Long ago, I quit as Maid to my kids and they fired me as Manager. I’ve tried to stop being Nag, also known as The Enforcer. So what roles are left when the kids are grown? Here’s my personal, work-in-progress list in an essay on Brightly.com:
Remember David Letterman’s Late Night Top 10 lists? I miss them. Here’s a new one –
Top 10 Reasons to fill out THE BOOK OF YOU: For My Child with Love (A Keepsake Journal) for your son or daughter
#10: to get out the crayons and draw stick figures and decorations, all in the name of parental love
#9: for an excuse to pull out those toddler photos that make your heart melt
#8: to apologize for that ONE time you made a parenting mistake
#7: to relive some sweet/ridiculous/proud moments from your son or daughter’s childhood
#6: to plant seeds for experiences you want to have with your child in the future
#5: to finally try your hand at doing one coloring page
#4: to give a big thank for the gifts and help your son or daughter has given you or others
#3: to revive that parent-cheering-wildly-in-the-audience feeling
#2: so your son or daughter can pull your love off the shelf whenever they need to feel it
#1: so your child never doubts your love
Time Magazine (February 13, 2017) reports in The View Health section that strong family ties are linked to improved longevity, sibling relationships are a boon to well-being, and spousal interactions can have big benefits. Based on recent studies by scientific experts:
“Interactions in our relationships impact us more than we think.”
“Older adults who said who said they felt ‘extremely close’ to family members on their list had about a 6% risk of dying in the next five years compared with about a 14% risk of death in the same time period among people who didn’t feel as tight with their family.”
“…Young people who considered their relationship with their brother and sister to be positive had fewer depressive symptoms compared with those who didn’t get along with their siblings.”
“On days when (married or co-habitating couples) had a pleasant, positive conversation, the partners felt less lonely and more intimate, and fell asleep faster, than on days when they didn’t.”
These studies support what we already intuitively know, that deep and long-lasting relationships with loved ones are among our most valuable treasures in life.
See the full Time Magazine article here.
Oh, I sooo wish we could show you the cover for our new book right this instant, but we’re not ready for the big reveal yet. The book won’t be available until next spring, but the publisher just showed us the cover and IT’S ADORABLE!! Working on the interior design of the book now…
“Storytelling is one way couples bond when a relationship is young. But between long-term partners, the conversation often becomes mundane. Psychologists say it is important to keep telling and listening to each other’s stories,” according to a 7/4/2016 Wall Street Journal article by Elizabeth Bernstein.
So true. Also true – your stories can be told aloud or in a guided journal: What I Love About You and The Book of Us for love stories and appreciation; or Picture of Me and The Book of Myself for stories about you that maybe you’ve never told.
Wall Street Journal article: Why Good Storytellers are Happier in Life and in Love
Just in time for Valentine’s Day…
“It is impossible to truly tell someone, how much you love them, especially since it relates to the matters of the heart, and all of us aren’t linguists with long train of words to express our emotions. But if…you always find yourself at a loss of words, then this book is the perfect thing. It uses a simple fill in the blank approach to open the doors of expression. You can just fill in all the blanks and give it as a personal gift to remember you by.” Review on this site.
What I Love About You, Mom just got a nice review on this website.
“We know that even though most of us are attracted to the idea of writing a journal, few are eventually successful in doing so. The major reason is, we just do not know how to express ourselves. This is where this guided journal comes in. Not only will it help you to preserve beautiful memories and parts of your life, but also, for the first time, help you realize, how much you truly owe to your mother. Writing this will give you an insight on the inner workings of your mind.”
Force yourself to pick a side on these statements from Picture of Me: Who I Am in 221 Questions…
Only thin women should wear bikinis. T/F
People should try their best to fit in and act normal. T/F
Online socializing counts as human interaction. T/F
I’m going to Heaven when I die. T/F
Chewing gum makes you look stupid. T/F
Men and women act differently due to biology, not upbringing. T/F
Love at first sight is usually 99% lust. T/F
English Literature is a useful college major. T/F
Everything happens for a reason. T/F
This is a great book. T/F (Just kidding – that’s not really in there, but you should get hold of a copy so you can see the other questions.)
In this NPR article, psychologist Jordan Peterson says, “The act of writing is more powerful than people think.” He created a course for at-risk university students which centers on a writing assignment to “reflect on important moments in their past, identify key personal motivations and create plans for the future, including specific goals and strategies to overcome obstacles.” He calls the two parts ‘past authoring’ and ‘future authoring.’ YES! What he refers to as “self-authoring” is what we call “life mapping.” McGill University studied the results of the course and found a “powerful positive effect, reducing the drop out rate and increasing academic achievement.”
My theory for why New Year’s Resolutions fail so often is that they usually aren’t grounded by a bigger purpose. So you want to exercise more. Why? To attract a vibrant life partner? To be healthy enough to play with grandchildren? To have many years to work on a cause you care about? The more clarity of the “why,” the more motivated you’ll be to follow through.
Yes, this takes some thought. You’ll need some guiding questions and exercises to either talk or write about. Maybe you have a wise friend or someone else wanting to dig deep who can partner with you. Maybe you could take a personal development workshop on the topic, or hire a life coach. Or you could simply find some good reading and journaling materials.
I highly recommend Tara Parker-Pope’s recent New York Times article: Creating a Mission Statement. She suggests asking yourself some of the same questions that David and I walk you through in our latest book, My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Life.
If you like Parker-Pope’s article, consider letting My Life Map guide you through this discovery process.
How would you answer these prompts for your mom? Here are a few of my answers in the journal I gave my lovely mom:
I. You might have thought I wasn’t listening, but I have. Here are a some life lessons I’ve learned from you…
Top 5 List
1. Be frugal, whether you need to be or not.
2. Eat healthily (no processed foods, except chocolate)
3. Connect with nature as often as possible (at least once a day)
4. Smile until you mean it.
5. Look to dogs as good role models (especially border collies).
II. I was or am happy that you are my mother when…
I see friends losing their mothers. I’m grateful that you have taken such great care of yourself so that you are so vibrant and able to be a part of our lives at 85. You are a role model for aging well!
III. If I could make three amazing things happen for you by waving a magic wand, I’d…
1. bring Dad back to keep you company (and do the taxes for you)
2. erase all your occasional aches and pains so you can scamper along on hikes, free of pain
3. let us both travel the 3,000 miles between our homes with the snap of our fingers
[These prompts are from the gift journal – What I Love About You, Mom – a sweet way to share memories and appreciation with your mom.]
Most reviews of our books make me smile for one reason or another. This new review for What I Love About You made me smile so much this morning that I just had to share it:
“Probably my favorite product from amazon all-together! The book is so thorough, and is appropriate for any stage of a relationship. I love that there are questions that really apply to the specific couple – the way it’s written it encourages you to give a detailed, very personalized answer and it feels almost effortless to fill out! There are around 89-ish pages to fill out though, so leave a little time to do it. I love that there are all types of questions (check off, fill in the blank, paste a picture, etc.). This book expressed everything I’ve been feeling for the past 7 years with my significant other and I very, very highly recommend it. Of all the sentimental gifts I’ve given, this one got the biggest (positive) reaction, and is my absolute favorite.” – BrittanyN10
Wow, I just heard the sweetest story. Last month, my friend Pam got a copy of the What I Love About You, Mom for her mom. She set it on the coffee table and planned to start filling it out for her mom over the weekend. That evening, Pam’s adorable daughter saw it and began leafing through the pages. She’s in second grade, and excited about learning to read and write independently. She asked Pam if she could write in it for Pam’s upcoming birthday. Wow. Of course Pam said yes, and suggested she fill out 9-10 pages for her birthday, then 9-10 more for Christmas, and so on.
After her birthday, Pam showed me what her daughter had given her. I was floored by how well she was able to complete the first set of pages. Our goal in creating the short answer and check mark format was to make it easy for anyone to fill out, but I was still surprised to hear how easy it was for someone as young as this sweet gal. She wrote precious memories from “when she was young” with freshness and inventive spelling. She thanked her mom for “changing my dipers” and making “good snaks.” I know she’s going to love the pages that ask for drawing.
I’m happy for Pam to have this expression of gratitude from her young daughter, and a keepsake of this moment in time.