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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Who Am I? A Story About Identity Wine and Elephants

On March 20, 2017 I worked my last day as a full time Client Partner for FranklinCovey.  An end to a richly rewarding 17 year career with a company and people that I love like family.  I continue to work as a contract consultant a few days a month. However, I requested my full time ties be cut to launch into new projects and new adventures.  I knew this would mean leaving some of the security I had enjoyed ....I wasn't prepared for some other jarring realities.

You raise kids to adults in about 17 years, some marriages don't last that long.  Dogs don't always live that long. Seventeen years is a long time by most people's standards. I had done great work with my clients and colleagues, built lasting relationships, received heavy glass awards and been paid abundantly in money and affirmation of my talents.

At 6pm on Friday March 30th I cleared my last email, filled out my last form and closed my laptop.  Then I sat and I stared.  Alone in my home office, unsure of what to feel.  I had given a 6 month notice, this was not a sudden departure.  I had received many messages of gratitude and praise for my work from colleagues and clients.  Most knew I would be sticking around to deliver training days and keynote speeches a few days a month. It wasn't like I was moving to Bangladesh.

Yet the more I sat, the more frustrated I became.  There was no parade in my honor, there was no cake in the break room, there was just me sitting alone with my decision to become an entrepreneur.

A decision I had prayed over for a solid year until the Voice of God in a somewhat frustrated tone said to me, "Rebecca, I've told you yes enough times now.... not doing it is your biggest disobedience."  Then I pictured the good Lord rolling his eyes at me.  I think He does that a lot actually.

I had chosen this.  So what was I frustrated about?

I roamed around the house aimlessly looking for my composure and my purpose.  Finally, I did what Friday nights are for and I sat down at my kitchen counter and I poured a glass of wine and just let myself stew and think and feel.

What had I expected this last day to be?  Did I really think there would be more fanfare?  For what?  I had received my accolades and my rewards along the way both intrinsically and financially.  I was owed nothing else.  I had left a job. Okay call it a career if that's more meaningful but the company would go on successfully without me.

And there it was. 

The huge elephant sitting on the bar stool beside me in my kitchen.  I had placed far too much of my personal identity with a job.  With a company.  With an external force that I had very little control over.

Now.  Here I was.

Me and my elephant, sitting at the kitchen counter.  In that moment I released all of the pity party. My elephant and I would not dine on my retirement cake.  I looked at that elephant and said, "Look, if I'm here on my own without a safety net, I can't afford to take you with me.  Your gonna need to drink your wine and go."

And then I smiled to myself and sipped my wine and let myself relish in the courageous decision I had made.

We do that don't we?

We attach ourselves to things and places and jobs and people for our own sense of identity.  We attach it to being the mom of a talented kid, or the child of a famous father, or the employee of a great company.  Or the owner of a beautiful home or a cool car.

And while those things should be celebrated for the relationship or the reward that they are, they are not who we are.

When we walk tall in our own purpose and talents and truth we are more in control of the choices we make and the futures we hold.  We don't have to quit our jobs or sell our cars to find this freedom.  We have the power to own our own place in the world.  We can simply look in the mirror and say, "I am enough.  I am in control of my choices and my responses." And then we ask the elephant to leave and we sip our wine in peace.

What's Rebecca up to next?

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Holiday Gifts

It's the holiday season.

 Just reading those words evokes varying emotions.

 I left a holiday shopping trip tonight stressed and overwhelmed.

 Today's holidays leave me feeling inadequate and frustrated.  So many people's expectations conflicting and overlapping.

 I spend 30 days trying to detangle it all to find a space I can live in. I get bits and pieces of what I want my holidays to be. They come in feelings and ideas and emotions, rarely in things you wrap or consume.

 Yet I make the lists and tell people what I "want". I make up things that I think they can easily pick up at the store. Pleasing, detangling. Untying one knot and tangling another.

In a few tiny moments in between, I find a place that feels like me. An unexpected belly laugh between brother and sister. Snoring puppies at my feet in the glow of twinkling lights. An unseasonably sunny day to roll the windows down like a secret only you can keep. A cold and rainy day to bury deep into ideas and feelings. Looking at my daughters photos and seeing the world through her eyes. Listening to the music that lives inside my son that he works diligently to bring to the world.

 These are my gifts. These are the gifts I can't put on the list. These are the gifts that don't meet other people's expectations. Personal. Life giving. The gifts that feed my soul. Money is scarce and dreams are infinite. I crave gifts that feed my dreams. Gifts of time. Gifts of peace. Gifts of acceptance and patience and appreciation of my passions.

Tonight the kids and I went to the movies.  We go to the movies to leave our own stories and get lost.  It's in that place that my heart is on fire.  For all the inadequacy I feel in todays holiday, at the movies I feel infinite.  The dreams,  the stories and the possibilities go on and on.

I wish you an artists holiday.  I wish you the place where the story is the gift and the dreams feel infinite.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Teens and Vaping: a follow up video response

On November 13, 2017,  I posted a personal story about teen vaping.  The response has been viral with views, comments and messages. This is an important conversation that I want to continue. 

 I have been studying and preparing a book and training modules for those parenting kids with ADD/ADHD for several years.   I care deeply about the relationships we form with our teens.  

Our responses to the vaping epidemic need to be caring and intentional.  This isn't about shaming bad behavior.

 As I teach in my parenting sessions, we need to first Understand the situation, then take Responsibility, so we can move forward with Advocacy.  

There is a lot to be learned about vaping and vape products to build that understanding.  Let's respond by meeting our kids where they are and loving them forward.  

I share more of what I'm learning in this video response.  

You can read the original post here: 

Would love your comments, questions and experiences to continue this important conversation. 

For more information about ADD/ADHD, keynote speaking, and coaching go to 

Monday, November 13, 2017

My 16yo Daughter- Her 3 Day Suspension for Vaping at School

The text comes in, "Mom, I'm not gonna lie about anything, I'm in big trouble."  Not the kind of message you want to see when you're raising a 16 year old girl.

We live in the Hoosier Heartland of America.  We're country music, apple pie and Friday night lights. "ish"  But any parent that believes their child is immune to the challenges of sex, drugs and alcohol is living a lie.

Our girl has no prior troubles other than not having the exact shoes to wear with an outfit on any given day or the angst that comes from needing to clean your room before you can go out with your friends.  She's a good girl, loves her mama... all that jazz.

And she messed up.

It brings back the memories of things that I did as a teenager that were mess ups.  I comfort myself with that.  I'm now a law abiding citizen paying a mortgage with a healthy 401K.  We should and do survive our teenage mistakes.

I'm also the parent that believes in consequences so I want to handle this well so she learns from it and doesn't believe that life is easy and she shouldn't be concerned.

The text continues.  She's in the principals office.  She was vaping in the bathroom.  There were others involved.  Doesn't matter.

 I'm only concerned with my daughter and how we'll handle this.  She owns it completely with the principal.  Tells the truth.

She's a mess.  Tells me she messed up big time and she feels like failure.  Tells me that she knows that her dad and I have trusted her and she's blown it by breaking our trust. She feels like a bad daughter and a failure.  She's unglued.

On one hand I celebrate her response and in the other hand I'm holding my broken heart. My heart breaks that she's so miserable.  I listen.  I tell her to text her dad and we'll discuss it tonight.

The principal calls me an hour later.  Smoking on school grounds gets you a 3 day suspension.  It could have been more but our daughter was honest and handled it well so she gets the minimum 3 days.  We need to talk to the school police officer.  There will be a court date.

I've gone from picking out a dress to the homecoming dance and the angst of matching jewelry to court dates and suspension.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart.

I tell our daughter she will go to the court date, she will handle all of the required consequences. There will be no "easy out".  I want her to feel the entirety of this offense to scare her away from any future troubles.

I sit down with the school officer.  He tells me it has been the worst year in his history as a school officer.  Lovely.  Misery loves company isn't working so well for me.

He gives me a brochure on the kind of vape that my daughter was using.  This is the real reason for this post.  There are things you need to know.

He hands me a paper written by the county health department specifically about this vape product.  It's become a big deal that is slipping under the radar of most parents.

This vape is called JUUL.  Yes, pronounced "jewel".  It's the size of an ink pen and looks like a flash drive for your computer.  Are you starting to see who the target market is for this device?

You need to be 21 to purchase a JUUL which doesn't prevent my 16 year old from having one.  Rumor has it that a parent bought this for their child but I opt not to investigate that rumor because my daughter still chose to stick it in her mouth and suck on it so that's where I choose to focus.  She had a choice to say no and didn't.

The marketing promise of JUUL:  More of a "nicotine kick" than a traditional cigarette.  This produces an instant high.  And the Juulpods that contain the nicotine salts and e-juice come in Cool Mint, Fruit Medley, Creme Brule and Virginia Tobacco.

So there you have it.  The cool girls cigarette in all the right flavors.

Because it's a "cigarette alternative" in their mind and in their conversations it's not gross smoking like the old people do.

My daughter comes home and I greet her with the paper about JUUL and the court citation I picked up from the officer.  She already looks pale and miserable.  This has been a rough few days.  The stress shows on her face.  She tears up.  Alligator tears roll down her face.

I calmly say,

"This is a big deal.  I'm glad you recognize that.  You have made a choice that has consequences to your health and your reputation. 

And that's not the part that should scare you the most."

I explain to her that not only is she in a fragile state of critical decision making at a time that is difficult enough for a 16 year old, she is also under attack.

I continue,

"Did you know that the smoking rates have been on the decline for years.  They are the lowest they've been since cigarettes were introduced.  This means the stop smoking messages are working.

And smoking is a business.  The tobacco industry is a business.  They are losing sales.
Somewhere a group of most likely men got together in a board room to formulate a strategy to increase their sales and save their business.

I am a consultant, I help businesses create these types of strategies.  I picture the conversation went something like this....

Okay boys we've got to get the sales back up.  We're in trouble.  We need a target market.  We need a customer for life.  The younger we can get someone using a tobacco product the longer we've got their money.

And there is where the JUUL idea was born.  The teenage girl cigarette."

I explain that it looks cool and tastes good.  Most people don't even think that it's actually nicotine.  Some parents told me not to worry about it because it was just flavored water.  I assured her that was not the case.

Then we talk about the alcohol industry also targeting her demographic.  Fruity drinks that go down smooth.

This is no longer my generation where you had to choke down sloe gin or Boone's Farm and hack a disgusting hack after your first Marlboro Light.  These industries are now targeting them for their cool factor and their babysitting money.  It looks good and it tastes good. And it's working.

I go on to encourage that if she really wanted to make this situation right, she'd not only change her own behavior but she'd not allow herself to fall prey to these targeted attacks and she'd stand loud and proud to educate her sisters not to get in on this scheme.

Right not she's facing the normal small town backlash of bullying in the hallways because she was suspended.  Parents telling other parents not to let their daughters hang with mine.  Choices have consequences, no one wants to believe their kid might be on the suspension list.  So we will survive this and be stronger for it.

For the rest of you.  Read up.  Vape is not flavored water.  And that USB drive on your kids dresser might be a cigarette.

Click here for my follow up video response. 

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