Category Archives: Life

7 Mini Pep Talks to Have With Your Son

Everyone needs a pep talk from time to time. It’s easy for kids to get discouraged when they can’t do something and want to give up. More than giving support and cheering our sons on, we need to help them overcome the challenge and stay on track.


1. Change Your Approach

Step out of your point of view and look at things objectively.  It will help you gain a new perspective.
“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”-Mario Andretti

2. Step Away From the Situation

Take a break from the challenge or obstacle that is blocking you. Don’t try to dominate or overpower it.
“Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.” -Brian Adams

3. Be Still

Quiet your mind so that you can get the answer that you need. Just take a few minutes to clear your mind.
“An inability to stay quiet is one of the conspicuous failings of mankind. -Walter Bagehot

4. Keep Your Enthusiasm

Don’t lose the energy and spirit that you need to keep you going. Start each day with a positive outlook.
Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm. -Winston Churchill

5. Use Your Imagination

See yourself accomplishing your goals.
“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” -Stephen Covey

6. Write Out Your Dreams/Goals

Write out exactly what you are striving for until it becomes real to you.
“Motivation is like food for the brain. You cannot get enough in one sitting. It needs continual and regular top up’s.” -Peter Davies

7. Have Faith

Faith is the greatest motivator of all times, without it you can get nowhere, with it you are a powerful force.
“Walking your talk is a great way to motivate yourself. No one likes to live a lie. Be honest with yourself, and you will find the motivation to do what you advise others to do.
-Vince Poscente

Are You Losing Your Compassion?

Compassion RGM

I recently signed up for a course that focus on compassion. At first, you may think “Why would someone need to learn compassion?” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less compassionate and empathetic to the needs of others. This change in me has been subtle. Over the years, the person who cared too much has become the person who cares a little.  I noticed a bubbling of apathy when someone shared a story that in the past would have compelled me to take action. I slowly was becoming a rigid and polarized thinker.

This awareness was brought to light as I looked at my life through my sons’ eyes. As the parent of a teen and a toddler, I have a varying perspective of my role. To my toddler, I am the person to emulate; to my teen I am the person to scrutinize. So as I live my life as a daily segment of ABC’s ‘What Would You Do?’, I am challenged to confront my growing apathy towards human suffering.

When I first started on this journey, I was critical and defensive of this awareness. I pacified my thoughts by telling myself, “You care.” You’re a nice person.” “You have manners.” However, none of this reflects true compassion and empathy. Yes, the little things I do every day matter, however to whom I  show compassion is more telling of my character. Was I more compassionate towards a person or situation when I could relate to it?

Being on social media made it easy for me to appear compassionate. It’s easy to tweet or post something that makes others feel good but to extend service to another in need is the power of compassion. Human suffering is universal but our compassion towards those suffering can be limited.

The recent killing of unarmed teenager, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has brought the bubbling racial tension in our country to a boiling point.  In recent cases of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, I’ve witnessed how others are quick to judge, villify and condemn these three unarmed young men as thugs. I bet some of these people who posted hateful and racist messages would consider themselves “good, caring people.” Yet, they can not relate to the pain of particular group of people because of their perception of that group.

How about when we see violence in Gaza, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Ukraine? Do we recognize and acknowledge the pain of parents who lost their children or children who lost their parents? Are we indifferent to their suffering because they are not like us?

What about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Do the videos you inspire to donate to the ALS Association? Or are you complaining about having to see these videos on your stream? Anthony Carbajal  shared a moving and honest video about what it’s like for him to live with ALS and his family history which includes his mom and grandmother.

What does compassion mean to you and how does it show up in your daily life? How do you respond when you hear or see the suffering of those who are different from you?

Compassion is easy to talk about but challenge to live by.  It requires that we practice forgiveness of ourselves and others. Compassion moves us out of our comfort zone and forces us to put aside our prejudices, our anger in order to be of service to others. Through compassion, we learn to love unconditionally and we learn to take baby steps towards the concept of humanity.

I’m seeing a positive change in myself and I hope it is reflected in my sons’ actions and behavior. For me, compassion means that I will practice listening more than speaking, that I will practice being patient and understanding, especially with difficult people.  My intention is not to become a compassionate person but rather a person who practices compassion. The best gift I can give my sons to not let them think I am so strong that I can not fall or fail.The best gift I can give them is to teach them to have compassion for self and others.

Photo: AsAlexander/Flickr

What Kind of Man Do You Want to Be: Image of a Real Man

This month’s What Kind of Man Do You Want to Be topic: The Image of a Real Man was a conversation about the image of a real man and how societal  and media masculine standards perpetuates male stereotyping.

Panelists  for Part I:  Enrique Pascal,  author of What Does A Real MAN Look Like? and host of Transformation Radio and Alan Bishop, founder of The 365 Effect, producer and creator several television shows .

Panelists for Part II: Edmund Adjapong, Rey Saint-Vil and Alex Hanse

Follow Your Heart

Have you made a decision recently that you are now regretting? At the moment did you know that the decision was not right for you, but you went along with it anyway? It’s interesting how we choose to get into situations, simply because we feel so strongly about having something that perhaps is not appropriate for us. It’s difficult sometimes to listen to our hearts and trust our instincts.

Follow Your Heart

Against better judgment, we sometimes make a left turn, when we were suppose to make a right turn. We second-guess ourselves even though deep down, we know what we are feeling is right. Many of us as children were taught to follow our heads. We learned to think logically and to rationalize our decisions. Unless we had parents who taught us the importance of following our hearts, we learned to ignore our “gut feeling”.

Some of us are living our lives as dreamers and idealists following what our hearts are leading us to. Some of us are realists, following our heads and limiting ourselves to our logical minds.
When was the last time you did something based on what your heart was telling you? Instead or weighing the pros and cons on your decisions, try listening to your heart. Be still, silence your mind chatter and listen to what your heart is telling you. Don’t rush through a decision because it seems like the right thing to do. If you let your instincts guide you, you will surely find yourself on the right path.

Raising a Son With Special Needs by Elizabeth Traub






To learn that you have a special needs, handicap, deaf child is the most powerful journey I have ever been on. Ethan, who is almost 11 years old is an amazing young man. Life is very normal and easy with him. It was not always that way.  He was born with a condition
called “Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct”.  I could see early on that “something” was not quite right.  Only I was unsure of that “something”. He never startled as an infant, slept 20 hours a day, and fixed his eyes on me. I used to say, “I have birthed an Einstein.”

When Ethan was 5 months old, his condition was confirmed. This news came to me, while we were shopping in a fabric store. He was in an infant front pack and there I was standing at the check-out counter crying my eyes out. My husband called me with this news. Ethan has these stunning blue big eyes and that sweet baby just looked into my crying face with a drooling smile.  His world was perfect and mine had just been shattered. I immediately began asking myself questions. No family history, what happens next?  He was already learning how to do baby signing so I thought this was going to be easy.  The moment I realized that my baby could never hear me singing to him is when hard really started.  It was that moment when I cried almost every day for many years.

I was angry. I was mad at God. I questioned my healthy lifestyle. Was I too lean, should I have forced myself to swallow prenatal vitamins?  Did I do this to my baby?  My thoughts were all consumed daily of his care, his appointments, and  his therapy.  I  was depressed and ate myself into 85 extra pounds.  I cried every day and I was distracted away from the care of my husband and family. I tried to work through the loss of that hope I had for this beautiful boy.  I was desperate to find a reason that did not reflect on my mothering. I was lost and alone.

I was angry that my husband went off to work each day leaving me to endure the challenges.  That little baby boy grew into a toddler that was angry and frustrated. He could not hear my voice around a corner. When he could not see me, his volume was loud.  When he wanted something he was even louder. Car rides were intolerable.  I was angry and felt I was doing all the work with therapy. I thought my husband should be more involved. He worked 10 hours days at a demanding job. His energy was gone before he pulled into the driveway at night.  Even though my husband was grieving, at that time I was only thinking of myself.

One afternoon I called his office and said, “I need some drugs, depression drugs, coping drugs.” I had never been on any kind of medication, so I did not know what I needed.  He kindly spoke into me, “This is situational and you are going to be fine.” That evening he showed up with my favorite wine to have when I couldn’t cope. This was his way of saying, “I know it’s hard & we are going to get through this.” Just having permission to sip a glass of wine at 10am was enough of a drug. Funny thing is over a years’ time I might have done that once.

I didn’t know how to communicate my needs, which made it hard on friendships.   We had a fourth child, I was tired, and it was too hard to even think of my own needs.  Ethan was loud; people could not be around him. Friends were uncomfortable. and play dates that were scheduled over a few hours were cut very short. Slowly friends dropped off  and I was very much alone. I felt isolated and accepted this as my journey and cross to bear. I was tired of having to explain over and over that he is deaf. It was exhausting. No one understood him. I felt I had to educate each person.  I had few friends who could tolerate Ethan. Not even my closet of friends would come hang out in my home. I had to learn to have grace and understanding for them. It was not easy.

What I had to do was re-frame my thinking and my process. One day I realized that my identity and my structure of life must change. Ethan is a hard child.  Hard is what grows us into something. I grew into a deeper, caring and understanding of the human soul. I took that time, leaving my job, work I loved, to understand and grow this boy into a functioning and healthy life.  I embraced Ethan, right where he was. The therapist told me that deaf children have problems with balance, especially climbing and parks. I took that boy to the park almost daily. I was told swimming is hard and scary for toddlers who are deaf. He had swimming lessons.

Nothing about being deaf would hold Ethan captive in what he enjoyed.  Having people express their discomfort & recognize the challenge in this journey. Doing this by asking questions to draw others out in their process.  I began to trust others, and venture out with girlfriends. My husband encouraged many evenings out with friends, so I could have a break.  I had to acknowledge my own needs.  Most important was realizing that my life could not be dictated or defined by a special needs child.

Insights I learned with a special needs son:

  1. Ethan’s normal is not my normal. It’s okay to cry and it’s going to be hard to figure all this out.
  2. People that have not had a special needs child will not understand you. Take no offenses.
  3.  You must take time away for you with alone time or girlfriends.
  4. Don’t allow the circumstance of a special needs child dictate how you run the household. The entire family is important.
  5. Have one on one mom dates w/each child away from the challenges. Today, almost eleven years later those one on one mom dates continue. Imagine with five kids how many dates I go on. Even my 23 and 25 year old look forward to those dates. You must stay connected with all your children no matter how much extra time or work.
  6. Your husband will handle this very different than you. Embrace his journey.  Regardless of how tired, mad, disconnected you are with your man, treat him well. I am reaping the rewards and honoring and respecting my husband in those hardest and darkest of days.

No one  signs up for the journey of a special needs child.  Each has a story that is very different.  My hard may look different than your hard. I would walk through this journey again to have that boy named Ethan in my life. He is that boy who sings, and can’t carry a tune. Who loves airplanes and history. His had Cochlear Implants that allow him to function beautifully in a hearing world.  His story is still being written and he has much favor in his life. I am blessed to be his mother.  That little baby an infant in my arms now as a boy hears me sing.  We sing together.


Elizabeth Traub is a Portland, OR mom of 5. She has spent the past 20 years working as a consultant with business start-ups, and existing
businesses. For 15 years, she has also mentored & coached women to live in the design of their dreams and passions. You can find her online at Hung Out To Buy  and Girlfriends Hub






Lessons Learned From 3 Deployments

Half of my heart is deployed
.-  Author Unknown

No  matter how much you and your family prepare for a deployment, you are never quite ready when the day arrives.  The last few minutes you spend together will be etched in your memory until your loved one returns home.

I don’t know how my family got through three deployments but by the grace of God, we made it, barely unscathed.  The experience has changed us in different ways and has helped us to see each other differently. Here are some valuable lessons we learned:

1. You can’t make up for lost time

No matter how many family vacations we planned, we never could forget the hole that was left in our lives for a year. As we laugh and share memories, we’re reminded that someone wasn’t there to see, feel, or touch that moment. Pictures and videos are nice but nothing is more precious than the real life experience.You can try to include your loved one in the conversation, but then you’ll see the the sadness and the hurt in their eyes that tells you that you can not relive moments in life. That moment had passed and it’s time to move on.

2. Words will be left unspoken

Modern technology made our 3rd deployment easier because we  were able to use Skype and video chat. However, in those snippets of conversation, there were things we didn’t share because they seemed  insignificant and I didn’t want to worry my husband. You’re concerned about their emotional, mental and physical well-being so you stay quiet even inside you’re screaming from being so overwhelmed.

3. You will have selfish moments

Even though you understand that your loved one is in a more dangerous and unpredictable situation, you have moments when you want someone to tell you everything will be okay. You want to be comforted, consoled and nurtured. Some days I just needed a kind word or a hug to get me through the day and then I remembered that my husband spent each day worrying about whether he will come  back home safely.

4. Ask for help

I always was proud of  myself for always being self-sufficient and independent. I now realize that what I saw as independence was really foolish pride. Going through a deployment can be lonely and isolating. However, no one will know that you need help, if you don’t reach out.  I struggled with asking for help until asking for  help was no longer an option but a necessity. 

 5. Children may be resilient, but are they’re still fragile

My husband  missed pivotal years in our older son’s life. He was deployed when our son started kindergarten, and missed 2 of the 3 middle school years. Although my son was fine, he struggled, especially in middle school. I was not so quick to  recognize that there was any problems because I believed that he was fine. He finally told me all that he was feeling and thinking during that time. I thought I was giving my son all the support he needed, but I didn’t. You can’t take or granted that your kids are fine just because they don’t show any signs of distress.

6. Becoming a family unit again can be awkward

Everyone has to remember to go back to their respected roles and there can be an imbalance of power. Kids may forget that there is another parental authority and you may forget to share the responsibilities. After being a single parent for such a long time, it can be a challenge to let go of control.

7. Be patient

I think I rushed my husband into  assimilating into civilian life. I didn’t allow him time to adjust and I wasn’t always patient with him. He also had to learn to be patient with us. Although we were doing our best to help him transition into our lives and activities, there were times we fell  back into our habit of doing things our way without explaining them to him. It’s been 7 months since he’s been home and we’re still learning to be patient with each other.

8. Don’t dismiss PTSD

Some veterans may not recognize or want to admit that they are suffering from PTSD. They are so eager to get back to the normalcy of life, they may deny that they need help  and support. It has to be an ongoing conversation and all partied must make the commitment to pay attention to any signs.

9. You’ll  always wonder what happened during the deployment

Deployments leave a gaping hole in your relationship because there are things that will never be shared with you and even if you ask questions, you’ll never get an answer. During the deployment,my husband  was committed to a mission and was  not  at liberty to share any details with me.

10. You put things in perspective

As I scrambled to get our home ready for my husband’s return, I didn’t reflect on the families whose loved one was returning home. I didn’t stop to acknowledge that for  every soldier that was returning home, there are many who lost their lives. I didn’t think about the children who had lost a parent and would not be able to share any milestones with them. You don’t know what you take for granted until you see that familiar face in uniform walking towards you. It’s then that you finally exhale, not realizing you’ve been holding your breath for so many months.