Power of Knowing Who You Are

The pursuit of balance, organization, goals… The advice abounds, yet the pursuit seems to never end.  We find ourselves starting over, starting again, wondering if we are even on the right path, capable, able.  It can be exhausting, and in the midst of striving to achieve, life passes us by, we miss the moments, we miss becoming.

woodenpath

Two young women have approached me in recent months asking me about my career path, how I managed family, career, success.  Questions like this never come easy, because I find most of us don’t see ourselves the way others see us.  I struggled to answer.  I have never had a career path, real career aspirations.  No doubt early in my career I did, but as life began to emerge those quickly faded.  Marriage, the desire for children, building a home and a life with family, those have been my aspirations.  Managing those well have been my priority.  The career, the opportunities before me now, those are icing on the cake.  I like to think they are the result of a life well lived, an opportunity to be who I am, not tasks, not plans, not rungs on a ladder.

As I sought to answer both women with honesty, seizing the moment to influence another this is what I shared.

First and foremost, be who you say you are and be who you are no matter the circumstance.  I am a Christian first and foremost.  Every decision I make flows from a place of faith and I seek to align my decisions with the Word of God, His precepts, His ways.  How I make my decisions, who I desire to be doesn’t change based upon my role.  I am who I am, and that is simply a woman of faith seeking to serve God.

Second, do what you say you are going to do.  Commitment, honesty, integrity-traits lost in a world where power and position, being a “company” woman/man pays bigger dividends.  Yet commitment, honesty, integrity are lasting.  Doing what we say we are going to do has lasting impact, builds relationships, builds trust, builds reputation.

Finally, do everything you do with excellence.  Excellence is not perfection.  Excellence is not about being right, or being the best.  Excellence is about being your best and doing your best.  Excellence is about caring, caring that the product you produce reflects the very best.  In a world where outputs and outcomes reign, those who influence, those who create impact, will stay the course.

The words above may seem to simplistic.  They aren’t the words of advice I would have shared in my late twenties/early thirties.  But they are the words I live by.  I am not a wife, mom, community engagement officer out to achieve.  I am a wife, mom and community engagement officer because that is who God has called me to be.  Those are the opportunities He has given me.  My only desire is to be who I am and influence others.  That is my secret to staying focused and organized.  When you know who you are and you focus upon influence (relationship with others) it’s easy to know what matters and what doesn’t.  It’s easy to stay motivated.  It’s easy to to release the future and focus on the next step.

Years ago, a mentor passed this anonymous poem along to me.  It became a part of my life mission.  I keep it with me at all times-it finds it’s home in the front of my planner.  I share it with you, hoping it encourages you, helps you settle upon the woman you are.  The plans, the tasks-they will all fall in place.  But first, YOU.  Your power will unfold as you embrace who you are.  Who you are matters more than what you do.

956562c8af1c119c8418256a0a4f276d

*If you follow me on Facebook you know I had an opportunity to celebrate this advice with one of my daughters.  I have spent 19 years giving my daughters this same advice, and it paid off.  My daughter, a freshman, was given the Greek Life Woman of Integrity Award.  I am so proud of her, so thrilled she is learning to live the “who” over the “what”.

Advertisements

Are You Ready?

Easter is my absolute favorite holiday.  I love the anticipation:  Lent, Holy Week-pondering all that my God and Savior did for me.  It is also the season of renewal, “spring cleaning”, fresh starts as nature’s green bounty begins to emerge.  The colors, the song birds, the crisp air, all representative of new life.

It’s easy to get caught up in the doing:  cleaning base boards, washing exterior windows, running errands, planting perennials, thatching the grass, preparing Sunday’s Easter menu.  But oh how sad, if that is all we prepare for.

This year I ask myself, and I ask you.  Are you ready?  Are you ready to really give your life to Christ?  I don’t just mean a one time faith decision proclaiming you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of the one and only God, Jaw-eh.  Are you ready to submit to His will, to accept whatever is required of you to serve Him, to be used by Him to show His majesty and power to a fallen world?  Christ’s agony in the garden, asking His Father to spare him, to remove the cup, but then bending to His Father’s will was not just for our salvation, but is an example of how we are to live-broken, submitted, willing.

I want to be willing.  I no longer want the circumstances of my life to dictate my feelings, my responses.  I want to live yielded.  I want to be ready.  I know to do that I have to remain disciplined to begin my day with Him, girding myself with His truth, prayerfully yielding each day to Him and remembering that the only true calling on my life is to live obedient to His Word.

Are you ready?  If you have never chosen to accept Christ as the Son of God, would you consider that today?  There is no hope, no life without Him.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  He is our hope, our only way to God the Father.  New life comes through the shedding of His blood on our behalf.

If you are a Christian, would you join me in preparing for all God calls you to?  Will you submit?  Be willing to be ready.  Sunday is coming.  Sunday is not the culmination and should not be our one “big” day of worship.  Sunday is the beginning.  He died.  He rose again.  He walked among His disciples and then ascended into Heaven. leaving us with the power of His Spirit.  May we be ready to live victoriously for Him all year and may our churches be filled.

Simplified Living

Being organized is really just about learning to live simply.  Now, don’t hit the exit button quite yet!  There is minimalism ( a huge trend right now and worth pursuing) and then there is a more simplified life.  I am not a minimalist.  I love home and all the things that make a home beautiful and comfortable.  So, I have holiday decorations, more than two sets of dishes, seasonal throw pillows… You get the idea.  So, how do I keep a clutter free home?  How do I manage to have time to exercise, volunteer, take a nap, have date nights and entertain?  I manage those things because I choose to keep the number of things pared down.

Being organized is about learning to live with less, so your time is not spent managing stuff.  Being organized is also about learning little tips and tricks along the way to make the most of what you have and to simplify your decorating, cooking, cleaning and entertaining.  In honor of spring cleaning, I’ll share a few of those tips over the next few weeks.

Menu prepping and meal prepping are becoming a more integral part of my weeks as I continue on my health journey.  I’m still a pen and paper gal, so I love the InkWell Press “Eating Well Planner” my sister-in-law got me for Christmas.  I write down the recipe for each day’s dinner (adding in at least one breakfast meal and lunch idea for the weekends) and the location of the recipe.  I then make the grocery list.  I am a coupon girl, so Sunday afternoons are my time to clip paper coupons and download my Kroger digital coupons.  Once my grocery list is complete I go through the coupons pulling any that match to needed groceries.  I keep thinking I am going to shift my grocery shopping to Tuesday evenings, but so far I still find myself running to the store for my major grocery shopping on Saturdays.  We will see how I progress-this is one of those goals in my Cultivate What Matters planner-reminding myself to cultivate this one and that progress doesn’t happen over night.

Once back from the grocery store I immediately put things away.  I put grains, chips, cereals etc. in their respective bins (helps us see what we have and keeps things fresh).  I fill the kitchen sink with cold water and one cup of white vinegar.  All of the fresh fruits and vegetables go in to soak.  They are then rinsed and dried.  I then chop or cut anything I can for the week.  We just eat more vegetables and fruits if they are washed and ready to go.  I love using the Rubbermaid Freshworks.  You can find them here:  http://www.rubbermaid.com/en-US/freshworks-produce-saver-green

This week, with strawberries coming into season, I found myself needing to cut strawberries so I could mix them with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of Stevia.  They will be great with yogurt, cottage cheese or as a stand alone dessert/snack.  One of my favorite tricks I learned from a Pampered Chef consultant.  Use your boiled egg slicer to cut strawberries.  It cuts them quickly and in perfect slices!  I did two containers of strawberries in under 4 minutes.  I promise, once you try this you will never go back to cutting them any other way!

I’d love to hear your tips on menu planning, grocery shopping or meal prepping.  For more tips on managing errands:  https://wordpress.com/post/simplifiedorganizedstyled.com/1815

Don’t Plan Your Week, Guide Your Week

I love organization:  calendars, baskets, hooks, notebooks, planners, colored pens, labels, label makers… the list goes on.  It is in my DNA.  The first born.  Type A.  Disc profile C.  Perfectionist.  Scheduler.  The list could go on, but I am sure you get the drift.

My bent towards organization hasn’t always been my friend.  In fact, it has often been my enemy.  I may appear on the outside to have it all under control, to be gifted and skilled at juggling life’s demands.  On the inside though, it has often been a different story.  The expectations grow and with them the voice in my head pushing me to perfection, telling me “I am not enough”, “do more”.  The anxiety driven by the fear I won’t keep it all together.  The laser like focus keeping me from seeing opportunities and moments around me.  The pursuit all consuming and confining, leaving little room for vulnerability, allowing others to help.  It can be and has been exhausting.  It can be and has been my worst attribute.  But, it is also a gift.

So how do I keep the gift from becoming my demon?  I embrace who I am.  I am created in God’s image, to serve Him and to be reconciled to Him, engaged in the daily ministry of reconciliation.  He is a God of order (simply read the story of creation).  His Word provides a road map.  I am bent towards organization and in His sight that is good, it is just as He desired it to be, just as He created me to be.  However, I have to remember, managing my life:  my things; my activities; my people, is simply a tool to be used to serve Him.  I can’t let it become about CONTROL.  Yes.  Too often  my pursuit of organization is more about my attempt to CONTROL, than to be and serve.  I have to remember He is in control, and my attempts to manage are simply a part of a process.  He teaches me, He guides me, He directs my paths.  CONTROL is the demon.  When I use my talents and my gifts to follow His direction, I relinquish CONTROL, and He is in control.

Maintaining the balance isn’t easy.  The past has taught me.  I have learned to spend less time planning, and more time simply developing a road map/a guide, full of white space, breathing space.  The white space and breathing space give the opportunities to stop, to pray, to listen, to adjust.  My life is fuller.  The pursuit is no longer for perfection or control.  Instead, the pursuit is for relationship, obedience with the One in control.

If you, like me, struggle with this balance, here are a few tools and tricks I use.

  1. I LOVE my Cultivate What Matters planner.  This is not a weekly or daily planner, but a great tool for setting yearly goals, determining what matters most and then cultivating habits to bring it to fruition.  If you haven’t checked this resource out, head over to https://cultivatewhatmatters.com/.  I am not paid to endorse, this product.  I genuinely LOVE and USE this product.
  2. I am a recovering planner addict.  I have spent more money on planners than I ever care to disclose.  Seriously, it is an addiction!  I still struggle.  Each November my Facebook and Pinterest feeds fill with cute images of beautiful planners, stickers, pens etc.  My heart races and I begin to think, “what if…”  I am pleased to tell you though, going on THREE years strong, I have stuck with my Planner Pad planner.  It isn’t all sparkly and cute.  It is practical.  But the layout works for me.  It is a weekly planner format that allows you to “funnel” your tasks, beginning with broad categories, moving to daily priorities, and ending with time specific tasks.  You can find out more by going to https://plannerpads.com/.
  3. I set aside about an hour every Friday to create my road map for the following week.  This helps me focus on the critical and important Friday and keeps items from falling off my radar, as they get moved to the following week.  I am able to assess how much white space I have and make necessary adjustments.  A packed schedule only leads to stress and stress minimizes productivity.  Leave room to breathe, to be the boss, wife, mom, friend you need to be in the moment.  Leave room to run back into God’s presence, seeking His guidance.
  4. Pray.  Years ago, while reading an Emilie Barnes book, I began to practice the habit of praying over my calendar daily.  I am not 100%, but the weeks and months I am faithful to this habit, I am amazed at how my plans change, the resources that come my way or the amount I am able to accomplish.  I am able to view the items in my planner as simply a guide for my week and the unexpected aren’t viewed as distractions, but as opportunities.
  5. Last but not least, I remind myself the goals I have written, the filled in to do lists, are simply guides.  I can’t plan for the future, for I am not in control of the future.  I can establish guides for myself and I can take one obedient step at a time.  When things go awry I remember I am not in control.  When tasks build up or remain undone, when there seems to be no movement toward a goal I step back and reassess.  More often than not, I simply need to make an adjustment, either in my routine or my schedule.  However, sometimes the pause, the prayer helps me see the goal was something birthed out of my desires, and is not a part of His plan.  Sometimes the goal needs to go away.  Sometimes I need to scale back and focus on some small part of the larger goal.  Sometimes I need to ask for help.  Adjusting is better than quitting.  Adjusting is better than making futile plans in pursuit of perfection or control.  Adjusting is bending to His will, growing in faith, growing in relationship, growing in His image.

 

Tending to Me

Female Strength_Photo by Justyn WarnerPhoto by Justyn Warner

As I prepared to post tonight I couldn’t help but think, “How many times am I going to say ‘I’m back!’?”  This blog has been through many transitions.  Some simply following life changes.  Some related to business ventures.  Others, a result of comparison.  Ouch.  Admitting the last hurts.  Yet, it is the truth.  At some point don’t we all fall prey?  And that is okay, so long as we recognize it, acknowledge it and return to our true self.

This blog began as an outlet, a personal space to think out loud and connect.  I have been amazed and blessed by the connections made, the lives touched and blog friends who have in turn touched my life.  It is not a business.  It is not a platform.  It is simply the sharing of my story, a place to be creative.

A year and a half ago God answered a big prayer.  I wanted and needed to go back to work.  God provided beyond anything I could have thought possible and in perfect timing.  My girls entered their Senior year of high school (yes, if you are new to the blog, I have twins).  I was just months away from 50.  Lots of change, lots of big life moments.  In the midst of that an opportunity to go back to work full-time doing what I began my career doing, an opportunity to return to my non-profit roots, my love for service.

It has been a transition.  Those Senior girls graduated and ventured on to university and cosmetology school.  We gained a new dog-child (graduation gift for said daughters rarely at home).  Full-time work, taking an existing office unit, and leading it to adopt a new mission, new work.  At times I have doubted my capabilities, I have felt inferior.  At times I have wondered, “Why me?  Why here?  Why now?”  Finding my place in a big, complicated, not so healthy bureaucracy going through its own restructuring and leadership changes, has not been easy.  But this is what I have learned-know to be true.  I am capable.  I am prepared for this.  I am strong.

Life is good.  Life is lived to the fullest when we are stretched and beyond ourselves.  God doesn’t just provide the opportunity and walk us to the open door.  He leads us through the door and stands beside us ready to meet our every need.  The hours spent with a personal trainer 6 months leading up to and 6 months after I began work were not just about my physical strength and health.  Those hours were about learning to push myself, trust my trainer and my capabilities.  Those hours were as spiritual as they were physical.  Those hours taught me the importance of self-care.  Serious spirit, mind and body self-care.  Tending to me has helped me cultivate the habits and skills I need to be the person I want to be, reflecting Christ at home, at work and in my community.  Tending to me has helped me see who I am in Christ, to embrace the me He created in His image to do His will.  Tending to me has helped me love others, to risk, to forgive and to release.

So, this isn’t “I’m back”.  This is “Hello, I’m still here.”  Lessons are learned to be shared.  Life is lived to be shared.  That’s what this blog is all about.  It’s me, sharing a little bit of me, hoping as I continue to tend to me, you will be inspired to tend to you and the things we cultivate will begin to blossom and bloom into a life we never imagined- lives full of victories, joys, hardships, losses.  Lives lived to the fullest.  Lives shared.

Little Spice in Life

Fall is coming y’all!   I love fall.  I love the change in the temperatures.  I love getting back into a more structured schedule.  I love sitting on the back porch by the fire (having a good old s’more every now and then).  I love thinking about the coming holidays.  All of it spurs me to clean, to get up a little earlier, to read more and to cook more.  Fall just seems to be the season for hospitality and adding some spice to life.  It’s a time for laughter around the table, brisk walks in the cool morning air.  It’s a time to cheer on our favorite football teams.  Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg.  Barbecue sauces, roasted chilies, peppercorns.  Fall.

My weekly menus needed a little spicing up.  I was growing tired of our favorite summer recipes.  As I began this past week to think through some old fall favorites and peruse Pinterest for some fall cooking inspiration, I found myself inspired by the colors of fall.  Reds, green, oranges.  Apples, peppers, carrots, pumpkins and squash.  Yum!  Immediately I knew it was time to pull out one of my “tweaked” family favorites.  I grew up eating candied carrots.  The good old Southern kind smothered in butter and brown sugar, slow cooked until glazed and slightly browned.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that good old Southern recipe, adding a little spice always makes everything nice!  Honey Glazed Pepper Jelly Carrots.  Yep.  Nothing better.  Even grandma approved! Yes, the same grandma who taught me the traditional candied carrot cooking method.

IMG_5371

I promise you will want to try this recipe.  Go for it!  It’s the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.  Just enough heat to make you perk up, but sweet enough to comfort.

Honey Glazed Hot Pepper Jelly Carrots

I apologize to all my readers for my recent absence.  Life has just been happening and frankly, I needed a break.  However, speaking of needing a little spice in life.  I have a lot more to say on that subject.  I have been in a leadership training the past few days, and as I was prompted to think on my mission, think about my behavior style, I was reminded I need to be bold, to take more risks, to speak up and doubt less.  It’s time to get back at this blog thing!

 

How to…

I am often asked how I get done what I get done.  Let me first say, I honestly don’t think I get more done than most people.  I think it often appears that way because I hold my emotions close, am fairly private and try to maintain my composure.  I fear I sometimes appear “all together” and that is often far from the truth (just ask my family!).  I will admit though, that I have also been a student of time management for as long as I can remember.  I was that child in elementary school who wanted to work my way through every SRA test seeing my name rise on the chart.  I was the high school student who wanted to make good grades, play sports, serve on student council and earn spending money.  I was the college student who had to work her way through college, so I needed to be able to balance studies with work.  I was the young wife who wanted to work, cook fabulous meals, entertain friends and business partners and create a “Southern Living” style home.  And then I became a first time mom to not one, but two beautiful baby girls and I wanted to be present in every way, have our home continue to be a haven and place for gathering, and I desperately wanted my girls to see me serving in the community.

 

I have have learned a lot about managing my time along the way.  Some lessons were learned through painful mistakes, while others were learned as doors opened and new opportunities presented themselves.  I am still learning.  I have revisited many of my favorite tools and books as I have re-entered the workforce after 16 years as a stay-at-home mom.  I have given a lot of thought to what advice I would share with others as I prepare to send my girls to college next year.  Here are a few of my favorite tips:

  1. Choices:  We all have the same amount of time.  We have to make choices.  Anything we choose to do fills our time and requires we say no to something else.
  2. We all need help.  Even the Proverbs 31 woman had help.  She had maidservants.  We cannot keep our homes, do all the shopping and all food preparations, volunteer at our children’s schools and at church, work, serve our friends and maintain our sanity.  We have to allow others to help.  If our budget allows that may mean a hired housekeeper.  If not, it may mean our children have chores and our husband helps. We may need to swap childcare services with a friend.  When I chose to go back to work this year I knew it would require budgeting for a housekeeper and passing off some of the household shopping to my husband and girls.
  3. We need to know our personal rhythm and build our schedule around it.  I am a morning person.  I do my best thinking in the morning.  I have energy in the morning.  As a result I make it a habit of setting my work hours early.  While I would love to be one of those people who goes to the gym at 5:30, it doesn’t fit my rhythm. I do much better jumping right into work and then fitting in a workout on the way home late afternoon/early evening, giving myself a time to transition and a little energy boost.  My natural rhythm also means I need to go to bed early.  I am usually in bed by 9:30 and try to have lights out by 10:30.  I have tried many times to adjust my schedule, to be more like someone else, but in the end my natural rhythm is a part of my DNA and there is no fighting it.  I am a better version of me and am able to perform better when i embrace my personal rhythm.
  4. I live by the 15 minute rule.  Any time I feel stuck, am dreading an assignment or find myself with some extra time I employ the 15 minute rule.  You will be amazed at all you can do in 15 minutes.  Giving your undivided attention to something for just 15 minutes can be the difference between never getting a task done, never starting on a project or complete success.  Here is a list of just a few things you can tackle in 15 minutes:
    1. Empty the dishwasher
    2. Clean out your purse or car
    3. Make your bed
    4. Respond to email
    5. Update/sync your calendar
    6. Create a work plan for a project
  5. Always build in white space.  I always add 15 minutes to the front end and back end of appointments.  This allows me some buffer, keeps me from running late, and is often a source of some 15 minute blocks to tackle some of the daily tasks.  I also leave at least two weeknights open.  This means I have seldom joined a book club or a Bunko group.  This means my husband and I say “yes” to very few charitable events.  (we will pay for a ticket and gladly give someone else our seats)  Early on in our parenting my husband and I made a decision to not let hurry and events run our lives.  We have chosen instead a slower paced way of living, making certain we AND our girls were at home as often as possible.  To some this may have meant keeping our girls from opportunities, denying them the chance to be popular, the best at their sport.  All I can tell you is I have well-rounded, happy girls.  They both have activities they love, lots of friends and our home during these years high school years has been the gathering place.  They would tell you they didn’t miss out on a thing.
  6. Use a calendar.  I am a list maker, but that is not why I advocate use of a calendar.  No.  My advocacy for calendars stems from my desire and intent to be aware of where and how I spend my time.  I want to make choices and know what choices I am making.  Life can and will quickly take control if we allow it.  By using a calendar (which for me is still a paper version) I see how our schedule looks, I know what I have planned for the day, week, month.  I become more conscious, more aware.

I do get a lot done.  However, there are also a lot of things I don’t get done, and most of those are by choice.  I try to extend grace to myself.  I try to maintain discipline without being rigid.  The “how to” is a lifelong learning experience and each season brings new challenges, new lessons, new methods.

If you are struggling to get things done, to get our from under the weight of your calendar I hope a few of my tips will help.  Most of all, I pray you will find some time this week to step back from your life, your daily routine and give it some thought.  Take a leap of faith. Say no where you need to.  Make the desires of your heart your priorities.  Reset your schedule and live your life, not someone else’s.

Ice Twice and Everything Nice

Typical fashion in Arkansas, and well just about any place in the South, we had temperatures in the 70s one week and then “bam” the ice.  Not a pretty snow or anything Vermont looking.  No, just cloudy skies, some thunder and LOTS of sleet.  And well, when most of us are driving around in too big SUVs and our men are driving around in extended cab trucks, travel gets tough fast.  So, without much ado, schools, businesses, government and all else close.  Facebook fills with photos snapped at “Krogers” or “Wal-Marts” where the bread shelves are bare and milk is no where to be found.  And this year, well, apparently there was a run on bananas.  Not sure what that was about, but…  I make light of it, but in all seriousness it doesn’t take much to be “iced in” in Arkansas and takes little to send us all into a “tiz”.  

While some don’t like it much, this Second Season Mom LOVES it!  As you know by now, I love having all my peeps at home.  I love when plans are set aside and the lazy days of winter set in.  It’s funny how a few ice days hit and we can find ourselves doing all those things we normally only wish we had time to do.  It’s actually a little sad.  Are jobs, school and extra curricular activities so important they warrant taking priority in our lives?  Why do we let them push our families aside?   Why do we let them keep us from long family dinners, hot chocolate and silly movies, breakfasts around the table?  I wonder sometimes.  I know we all need jobs, we all need our incomes.  I get that the American way is to work hard, work long, and success means work harder and work longer.  But why?  Many studies show we are no more productive than our European counterparts, who work fewer hours and get much more vacation time. As best I can tell, the world is still spinning.  Businesses opened back up today and seemed to be moving right along.  School will carry on tomorrow and minus making up the snow days, the kids will still learn and then end of the year will come as planned.  I don’t have the answer, I don’t know how to make it happen, but I sure wish this country would learn a lesson and slow down.  I wish as a country we would once again make family more important than work.  I wish once again success would be defined by your contributions to your community and less by career accolades.  

While I can’t change America, I can once again commit to changing this family, my home.  Our lazy days confirmed for us how much we enjoy one another, our family dinners, and weekend breakfasts.  Our lazy winter days reminded us our identity lies in who we are as a family and in our faith, not in what school we attend, where we work or what extra curricular activities we engage in.  We live our life a little differently.  Sometimes my husband and I wonder if we have made the right decisions.  We wonder if we have not pushed enough for the girls to engage in all the “right” things, all the social activities that seem to define popularity.  Sometimes we wonder if we have kept too much time to ourselves, not entertaining our children, but just being with our children.  I’m sure we’ll continue to have those questions, to fall prey to the “ways of this world”, but I pray we hold strong.  You see, this ice, these days of ice and frozen roads have brought everything we find nice.  So, we’ll put the questions aside and carry on.  Life’s too short for it NOT to be about faith and family.  

I pray the ice has brought has something nice into your home, your life as well. Don’t rush.  Sit back and enjoy the moment.  Make your home a haven.  If you are parenting young children don’t stress over which school, which dance academy, how many private football coaching sessions you need for Jr.  Make time.  Just as if you were iced in, park the cars, close the garage, sit around the table and share food.  Snuggle on the couch and watch that silly movie.  If you are parenting teens, don’t be afraid to make some changes.  Don’t be afraid to decide to scale back on the activities.  There’a limited number of National Merit Scholarships and even more limited number of athletic scholarships.  Remind your children their identity lies in whose they are and who they are.  While you are at it, scale back yourself.  Come home from the office a little earlier.  Get off of Facebook, resign that board or committee.  Think twice before you say yes, and remember each “yes” is a “no” to your family.  I am reminding myself.  I’m challenging myself.  Let’s let all the nice that came with the ice continue.