Decisions, Parenting

They Didn’t Do It All*

In 1998, I flew to Tennessee to celebrate my precious grandmother’s 88th birthday. On the plane, I decided to ask a great-aunt how she juggled raising two daughters with church and community responsibilities. I don’t know why I chose Aunt Dottie. I liked her, but we were not close. Maybe because she was kind, cheerful, patient, modest, long-suffering, and—as an empty nester—she had started a successful home business.

Great-Aunt Dottie (2000)

Our only time alone was driving Aunt Dottie to pick up fish dinners for the family meal. I vividly remember the exit of the restaurant parking lot where I started the conversation. More intensely, I remember Aunt Dottie’s answer and what it provoked: vindication and regret.

I didn’t take on additional responsibilities. None of the mothers did. We didn’t expect that of each other until our children were older.

Great-Aunt Dottie

I had wrongly accepted the unrealistic expectations of others and myself. Women have come a long way since Aunt Dottie’s child-raising days, but we have also regressed. I wish I had asked sooner.

Do you have an untapped source for advice?

*Edited and republished for the fourth anniversary of 100words.


Goals: Wishing, Practical, and Backup*

You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.

C.S. Lewis

My sons had graduated both high school and college, when I heard thoughtful, helpful advice about goals.  A cousin’s college goals were too ambitious, but we never want to discourage others’ dreams, do we? God can make them happen if it’s his will.

My cousin’s guidance counselor told her to have three college goals: a wishing goal, a practical goal, and a backup goal.  The vocabulary reflected reality, not judgment. Wishing should be encouraged. Practical is important. A backup means you have planned well.

Thinking about wishing, practical, and backup goals showed me another truth. Wishes can soar higher when you have two nets to catch you: practical and backup. While raising children, I wish I had known this excellent way to encourage our collective and individual dreams, and yet, ground our hopes.

In 2013, I fulfilled the wishing goal of visiting Alaska. This photo was taken while I was closest to Mt. Denali, North America’s highest point.

Any new wishing goals while considering practical and back-up ones?

*Edited and republished for the fourth anniversary of 100words.

Decisions, Relationships

I Don’t Want to Change the World

While prowling the internet for great children’s books, I noticed a trend. Our youngest are being encouraged to become “world changers.” I immediately became sad. I don’t want to change the world so why put that burden on our youngest?

I may want to change my husband or children or others who regularly cross my path. I just can’t be in charge of the world. I have a poor success rate with my small sphere—I can’t even change myself—so expanding my vision would not be helpful.

True world changers—Jesus being the best example—worked in increments. Situation by situation. Person by person. True world changers followed their interests and passions. Changing the world was a byproduct.

Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.

Mother Teresa

Please don’t ask the world of me. It’s too much.


Choices Or Sacrifices?

We make choices. I hate to say sacrifices. If we truly love this sport and we have these goals and dreams in the sport, the classroom, or in life, they’re not sacrifices. They’re choices that we make to fulfill these goals and dreams.

Deena Kastor Bronze Medalist 2004 Olympics

Years before I heard Kastor speak, I was struck by a comment made by another Olympian. His perspective agreed with Kastor. He believed that athletes made choices, not sacrifices. However, he didn’t discount sacrifices; they were made by his family and friends rather than him.

Along the way, I learned that few—including myself—recognize the sacrifices imposed when dreams are followed. Or when day-to-day choices are made. I am learning to discern whether the decisions that I and others make are sacrifices or choices.

Choosing or sacrificing?


What Do I Really Want? #2

A year has passed since I decided that what I really wanted for my 65th birthday was to work a Christmas puzzle. (See here.)

My finished puzzle July 2022

Sometimes, it’s easy to know what I really want—the ray rather than the shirt. I had been eyeing the plush souvenir for days and made the switch as my husband walked to the cash register. The previous plan was matching Emerald Isle tech shirts.

The ray joins a plush crab, otter, and alligator.

Other times, it’s not so easy.

My husband and I are searching for our retirement home. We recently toured a one-level brick with spacious bedrooms, a remodeled kitchen, and more importantly, in an excellent location—close to events, lots of woods and an easily maintained large lot. Except, I discovered after the tour that what I thought might be my “dream house” in a “dream location” wasn’t what I really wanted.

What do I really want?

Unlike working a puzzle or buying a souvenir plush ray, this decision has rest-of-my-life consequences.

How do you decide what you really want?