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Calm is not a doormat

Calm is not a doormat. Calm does not roll over. Calm is not passive. Calm does not ignore situations. Neither does it try to make situations go away. Calm allows me to stay engaged in the midst of ugly meltdowns and conflict. Instead of my intensity inflaming situations, I use my intensity to listen to my child (spouse), problem solve and praise instead of punish.


Today, I am assertive…

Today, I am assertive. Instead of hoping that my spouse, kids, boss or friends can read my mind and know what I need, I will tell them. I will be specific, firm and matter-of-fact. I will practice asking for help. I have needs and I will not be afraid to state them plainly. I am not “bothering” people or being a burden by asking. I am being honest and vulnerable. I have value, I show self-respect, so that I do not become resentful. Ready to try this today?!

If you want to go deeper, ask yourself WHY you struggle with this? Do you think you aren’t worthy of having your needs met? Do you think it’s your job as the wife to just suffer in silence so you don’t upset the apple cart or bother your husband (more common than you think)? Do you feel compelled to do everything because that gives you a sense of importance? It takes courage to do this.

Share below. (You don’t have to share your last name and you can use a fake email address.)

Kids crave more peaceful families

We were driving home a few weeks ago on our way back to our little village (a long five-hour trip over terrible roads)…we try to think of ways to make this trip seem shorter.  So, we decided to listen to some of your CDs.  We’ve listened to them on our own, not with the kids. At first, they weren’t real excited about listening :), but soon they were piping up with thoughts of their own. They weren’t too keen on the parts about consistent discipline, though! But, a few days later, my son asked if we could listen to those CDs “that our make family want to be better”.  Pretty cool!
– A Family in Guinea, W. Africa

Our kids crave more peaceful families. If you’ve wanted the CDs, but have put it off because of finances or other concerns, then we want you to be bold. Wishing you had tools to help your family doesn’t work! But you can send a simple email or make a phone call to say, “I need help.” We like that. We honor that. I know it can be a little humbling, but that’s a good thing. Email Brett@CelebrateCalm.com or call him at 888-506-1871. I promise you will feel better after speaking with Brett–he’s wayyyyy nicer than I am.

Today, my child may struggle in school…

Today, my child may struggle in school academically or socially. Rather than react to my anxiety and fear, or try to fix everything, I will take a deep breath. I will realize this is normal. I will sit down, ask questions and listen. I will show my child that he is okay, that everyone struggles, that he has a great future ahead of him. I will think, “What tools can I give my child to succeed?” You can do it.

It is not my job to fix everyone or everything…

Today, I am free. I am not responsible for my child’s happiness. I am not responsible for managing my spouse. I am not responsible to make life perfect for everyone. It is not my job to fix everything or everyone. Today I do one thing that brings me joy. I celebrate it. And then I spread my joy to others, no matter what they do or how they behave.

I am NOT responsible for my child’s attitude.  I am responsible for my happiness, may attitude and my behavior….and that usually affects everyone else’s 🙂 Do you struggle with that?

How have your kids changed you?

How much have your kids changed you? Besides the gray hair, of course. Picture that single guy with no kids, age 37. Gets to play video games, watch ESPN, go out whenever he wants. Now picture the 37-year-old couple, married for 15 years, two kids. Or the single parent juggling demands. Who is likely more mature, patient, wise? Relationships transform us. We can either embrace it…or fight it at our own peril. Aren’t you a much different person because you have challenging kids? How?

Click here to watch a short video explaining how my life changed because of Casey.

Being a jerk in the express lane

Have you ever stood and fumed while standing in line? Well, this is a small way that my life has changed. But the small things really matter, don’t they?!

I’m at Publix picking up just two things for dinner. I go to the Express Checkout lane. No, the lady in front of me didn’t have 37 items. Just a few. She pulled out her checkbook and asked how much she could write the check for, above the $14.06 she spent. The kid bagging groceries (my first job after college!) said $25.00 so she could write it for $49.06. So she did. Only the kid’s math was wrong. So the cashier, an older gentleman, gave her the check back. She ripped it up and pulled out her checkbook. Let’s stop here, because this isn’t about anyone else.

In the past, I would have been fuming inside by now. When we are anxious or in a hurry, we get awfully puffed up with pride, don’t we? I’d begin thinking judgmental thoughts. “What a stupid lady. Duh, can’t they add $25 + $14?! Great, don’t they know how busy I am?! Why can’t everyone be as perfect as I am?!!” Come on, admit it, you’ve had those thoughts.

So the nice lady writes a new check for $39.06 and hands it to the kind Grandpa-ish cashier. He enters it and the register says he owes her $21.00. Something’s wrong. She was supposed to receive $25.00 back. Cut back to old me.

“What the %&#$%* is going on here?! Seriously? I’ve got two items here. Why do I have to be surrounded by such incompetence? Great, three minutes of my important day just thrown down the drain!” My face would be getting red. And watch the old body language. Shifting the weight on my legs to show my disapproval. I’d perhaps slowly shake my head, indicating to everyone else how stupid this man and woman are. I’d perhaps sigh a bit, just so they knew how irritated I was. Yes, I was a complete ***.

So the older man is getting flustered a bit. I noticed that he had entered the check as $35.06, so that’s why it showed him owing her only $21.00. He fumbled through the register, apologized for the mistake and handed the woman $25 back. Cut to old me.

This is when I’d be tapping my feet, getting closer to the register to somehow impose my presence, and wanting to rip $25 cash out of my own wallet. Or maybe I’d anxiously start looking for another line to move to, so that I could send the message to the cashier that I have other options, that he is holding me up and I’m looking for someone who isn’t so incompetent. Then when he FINALLY got to checking me out, I would have been annoyed or even curt with him.

Oh, but it wouldn’t end there. I’d then come home and walk through the door complaining to my family about the dreadful situation I had just endured. Can you believe that, honey? Please, please, shower me with sympathy and understand my travails. What they should have said was, “Grow up and stop being a big baby.”

So today as I stood calmly behind this lady watching the scene unfold, I had two thoughts. One was shame and regret–for the years I had wasted these moments, allowing disappointment to ruin my morning, missing opportunities to be kind to someone who had made a mistake, allowing pride to cause me to be judgmental. The other thought was gratitude. I’m grateful that I can stand patiently and when the cashier and lady apologize for messing up, I can say, “It’s not a problem at all. Take your time.”

My anxiety will make me look inward and be selfish every time. But when I can control that, I can look outward and feel what other people feel. I felt sorry for the older man. His fingers don’t work so well anymore. What must it be like to be this man, a good and kind man, a smart man, but then feel humiliated in front of strangers? I could see the look on his face. He was slow counting my money back to me. He apologized again. I made sure I looked him in the eye and said, “Thank you. You have a good day.”

For once in my life, I wasn’t the needy one–the one who needed everything to go right for me to behave well. He needed reassurance and a kind word. I walked out of Publix, looked up and said a quiet thanks. One small change, one day at a time. I’m becoming a new person. And that feels really good.

Have you ever felt this way?!

Who’s got your power?!

Take this pledge today. I refuse to give power over my happiness, mood and peace of mind to another person or situation. I will not allow my child’s attitude, my spouse’s tone or my boss’s indifference to determine my mood. I will not allow disappointment, frustration or my perfectionism to spoil my day. Instead, I will spread calm and joy in one small way wherever I go. What has “power” over your moods most often?

How I used to manipulate my wife and son

In today’s newsletter, I share different ways that I used to manipulate my wife and son. It was ugly. Do you notice any of these patterns in yourself or your spouse? Are you ready to change these patterns? Feel free to comment below this blog post.

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Will siblings ever get along?

Later this week, we’ll address sibling issues. But I wanted to write something personal both to encourage you and express my gratitude. I grew up the third of four boys. We played together; fought, teased and manipulated each other; committed mischief in our neighborhood; and gave each other physical scars. We were boys.

The great thing about our parents’ era was that we were usually outside wrestling and hitting each other with snowballs…so our oblivious parents couldn’t hear us! We learned to work out issues ourselves. Today, you hear every single negative word your kids say to each other. It’s irritating and scary. But most of it is also normal.

I just enjoyed one of the most memorable and meaningful weeks of my life. Casey couldn’t attend training in Chicago, Louisville and D.C., so my younger brother Brett met me in Chicago. We worked hard, but had time to explore Wrigleyville, Navy Pier and downtown Chicago together. Just the two of us. Then we drove over a thousand miles together, shared lots of laughs, had serious talks…and just really enjoyed our time together. We both battle anxiety and I feared we would drive each other crazy. This past Thursday, when my brother headed back to his family, I was sad. Really sad. I missed my little brother this weekend.

After getting to spend a special day with my Mom in Baltimore, I then met my older brother, Jeff, in Northern Virginia. This is the brother who twenty-three years ago, when I was struggling after graduating college, left me a note on my car one morning: “The cream always rises to the top.” I have never forgotten that. Almost a decade ago, he and his wife adopted a little girl. Not just any girl. Jadyn has an iron will and can stare right through you. Partially because of her special needs, Jeff decided to specialize in Special Education Law. Today, he is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on IEPs and Advocacy. And so through twists of fate, we now have the opportunity to partner together to help parents. I watched him on stage Saturday as we filmed our new IEP DVD, and felt so proud of him and thankful for his wisdom. It’s rare when you get to share your gifts and passions with your siblings. So I am grateful for this time with two of my brothers.

What does this mean for you? It means that even though your kids may fight now, it won’t always be this way. They, too, may turn out to be best friends as they grow up. I miss my brothers.