Together: How to Make Your Life List Happen

TogetherThey say it takes a village to raise a child. Yet reality is that life as a mom can be lonely. We often spend our days with just little people, or when they head off to school, by ourselves. More than any other season of my life, I found that parenting has required me to be active in seeking out the company of others. Especially as I tackled my life goals, I needed others and if I’m honest, help.

Writing has been a lifelong dream for me. Like since I was eight years old. So every day that I sit down at my desk to compose a blog post, draft an article, or edit a manuscript, I’m living the dream! Thankfully along the way I have had people who cheer me on, push me when I flag, and comfort me when I fail.

My parents have been a big support. Especially my dad, who every week offers tips from his life experiences, regularly gives me strong & accurate critiques of my articles, and acts as one of my biggest fans. I can’t say enough about how lucky I am to have that kind of relationship with him, especially when it comes to my life goal of being a writing professional.

I am surrounded by amazing writers who know better than anyone what this life is like. Jan, Sharla & Suzanne help me every month to polish my pieces to publishing perfection. I’m not as afraid to risk hitting the “send” button on a submission after they’ve read it. And I learn so much from reading what they write. I also get to interact with top-notch writers as a member of the Redbud Writer’s Guild. The sisterhood there is so rich and multifaceted – it’s like a sorority of writers.

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of the writing profession and being a parenting journalist, I’ve been fortunate to have connected with an online dream team comprised some of the best parenting writers out there. That alone is a dream come true that I would never have anticipated. And those connections have given me solace and solutions on multiple occasions.

I wouldn’t be the writing mom I am without the prodding, coaching, and vision of my writing coach, Christina Katz. She sets the bar high every time and then empowers me to reach it. Every mom should have a coach like her to help them hit their bucket list goals.

I also wouldn’t be the wife, mother, and stronger person I am without the mentoring of Kathy Loewen. Remember the identity crisis that I referred to? She was there to help me draw the line in the sand and then step over it to be more of myself (and then some).

And then there’s my family. My three daughters are so great at making sure I get a turn at living out my bucket list. They cheer for me. They encourage me. They motivate me. My husband, my best friend, supports my goals – no matter how crazy. He pushes me to stretch beyond my comfort zone. And I always know he has my back, should I fail.

You see that? One bucket list goal, plus a lot of people equals living the bucket list life. Every day. [This post could also be considered the acknowledgement page that I failed to include in Bucket List Living For Moms. Um, yeah.]

My challenge to you: who do you have in your life to support you in your goals? Who do you know that shares your bigger dreams whom you can learn with and work together toward them? Some of those people will already be in your life (like family). Others, you will need to hunt down if you want to make things happen (like a life coach or a club membership). It will make a difference (in fact, research shows that checking in with a friend about a goal increases your chances of achieving it). If you don’t know where to start, I moderate the Family Bucket Lists Moms & Dads FaceBook group, and I’d love to invite you to join us there.

In the comments, share your own bucket list success story. Or lay out what support you intend to seek out to help you check something off your bucket list. [Remember, the Kindle giveaway continues through next Monday.]

Photo credit: teamwork4 by D I on Flickr via CC License

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Moms: Do You Dare? (Plus a Kindle Giveaway)

Motherhood is a risk-averse calling. As nurturers of our children, we want to see them stay safe. We want to keep ourselves safe and well for our children’s sake. We’d prefer to cocoon our family in a protective bubble.

Risk FactoryExcept that bubbles don’t allow for much fun. And safety isn’t conducive to personal growth – for our children or us.

Which means we need to learn to live counter to our instincts. As moms, we’ve got to challenge ourselves to be daring.

Writing down your hopes and dreams is a daring move. It’s risky because we open ourselves – our deepest, truest selves – to scrutiny and criticism. When we declare what we want to accomplish in life, whether it’s a difference we want to make in the world through work at a non-profit, or a difference we want to see in ourselves through new experiences, we risk failure. And that makes us vulnerable.

But guess what? That’s the perfect place to begin living the bucket list life. As researcher Brene Brown says in her book, Daring Greatly, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.

It’s daring to create a bucket list that is deep and meaningful. But it’s also powerful.

If you’re daring enough create your bucket list in earnest & not just off the top of your head , then you will have equipped yourself with the motivation you’ll need to take the next risk: living it out. Because going after your long-held (and just discovered) dreams will require that you sacrifice time, money, security. It will require doing something outside of the everyday. You’ll have to break the bubble and maybe leave your children behind for a few hours or days. You may even feel compelled to do something that seemingly risks your physical safety.

The result? As the subtitle of my book suggests, you will: Become a More Adventurous Parent. It can make all the difference in the world to who you are and how your family relates. It’s a bold move. Do you dare to take it?

Share in the comments the most recent daring action you took. Or tell us about a risk you think you’re ready to take. [And don’t forget to enter the Kindle Giveaway.]

Photo credit: Risk Factory by Stuart Caie on Flickr via CC License

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An Excerpt From Bucket List Living For Moms (& Your Chance to Win a Kindle)

I am a Mom

You can download this poster & print it for your wall. Look under the “Free” tab at the top of this page.

One of my favorite things to do is bring encouragement to people – especially moms. And we moms need encouragement, don’t we? Because at times motherhood can seem like a fiercely competitive arena. We all want others (our kids) to think of us as great parents, but the bar just seems to be set higher and higher.

The solution? To stop measuring ourselves against the ridiculous and start being the best version of ourselves that we can. Thankfully, I’ve found that it’s lot of fun being an individual and it translates into being a better mom too. It just requires being a student of yourself and taking time regularly to engage in what you love most. This is the theme of my new book. And it’s why I’m so excited to debut it this week. I hope that you’ll find it an encouragement to you.

Read on for a sample of what you’ll find in Bucket List Living For Moms (then chime in to answer the question at the end in the comments below – and if you haven’t yet, enter to win a Kindle):

Become a More Adventurous Parent

Bucket list living as a mom is a great experience. The world that shrunk to the four walls of your home will expand once again as you reach out toward your goals. Your relationship with your kids will take on new dimensions with you being the one to explore and grow on occasion. And the perspective you have gained through parenting will enrich and inform your adventures in unique ways to make them more powerful for you, your family, and those whose paths you cross along the way.

You will be surprised at how many opportunities exist today for you to go after your life dreams. Our culture offers us so much more access to people and resources, particularly via the Internet, that allow us to move forward without even leaving home. This is great news for us moms, who often have to filter time for ourselves and our interests into the minutes available in our busy family lives. And you’ll find this paradox at work: often the more you invest in yourself, the more personal resources (time, finances, energy) become available to you for investing further.

You need to live your bucket list dreams and be true to all of who you are. Your kids need you to be a mom who knows where she is headed and delights to have them along for the journey. The world needs you to pursue what you’ve been made to do. Anything less short-changes us all.

So get ready for the adventure of living out your dreams. As I say in the Bucket List Life Manifesto: “plan to amaze yourself.”

Tell us what adventure would look like to you. What is one new thing you would like to risk trying in the next year?

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A Great Summer Read: A Minor, by Margaret Ann Philbrick

I’ve heard that a large percentage of people dream of one day writing a book. We all have stories inside of us waiting to be told. But far fewer of us actually do the writing. That’s because it is really, really hard work. So I’m excited today to introduce you to my friend Margaret Philbrick, whose first novel, A Minor, recently released. I was privileged to read chapters of her novel as part of a writer’s group we’re in together through the Redbud Writer’s Guild. Even those drafts, rough as they were at the time, were fascinating. Margaret is a poet and a gardener, which both come through clearly in her writing.

a-minor-novelAbout A Minor:

Clive Serkin, a teenage piano prodigy, seeks victory at the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, and enlists the help of world-renowned pianist Clare Cardiff. She becomes his mentor and teacher, and even though she is more than twice his age, Clive finds himself falling in love with her. After Clare is diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Clare’s estranged husband Nero takes her away from Clive to pursue further medical testing. Clive is faced with the challenge of traveling to Moscow and performing at the competition without his beloved mentor. Ultimately, he must discover if the music they share is enough to keep them together.

Q and A with author Margaret Ann Philbrick

1. What inspired you to spend four years working on A Minor?

My children all play the piano, and our oldest son’s teacher requested that a parent sit in on the lessons and take notes. We would then review with him during the following week. As he moved on to college, I was left with a notebook full of wisdom that needed to be shared, but I didn’t have the framework for an idea. While I was having lunch in South Haven, Michigan, I started talking to my husband about what it would be like for a concert pianist to lose his or her memory. That question took me on a one year research journey to find the answer.

2. Did you use the notebook from your son’s piano lessons?

Oh, definitely. In many ways the voice of the main character is the voice of my son’s teacher. There are aspects of her in the work that I’m sure she’ll recognize when she reads it, like her clogs. She always wears these precarious, high-heeled wooden clogs. I’ve never known anyone to wear shoes like this in the summer with bare feet. She’s a fascinating conundrum.

3.  Your book has some unique features, like a Discussion Guide in the back and recorded music in the eReader that anyone can hear while they are reading and live links to other resources. How did all that happen?

Well, I love Koehler Books because they are open to thinking outside the box of what a book can be. When I created A Minor, I thought about the music first. If you were only listening to the story, what would it sound like? Then I outlined all the musical works, and I’d listen to them while writing. It was important that the music told the story as well if not better than the words. Eventually, the idea came to me that I wanted the reader to have the same experience. Koehler Books was open to partnering with me in creating that experience. My husband, who is a lawyer, was an enormous help as well. The Discussion Guide is for the classroom or book clubs. As a teacher, it comes naturally for me to ask questions so people can learn more. The live links send the reader to the places where they can get help with memory issues in their own family or even for themselves.

4. Is it hard to raise a family and write a novel?

I can say my writing drives my kids crazy. My youngest son calls me the “bat.” Sometimes he comes home from a piano lesson, and I’ll be at my desk in the dark, writing by the light of the screen, too engaged to turn on any lights in the house. I try to write when they’re not at home, during the school day. It’s definitely not good for them if they feel like my “callings” are taking the place of them. Sometimes I’ve had to drop everything or step away from a project entirely, but raising children is a very short season and hopefully, I can write for the rest of my life.

About Margaret Philbrick:

Margaret PhilbrickMargaret Philbrick is an author, gardener and teacher who desires to plant seeds in hearts. Margaret is a graduate of Trinity University (Lit. major) and has a Masters in Teaching from National Louis University. She teaches writing and literature to children at The Greenhouse School and H.S.U. She is actively involved in the fulfillment of God’s vision at Church of the Resurrection, and she helps empower the feminine voice by mentoring with the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, Back to the Manger, her first book is a holiday gift book she created with her mother, an oil painter. Her newly released novel, A Minor, was published by Koehler Books. You can find Margaret in her garden digging in the dirt or writing poetry and you can connect with her on-line via her website at or on Facebook.

We Have a Winner

Mom2MomGratitudeWell, in all the Thanksgiving holiday and aftermath, I missed posting about our giveaway drawing. The winner of the Mom to Mom Gratitude Gala and Giveaway, who received two copies each (one for herself and one to give to a friend) of Family Bucket Lists, Confidently Connected, and Detachment Parenting is… Sue LeBreton! Congratulations, Sue!

And thanks to everyone who participated, whether by leaving a comment, tweeting or sharing a post, or subscribing to a blog or newsletter. We’re grateful for you. And we hope this special November gratitude blog tour helped frame not only your Thanksgiving holiday (for those Americans) and possibly Hanukkah, but also leaves you inspired for the December holidays.

If you missed the tour, you can find posts here, here and here and over on Heidi Smith Luedtke’s blog and Christa Melnyk Hines’ blog.