Are you practicing positive reinforcement? Do you even realize when you do? What is positive reinforcement?

Humans have a tendency to place their fears on those they love without meaning to by pointing out and focusing on negative behaviors. Some of the things we say to our children out of love, are often things that can be detrimental to their future behavior. When we see a small child climbing on something, we often will say something like, “Don’t climb up there, you will fall!” It’s an automatic response to our own fears of our children falling and getting hurt.

Positive reinforcement in an instance such as a small child climbing on something would be to instill safety without fear. Saying something like, “Wow,  you did so great climbing that! Next time you want to climb something, please make sure I’m there to watch you, I don’t want to miss it!” You’re praising the child’s agility, yet imparting how important it is for you to be there in a positive manner, which will still allow the child to explore the boundaries of their agility without instilling the fear of falling. Later, as the child grows, you can further introduce the safety of climbing with a buddy or spotter. You never know, the child may become a first class mountain climber in the future.

The picture above showing a little boy drawing on the wall could really push a parent’s buttons, right? My nephew is a very talented artist. When he was four years old, his mother came in to find him drawing on one of her fancy, new couch pillows. Her initial reaction was anger until she saw that he’d drawn nearly a perfect replica of Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage. She then realized she did not want to inhibit his talent and took a moment to rearrange her emotions. Instead of berating her son for drawing on her new pillow, she told him what a beautiful drawing he’d done and took him shopping for drawing materials, explaining to her son that drawing on something more suited to his artistic aptitude was much better than drawing on the furniture. The positive reinforcement assured my nephew of his wonderful talent and because he was rewarded for his talent and then given a “better” alternative to drawing on the furniture, he never marked up the furniture again.

Even as adults, we still need the power of positive reinforcement. I was pleasantly surprised the other day when a perfect stranger came up to me in the store and told me how impressed she was at how I placated my 3 year old grandson out of having a total melt-down. I did not give in to him by any means, but I did give him options as to how he could calmly get what he wanted by using good behavior rather than bad behavior. Once he exhibited the good behavior, I rewarded him.

People are so quick to point out negative, especially strangers watching from the sidelines. The fact that this young woman had the presence to tell me what a good job I did with a screaming toddler in not only keeping my calm, but helping him with his, was very refreshing. Do not be fooled, I certainly had the quick thought of flipping my grandson over my knee, but I have learned that the positive reinforcement lasts much longer and promotes better behavior.

An article in the Very Well Mind by Kendra Cherry explains the power of positive reinforcement by operant conditioning in an easy to understand manner. The explanation of the types of reinforcers, like “Natural”, “Token”, “Social”, and “Tangible reinforcers” is simple and easy to comprehend. It’s a short and simple article that is well worth the read.

I hope this helps you understand and take immediate actions to help yourself be more positive in your relationships.

My love to you all!

Being Gramama

Being Gramama

          It’s cold outside. The frost blankets the ground like tiny diamonds, glistening in the morning sun. I walk around the concrete abutment so as not to impair the new, Spring grass budding beneath the minuscule icicles hanging from the blades. As I approach the rose bushes, I realize how long they have survived in blistering heat, drenching rain and heavy snow throughout the years. I look at the cross behind the roses, worn and weathered from the same elements that have spared the roses.

The cross was fashioned from a pattern my son had made in the shape of a sword he wanted for a costume. I had helped him cut it out of the thin press-board after he carefully drew the pattern, free-hand onto the wood. The following week, we made a cross for the side of the road where my son was killed instead of a sword for his costume.

Three years after setting the cross on the side of the highway, we moved out of town. I could not bear to leave the cross as it was something my son had painstakingly created on his own. Therefore, it now sits in my backyard, transplanted into a bronzed container, surrounded by the roses we placed in the church for his funeral.

My son was 20 years old when he moved to Heaven. I no longer had the opportunity before me to watch him grow into a man, to walk with him at his wedding, or attend the birth of his children. The realization of this lost future was devastating to me.

I was blessed to have had two beautiful, amazing children. My son was born just after my 24th birthday and my daughter was born shortly after my 26th birthday. I initially did not want children when I was younger, but having my children changed me and brought me love I never knew I possessed.

Losing my son so tragically, I tried my best not to lock my daughter in a closet. Although she was 18 years old when her brother left us, she was still my baby girl. When she moved out of our home a short time later, I sincerely felt I had lost both of my children. She had moved a whole three hours away and I felt like I had lost my world altogether!

I was so very grateful that my daughter moved back with me for the birth of her first child. I hadn’t really thought too much about grandchildren before that as my children were still young, mostly in my mind. Yet, being with my little girl during the blessed moment she had her son was beyond belief!

I am in no way saying that one child can replace another, but it felt like a new start for me. Although a grandparent’s role is far different than that of being a parent, I felt it still afforded me another chance at being a part of a future I had been denied with my oldest child.

I thought about my grandmothers and how they were an integral part of my life. They were the patience, reasoning and wisdom that young parents have yet to learn.           They were always a safe haven when “Mom/Dad doesn’t understand!” To me, my grandparents were angels on earth.

I count myself so very fortunate to have experienced a long life with my grandparents. In fact, I’m 52 years old and still have one grandmother living!

I know there are many people who’ve not grown up with grandparents and I’m so very sad they never knew that special love only a grandparent can give. Fortunately, technology has afforded us with Surrogate Grandparents to help connect families who live too far away, or simply do not have a grandparent in their lives.

Being Gramama to my grand-babies has made my world so very amazing. I love to watch them learn while they play, I love the “out of nowhere” hugs, kisses, snuggles and I love you’s that pop up so randomly. I love the fact that as I’ve grown and matured, I have achieved the kind of wisdom and patience that makes a grandparent who they are to a child.

If you are a grandparent and your grandchildren aren’t close, become a Surrogate Grandparent to a child or children close to you who do not have their grandparents with or near them. The benefits and rewards are so very amazing to both the children and the grandparents who pour out their love to each other, regardless of kinship.

Have a blessed day and remember to share your love and blessings with others!!!

‘Til Death Do Us Part

‘Til Death Do Us Part

Wedding traditions are in constant flux and are becoming less and less traditional. Yet, there is something to be said for tradition. Tradition maintains social, familial and even personal harmony in life. Problem is; whose tradition do you maintain when marrying a person of different race, culture, religious beliefs, or even same sex?

I’ve attended many weddings and have listened to people who’ve written their own vows, officiants who’ve removed ceremonial wording, and attendees making bets on how long the marriage will last based on the color scheme the bride chose.

I don’t mean to be flippant here, but I’ve seen so many people treat marriage as an interim affiliation rather than a promise to Love, Honor and Obey. Oh yes, I can already hear you cringing at the word “obey”. Yet what “obey” means is literally to “listen to”. If you don’t listen to each other, how will you communicate your wants, needs, and desires to the person you’ve promised to love “Til Death Do Us Part” or will you cringe at that one too?

I’m no expert on marriage, far from it! In fact, I can share with you what NOT to do much easier than I can share what should be done based on my life experience. What I can tell you is, regardless of your race, culture, religious beliefs, or even sexual orientation, when you decide to take the leap of contracting yourself to another human being, you need to be thinking in terms of long-term purchase rather than a month to month lease.

When my last husband and I married, we jointly agreed to have a completely traditional, Christian wedding, with one exception; we married outside, under a gazebo in the park rather than in the church. Essentially, since both of us had previously aligned ourselves with lessees we wanted to be assured we would be enjoying the benefits as property owners this time.

Yes, I mean “property owners”. Do you believe that sounds derogatory? Why? Because people have misused and abused the true meaning of the significance in “The Two Shall Become One”. 

Did we have arguments? Yes. Did we disagree on some issues? Yes. Were there times we couldn’t stand being in the same room together? Yes. Did those things destroy our marriage and commitment to each other? No

Why do you believe some people can make it when others can’t? Is it because of the words? I believe that words are very powerful and can make or break any way of life.

My last husband was a pretty awesome guy. Sometimes, he really tried my nerves and sometimes I just couldn’t believe how lucky I was to call him mine. The point is that we made a commitment that neither one of us had really made before. We also realized that there were times when we just had to move on with our own opinions and make the choice to continue loving each other.

My husband died in my arms. It was an extremely painful experience to maintain my sanity through his illness and honor my word. Yet, as hard as it was, I have no regrets and feel forever grateful that I finally figured out what it really meant to have the kind of love, loyalty and devotion that we shared; even through the worst life had to throw at us.

I pray that all who read this understand that in any marriage there are going to be ups and downs. If you promise to “To love and Cherish, For Better or Worse, For Richer or Poorer, In Sickness and In Health, Til Death Do Us Part” and remember to keep that promise, you’ll most likely not have regrets either.

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

There are many views, both good and bad that depict Christmas. There is a very long history of the origins of “Christmas” and none of them are favorable to the meaning current day Christians host in their hearts. Most people in the last century, not just Christians, consider Christmas to be the celebration of the birth of Christ. Christ is considered to be the savior, God in the flesh, who came to wash away the sins of those who believed in Him.

Considering the life of Christ is depicted in one of the oldest history books in print beginning with Gutenberg’s printing press, there is always speculation as to the thoughts, perceptions, authenticity and following of the bible.

There are numerous religions associated with Christianity. As such, there are numerous interpretations and beliefs associated with the following of religion itself. Whereas Christmas is concerned as the depiction of the celebration of the birth of Christ, I see no reason at all for anyone to believe other than what they wish. Even in some religions of Christianity, the congregation does not follow or participate in “Christmas”.

For those who claim to live their lives according to the teachings, rules, rites of religion or laws of the bible, please be aware that even in the bible, it is taught to love others as you would love yourself and not to force others to believe as you believe. According to the bible, God gave man free will, which means that if He forced others to love him, it isn’t love at all. You must choose to love Him, choose to believe in Him and choose to follow Him.

Although the Jewish faith does not consider Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Christ and does not rejoice in the festivities, I remember speaking once with a Jewish gentleman in regard to their holiday of Hanukkah. I was intrigued of his story, but was nearly shocked when he said that his family also celebrated Christmas. He explained that also they did not believe in Christmas or celebrate it in their faith, he did not want to deprive his children of the magic, love, giving and fun of the season.

It was at this time, that I took a different look at Christmas and what it has become for many people, both religious and not religious. Christmas has become a holiday of sharing love, giving, lights, fancy to-do’s and rejoicing in the treasures of the season. Even those who strongly and reverently consider Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Christ more often than not still put up a Christmas tree, tell their children to be good for Santa Claus to bring them presents, and decorate their homes and yards in lights and characters of the winter season. None of the merriment takes away from your belief.

So, the next time someone comes up to you and says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, there is no need to be offended. There are many holidays in the winter season and most people are merely including all of them, just as I do.

I follow the teachings of Christ because I choose to. I do not hate or fear those who do not. Are there bad people in religions? Yes! But, there are bad people everywhere and it doesn’t necessarily matter what religion they follow or not follow. Just remember, those who do good and help others, will reap what they sow and vice-versa; and that little “law” is prevalent in almost every religion!

I pray that everyone has a Merry Christmas and a magical holiday season. Remember to share the love with others!


To Work, Or Not To Work; That Is The Question!

My grandmother was always there for me no matter what. I realized many years later, that a lot of people did not have the luxury of having a grandmother like mine, including my own children. My mother always had to work and rarely had time to visit with her grandchildren, something that’s always saddened her.

I bring all this to your attention because I read a post the other day from a young, newly married lady who was finding criticism against her want to be home with her future children rather than working full time and allowing a stranger to raise them. It dawned on me how much the world has changed and how women are looked down upon for wanting to be home with their children rather than work.

I’m so very fortunate to have been in both positions with my children. There were times when I was able to be home with them, and then there were times when childcare was the only option. I know for a fact that my children appreciated me being there more than being in childcare. I also know that my own daughter is one of the many women who choose to work, but sincerely appreciates that her children’s grandparents are around to care for them rather than them going into a childcare situation.

I’m not saying that childcare is a bad thing. There are many daycare centers where children thrive and parents appreciate the love that the caregivers share with their children. In fact, during the time I did have to work, I was fortunate enough to find a daycare provider who loved my children and still does. What I am saying is how much of a shame it is that people have to criticize other people’s life decisions.

If you want to be a stay-at-home mom, that’s amazing! If you want to be a working mom, that’s amazing too! There are some moms who have no choice other than to work. Being an amazing mom has nothing to do with whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom. Being an amazing mom is just being present for your children.

It seems that more and more, people find the need to judge others on their life’s decisions; whether it be parenting, education or merely being human!

It’s such an incredible shame that people cannot be supportive of others. As long as their decisions aren’t hurting anyone, nobody else has a right to put someone down or try to make them feel bad for how they wish to parent their children.

The one thing we should all be grateful for are the choices we have. I firmly believe in the concept of free will. If a couple have decided that one of them (mom or dad) should stay home with their future children, then it’s nobody else’s business. Parenting is between the parents, not the entire world.

Additionally, stay-at-home parents actually work harder and longer hours than going to work at a job. They don’t get paid time off, they often have nobody else to care for the children if they are sick and they wear numerous hats including, but not limited to:

  • Teacher
  • Nurse
  • Cook
  • Housekeeper
  • Toy monitor
  • Referee
  • And the list goes on…..

I sincerely pray that someday, people will learn to be more supportive of each other. I pray that we can consciously lift each other up instead of bringing each other down. And, I pray that no matter what, we can learn to love one another, which is how it should be.

What’s Your Purpose

What’s Your Purpose




What I’m Good At According To My Friends And Family

The following list is an actual record of the responses I received to the question, “What is it you think I do best?”

  1. Deal with stress
  2. You’re best at talking people into doing things your way
  3. I think you’re best at counseling the grieving. You’re a wonderful listener & have real life experience to lend proper advice. That’s my official answer. Honestly, I think you’re a wonderful mother, grandmother and friend
  4. Expressing unconditional love…Even when we don’t agree, when we’ve been mad at each other, or out of contact for a while, there has never been a moment in my life in which I doubted you love me.
  5. You protect the things you love in life. You’re a fighter! If ever I’m in a battle, I sure as hell want you on my side
  6. Living, loving, helping others… family oriented
  7. Always willing to help people and family before your needs
  8. Have compassion and love for others. Artistic, handyman, problem solver
  9. You’re compassion for others
  10. I think you organize and plan the best
  11. You’re amazing at giving advice, you know exactly what to say always
  12. You’re best at the execution of actions based upon he facts

Recently, I was taking a course in personal development and one of the assignments was to ask friends and family what they felt I was best at. Some of the answers, and from whom they originated, rather surprised me. Some seemed a bit of a no-brainer and some of them gave me a chuckle. Incidentally, the one that made me chuckle the most was from a longtime friend who, for a while, became a bitter enemy and then a friend again. All in all, the answers I received certainly gave me some food for thought.

It’s easy to look in the mirror and imagine you know the person staring back at you. You believe you know yourself better than anyone else does; but do you really? Seeing something and being something can sometimes be very different.

I understand that 30 years ago, most of the answers I would’ve gotten would have been very, very different than those I received today. Growth and change are inevitable, even for those who may be stuck in one form or another of mental or physical challenge. Mental, environmental, physical, emotional, people, places, situations; all these things promote change whether it may be good or bad.

Many people feel lost and hopeless because they just don’t know their true purpose. Think about the strengths you had as a child. Have those strengths remained with you over time? Have you nurtured those strengths? Have others nurtured those strengths? Or, have you let life get in the way of your strengths and lost focus? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure even the most successful people on earth have at one time or another doubted their strengths. The difference between them and you? They never quit!

Some people consider failure an all-time negative action. Some people consider failure a launch to greater success. It merely depends on your perspective and what your action or reaction is to any given happenstance.

One of the simplest examples of perspective I’ve ever seen is from the Disney movie, “Meet the Robinsons” where the slogan was, “Keep Moving Forward”. In fact, that phrase is an excerpt from a quote by Walt Disney himself,

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long.

We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things,

 because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Now, do you think Mr. Disney knew exactly what his purpose was? Walt Disney had a dream from the time he was a young boy to build an amusement park. He was focused and used his passion to create the greatest, most loved amusement parks in the world.

Another man who followed his purpose is Donald Trump. Although Mr. Trump may not be as loved by the masses as Walt Disney, he still must command respect for following his passion and making considerable strides in the real estate market. Although Mr. Trump’s technically a real-estate mogul, his true calling is in negotiation, finance and economics. Yet, my personal opinion is that he could work on his diplomacy and finesse a bit.

These two men are just a fraction of the amazing people who’ve followed their purpose and passions and made it BIG! Did they have failures? Yes! Did they let it stop them from their purpose? No! They used their failures to propel them into space on the rocket of success!

Now, figuring out your passion and purpose may seem like a daunting task if you’ve lost your way from the strengths of your childhood. Yet, there are simple exercises that can help you find it again. One of those exercises is to ask your friends, family, co-workers and business associates what they feel you’re best at. Another is to figure out what it is you like to do; what makes you feel good. Then, there’s a simple psychological test called the Kolbe test. This simple test shows you what your strengths are and helps you expand on them.

I’m sure you’ve all heard that to find your purpose and pursue it, you’ll be doing what you love so it won’t feel like work and the money will follow. But, how do you find the best way of following your dreams in a financially productive way?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Talk with people who are already doing it
  2. Study people who are already doing what you want to do
  3. Learn all you can about the options available to you
  4. Join groups that follow your interests
  5. Have confidence in yourself
  6. Believe you have what it takes to upscale whatever makes you happy
  7. Above all else, be aware of who you are helping by following your passion

That last one is a direct thought pattern I learned from the late, great Zig Zigler. One of his most famous quotes was,

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough

other people get what they want”

 Many people have followed in the footsteps of great people. One of the best ways to learn anything is by example. Think about when you were a young child. I’m sure I’m dating myself, but do you remember a game called “Monkey See, Monkey Do”? If not, the game was essentially a mimic game; you mimicked the actions of another child. So, think about who else you mimicked: your parents, siblings, teachers, friends and other relatives. How’d that work out for you?

As children, we primarily perform Unconscious Behavior Mimicry. We tend to unconsciously mimic our parents behavior at a very young age since we spend most of our time with them. Subsequently, children are also likely to mimic opposite behaviors or no correlating behaviors if they feel shocked or upset at the behavior they are witnessing.

Many of the behaviors learned as children are often carried into adulthood. As adults, we may have no understanding as to why we are either afraid of something or excel at something. There is great news though! Behaviors that are detrimental to our success can be changed; sometimes just as easily as mimicking someone who exhibits behaviors we desire. Other times, more extensive therapy may need to be involved.

The point is, that if you are shadowing the path and purpose of your life, but feel stuck, or you haven’t even started following your path; surround yourself with people who are successful in your purpose. Make a conscious effort to change old thought and behavior processes to benefit your goals. Lean on your strengths and guide yourself into finding your best ever job that doesn’t feel like work!

Blessings on your journey to success my friends!