051: Joel Boggess of The ReLaunch Show is All About Healing and Forgiveness

joelsoloradioWhen today’s guest was five years old, he fell off a railway bridge and landed on hard ground 30 feet down. He spent weeks in a coma, and years healing; at the time a doctor wrote into his chart “don’t expect Joel to lead a normal life.”

Well, that statement certainly turned out to be true! Joel Boggess of The ReLaunch Show is living a downright extraordinary life, getting a degree in counseling psychology and then combining that with his background in radio to cohost – along with his wife, dentist and business guru Dr. Pei Kang – the ReLaunch podcast. Joel’s written an Amazon bestseller, Finding Your Voice, and he and Pei work together as entrepreneurs, podcasting and coaching.

Joel graciously agreed to come on We Turned Out Okay a few weeks previously, spent the morning of our interview at the emergency room for treatment of a busted elbow, and still came through with our chat. Talk about going above and beyond!

Our conversation ranged from Joel and Pei’s two golden retrievers, retired therapy dogs, to some great advice to help us help our kids through tough situations.

Click here to continue reading the show notes for episode 48!

At the time of Joel’s fall from the railway bridge, his parents were separated, and not in the best position to support each other. They found a way through, though, and support sometimes came from the most unexpected places: Joel’s mom was studying to become a nurse, and her classmates convinced the administration that she should be able to substitute written work for some of her clinical work, so that she could care for Joel and still get her degree.

Joel’s accident and subsequent experiences with getting better, relearning to walk and overcoming balance problems influenced him in one profound way:

“It sucked” going through it, he tells. But going through those sucky things and coming out the other side taught him patience and persistence, key qualities to getting what you want out of life!

Joel learned not just to get through problems, but to understand that setbacks have something to teach us, a core idea in Finding Your Voice. As we talk about the book – which I’m currently halfway through and loving immensely – other childhood experiences come up, especially concerning the abusive boyfriend Joel’s mom lived with during his younger years. Joel shares that recently he’s forgiven both his mom and the abusive boyfriend for their actions when he was a child, and how that’s helped him, Joel, be able to move past the events of his childhood.

While not one himself, Joel has two pieces of wonderful advice for us parents:

1) when our children are going through something tough, whether physical or mental, be there for them… we must give kids our time

2) as parents, it’s our job to help our kids find their own voices; it’s not about what we want for them or how we want them to live their lives, it’s about what they want for themselves

We’ll talk about the best ways to do that – to help our young kids’ true voices come out – in Thursday’s Your Child Explained, episode 49!

032: Four Ways to Stop Halloween from Scaring YOU

As a kid, I loved Halloween.… But as the mom of young children, it used to scare the heck out of me! There is so much to worry about: pressures to spend money on costumes and decorations, what to do about all the candy coming into the house, helping our kids deal with their emotional fears.

I decided to do an episode that’s actually an audio kit to help you stop being scared by Halloween – because I can’t be the only one who feels like this! So, here goes:

4 Ways to Stop Halloween from Scaring You

1) create a spending plan… decide beforehand what you feel comfortable spending on everything Halloween including candy, costumes, decorations, and parties to feel more in control and thus less frightened

2) get creative… lots of fun can be had when you decide to make something rather than buy it; I share about building a scarecrow from thrift-shop clothing and a carved pumpkin head, something the kids and I could do together that created great memories while limiting our spending – making the whole Halloween experience less parent-scary and more fun

3) figure out your approach to candy… for the first part of 3 I suggest that you listen out of earshot of your children, as I describe the wonderful phenomenon known as the Halloween Witch; for the second part I ask you to consider something that might seem extremely insane: giving your kids free reign over how and when they consume their candy… however you handle candy, make sure you know what you’ll do going in to the Halloween insanity, because having a game plan makes things less scary

4) help your young children not be scared… I was caught completely by surprise at how nakedly frightened my boys were at ages three and four by Halloween; I share about a favorite book that saved our bacon every year for about six years, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

And that’s the four ways to keep Halloween from scaring you! If they help, please let me know – go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact, or shout out to me on twitter @StoneAgeTechie or on instagram (my favorite place in the social media universe) @weturnedoutokay. I can’t wait to connect!

Podcast Episode 030: Balancing Family and Work with Dad and Business Owner Steve Mirando

Today’s guest, along with his wife and children, have been special people in my family’s life ever since we had the excellent luck of moving in across the street from them more than a decade ago.

We’ve watched Steve Mirando and his wife Sue support each other through a lot – having children, figuring out work-life challenges, Steve’s going to full-time school for acupuncture and then hanging out his shingle as a practicing acupuncturist… many of these all happening at the same time!

Listen in to hear about:

1) Steve’s past as part of an improv theater troupe, and how that’s helped him cope with the surprises that life brings as a parent and business owner (check out Steve’s website, theacuworks.com, here.)

2) how critical it is to surround yourself with people who want to help you achieve your dreams – and who you want to support as they achieve theirs

3) Steve and Sue’s awesome ideas about family time, what it is and what it means to truly “spend time together”

If you take just one thing from this episode, I hope it is this: even in the really busy day-to-day that everyone with young children experiences, it is possible to connect with our spouses and children on a meaningful level every day. We can make a conscious choice to figure out how to make that happen! Steve and Sue Mirando, our across-the-street neighbors, are a great example of how to do that right.

Podcast Episode 029: Grandparents Are People Too

Recently, I got to have an amazing conversation with a dear friend, granddad to a 1 1/2-year-old girl. Today’s episode is a recounting of that conversation, because we can learn so much from it! Here are the three big ideas that my friend and I (who remains nameless, to protect the privacy of he and his family) spoke about:

1) The mother-in-law/daughter-in-law dynamic is very different – and can be far more antagonizing – then the mother/daughter dynamic.

2) What happens when we, this generation sandwiched in the middle who are raising young children while simultaneously engaging with our parents, want something different for our children than our parents want for them? I advise my friend, the caring and worried grandfather, to do all he can to help his son and daughter-in-law feel supported and competent… In a nutshell, this means backing off and waiting for his son and daughter-in-law to ask for help or advice.

3) The paradox of stuff: we all want stuff, we spend way too much money on it, and yet the having of so much stuff can paralyze us. This is noticeable in adults, but especially noticeable in children. With too many toys to choose from at a time, with too much background noise or overstimulating screen time, with too many food choices – kids literally can’t choose. They can’t make a choice! My friend the Grandpa and I put this in the context of giving gifts to grandchildren, talking especially about what gifts to give in a world where we all have too much stuff.

What is your relationship, dear listener, with your parents and your in-laws? I hope it’s a good one, and if it needs some help, I hope that today’s podcast starts you along the path to improving these relationships. Please drop me a line and let me know how it’s going by commenting here or going to weturnedoutokay.com/contact!

Podcast Episode 027: Mom and Journalist Heather Kempskie Returns for the RV Trip Postmortem!

“My editor, once in my early career when I lost a big story in my computer, told me this: everything is better the second time.” Heather Kempskie shares this story to comfort me as I’m apologizing for losing our original post-RV trip in my quest for the sound of cicadas… Click here to listen to that episode… And the cool thing is that I think she’s right! In this interview we talk about:

  • Heather’s big takeaways from their RV trip, which are 1) RVing is super fun, and you can have alone time even in an RV surrounded by your family and 2) it’s important to separate from Wi-Fi sometimes, if only to know who your true friends are
  • living for the moment, which really sounds quite hokey but is a great skill to have
  • Heather’s new way of bonding with her daughter, combining exercise, nutrition and personal development through a program offered by their local YMCA
  • the October 2015 issue of baystateparent’s cover model and Heather’s interview with a Salem ghost tour guide
  • baystateparent’s Extraordinary Extracurricular Guide, which you can sign up for right at their website, baystateparent.com

At least half this interview wasn’t even in the original interview; for my part, I’m glad we got to do this redo. I hope you agree!

Podcast 021: How to Get Organized with Simplicity Expert Miriam Ortiz y Pino

Did you ever think about the relationship you have with your stuff? Today, my guest and I talk about all the different ways that our stuff is a barrier to our enjoyment of our time, possessions, and especially our relationships.

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Miriam Ortiz y Pino of morethanorganized.net has built a great business to help break down these barriers. When she was 11 years old and was given her first job, alphabetizing the merchandise in the business of a family friend in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she started the very beginnings of a life of helping others organize. In more recent years she not only helps us regular people clean out our dressers and closets, she also helps organize bigger things, like political campaigns or restaurants.

Today, she talks to me about organization and decluttering, not just of stuff, but of emotions.

Listen for:

  • how to better utilize an area of your home by thinking NOT about the bins and containers you’ll use to store stuff, but instead of what that space will be used for
  • decluttering by choosing mostly gadgets that do more than one thing
  • figuring out the emotional ties to an object in order to decide what to do with it/about it – during this part of our conversation, Miriam helps me understand a decades-old argument with my husband!

If you take just one thing away from our conversation today, I hope it is this: we can be ruled by our stuff, and is up to us to master our (emotional and physical) clutter.

Podcast 020: Summer Family Time – RVing for Newbies with Mom and Journalist Heather Kempskie


Today’s episode is special, not just because it’s the last in our Summer Camp series but because it’s more than just a single interview; it’s an ode to summer, told in parts. On recent camping trip I took my fun little recorder, the Zoom H5, and today I’m bringing you some of my favorite stories and sounds from that trip. Amazing producer (and 18 time winner of the Husband of the Year award) Benjamin Kolp has woven together these, plus my two-part interview with mom and journalist Heather Kempskie, making for a Summer Camp wrap-up that you will love! So before we jump back into fall, grab yourself one final summertime adult beverage, curl up in your favorite camp chair, and enjoy!

A favorite thing I got to do this summer: take a ride on a sailboat out of Newport, Rhode Island! The sun was just setting as I took this picture while we docked at the end of the trip.
A favorite thing I got to do this summer: take a ride on a sailboat out of Newport, Rhode Island! The sun was just setting as I took this picture while we docked at the end of the trip.

 

In addition to her day job as the Multimedia Editor of baystateparent.com, today’s guest has always been a real adventurer in terms of her vacations – in 2014, her family swapped houses with a Danish family for a month! – but their plans for this summer were daring in a different way: she and her family spent two weeks traveling together in a motorhome RV.

In this unusual episode, we spend the first part talking with Heather Kempskie about plans for the RV trip with her family… And then after the trip is over we have a postmortem right here on the show!

Listen for:

  • Heather’s enthusiasm for the upcoming trip, in which the family travels from the Boston area and down along the East Coast, heading inland to the Appalachian Mountains before returning home
  • what she is concerned about (for example, how do you have any alone time in an RV with three other people?), and how she handles those concerns
  • her favorite vacation so far – it was that one to Denmark – and how this one stacks up against that one
  • what the trip was actually like versus her expectations of the trip

If you take one thing away from this episode, I hope it is this: being open to seemingly crazy ideas can make your life much more fun!

A doggie note about this episode: when we recorded part one, we had our beautiful little Shi-Tzu-poodle mixes for less than 48 hours; by the time we got together to record the second part of Heather’s interview, care of the dogs had become too much for me. I had a relapse of the condition I’ve been living with for four years, called tendinosis, and we had given the dogs up and I was back to 30% use of my arms. You can hear the whole story in Episode 17, where I share four ways to help your young children cope with challenging situations.

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Books That Will Change Your Parenting: Meet The Fabulous Five!

“If there were one way to do this, there would be one New Baby Owner’s Manual.” – A labor and delivery nurse, to my husband, just after our first child was born

Whenever I find myself in a new situation, or up against a new challenge, pretty much the first thing I do is run and find a book to help. Over the years, I’ve gotten really good at discerning which books will help and which won’t. Also, around when the children were born, I gave myself permission to start a book – and not finish it. Or, to scan quickly to see if it will work for me, or even to pick the chapter that sounds most interesting from the table of contents and go right to that chapter.

Between working toward my degree in human development, my graduate degree in early childhood education, and questing as a mom for that perfect Owner’s Manual, I have read a lot of books. The books I want to introduce you to today have been the most influential books in my parenting life; they’re funny, they’re thought-provoking, they’re anxiety-reducing, and if you want to have a better relationship with your kids you need to read them:

How Lincoln Learned To Read by Daniel Wolff – we all know about the achievements of great historical figures such as Ben Franklin, JFK, Elvis Presley. The genius of this book is that we get to find out how they got to be the adults they became, how they learned what they needed to know. I still look into this book when I have a big decision to make about Max or Jay’s education. Click here to listen to my podcast interview with author Daniel Wolff; we discuss the book and how our society is shaping kids “for a future that no longer exists.” Plus Daniel gives the best piece of parenting advice I’ve ever heard.

Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish – this renowned book has helped millions of parents figure out how to stop sibling rivalry. Often the solutions given seem counterintuitive, but they are explained – both in print and in comics – so that you feel like a parenting ninja even just a chapter or two in. If you would like children who feel like they are on the same team, if you want a family life that includes laughter, friendship and love, you need this book.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein – when her young daughter considers every moment wasted that is not spent dressing as a Disney Princess or playing with pink toys, the author decides to look into gender identity in young children, and how marketers take advantage of it. The result is a hilarious and truly frightening tale which includes a run-in with a Bratz doll in an airport, and a discussion of how Miley Cyrus’s journey from innocent cutie to brash slut is impacting your daughter’s growth and development. Even if you have no girls, you have to read this book.

Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy – how young is too young for a kid to have some independence? The author makes a really persuasive case for letting even quite young children do things that frighten us, like letting them use the stove or bike to the park on their own. With chapter names such as “Know When to Worry – Play Dates and Axe Murderers: How to Tell the Difference” and “Ignore the Blamers – They Don’t Know Your Kid Like You Do” this book will have you feeling better about all the great things in store for your children. I talk about how this book helped me relax when Max and Jay were young in episode 005 of We Turned Out Okay; Lenore Skenazy saved my life with this book.

You Just Don’t Understand! by Deborah Tannen – the author’s background in linguistics and communication, combined with a warm and supremely readable writing style, make this a must-read book for anyone who communicates with anyone. Reading it will give you insight into more than just parenting, but all our relationships, and may very well start you off on a Deborah Tannen book binge… You’re Wearing That?!? will probably come in really handy when your kids are teens.

I’ve been trying to decide if I should recommend that you read The Fabulous Five in any particular order, and have come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t. We are all at different points in our parenting, with different worries and different needs. The Fab Five are each quite practical, but about different things, so I think what you should do is read the one that grabs you right now first – and then come back to the others. I love my hard copies and return to them again and again, but if you would rather listen to them in audio format, or try-before-you-buy by getting them from the library, go for it!

The time you invest in reading these books will come back to you a hundredfold, in improved relationships with your kids and in your enjoyment of them, and of your life.

005: Four Risks To Our Kids’ Well-Being That We Take Far Too Often

Sometimes as parents, we think we are limiting the risks to our kids by taking an action – or backing away from an action – when instead, their well-being and happiness would be better insured by doing something completely different. In this episode, I highlight four common things parents do (I know this, because I did them too!) where it would be better to go in the exact opposite direction.

Listen for:

  • the dangers of sticking close by your child’s side at all times; when we do this, we take away his or her chance to develop independence, creativity, and problem-solving capabilities
  • the risks of using antibacterial soap; this one keeps me up at night, and it’s pretty clear that it also keeps scientists and other super-smart people up at night too
  • how we fail our children when we don’t question a teacher or other authority figure who insists that our child has ADHD or ADD; while there is some risk that our son or daughter may have these or other learning disabilities, I share that during my years of teaching young children – and earning my Masters in Early Childhood Education – these diagnoses are given out far more often than they should be; increasingly, kids are put in an environment that is far too restrictive… In short, it is my opinion that schools, and not children, are often the problem when it comes to kids’ misbehavior
  • the importance of comics – yes, cartoons, graphic novels – in a kid’s journey towards becoming a reader; when adults ban comics, or even disrespect them, we run the risk of limiting our kids’ ability to thrive as readers

Whether you agree or disagree, I encourage you to really give some thought to the above Four Risks. Reasonable and intelligent adults can disagree, but the biggest risk of all that we can take is not giving consideration to any big issue that affects our children while they’re young, because the effects of our choices compound when they are grown up.

004: Bonus Episode – My Mother, My Hero

Picture - My Mom, my brother Rob, and me
My Mom, my brother Rob, and me – I’m the one in the middle with the sweet she-mullet.

Imagine parenting before the era of Google and social media, before there was 24/7 support – or at least entertainment in the form of middle-of-the-night lurking. Books are great, but difficult to hold while comforting a colicky baby at 3 AM. Now, imagine leaving your beloved home city of Montréal, Canada and relocating to a quiet suburb with nothing but houses in every direction. During the day, your husband takes the family car into work, so now you have a three-year-old and a three-month-old, no wheels, and a super expensive long-distance phone bill. A totally different world, right? My mother, Diane Lock, found herself in that situation (I was the three-year-old :-), jumped in with both feet – and thrived.

From that shaky start, my Mom went on not only to raise, along with my Dad, three children who turned out pretty well, in my completely unbiased opinion. She also has written books, started and run a catering service, and sung a solo for Pope John Paul II (we don’t talk about this at all in this episode, but it is still pretty cool.)

Listen for:

  • The Stuffed Zucchini Theory of Parenting – how to recognize it, and how to alleviate it
  • An unconventional book-writing method
  • Successful parenting amid pretty major culture shock

This bonus episode is my chance to speak with a truly remarkable woman, my Mom. If you take just one thing away in listening today, let it be this: when our children are small, it is easy to forget that we are so much more than the arms that comfort them and clean up after them, the legs that walk them around in an endless, bouncing dance when they cry. In those times, let my mother be an example to you of how much more you are than mere arms and legs in service to your child. Remember the little grey cells between your ears – and smile.

Why We Must Let Our Kids Do Dangerous Things

As parents, we all have our comfort levels about risk. Where do you draw the line? Does your one-year-old navigate stairs by herself? Is your six-year-old ever out of your sight at the playground? Does anyone drink from the hose at your house?

If you had asked me those questions when my boys were younger, the answer to each would’ve been “no!”… with a hint of “are you INSANE?” I really felt that the best way to keep them from harm was to simply prevent them from doing things I thought were risky, but looking back, I wish I had encouraged a little more risk. While I thought I was keeping them safe, mostly what I was doing was communicating to them my anxieties about the world, while simultaneously giving them the message that their abilities weren’t enough, that they had to rely on me at all times for everything.

This happened especially with my oldest; by the time his little brother came along, I had eased up a little and realized the harm in preventing them from trying their own strength. Once I realized that I was doing such harm, I made some conscious changes; we have all felt the benefits, believe me.

Fast-forwarding to today, the boys have done some amazing things! They’ve used power tools to help build both a gaga pit and a tree fort, they safely use large knives as they help with cooking, they walk home from a friend’s alone.

And they are always finding new ways to test themselves! When my Jay saw this TED talk, he immediately began a subtle but determined campaign to get behind the wheel of a car… At age 10. And you know what’s crazy? I just might say yes.

003: Michael O’Neal of The Solopreneur Hour Talks About Confronting Fears and Goal-Setting

When Michael O’Neal was growing up, his teachers repeatedly said that he: a) didn’t live up to his potential, and b) talked too much. In our lively conversation today, these two ideas come up again and again, because Michael is doing much more than merely “living up to his potential,” using his propensity to talk too much by helping people like me every day and making a great living at it too.

Listen for:

  • great stories all throughout the episode, including the one about Michael hitchhiking at nine years old, and the time he rode a bike down a mountainside
  • the similarities of raising kids and raising dogs
  • confronting and transcending our fears
  • why setting goals for ourselves is so important, and how to do it right

If you take only one thing away from this episode, let it be this: anxiety and enjoyment are two sides of the same coin. The more anxious you are, the less you are able to enjoy your life, and vice versa; this is especially important because anxious parents – as I was – pass on anxiety to their kids. We need to learn to limit our anxiety to heighten everybody’s enjoyment.