School Bell Blues, Woos and Shoes…

©2015 dancinmoma.com

©2015 dancinmoma.com

Hear the faint sounds of school bells and buzzers?!  Yep. The free-spirited beach days of summer are wrapping. Kick off the flip flops and sandals. Another school year begins for our kids, who seem to be growing far too rapidly.

Are you ready? Good. Not sure I am!

New worries; “what class am I in? Do have any friends in class. Who is my teacher?” Each demands an answer. Then there are the infamous school supply lists and clothes to prepare for the first day. (I’m all about pre-planning but seeing beach merchandise pushed back in early July and replaced by school supplies is too early for me. What happened to living in the moment?! I didn’t want a #2 pencil I just needed an extra pair of goggles!

I will miss the “quality time” spent with the little ones in the summer, mornings especially. There is nothing like a cup of coffee with a little one snuggling next to you as you read a book together, or watch the latest Disney Jr. show. Then there is sneak up behind him big “I love you” bear hug for your teen son as he heads out the door. Yes, we will still have our mornings, but not like the relaxing, summer versions. Life keeps moving. Now, if you are even 5 minutes late out the door during the school year, you miss the bus, be late for school, or mom and dad are late for work. Let’s be honest, yes will have a slightly more organized scheduled, but we may also revert to the sometimes hectic, eat and run days to just….make it out the door!

“Brush your teeth! Get dressed please! Shoes on! Grab your backpack! Please! Is anyone listening?!” are just a few of the instructions and questions that seem to be on repeat (at least in our house). I find that no matter how organized I am each morning…. Something will still happen…a broken zipper perhaps, or the “where is my favorite sweatshirt?” moment.

Yet it’s the simple, crazy stuff we will miss most when they are older, because it goes fast, turbo fast. I mean everyone says it, but you don’t “get it” until it happens in front of you.

Each grade is a milestone that you will be sharing with your kids. Each child develops his and her own styles, tastes, personalities, likes, dislikes, and ways to learn. What works for one child isn’t always best for your other children. So we adapt. We learn. As parents, we really do have the best seats to watch these little creatures evolve into young men and women.  Sure, they will make mistakes (we all do) but when you can see them actually “learn” from those mistakes, it is gratifying. I can honestly state that, although challenging at times, being a parent is one of the most soul filling careers in the world.

This year in particular is going to be tough for me with the big transitions for my “babies.” The oldest will be in his second year of high school. High school! This summer I have been driving (no riding) with my learners-permit teen at the wheel. I still can’t get over it. When I make a comment about “getting too close to the mailboxes,” I still see the four-year old sending hot wheel cars down our hilly driveway to “see what would happen” or the toddler in the little car using his feet to propel him as he pretends to drive and honk his horn. “Beep! Beep!” he would exclaim. Now that “beep beep” sound is my heart on the inside, as he maneuvers his way around town. Calm and cool mom on the outside, but on the inside….

The middle one is transitioning to “middle” school. I have him frozen in time somewhere around the 2nd grade talent show (and wondering how we got here!). These pre-teen years can be tough; they are the years they literally grow over night. They pull away even more with their independence; voices and bodies start changing and kids at that age can be downright mean. They start to challenge your words just a little more (frustrating, right?) but they also show the kindness you had a part in molding. They have ideas, lots of them and they can be SO entertaining.

My youngest, my last little miracle, is moving on up to Kindergarten. SIGH. What used to be “firsts” and things to look forward to with her older brothers, has now become….lasts for us….“the last time we will pull off the training wheels, the last time we will ever have a kindergartener….” Not to be too sappy (Okay, totally sappy and sentimental) but watching her breaks my heart while filling my soul. There are days I wish I could go back and just play with the little toddler version of her, because she too is on her way to growing up. I have to pause and remind myself that although they are “lasts” for us as parents they are still “firsts” for her so we enthusiastically cheer as she reaches her next milestone.

So, back to school they will go, back packs filled with supplies. Dedicated teachers will fill their precious minds with knowledge, creativity and independent thinking. They will meet new friends, share stories with one another and learn new things every day. They will build their confidence and learn from their mistakes. As parents, we must be there to help guide them the best that we can.

School is definitely an adventurous ride that moves at warp speed but WE are the lucky ones. We have VIP seats to watch our children grow into strong, knowledgeable, faithful, enthusiastic and caring young adults.

We will hug them through the blues, cheer them with the “wooooos!” and offer our best advice because we have already walked in those school shoes.

Let’s enjoy the journey.

 

(Note: This post was previously published in our local magazine entitled, “Life on Holiday.” )

The Heart of a Princess

©2015 Dancinmoma

©2015 Dancinmoma

Inside the heart of every girl…there is a princess. This princess is the holder of her own strength and faith. For within her, she can find that place where magic happens. She has inner beauty, dreams, hope and plans to make the world a better place (with or without a prince). The sparkles on her tiara are reminders to look for the good in every speck of dust. For even the finest diamond comes from a large, dark piece of coal. When she finds this shimmer, she can send this light out into the world to warm the spirits of others.

This princess works hard; she listens to her friends and celebrates both sorrow and joys with them. She helps others find their inner sparkle. That light can take her through the dark times, but her favorite thing to do to make things better is to….DANCE!! Yes. Dance!!

To dance like a princess is to express oneself and yet be unified with others in the simple JOYS of moving across the floor or just twirling in place.

Spreading happiness…

Listening without judging…

Helping others…

Letting her light shine…

For it only takes one simple gesture of pure kindness to ignite someone else’s light….

Unconditional… 

This heartwarming video captures the true essence of the bond between a mother and child. If unconditional love could be defined without using words… THIS is the answer. 

Every MOM understands this… no matter what our differences. We are all unique and have gifts to share with our children and the world. 

What is YOUR gift?  YOU are a MOM and your child/children love YOU as YOU (even if they can’t see you).  They are pieces of your soul that share unconditional, pure love with YOU.  Could they find you in a line of moms using only touch and smell? I think so. 

You are a MOM. You are BLESSED. 

Grab your tissues and watch here—> http://youtu.be/DRoqk_z2Lgg

Connection.

copyright 2015 Dancinmoma

I’ve realized recently, that I seem to be on this journey to find connections; connections that are meaningful, soulful and flawed…like me. I’m not talking about romantic connections…just heart to heart moments that mean something when you walk away, so that you can actually feel better about the world and know that we are ALL imperfect but loved.

By taking a moment to talk with people with different backgrounds, different feelings, unique stories and thoughts… you can learn a lot about yourself and others, but only if you truly LISTEN. Unfortunately, human nature allows individuals to immediately judge a person, even while you are talking directly to them! It is hard not to let that inner ego/selfish voice within take over, but if we learn to turn that negative voice down or mute it even, your heart will OPEN even more… You may even change that person’s life.

Can’t we all just be imperfect and flawed together, without judgement?

To me the world is NOT and never will be… black and white. There are far too many layers of each human being to truly KNOW them. Think of the many intricate parts of each person that is wired differently, based from perception, to self-worth, to their past and what they have learned from each obstacle or challenge they have faced.

So I’m on this mission share good things when the thought pops in my head or an opportunity presents itself to friends, family and people I may not even know… In fact, I told a construction worker yesterday, that his joyful smile and wave, as I pass through the road work construction every day, literally makes my day! When I ran into him at a gas station nearby, I didn’t have to say anything, but I felt the need to within myself, so I did (as maybe, just maybe, he needed to hear that). His response was very humble. “My mama always taught me that a little smile can go a long way!”

Yes it can.

All it takes is one tiny spark to light the fire within.

So I challenge you to join me on my quest to find connections in the world, to see humans in a better light. Say something nice, that you truly mean, to someone today… or offer up a smile to a stranger…

YOU may just make a difference.

 

Fit to be an Irish Queen?

This is a tale of how a lucky girl was “fit to be a queen” on a weekend in March of 2014…Princess Crown

Irish flags are waving. Green shamrocks are all around. Bagpipes are tuning. Men strut around in plaid kilts carrying a pint in their hand. Wee ones run around with green beads flicking. Lucky ‘gold’ coins adorn the tables. The Irish spirit and sounds fill the air! It’s a cacophony of noise. But hey, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. The official parade kickoff ceremony is beginning, in a pub, of course.DSC07366

The sounds of voices chatting in our local pub, applause, laughter, a speech from time to time. I brush aside Danny Boy’s hair. He told me he was to be the Lord Mayor of this year’s parade. As I was prepping him for his big moment… I notice more than a few sets of eyes on me. Daniel is Skyping with his parents and sisters in Florida. I wave.  They are grinning at me like Cheshire cats.

Gradually, I tune into the words a lovely Irish woman is saying…apparently she is introducing someone…Hmmmm….

DSC07374This person graduated from MSU? And a Dance student? Communications major? Her family lineage goes back to County Roscommon in the Emerald Isle? Wow! I could totally hang out with this lass! We’re virtual clones. As I process the similarities between this girl and myself…. I pause… and look at Danny Boy. He has that same Cheshire cat grin I can still see on the ‘Skypers’. And my son has the video going, pointing at me.  Hadn’t noticed that before. Wait! They are talking about me? DSC07373

I thought Danny Boy was to be the “Lord Mayor” this year. Confused and bewildered, I hear applause. People are helping Danny push me toward the stage. They are crowning me the 2014 Irish Queen? What?! As I try to catch my breath, I am wrapped in a beautiful vest and shawl adorned with unique pins. And a real crown is placed on my head! More applause. Now they want me to talk? OMG! I babble on about being in shock, I kick up my legs a little for a pretend jig.  I pull out an Irish Toast I had prepared for my hubby, since I thought this was HIS day.

                                I one day woke to a stormy night, twas not a single star.

                                Morning brought a rainbow clear, I followed it afar.

                                There I found to my delight, a prize beyond all measure;

                                Aye, no pot of gold, but YOU my dear, the REAL TREASURE.

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I am honored and embarrassed by the attention, yet I enjoy it too! I am told that I am the 36th Irish Queen. Each beautiful soul, virtually every previous Queen, women with stories and hearts full of love, come up and proudly point out the pins on their identical hunter green shawl. I’m invited to tea at high noon and a bunch of other things. It’s all a blur, quite frankly. If there is a local royalty even for a second, I can feel it. I also sense an intense desire building to learn more about the Irish Queens who went  before. I must follow-up on that. IMG_3549

Then the Irish music kicks in. The parade begins its slow but happy journey. Hey! I get to ride in a car even! And the chauffer? My own Lord of the Leprechauns… my hubby… O’ Danny Boy. Caseman (my favorite second-oldest son) will ride in the passenger seat while little Miss McKenzie sits on my lap to help wave along the parade route. The Irish Teen (Brady, my favorite oldest son) waves, then disappears into the crowd to find his best lads and lassies. 😉 The day is sunny but c-c-c-c-c-cold, really cold. Feels like it might snow! No big deal…I know there will be plenty of Irish Music, a pint or two of Guinness and an Irish jig coming up shortly. I’m warming up already!

I see friends on the route waving their Irish flags. Casey jumps out to run alongside (Yes, Dan stopped first.) Brady and his friends join in. The frosty breeze nips at my nose. What a true Irish Blessing, however frigid. After a fabulous spin around downtown Traverse City, more than a few “queenly waves” — McKenzie seemed like a natural at the task — and much dancing, we arrive at the destination where the celebration begins in earnest. Adorned in my queen’s garb passed down from queen to queen, I accept the pint handed to me — as any Irish Queen most certainly should—  and make my way to the dance floor. IMG_3534

Teaching Celtic dance is a passion of mine, so I might as well… aye? ‘Tis time for a wee little Jig or two…”Your Majesty!” 😉

As a thank you for sharing this memory with me, I’ll leave you with a little limerick:

So the tiara may tilt sideways at times

It may not always shimmer,

But what lies within the Irish Soul is what really counts,

It’s a light that is sure to glimmer.

– Pamela Murphy McCormick

Dear 2014

Dear 2014,

As we round out another year full of triumph, defeat and a multitude of blessings (some in disguise) I bid you adieu. I thank you for yet another chance to experience life and all it has to offer. I thank you for humility. I thank you for strength and endurance. I thank you for a sense of humor.

We have danced together; we have cried together, we have covered our eyes in fear and opened our eyes to miracles. We held hands tight in a number of disappointing moments, yet we overcame and raised our hands up to celebrate!

We were heartbroken in loss, but hugged in sorrow. We opened our eyes again to love and to the little moments that mean more now than they ever will. We celebrated the life of loved ones no longer on this earth, yet we miss the sounds of their voice, their words of encouragement and laughter that could fill a room. We relearned the power of prayer, the power of spirit that lives on in each of us. We met angels on this earth and those in the heavens. We sang and yes we DANCED some more.

New hopes, new friends, new experiences also filled the woven patchwork of 2014. Together we changed our lives and others. We opened our eyes to possibilities and to the power of community. We opened our hearts again to LOVE that has been there all along and love that can be renewed.

2014: A year of change. A year of humility. A year of blessings. A year of sorrow. A year of LOVE. A year of DANCE. A year that I can never get back but will carry in my heart forever. God Bless you 2014. I will carry your lessons into 2015. I will pray again. I will hope again. I will BELIEVE in possibilities again in 2015 And YES, I will DANCE through LIFE again. Please, please new year, just catch me if I fall. Together we can RISE UP and celebrate the moments that have yet to unfold…

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Happy New Year!

G.I.F.T.S. 5 simple tips for powerful PRESENTations

©2013 In the Company of Ideas

©2013 In the Company of Ideas

As a former product development specialist, I had to be creative in designing, researching and developing new products for our industry. (When the words ‘product’, ‘specialist’ and ‘development’ are in your job title, creativity is a must.) I was also in charge of presenting these products to our National Sales Force.  It was my job to present them with the tools and “gifts” needed to help them sell more. I often thought of myself as a product cheerleader. I needed to focus their attention on the new product, make it personal, and exciting to them. Once they were charged up then I had to give the information they needed to do their job, which is to get their customers equally excited, and ready to issue purchase orders.

I used an acronym, as I often do, to present/sell the product at our National Sales Meeting in Naples, Fl. (Okay, so the use of letters is not unique. But for remembering, sometimes simpler is better.) The acronym “G.I.F.T.S.” offers tips not only for a memorable sales presentation in front of a large audience, it works well in smaller settings too. The tips can also be used when writing a piece for your target audience or giving a personal gift to a family member or friend. The goal…to have a satisfied customer backed up with some product passion.

Here is what works for me:

Get Personal. I tapped into their emotions, and set goals.

Interact. I listened to the needs of each region and their representatives, while investing the time needed to get the job done. (Or listen to thoughts of your audience, readers or family members).

Face time. Be expressive. That is my normal mode so this one is easy for me. Get up on the stage. Act out a scenario. Sing. Dance. Present the facts in a way they did not expect. Focus on the most important fact first with an appropriate lead in to get their attention. (This can easily be expressed in the written word as well).

Tell a Story. Make them laugh. A mind at play is always creative and receptive to new ideas. (“Play” is Profitable).

Surprise! I always kept them guessing as to what I’ll do next. The element of surprise in a presentation always grabs attention. (Even the nay-sayers perk up).

So whether you are planning a large presentation, writing a new piece or even presenting a unique home-made movie to your families…use your own “gifts” to make it a truly memorable one.

Celebrate your gifts

Share your gifts

Can you hear the applause? Can you feel the gratitude expressed?

That’s for YOU and a job well done.