Say Goodbye to Ear Infections

Moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents–whoever!! You need to know about this simple remedy for the age-old ear infection.

I was an ear infection kid. I had several as a baby and young child. Along with that came a lot of antibiotics. And somehow as I grew older, I seemed to always be the one who got sick out of us four kids.

My sweet children inherited some of the aspects of my immune system. Within the first year of my son’s life he had several ear infections. “Technically” I remember the doctor admitting, he should be scheduled to get tubes. But our little guy had at that point already been hospitalized for respiratory issues and we decided to give him some time and see if things got better.  But they didn’t. Ear infection after ear infection cropped up. Every time we went to the doc there was an ear infection, even if he didn’t have symptoms. Because he had been on antibiotics for so many of these infections, he began to develop some symptoms from the antibiotic use. Food sensitivities showed up early on. He became resistant to one of the medicines. He developed yeast related issues (caused by the depletion of his gut bacteria from antibiotic use) that caused him a lot of digestive distress. And then there were the respiratory problems, especially during the winter. Keeping him well and out of the ER felt like our main focus for a while.
 And then we moved to a new state and met an inspired neighbor. I mentioned to her that our son seemed to have a bad ear infection and I was dreading taking him in and putting him on more antibiotics. And she introduced me to one of the greatest home remedies of all time. It is so simple it seems stupid. Mothers have used this for generations to cure ear infections. And yet after probably 15-20 ear infections, I had never even heard of it. This simple remedy requires only two ingredients, and you probably have them sitting in your pantry right now: garlic and olive oil. My neighbor explained how making an oil using fresh pressed garlic and dropping a drop in each ear several times a day would clear up an ear infection in a very short period of time. She also mentioned an herb called mullein which we have also had a lot of success with, but today I’m talking garlic and olive oil because it is so doable for any body. The ingredients are cheap, accessible, and easy to store for a long time.
In the two and a half years since we have started making and using this oil, my two children have never had to take antibiotics for their ear infections. Between the two of them we have probably resolved about 15 ear infections. For us the symptoms clear up within one to two days of starting the drops (which means more sleep for EVERYBODY). Our doctor knows that we use this remedy and when she catches or diagnoses an ear infection, we treat it at home and come back to have her check the ears two weeks later. They have always been clear. Without exception.
So, are you ready to learn the recipe? It’s so easy you will wonder why you never knew about it before.
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
An eye dropper (you can find one at any pharmacy)
A fine knit kitchen towel, cheesecloth, or fine strainer to strain it with
Heat your oil. You can do this on the stove, but when I have a fussy kid I am all about efficiency to I usually zap it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds or so. You want it nice and warm, almost hot really.
Next mince the garlic and add it to the oil. Or, using a garlic press, press it into the oil. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. You will not want to use it on your child’s ear until it has cooled to room temperature.
Once it has cooled you can strain it through a kitchen towel and you will end up with a nice oil without any chunks. I typically pour it into a baby food jar or mason jar to keep in our medicine cabinet for future use.
Using your eye dropper, suck up a couple of drops and drop into the infected ear. This is perfectly safe to put inside the ear. The only time it would be unsafe is if the ear drum has ruptured (you would already know this because your child’s ear would have been leaking fluid).
Place drops into the infected ear or ears several times a day, before bed, and if the child wakes in the night. Continue until all symptoms have completely cleared up. If my child has had a severe infection, I will continue this for a few days after symptoms have resolved. Typically they are feeling better within a day or two in my experience.
NOTE: If you don’t have an eye dropper and can’t get out to get one when you need to try this, just dip your finger in the oil and let it drip into the ear.
This simple remedy has saved us a lot of trips to the doctor (I start the drops as soon as I notice symptoms and it usually resolves so quickly we don’t have to go in). It has also allowed us to forego antibiotic use several times when we had not caught the infections and they have been diagnosed by the doctor.
As always, parents should consult with their physicians as needed and trust their intuition. But believe me, this remedy is worth a try. It’s time for you all to start sleeping again.
Best of luck, and let me know how it goes!
*Photo courtesy of LoboStudio Hamburg, Unsplash photos.

How To Make Personal Time When You Are Never Alone: This Tip Changed My Life


This piece was originally published at Her View From Home.

It’s 2:00 pm and I’m sitting all cuddled up on our old, brown couch with my son’s fleecy construction-themed blanket draped over me. I can hear him playing contentedly in his room. His sister is taking her daily nap. And here I am, alone. Oh, it feels good.

This time of day didn’t always look like this in our house. Traditionally this hour was the start of the rapid descent into late afternoon bedlam—the time of day when my overwrought children would turn into goblins and the harried, exhausted mommy became terrible. That was all before the days of quiet time. Ahhh…quiet time.

I’ve learned since becoming a mother that I really have to be intentional about carving out alone time, or it will not happen. These blessed little bodies are always around me. And I love it. I absolutely love that they want to be wherever I am. In my lap if I am sitting. At my side if I am working in the kitchen. Under my feet wherever I am cleaning or working on a project. I LOVE it. In fact, I live for it. The very reason we chose this lifestyle for our family (as in, me staying home with them 24/7) is because we wanted this for them. And I still do. More than anything else. More than having as much alone time as I might like.

But you know what? Sometimes it is hard for me to be around people all of the time. As beautiful and fulfilling as this job is, it can be extremely draining if I am not intentional about assuring that my internal needs are met consistently. And one internal need that I am very aware of is the need to be alone sometimes.

A few months ago I vented my frustrations to my husband as we climbed into bed, knowing it would only be a few hours until two little bodies would join us there. I expressed that it was frustrating to never have a minute alone. The kids were around me every minute of the day and even climb into our bed part way through the night and sleep on either side of me, their little arms wrapped around my torso. I couldn’t even use the bathroom or shower in solitude.

I explained to him that it was hard for me to do personal things while on the mommy clock, because I felt that it ended up being at the kids’ expense. I also had found out quickly that desperately scrolling facebook for an escape, while my 3 year old was asking me to read to him, was not relaxing or rejuvenating in the slightest. I hated the feeling of ignoring my kids while doing something for “me” but I was becoming completely exhausted by not having any time for “me.” How could I get some time to recharge so that I wouldn’t feel shriveled up inside?

That night as we talked over some ideas, this is what we came up with: the institution of a daily household “quiet time.” And I can safely say that the daily quiet hour in our house has changed my life.

We all need time alone with ourselves. Even the iconic social butterfly Marilyn Monroe stated “I restore myself when I’m alone.” Our modern world has convinced us that the opposite is true and that we ought to be constantly connected to each other, even when we may be alone in a room. These online connections, however, are often superficial and can leave us feeling empty rather than restored and restless rather than settled. Now more than ever moms need to be intentional about making time to be alone and recharge. Different things have worked for me in the past – joining a gym that has childcare while I work out, becoming a part of a mommy co-op that trades daytime babysitting, etc. But today I focus on the merits of a regular “quiet time,” which you will find can benefit every member of your family.

The idea of “quiet time” is just like it sounds—everyone in the house goes to a place to be alone and quiet for a designated period of time. Kids can play, read or nap. Mom gets to do what she wants. Here are some simple steps to get this routine started in your house:

1) Find a time that works well for your family. Could be after lunch or preschool pick-up. Maybe it’s during a younger child’s regular nap. This will become your family’s daily “quiet time.”

2) Explain to your child or children what “quiet time” is. It is a special time when they will get to spend some time alone playing or looking at books. Mommy will be taking quiet time alone too. A regular and scheduled hour alone gives kids the opportunity to learn to use their imaginations and entertain themselves. As tempting as it will be, try not to let them take tech toys like phones or iPads into quiet time—as this will not allow them to be alone with themselves and will inhibit them from solitary, imaginative play. It may prove helpful to have designated “quiet time toys,” toys that are only brought out during that hour of the day. The novelty of playing with these toys may be helpful as your children adjust to this new aspect of their routine.

3) If you want to avoid having your children constantly shouting “Am I done yet??” have them help you set a timer at the beginning of their quiet time. They will hear when it beeps and know the time is over. This one is a big deal for my son, as he is very aware of details and boundaries. When he knows that this will signal the end of his “quiet time” he is not as likely to continually ask me to be done.

4) Set clear boundaries about “quiet time.” In our house, if my children go to “quiet time” when I ask them to and don’t come out of their rooms or shout during the designated period, then they are allowed to play quietly in their room with the door open. If either of them comes out of their room or shouts and yells, I close their door for the rest of the time.

The first few days we instituted this kind of “quiet time” it was rough. My three year old was not a fan and I would spend the first ten minutes of the hour holding his door shut until he gave up on getting out and chose to go play with his toys. But after just a few days of being consistent, he really adapted. Now he walks to his room on his own after I start his timer and will stay in there quietly playing until the time is up. He has become very comfortable being alone with himself and is really good at using his imagination.

As for me, this daily hour alone has become a sacred space in my life. I try to be very intentional about how I use it as the minutes are so few. Sometimes I find myself ending up on social media or drifting around online, but I really am most fulfilled when I use this time in activities that feed my soul. These are often reading, meditating, or writing. Sometimes, it’s a nap, a bath or crossing a pressing “to-do” off my list. But however I use this time, I almost always come out of it as a more balanced person and mom and my children come out of it in a more balanced state as well. My husband also has noticed a difference in our house since we started this practice.

So, take it from me—if you are the harried, stretched-thin mom that I was several months ago, you may want to give “quiet time” a try. It is simple, easy and free and will likely prove to be a great benefit to your family. Every mom deserves some time each day to be alone.



Ladies and gentleman (but more particularly the ladies),

I have seen a lot of discussion (read criticism) of the women who participated in the huge marches this weekend. Many have posted good-hearted comments that DOING is more important than VOICING and really what do these women think they are accomplishing anyways?

Listen. BOTH are important. Obviously the most constant and impactful way for individuals to effect change in the world is by actively living a good and intentional life and taking care of your own and those in your community. But voicing is also incredibly important.

Have we forgotten that women for thousands of years never had the privilege to voice? For most of human history we were completely excluded from the public square and from any type of political or societal conversation. We had no voice when it came to the public good, the well-being of our communities and society. But thanks to thousands of brave women who came before, those days have past.

Let us not take for granted the hard work of the women who fought 100 years ago so that YOU can have a voice in your community and in the political sphere. So that you can march to the White House if you want to send a message to the world. So that you can speak your political views publicly and be respected. And so that heck, if you want, you can run for public office and just maybe get elected. Let us not forget their sacrifices for us, the women of TODAY.

My good ladies whom I love and admire–let’s give each other a break. Let’s love and support all women, even those with different views, lifestyles and ways of seeking to make the world a better place. I believe we all have common desires–for women to be able to do the work of our lives (whatever it be) in peace and security, to be respected and not degraded, and to be empowered to uplift the human race. There are many different ways we can do that work, both collectively and individually. But we do ourselves a disservice when we shut one another down. After all, sisters, we need each other. And the world needs brave women more than ever.

As modern women with the ability to inform ourselves well and to influence society, let us increase our efforts both to VOICE and to DO as we are able to make this world a better place. I believe we are up for the challenge.

My experience with postpartum mood disorder (PMD)

A couple years ago our family was plunged into a vortex of fast-paced, survival type living that seems kind of surreal to me looking back. Within a time period of just over one month I gave birth to my daughter (becoming mother to two children under 18 months old), packed us up to move out of our home, had a surgery, flew across the country on my own with two babies, moved us into our tiny student apartment, transitioned to the supportive role of graduate spouse (which meant not seeing a lot of my husband) and wound up in the hospital a couple of times with some health complications that took me many, many months to heal from.

I remember thinking during those weeks “What have we done? Can I get a refund on this decision?” I missed our comfortable house, our strong support network of friends, my good health and the community that we had been involved in. Everything had flowed before and now nothing did.

Aside from the exhaustion that comes from having a newborn, I was also experiencing nearly constant fatigue as a symptom of a health condition I was dealing with. Everything just felt so hard. Cooking. Cleaning up. Playing with my toddler. Going to group gatherings. Everything was a struggle. There were sweet neighbors who brought us meals to welcome us. Their gestures were much appreciated. But I felt so completely overwhelmed by my situation.

Looking back, I can recognize that I had been plunged into my first experience with the Baby Blues. At the time I did not realize it. I attributed my struggles and gray mood to my medical issues, adjusting to my new life and lack of sleep. I know now that I was not entirely incorrect–all of those things were very much playing into my feelings about life. But what I did not realize is that they were also contributing to a very real mood disorder that was beginning to manifest itself in me.

Did you know that some form of Baby Blues affects up to 80% of all new mothers? Yah, it’s not uncommon at all. I think many mothers do not even realize they are struggling with it, just as I did not. There are countless websites, articles and support groups that can help you identify if you are experiencing some type of postpartum mood disorder. I won’t go through all of the possible symptoms here. But I will share some of my experience and what helped me to get through it with my mind and my family intact.

I remember consistently having the following thought “I love my life and I hate my life.” And then I would loathe myself for even thinking that. I did love my life. My little family meant everything to me. I knew I would do anything in the world for them. And I felt so grateful. But, aside from my feelings for my sweet family, I felt miserable.

The two years we spent in that place were, in many ways, dark years for me. But they were also important years. I learned and grew so much through my experiences, though I would never have believed you if you’d told me at the time “it sucks right now but you will learn and grow so much from these experiences.” No one wants to hear that when they are having a hard time. But you know what? It is true. And I see it now that I am on the other side. It was just impossible for me to see it at the time. All I could do was get through it, one day at a time.

You know what, world out there? You can’t talk yourself out of depression. You can’t pray yourself out of depression. And you can’t just put on your big girl pants and “get over it.” But you can push through it and do it in a way that won’t destroy your life and your relationships. And you will be stronger on the other side because of it.

I did not realize that I was struggling with a postpartum mood disorder until my daughter was 18 months old. 18 months!!! My moods had come and gone. Sometimes I felt well, sometimes I didn’t. I always found some other thing to attribute it to. But at 18 months postpartum I weaned my daughter. And that was when it really hit me hard. The timing of our weaning was not the greatest. It was winter and we lived in a place that felt especially desolate in the cold months (to a native of warmer climates at least). I had had a hard time making friends during the months we had lived there, and some of the few friends I had made had graduated and moved on. My efforts at reaching out to several moms were rebuffed and I felt defeated, isolated and alone. Surely there was something wrong with me because everybody obviously disliked me. (My foggy brain was convinced of that.) And sadly, I began to believe that maybe those people were right about me. Maybe there was some unforgiveable flaw in my character, some abrasive way that I chafed people just-so, some reason why other women avoided me. And gradually my self-pity really talked me into it. I isolated myself from everyone, even from my own self–the true and confident voice inside of me who knows who I am and whispers it to me when I need reminding. The self that doesn’t care what people think and loves me even when I mess up or show my human imperfections. That self fell silent. And the rest of me mourned.

It was during those dark months that I finally was told what was going on. It came to me in the form of a cheesy mommy magazine that I picked up in a lobby. The magazine had an article on postpartum depression and as I read the first paragraph I froze at the following sentence “PMD can affect women who have had a baby, stillborn child or miscarriage, women who are pregnant, or after weaning their child from breastfeeding” (Hanley).*

Weaning could cause post-partum depression? What the heck, really? Why didn’t anyone warn me about that? As I read the article I realized that it very much described what I had been going through that winter, and–to some degree–since my daughter’s birth.

For me, identifying what was going on was an important first step. It gave me such relief to know that my life was not doomed, but that I was going through something very normal that thousands of other women have experienced and made it through. It was helpful to be able to put words on it and to talk to people I trusted about it.

I tried to do better at the things I knew made me feel good–the things that had been helping me during the past year and a half, before I had even had words for what I was going through. The simple recommendations I share here allowed me to navigate through my PMD and emerge stronger on the other side.

1) Sleep. I know we all hate this one. We know it’s the one biggest thing we need and it’s the one we just can never seem to get enough of. I know. It is hard. But do what you need to do to improve your sleep patterns. Baby naps? You nap. Can’t fall asleep? Just lie down and rest anyways (and don’t bring your phone—it will not allow you to relax!) Who cares if your house is a disaster because you napped instead of cleaning. You need to do what is going to help your family function, whether or not the neighbors judge you for your mess. (Not speaking from personal experience or anything…) Also do what you need to do to get better sleep at night. Maybe that means breaking the co-sleeping pattern, or putting on a noise machine, or getting a weighted blanket. Nights have been hard for us, as we have babies who want to be in our bed. But at some point, a rested mommy becomes the most important need for EVERYONE.

2) Exercise. I cannot say my gratitude enough for this one. Through my nearly two years with some form of PMD this was perhaps my biggest lifesaver. We have all heard about the physical, mental and emotional benefits of exercise. Well it is all true. Try to exercise often and push yourself. If you are not currently in an exercise routine or are having a hard time leaving the house (been there!) then try signing up for a class or joining a gym. Shelling out cash and making a commitment will likely help you get out and move more. Also, try some form of group exercise. There is a synergy that comes from exercising with other people and you will find that the social connecting lifts your spirits too. The hardest part is always getting started, so commit to a class or a schedule and stick to it for a few weeks until it becomes a habit. You will never regret this!!

3) Eat a nutritious diet (and what I mean is do your best!) Because of some of my health conditions after my daughter was born, I was forced to eat a very limited diet while I recovered. I tried really hard to maintain healthy habits once my physical symptoms had improved. And I noticed the times I veered into junk food overloads my body and my brain really suffered the consequences. There are numerous studies about the links between consumption of sugar and processed foods and depression. We don’t need to go through it all here, but watch it on the refined sugars and processed foods. They won’t do your brain or emotions any favors. Instead of junk food when a craving hits, opt for satisfying foods that have natural sugars and fats like fruits, nuts, yogurt, and whole grain carbohydrate options. Your body can get what it needs from good foods and by doing this you can essentially re-train your cravings so that you no longer crave the foods that harm you. And of course, when you do indulge in treats—don’t beat yourself up! Let yourself enjoy treats in moderation and then move on.

4) Focus on other people, as often as you can. My day to day during this period was mostly playing with my kids. Imagining with them. Or just reading to them for most of the day if I didn’t have the energy to actually play. The times I felt the very happiest were consistently the times I was focusing on them and engaging in their world. It really helped me not get swallowed up in my moods. Also, see if there are ways you can make a positive difference in your community. This may mean reaching out to a neighbor, volunteering with a youth group or school, or watching a friend’s kids for them. I found that using my energy to serve someone else left me feeling a lot more satisfied with my life every time.

5) Use your lifelines. You know who the people are that you can trust and call on at any time. Call on them. They need to know that you are struggling so that they can be a listening ear, support you, pray for you. Cling to these people right now. They will be lifelines for you.

6) Try your best not to isolate yourself. I know it can be really hard to put yourself out there when you just feel like curling up under a blanket`. But even though it was hard, even painful, for me to extend myself to others sometimes—I knew that I needed to. I craved connection with other people. Just do it. Some people might shut you down, but you lose nothing by reaching out to others in kindness. And I think most people will eagerly accept a friendly gesture.
Social media tends to be an isolating type of human interaction, contrary to how it may seem on the outside. Find ways to limit your use, especially when you are in the same room as other breathing human beings that you can have meaningful, face to face interactions with. You will find this to be very rewarding and renewing.

7) Feed your soul. What is it that feeds your soul? Is it meditation, reading a good book, getting outdoors, playing or listening to music or taking a long bath? Ask yourself what makes you feel renewed and make time to do just that. It doesn’t have to be often (we all know moms of little children don’t have a lot of spare time) but try to invest in these renewing activities when you can.

8) Most of all, please love yourself. Be patient with yourself. If you are having a hard time hearing your “true voice” then call someone who has known you for a long time. Be honest with them about how you are feeling about yourself. And then let yourself believe the positive things that they see in you and will surely share with you. This period in your life does not define you. And it will not always be this way.

Every woman’s experience with a postpartum mood disorder will be different. Some women’s may last days. Some weeks or months. Some years. Many will find counseling beneficial and some will choose medication. The important thing is to know that you can do this. You can take care of your family and be the mom you need to be, even if you don’t feel like yourself. Your family will be ok and you will make it out. Just make sure you are taking care of “you” in the ways that you need to. And please don’t be afraid to ask for help, to confide in a friend, or seek counseling. No one has to go through this alone, and nobody should.

From a woman who made it to the other side, and is safely there (for now at least)—I salute you. You are doing a magnificent and brave work. Pressing on in your life when it feels like it is falling in on you is an enormous and noble task. But you can do it. You must and you will. And whoever you are, I love you for it. We moms are in this together.

*Hanley, Ruth. “More than the Baby Blues: When A Friend Has PMD.” Michiana Mom, Winter 2016.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Coming Home

We returned home tonight from a week-long visit to my parents’ home where I grew up. We enjoyed a wonderful holiday with family and friends and basked in the warmth of that place and the people in it. I had very much been looking forward to the trip, for many reasons. I had been feeling under the weather and there had been some other stressors that had exhausted me thoroughly. Having recently moved to a new place, I also had felt somewhat adrift as far as community goes and I was hungry for connection with people who loved me and knew me. I felt excited for some mommy support—others to play with my kids and read to them and patiently answer their questions. All of my eager anticipation was met with an abundance of family support and love. The week we spent together was soul-filling and strengthening.

By the week’s end, I felt more whole and I was ready to return to “real life.” I knew what would be waiting for me when we returned home. Three loads of laundry that were still covering the couch and waiting to be put away. An empty fridge. Toys still strewn across the house. Interrupted sleep and early mornings. And an endless vista ahead of me of caring for my small family. What I did not expect to be waiting for me was the aura that hit me in the face when I walked in the door. And no, thankfully, it was not a strange smell (at least not this time.) As I entered our home tonight, I was completely overcome by a sense of peace–deep, profound peace. And I was completely saturated with light. Upon my return to our home I was met by the same things I had left here seeking one week ago. Love, warmth, acceptance, refuge, peace, relief. I had returned to my very own haven.

The experience struck me in some profound ways and caused me to reflect on why I don’t always perceive these things in the environment that surrounds me. It seems that often I get so caught up in the minute details and stressors of my work in building and creating this family that I sometimes fail to see the stunning picture of what is really happening here. But I am staring it face to face tonight, and I recognize that I live on sacred ground. This place is hallowed. In this home souls are nurtured, bodies nourished, wounds bound up, and fertile minds encouraged. The work of creation is ongoing in this place. Life is created here. Family bonds that will strengthen us for years to come. Memories that will sustain in dark times. A haven that will remain vibrant inside of us even after we have each moved on to new experiences, and my children have become parents of their own children. What we are in the process of creating in this home, minute by humble minute, is sacred and life sustaining. And this is hallowed ground.

I know that this week will start at a running pace first thing tomorrow. That my toddler will wake me before 6 am with the words “I’m hungry. I want some food.” That I will spend the rest of the day getting us back into our routine and answering the question of “why??” 1,526 times before bed. And I know that this blessed and exhausting routine will not let up, even for a second. But I hope that I can maintain the sense of stillness that I felt tonight and an awareness of the anointing that I am under. For the work of a mother is truly sacred. And her workplace is hallowed ground.

When It Appears That Hate Wins

I woke up feeling hungover this morning, although I have never tasted alcohol. I went back to bed and tried to sleep, wishing I could wake up from this deeply unsettling dream. When I finally got up, admitting there was nothing I could do to change today’s reality, I chose to pray. And my prayer was mostly weeping. I wept for the people who suffer and who will suffer. I wept for the hearts of Americans that seem to have become so hard and stiff. I prayed for strength and courage to stand by those who will need me, who will need a safe place in the coming months and years. I prayed for my children, that I might be able to teach them what true love and leadership is. And I prayed for Jesus to give me hope.

And do you what came of that prayer? A portion of peace. And a whole lot of resolve. Many of us fear what yesterday’s election results will mean for our nation and the world. There is nothing any one of us can do to change what has happened. But there is something we can do to change what these next four years will look like. We can stand by love. We can stand by liberty, freedom, justice and equality for every person. And not back down.

As I grieved for our nation this morning, the words of the great Martin Luther King Jr. echoed in my mind: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” *

And so, Mr. Trump, I declare that I will stand by love like I never have before. I will stand by respect, tolerance and human dignity in every way that I can. And I am not the only one. Millions of us will stand by our consciences no matter what kind of oppression, hate or persecution you may emanate from the White House. Your words will have no power over our hearts, because our hearts will be filled with love.

To both friends and to strangers who may fear for themselves in the next four years, I say that you are not alone. I will stand with you. To every racial minority, to each immigrant, to Muslims, to LBGTQ citizens, and to the underprivileged in our nation—I will be a safe place for you. To women and children, to those with mental and physical handicaps, to veterans, refugees and anyone who has known sacrifice, suffering and oppression—I will be a safe place for you. To any person who feels a threat to their safety or well-being with this man as our president, I will stand for you. Because I love you and I see you. You are my brothers and sisters.

We may feel discouraged today, perhaps even depressed. And it is ok for us to grieve. But we should not exhaust all our energy in despair. Instead, let’s unite our energy in love. In the faith in and vision of a greater humanity than what we are seeing upheld up in our nation. Let’s hold up our lights and make a change in this country by the way that we live. If we stand together we can make a difference. Will you join me?

*Quote from Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

*Photo courtesy of Trent Yarnell,

In defense of good men

There has been a lot of girl-power floating around the internet these days. In light of current events, I of course feel it is warranted and would add that I fully agree with the message of “women and girls rock. Don’t let anyone put you down.” But today I want to shine the light on some people who are not getting a lot of attention right now—good men.

I have always been a huge advocate for women and feel a deep passion about just how awesome we are. With all the trash in the world aimed at destroying women and distorting men’s views of us, I have always felt very defensive of our sex and have never shied away from opening my mouth when I felt women were being slighted.

The strong women in my life have in large part made me who I am. These women have taught me to fight for what is right and good, to reject the status quo and create something better, and to be true to the higher qualities within me, no matter the cost. I hope to honor them with the way I live.

I suppose a hefty dose of girl-power has always run through my veins. But the more I have matured, the more I have come to recognize that there is another essential character on the stage of maintaining civility and decency in this chaotic world. It is the good man.

Media and cultural voices would have us believe that the good man is dead. Or that he was really just wishful thinking in the first place and never actually existed. The “typical man” portrayed in today’s culture is too often sketched as a self-absorbed, simple-minded creature who is incapable of seeing the whole picture. And he doesn’t care because all he really wants to do is watch sports and eat Cheetos. Oh, and of course, today’s man is a complete slave to his sexual appetites and has no need to cultivate self-control or discipline. And give him a break–he can’t help it, he is just too-simple minded to think of anything else—why would you expect more from such a creature?

I hope I am not alone in SHOUTING that these archetypes offend me. Deeply. They outrage me in fact. These false and shallow portrayals of men are just as offensive to me as are the terrible portrayals of women we see in today’s world. If we are going to preserve some degree of sanity in our society, we must revive both the good, strong, and respected woman as well as the good, strong and respected man.

Now, I know that there are men you know who seem to fit these stereotypes in many ways. Some of these may be good men with bad habits, and I have seen determined people make huge changes to improve themselves and the lives of those they love. Everyone is capable of change. I know, however, that there are countless men who have inflicted terrible emotional and physical pain on others, so often women and children. There is no excuse for such ugliness or for the men who create it. They are a disgrace to their breed, which is capable of such dignity and strength. Seeing and hearing of such behavior grieves me. But the men I know well are not these men.

The good men I know they are not looking for a spotlight. They don’t seek to broadcast their virtue. Or mark every good deed. Or publicize every sacrifice. No. The good men I know are quiet about it. So quiet about it that sometimes we forget they are there. They aren’t shouting down the world for portraying them the way it does, or for completely ignoring their sacrifices for others, their genuine efforts in building good families and communities, and the ways they are investing in building relationships. No, these men aren’t shouting about it. They are too busy doing it..

The good men are I know are absolutely consumed by the deliberate lives they are leading. They  work towards the positive vision they have of themselves and of others. These men sacrifice selfish pursuits and often hobbies to make the lives of their loved ones better. They work hard at investing in the relationships that are important to them and are doing the absolute best they can. They are intelligent, deeply respectful of women and children and are fiercely loyal. These men make mistakes, as we all do, and try to be better. I have seen men do these things every day for my whole life. Their influences have shaped my identity and my life’s path in immeasurable ways.

I know that these good men I know are not abnormalities, they are not exceptions to the rule. They are members of a vast army of good and brave men everywhere who quietly do the daily work of building goodness in this world.

Many of you have known men who were abusive, self-absorbed or clueless. Such men destroy hearts and homes and leave havoc in their wake. Such behavior is deplorable and inexcusable. But you have to know that these men are not every man. Today’s good men can no longer be ignored. It’s time for us to shine a light on them. To thank them, to show our appreciation for them and to encourage them to keep doing what they are doing so well.

Ladies, we cannot save this world on our own. The preservation of human decency and dignity will require good women and good men to reject the world’s toxic messages about who we are and to show children, by the way we live every day, who they can become and what this world can be for them. We must be deliberate in the messages we send to the rising generation and make sure they know what is true and also what is false and demeaning. Men and women must work together, respect each other and our efforts, and never give up.

I have great hope for humanity because of good men and good women who quietly build goodness all over the world. Let’s believe in ourselves, and let’s believe in each other.

How has your life been positively impacted by good men? Please comment below if you would like to share 🙂

Photo credit: Ana Gabriel,

Technology and the Myth of Multi-tasking

We women like to flatter ourselves that we are natural “multi-taskers.” I suppose it is a convenient notion that may help us feel more capable of juggling the many balls we try to keep in the air between family, work and community responsibilities.

However, women don’t seem to be the only ones convinced of some special multi-tasking ability. Today’s fast-paced and hyper-connected world makes overlapping demands on everyone’s attention. And with the advent of smart devices so small they can fit on a watch we have come to feel confident that we can keep tabs on everything at once and not miss out.

Unfortunately, both science and intuition tell us this is false.

Neuroscientist and MIT professor Earl Miller tells us: “People can’t multitask very well, and when people say they can, they’re deluding themselves…The brain is very good at deluding itself.” Miller says that for the most part, we simply can’t focus on more than one thing at a time.
“Switching from task to task, you think you’re actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you’re actually not. You’re not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously, but switching between them very rapidly.” *

Are these statements a revelation to anybody out there? I would expect not. When I read this article, it rang true because of the evidence of this that I see in my life. Technology and media seem to have done a particularly good job of convincing us that we CAN mulit-task; that we can be constantly plugged-in and still fulfill all our obligations, build and maintain healthy relationships, and cultivate inner-peace. If you contemplate the following scenarios with me I think you agree that this simply is not so.

Think about the last time you cruised Instagram, ESPN or Pinterest while your spouse was telling you about their project at work or something that had upset them that day. Did you catch much of what they said or what it meant for them and for you? We may be good at letting out an occasional “mmm hmmm,” or “Wow” or “really?” to convince ourselves and those around us that we are truly engaged with them. But are we? Or are we “deluding” ourselves?

Do I complain about not having enough time with my husband and then find myself hanging with technology and online updates while sitting next to him instead of really connecting once our kids are finally in bed?

Do you or I ever scroll through a newsfeed when talking on the phone with somebody? What kind of jerk-move is that anyways?! Somebody takes the time to call me (in a world where no one calls anymore) because they want to connect. Yet I just have to fulfill that jittery desire to do two things at once–to have my finger on two pulses. Who am I helping here? Does my newsfeed really need the listening ear more than my friend does? And do I need that connection to a world of superficial “friendships” more than I need my real-life connection to a good friend?

Am I a stay-at-home mom in body only if I am constantly disrupting interactions with my precious children by checking up on every ping from my phone? Or am I checking out and getting lost online when they need my attention and connection with them? If I am not devoting my mind and attention to these little beings, why stay home under that pretense?

And do I truly feel relaxed or fulfilled when I hop online at the end of a long day to “unwind” through mindlessly scrolling? Would my soul be more satisfied by spending time alone with myself? Might my inner-self benefit through meditating, reading a book, or exerting some of my restless energy in a creative outlet?

These questions are not intended to provoke feelings of guilt, only to help us all reflect on the unnoticed ways our technology use may be fraying our relationships with ourselves and with others. So often technology seems an inseparable part of our lives. I am not advocating a complete, ascetic type denial of all things that come with screens. What I am advocating is greater awareness, balance, and separation at needed intervals so that we can connect with ourselves and with those around us and find joy in our lives.

I expect that most of us want to focus more of our energy on our relationships offline than we do online. We know that is the better investment. But how do we get there? How do we change our habits?

Firstly, we must honestly acknowledge where we need to improve. We all know what those areas are–but they make us a bit uncomfy. So we ignore the nudges we feel or drown out the nagging voice that is telling us when and how to unplug and reconnect. Start listening to that voice. Examine your habits and commit to making a positive change. Start with small changes and build on the positive habits you are establishing.

If you are looking for a starting place in an effort to “unplug”, here are some suggestions of things that have worked well in our family to keep things better balanced:

Designate an hour at which you will unplug from all media and do something truly fulfilling or relaxing. My husband and I have made the hour before bed-time media free and have noticed huge benefits individually and as a couple. I also recommend starting the day unplugged. I have found I am much more energized throughout the day when I start my day in meditation, reading, or exercise rather than plunging directly into the whirlpool waiting for me on my phone or laptop.

Make mealtimes nourishing by unplugging. Studies show that sharing meals with others is a powerfully connective and nourishing experience for us humans. Connecting with one another at mealtimes builds trust, confidence, and community among those who share the table. If you are eating alone, take the opportunity to connect with yourself by putting away distractions and allowing your thoughts to rest and to blossom. Although it can be challenging at first to turn off the TV and not check your phone during meals, you will notice a positive difference in yourself and in your relationships.

Silence your phone and check it at regular (not constant) intervals during the day. This has helped me to engage fully with my life and to feel a great deal of joy by doing so. I am less distracted and fragmented and have found that I have more mental/emotional capacity available to offer my children.

Leave the phone in the car (or at least silence it) when you are out with friends or family. Show your loved ones that they come first and that you are more eager to hear what comes out of their mouths during your time together than what a politician tweets or an acquaintance posts.

These suggestions might sound like a lot to take on at once and if that’s the case, start with one or two of these ideas or one that you come up with. Making changes to live more fully offline than online may feel quite counter-culture. But you will not be alone if you take on the project. Growing numbers of people are feeling dissatisfied with a life where attentive face-to-face relationships and inner peace are being exchanged for new hardware and better apps. You will find that your efforts will be rewarded and that once you start to intentionally unplug, your soul will feel hungry for more and more time to yourself. If it feels hard to make changes or if you wonder if it is worth it, just remember this–your phone will likely be dead in two years. Your relationships (with both yourself and others) will last forever. Where, then, do you want to invest the energies of your soul?
How have you set personal boundaries to allow you to have healthy relationships with technology and to maintain your face-to-face relationships? What are the challenges of attempting to unplug and do you have any tips for others seeking to do the same?

*Quotes are taken from “Think You’re Multi-tasking? Think Again” by Jon Hamilton, NPR news. Find the full article at

The Best Accident

This is a post from last winter on another blog I keep. I’m posting it here because it feels very relevant to my next post, which re-visits my ongoing efforts to unplug and connect.

flutter and rise


Hey guys, the strangest thing happened to me this week. Strange and wonderful. I know that to many of you this may sound irrational or even heretical. But here it is: I have renounced my smart phone. At least for the time being. Before you rush off to find me a psychiatrist, please let me explain.
It happened last Saturday. The stage was set for me to accomplish a ton of housework in one afternoon. My three year old was down for a rare nap and my one year old was feeling particularly cooperative (or so it seemed.) I laundry-ed, cleaned bathrooms, picked up and vacuumed, tackled the kitchen and then set out to mop. I was feeling a bit on top of the world, because, if you know me well, you know that it’s not every day that my house gets such an extensive spa treatment. I had my…

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Changing perspectives: A new metric for success

*This blog is designed to uplift others through sharing insights I have had on my journey as a mom. I do not suggest that all women should stay home and be moms, but rather that all women and men should search their inner selves to find their life’s greatest calling, and then give themselves entirely to it.


At the time I got pregnant with my son, I was into a lot of things. I was loving young married life and working full-time as a professional conference and event planner. In my position, I supervised dynamic teams, and partnered with community organizations to plan and carry out events for groups upwards of 7,000 people. I loved my job. It was exhausting but exhilarating. My professional trajectory was beginning to take shape—I would continue in my job, attend graduate school (I had been accepted to a couple of programs) and work towards my dream of someday starting several non-profits that would affect positive change in the world.

When I found out I was pregnant with Henry, I had some big choices to make. Was I going to continue on this trajectory that I had felt so excited about and focus on accomplishing my professional dreams? Or was I going to put that world on hold and stay home to be Henry’s primary nurturer, teacher and caregiver.

I knew inside what I felt. I had always known I wanted to stay at home to raise my kids. But part of me, a big part of me, also wanted those other things. With the support of my sweet husband (who would’ve supported me in either decision) I decided to put my other dreams on hold and focus on the dream of being a mom. I notified both my employer and the graduate program of my plans. Both my employer and the university were very supportive and kind towards me in regards to my decision.

And so began my journey into motherhood. I left everything I had known and threw myself headlong into a completely new world. As my delivery neared, I readied the nursery, packed my diaper bag, cooked meals to freeze, and did everything I could possibly think of to be prepared. But as all parents know, there is really no way to be entirely prepared for parenthood. It is a learning journey. It is a growing journey.

Both my husband and I were absolutely enchanted with our new little son. I was so in love with this tiny little peanut, I had no desire to do anything but snuggle him and look at him. That lasted for a long time.

But then, after several months, something inside me started to grow restless. I began to yearn for some of the things I had left for this child. It was not that I missed my job specifically, no. I missed the validation I got from it. The validation I had had my whole life through school, or sports, or music. You see, we grow accustomed to evaluating ourselves based on very exterior factors. When we perform well it is easy to measure both effort and success. We also often receive praise for our efforts or performance and can tell ourselves “I did a good job. I am having success with this.”

Motherhood is not that way. No one tells you at the end of the day, “Wow! I noticed you changed eight diapers today and prevented your baby from getting a diaper rash. Good job!” or “You did it! You cleaned the kitchen!” You know why? The visible accomplishments of child rearing and housekeeping appear simple and mundane. However, the outside indicators of the work of motherhood are not accurate reflections of the real work that is going on. The real work of mothering is not easy to discern when looking for immediate results. For example, it is impossible for anyone to know how you are shaping the development of your child’s brain by reading and talking to him or listening to music and dancing in the kitchen together. There is no way for anyone to know the emotional wellness you are helping build in your child by treating him with genuine love, compassion, and patience or how you are building in him a positive self-image with your words and actions all day long. No one can know the diseases and health conditions that may be avoided throughout your child’s life because you taught him how to be healthy.

You see, parents are agents of becoming. A parent’s success has absolutely nothing to do with accomplishment. It has nothing to do with outside praise or recognition. It has everything to do with your heart and your effort. And you are the only one who knows how well you are doing in those two areas.

I realized during that period of restlessness that I needed to adopt a new metric for evaluating success. I knew there was no rubric for me to measure myself up to, no boxes I could check to know if I was doing “OK.” This new method would require regular and honest evaluation of my heart (my motives, feelings and attachments) and my effort. I have learned that this type of internal self-evaluation is much more difficult than measuring success based on external expectations. It is more honest, more self-revealing and in my experience more powerful at effecting real change when change is necessary.

Since I took this intuitive approach to self-evaluation, I have found that I am better able to recognize when I am doing my job well. I am able to feel great satisfaction when I am giving my all to my family, regardless of whether my kitchen is spotless or the laundry is done. Rather than judging my day (and myself) by how much I “got done,” I now examine how well I loved, listened to and interacted with my kids.

Perhaps the greatest contribution we can make to this world comes in the form of the next generation, those booger-faced kids who right now are pestering you for more peanut butter and jelly. If you and I can facilitate the “becoming” of intelligent, honest, compassionate and hard-working people, then we have truly changed the world for the better.