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The Art of Listening

141FBB73-1040-414C-B6F7-6053E999D0CBOur kids are being taught now in amazing schools and have constant access to information on the internet. They read countless books, research, share ideas online, and are pushed harder by parents and educators than we ever were. However, they are not any smarter than us. Why not? I should have already known why, I taught high school several years for Christ’s sake. I guess I could never put my finger on it until now. As my son and I debated over politics the other day, I finally figured it out. Kids act like they listen to you but in all reality, they truly lack the ability to actually listen.

Things moved slower when the Baby Boomers and their kids were growing up, even though it didn’t seem like that to us. However, compared to kids today, we had plenty of time to take in information and process it. Why is it important to process it? It’s not just about being a sponge. It’s about that higher level of intelligence. You know the poster you see sometimes in psychologist’s and educator’s offices covering Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning? A teacher’s goal is to strive to create lessons to hit all six of those domains listed, especially the very top domain, Creating. Now, I’m not going to bore you with each category and all kinds of other education jargon. What I will tell you is that if you are a parent, your kids are probably struggling with one of the foundation pieces, Analyzing.

We all know that to analyze information, we have to separate it into parts and organize it first. It takes a little time. Kids aren’t doing that. They are in a rush and don’t want to take the time. But why? What has them so busy? Not many of them work on farms anymore. Why are they too busy to take in what they hear and correctly analyze it? The answer lies in the old adage, everything in moderation. Our kids are being bombarded with so many issues now that they jump from one thing to another without fully understanding it. Also, think about the kids that are so sensitive that they take in bits and pieces of social/environmental issues and freak out! They shut down before you, as their parent, can explain that the information or data they came across online or wherever wasn’t taking into account other theories, statitics, etc… Then if or when you finally get your thoughts in, your child moves on to another problem without fully analyzing what you told them. Some kids are left with anxiety over a bunch of bull, and they’re going out into the world already emotionally crippled.

What’s the solution? The solution is to know there is a problem and address it. The next time you are talking to your child, remind them that it is time for them to stop talking and to listen to you, the adult. You, the one that cares about them. You, the one that has years of wisdom on them and even most of the people your child comes in contact with online. If they still don’t follow what you’re saying, put it in simpler terms- To listen is to pay attention with not just your ears, but your mind and heart. When they finally learn to stop long enough to really listen to other people, not just with people they agree with either, they will grow smarter. In the end, it will also teach them how to show respect to the person talking. People love to share knowledge if they feel like they are really being listened to.

With all that being said, I am proud of my son for gathering information and debating his opinions. Who wouldn’t be? But I want more for my kids. I want them to always stay open-minded and in order to that, they must know how to properly listen.

 

 

Island Time!

The thing about life is that there is no rhyme or reason to anything. There is not a single book that you can read which will help you have a perfect life. We just figure it all out as we go. In general, we try to get along with everyone, make everyone happy, and avoid as many downsides as we can. Then, we get older and realize that bad things will happen and the most important person we need to make happy is us. Mark my words, if you are not to that point in your life that you realize all this, then you are NOT happy. And the only way you can handle all this when you realize it, is to stay positive.

I was the world’s worse at making myself utterly miserable, and I didn’t even know it. I struggled with seeing the glass half full. I guess it was because I did not have the best childhood. I was a child of divorce, was dropped off in the worse daycares, and any kind of structure in my home was non-existent. My mother (single mom), bless her heart, just simply survived. The funny thing was, I didn’t know the extent of my situation until I was in high school. I thought my childhood was normal, although I was miserable. When I figured it all out, I was embarrassed by my family. The best way to hide embarrassment- overcompensate. I did that in so many ways from pressuring myself to make perfect grades to finding an incredible job, at least by my standards. And don’t let me get started on how much of a planner I was. Oh my goodness, I was a freak about planning out months or even years into the future. All of this was a part of the ‘perfect’ life that I was striving for. I didn’t want to be judged for not being from some great family. I wanted people to look at me and think, “She’s got good genes”.

Good genes? What? This is where I was delusional. There wasn’t really anything wrong with the people in my family, just their choices. They were all extremely smart, all college educated, beautiful, you name it. However, their choices started a cycle of pain and poverty that I was dead set on stopping. I did not want the same for me or my kids.

Sometime in my thirties, after my grandparents passed and I began to rely on my faith more than ever, something just clicked. It wasn’t the whole, ‘life is short’ kind of reasoning just yet. It was more than that. It was the realization that in this one life we’re given, things or people you love will or could be gone without warning. Loss is a big part of life. Sadness is a big part of life. You can’t control that no matter how hard you try. And the other important tidbit I learned, bad things will happen.

Want to control something? Want to find happiness when it seems like a pipe dream? Well, that’s the easy part. That is the one thing that took me forty years to learn, no matter how many college degrees and certificates I earned. The only thing that you can manipulate, plan for, rely on… is your own positive thinking. That is it. That’s all. Nothing else. How do you think positively? That’s even easier. Just don’t be negative. If something bad happens, refuse to entertain it. Deal with it quickly in that moment, then go home and move on. Why dwell on something you can’t control? In the words of Annie, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” Go to sleep and let that amazing sun come back out tomorrow. Remember, bad things will happen and they are not a reflection of who you are. It is called ‘life’. We are not in Heaven here. There is no Heaven on Earth like Belinda sang about. Sorry to break the bad news to you. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t find enjoyment in our life so many more times than sadness. You can. You will! You rock!!

How do we do that? When the odds are stacked against you and you pull yourself out of a bad situation, that is when you need to sit back, dwell, and enjoy. That is when you need to realize that things are never as bad as they seemed when you were first confronted with them. After just a few opportunities of being able to quickly recover from screwed up situations, you will begin to see how easy going through them really is. And that is where positive thinking comes in again. It will help you. It is your best friend. You got this!

When I studied for my Master’s degree, my thesis paper was on teens in Japan and the ridiculously high suicide rate among them. I finished that degree several years ago. As of 2018, Japan’s youth suicide rate is now at its highest in 30 years. The underlying cause: too much pressure from so many different people in their lives. Adults, peers, etc.. That leads me to the final problem in your life- who are you spending time with? I know you’ve heard it before, don’t spend too much time with negative people. I can not express to you how true that statement is. Are you hanging out with these people because they are all you have? Are you a victim of caring too much about what people think of you the same way I was? Do you really value their opinion? Who are they to be able to have that much of an influence on your life? Are you constantly bombarded with negative social media posts, government problems, media scares? Guess what? It is time to swim to your own island. It is time to be alone. Leave the friends, family, or whoever/whatever is mentally hurting you and just go! It doesn’t matter how long you have to remain there or how much you have to scroll passed all those social media posts. Go! Go be somewhere positive!

Hey, I’ll meet you there! I’d love to be there, and so would everyone else that has decided that enough is enough. Everyone that is tired of listening to people complain, put others down, judge them, or just put off negative energy. LEAVE. If it’s family, then monitor how much time you spend around them. Negativity will drain you and make you into someone that you are not supposed to be. God has better plans for you. So, find your island and exist on it alone until the right people swim over to visit. Make them come to you! Positive thinking, smiling, believing in yourself, etc… are all contagious. Don’t take as long as I did to realize this.

And that brings me back to the adage, life is short. Therefore, don’t waste this precious life God have you. So, what are you waiting for? Take the dive and swim to your happy place. You won’t regret those moments alone. It is way better to be happy alone then be surrounded by people or things that bring you down. See you on your island!!! (-:

 

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We can’t do ‘life’ without people that care about us!

Ever sat down to lunch or dinner with that person that knows you better than you know yourself? That supports you and lifts you up every time? If you haven’t, then you are depriving yourself.

In my case, I have a great group of friends that like to shake their finger at me from time to time. Does that sound familiar? You know that moment when you’re chit chatting about the kids, good times, work, and all the events that you missed out on because you were too busy to attend. Then, somewhere in the conversation one of you brings up something that has happened that they might be struggling with. It happens to us all. The best part of that is, you get an outside opinion or take on what you should do. Sometimes it can be an ugly opinion. Yep, that one. The opinion that you didn’t want to hear but needed to.

I can’t tell you how important it is to have a friend or family member that will set you straight because they care. The funny thing is, you both get an opportunity to help each other. We can’t do ‘life’ without these kinds of people. It takes a village to raise even ‘us’ as adults. Think about it- We have these preconceived ideas of how life should be, how others should treat us, and how much we are the victim. It is only human. Also, keep in mind that your perspective is almost always tainted by your own feelings or fears. We need each other in order for us to be great versions of ourselves.

With all that being said, remember that an outside opinion can sometimes be the best thing you hear all day. Don’t waste another day trying to figure things out on your own. Pick up the phone or send a text to that certain someone that truly knows you and meet them for lunch or dinner. And if you don’t have that support system yet, take the time to invest in and be there for someone else first. The next time, they will do the same for you. Trust me, it is worth the effort. Something as simple as this will undoubtedly make you a better ‘you’.

 

 

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“Jacqueline, women CAN do it all, so what’s the problem?”-my grandmother’s favorite question!

The other day, I was eating lunch with a friend at Logan’s in Houston discussing all the things I’m up to now. Her response, “Jackie, how do you do it with kids? You have a full time job at the school, a book out, another book in the making, you’re blogging, coaching kids in soccer, you run everyday, and now I hear you are shooting motivational videos!” I was flattered but not surprised. I got this a lot. My answer? I don’t give one. I just shrug and smile. Heck, I don’t even know how I do it. I just do. I’ve just always been like that. But I can tell you I learned something important from a very smart lady years back before I had kids. I learned how to be a mother and have it all too as the saying goes.

My story goes back to my teenage years sitting in Piccadilly at the Prien Lake Mall in Lake Charles, LA. My grandmother, who raised four kids while working as a librarian at the local college, used to give me pointers on raising kids long before I ever knew I wanted any. She would look around at all the mothers and grimace. Then, she would complain about how these moms would do everything for their kids. She would say, “Look, Jacqueline (she was the only one that called me by my full name), isn’t it sad how these moms do everything for their kids? Not only are they not teaching their kids anything, but they are also wearing themselves out. You know kids that age do most of the labor on country farms.” I would tear into my crab salad trying to get her to change the subject. But she would continue on and on about how she raised her kids to be independent, and how I should do the same from the very beginning unless I wanted to give up all I worked for to be their handmaid. I wanted so badly to roll my eyes, but I wouldn’t dare. Grandma was a face slapper!

Before everyone criticizes her, I want to point out that that was the same woman that graduated high school early at fifteen, graduated from LSU with a Master’s in Chemistry, and then tried to get a job working in a science lab only to be repeatedly turned away because she was, take a guess, a woman. Which was typical back then, it was the fifties. She just wanted me to embrace the opportunities that I had that she didn’t.

Well, I had my babies, three of them, and decided to do the one thing I thought I’d get disowned for: ‘be a Stay at Home Mom!’ The day I told her, she just stared at me for a second and asked, “Jacqueline, you have a business degree and a great job as an Accountant. You can still work and raise them too. You can do it all, so what is the problem?” After I explained to her where my heart was at the time, she actually smiled. She told me it was the right thing to do because a woman’s heart always prioritizes the most important thing in their lives, their children. SHOCKER!

So, I followed my heart and sacrificed my career for what I thought was important. However, I still taught my kids to do as much for themselves as they could like she instilled in me. They had chores, helped with cooking, yard work, etc… So much so, I got incredibly bored. What does a career woman do when she is accustomed to being busy and finds herself not so busy anymore? She starts a business from home. I started a cake business. By the end of the first year, I was baking twenty five cakes a week for birthdays and weddings. And guess what? I taught my kids the ropes too. My kids learned how to bake, decorate, and help with wedding setups. It was a family affair. I continued to stay home with them for another seven years before I ventured back into business.

I don’t regret my time home with my babies, at all. But I did learn a thing or two about how working moms pull it off because of what my grandmother taught me back in that Piccadilly over a crab salad- That we need to teach and expect our kids to help the family too. However, the biggest lesson I picked up from her then and through the years, was that a woman can do it all as long as we don’t sacrifice what is really important and what makes us happy-our hearts and our dreams.

I do juggle a lot, but it is what makes me happy. When I’m happy, my family is happy. On top of all that, I’m instilling the same values in my daughter.

 

 

Merry Christmas but dang it to best laid plans!

Whether you stayed up late wrapping/putting gifts together or you had a few too many glasses of the good stuff Christmas Eve with family, I hope you are well rested to enjoy your Christmas Day now. For me, it was the latter. However, I planned everything for this holiday season down to the very last detail so I could enjoy this day for a change. In fact, a local gift store helped Santa wrap all the gifts ahead of time, with a little extra coin, but it made it easy. Meal prep for today was done Sunday, and the kids were required to mop, vacuum, and dust for me as part of their chores. Oh, and I allowed them to shove unfolded clothes into their drawers this time, because we had no time to actually fold them. But that’s okay, at least the guest room is officially uncluttered for our arriving guests. That’s a good thing, right?

So I woke up, watched the kids open perfectly wrapped gifts, drank coffee to ease the headache, and then headed to the kitchen. I thought cooking was going to be a breeze. I was wrong. My turkey was still frozen, because I misread the label stating how many pounds that darn bird was. It wasn’t twelve pounds. It was a twenty-one pound turkey. And I swear, I am not dyslexic. But dang it, no way! This was a problem because my parents would be arriving in less than four hours for lunch. Epic fail. Ugh!

So the lesson is that no matter how much planning you do, something is going to go wrong. My solution this time was to pour more coffee, think to myself, “Such is life”, and call the parents. Looks like lunch has become dinner and Ho Ho Ho, now wine will be the beverage of choice.

 

 

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Photo by Roberto Nickson (@g) on Unsplash

Reviews are coming in!

Shirley S. (Amazon Review 5 out of 5 Stars!)

Phoenix: Field of Mars was better than I expected. The genres listed were Romance, Inspirational, Historical Fiction, and a bit of Science Fiction. I am not a Sci-Fi fan and the title almost made me change my mind, but I ready anyway. Needless to say, the planet of Mars has nothing to do with this story. The title referenced the god of war, and you’ll have to read to see why. I was also iffy on the genre combination, but the story delivered all of the above in such an entertaining way that I couldn’t put it down!

The story starts out with Kyla traveling back in time to land right in the middle of a very important mission to save the human race. She tries her best not to stand out in Ancient Rome with the help of the special ops soldiers that decide to take her along instead of leaving her to her possible fate. Romance begins surprisingly during the mission between her and one of the soldiers in a way that had me almost in tears at different points in the book. The story also had a realistic feel in how the characters handled the situations, yet there were some hidden inspirational points behind much of it that really was refreshing to read for a change. However, the author was not overly pushy with any faith. This author actually touched on many different faiths without any biases.

The action was paced well, and the historical facts were very accurate.

Although this novel could stand alone, I look forward to seeing where the story takes us in future installments.