the weeds, I jammed my shovel down hard in frustration, deep enough to pull out the roots, doing it right. I watched the worms wiggle through the soil and saw the pill bugs coil in defense as I attacked their dirt.

“Don’t go so fast!” was the advice I always heard as a girl. I didn’t understand this advice. I couldn’t focus on the value of taking the time to do it right.

At last I finished. I filled the bag, dragged it into the garage, and yelled through the screen door to my mother, “I’m finished, Mom. I’m going to Eileen’s!”

“Okay, but you better tell Dad before you leave!” she answered.

I stopped and groaned, hoping to escape without inspection. Did I do a good enough job? I wondered what he would think when he looked at the bushes to check my work. I wanted his approval, so I could be set free.

I looked in the back yard and saw him, bent over the garden, pulling weeds from his tomato plants. I walked over to him. “I’m finished, Dad.”

He turned to me, his face hot and sweaty, eyes in a squint against the sun. “Did you put the bag in the garage?” he asked.

“Yes, near the door. Can I go to Eileen’s now?”

He smiled. “Sure, Sweet Pea.”

Sweet Pea. Even at ten, I liked to hear his name for me. He didn’t check my work. My word was good enough and I was glad to be free. As I turned to leave, I felt a flash of shame run through me and I hoped that he hadn’t seen me at work, complaining to myself about what I suddenly realized was just a small job in the yard. When he looked, I hoped he would be pleased.

“Thanks for helping. Have fun!” he added. Then he bent back down over the tomatoes and returned to his work.

Released, I ran down the driveway, through our neighbor’s yard, and into Eileen’s yard. “Weeowweeee!” I called our signal, hoping she was still around.


Heart-Beings_free-to-be-meIf you liked this article, click here to visit the Heart Beings website and get to know its creative team.  It’s full of articles, podcasts and videos that educate, entertain and empower!

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Text Me, Love Mom by Candace Allan

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Texting Your Way into Empty Nest Happiness

Review: Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest by Candace Allan

article by Barb Vitelli, Contributing Author on Monday, 07 December 2015

About a month ago, we were in the middle of a torrential downpour at home. My thoughts jumped to one of the first things a mom thinks about when it’s raining and her kids are out in the world. Worried and ready to spring into action, I texted my freshman son at college: “Did we get u a little umbrella when we did your college shopping? If not, I am getting u one and bringing it up on Sunday . . . ” Of course, we had gotten him an umbrella and all was well on campus. But now that my kids are beginning to launch from the nest, I can’t help but want to stay in touch.

That’s why when I saw the book, Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest by Candace Allan, I knew I had to read how another mom coped with the same feelings. Right away, I identified with what she said: “For years and years, I never thought much about them moving out of our home and how my heart would deal with that. It was what we were preparing them for — the launch from the nest. In the middle of it all, it was hard to believe it would ever happen. ”

When we’re raising a family, being in the middle of it all is our only reality. It’s hard to see the longer view when we’re immersed in our daily lives. When they are little, our children need us all the time. The babies are on our hips and the bigger ones have their arms around our legs. They’re looking up at us — for reassurance, for praise, and for guidance. As our children grow, our busy lives may change, but one thing seems to remain constant: our children are still children, just bigger and with different needs, and they still sleep at home. Then one day, as if by surprise, they are adults and they leave the nest, leaving us with a new role to play and a new self to consider.

In Text Me, Love Mom, author Candace Allan writes about her experience raising four free-spirited children in Calgary, Canada, and how she coped with watching them leave the nest, one by one. Allan tells her story without pretense and shares her children’s adventures and setbacks. Despite being an early helicopter mom, she learned over time how to give them the freedom they needed to try new things . . . as long as they stayed in touch. Even as three of her kids chose nontraditional paths, selecting gap years and travel after high school, Allan and her husband allowed them to find their independence, mistakes and all.

Text Me, Love Mom is written in a breezy and humorous style and also includes each of her children’s thoughts during those years, which gives her story a rounded perspective. As each of her kids moves out, Allan wonders, like many parents, if she has prepared them enough for their adult lives. And it’s not just the basics like buying and cooking food. She worries if they know how to handle money or how to trust the right people.

In retrospect, Allan admits she didn’t follow the advice she often gives now. “I had long-warned my friends not to let their kids start school at four and a half years old. Now I also tell them not to send them off to university, especially boys, at seventeen or eighteen. But no one, myself included, wants to heed that advice. We are all so anxious to have our kids take the next step. Proving what?”

Allan also offers reassurance to parents who are anxious about their own children’s departures. It’s a transition for parents as much as it is for children, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of parenting. She realized that sending them off was simply a new phase. “Those goodbyes were momentous, but they weren’t the end, or even the middle. ”

Text Me, Love Mom is a fun and loving look at the ups and downs of showing our children how to launch from the nest. Our family is just beginning this launch and, for now, I’m still holding on tight. But Allan’s experiences assure me I’ll be okay. I think I can follow the advice she gives parents like me to respect my kids and give them the room to branch out. But if I absolutely have to let them go, I’ll be sure to remind them to text their mom now and then.


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If you liked this article, click here to visit the Heart Beings website and get to know its creative team.  It’s full of articles, podcasts and videos that educate, entertain and empower!

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The Epic Minivan – Heart Beings article

I recently joined the team of contributing writers at Heart Beings, a website dedicated to empowering people to reach their full personal potential by embracing self-affirming attitudes and becoming part of an accepting community.

Heart Beings published my first article yesterday and I am sharing it with you here.

Originally published on heartbeings.com:

Where Human beings become Heart beings

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The Epic Minivan

When Four Wheels Become a Part of the Family — or Do They?

article by Barb Vitelli, Contributing Author on Monday, 26 October 2015

I didn’t want to get a minivan. I liked my Geo Prizm. I had two little guys buckled snugly in the back seat and I was comfortable in my small car. But our family was growing. I was eight months pregnant and we needed a bigger car. As much as I wanted to keep things as they were, three car seats would not fit in the back seat of my sporty Prizm.

The van joined our family about two weeks before our next son was born and that was the beginning of an epic era. I joined the parade of moms in minivans, traveling our streets and moving our children through their days — first preschool, then kindergarten, grade school, parks, grocery stores, the mall. A few years later, another baby boy arrived, but there was plenty of room! Our bigger boys happily shifted their seats for the baby.

For years, our van was filled with the things our young children loved: little cars and toys, plastic play phones, books, markers, and papers. Each boy decorated his area with stickers, some from cashiers for being good, some from the doctor for being brave, others from school or party bags, with each sticker marking time. And I drove our boys with a mother’s pride. Oh, to look back in the mirror and see four little faces doing their little boy things!

Then middle schoolers became high schoolers and growth spurts meant more trips to the grocery store. The back was filled with sports equipment as we headed to practices and games. The van had a new purpose and I was a willing driver.

My husband and I watched our children grow, but in many ways we were suspended in time and the van was our constant. In this bubble, we traveled together, always as a group of six, to visit grandparents, go on vacation, or simply go out for a family dinner. Days upon weeks upon years.

Then, in a blink, we were loading up the van to take our oldest son to college. Six of us drove him to college and five of us came home, happy for him but a little sad, too. And while it was the beginning of something new, we held onto the van. It was in pretty good shape and we still needed it, we reasoned. In another blink, our next son was off to a different college, and this time, there were only five of us to help with the move. Yes, we were beginning to see a change.

After 16 years, the van was showing its age. The windows weren’t working as well, the horn was harder to beep, and the directional signal blinked weakly. As we faced the inevitable, I felt a twist of anxiety. The van had kept our family together. What would happen now? But the fact was that our boys were becoming adults, with their own paths to travel. And while our lives will always be connected, we were all facing new directions.

I drive a new and smaller car now. And after accepting the change, I made a happy discovery. The connection to our children, minus the van, is just as strong. Perhaps that faulty directional signal was telling us something — that it was time to let go and get a new car, one that would drive us confidently down new roads.

IMG_0826For more information about Heart Beings, Where Human Beings Become Heart Beings, visit their website at heartbeings.com.

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