20 Things I Wish I Knew When I Became a Parent

I’m nearing the end of my parenting journey with my last kid about to graduate from high school. The husband and I are shifting gears and learning what it means to be parents of adult children.

Once a parent, always a parent, but we’ve definitely moved into a whole new season of parenthood.

The other day I was looking through baby albums and wondering how it was possible that the years flew by so quickly. My mother-in-law warned me of this concept when the kids were toddlers. “The time will fly by when the kids get older and before you know it, they’ll be grown and gone.”

She was right.

I blinked.

And poof, the kids became adults.

The other day, I was thinking back on the mistakes, the fumbles, the inexperience–and all the things I wish I knew when I first became a parent. So I sat down to write all the things I know now–and wish I knew at the beginning of the parenting journey.

Here goes–20 things I wish I knew when I became a parent:

You’re wiser than you realize. You are perfectly capable of making decisions that are right for you and your family.

You’re gonna mess up. It’s okay. Sometimes you have to go down the wrong path to discover what the right path is for your family.

Let go of perfection. Aim for perfectly imperfect instead.

Don’t lose your passion–ditch the time-suckers and go play.

Take time for YOU.

Parenthood is a season. Like all seasons, it ebbs and flows. Enjoy the season you’re in.
Parenthood is not a race. Comparison robs your kid of their own journey.

Don’t follow the crowd–just because everyone is doing something doesn’t mean it’s right for your child.

When you’re stuck in a rut, do something new. Take action.

Pick your battles carefully. Will this matter ten minutes, ten months, or ten years from now?

You’re a lot tougher than you think. You can bounce back from anything.

Laugh. Laugh some more. Laugh even more.

Responsibilities and independence are gifts. Give them wisely.

Let yourself feel. Kids need to know that parents are beautifully human.

The laundry never ends. As soon as they can load the washer, teach them to do laundry. Ditto the dishwasher.

Take pictures and videos, but make sure you put the camera down to experience the moments, too.

During the tough times, look for the gift in the experience. Sometimes you won’t find it until enough time has passed by.

Learn all you can about what you need to know–lean on people who have wisdom to share.

Listen within. Meditate. Pray. Ask. The answers will come.

When in doubt, love. Love your kid.

Every child is freaking unique. Honor that.

 

Want a dose of passion? Yes, I do! 

Embrace Your Weirdness

Lori Moreno of Ambassadors VIP posted a question:

If you could go back and tell your young self something, what would it be?


I was pondering this question during a 3:45 a.m. ride to the airport.

My response was simple: Stand out. Embrace your weirdness. Share your gifts.

Stand Out

I grew up hard of hearing. Every single day I struggled in school to appear as “normal” as possible. As the only kid with a hearing aid, I measured myself against people with normal hearing and I couldn’t do the things that they could do (group conversations, music, talk in the dark) with ease. 

As a result, I always felt “less than.”

It wasn’t until I became deaf that I learned to step comfortably into my authentic self. I was no longer afraid to show my hearing aids (yes, I added a second one.) 

In fact, they’re now beautiful pieces of art,


Yeah, I wish my younger self knew that place of authenticity that says, “This is who I am.”

There’s a line in the movie, What a Girl Wants, that says:

“Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?”

The worse thing you can do is blend in with everyone else. When you do that, you squelch your own passion. You diminish your unique touch in the world.

The world doesn’t need carbon copies. The world needs you. 

Embrace Your Weirdness

We all have habits, quirks, and unusual stuff that we are passionate about. In a world of mass conformity, this might seem…weird. 

What if, instead of trying to stuff your square (or hexagon) self into a round hole, what if you embraced your weirdness instead? 

When you conform to other people’s expectations or judgments of you, you’re swinging like an untethered sail in the wind. What’s more, a sailboat moves forward against the wind. So tether your weirdness and move forward. 

My ultimate favorite shoes are Vibram Five Fingers. I wear them everyday. One morning I showed up at a breakfast meeting with a friend who is a business coach. The shoes clearly made her uncomfortable. 

“Never wear those in public with me again,” she said. 

At first, I felt ashamed. I silently berated myself for not appearing more businesslike in public. 

Fortunately for me, the feeling didn’t last long. Those weird shoes have climbed to a peak in Colorado, perched the edge of a cliff in Nebraska, walked through a waterfall in Oregon, water skied on the Fox River, and endured a triathlon in Naperville. 

Weird has brought me a wonderful life. 

Share Your Gifts

I wish my younger self would have recognized the unique talents, skills, and abilities within me. I would have tapped into them right away instead of putting them off for years. 

You are as unique as your fingerprint. That means there’s no one in the whole wide world who can be you. 

So stop hiding your talent. Don’t let fear cloud your growth. If you’ve become dull and stagnant from repetitive routine–shake things up. Dust off your creativity. Approach life with a whole new wonder and a beginner’s mind. Do the stuff that your younger self is screaming for. 

Become a kid again

The Passion Book

UYP Dan Miller Quote

Psssst…

I’ve got a new book coming out in July 2017.

You’ll like this one. It’s about…passion.

How to unwrap your passion and create the life you truly want.

I spent the last several years asking a lot of people about passion. I took all the lessons I learned and put them in this book. It was a lot of FUN to write this one, because when you interview passionate people about the stuff that lights them up, drives them forward, or allows them to savor life–you get all kinds of really cool answers and life lessons.

UYP Dara Torres Quote

If you want to be among the first to know when the book is released, sign up here:

Yes, let me in on this passion stuff! 

Your passion matters.

UYP Joel Boggess Quote

The Handstand Lesson

Like a lot in life, we often see the end results of success instead of the struggle. 
When my daughter and I came across this piece of rock on a beach in Florida, I wanted to do a handstand on it. 
The first several tries resulted in a bunch of pictures with one foot or nothing. A couple of things were happening:
The rock sloped downhill. I was afraid I would fall forward or backward into more jagged rock. 
I had just started doing handstands a few months ago– more than 30 years after I did my last one. I didn’t trust my ability to do it. 
So my daughter suggested trying the handstands uphill instead. 
It worked. After a few practices, I had the confidence to try it downhill and that’s the picture you see here. 


So in life, if at first you come up to a challenge, change the way you approach it. Try something different. Practice. Gain the skill. Above all, persist.

Create a Life You Love



Imagine waking up each morning excited to start the day because you know it will be filled with joy, fun, and happiness.

You can absolutely have this kind of life. It’s not a pipe dream, but it will require change.

Think about it; you can change three things:

Your thoughts.

Your attitude.

Your actions.

Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, wrote about this in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which the Library of Congress lists among the Ten Most Influential Books. Victor, a psychiatrist, spent three years at the Auchwitz Concentration Camp. He knew he could not change his circumstances, but he was completely free to determine what thoughts he would dwell on, what attitude he could choose to have, and what actions and responses he could put forth.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

You have it within you to create a passionate life that you truly love.
What I Learned from Choosing Passion

Not too long ago I spent the evening in the company of guys who are crazy passionate about the sport of barefoot water skiing. As we watched videos of last year’s barefooting runs, I was thinking how much my life changed since I rediscovered my passion.
Seven years ago, I didn’t know any of the barefooters I know today. An “Old Lady”, Judy Myers, inspired me to step back into a sport I had long ago abandoned. Her simple invitation started me on a wonderful journey and many lessons on the importance of following your passion. 
Here’s what I learned: 
When you choose in favor of your passions, you will meet many people who will teach you in every way. The masters will cut your learning curve in half–in less time than if you tried to journey alone. A community will form around your passion and the connections will multiply. Your tribe will push you and stretch you in different ways, both by keeping you safe and yet, knocking you out of the comfort zone so that you grow. 
Passion will drive you. It will carry you through tough times. You’ll discover there is far more you can do than you ever originally imagined when you first started. 
Doing what you love to do will bring you joy, laughter, and tears –and it will be so, so worth it. 
So my advice for you is this: step into your passion. Choose in the direction of joy. Your life will change in incredible ways.

 

 

So You Want to Write a Book, But Have No Idea How to Start

write a book

So you want to write a book but you really have no idea how to start…

Or maybe you’re just procrastinating because it’s easier to put things off than to face a blank page and thought paralysis.

I know…

I’ve been there.

There’s really no other way to begin–you simply have to write.

Just start. The words may be a few jumbled thoughts at first. You might have a vague idea of what your book should be about. You might trip yourself up and think, “who am I to write a book?” or “Everything good has already been written.”

Well, no one has read YOUR book yet.

Once you actually start the physical capture of thoughts into written form–something magical happens. That’s right–you’ve stirred the universal magic into motion.

I just sent my tenth book off to a publisher (I self-published my other books) and I have two more books planned for this year.

Over the years, I’ve developed some strategies and short-cuts to make the whole book writing process a little more streamlined and easier.

Here are some tips:

Use Evernote or Notes in your phone to write ideas, paragraphs, or even whole chapters. Use your voice to text option and simply speak into your phone. Write while waiting at the doctor’s office. Write while walking your dog. Write while relaxing in a hot bath (don’t drop your phone!) Later, you can transfer this to Word, Google Docs, or Scrivener. Email a copy to yourself as a backup.

One of the magical things for me is actually a $1 spiral notebook. I carry it everywhere. I get my best results when I go to a place surrounded by nature and let my thoughts flow.

Keep a quote journal and add quotes as you come across them. You can place relevant quotes throughout your book or at the beginning of every chapter. 

Write out 50 life lessons you’ve learned personally. Write out 50 life lessons or stories from others. You can use these lessons in different chapters.You may also be sparked to write several books from the lessons you’ve captured.

Set aside time to write every day. I often hear the excuse, “I really don’t have the time.” If you really, really, really want a book in your name, you’ll MAKE the time. Get up 30 minutes earlier. Go to bed thirty minutes later. Ditch 30 minutes of TV. Jerry Jenkins wrote 187 books. He wrote from 9 pm to 1 am when he had a full time job.

Set a deadline and have an accountability partner. These two strategies will move your book to the finish line much quicker than if you do it alone.

Hire a top-notch editor.  When you make mistakes–relax. I just read a brand new Janet Evanovich book that had a typo in it. 

And remember this: you are the only person who can write from your own perspective. Don’t be a carbon copy of anyone else. Write from your heart.

 

Karen Putz wanted to be an author since she was 11. It took her a few years to finally start writing. She threw a few books up on Amazon: Karen Putz, Author. 

And here you go, a free book just for you: Outside the Wake

Soulotravel, Travel that Feeds the Soul

Last year, I took a personality test and the results surprised me. 

INFJ.

At first, the letters meant nothing. Despite two college degrees in counseling, I hadn’t paid attention to psychological tests in my training. After reading the description of this personality type, so many parts of my life suddenly clicked into place.

Growing up hard of hearing, I struggled to fit in and be like everyone else with normal hearing. I felt like I was weird. I spent hours at the library alone, devouring books instead of going to parties. Parties were both energizing and exhausting at times. I wanted to be liked by everyone, yet sometimes I was quiet and withdrawn. I always blamed my hearing loss. 

If only I could hear I would be more _____.

I’ve been told I’m too sensitive. “You need to toughen up,” a friend once told me. 

When I saw the explanation of the INFJ results after taking the personality test, everything clicked into place. All of a sudden I understood why I was “weird.”

Only one percent of the population has an INFJ personality. Here’s a blog post that explains more: Secrets of the INFJ Personality Type.

I love people, yet I get my energy from being alone. 

In the last several years, I’ve traveled alone often–speaking at schools, corporations, and conferences. I love travel. I’m so thankful for my husband who completely gets me and is supportive of what I call “Soulotravel.”

Yes, travel revives my soul. I need the mountains, the sun, and water–any type of water I can get. 

Right now I’m in Florida, housesitting for a friend and working on another book. My soul is completely content and I feel my reserves filling up nicely. My head is clear and I’m able to focus on my writing. 

If you love to travel but you keep putting it off because you have no one to go with–wait no more. Plan a trip. Be open to what the universe delivers to you in the process. You will meet people. You will see things you’ve never seen before. You will return with a mind so expanded that you will yearn for more. 

Soulotravel may not be for everyone, but if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and take a trip alone, you may find that you discover a whole new side of you that you’ve never experienced before. 

Lessons from 25 Years of Marriage

joe and karen

When I first met my husband-to-be, I knew within two months of dating that I wanted to marry him.

It took him a bit longer. He realized it around six months in. We were only 19 and 20 at the time, but we waited five years to tie the knot. We had to get college out of the way first.

In 2015, we took off to California to celebrate our 25th anniversary. As we watched the sun set on the beach, we looked back at the years. How quickly they flew by. There were lots of good years, but some were peppered with “Divorce Moments.”  In fact, there was a year when our kids took bets as to when we would split. It was not a pretty time in our marriage, but going through the rough times has lead me to a different level of love and understanding in our marriage.

After 25 years together, I’ve learned a few things:

Perspective is Everything

In the early years, we actually fought over parking spaces. I kid you not. I would become incredibly irritated at my husband when he circled around and around finding parking spaces. He, in turn, would criticize my parking skills, insisting that I park perfectly in a space, requiring me to back out and pull in again.  Then I read something in a book (I wish I could remember what book it was, but hey, that was quite some years ago) about changing YOUR behavior so that it causes a shift in your marriage. So the next time we went out, I clamped my mouth shut about parking. I took extra care to park the way he liked it. It took several outings before my husband realized we were no longer fighting about parking spaces. He learned to keep quiet about the parking stuff as well.

Be careful what you pour your energy into. Put things in perspective–does the trivial stuff really matter in the bigger picture? If not, learn to let it go.

Our Needs Are Different

My spouse’s needs and my needs are different. We don’t have to do everything together, nor do we have to like the same things. It took me a long time to figure that one out. It took me a long time to respect it.  I used to drag him to events that bored the heck out of him. He used to sit me through movies that bored the heck out of me. Now we’re at this place where we have Yours, Mine, and Ours time. Compromise is the secret sauce that flavors a marriage.

Life Will Get in the Way Unless You Make a Plan

When our third child was born, we were outnumbered. We could no longer juggle things evenly. It was a struggle to get through each day and before we knew it, the week would fly by. The biggest problem? We were putting our marriage on the shelf during those times. You’ve probably heard this over and over: put yourselves on the calendar. Ink in that date night. Because if you don’t, you’ll find life getting in the way and the two of you drifting apart.

Shake up your routine. Do something new together. Do something different. But for crying out loud, carve out that sacred time for just the two of you.

Gratitude, the Divorce Antidote

My spouse drives me completely up the wall when we are late for an event. It’s so, so, so easy for me to fly off the handle and berate him to change. Here’s the thing, you can’t be mad and grateful at the same time. So choose gratitude.

When the two of us went to counseling years ago, the counselor listened to me fire off a list of things that I was disgruntled with in my spouse. She looked me in the eye and asked me what I was grateful for. What was working right? What did I like/love about my spouse? I was focusing so much on what was wrong, that I couldn’t see what was going right. So I thought about what I liked best in my spouse with gratitude and the feelings shifted. What a lesson to learn. Shift the focus to what is good in your marriage. After all, the two of you really liked the heck out of each other in the beginning. Focus with gratitude on what you have together that’s going well in your lives.

karen and joe

Love, Baby, Love

Remember that excited, hot, “oh-m-gosh-I-can’t-take-my-hands-off-of-you” feeling in the beginning? I can remember it, I just can’t recreate it physically after 25 years. BUT, it has been replaced with a different kind of love, one that is just as nice. It’s a love that sustains. It’s the “I’ve married my best friend and I want this to go on ’til the end of our lives” feeling.

 

This post first appeared on Ricky Martin’s Piccolo Universe.

Want some more lessons? Outside the Wake 

You Can’t Plan Adventure

I’ve entered a new season on the parenting journey: I’m now a mom of three young adults. This phase has required a shift in my parenting experience, one that requires a new skill set. It requires letting go and stepping back versus the heavy guidance of earlier years. 

And it’s hard. 

I keep wishing I could step back in time, to hold them once again as toddlers and revel in the innocence. 

In this season of parenthood, it takes a lot of coordination, plane tickets, and divine timing to gather us all under one roof. We were fortunate to spend Christmas together this year followed by a vacation in the Caribbean. 

I love to travel. I especially love being in new places that feed my soul, especially with nature. To travel with my family is always the ultimate trip for me. 

This year, we joined a cruise with my son’s girlfriend’s family and their friends. It was a magical blend of different ages, generations, deaf, hearing, and backgrounds. 


Memories are not made of things, they are made of experiences: the way you feel, the people you meet, the knowledge you acquire, and the discoveries that appear on your path.

Before we left, I posted the Instapic below on my Instagram feed.


“You can’t plan adventure,” my daughter said. “Adventure is spontaneous.”

I get what she means. Adventure is often associated with the unknown and unplanned that unfolds in life. 

But without vision and dreams, one blithely goes about the daily routine without much spark, passion, and yes, adventure. 

Adventure requires taking action and there’s some planning that goes into it. This means clarity is required–by beginning with the idea that you will invite adventure into your life and stay open to new opportunities for adventure. 

Some of the best adventures come from spontaneous moments–of embracing an opportunity and choosing to experience it. 


Here’s to an adventurous year! 

Why Passion Matters

“I think I’m having a mid-life crisis,” my friend said. “I need something new, something different.”

My friend has worked the same job since college. He liked his job well enough; he had been doing it so long that he could go through all the motions blindfolded. The job provided well for his family. 

I understood his yearning for something different in life. I saw it in myself six years ago. Life was good, but it had become ho-hum. I was humming along. 

The “something” that was missing was passion. 

Passion is energy. When you are on a passionate path in life, that energy is invigorating. Everyone around you will feel it. 

The yearning that pops up is a sign that you’re longing for something “more” in your life. Unfortunately for many, the longing for more is often confused with material things. Once you acquire the material thing and the newness wears off, you’re still left with the yearning for more. 

What we truly want is something even deeper: joy, bliss, and passion. 


We yearn to do things that matter. To accomplish something epic. To serve others. To make a difference. To leave our mark. To matter. To passionately live life so fully that there is no room for complaint. 

“Impossible,” says another friend. “That’s a pipe dream.”

Is it really? Then perhaps you have to take a different look at your perspectives, your thoughts, and your routines. You can invite passion into your life by recognizing your joy. Recognizing what increases your energy instead of what sucks the marrow out of your soul. 

Passion is the fuel that will push you above and beyond, a coach once told me. 

Passion matters. Passion is the spark that ignites–and it can make the difference between a ho-hum life and a joyful one.