Monday, February 28, 2011

Rise and Shine

Getting up in the morning is a chore for many...maybe most.  You may or may not be a morning person by temperament.  Maybe you didn't sleep well because you were sick, worried, or distracted.  Or did you struggle to go to bed on time?  You may be dreading the day because you aren't prepared or are afraid.  And there's the teen phenomena of high levels of melatonin (sleep hormone) swimming in your veins until around 8:00 a.m., providing an additional challenge to your start.

Commit to getting up anyway.  Figure out a doable morning routine, one that is motivating and gets you off to a good start.  Use alarm clocks, take a shower, eat and drink something healthy and yummy.  Time your routine to make sure you know exactly how long it takes; you may be surprised to find what you thought took 5 minutes, takes 15.

I can't promise that today, each day, or every day will be all sunshiny or to your liking.  But I can promise that the day is uniquely yours.  You will make choices that will direct your life and affect the lives of others.  Your first choice of each day doesn't need to be a daily answer to, "Should I get up?" because tired minds often choose, "No...zzzzzzzzz"   Right now, while you are decidedly awake, commit to getting up every day - for a week, a month, or a semester.  Reward yourself when you do and recommit to another stretch.  Today you may have a good laugh, tackle your shyness, have your heart broken, or hear your new favorite song for the very first time.  You and your day are worth getting up for.

Good morning, sunshine:)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

In a Flash

You know that scene in movies when a character faces danger and probable death and his life "flashes before his eyes" and ours?  We witness years of time in split second pictures.  I've had this experience in real life; thank goodness not connected to my impending death.

There are times when things are hard between us, or when I watch you struggle from afar, and I plunge into surreal time.  I can see your anger, saddness, confusion, pain.  Then, all of a sudden, I see your baby face.  My heart softens.  I remember you; sweet, innocent and new. You were cute beyond belief and brimming with the personality of the one and only you. Yes! Even when you were a baby I could glimpse the teen you would become. I don't know how to explain it, something about that look in your eyes and the way you showed me what you needed. Then you are a toddler, a pre-schooler, school-aged.  Now you are, shockingly, a teen and young adult in the making. 

Mothers tell their children, "You will always be my baby"...and my softened heart is why being my baby is a good thing. I am not disrepecting you as a young adult...just letting you know that sometimes, your life flashes before my eyes.

Love you babe,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Good Night

Do you find it hard to go to sleep at night?  Are you distracted by games, friends, TV, or studies?  Do you simply not "feel" tired?  Research (Carskadon, 2006) shows that melatonin (sleep inducing hormone) levels rise later at night for teens than they do in children and adults -- and remain at a higher level later in the morning.  Though times vary for individuals, levels of melatonin start to rise in teenagers generally between 10 and 11 p.m. In other words, you may not "feel" tired until 10 or 11 p.m which may collude with other distractions to keep you from getting the sleep you need to think straight, act well, and feel  happy.

Getting to bed at a reasonable time is a test; one you want to pass.  Although you may not feel tired, you can act in ways to prepare for sleep.  Avoid TV, computer, cell phones, caffeine, loud music, exercise, and thinking to hard.  Replace them with small routine tasks like brushing teeth, setting out clothes and school or work material for next day, taking a bath (not shower), and dimming lights.

Most importantly, pray.  Talk to God about what you did well during the day.  Apologize for your mistakes and consider ways to improve.  Ask God for His help for yourself and those you are concerned about.  Thank God for big and little gifts.  Ponder God.  This is formally called an examination of conscience.  Here is an example of a more thorough and formal Catholic examination of conscience for teens , from Catholic Education Resource Center.

Good night, dear.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Know Yourself; Love Others

As if being a teen isn't hard enough.  Part of the suffering of being a teen in 2011 is the very high probability that the adults in your life have a fondness for the 1980s.  Singing and, even worse, dancing to music from the 80s is a sure-fire way for a  mom to tease and bother her teen.  Take this #1 song, from 1986 for example (emphasis mine):

 "Greatest Love Of All"
I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all ....

And if by chance, that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love 
The lyrics of this song are more embarrassing and confusing than any mom's good-natured teasing.  Yes, the teen years are about figuring out who you are, your relationship to others, and your place in the world.  Yet the answer isn't to see yourself alone at the center of your experience.  Keep your thoughts simple and true.  Put God and His guidance at your center.  Get to know yourself, both good and not-so-good.  Love others.  Now, that's worth singing and dancing about.

I love you,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

What does Valentine's Day mean to you?  Is it a day to wait in hopeful anticipation of receiving a valentine?  Is it a day to avoid as too romantic, too silly, and way too RED and PINK

Valentine's Day to me is a day to ponder the sweetness of love, to enjoy some Sweethearts candy, and to tell those who show me love, that I love them.

Today I will ponder...
1 Corinthians
Chapter 13

1 If I speak in human and angelic tongues 2 but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
3 Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,
it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
4 Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
5 So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  
Know that we can think, feel, and act lovingly no matter what is-or isn't- happening around us; we can love even if we don't receive a valentine or must endure pink construction paper hearts beyond our comfort zone.