Chaos, Change and Challenge

Knock, knock, bang! Three wee ones from the neighborhood, 4,6, and 7  are at my door. They  politely but excitedly ask if they can tramp through my backyard and down to the creek. We just had our first rain of the season. The minute the creek has new water brings change and creativity. Makes me miss Dale! So many good memories of tramping down in the creek. We are so fortunate to have this special tiny piece of heaven. Moments in nature are so good for our souls. Okay, let’s see if I can recapture what I set down to write.

This is part of my personal chaos –dealing with numerous interruptions, demands, and mini crises as I help my mother move closer to us.  I need more patience with her, at 79,  while she deals with so much change with a goal of a more secure future.

The feeling of chaos as we make the change causes huge emotional and physical reactions: stress, insomnia, worry, high blood pressure, palpitations, doubt, second-guessing, resistance.

Hopefully this will lead to growth and learning and acceptance.

But at the moment it just feels chaotic and painful. I’m so grateful my son is launched. I’m not as squished a sandwich as I used to be, when we were dealing with parenting and education issues at the same time as family illnesses and end of life issues.

This time of discomfort during life’s passages and struggles feels never ending. It tries one’s patience as well as physical limits. Often there is just not enough time in the day.

So, for me, the blog takes a back seat while I attend to my mother’s needs. At other times, my personal goals took a backseat to my child’s needs.

I want to spread the message that it is okay to pay attention to these emotional needs of our dear ones, be they wee or old, at the expense of our other goals.

This  is a very different message than we hear from our culture.

You can’t get the years back, whether with our toddlers, teens or aging parents.

You may very well be able to exercise, work extra hours at the business, write, clean house later…whatever it is you may have to “sacrifice” personally at the moment in order to meet those children’s or parent’s needs.

And as frustrating, or stressful, or infuriating as it may be at times, in the long run, I believe these are sacrifices we ultimately won’t regret.

But we must be willing to go against the grain.

We have to stand up for our belief that giving our time and emotional energy is the most important thing we can do for our dependents, for ourselves, and for the world.



It takes courage to do what’s right for your child when what’s right for your child does not conform to the accepted system.

You must advocate for your child- and really pay attention to what they need and help them develop into a whole, healthy and happy being. Resist the overwhelming messages that tell you what you should do, or how to conform when you know in your heart that conforming is breaking your child’s spirit.

On top of trying to figure out what to do instead, you will have to stand up for your belief and defend it.

Courage, strength, ingenuity, determination, time and love will be required.

I’m amazed and embarrassed at how many times I kept trying to make things work, to fit in, to follow the accepted path even though I was sure it was not working for my son.

We had numerous examples from sleeping advice to “let him cry it out”, to being told at a teacher conference that we should “try to be more regular and make Dale more regular”, or the many attempts to explain or justify a broken system. I look back and wish I’d had the courage to do what I knew made more sense sooner, without so much trying to fit into the system.

I look back and wish I’d had the courage to do what I knew made more sense sooner, without so much trying to fit into the system.

Hindsight and parental guilt are such good companions.

I encourage anyone who is sitting on the fence, struggling with a decision about how to advocate for your child when it means not conforming, to be brave.  Do the right thing, which might be the hardest thing to do.

Sharing Meals, Building Community (1)What more can you ask for?

Good company, good food, good conversation.

A means of nourishing our bodies as well as our souls.

For me there is no better way to introduce new people and nurture ongoing relationships than sharing meals with friends.

Depending on your group you can celebrate milestones, commiserate and support each other in transitions or losses, or simply share and enjoy the passage of time.

Perhaps you will make opportunities to challenge each other as you discuss issues and brainstorm ideas for solutions. Or, you and your children might learn something completely unexpected.

Today I was lucky enough to do all of the above with two different communities I am grateful to have in my life: a group of homeschool/unschool moms and different group of local family friends. These two different groups have been so valuable to me and our family over the years as we made parenting and education choices, weathered family illnesses, and celebrated life.

Even in our wedding vows, we committed to making time in our lives for gatherings of friends and family.  We never realized  how important reaching out to invite friends and other families to our home would be to us and our only child.

Garden salad, Sharing Meals Building Community at www.lisanalbone.comI know  when we all have busy, hectic lives with so many scattered obligations it may seem easier just to stay home or not bother to entertain.  Yet, I encourage you take the time and trouble to invite people over.

When you are invited, say yes.

And keep on doing it. It is worth the effort. The payback will be priceless and delish.

Making Connections

Today I was thinking about my wonderful friends and how they often also serve as mentors, or help me make an important connection that comes just when I need it.

But what if you went out seeking those types of connections or mentors?

And spent time meeting with them and reflecting on what you learned?

That is exactly what Megan Gebhart is doing with her inspiring 52 Cups project.

Coffee with new 52 Cups book, read an interview with author Megan Gebhart at

I talked with her today and asked her  for suggestions  for others trying to make connections or wishing to  start a similar project. She had some great advice about how to get started.

Megan’s Advice:

  1.  Think about what you are really interested in and what you might want to learn more about.
  2. Start  locally. Ask friends or relatives for suggestions about who might be interesting to talk to about that topic.
  3. Write up your interview and what you learned.Focus on a 500 word reflection about what was learned. Don’t retell the other person’s story.

Why write?

Reaching out to new people is worthwhile in itself,  but  writing her reflections on what she learned from the people she spoke with really made the difference. It added value in three* ways.

  1. It immediately helped her process and summarize the take-away from each conversations.
  2. Writing gave her the ability to look back at what she learned at a later date and have a record of her  journey
  3. Blogging allowed for  even greater sharing and connection.

Megan also had good advice for those of us who are more fainthearted about our writing and publishing. She reminded me that just because she had made a very public, and beautifully written blog, that isn’t what everyone needs to do. There would be great personal benefit just from reaching out, making new connections and reflection even without the public blogging dimension of the project.


Other Tips

Megan felt that having a clearly defined project that was accessible helped in setting up  the coffee meetings. She only asked people for a small amount of time and she could refer people to the blog.

She, must have been reading my mind, when she said one could consider 26 cups or some variation,  instead of 52.  Although I might be tempted to shortcut, I think the weekly, regularity would really be powerful.

As we ended our conversation she said, won’t know what to expect, what connections will come from each meeting.  Just  be open to the possibility of finding mentors, friends and  a life changing experience.

If you have not read her blog, please do.

And consider reaching out to have come cups of coffee of your own.

*( 4th reason to write: update 2014: And now, you can get her book!  )