Doing Life Together
Doing Life Together
By Cherie Faus-Smith
Saying goodbye to my son as he headed away to college was heartbreaking. I was losing my mini-me and I enjoyed spending time with him each and every day. We’re so much alike and it was tough for me knowing that I wouldn’t see him walk down the stairs in the morning, say goodbye to him as he left for school, or hear about his stories at dinner.
My first few weeks with an empty nest were uneasy and lonely. Preparing mentally for your child to leave the nest and start their journey at college can be filled with a lot of anxiety. They are venturing out on their own and, if you’re like me, this mama bear worried about his safety. The experience was heightened because he is our only child, which left my husband and I to find our new normal.
We’ve all heard the stories of couples ending their marriages because they couldn’t find common interests after their children flew the coop. Would we become a statistic? No! I was determined to pull myself (and us!) together. Instead, we worked on reconnecting with one another after he left for school.
As we spent more time together, we developed sort-of informal couple goals. My husband and I changed our diet and I began cooking healthier foods. We also began working out together and it felt good to be on the same page. Being able to go to bed when we wanted to without feeling guilty and watching our own TV shows without him complaining was amazing.
When I was finally comfortable with the fact that my son was gone, winter break began, and he was on his way home.My husband and I were excited to have him home for six weeks even though we knew our relationship would resume its spot in the backseat. We didn’t prepare ourselves, though, for our son’s own sense of newfound independence.
In the beginning, spending time with him was amazing but then we began butting heads. As a business owner who works from home and has daily deadlines, I found myself balancing client time and giving him attention as well. He loved coming into my office and chatting for HOURS. Even though I knew work needed to get done, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him he had to leave. After a week or so, my patience grew thin and I began lashing out at him.
Our uneven keel wasn’t only my son’s fault - we had both become accustomed to doing things our own way.After a few weeks of me raising my voice and him feeling left out, we had a heart-to-heart. I hadn’t taken into account how he was feeling about the changes. Once I began to see things from his point of view, and he from mine, we were able to get back on track.
My 5 tips on surviving those college years:
Our son has graduated from college with his Bachelor of Science Degree and has moved home to pursue his master’s degree. It’s been an adjustment all over again, but we have set boundaries and expectations on both sides of the playing field and we are enjoying our time together.
Because I have a passion for supporting women, I created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
I would love to hear your tips on surviving those college years or even if your adult children have moved back home.
Cherie Faus-Smith is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, & transformational coach focusing on women over 50. Her goal is to inspire women (like you!) to live life on their own terms. Cherie’s been a guest on Good Day PA and, most recently, was the keynote speaker at the YWCA's fashion show event to raise money for their Domestic Violence program.
She shares her experiences with surviving domestic abuse and being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to inspire women to live life to the fullest, push their comfort zones, and thrive.
Find out more about Cherie on her website. Also, you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
By Holly Miller
Mrs. Miller, will you be here after school for a while?” In my third year of teaching, one of my tougher students poked her head into my classroom at dismissal. “Yes Maria, what can I do for you?” I said smiling, hiding my own hesitation. Maria and I had a rocky start to the school year. She was defiant, cut class, and often didn’t have her work done. But I tried my best to give her a clean slate every day and be as patient as possible. She asked if she could get some help on the assignment we were working on in class earlier that day and I was pleased to see her actually putting in some effort so I happily obliged. She actually didn’t need a whole lot of help and it seemed like she just needed a place to work and have someone hold her accountable. Maria started coming by after school once a week for extra math help. After a while, she asked if she could come work on any work in my classroom, even if it wasn’t for my class. I had plenty of grading and lesson planning to do, so she came by a few times every week after school and we often chatted and worked, each accomplishing what we needed to do.
After these impromptu work sessions became the norm for us, Maria started to try in class, had her work done, dropped her ‘tough girl’ exterior with me, and stopping missing class. One afternoon, she shared with me that she couldn’t get work done at home. Her mom worked late hours and she was responsible for picking up her younger siblings, making dinner, and ensuring they did their homework. She couldn’t complete homework unless she found a quiet place to work directly after school for the one hour she had to wait for the elementary school to dismiss. After she completed her work in my room, she would walk to the elementary school and basically start a ‘second shift’ taking care of her siblings. Maria shared with me that she felt like no one really cared about her success and well-being and she was too busy helping with her family to worry about herself. But coming to my class after school focused her one hour into time to complete school work and decompress from her day. I saw Maria go from almost failing to an exemplary student. She went from being angry, combative, and evasive to focused, goal-oriented, and even polite. While I heard the old adage “students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care”, Maria was my first encounter with how much truth there is in that saying. I tried my best to give her a place where she felt safe, supported, and loved.
I am a firm believer in the words of Rita Pierson, “Every child needs a champion.” If you have never heard her TED Talk, do yourself a favor and watch it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion?language=en
While I haven’t put in the 40 years into education that Rita has, I can affirm that in my 12 years in education and 4 years previous to that in early childhood education, this is true. I have seen first-hand students who are loved, supported, and have safe environments succeed while others who don’t have consistent support, have hard home lives, or simply feel like no one is looking out for them fail. The number one reason students succeed is love. Behind every successful student is at least one person who told them they could do it; one person who consistently was there for them. I have had the pleasure of being one of those people to many students, but I have also lost sleep and cried over students who I couldn’t reach. While I can’t be a champion for every child, I wake up every day trying to do so for as many as possible.
We all have young people in our lives. Our own children, nieces, nephews, friends’ children, or little ones at church or in our community. It is imperative that children know they are seen, that they are important to someone, that they are loved. You can be a champion for any child. There are studies done on non-parent mentors and the positive effects on children. (There is an excellent article about it in Psychology Today, found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-moment-youth/201301/mentoring-youth-matters). As adults, whether you are formally responsible for children or not, we need to be there for the children in our lives and cheer them on. Have conversations. Check in with them. Get to know them. Ask what made them smile today. Ask what their favorite class is this school year. Ask who they sit with at lunch. Find out what makes them laugh. Do anything you can to show that you care. So many students slip through the cracks. I have mourned the suicides of too many of my students. I have felt the blow of students dropping out of school or being arrested and sent to alternative education. Raising successful young people is not a one-person job. All adults need to step up and champion children in their lives. Eventually, if there are enough people who do not give up on them, students will realize someone believes in them. There will be at least one person they can connect with and be inspired by. While many things go into student success, the greatest of these is love.
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life.
Holly can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
A couple days ago, my daughter and I did a Facebook Live and talked about many of the things that our family does for fun. We also discussed why it's important to be intentional about building and cultivating relationships within the family.
What does your family do for fun?
How do you cultivate relationships within your family?"
There’s a growing number of people struggling with their work-life balance. A large percentage of American workers feel their job demands that they should be available 24/7 since they can check in from anywhere using their smartphone. This constant availability takes a toll on both a person’s mental and physical health. Humans need to socialize, relax, and care for themselves to stay happy and healthy.
Here are four simple ways to improve your work-life balance:
It’s easier said than done, but avoid checking your phone for work matters after hours. This constant checking may have become a habit you wish you’d never started, and if you are honest, practically all work-related matters can wait until the next day. It’s key to unplug from work when you get home each evening and on the weekends. Let your coworkers know you won’t be returning emails, calls, or texts regarding work after hours so that they can prepare for this change.
If you can’t seem to get all of your work done within your working hours, you aren’t alone. An alarming number of Americans work more than 50 hours a week, every week. Before you go to your request a reduction in your workload, take a careful look at how you are spending your time. Track it for a few days and see what’s causing you to stay late each night and come in early each morning. You will be surprised by the ways you can change or eliminate distractions and other time-wasters.
Take A Stay-Cation
Another vital way to establish a healthy work-life balance is to make use of all of your vacation days. A large number of US workers lose essential time with their family or with themselves because they don’t take all of their vacation days, or in worst cases, don’t have any vacation days at all. If you feel uncomfortable about using all your allotted holidays in one long vacation, schedule the occasional day off here and there to enjoy “stay-cations.” Breaking it up like this will give you the mental health days you need while ensuring you don’t come back to an overwhelming mountain of work.
Train Your People
Many of us grew up hearing, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Unfortunately, this gets ingrained to the point where we feel we can’t delegate any tasks lest they end up back in our laps in worse shape than before. If you have employees you manage or freelancers you outsource to, take the time to train them well. Make sure they know exactly how to do things. Of course, this will take time upfront. But, once they understand your requirements, you’ll be able to hand off more work and give yourself some slack.
Feeling out of balance?
Schedule a FREE consultation at Calendly.com/chou
We need to create a safe place for men to share their feelings and seek help for mental health when needed. Our physical health affects our mental health. We need to seek help for all of us, not just part of us. We need to do a better job at supporting caregivers. If you are a caregiver, we are here for you. Reach out to us today!
Here are the websites I mentioned:
6 Key Benefits of Reinventing Yourself
We often make our way to the idea of reinvention after experiencing frustration and discontentment with our lives.
Sometimes there’s a sense of longing to do something different, to find a new way to live and to be. This kind of reinvention evolves from the human need to grow and to change. Change comes about because there has to be more to human existence than simply existing and most people sense that over time.
Sometimes in the early stages of reinvention, we think about what benefits we might receive from building a new self. Perhaps we just want to be free of a stale, confining and suffocating way of life, but that might not seem enough to us right then.
Other than liberating yourself from a life with no change and no growth, what other benefits does reinvention offer?
Of course, a huge benefit is a more authentic and fulfilling life. After all, that’s the first purpose of going through this transformation process. More importantly, you learn how to be adaptable in the face of new challenges and that is a life skill that is useful in many ways.
You learn how to cope with new problems and new situations. Once you've been through one reinvention cycle, you’ll be ready to do it again when you feel the need.
You may never decide to reinvent yourself again, but that’s a matter of choice. You’ll know how to do it . That’s a life-changing benefit all on its own!
How will you #ReinventYourself this year?
The holiday season is an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, to take some time off work, or even escape for a winter getaway. For all the joy and fun, though, so comes the stress.
The expectations of social events, gift shopping, and entertaining guests can become too much for even the most festive types. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association 8 out of 10 people expect to experience an increase in stress over the holiday season.
With stress comes a greater risk of anxiety and depression, and reports from the Mayo Clinic show that depression is frequently an unwelcome guest over the holidays. All is not lost however, there are many ways you can minimize your stress and anxiety to allow you to truly enjoy the season.
1.Set A Budget
Shopping can be fun, but spending money isn’t always easy, and Americans spend almost a $1,000 every holiday season on gifts alone. You can minimize the damage by setting a budget and sticking to it.
A lot of the stress that we experience during the holidays is due to financial pressure and the Mayo Clinic suggests that setting a budget can be beneficial to your stress levels. Work out how much you can afford to spend on food and gifts, and stick to it.
The American Heart Association wants you to stay active all the time, but it’s extremely important to keep that up during the holidays. Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your stress and elevate your mood. It’s going to stimulate endorphin production and trigger a positive feeling in your body.
You might be busy, but if you can find time to exercise for half an hour three times a week, you will feel better. You can go walking or jogging, swimming or biking, play sports, and find time for aerobics. Also, find an accountability partner. I’m working on this step so if you are too and want to link arms, send me an email at email@example.com and we can do this together.
3. Take It Easy
The American Psychological Association reminds us that we need to take time for ourselves. There are parties and gatherings and we are constantly surrounded by people. It’s great to be with the ones we love and laugh about the old days.
You shouldn’t miss all those great times, but what you should be careful of is setting unrealistic expectations. You can’t do everything, and it’s okay to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes. If you do a whole lot of hosting, make sure you delegate- whether you ask everyone to bring a different dish, or you rope in the family to take on certain tasks.
4. Stay Smart
The holiday season is a time of indulgence, but as the Mayo Clinic directs- it doesn’t mean you should abandon your healthy ways. There’s no need for a free for all that will just add to your stress.
Enjoy yourself, but try having healthy snacks before holiday gatherings so you don’t over snack while you’re out. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep, as you are more likely to overindulge after a poor night’s sleep.
5. Choose Your Battles
We all have someone in our circle that rubs us the wrong way. It’s only natural- not everyone can always get along. Allowing someone else to get under your skin, though, is only going to ruin your holiday and increase your stress level. Learn to pick your battles, and don’t take the bait.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that if you have a real problem with someone, set it aside and save it for another day. Even the calmest people can lose their cool during the holidays.
Self-care is a conscious choice and this is even truer during times of more stress, such as the holiday season. Make sure to take the time and create a deliberate plan! Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, family, and relaxation, don’t let stress interfere with this great time of year.
For more tips on self-care and stress relief strategies, grab your copy of my book here: https://amzn.to/2V4r4Qp
If you need hep finding resources in your community, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-216-0230.
Chou is a best-selling Author, a Transformational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at email@example.com