Motherly Advice to a New Mom

camera-shy newborn

I was surprised when my daughter asked if I wanted to be present at the birth of her first child. I told her yes,, of course. I did not want to presume.

She’s her own woman now. Times and customs of birth have changed in recent years.

Yet, I would like to tell her this:

Be like Mary & ponder these things in your heart.

Take time to write about the details of this child’s birth. All children seem to enjoy stories surrounding their own birth.

Yet, there are things for you as mom to hold on to also. The look on the father’s face as he holds his child. Silly or strange things the nurses say. The joke the doctor tells right as he asks you to push. The range of emotions that flow one after another.

Ponder the miracle of this new life. Think over the new calling on your life. Hold these things in your heart. It will get you through the teen years.

Trust your instincts

Everybody and their second cousin will offer advice. Each book you pick up suggests different methods to raise a heathy, happy child. Trying to follow all this is confusing and laced with poisonous guilt trips.

Trust that you know what is best for this child. Compare suggestions and choose what rings true in your heart. You will do fine.

Enjoy the good stuff & let the rest go.

Your child is a gift, a unique individual that will take a lifetime to get to know.

Take time to be grateful. When the sleepless nights occur, try to concentrate on the smiles of yesterday and the first steps coming up.

May you never have to hold your crying child in the backseat while your spouse drives to the emergency room. But if you do, pay attention to the trust in your child’s eyes mixed with the fear.

Write in your cookbooks or take a picture when you make cookies together. Write down the changes to the recipe and the delightful thing your child says. Store it up for the time when conversation is brief or non-existent.

Learn from your child & keep growing yourself

Children are amazing learning creatures. Everything about life is new to them and they soak up learning like parched earth needs the rain. Learn along with them.

Delight in the shape of clouds in the sky. Take time to smell the dandelions before you curse what they are doing to your lawn. Make mud pies and sit awkwardly at tea parties with dolls. Listen to the multiple ways your child connects new things.

As they grow, you will learn new words or additional definitions to words you thought you knew. Ask curiosity questions to get to know their world, especially in teen and young adult years. Their music and tastes in art and entertainment can open up wonderful experiences.

Try to withhold judgment. I know this is very hard to do, but when I managed it, relationships with my children grew.

Always listen to your mother

I can see you rolling your eyes as I type these words. That means you’re still paying attention even while being annoyed with me. That’s okay..

I didn’t listen to my own mother either. She wanted me to stay in the hospital longer, worried that breast milk wasn’t giving enough nutrition, and fussed about me taking the baby out in cold weather.

You can be sure that when I feel cold, I will think your child needs more clothing. I’ll ask stupid questions about when you’ll introduce solid foods.

Please listen politely and do whatever you think is best.

Dear reader,

Did your mother pass on wisdom before your first child was born? Did you accept or reject the advise? What words would you pass on to a new mother?

Let me know in the comments below, and please subscribe.


Learning New Programs like Riding a Bicycle

At 64 years, I like to think of myself as being fairly tech savvy. Like many other lies I tell myself, I’m sure I land far off the mark. The starting line is still several feet away and the goal line shifts as each new iteration is advanced. Yet, there is hope.

Learning new programs is like riding a bicycle.

Humans were born to be bipeds, even though we begin forward motion on all fours. I’ve seen some very fast crawlers, but it cannot compare to how fast those little ones get into trouble as soon as they start walking. Bicycles are a different matter.

Maybe you were fortunate to have some time using training wheels. I do not remember such luxuries when I was sent hurtling forward on this wobbly thing that felt too large and was constantly drawn toward the grass on each side of the sidewalk.

Even grass feels hard when tumbling off while the two-wheeled demon lands on top. I was determined to learn however. I already had two siblings ahead of me who could zoom away. I wanted to zoom, because running beside them left me blocks behind. I longed to feel the wind in my hair, daring the crazy ride downhill.

Start with Help

My mother or my father steadied the bike while I got on. My heart was racing, uncertainty and fear threatened to upset me before I even started. Yet the calm clear voice told me to sit straight, center my feet on the pedals, and encouraged me to feel for balance.

After a push and a shout, “Keep your balance!” I was off down the sidewalk, tilting sideways almost immediately. A few times, the dutiful parent caught my bike and kept me upright, but the grass encounter was more frequent. It hurt. I’m sure I cried, but I got back up.

Keep Trying

Each time I got back on the bike, I felt my confidence rising. I could hold my balance a tiny bit longer. I learned how to turn the handlebars without overcorrecting and ending up on opposite grass.

Watch and Learn from Others

Once I could wobble along beyond the reach of my long-legged father, my siblings gave me advice. I watched my brother balance with no hands and I wanted to try that. I had to stabilize my balance. I had to learn the beginning things well so that I would be ready for fancy tricks. I did it!

Be Patient

Wheelies and going no-handed downhill were skills beyond beginner level. If I wanted to do them, I needed patience as I mastered each step of the action. My first wheelie attempts were pathetic. My brother encouraged, so I kept trying. I learned to bounced the front tire ever so slightly into the air and back to the path. It took upper arm strength I did not yet possess. I got frustrated. Most of my friends didn’t bother with the boy’s antics, but I was a tomboy. Anything they could do I could do, maybe not better, but I could do it.

Seek Help Along the Way

Chains worked themselves loose, and I hit the grass all in a tumble, bicycle chain miserably twisted. Someone older and wiser found a way to straighten the mess, tighten the chain, and send me on my way again. Tires became flat and the inner tube needed either patching or replacing. Eventually, I became the older person with knowledge and skill to repair minor things. I became the one who helped others learn.

Teach What You Know

Once I mastered the basics of bicycle riding and repair, I could help younger neighbors learn. I found a bandage for skinned knees, walked the bike back home next to a sobbing child to get tools to get her riding again. The feeling of helping was almost as great as streaking down the hill with hands in the air, hair streaming behind.

Learn while Doing not Researching

If I had asked my dad to expIain how bicycles work, he would have drawn me pictures, pointed out the bike parts and given them names. He could have told me the concept of balancing and steering, but only once I got on the bike could I put principles to work.

I still have a bike that I don’t ride near enough. I use excuses. My rear end hurts after a long ride – I know, get a new seat. I don’t have time. Again, stop searching rabbit trails on the internet. An example of my rabbit trail? See names of bicycle parts below…

Wikipedia Bicycle diagram by AI2

I am doing adult learning now. This year, I purchased a domain name, an email marketing program, and the latest version of Sckivener to help my writing career launch.

So… Learning new programs is like riding a bicycle.

I seek help by watching into videos. I purchased because of advice from writers I trust. I plan to stumble to the side, leaning into patience and trusting time. I am very wobbly now, but as I learn features of each program, gradually remembering keyboard shortcuts, I gain confidence. I pay attention when others show what they have learned. And once I know what I’m doing, I will share with others.

Your call to action:

☐ What are you endlessly researching to avoid the start?

☐ Who can you find to teach you the first steps?

☐ How much time can you devote each day to the learning process?

☐ Now that you are a few steps ahead, who can you teach?

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Windy Wednesday – 5 Rules for Neighborly Trees

Weeping Willow

Leaves clutter our patio and dance in swirling circles as the wind weaves between our willow and the garage. These leaves belong to our neighbors as the willow is the only tree that sheds its coat on this side of the house. Crackling beneath my feet, rounded oak and pointed maple leaves join the broader golden fans sent by a cottonwood half a block away.

While our lovely gracious willow still retains the greens of summer and sways as a dancer in the fall gusts, I would hate to imply that our Willow tree is a good neighbor. She tosses her long thin branches into the air all winter long, forcing our neighbors to do a springtime cleanup even if their lawns were pristinely raked or mowed before winter began.

I find it no work at all to pick up after my tall green hula dancer. The willows’s amazing beauty in all shades of light and the rhythmic sway of her long dangling limbs are worth any amount of work to me. Gladly, I pick up the discarded strands of willow hair before each mowing. Her dried branches make excellent kindling for campfires. And if I feel especially crafty, I could weave her branches into any number of arrangements.

So what makes a tree a good neighbor? Let us consider several factors.

1. A neighborly tree sheds its debris within its own yard.
2. Trees that share the sun yet shade the hottest part of the day will allow the neighbor’s garden to grow well.
3. To bless the neighborhood, a tree should provide more beauty than the work it causes.
4. In the neighborhood of children, the best sort of tree provides safe climbing and resting places.
5. A neighborly tree yields its fruit to passing hands or is bountiful enough to feed a crowd.

Evergreens are stately and usually keep their debris beneath their bows, although pinecones have been known to scatter wide and far. They tend to be sticky and difficult to climb.

Cottonwoods are tall and gracious, but their vertical stature tends to prevent most climbers.

The maple and oak are indeed glorious in many seasons, with leaves that change from spring green to fall oranges and reds. Most varieties are suitable for climbing.

Our peach, plum, and apple trees are generous to share but yet too small to climb. The flowering crab and fragrant lilac both send beauty and fragrance thoughout our block every spring.

Yet among all the trees in our yard and neighborhood, the Willow is queen of them all. Even our neighbor across the way agreed that picking up her branches was not a cost too high in exchange for her beauty.




Dry Leaves Dance – 3 Steps To Life When Drained

Dry leaves lay scattered randomly across the sun-baked parking lot. A tiny breeze, almost undetectable, touches one small leaf, an unremarkable leaf in itself, except for the breath of air that sets it spinning.

It touches another, and the two spin together, bumping other leaves, also dry and brittle as themselves. A quiet rustle is heard, not loud enough to cover the chirping of birds, but a gentle crescendo builds, whispering across the barren pavement.

I felt that dry today. I was convinced that my age and exhaustion was taking me out of action. Perhaps you feel the same. Depression has overtaken you. Life circumstances have broken you, beaten you down until you think there is nothing left. You have come to the end of your own resources. Take heart; there is hope.

I watched the leaves, fascinated how a small leaf responded to a breath, the /ruah/ of God. It joined a dance of beauty and rhythm with others led by a force beyond them all.

We, also, have hope. The tiniest of movements can start a direction toward renewal and union with others, swirling us in a celebration that draws us beyond ourselves in a divine dance.

*Pay attention* to the smallest things around you. Living fully in the present moment lifts us out of stuck thoughts.

*Realize you are not alone in this period of dryness*. Find groups that allow you to be yourself, while encouraging you to be the best self you can be. Al-Anon, New Room Bands, or small groups within a church offer encouragement and accountability.

*Join the dance.* Yours steps can be tiny and slow. You are allowed to falter and take a few steps back. Sometimes, we watch the dance of others. We learn from the stories of others. Our own stories matter to others hesitant to join the dance. Share your stories of hope, and strength out of your own experiences. Join the dance.

Spoon on a Brick Wall

A solitary spoon rested atop a curved brick wall on a corner in Franklin, Tennessee. What was its message? What was its purpose, its meaning?

The oddness of it drew me close. Not a plastic spoon that some walker had used for yogurt, not a long spoon left from eating a malt, but a metal spoon with a single word on its back identifying its maker. Browne.

A quick search revealed the spoon to be a Contour tablespoon made for the food service industry by a Canadian company with markets at home, the USA, and internationally. There are several restaurants within a block of this brick wall. A detective could solve the “where from” question in short order.

But why? Why was the spoon left on the wall? Likely stolen property is tossed into dumpsters or ditches, not decorative retaining walls. The spoon did not appear of its own accord. Did the human who placed it there, think it would find its way home on its own? Did guilt impel the would-be thief to leave the spoon behind?

Why ponder this at all? Perhaps I feel out of place myself. Circumstances brought me to this particular corner at this particular time. To find a spoon, or to begin to rediscover my own place and purpose in the vast world of walls and notice the little things that seem out of place.