Be Careful of Expectations

by Mary Ann on March 19, 2015

Majestic and Cathy

Expectations and Living In The Moment


I knew a BIG black dog named Majestic. He belonged to my friend Cathy. I am sure that in his prime he was majestic. But when I knew him he was far along in age and had begun to slow down…alot! His hips hurt and his eyesight had gone.

Majestic could no longer run freely and chase balls or people. He frequently ran into furniture, if it had been moved. If you came into the room and walked towards him he would stagger to his feet and try to get out of your way, not quite sure which way to go. He couldn’t wrestle with the kids anymore.

MajesticYou would think that this once majestic dog would have been very unhappy. But he wasn’t. In fact, Majestic wasn’t sad at all. He was glad to be alive. He was open to sniffing your hand, getting a pat or two and sleeping in the sun. He was grateful for every good thing and seemed to take the bad in stride.

I have often thought about this since Majestic passed away. How could a once energetic and magnificent dog be happy with where his life had taken him – to aching hips and blind eyes? I have come to the conclusion that it has to do with expectations. Majestic just didn’t have any. He lived in the moment and took things exactly as they came.

I have noticed that expectations are the thing that gets me into the most trouble. If what I think should happen doesn’t then I have a hard time accepting what is and enjoying that.

Expectations Can Get Us In Trouble

Here are some perfect examples of what I am talking about. A friend of mine took her family of three boys, ages 9, 6 and 3, on a road trip. They were finishing up a years study of minerals and rocks. As a family they had had some amazing experiences. This trip was going to cap it all off perfectly. She knew just how it was going to go.

A few weeks later she gave me a call. I asked her how the trip went and she said, “Well, it was OK but it didn’t turn out as well as I hoped.” I asked her what went wrong and she told me all the things that they didn’t get to do. She was especially sad about all the journaling that didn’t get done.

I then asked her to tell me what they did do. They went to a dinosaur dig and had a fun day. They sang a ton of songs in their van as they traveled. They had some cool conversations about how the earth was created and what space is like. They dug for gems one afternoon.

“My goodness”, I replied, “there are mothers out there who would give anything for a week like that with their kids”. There was a pause on the Majestic and Preslyother end of the line and then she said, “Your right. I guess it was a pretty good trip after all. I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

Another mom was telling me about their failure of a home school day. I asked her why it was a failure. She detailed a project to me that she had planned for her kids. The end product just didn’t turn out very well. I asked her if they had fun and learned anything. She said yes, but she wished the project had turned out better.

She missed the point of doing something with her children – to be Present with them, connect and have fun. As far as I could see, and in fact what her kids saw, was that it was a great home school day.

Another friend and her children worked on their garden all day long. It was beautiful. When she wasn’t paying attention the water got turned on and it was on a long time. The garden was ruined. She could have said to herself or her kids, “What a waste of a day!” But she didn’t. She was grateful for the fun time they spent together and she told me it was a day they won’t soon forget, even if it has to be redone.

Let Your Expectations Go When Working and Playing With Kids

It isn’t just worthwhile if the project or experiment turns out perfectly, if the garden grows and there is a harvest or if boys spend a week writing in a journal. All the time we spend with our children matters, both in the good times and the not so good times.

And there it is. We sometimes suck the joy right out of an activity, a family trip, a child-parent moment because it wasn’t what we had in our mind; it didn’t stand up to our expectations.

When we are planning an activity with our children it is sometimes very wise to let all of our expectations go; not to plan ahead how it should all end but just remember to enjoy the process we are having with our children. That is why children have so much fun. They just enjoy the process.

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Not my friend but this woman is 110. Beautiful!!!

I have a friend who was  111 in February of 2015. You read that right, 111!! She lives with her daughter who is 87. She is in good health. She can get around with her walker. She bathes herself, feeds herself and is as sharp as a tack. Her name is Anna and she is Italian.

It has been fun watching Anna. I have learned a lot. Sometimes when I am with her it is like watching a movie in slow motion. She conserves her energy. She does everything slowly and with great thought. I guess in 110 years you figure out that there is no need to hurry. There is time for anything that matters.

She also conserves her energy when a conversation is going on. She listens a lot. If you ask her a question her answer is short and to the point. I guess in 110 years you learn that you can get more from listening than from talking and that most things don’t need to be said.

Where Do We Spend Our Time? In Management or Relationship

It has also been fascinating watching the interaction between Anna and her daughter. Now remember that her daughter is 87 and that she is responsible for her mother who is 110, almost 111. A huge percentage of their conversations sound like this:

Mom, please go take your shower and don’t mess up the bathroom.
Mom, stop slurping your food. You’re going to choke.
Mom, why did you do that!
Mom, wake up. You can’t sleep at the table.
For goodness sake get dressed. It’s already 10.
Mom, you’re wearing me out.

To me she might say:

Mom has really been naughty this week.
I’ll tell you I am so worn out.
I think that mom is having a pity party. She just wants attention.
Sometimes I think she pushes my buttons on purpose.

imagesDoes this sound familiar to you? Of course it does. It sounds as if she is talking to or about a three year old, a nine year old, a twelve year old. It has been fascinating to see that when you are in the position of custodial care for another person you spend a lot of your time in management and only a fraction in actual relationship.

Anna’s daughter loves her a lot, but let’s face it, when you are in charge of the health and well being of another person you feel a great weight of responsibility. You also carry the burden of all that has to be done: food to cook, clothes to wash, floors to clean, and beds to make and on and on. It doesn’t matter if you are 20 years old and have a one year old, are 35 with seven children or are 87 with a mother who is 110. Add to this, if you are a parent, the constant noise, chaos, movement, questions and messes of children.

You can see why the above conversations are so common and why the conundrum of management vs relationship exists.

What can we do to increase our relationship time? Seven TIPS!

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it may give you an idea or two that you can add to your daily interactions with your children:

• As you walk through a room and see one of your children, touch them on their back, arm or shoulder. Don’t say anything just give a squeeze or a pat. You can do this a hundred times a day and use up only a few minutes.

• If you see a child sitting on the couch, at the table, on their bed or anywhere, stop, sit by them, stay for 20-30 seconds, then squeeze a knee, give a quick hug and go on your way. No need to say a word.

• When a child comes and asks a question stop what you are doing and make eye contact, smile. Then answer. If you feel interrupted keep it to yourself.

• Have a family reading time, even if it is only once a week for 15 minutes. Be consistent with whatever you can do. The amount of days in a week and the amount of time per session matter far less than being consistent. While reading cuddle up. Lots of pillows and blankets.

• When it is time for your kids to brush their teeth go with them. While they brush have a conversation. Start by making any random comment such as, “When I was a kid I liked red socks” or “My favorite cartoon was Baby Huey”. Then be quiet and wait for a response. No response, wait for 30 seconds and try again. This whole process is about 3 minutes because that is all the time it takes to brush teeth.

• Have dinner conversations no matter who spills milk, slurps their soup or tips over their chair. You can get it going by saying, “Guess what I saw today” or “Do you know what my boss did” or “Hey, did anyone have anything fun happen today?” Coming back from your fifth trip to the kitchen to get something for someone – smile and say, “Guess what I saw today”, you know what to do. : )

• If a child is supposed to be cleaning their room, don’t just go in every 30 minutes and yell because they aren’t doing it. Go in and say, “How’s it going? Let me help you clean under your bed, or clean out the closet, or pick up your dirty clothes, etc. Then have one of those random conversations. Stay about 5 minutes, talking and helping, and then go do your own stuff. Return in about 20-30 minutes and repeat. This may seem like a waste of your time, when they should just clean their own room, but it pays dividends. Your kids rooms will get cleaned, you won’t yell, you may have a wonderful conversation and maybe even a laugh.

Please share the thoughts that come to your mind. How do you connect and stay Present?

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Be Careful What You Say – Make It Kind!

by Mary Ann on March 2, 2015

The Final Winner!!


The winner of this weeks book give away is Kelli Gates! Congratulations! Your autographed copy is in the mail. I hope everyone enjoyed hearing about Norma Jean’s journey from a childhood dream, through motherhood and right on to author. I know it has inspired me. Today I want to talk about how we can make or break our children, friends and family…well, even complete strangers.

“Our words carry enormous weight. More than we sometimes think. They often impact people for decades, providing the courage to press on or one more reason to give up.” Michael Hyatt

bradyWho Wears Shoes TOO Big?

My daughter Kate wore shoes that were a size too big for many years after she became a teenager. I didn’t realize she was doing that. In fact, she was married before I found out. Her husband found out first and he called her on it.

“Why do you buy shoes that are a size too big”, he asked her. She replied that she had big feet and needed a bigger size. Well, eventually the whole story came out.

She doesn’t really have big feet. She wears the same size that I do, a respectable eight. But one day when she was a child her dad said something that impacted her for years.

We were hiking and she had climbed a tree. Kate was about eight or nine. She lifted her foot and set it on a branch. Her dad made what seemed like an innocent comment, “Hey Big Foot”. The rest is history. She computed that to mean that she had big feet.

Easter4 resizedI Believed I WAS Fat!

When I was about eight my grandma said something that impacted me for all of my childhood and many years into my adulthood. She owned a Sweet Shop in Afton, Wyoming. I loved going there and she would let me work the candy counter and bag popcorn.

We grandkids could have lots of nickel and penny candy but we were never allowed to have chocolate bars because they cost a quarter. One day, before I had all the unspoken rules down, I asked her if I could have a Twix bar. I had never had one and Don and I 3they seemed so wonderful up on the highest shelf. She said, “No, do you want to get fat.”

Another pretty innocent comment but here is what I heard and believed for many years…”You are fat”.

The TRUTH is I Have Beautiful Eyes!!!

Not only did I begin believing I was fat, I believed that I must be really unattractive because I was fat. But when I was seventeen I was at the home of a woman who was doing some alterations on a dress for me. Her husband told me that I had the most beautiful brown eyes. I know that it seems incredible because I didn’t even know the man, but I believed him. I had beautiful eyes! Even now at 65, when I look into the mirror I think to myself, “Man, you have beautiful eyes.”

Pigs or Pig Sty…That Was the Question

When I was a middle aged mom, with six of my seven children, I came down the stairs one day to the sight of a totally cluttered living room.  As I gazed out over the room and the many children playing there I said, “This room is a pig sty”. Many years later, when my oldest child was in her late thirties we were having a conversation about moms and how they should talk to their children. I made the comment that although I wasn’t perfect I at least never called anyone names. My daughter looked at me in astonishment and said, “yes you did”. I, equally astonished, asked her to tell me when. She replied, “Well, one day you came down the stairs and you said, “You are such pigs!”

Wow, talk about two different views of the same experience. We talked about it. What we both realized is that children hear what they hear and we just need to be careful what we say, because children don’t always hear the words…they hear the feeling.

It is not just children that hear a comment and then believe it. It isn’t just the young that are affected by what is said to them. Let me illustrate. I will have to tell on myself a bit, but for the sake of emphasis I will do it. : )

The SATISFYING Laugh, Ahhh!

My youngest daughter is married to a really  wonderful man. We like him a lot and frankly, he thinks we are great too. Recently I was talking to my daughter on the phone and she said something that made me laugh.

I have to stop here and say something about my laugh. It is distinctive and it can be loud. I have a witch laugh that is legendary and on Halloween I am called upon to do it a lot. Frequently, during the year, a grandchild will say, “Grandma do the witch laugh.” Now all of my laughter isn’t witchy but that just lets you know it is distinctive and sometimes loud. I have always been a bit self conscious about it.

tumblr_mf4oc2DhGW1qbta5fo1_500Back to the phone conversation. I laughed and I heard my son in law say something in the back ground. “Mom, Brady said he likes your laugh.” That was such an odd comment that I asked her “Why?” She asked him and then came back on line and said, “He said it is satisfying.” Isn’t that the most amazing thing to have someone say?

Here is what has happened from that chance comment. Every time I laugh I think to myself, “That is so satisfying.” I am no longer self conscious, but  pleased.

Our words can be very powerful for both good and bad. We need to be thoughtful in how we talk to our children and others, about their strengths and their weaknesses, because sometimes what we say can impact them for decades.

In all of our teaching and interactions with our children we should be kind.

In all of our teaching and interactions with our children we should be kind. Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years. The same is true of the off hand or unkind chance remark.

Before you speak ask yourself: “Is what I am about to say going to uplift the hearer? Will it inspire, motivate, and create forward momentum for them? Will it dissolve fear and create safety and trust? Will I create a positive or negative ripple effect by speaking out these words?” (from Harness the Power of Words By Barbara White)

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The Interrupted Life and Fulfilling a Dream

by Mary Ann on February 20, 2015

 Another winner!!


unnamed (1)Well the house did not burn down!!! But the grandkids did visit and the dishes were piled up. So I am posting  Friday morning, not Thursday. Remember, I warned you in advance. : )

I also decided to draw for this weeks winner today because I am going to be spending the weekend with more grandkids and I want to PLAY!

The winner of this weeks book give away is Carolyn! Congratulations! Your autographed copy will be in the mail next week. Enjoy!

Today we begin the last book give away and you can be part of it.

Just leave a comment below about who in your life has inspired you to hold fast to a dream and then share on Twitter or Facebook.

 How to be true to your season and still fulfill your dream?

As I mentor parents one theme seems to run through for everyone. How can I raise my family and still fill my mission or get my own education or fulfill my dream? I asked the same question when I was raising my family. Sometimes it seemed that I couldn’t take care of one season of my life without giving up something precious to me – my dream. In my case it was to be a speaker and teacher. For Norma Jean it was writing.

It is interesting that many of the most celebrated people have come face to face with the same questions. And the answer is always the same. If we are true to our season in life and hold on to our dreams then we can do all that we need to and ought to do in this life. Norma Jean raised a family and is now a writer. I raised my family and now I am a speaker/teacher. Today’s post is about another parent, one you will instantly recognize, who raised a family and still fulfilled his dream. If Nathaniel Hawthorne could do it, if Norma Jean could do it, if I did it, then so can you!

Here is part III of the posts by Norma Jean Lutz and the first day of our third book give away.

My Fiction Quill Lay Unused

hawthorneAt one time in my career, I was commissioned by Chelsea House Publishing to write a series of what they referred to as bio-critiques. I wrote the bio for a number of noted novelists, and someone else wrote the critique section of the book.

One of the authors I was privileged to write about was Nathaniel Hawthorne. Studying and researching about his life brought me to a deep appreciation of this man.

He was addicted to writing novels in a day and age when novels weren’t that acceptable nor popular. All he ever wanted to do was spend time writing his novels.

I so related to his heart’s cry.

However, just like for all of us, life interrupted. Hawthorne had to make a living for his family. He worked at the Salem Custom-House – a job he despised. During this time, he wrote in a letter to a friend,

“My fiction quill lay unused.”

Those words were so poignant and heart-wrenching to me, I scribbled them on a little post-it note and stuck it on my computer monitor. Later, the sticky wore off so I taped it. There it remained for many years. Because, like Hawthorne, my fiction quill lay unused. And it broke my heart.

Through the years, (as a single, self-supporting female) I tried a number of ways to earn a living without having to give up my entire being – so I could continue to write.

One such instance was selling insurance. I thought perhaps I could earn a living and still have time and energy to write. (Not.)  I studied all the material, took the test, passed the test, joined a small agency near where I lived and embarked on a rather lucrative adventure.

This particular type of sales involved travel. We came to the office on Friday for a sales meeting and to receive our “leads” and to learn our “sales area” for the following week. I left town early Tuesday morning. I followed up on appointments Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, returning home on Thursday night.

Ironically, I was good at selling insurance; I was earning a good income; yet I was miserable. I quickly learned that this lifestyle left me totally void of time or energy to create fiction.

Like Hawthorne, My fiction quill lay unused.

So I began saving my money. I had an amount in my mind that I would need to carry me over to complete a certain novel. When that amount was in my savings, I quit and picked up my fiction quill and finished my novel. Oh the joy…!

As for Hawthorne, he was laid off. That’s right, he lost his job. What did he do? Finished his novel! Just like any dedicated novelist would do.

Nathaniel Hawthorne and I are many hundreds of years apart, cultures apart, and circumstances as different as night and day – and yet our hearts are so similar.

So where is your fiction quill? Are you miserable because it’s been abandoned? What can you do to allow you to pick it up again and put an end to your misery?

If Hawthorne did it; if I did it – so can you!

 Follow Norma Jean’s blog for many more tips and techniques about the writing life.

In case you missed Part I or Part II. : )


NormaJean Lutz

NormaJean Lutz

Oklahoma author, Norma Jean Lutz, is author of over 50 published books, plus hundreds of articles and short stories. As a popular workshop speaker and writing instructor, her expertise in novel writing is stellar. Not only does she enjoy writing, she also enjoys extending a helping hand to up-and-coming novelists.

First Title in the Norma Jean Lutz Classic Collection Flower in the Hills

 Flower in the Hills    Available on Amazon Kindle or Paperback Edition

 Second Title in the Norma Jean Lutz Classic Collection

Tiger Beetle at Kendallwood   Available on Amazon Kindle or Paperback Edition         Tiger Beetle at Kendallwood

Rockin into RomanceThird Title in the Norma Jean Lutz Classic Collection

Rockin’ into Romance   Available on Amazon Kindle or Paperback Edition

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