Archive for the ‘Cup o’ Joe’ Category

When Did They?

Last night, my 18-year-old daughter walked into my room wearing a backless, red velvet evening gown. She stood in front of the cherry wood swivel mirror, admiring and critiquing the color and style, idly tugging at the material in an attempt to make it fit better. She walked back and forth, twirled, stood with her back to the mirror,  and asked what I thought.

What I thought was, “Oh my God, she’s a woman.”

Of course I already knew this, but this was one of those pivotal moments where it hit me with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

One of the things I’ve recognized about being a parent is that you see the passage of time through your children. As Reb Tevye sings in Fiddler on the Roof, “I don’t remember growing older, when did they?”

The thing that made this moment even more powerful was the fact that the dress she wore belongs to me.  There she was, beautiful, with curves and everything, wearing one of the sexiest gowns I own.

Isn’t having a grown-up daughter something that only happens to other people?

Many of my recent posts have been related to feelings of sadness and transition, in part because my children are now young adults and my role as Mom has all but disappeared. But with every hurdle cleared, I’m closer to letting go, and more proud than nostalgic. I’m seeing clearly how well I’ve done as a parent, because the reality is, I’ve raised two exceptional human beings.

And perhaps as importantly, I appreciate the freedom that accompanies having children who cook their own food, do their own homework, and drive themselves to school.

Actually, on most days, life’s pretty bitchin’.

So, this Saturday night, my daughter will attend her Senior Prom, wearing my velvet dress, inking a significant page in her personal history. 

As I watched her glide around the room, marveling at her youthful beauty, I envisioned the day when she’ll longingly think back on this prom weekend as she watches her daughter model her sexiest gown.

Even though that day will be years from now, it’ll be here as fast as you can sing Sunrise, Sunset.


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On Most Days

Cool Trees

“I’ve been a little out of sorts lately. I had some sorts, but then I ran out.” –Friend and author – John Shore

I’m in the middle of a life transition. Uncertainty, nostalgia, fear of the unknown – they’re all here.

Big changes are seriously messing with my head. There are so many things in flux that gaining solid footing has been about as easy as eating a single Lays potato chip.

My  emotions are teeter-tottering all over the place, mostly because of my changing Mom role and my omnipresent anxiety about how the hell we’re going to keep the lights lit in these uncertain economic times.

In the summer of 2009, my 23-year, six-figured technical job was outsourced to India. Just like *that*, my established, well-respected career ceased to exist.

Tough luck, huh?

Yeah. But after the initial shock (and tears) subsided, I realized that I’d been given a “do over.” Now, I had a brilliant opportunity to ask myself honestly, “What do I want to do? What am I passionate about? What am I doing when I feel really happy?”

Joseph Campbell describes this process as following your bliss. The idea has always resonated with me, but life had never thrown quite the right “curve ball” to motivate me into action.

…until August of 2009. Since then, I’ve been watching a high-and-insider rocket towards me at breakneck speed. As thrilling as the process can be, reinventing myself is taking patience and a lot of faith that I’ll somehow land on my feet.

I’m working to put Campbell’s idea into action, and find that getting in touch with what I love to do is helping me set some real goals for myself. Having a plan has gone a long way towards creating my map for personal success.

So, the Plan. The first thing I did was take stock.

An exercise I use to help gain perspective and self-confidence is to list some of the personal hurdles I’ve already cleared.

I would highly recommend everybody write up a list like this. I’ve found it helps to see how strong you really are. You may find you’re holding your head a little higher and thinking you’re a pretty impressive human after all, just like I did:

1) 1985- Left my hometown in N. California to start a new life 400 miles away 2) 1986 – Eloped to Hawaii, 3) 1994 – Endured a miscarriage, 4) 1992 – Bought a house, relocated to a new community, 5) 1993/1995 – Gave birth to two healthy children, 6) 1986 – 2004 – Underwent multiple surgeries, 7) 1998-1999, Survived the deaths of three of my closest friends, 7a) 2002-2003 – Went through a really tough divorce, 9) 2005 – Remarried (my soul mate)  10) 2009 – Lost my job of 23 years, 11) 2008 – Helped my teenage daughter through a painful depression and drug rehabilitation, 12) 2011 – present – Approaching empty nest, reinventing myself…and still smiling.

Wow, look what I did. Yay me!

Then, I got into motion.

When I feel I’ve lost my way, or am insecure about how things will turn out, I force myself to do anything – even the smallest task – related to my goals. It’s my experience that taking the tiniest step in the direction of my dreams will open unseen doors.

When I followed my bliss, I discovered a passion for history, and a newfound love for creating websites. 

To indulge these interests (and possibly grow them into paying careers,) I began volunteering as project manager and website designer for a historical society.

Additionally, I set two goals. The first was to work more closely with my husband as we pursue our mutual love of history. By helping edit and market his books, promote his lectures and book signings, and help conduct his tours and classes, I’m building a whole new career identity for myself.

And because I set this goal, we were recently able to co-create and host our own silent film festival. How cool is that?

My second goal was to bring in some dough by helping new business owners design and create their first websites. In a short period, I’ve attracted an impressive list of clients, who, so far at least, seem to really like my work!

See what can happen when you move in the direction of your dreams?

I taught myself how to knit hats and scarves, and read over 100 novels–two pursuits I would otherwise have never had the time for.

I’ve also started two blogs – this one (teenparentcafe) and a recipe/cooking blog called Aunt Kim’s Kitchen. I’m becoming re-acquainted with my “inner writer,” who I haven’t heard from in years (who’d have thought that following my bliss would lead me to wordpress.com?)

So, ultimately, losing my job has given me a new circle of friends, a chance to pursue more satisfying careers, and time well-spent doing things I really love to do.

Though I still have my anxieties, on most days, I’m optimistic. I haven’t replaced the income from my technology job yet, but I’m working on it – and having a pretty good time doing it.

Since I’m still in the midst of transition, the final chapter (or blog post) on this topic has yet to be written. Check back to this URL for further updates.

Looky there! I just got some of my “sorts” back.

Free Girl (usage)

W.W.M.D.?

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   — Maya Angelou

I think the highest compliment you can pay another person is to emulate their energy, outlook, and the way they respond to the hard stuff life sends their way.

Lorey

When faced with a trying moment with the kids or dealing with someone “less perfect than me,” I often ask myself, “What would Mom do?”

One thing’s for sure, whatever she’d do would leave us both laughing, because that’s what my Mom does—smiles, sees the bright side, and makes everything fun.

She’s universally beloved for her optimism, her crazy sense of humor, her puns, and her naughty jokes. Where she goes, joy and laughter follow. She makes life look easy.

As a little girl, I remember everyone adoring my mother. The room would light up when she walked in (and it still does). She was christened Lorey, but I’ve come to believe that her name is actually “I LOVE” Lorey, because that phrase always follows mention of her name.

My favorite childhood stories involve Mom making us laugh. These tales have been so often retold that we’ve come up with our own family shorthand for them, like “Smashing Ho-Ho’s,” “Oranges in The Bra,” and “Nasty Doodles on the Tablecloth.” These rank in the top ten, but there’re hundreds more.Lorey Balloons

She loves silly practical jokes. She’s been known to swipe the glass of milk you just poured, or go cross-eyed when you’re talking about something serious.

And we’ve learned to listen closely when Mom’s speaking, because if we don’t, we’re liable to see her facing the wall, talking happily on as if she still has the floor.

She used to tell me if I felt sad or blue I should “think a smile” to improve my outlook (try it – it works!), and if I felt nervous entering a roomful of people, to hold my head high and remember that I’m a talented, wonderful woman who can accomplish anything I put my mind to. She taught me that there will always be difficulties, but that if I don’t give up, I’ll prevail.

kimi-momma3

(‘Course she also said dumb stuff like, “Quit slouching! You’ll ruin your posture!”)

As a child, I remember wondering if people would like me as much when I was a grown-up. I so wanted to be like her, and have tried hard to follow in her footsteps.

I consider myself to be a happy person, one who “walks softly and carries a big smile.” With the kind of coaching I’ve had, who wouldn’t be?

At age 54, I still hear Mom’s voice in my head, guiding me as I make my way. I know my children have been watching me live life for a long time, and that my attitude and choices influence how they perceive the world. I hope when they hear my voice, they’ll be equally inspired.

I’m blessed to have Mom as my lifelong role model. We don’t get to choose our mothers, but if we could, I would have chosen her.

So, thanks to my Mom, I keep my shoulders back, stay positive and “think a smile,” stuff oranges in my bra when the kids need a laugh, and when the mood strikes – smash the occasional foil-wrapped dessert.


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List of Helpful Insights on “Normal” Teen Behavior

I found this in my web surfing today. I felt good after reading it, hope you will, too.

Teenage Development

© International Network for Children and Families

teen party

We need to better understand adolescent developmental stages to help us not take teenage behavior as a personal attack on us. By becoming familiar with these stages, we will increase our competence in encouraging teens to establish their sense of identity.

  • Teens are preparing to separate or individuate from the family. They are in the process of developing their values.
  • Teenagers must initiate this separation and often rebellion gives them the energy to do this. A teenager challenges rules and values as a way of establishing his or her individuality. Adolescents cannot do this in a vacuum, but rather through conflict and confrontation.
  • Adolescents may be rude or make fun of parents and other authority figures and not want to be with them. In a teenager’s mind, defiance expresses autonomy and says that he or she doesn’t need parents in and often serves as a test of parental caring.
  • Due to body changes, there can be confusion about whether teenagers really do want to grow up.
  • Hormonal changes cause mood swings marked by tearfulness, heightened sensitivity, sudden flare-ups, an increased need for physical activity and inappropriate laughter and giggling.
  • Teens begin to work out their relationships with their peers to find out how they fit in.
  • Teens start relating to the opposite sex in a different way than they did when they were younger (where there were once friendships, romantic relationships and/or deeply felt negative emotions may surface).
  • Teenagers have a heightened need for privacy. Experiencing privacy gives them a new sense of control and autonomy. They need privacy to test things out for themselves without parent input.
  • Teenagers may feel all-powerful and all-knowing at the same time that they experience fears of inadequacy and failure.
  • Teens still need an adult to relate to, but in a different way than they did when they were younger.

© International Network for Children and Families (INCAF)