Monthly Archives: September 2015

What would you do today if you were brave? Here’s my answer.

I’ve discovered a song that I’ve fallen in love with.  Really.

This uplifting and inspiring song (the only kind of song I like:) ) is ‘If I Were Brave’, by Jana Stanfield.  In this song she asks the question, “What step would I take today if I were brave?”

This is a powerful question and there are different answers for every person, and different answers even for me on different days.  I want to share my recent leap of courage with you.

Actually, sharing with you is brave, too, because I’m going outside of my preference to keep things to myself until there’s a successful resolution.  I’m willing to share about this now because the victory isn’t in the having but in the doing, in being willing to stretch outside of my comfort zone.

Having said that, here’s my action….




I’m applying for a TED Fellowship.

In case that doesn’t mean anything to you, I’ll very briefly explain.  There is an annual TED conference held each year in the US; twenty Fellows are chosen to present at the conference.

How did I decide to do this?  Well, it wasn’t exactly because I wanted to, since my voice of fear was strong enough to drown out any other voice.  But the divine timing made it clear I needed to recognize a serious nudge from the universe for what it was.

So about that divine timing.

Recently I was watching several TED talks on parenting, and commented that it’s a shame that none of those presenters had much experience as parents.  My nineteen year old daughter asked me, “How do people apply to speak there?”, and I told her, “I don’t think they apply, they’re probably chosen based on being well-known in some way already.”

Early the next morning I woke up to a Facebook message by an organizer of one of my recent talks, sent less than thirty minutes after the exchange between my daughter and I.

On my screen was a link to apply to TED, followed by the comment, “Avivah – I think you should really apply for becoming a TED Fellow.”   I could almost hear the Twighlight Zone music playing in the background.

Even though I love speaking and I love inspiring people, my first thought was, “Absolutely not.”  Followed by, “I can’t.”  Followed by, “They’ll never choose me anyway so why should I bother?”

courageI’ve had growing awareness of some of my subtle strategies to keep myself in my comfort zone, along with the sometimes uncomfortable clarity that I need to start letting go of these habits.  Those knee jerk responses I just shared with you?  Yep, my way of staying right where I am!  Have you ever done something similar?

The timing combined with the internal work I’m doing was sending me a pretty clear message.  I bounced the idea off of some people for their perspective, and far from telling me it was too much of a reach for me, they all thought it was obvious I needed to apply!  (Garumph, why are these things so blindingly obvious to other people??)

You can not imagine how much courage I had to continually summon up during this application process.   I am seriously proud of myself for getting that application in!

My focus isn’t on the end result. Of course I would be honored to be chosen and would love to present on the TED stage.  But I already won the invisible battle with myself – well, this round, anyway.


Before you make a new goal – reflect on what you’ve already done right![1]There’s something about new beginnings that inspires people to set goals and make resolutions.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is almost here, and it’s inspiring this kind of thinking for me.  Of course I see lots of room for improvement!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when thinking about how we want to improve ourselves.  Before you make any resolutions, take time to slow down and reflect deeply on what you’ve accomplished in the past year.

Some of you are squirming right now, thinking that you haven’t accomplished much of anything this year.  That’s a lie.  It’s a lie that your mind tells you to keep  you from being your brightest and most beautiful self.  Denying your accomplishments of the past will set you up to fail in the future.

Don’t eclipse the good you’ve done in your rush to look at the areas you still need to work on.  There will be always room for improvement but we don’t build ourselves by self-flagellation!

Believe me, you’ve done plenty to feel good about this past year.  Have you improved your character in some way?  Become more compassionate?  Learned to honor your boundaries?  Increased your self-awareness?  Made time for self-care?

Have you met a goal or completed a project on any scale?  Spent more time with family and friends?  Improved a skill?  Developed a hobby or begun exercising?  Improved your nutrition?  Gotten rid of some clutter?

Sometimes others can see your changes more clearly than you can.  I helped someone who was discouraged with her goals for the coming year and what she saw as her lack of progress.  She only saw the mountain ahead of her that still needed to be climbed – she couldn’t see how far she had climbed up the mountain!  I reminded her of where she was a year ago, the things she was struggling with then, and gave examples of areas in which I saw significant growth. She had almost forgotten those struggles and had taken for granted the huge leaps she’s made in a year!

When you can see the ways you’ve advanced over the past year, it encourages you to continue!  Growth usually happens slowly and steadily over time and you don’t notice it happening until time has passed; then you look back and say, “Wow, I don’t do that bad habit as much anymore.”  Or, “I’ve changed my outlook in this way.” Or, “Hmm, I accept myself more than I did last year.”

The challenge with subtle growth is that it’s too easy to overlook all that you’ve done right and think nothing has happened.  Be conscious of your growth, acknowledge your efforts, and be proud of yourself!

Once you’ve done this, you have a solid and truthful foundation to build on for the coming year!


Can you accept an extra level of mess as part of homeschooling?

>>My wife has been talking about home schooling some of our children. One of the concerns that I have, is that on a regular basis my wife will comment to me that she does not have enough help/time to get the daily chorus done in the home, and that the home is not as clean as she would like it and she cant function in an unclean home.

My question is if she were to home school would would that not just add it too the problems, if she cant find the time now to do the chorus and the daily house routines how would she be able to find the time when she has to spend time learning and exploring with the children?<<

There’s no question that if you choose to homeschool, there’s more activity and mess happening and less time to devote to cleaning.

Does your wife have realistic expectations of herself?  Some women are naturally extremely fastidious and often they need to loosen up and be a bit more realistic about what having children around is like.  Here are a couple of humorous descriptions that I’ve seen shared recently to describe the reality:

“Want to know what it’s like living with kids? 

1) Gather everything you own.

2) Throw it on the floor

3) Pick it up.

4) Repeat for infinity.”- (source:Topher Writes/twitter)

And another quote that I’m sure mothers all over can ruefully smile about:

“Yesterday I cleaned the house….which was dumb, because I still have kids living here.”

I’m a person who likes things to be neat and am naturally on the organized side.  But my house often doesn’t look the way that I want it to.  I continually choose the standard for our home, and my criteria for that is 1) a home that feels comfortable 2) that I can maintain with a minimum of resentment and stress.   That standard isn’t what I wish my home looked like but it’s what I can do on a daily basis from a place of emotional sanity (even though I often feel embarrassed when people stop by unexpectedly!).  I can tell when I raise my standards too much, because I start to feel irritated or tense with the state of my home or my family members and that’s my cue to cut back and reestablish a healthy balance.

Letting go of unrealistic standards isn’t something you do once and it isn’t easy.  It takes constant effort and reminders to yourself to keep your priorities focused on what’s most important to you.   If together with your wife you decide that a clean home is honestly your highest priority, then homeschooling will probably be too much pressure for your family.

Is your wife trying to hint to you that she wants you to be more involved or more appreciative of her efforts in the home or with the kids?  Often people don’t say exactly what they mean and women have a tendency to hint around rather than tell their husbands that they need some positive feedback.  If this is the case, showing her you appreciate all that she does and are happy with how the home runs would go far in resolving this concern.

Or is your wife organizationally challenged and your house is in fact overwhelmed by mess?

There are a lot of strategies to help create systems but I always suggest parents get the kids involved in cleaning up.  There’s no reason that a mother should be doing the bulk of the work on her own once she has kids who are old enough to help.  You can get even very young children involved – my three year old delivers piles of clean laundry to each room, puts his dish in the sink, helps clean up toys and helps me load the washer, etc.  It’s enjoyable for young kids to do things with you when you approach it a fun way.

By working together with you they learn life skills, children learn an appreciation of what’s involved in keeping the house together (an appreciation they’re unlikely to value until they’re on the older side of their teenage years :)) and if you use the time to connect with them and not to be a drill sergeant, you build the relationship with them!  Win-win-win.  :)

There are a number of strategies that you can adopt to help keep your home running smoothly and people of all different organizational styles homeschool effectively.  Before you start thinking about what those strategies are (a google search will turn up loads of ideas), realize you can’t have it all.  You can’t have kids home all day and expect it to look like a home in a magazine.  And would you really want to?