3 Things I Do to Make Life Easier

3 Things I Do to Make Life Easier

Sometimes I get bogged down in the day to day routine of life – work, home, ministry, with a little fun thrown in to balance my sanity. I allow myself to get bogged down so much at times that I don’t make time to write. Then, I forget why I’m writing. Then, I read a post on Facebook and I remember why I write.

I have been through a lot in my life that I would love to forget. Some from my own free will. Some from others free will. Yet, I have survived and I have thrived. I have the battle scars to prove it. Now I want to pay it forward and help others do the same. That is “why” I am writing this book.

These are a few things I have learned along the way to enjoy this crazy thing we call life:

1. Take responsibility for my life. Notice earlier I said: “I allow myself to get bogged down.” Just like no one can push my buttons and “make” me mad, no one but me can bog me down.

2. Stop saying “I don’t have time…” I cringe every time I hear someone say those words as if they were a medal of honor! There are going to be times when we really don’t have time. But not having time is not a lifestyle – it’s a choice. Often it’s a sign of an un-ordered life. Someone has their hands in too many cookie jars. We all have time to do what we want to do – which leads me to….

3. Order my life. About every 3-4 months – or when I start feeling bogged down – I will look at the activities in which I am involved. What stays? What can I get rid of? Sometimes, I am doing something good, but it’s still not the best I could be doing. Those things I ditch or pass along to someone else.

I want my life to matter, but I can’t do it all. So I routinely whittle away until I am at peace once again.

I believe in the saying: “Pray like it all depends on God, work like it all depends on me.”

How about you? Are you at peace with your life? Is there anything you need to get rid of? What are you keeping?

We Don’t Have to Suffer in Silence

The Heavy Burden Of Parenting is never “easy” but when you add addiction to the mix, things go from difficult to downright impossible. Many times we suffer in silence. Many times we go from tough love – to – enabling – and –  back to tough love. The road is not easy, but it is possible to survive.

CNN’s Kelly Wallace interviewed one mom who shared her own struggles and life lessons she learned by parenting a child with addiction.

If you have ever parented an addict, worried that your child might become an addict, or just want more information, please watch this great video.

What do you think? What lessons do you pull from the video? Are you remembering to take care of yourself so you can have the strength to take care of others?

Quotes to Inspire Your Path to Recovery

Stay Inspired My Friends! We all need inspiration to keep us moving and growing towards the person God intended us to be.

I recently came across a great blog post listing 50 positive recovery quotes. You can see the whole post HERE.

Here are a few of my favorites…

“Recovery is all about using our power to change our beliefs that are based on faulty data” – Kevin McCormack  What “faulty data” have you been living with? How have you changed your beliefs?

This is a great one from Ralph Waldo Emerson “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” Wow! What have you decided you should be? Have you settled? Have you given up on your future? Are you “just an addict”, “failure”, “victim”? Or will you DECIDE to become more?

“It’s often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.” – Richard Evans. Can you list 10 things to be grateful for today? What about 20? 40? 50? 100? When you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, take some time and start looking for the brightest stars you can find and call them out.

What are some of your favorite verses, quotes, inspirational messages that give you hope in the midst of hopeless times?

An Act of Integrity

In October I became a National Member of the National Speaker’s Association, a premier organization for professional speakers. When I found out that I was “in.” I set-up a little taller. Walked more assuredly. Felt an heir of accomplishment.

Not because of the title “National Member,” but because of the organization associated with the title.

At their annual conference in July, the NSA made a huge announcement. They had changed the name of the organization. Their new name: “Platform.”

The rumblings started slowly at first, but it didn’t take long for NSA to get the message: they made a huge mistake!

The name “Platform” was already monopolized by Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing. He wrote the New York Times best seller: “Platform ~ How to Get Noticed in a Noisy World.” He also owns Platform University, an on-line community for proud members like me who want to become authors, entrepreneurs, etc.

Michael Hyatt, a man of great integrity, voiced his opinion on his blog. His passionate sea of followers did the same.

I was delighted that the NSA also acted with integrity. They were quick to respond and give their followers a voice.

I voiced my opinion and sat back to watch what ensued. You can click here to read and watch the final decision.

But what happens when someone makes a mistake against you, you voice your concern, and they deny any wrong doing?

Almost succinctly with the Platform uproar, someone had done something to hurt me. I had proof, but instead of going to that person, someone else said they would take care of the situation. They did not.

The situation festered with me and I began to undermine our relationship.

When I couldn’t stand my misery any longer I went to the person. I wanted to bring the situation to light. I told them I knew what they had done to me and I forgave them. I confessed my wrong doing in letting the situation fester, and asked forgiveness.

At this point I expected doves and angels to ascend and the room to fill with sounds of the Hallelujah chorus. At last! Two imperfect people coming together to work out their differences. Conflict resolution at its best.

Instead I strapped on my life vest and took a long ride up their river of denial.

I listened to one denial after another as to why this “crime” was not committed. I re-butted once with my proof. They denied again and said “Well, I don’t know what to tell you. I didn’t do what you say I did.” I knew that this person was not interested in resolution. In their mind they had done no wrong. I felt as if I had no voice in the matter.

The most freeing day of my life was the day I was able to take responsibility for my mistakes. At that moment my life seemed to take on new meaning. I was free to be me. I no longer had to lie and pretend I was perfect.

A few lessons I learned from the Platform mishap and my own mishap was:

  1. Admit that you made a mistake
  2. Be quick to apologize
  3. Be quick to forgive
  4. Give others the opportunity to be heard
  5. I will not change who I am because someone else will not take responsibility for their actions.

How do you handle conflict in your life? Do you think of conflict as confrontational or does it help you to grow in your relationships?

Conflict Resolver or Swimming up the River of Denial?

Conflict Resolver or Swimming up the River of Denial-

In October I became a National Member of the National Speaker’s Association, a premier organization for professional speakers. When I found out that I was “in.” I set-up a little taller. Walked more assuredly. Felt an heir of accomplishment.

Not because of the title “National Member,” but because of the organization associated with the title.

At their annual conference in July, the NSA made a huge announcement. They had changed the name of the organization. Their new name: “Platform.”

The rumblings started slowly at first, but it didn’t take long for NSA to get the message: they made a huge mistake!

The name “Platform” was already monopolized by Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing. He wrote the New York Times best seller: “Platform ~ How to Get Noticed in a Noisy World.” He also owns Platform University, an on-line community for proud members like me who want to become authors, entrepreneurs, etc.

Michael Hyatt, a man of great integrity, voiced his opinion on his blog. His passionate sea of followers did the same.

I was delighted that the NSA also acted with integrity. They were quick to respond and give their followers a voice.

I voiced my opinion and sat back to watch what ensued. You can click here to read and watch the final decision.

But what happens when someone makes a mistake against you, you voice your concern, and they deny any wrong doing?

Almost succinctly with the Platform uproar, someone had done something to hurt me. I had proof, but instead of going to that person, someone else said they would take care of the situation. They did not.

The situation festered with me and I began to undermine our relationship.

When I couldn’t stand my misery any longer I went to the person. I wanted to bring the situation to light. I told them I knew what they had done to me and I forgave them. I confessed my wrong doing in letting the situation fester, and asked forgiveness.

At this point I expected doves and angels to ascend and the room to fill with sounds of the Hallelujah chorus. At last! Two imperfect people coming together to work out their differences. Conflict resolution at its best.

Instead I strapped on my life vest and took a long ride up their river of denial.

I listened to one denial after another as to why this “crime” was not committed. I re-butted once with my proof. They denied again and said “Well, I don’t know what to tell you. I didn’t do what you say I did.” I knew that this person was not interested in resolution. In their mind they had done no wrong. I felt as if I had no voice in the matter.

The most freeing day of my life was the day I was able to take responsibility for my mistakes. At that moment my life seemed to take on new meaning. I was free to be me. I no longer had to lie and pretend I was perfect.

A few lessons I learned from the Platform mishap and my own mishap was:

  1. Admit that you made a mistake
  2. Be quick to apologize
  3. Be quick to forgive
  4. Give others the opportunity to be heard
  5. I will not change who I am because someone else will not take responsibility for their actions.

How do you handle conflict in your life? Do you think of conflict as confrontational or does it help you to grow in your relationships?

Big Red Knew No Boundaries

Big Red Knew No Boundaries

Ecstatic – an understatement of my surprise when Big Red showed up in my field ~ thanks Mom & Dad! My first horse was a champion in his day. Now, he was mine. I think there is little equal to the feeling of freedom when riding on the back of one of those four-legged beauties. Now that freedom was mine.

One evening I was riding Red and turned him back towards the barn. He turned on his hind legs and took off like a crazed wild man. But not to the barn. Big Red was headed through the woods.

I was SCARED to death! In my fear I dropped a rein. Now I had little control over the situation and knew I was in trouble. I don’t know if he knew where he was going, but I knew! Red was headed for the property line fence. Guess who would take the nosedive?

I knew that Red would not hurt himself. Me, on the other hand…I was on my own! I hunkered down as close to his head as I could get so that I didn’t lose my own in the process. My best hope for safety was to jump.

I jumped…hit the ground…Big Red stopped dead in his tracks! I will never forget the look on his face as he stared at me laying on the ground. I know I heard him ask: “What are you doing down there?”

That 35-year-old incident is etched in my mind like yesterday. I think about this incident when I talk about setting boundaries. That day Big Red didn’t know we were headed for danger. I knew that danger was imminent. Jumping off a horse is not safe. Getting thrown over a fence isn’t safe either. Why do you think I chose to jump?

I knew where the boundary line was. I knew those woods. I had walked them many times. I made the path we were on. I knew the safest spot to jump. Big Red would take care of himself. I had to take care of me.

Boundaries are more than property lines and fences we build. They are standards for behavior and actions which help us decide what to allow into our lives. In my book “Cautiously Optimistic – 7 Steps to Survive & Thrive When Your Child is an Addict,” setting boundaries is Step #2. When our child struggles with addiction, we as parents know of the danger ahead. Often we feel just like I did that day on the back of my horse – helpless, with little control.

Just like Big Red, our child is going to do what they want to do until they are ready to stop. They are going to look out for their own self first with little concern for us. WE must set boundaries for US. We must decide how far we will go. How many times will we let them come home? How much money will we spend to bail them out of one more “emergency?” Our hearts break, but our best decision is to control what we can control – our own life.

It’s a tough situation. But we are called to be tough. We Are Parents!

Do you see the importance of setting boundaries in your life?

Inner Peace…Do You Have It?

Inner Peace and Hope

Do you have it at the end of your day? Maybe you lose it by the middle. Sometimes it’s lost before the day even gets started. The “it” is our battle for inner peace.

When our child is an addict – whether active or in recovery – inner peace can seem a thing of the past – or something to hope for in the future.

We have more modern conveniences than any generation before us. Yet no generation has lived a more jam packed and frazzled lifestyle. We don’t have to live this way and succumb to the busyness that so many do.

Here are 3 practices I believe can help us find peace and focus for each day.

1. Choose Your Starting Point — When you arise, do you reach for your smart phone or tablet? I must confess that I do this a lot of days. TRUE story: one day I awoke to the wind howling outside my window. I could hear trees swaying and limbs crackling. What did I do? I reached for my “smart phone” to see what the weather app said was going on for the day. All I really needed to do was throw back the curtain and take a look, but somehow that weather app validated what was going on outside.

Choose how you will start your day. Don’t be tempted to check email or see the latest, greatest post on Facebook. When I do this – and when you do this – we set ourselves up to live in a “reactionary mode” for the rest of the day. I like the phrase one of my mentors Kent Julian uses. Start your day from quiet. Turn off the external distractions for that first hour then stand amazed at how your productivity will increase.

2. Be Intentional About Inspiration — You may be tempted to roll your eyes at “inspirational” and “motivational” material. But so much of our success in life comes directly from how we think. Before the world starts overwhelming us with all the negative and innocuous noise, we can fill our minds with something positive.

Each fall the small groups within my church study the same book. Each chapter in the book we are studying this year, has a section on “Soul Training.” One of my favorite activities has been to spend time in silence – usually just 5 minutes. Harder than it sounds, but the rewards are great. I come away feeling refreshed and focused.

Read your Bible, listen to great music, or sit in quiet. Do whatever you can to “put your head (and heart) on straight” each morning.

3. Enjoy the Great Outdoors — A simple 5 minute walk can do wonders for your sense of inner peace. Let the sun shine on your face. Listen for the birds. Smell the flowers. Watch a colony of ants at work. Don’t lose your sense of wonder and awe. Take time to take in the natural world around you.

Right now, I am going to enjoy the great outdoors on my motorcycle. There are not many days left in the year to do that here in Virginia. I think I will “feel” more of the wonder of this great world, than “look” around.

“Let the peace of Christ dwell in you richly…”

Peace comes to those who allow it to come. Put yourself in a position to allow peace to start flowing your way.

As always, would love to hear how YOU experience inner peace. Please leave a comment below.

How to Get Your Teen to Talk

Sheryl Buckner Teens Talk

Don’t be scared of the silence. It will be awkward, but these are the awkward years after all.

When you ask your child a question it is difficult to resist giving the “right” answer. RESIST! Let them stumble through and come up with their own answer.

Teens need space to “figure things out”. And remember if they share something that seems off the wall don’t worry too much.  By the end of the day they probably won’t remember their answer anyway.

Of course it helps if you ask the right kind of questions.

“Do you want to fail your Spanish exam?” does not lead to a healthy dialogue. “Them’s fightin’ words” as the old saying goes.

Pick your moments. As the parent it is your job to ask the “accountability questions”

“Did you finish your homework?” is a straightforward question with a simple expected response. You may encounter an eye roll but ask anyway.

Healthy dialogue means asking open-ended questions where a conversation can start. I used to ask Jaime “did you learn anything new in school today?” I would get the eye roll and her usual reply of “No Mom, I didn’t learn anything.” We would both laugh and that would start the conversation about her day and what she really did learn.

Sit back and listen – with no outward judgment (even though you might be dying on the inside). This will show your child that you care about them. You validate their feelings and you can “just listen.” Put yourself in their shoes. Don’t you want to be validated as well? We all do. That is our human nature.

Need a starting point? There are a lot of great sites that list some great “starter questions.” Try some out and see what works for you.

WORD OF CAUTION… Don’t print them all off and start asking your teen these questions out of the blue. Read over the list and see if there’s anything you can try to naturally add into your conversation.

Plan a monthly “date” with your teen. No agenda – no lecture. Just relationship & trust building. As the relationship is built, your child will feel more comfortable talking to you about what is going on in their world.

Teenagers are filled with emotions and you don’t always know which one you will get. Remember that you made it through and they will too. It will mean extending a lot of grace and patience on your end. As I have learned in my Stephen Ministry training, I must be willing to “show up and shut up.”

Have some tips of your own on how to get your teen to open up? Would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

 

The Past 6 Months

Sheryl Buckner

As I sat down to type this post I became aware of 3 important things that happened 6 months ago on this day:

  1. I turned 50. So that makes me 50 1/2. That’s what we would say when we were kids. Or, “almost 51.” But today 50 is good enough.
  2. This is the first blog I have posted. I have been writing, but #3 will explain where most of my attention has gone.
  3. My daughter’s kidneys failed and she almost died. As a matter of fact, Jaime has beat death 2 1/2 times in the past 6 months.

My 50th started as a great day. My sister and nephew brought me donuts from Duck Donuts. Here in Williamsburg “Duck” is the Mercedes Benz of donuts. Then I was treated to a great lunch with friends and another young lady who shares my birth date. Dinner was on my own because friends were preparing my birthday celebration on Saturday evening.

I was about ready to settle in for the evening when I got the call. “Momma I need to go to the ER!”

I won’t go into all the details here, but suffice to say we have spent more than our fair share of time in hospital rooms, the ER and doctor’s offices.

Jaime has had kidney disease for quite a few years. Her nephrologist, Dr. Todd Gehr has done an excellent job in preparing us for the future – a kidney transplant.

In 2013 it became clear that her disease was advancing. We met with the transplant team in November. She is accruing time, but not yet active. That means that if a kidney match became available for her, she would not be able to accept it. We should have all of the necessary doctors visits completed in the next 2 months, so she will then be active on the list.

Dr. Gehr wanted to by-pass dialysis if possible. It became clear that was not an option either. We were preparing to have a fistula implanted so “if” she needed dialysis she would be ready. She became ready long before the fistula was implanted.

We have had a LOT of bumps in the road, but Jaime is doing much better right now. She is on dialysis three days a week. She finished her classroom work for her MA program. She is forging ahead with her career as if nothing has gotten in her way. Now she is waiting to be placed in a doctors office to complete her externship. Then state board tests and she will be a MA specializing in phlebotomy.

Our lives are bittersweet. I hate what my daughter is going through. Yet I am thankful for where we are in our lives and in our relationship.

We talk about the past a lot. Not to throw it in each others face, or to play the blame game, but to see how far we have come. She is beating her drug addiction. I am beating my co-dependency. We are beating our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. We make the best out of all situations and look forward to our days ahead.

So, all that to say this: I’m back and looking forward to talking with you on a regular basis! My goal was to have my book out by Jaime’s birthday in November. I could make that happen as far as the writing goes, but I made a choice to wait until February. I really want to build up my audience and introduce myself to more people.

So, if you know of any parent who has a child struggling with addiction, please send them my way. I would love to get to know them and help them survive & thrive through this time in their life.

What have you been up to these past 6 months? Have you realized there are less than 90 days to Christmas :)?