March 2015 Blog Archives



March 31, 2015


When you have to discipline someone you love......


It's hard.  Period.  And I don't like it.  Ever.  But sometimes, lessons need to be learned and discipline is appropriate.  We're not talking water torture here, just taking away a teenager's phone.  But to them?  It's right up there with torture.....


I never really gave much thought to the aggravation the parent goes through with the discipline.  So because he doesn't have his phone, now we have to wake him up.  And do I really want him to go to school without his phone?  Last year when they had a stranger/danger scare, I was so happy he had a phone to call and say he was okay.  Do I want to take a chance?  These aren't the decisions our parents had to make......  


So that brings me to was the crime really worth the punishment to everyone involved?  And really, I'm not sure.  Other than teenage angst and frustrating behavior, it really wasn't a big deal, but I can't tell him that!  So we will all suffer together while, please God, he learns this lesson and hope we don't have to do this ever again......  


I remember being a teenager and having the same challenges.  He will be just fine, but will I?  I have learned that discipline really is miserable for everyone.  Still believe it's necessary though!


March 30, 2015


Old friends in new places......


This weekend, my husband had a visit from a Marine he was in Desert Storm with and they had a lot of catching up to do.  Of course, it was wonderful to see him and catch up on his family, but the most intriguing part to me was the clarity they got (and deserved) after all these years.... They both had different jobs to do, so often they had to just accomplish a task without all the information.  The trust they had was still evident and they both had questions that were more easily cleared up years away from the difficulties they were facing at the time.


It made me think about families and friends who carry grudges and sadness for years based on what they think actually happened. Sometimes recounting the problems years later, there are untrue things that have managed to surface.  And most importantly, people do change.  Maya Angelou said:  "When I knew how to do better, I did better."  People choose to change (although sadly some do not) and so the person you are talking to years later is really not the same person you knew.  


Our Marines had enough respect and care for each other that they met in the middle.  They discussed the difficulties and arrived at a better understanding of not just who they were, but the circumstances and purpose behind everything.  To be sure, there is more conversation coming, but it was a very important beginning.  One I think more people would benefit from in their own lives......


March 27, 2015


When someone you love needs a vacation.......


Help them figure that out!  Whether they can afford a cruise for a month or an afternoon road trip to another city, help them see that a change of place really can matter.  


Often when we change places, it helps us to see that other people struggle just like we do or have even greater challenges.  We might catch ourselves thinking out of the box or longing for home with a different point of view.  Either way, it's all good.  When I was young, I would save money to drive to the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina.  The drive was long and I often had to sleep in the car, but the mountains filled my soul.  Once I lived on six Hershey bars for food, but even a day there changed my life for the better.  


So don't just plan a get away.......actually go!  Take someone you care about with you to share it and fill up your soul.  God Bless the open road! 


March 26, 2015


When someone you love makes bad choices.......


It happens to the best of us.......the bad choices.  We get caught up in life and couldn't stop it or just plain couldn't see it coming.  It often takes us way too long to realize and get out or simply stop the behavior and it is difficult for those who love us to stand by and watch it all happen.


When someone you love makes bad choices, don't stop loving them.  Do tell them in a kind way that you think it might not be what they think they see, but don't stop loving them.  Don't beat it to death, let it take its course.  Be reasonable, what if someone stopped loving you every time you made a mistake?  Just plan to be there to help them learn the lessons of it, so they don't have to go through it again.  That's love, too.


And please understand that there is a difference between a mistake and doing something intentionally.  Those choices call for a much stricter approach and really require a professional to sort out.  Just remember.......mistakes happen!


March 25, 2015


When someone you love gets fired......


It's a new beginning!  Stressful to be sure, but sometimes it's the only way that a new beginning is possible.  People have a tendency to stay in a job long past the leaving point, despite some warning signs.  So often, getting fired is the pathway to a better place....  The trick is to learn the lesson from it, so it doesn't happen again!


If you could see an aerial view of your life from a spiritual point of view, you would notice lots of 'stops along the way' where you just need to pick up a skill, person or lesson.  Those intersections are not meant to last forever.  I once read that relationships that are meant to be short lived usually end horrifically, so you are absolutely sure they are over.  Humans are not very good at just walking away from what they perceive to be a good thing.  


So certainly allow for someone to mourn the loss of their job - be respectful of it and know that grieving doesn't just happen when someone dies, it can also be losing a job.  Be supportive, but positive and optimistic.  Criticism is almost never the way to go. Help them know that something better is in the works and will come along.  It's the kindest thing you can possibly do.  Well, that and lots of hugs!


March 24, 2015


When someone you love is dying......


It happens a lot in my work that people come to see me hoping I can either prevent or rush dying in someone they love.  They both make perfect sense to me, but the truth is you go back to the God that created you in God's time.  Just exactly like you came.  I spent years trying to 'find' my son and all my efforts were learning experiences, but he was born in God's time and not one moment sooner.  When people ask about why I am such an old mother, I want to tell them to talk to God about it.  Let him explain!......  But no matter, I am so thankful he came to us.


In the throes of dying, spiritual things become so much clearer.  The unimportant matters of life fall away and only the sacred remains. Some people do suffer before they die, but it is mostly for those around them.  There are lessons to be learned in death, just as there are in new life.  It often appears not fair, at least on this side of things.  I know so many people who would tell you their loved ones died too soon.  I have some myself, but it's something a living person thinks.  When you get back and see the face of God?  It all make perfect sense.


Of course, death is not a one size fits all thing.  Every person experiences it differently and grieves accordingly.  Some are relieved, others devastated.  Either way, it is one of lifes most difficult lessons.  One of those times, when in the absence of anything else making sense, we pray.


March 23, 2015


When someone you love is hurting.....


It's miserable.  Even if you know it is something they have to go through, it's awful.  We often learn this lesson with our children, when they are small and get hurt doing crazy things like jumping on the bed.  You might have even heard yourself say what your parents said, "Okay, if you get hurt, don't come crying to me!"  And of course, they do.  We learn pretty quickly that we cannot take away all their pain, keep them from all the bad things that will happen in life, and 'make it all better'.  Not always.....


A close friend is battling breast cancer and it's one of those times in life when I really wish my magic wand was working.  She's going to be okay, but the difficulty has to be gotten through first.....  In these cases, there are two clear roads.  The one you were on that you thought had its difficult days and the one you are now having to take that is clearly horrible.  And those of us who love her?  We pray.  Sometimes in desperation for her, sometimes for ourselves, for this life that can often make no sense, and for a miracle.  We pray.


Someone recently told me they didn't pray, weren't religious.  I knew in that instant they had not seen someone they love hurting. Because when your magic wand is broken?  It's the only thing you have left to do and believe me, you will believe in something. 



March 20, 2015


How do you tell someone what they mean to you?


My cousin, Steve, had a birthday this week.  He's the person who taught me how to love and thereby saved me on so many levels in this lifetime.  I wonder if he really knows that if I could, I would lay the world at his feet in honor of his birth?  I wonder if he knows all the amazing times his example has enriched my life?  I wonder how I could ever have him fully understand without gushing......


My husband had someone from his military past contact him this week and he just wanted to tell him how he had influenced his life. He needed to talk to him, see him, and thank him.  It was such a gift and caused much introspection in our own lives.  And in the end?  My husband would have done exactly the same things again in much the same way, and with no glory in mind.  Just like the first time.  Steve continues to do that, too, because it's who he really is.  I'm so glad they were both on this earth with me!


I don't think I know yet how to adequately tell someone what they mean and have meant to me.  I use my words, and hugs, and I hope they know it comes from my heart and will always continue to.  But it never seems like enough to me.  Then again, my husband doesn't need more from his person.  He was just so glad to know his efforts had paid off for someone in any way.  Relieved really and the accolades were so appreciated, but not necessary. So I am pondering these things........


I'm still going to tell those who mean so much to me that they do, every chance I get.  I am still going to hug them and hold their memory close to my heart.  I am still going to be thankful for them every single day.  And I am going to truly hope I am making them proud in my own life.


March 19, 2015


What do you use for currency?


Throughout much of my life, I have used kindness for currency.  Hoping that it would buy me favor and in the process, I became a world-class pleaser.  That's a slippery slope.  Years ago, I had the sense to change that or at least endeavor to bring it back in balance and the realities of it were sobering. There were quite a few relationships in my life that simply weren't there, when I stopped forcing them to be.  So actually, my kindness 'currency' wasn't buying me what I thought.  I did a whole lot of emotional hard work over this very topic.


If you are someone who thinks that only money can be used for currency, think again.  Think about food, gifts, acts of kindness, and sex. Have you ever used them for 'currency'?  Most of us have and do.  But more often than not, it's not appropriate or relevant to the purpose.  Just think about it a little more.....


Remember that when you are 'dealing' with someone else, often you are called on to use what they consider 'currency'.  How did they arrive at that? For instance, if someone has been in a difficult relationship and sex was currency to 'make it all better', will they bring that habit or 'knowledge of that form of currency' into your relationship?  It's worth considering and certainly worth changing.  


Deep thoughts for a Thursday, but relevant to life.  Something to ponder as we race into the weekend.


March 18, 2015


How much is love worth to you?


If you are lonely, it might be worth more.  If you are secure and busy in your life and not necessarily looking for love, chances are you will be a lot more picky.  How about rescuing someone?  Does that make sense to avoid loneliness?  Let's face it, we all need to be rescued from time to time, so when is it just 'a bridge too far'?  How much is love in your life really worth to you?


If you are out there in the world looking for a lover, have you paused to think about what you really need before you shop?  And while we are at it, what are you willing to give up to get it?  


Across the board there are 3 main reasons why we choose a particular person.  Those reasons might include:  Financial security, kindness, shared interests, help with parenting and/or sex.  What are your three priorities?  If you are already married or promised to someone, what was on your list? Do you realize that as you grow and know someone the list can change and is negotiable?  The catch is you need to share it with your significant other. You'll also want to know what their list is in regard to you.....  Don't you?


I know you are thinking this is not romantic!  And you are right.  It has practical written all over it, but giving the process and reasons for love your full attention is a still a smart investment.  It can explain a lot and save you some serious heartache.  How much is it really worth?


March 17, 2015


With a last name like McWilliams, you know when St. Patrick's Day is.......


Today I am wearin 'o the green and missing the sights and sounds of Boston.  I love to go there and celebrate an Irish heritage.  My maiden name is Carroll and even though my family never even talked about being Irish, Carroll is a very Irish name.  Of course, my married name gives me license to celebrate and taking a red head anywhere near the Irish seems to work, too.  I do love their traditions, sense of family, and history.  They also have great food and sing beautiful lilting songs, along with loud, fun revelries.  We taught our son to sing about the green alligators and long necked geese (The Unicorn Song) at a very early age.  He was a natural.


My fondest memory of 'being Irish' was about 20 years ago in Boston trying to traverse the one-way streets to visit my sister in her hotel.  I could see the hotel, but I just couldn't get there.  So I spotted a red headed policeman on a motorcycle, introduced myself and asked for help.  He said with a smile and a pronounced wink, "Well lassie, follow me."  He gave me a police escort to the hotel, told the doorman to park my car, and hugged me soundly.  It was wonderfully right out of a least for me!


So whether you are really Irish today, or just want to enjoy the enthusiasm, let the green take you to a place filled with love, joy and heart.  Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!




March 16, 2015


How do you know if they are the one or not?


Spring has sprung and love is in the air.  So is it like the romance novels say?  Will you tingle and get an electric charge when the 'right one' comes along?  Not necessarily.  That does happen in real life, but more often, it happens in the movies and novels.  So what is the criteria?  The cryptic answer is to search your heart and trust your instincts.  Are you are doing it for all the right reasons?  Be advised the 'right reasons' do not include: money, babies, to escape your current life or for sex.  Although people do use those reasons every single day and some make it work.  If you are saying, "What else is there?"  You need to work on it some more before making a decision.......

Or at the very least, please give it more time.


You do often see your true love 'across a crowded room' and just know they belong to you.  Romance does still happen, but so can common sense.  Happy Spring Love - remember to smell the flowers before you cut them!  


March 13, 2015


It was all about the ketchup........


Chick Fil A has these unique little ketchup packages for their customers and the students we took there yesterday were wowed by them. Pretty quickly, it sparked a controversy that was both hilarious and telling.....  Is it okay to take what is offered freely, even if you don't need them at the time?  Could they take extra ones back to show in the school cafeteria?  It was a life lesson just waiting to happen. Who knew that after all the careful planning, education, and effort for the field trip, it was the ketchup that took a spotlight?  My friend Jacki would say, "It was brilliant.....really."  And she would be right.


In the end, they did bring some back to impress the other diners at the school - thank you Chick Fil A!  And as always, they taught me about life and had me pondering deeper issues with them.  It was delightful!  


Have a great weekend and don't forget to pay attention to the small things, because maybe they are not.


March 12, 2015


I'm networking in style today.......


I am taking 25 eighth graders to Fort Wayne, Indiana, today to meet Sayaka Ganz and see her latest exhibition.  I love introducing people to new people.  Networking is such a powerful tool and we all need to use it.  No networking match is too small.  I once told a person about where to take a few food items and they made a huge monetary donation to the foodbank!  That donation was matched by someone else and pretty soon the shelves filled up.  We all have a part to play and for me, networking is one of the fun ways.


I am always asking people what they do for a living or hobby.  Then I challenge myself to find someone to introduce them to.  Sometimes it takes a few months, but I get the job done.  I introduced Sayaka to teachers at my sons school and she is coming to teach for a day, then run a 4 hour workshop for kids to learn how to make sea creatures out of recycled plastic.  All in all, she will touch about 200 students and staff with her magic. She makes money and gets to try out a whole new method of business, the kids all get to see her incredible art and learn from her example, and we all get to try our hand at the art that has made her famous. Win, win, win!


Do some networking in your own life.  Then sit back and watch it all unfold.  You will be convinced, as am I, that it was all meant to be!



March 11, 2015


Passion is so much fun to see......


Today I met a budding artist in middle school, who is so passionate about her art that it is contagious.  I can't draw a recognizable stick figure, but I would have followed her to the end of the earth living on her passion.  She will probably succeed, because she actually sees so much more than the average non-artistic person.  I really hope she does.


What are you passionate about?  Currently I am passionate about getting out of this snow encrusted world, but I am also passionate about being a mom, traveling, writing and all too often, dessert.  I hope I am always passionate about something.  


Recently, I was criticized about being too passionate about student education.  I don't even think that can happen!  But the lady who told me was passionate about her opinion........


March 10, 2015


When a sure thing.......isn't.....


I did some paperwork for someone to get an award recently and based on past results, I really thought they would win.  I made the mistake of saying so.  And then, they did not.  Oh how I wished I could have taken that back!  But I still really do think they should have won.  Yet another lesson in life......


Spiritually, I know the timing is just not right.  The people who won needed to for their jobs, families, and life's timing.  I know this person will get their due, but often I wish I had a little more control.  My family would laugh right out loud about that statement.  After all, I grew up saying, "I'm not bossy, my ideas are just better!"  Of course, I know better now....


Are there sure things?  Sometimes it would seem so, but mostly?  NOT!  After all, if there were?  I would have already won the lottery.....



March 9, 2015


How do you handle being alone?


I'm really bad at it.  I have about 4 hours that I can keep myself busy and ignoring it, but after that, not so much.  Some people seem to do better with it because, maybe they've had more practice.  But after years of practice, I don't seem to have progressed all that much. Perhaps some of us are just more predisposed to it than others.  Or I'm a weenie......


I talk with people often who after a divorce or death of a spouse, really struggle with being alone.  And then, I talk with those who are really relishing it, because they craved it for so many years.  I have come to the conclusion that I am simply not made that way.  I went to a shelter to donate some items and saw a senior lady who was volunteering.  She was barely able to get around, but she was there.  I remarked to one of the workers that she sure had a lot of spunk and they said she did it because she had to, otherwise, the loneliness rendered her an invalid.  I really understood that.


If you know someone who is lonely, stop by to see them.  Call them on the phone or write them an old fashioned note.  Those moments will really matter and keep the silence at bay.  You'll be surprised what great pen pals they make and how much you can learn about yourself.


March 6, 2015


Garden variety grief.....


Grief comes in all shapes and sizes.  It is even present when you least expect it.  Grief and fear are best friends and often goad each other into believing things are much worse than they are.  Separating the two is like separating fighting cats....  Who wants to jump in and be scratched to death or worse?


You can have grief about anything - it doesn't have to be obvious to everyone else.  It can be something seemingly small, like they quit making your favorite soap.  Or something really big like a death or loss of your job.  It's all how we process these things that cause us to mourn.  How much they really matter to us......and the key is why.  The work of getting through grief and it is still the very best way, has to include the why of something that matters.....


I read something to the effect that if you were enjoying joy, you were still lying in bed with grief.  It's the other side of the coin and what can keep things in balance.  No, it's not this simple.  There is work to be sure.  But it can be done.


March 5, 2015


Been amazed lately?


My friend, Sayaka Ganz, is a remarkable artist.  Please go to her site today and check out her work!  I love the way her mind works and how it all comes together.  I love that she names her pieces and gives them all a heart, albeit a collander or some other discarded plastic  or metal piece.  She says the hearts make them come to life and she is absolutely right.


Creativity is so inspiring to me.  I love how it represents the unique in us all.  However you choose to be creative, get about it.  The world is waiting on your contribution.  Even on the days that it seems so overwhelming, those ideas provide us a respite from the mundane and we love it!


Sayaka said she was going to have to get another storage facility to house her creations.  I have a house!  Will that work?


March 4, 2015


A big shout out to my friend Kim and her son Derek!


Derek just broke his high school record for scoring in basketball and is headed for over 1000 points scored in his high school career.  Isn't that amazing?  Go ahead, do the math.  Even if all the shots were 2 pointers, he would have had to score 500 times!  And all the attempts at a basket were not 2 pointers, a free throw is only 1.  Also remember that all the attempts at a basket were not successful and even though he was doing something he loved, he still had to push himself to excel.  There is a powerful driving force at work here.....  


What an incredible and visual lesson in life for everyone.  Derek is mostly a very modest guy, but even he had to crack a big smile over this major achievement when the rest of the crowd was just going wild.....  It reminds me of the stories I heard as a child about how there are things that no one can take away from you like things in your heart, mind, and in your spirit.  Once you have them, they are yours to keep and cherish.  It's not often something in life is so clear no one can dispute it and the person who worked hard to make it so gets to keep it forever.  I wish we all could have more opportunities at that sort of thing....


Be it known that this really matters.  Generations of kids will view it and take inspiration for themselves.  Parents will use it as a teaching tool and perhaps even take it to their own hearts.  All because one amazing person worked incredibly hard at something he loves and soared high enough for the rest of us to see it.  Well done Derek!  And thanks for the splendid life lesson. 


March 3, 2015


So if you can't bloom.......


Where you are planted.  Why is that?  Is it the people?  Scenery?  Food?  Or is it the absence of opportunities for you?  Is there a list somewhere of what is required to make a reasonable 'go' of it?  If so, please send it to me.  Once I was going through grief training with the Marine Corps and they gave us a list of traumatic things that happen in life that could require you to go into depression.  Big items and there were 30 on the list.  I had already checked off 29.  The instructor said that would make me a very successful counselor.  I thought it made me gun shy, fearful, and weary.  I have worked on gun shy and fearful pretty well, weary is another matter altogether.


Am I like one of those desert cacti that blooms every 20 years?  Oh I sure hope not!  Because for me personally, blooming in Michigan just may not be possible.  I know I am here for a reason.  I agree with that.  I know I am here to help other people.  I am working on that.  But what about me?  What about this girl from Georgia, who is the round peg in the square hole?  Can she survive?


People often ask me why.  Why did this happen to me?  Why am I here?  Why can't it be different?  And now I have a question of my own.......  Do I have to stay here any longer?  Why?  Doesn't some other person want my spot in line here in Michigan?  I'm having a difficult week.


I really hope you are blooming where you are planted.  I really hope you are exactly where you are meant to be and loving it.  And I really hope I get a new assignment soon!


March 2, 2015




A few short years ago, I would have told anyone that they could adapt anywhere and bloom where they were planted.  After all, I had done that countless times (more than 15) and it worked beautifully.  But now there is a large, thick, brick wall and me.  After 3.5 years in Michigan, I am just out of options about how to bloom.  I have come to the conclusion that it must be a DNA thing, because all other remedies just don't seem to work.


It's not Michigan's fault.  Many other people live here and absolutely love it.  They think winter is fun, challenging, necessary, and beautiful. Most would live no place else.....  I do not share their enthusiasm.


I remember my mother was born in Miami, Florida, and she said that moving to south Georgia was like moving to the north pole for her. Over 50 years later, she is settled in, but still longs for the beach and balmy weather.  I just am not willing to give this 50 years or really even one more......


If you are not 'blooming where you are planted', why is that?  Should you be or is it really not a fit?  I'm exploring my options, collecting data, and you should, too.


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