Saturday, April 27, 2013

How do you celebrate Mother's Day after your mom has died?

I didn’t expect it when I passed the rack of Mother’s Day cards. But suddenly it hit me like a fist in the gut. “I can’t send one of these any more. My mom is gone.”
She had died 6 months earlier.
Losing a parent is the one life passage that all of us experience. If our parent is at an age when death is  more or less expected, the depth of our grief may catch us by surprise. 
But, just as I nearly doubled over at the sight of a Mother’s Day card, we realize, “It doesn’t matter that she’s 90. She’s my mom! And she’s gone!”

Here are 3 ways to help you over the hurdle of that first Mother’s Day:
  • Honor other moms in your life. I now send cards to my mother’s sisters and my daughter and daughters-in-law; even to an older friend who’s been like a mom to me.
  • Talk to those whose lives your mom touched: her friends, her siblings. Ask questions that you've never taken time before to ask. Learn to see her not only as your mom but as the special person she was to other people.
  • Remember your mom is creative ways: three sisters I know go to their mother’s gravesite and share stories and laughter. Another friend always makes an upside down cake from her mother’s special recipe to serve on Mother’s Day. Another  wears a ring that belonged to her mom.
After my parents died just two years apart, I wrote the book, NOBODY’S CHILD ANYMORE: Caring, Grieving, Comforting When Parents Die (Ave Maria Press, ISBN 1-893732-21-5)  I wanted to offer compassionate help to other ‘adult orphans’ and I’m grateful to know it has been in print for 15 years.  Perhaps the true stories--and the “steps forward” that accompany each story-- will be a help to you. You can find it on Amazon or 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why Today's "Lean In" was yesterday's Self Esteem for Women

In the 1990s---twenty years ago--I flew around the country giving business seminars for a major seminar company. One of the most popular topics was  “Self Esteem for Women Professionals.”  

Now comes the new best selling book, LEAN IN,  by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, which gives advice to women on how to become successful leaders. How to break the glass ceiling! 

  • Be all you can be!
  • Climb high! Dare to risk!
  • Don’t be afraid!

Yes, says Sandberg, although women are sometimes held back by poor public policies and inflexible organizations,  mostly women hold themselves back. She gives tips on how women can rethink.

And guess what?  I was giving the very same tips in the 1990s. Can it really be that we haven’t progressed in the last 20 years? 

As I pondered this, it occurred to me that perhaps certain basic attitudes and actions are ALWAYS necessary; but that we forget. So, periodically, we need to be reminded.

It is important to affirm our own abilities; to “color ourselves visible” (as I once titled a business article), to risk stepping outside our comfort zones, to pick ourselves up after failure, to realize our own personal best, to go for the top job if that’s our dream. 

Ms. Sandberg’s ideas are good ones. Click here to look at 
And also ask yourself, are you already following most of her ideas? I do think we should give ourselves credit where credit is due. 

What do you think?

Are you taking time to feel the Mystery?

           I was a tourist, strolling along the shore of Lake Michigan, when I spied two dots of yellow bobbing on the water. Two women, their bright yellow kayaks enclosing them like fins,  came ashore. One of the women--Louise--explained how she started kayaking.
        "I was an over-achieving workaholic, climbing the ladder of success, working 70-hours a week, with no outside life.  And then I got cancer."

          After a year of treatment, Louise had a "a whole different perspective." She began working reasonable hours and spending her weekends outdoors.  Hiking. Camping. Eventually, kayaking.
         "My illness made me realize there's more to life than business achievement. There is a profound Mystery larger than and I.  In my kayak,  I feel as if I'm part of the boat, the water, the sky, the whole Mystery." She raised her arms, brought them down, raised them again. "I give thanks as I paddle."

          "Paddle prayer?" I said.
          She smiled. "A good name for it."

         So often we get sucked into the tyranny of the urgent. Sometimes it takes a crisis to remind us that --no matter how hard we might try--we are not in complete control of life's flow.  Are you staying balanced? Don't over-focus on career.
         The next time someone says to you, "Don't work too hard," why not reply, "I won't."
And then---don't.  
          Take time to experience--and appreciate--life's Mystery.