Thursday, March 19, 2009

Positive Attitudes Prevail!

This is a story that I have retold multiple times since it took place a few weeks ago. I felt the need to memorialize the proof of how living the positive life influences those around you.

It was the usual hectic week day morning. My youngest and I were embroiled in our usual morning battle of getting him out of bed and ready for school in a timely fashion. I was allowing the argument and frustration to get the better of me as well. While screaming at him yet again to hurry up and finish getting ready, a conversation that I had recently had with a new found good friend of mine came unbidden into my mind. We had been talking about how positive attitudes are contagious, how as good citizens we need to help those around us, be involved in our community and make this a better place for our children and grandchildren. I thought of what I do for work and how I influence my employees and endeavor to create a workplace that is positive and a place that has high morale. How I preach the importance of mental health as well as the physical. All these things rushed to mind in a matter of seconds and I thought, "Why is it hard for me to have this positive attitude at home sometimes, this is where it matters most - with my own children." Now, please don't get me wrong, I am not always screaming at my children and I talk positive frequently, but I don't always stop and think about being positive in these fights with my children and deal with them appropriately.

So, as I got into the car with my youngest son I took a deep breath and looked at him as we pulled out of the drive and asked, "So, what has gotten you so worked up this morning that you decided to take your time getting ready and respond to me so negatively?" And of course, being an 11 year old boy he laid the blame upon me and his older brother. He said that just because I overslept that I didn't need to holler at him about how late we were and then that his older brother had done this or that. Now, mind you I had to stop and take a deep calming breath at this disrespectful comment. I then replied to my sweet angel of a son and asked him, how me oversleeping accounted for him not getting out of bed when told to? That why did he feel he could lay there for 20 more minutes causing me to holler? I then took another breath and said , "Look hon, I could have handled the situation better, yes, but you need to realize something here and now. You cannot control how your brother, me your dad, your teacher or any other people talk to you or treat you, the only thing you can control Nicholas, is yourself. You control your attitude, you control how you treat people and how you react to people." I then proceeded to talk to him about having a positive attitude. Through all this my sweet boy sat there, rolled his eyes and slouched. I then looked at him and said, "You now have a choice hon. You can hold on to this angry attitude and bring it to school with you. The only thing that this is going to accomplish for you is causing you more problems at school. You have the choice right this second to let it go and say to yourself, 'I am going to have a GREAT day!' and then make it one." I told him to say it. He looked at me and I insisted. Say it! "I AM GOING TO HAVE A GREAT DAY!" He mumbled it. I then took his hand and held it high like we were winners and I hollered those words. He laughed a little, so I did it again and again until we were both hollering "WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A GREAT DAY!" By the time I dropped him off at the school, he was smiling and told me one last time as he got out of the car that he was going to have a great day. And you know what. He did!

I then got to work and was smiling as well and walked in and cheerfully said good morning to my office staff. One of them, my cynical one, made a bit of a scornful comment about how happy I was. I looked at her and smiled. I simply told her that we as individuals had a choice each day. We could choose to be negative, cynical and infect those around us so everyone had a bad day, or we could choose to be happy and positive and in turn give that gift to those we work with. I made a conscientious effort to be happy and positive all day long and react to those who were negative with the positive attitude and I noticed a difference in those around me.

The moral is that as individuals, we can make this choice and in doing so we can affect those we come into contact with every day.

I challenge anyone who reads this to experiment, to smile at everyone they deal with, use first names of cashiers and waitstaff, make the decision to stop and think before reacting. When you do this, take notice of how people in turn react to you. If everyone makes the decision to try, we can watch the world change baby step by baby step.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thoughts of a Mother

I have been facing a bit of a conundrum as of late. As a mother, nay, as a parent, we try to teach our children to be the best that they can be. But how do you teach your children this when you yourself are searching for that equation that shows you how to be the best? How to be the best citizen, the best student, the best manager, employee, person? As a parent who had her child at a young age, I find that now older and wiser I look back and wonder if I taught my oldest the right things, is it too late to impress upon him the wisdoms I have learned in my elder years? Can I salvage my parenting style and help my youngest son with these new views and gems of thoughts I have gathered these last couple of years, of months, weeks and days?

By trying too hard to teach my children the values of trying your best, have I failed them in other ways? Have I controlled too much of their choices and will my oldest face hardships with out his "mommy dearest" there to hold his hand as he ventures to college? Does his final two years left of high school give me adequate time to fix the wrongs I may have made?

These are the questions that haunt my days, my minutes and seconds as the clock ticks too fast towards that inevitable day where I have to cut the apron strings and send my son into the world......

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reflections on My Snowblowing Experience

I used to be very adept at doing so many things for myself. I can brag that I used to change my oil, my own flat tire, build things and on and on. As I have gotten further along in my marriage, my husband enjoys taking care of me and I admit, I let him.

I recently took it upon myself to snowblow our driveway to help my darling husband and I must admit it was not a fine experience. And as he will be leaving to go to camp for a week it occurred to me I may have to go through this harrowing experience again. I have posted this on my facebook but since I seem to enjoy blogging, I have created this site and thought what a wonderful way to start the experience. Please, feel free to read on:

January 28, 2009
Now that I have almost warmed up and defrosted myself from snow blowing, I am drinking a cup of tea and reflecting on my delightful experience. Now don't get me wrong, this is not the first time I have done this daring deed; however, this evenings experience has caused me to ponder a few things that I thought I would share with those of you who would care to read it.First, let me explain why I was snow blowing. By the time I dug my car out of the many inches of snow and slowly drove home from a long day at the office, there was close to 10 inches of snow in my driveway. I thought, "well my husband won't be home from work until 8:30 this evening and his back has been bothering him so why don't I be kind to my hard working man and shovel off the stairs and deck and snow blow for him". Ahhh the saying holds true "the pathway to hell is paved with good intentions."I learned the following:

1. My perfectionist personality is not well matched with any attempt to snow blow - especially if it is still snowing. Seeing the new coating of snow in an area I have already gone over nearly puts me over the edge.

2. That I should wear boots with cleats on them. Me + Ice + Pushing or Pulling the Snow Blower = Me on Butt on Ground.

3. It is not good to snow blow right down to the tar. It exposes all that nice ice. (see points 1 and 2 above.)

4. That although I may be dressed warmly and have my nice hat on, that the snow being blown INTO the wind (and of course to blow it into the opposite direction would blow the snow against the house), a fine mist of very cold snow gets blown back in my face. Coating me, my hat, my face and neck with a nice layer of ice by the time I am done.

5. That even though it sounds funny, snotsicles are not flattering. I can do with out them thank you very much!

6. That I may choose snotsicles over the fluid version, so a scarf might not have been a good idea either. This thought scares me, but I think the alternative nauseates me more than the snotsicles.

7. I learned this evening that I really can be a vindictive woman. I say this because as I was out in the cold with my snotsicles, and my iced over hair scraping my cheeks in the wind, I look over to my warm inviting home and peer through my large bay window and alas, I view my darling 11 year old son sitting on the couch all warm, drinking hot chocolate and watching “how things are made” on the Discovery channel (he is my budding civil engineer). While seeing him all warm and snug, I start to think of all the ways I can make his life miserable. Now mind you, even if he was willing I wouldn’t let him use the snowblower, but yet his warm smile at me through the window brought about a bit of a frustration. Even more so as I envisioned my 16 year old sitting snug in his bedroom talking on line with all of his friends. Now, he could have been out here saving me, his aging mother, from the pain and cold from snow blowing this, what now seems to me a huge driveway. He is capable. Then the thought came unbidden into my perfectionist mind – if you want it done right don’t let him do it. Chasing that thought out was another – how better to learn than by doing? While these thoughts go round and round, I eagerly devise a plan to make them sorry for not being out here helping. Ahhhh the Xbox –Gone! The iPod – Gone! TV – Gone! Ohhh chuckle, chuckle. The computer – GONE! Oh happy day! Shortly thereafter reality crashed down upon my frozen head. If I remove all these gadgets and toys that my spoiled boys have, I am only causing myself more pain. Punishing them by taking their entertainment away punishes me as they then attach themselves to me and I lose any hope of peace!

8. Once I allowed those nasty little thoughts to stop chasing themselves around my twisted and frozen mind I realized that there is some etiquette in snow blowing. For instance, even though the plow guy seems to enjoy plowing the end of my driveway in, I am not supposed to blow the snow back out into the road.

9. Also, that passersby (even those on the snowmobiles screaming up and down the road as I work hard to clear my driveway) don’t care that I cannot see them as the snow is blowing back into my face, that they don’t want it to even appear that snow might be coming at them. And if they think you are blowing snow at them, they lay on the horn. Idiots, I do know better than to blow snow at them – intentionally anyway!

So after returning to the warmth of my home, combing out the chunks of ice embedded into my hair, breaking off the snotsicles and allowing the heat from my pellet stove to thaw me out, I sat myself in front of my computer to share my story with you. While doing so, my darling husband returns home with a smile for me, and after I regale him with my story of snotsicles and butt meeting ground, he chuckles and says something to the effect of, now you know what I go through. I can tell you folks, I am proud of myself for not asking him to squeeze a watermelon out of his male anatomy so that he can see what I went through giving birth to his sons.So friends, I have made the enlightened decision that unless I am ever single again, I won’t be snow blowing again. Smiles to you all!