Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Year's Theme

Guilt is a really bad way to start of any new year. And one of the best ways to get yourself into a guilt situation is to make promises that you know you're never going to . New Year's Resolutions are your ticket to the guilt house. Don't do it.

Instead, take a more process approach to the new year. Rather than making some kind of grand promise of measurable change, think about adding in a theme to your life.

One new year, a good friend of mine who was struggling with various stresses in life decided that she should would add some whimsy into her life. She had no five step plan and didn't bother with measurable outcomes. Instead she made a defiant stand against the oppressive seriousness of life by deciding that every now and again she would add some whimsy to the situation.

I love it. Whimsy could apply to running on a treadmill or decorating the living room or the commute to work. A new pair of fun socks can fill a whole day with whimsy like nothing else.

The point is this: rather than limiting your new year by painting yourself into a promise you can't keep, open your new year to a theme which cna inspire creativity.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 03, 2007

An Interview With Karon Goodman

Here is the long awaited post from Karon Goodman. Karon is the author of the newly released "Stepping Stones for Stepmoms: Everyday Strength for a Blended-Family Mom"

We decided to use an interview format for this post so you can get to know Karon and what she's all about. I can assure you that you are going to like what you learn.

1. For our readers who are just getting to know you, can you give us a brief introcuction of who you are and why you care about stepfamilies and more specifically stepmoms?

When I became a stepmom more than eleven years ago, it was like I'd entered a parallel universe. Like all stepmoms, it was a life I never expected to be living, and every functioning brain cell seemed to desert me. I couldn't believe the feelings and fears I was dealing with -- but I had to deal with them, and so do all the other stepmoms out there, so the more we learn, the
better. I hope that the strategies and approaches I've come to rely on can somehow help other stepmoms through those painful and trying times.

I'm sure stepdads have issues of their own, but as a stepmom, I think I felt a lot of pressure that my husband didn't, and I know other stepmoms understand that part of their role. It's a unique challenge, and my first book for stepmoms, "The Stepmom's Guide to Simplifying Your Life" focuses on what stepmoms can do to make their lives better regardless of what everyone else is doing. That practice has been a guiding light for me and seems to strike a chord with my readers, too.

My husband and I live in Alabama and I'm the mom of one son (22) and stepmom of two (22 and 18). I also write inspirational books for women and love meeting readers and traveling to speak at conference and workshops.

2. In your book you have a chapter entitled, "Trading In Envy." Can you share some about how envy can develop and grow in a stepmom and what she can do
about it?

Stepmothering brings lots of weight and responsibility, and it can be hard to see out from under it all. When a stepmom does peek out, she sees those around her with a much lighter load -- sometimes, including her stepkids' mom -- and that's tough to handle. It's easy to fall into a pattern of envy when she feels she's sacrificing so much and often receiving little or no
appreciation or recognition for any of it. It's easy, and it's self-destructive because envy takes her focus off her and puts in on someone else whose life and behavior she can't control anyway.

To combat the envy, it's essential that we redirect our focus to what's happening in our lives and our homes and put the energy of our thoughts and actions there. No matter what my life is like or how much more burdensome it is than someone else's, it's the one I've "chosen" which means that I can "choose" to work to make it better when I focus on what I have instead of what I don't. Envy creates bitterness and blocks the very things we admire or desire from coming into our own lives. If we want anything to change, it has to start with us, and that means thinking and planning more about our own lives than anyone else's.

3. I wrote a post for this blog called, "When Stepmom Gets Mad" a few months back and it seems to have realy struck a chord with my readers. What can you tell us about anger and being a stepmother? Also, what can the angry stepmom do with her anger?

It's easy for a stepmom to become angry because so much seems out of her control -- and that means we have to deal with actions and decisions we don't like, and sometimes we get mad! Regardless of what we're angry about, we have to realize that we can't control what other people do, we can only control our response. If the situation is such that you can talk to the person about what happened, that's always best to try to keep the same thing from happening over and over. If not, then again, we have to choose how we'll live -- in anger or in peace. We can stew over things others do or we can live our lives making the best choices we can make for ourselves and our families. And it helps to develop a think skin as a stepmom, to understand your anger, see if you contributed to the situation in any way and rectify that if you can, and then move on to the next thing on your list. Stepmoms learn quickly it's all about looking ahead.

4. Your book not only has some good advice and examples on various topics, but it is also full of scriptures, prayers, and questions. I like the diversity of formats. But I have to ask, do you really intend for people to write in your book?

Absolutely! Books are meant to be loved and lived in, laughed and cried over. Books are like living things that ask us questions about ourselves and invite us to answer, in safety and in truth. Hopefully, they touch us and inspire and encourage us to make tomorrow better than today. Maybe that's a lot to ask from a stack of paper, but it's my goal with all my books.

5. Final question: I took a poll on this blog about people's expectations of stepfamily life versus the reality they experienced and most said that stepfamily life was harder than they had expected. So, for someone who is in their first 3 years of stepfamily life and is experienceing it as harder than expected, what encouragement can you give them?

I think some statistics say that most stepfamilies fail before the fourth year. It's no wonder -- the life is challenging and humbling like no other. But it's also full of growing opportunities, because you will encounter situations you never could have dreamed up in your wildest imagination and you'll have to "give up or grow up" through them.

If the struggling stepparent will focus less on those unmet expectations and more on the progress she and her family are making -- even if it's small -- she'll be able to learn from her mistakes and develop better strategies every day to deal with the issues she faces. As one of the points in my new Amazon Short, "7 Decisions You Can Make Today to Improve Your Steplife, learning to "live well with imperfection" is crucial because stepfamily life is messy
unpredictable, but our attitude makes it manageable and even enjoyable, and becoming the stepmoms we want to be makes us strong and able to bring great joy and peace to our families.

Thanks, Karon, for your time and your wisdom. I hope people can see that you are on to something. we hope you'll visit us here on the blog again before too long.