045: Can’t Do This Alone: Getting The Support You Need with Mom and Career Professional Carey Andersen

If you’re listening to this the day this episode drops, it’s three days before Christmas… in many parents’ lives one of the busiest, most harried and frustrating days of the whole year. The laundry list of gifts for teachers, snacks for parties, plans for travel or hosting, endless shopping and wrapping certainly has me reaching for the chocolate vodka more often than is strictly necessary! If that’s how you’re feeling too, this episode just might be the best antidote to Christmas Crazy that you could find.

I met today’s guest during Hub Week, Boston’s first annual October celebration of all the cool things going on in the city. I attended several great events, and one of the best-of-the-best was called The State of the Podcast 2015 and featured a hero of mine, Christopher Lydon of Open Source, who’s been in radio for a long time and – as I found out at the event – was one half of the first podcast ever posted.

The event was incredibly well-planned and well-run and felt very intimate even with hundreds of people in attendance, and afterwards I got to talking to today’s guest – and found out that she was one of the organizers! As we kept talking, Carey Andersen shared about her experiences parenting a six-year-old while living with multiple sclerosis. Long story short, Carey graciously agreed to come on the show, and even suggested a direction for our conversation: asking for and receiving help. A difficult thing, but something that every parent needs sometimes.

We talk about some really cool stuff! Here’s a sampling:

1) how Carey and her husband moved their kindergartner from an unsustainable situation – when he was five, their now-six-year-old would come home from school saying “I don’t have enough time to play” – and into a different public school, where he is thriving in first grade

2) Carey shares a story about asking for help from an unsympathetic Cambridge police officer (who, it turns out, had just completed a departmentwide empathy training) and helping him understand that, even when somebody doesn’t look sick, they still might need help

3) we share about how our respective health problems have a similar upside: the ability to feel gratitude for every good thing, no matter how small

My conversation with Carey Andersen, a woman with a job she loves, a supportive husband and family, and a great little boy showed me the power of asking for and accepting help. With 2015 drawing to a close, it feels right that our last guest interview of the year focuses so clearly on giving and receiving and feeling grateful for everything we have.

Podcast 024: What Kids Need to Thrive with Wes Chapman of A HUMAN Project

A look into the mind of today's guest.
A look into the mind of today’s guest.

Today’s guest has had a lifetime of unplanned adventures… Abused and abandoned during his young childhood, simultaneously a troublemaker and a bullied kid all through school… Wesley Chapman developed an entrepreneurial spirit at age 8, when his grandmother became disabled and he started going door to door selling flowers from her garden.

The entrepreneurial spirit stuck with Wes, who found that his strength lay in being an entrepreneur, and then helping other entrepreneurs… And in more recent years helping thousands of children and teens through their own private battles.

We talk about all that in today’s episode:

  • how Wes’s growing up helped him become the man he is today
  • how his philosophy went from “I’ll prove them all wrong” to “I’ll prove myself right”… And how this philosophical shift affects Wes and the people around him every day
  • what the acronym HUMAN means, in Wes’s A HUMAN Project click update
  • how you can help your young child thrive

If you take just one thing from this episode, I hope it is this: our children deserve our time and our positive thinking. These two elements are what will cause them to thrive!

Podcast 017: Our First Q&A, and 4 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Challenging Situations

IMG_1169This week, we take a temporary break from We Turned Out Okay’s Summer Camp series so that I can help you know how to talk with your children when a challenge arises.

Sometimes, even in beautiful summer, bad things happen, and today I share about the tough situation my family and I have found ourselves in over the last several weeks. But rest assured – we’ve still got three lovely, golden August weeks left to enjoy summer and we will do so!

One last thing before we get into the notes, this show has an epilogue, so after I have said “thanks for listening, see you next time” you still want to keep listening – I have something to share about both the Q&A, and about our dogs.… Not exactly a Hollywood ending, but a better one then I had ever thought could happen!

A Breakdown of Today’s Show

Today’s show is split into two parts, but before I get to those there is a really neat thing I wanted to share – friend-of-the-podcast Muttaqi Ismael, an amazing whiteboard video artist, has turned a favorite part of We Turned Out Okay: episode 5 – Four Risks That We Take With Our Children’s Well-Being Every Day into a fantastic whiteboard video! He’s a very talented guy, and to see the video just go to weturnedoutokay.com/017, where it is embedded… My plan is to give the video its own blog post during this month of August. Meantime, enjoy! And thank you Muttaqi – you did a great job!

Our First Q&A!

And now on to the Q&A – Jill asks: “why are my three kids awesome at swim lessons when daycare brings them, but when mommy brings them I’m practically holding their hand in the water (and that’s if they actually get in the water) – we’ve been doing swim lesson since March BTW”

We’ve all noticed this at some point in our parenting lives, haven’t we? Why do they behave incredibly well for somebody else, and freak out for us? Jill, I’m so glad you asked this question because it is such a common concern. My answer dives (pun totally intended) into my experiences with how my kids behaved when they were small at Grandma’s versus how they behaved with me – and I recorded the epilogue because, almost as soon as I hit stop recording this episode, I realized that I had been in a very similar situation to yours!

I hope you find my answer helpful, and that it helps you think of other questions to ask. I love Q&A’s, I think they’re so helpful and also they help us know we are not alone. To submit a question, you can email Karen@weturnedoutokay.com, go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact, friend me on Facebook, find me on twitter@StoneAgeTechie, on instagram@weturnedoutokay… Heck, you can even snail mail me! My address is PO Box 61, Bellingham, MA, 02019.

4 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Challenging Situations

The main part of this show focuses on the four ways you can help your child cope with challenging situations. This came up because my family has been in a very challenging situation: about six weeks before this episode aired for the first time, we adopted two amazing, awesome dogs… And then the stress of caring for them caused a relapse in tendinosis, this condition that I live with that, at times, has left me unable to walk (which I’ve since relearned) and with extremely limited upper body and hand use.

Long story short, these wonderful dogs entered our lives and within a very short time, we had to give them up. Truly, it was either them or my health and sanity.

In this episode, I share about how heartbreaking and difficult this has been. But I also share about how grateful I am to have had them in our lives, and how amazed I am by the strength and gentleness of both my husband and our two boys.

Most importantly for you, I share about how we got through this. Because when you are in a tough situation and you don’t know how to help your kids get through it as well, it’s really helpful to have a guide. I hope you will think of this podcast as your guide!

Here are my four steps to coping with challenging situations, and helping your kids cope as well:

1) communicate with your kids; they WILL know that something is wrong, and consequently you will notice, if you try to keep everything from them, an uptick in bad behavior, anxiety, and tears; sharing with them what you can on their level reassures your kids and helps them trust you

2) help them understand that you are all in this together; be there for tears, questions, reassurances

3) find a way for them to help; children need to be needed, and when you give them a job – a truly meaningful job that truly helps you, however small – they become part of the solution

4) cherish the time we have with our loved ones; because challenging situations often include the absence of a person that they used to see a lot – whether through divorce, or death, or a cross-country move – it is really helpful to talk with our kids about how people come in and out of our lives; sometimes, people are not meant to be with us for long, or not without long intervals between seeing them, and the most important thing is to appreciate the time we have with our loved ones, and cherish the memory of them when we are not with them

Giving up our dogs due to my illness is one of the hardest things we’ve faced as a family. I’m sharing this experience with you today because I really hope it will help you with the challenges that inevitably come up in your life. Kids are amazingly resilient, and cope well with life’s challenges, especially when we grown-ups take the time to communicate with them, share in grief together, find meaningful ways for them to help, and above all teach them to enjoy the time we have with the people we love.

Bonus Episode: My Father, My Hero

Dad, my brothers, and me – on a camping trip in our beloved bunkhouse trailer.
Dad, my brothers, and me – on a camping trip in our beloved bunkhouse trailer.

Today I share a great conversation that I had recently with my Dad. After climbing his way out of a working class neighborhood in Montréal, Canada, Dad became a very well-educated, high-powered executive at a large insurance company.

But as his daughter, I knew about that part of his life only peripherally. To me, Dad was and still is a great example of how to achieve your dreams, and especially how to live your life: Dad has an unshakable moral compass and an amazing capacity to reduce the most complex problems down to their simplest form.

  • Along with my Mom, whom we hear from in the Mother’s Day 2015 Bonus Episode, Dad has spent the last 17 years (after retiring from the insurance company as Vice President of Customer Service) in Breckenridge, Colorado. Out there, he became a contractor to remodel their home, was a Breckenridge ski instructor for 15 years and continues to teach his grandchildren how to ski.
  • Together, they’ve traveled extensively, circling the globe in a six-month trip in 2010 and spending six months of 2014 traveling through Europe – they were using AirBnB before I knew what it was!
  • Mom and Dad have spent much of the last two years RVing around the US and Canada together; they hike, grill out, make friends on the road – even make and preserve jam in their camper! – always keeping in touch and illustrating the kind of fun you can have in life.

Our conversation today ranges from work, to parenthood, and into grand parenthood. I know you’ll love it because, no matter where you are on the parenting timeline, or if you’re a mom or a dad, you’ll hear a great example of how to live your life. Click preview

What’s Really Important In Your Life?

I want you to drop everything and go watch the following YouTube video, which is kind of long but really worth it:

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

Back? Great.

I blogged about The Last Lecture in my homeschool blog, The Stone Age Techie, years ago – before I had my run-in with mystery tendon problems.

Then, as now, I felt that Mr. Pausch was the universe telling me to really think about the most important aspects of life. I love his concept of building a safety net, and really thought about my blog as part of that safety net, because, when my boys are all growns up, they’ll be able to look back on that blog and realize how very much I loved them and strived (strove? well, anyway, worked really hard) to support them as they grew.

But now, having been through these years with the mystery tendon problems, I recognize something else in Mr. Pausch’s lecture: a sense of gratitude. He is so vibrant and full of life that idea of gratitude is communicated through everything he does, there is just the sense of a real zest for life, even as he is dying. It’s clear that he is thankful for every moment he’s had and will have, that he’s grateful to have had the chance to fulfill his dreams, and especially that he’s grateful for the chance to help other people fulfill their own dreams.

I feel like that is the essence of gratitude: it’s not just about me, it’s about what I can do for others.

So that’s this week’s homework, friends and folks: answer one of these two questions.

1) What are you grateful for? What has someone done for you, or given to you, that you feel a true sense of gratitude about?

2) How are you helping others achieve their dreams? And, who are you helping achieve their dreams?

Tell me about it here at the website (in the comments below or at weturnedoutokay.com/contact), by friending me on Facebook (Karen Lock Kolp), or sharing on twitter, where I’m @StoneAgeTechie… Who knows but that we can help each other achieve our dreams? The universe is a funny place.

000: Life Lessons From The Unplanned Adventures of Five Best Friends

What curveballs has life thrown you?

In this episode, the traditional Episode 000: All About The Podcaster gets turned sideways, as I sit down with the four people outside my birth family who have known me the longest and best. We share a lot of wine and Sortilege (delicious Canadian maple whiskey) many laughs, and our unplanned adventures.

  • Debbie tells about being in a house fire, how the random conversation she had a week previously with a firefighter – and the good catch her now-husband made that night – helped her survive
  • Bridgitte shares about the challenges she has faced and lessons she’s learned in dealing with fibromyalgia, a very real condition that Bridgitte’s doctors sometimes doubted
  • Dede talks about the key role she played in the final years of her father’s life, and the sorrows – and joys – she experienced during that tumultuous time
  • Shannon describes breaking from tradition to homeschool her three children, talking about their journey in the seven years since as “a true adventure”
  • I discuss the mysterious illness I’ve been living with for 3 1/2 years, tendinosis (chronic tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendons), and share about the scary lows and unpredicted highs I’ve experienced while living with this condition

This episode might be my favorite, because in it, five real women talk about the setbacks that have come into our lives, and the good that has come out of those setbacks. Unplanned adventures happen for every one of us, and I’m including you, listener, in that. Our discussion highlights the true power of looking at a setback not as a dealbreaker, but instead as a learning experience. I hope you enjoy listening to it just as much as we enjoyed creating it!

The Single Most Important Factor In Any Kind of Recovery

We’ve all had setbacks. Thwarted dreams, mistakes we’ve made, doors closed in our faces. They happen every day. Luckily, we humans are given a healthy dose of ingenuity at the beginning of our lives, so we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.

But sometimes, things can interfere with that creativity, break our mental link to our own ingenuity. If we’re told “no” often enough by the people in our lives who really matter – “no, you’re just not a very good reader,” “you’re probably better off giving up baseball – you’re much better at swimming,” – we start to believe it. That’s why, as parents, we have to work so hard not to be balloon poppers… Popping the balloon that is our children’s dreams might be the single most damaging mistake we can make, and will be the subject of a whole future blog post.

It’s tempting to look at something really major, really bad, and believe it is an ending, just one great big “no.” But I think if you talk to someone who’s been through a rough patch and come out okay, you’ll notice a key trait that many of these people have: gratitude.

That’s right! Gratitude for what they have, rather than an emphasis on what’s missing, what door was slammed. Instead of complaining about the door, they find the window.

And when I say “they,” I really mean “we.”

For 3 1/2 years, I’ve had a mystery illness, something that has affected every single area of my life and world. I have experienced pain and fear, over extended periods of time – and I banished them with gratitude.

It might sound crazy, but it’s true, and today I’m excited to share my article in baystateparent, Gratitude Lessons. I hope it makes you smile. Smile, in gratitude – and then go out and support the people in your life, especially the children, as they work toward their dreams.