Happy Mother’s Day: My Tribute & Your Challenge

60 Minutes with an Old Friend

A few months ago, I sat with an old friend at my office conference room table. There is a lot I did not know about my old friend until recently. Having worked with a wholesale fine foods company for years, he has made many friends with chefs and restaurant owners. He has access to organic, artisan ingredients. You should see his IG posts of his creations that he makes from scratch at home. The colors are gorgeous, and his organization and creativity are impeccable.

From there, our conversation moved to his loss of 40+ pounds through 4am work outs and changing his overall mindset. He talked about some of his closest friends who he is there for and who are there for him. He admitted that he was a really good friend but has been a terrible husband, twice. That brought us to his single dad status and the parenting of his curly red-haired spitfire.

My Friend’s Great Question

He asked me a great question about parenting. He asked me to tell him my core values when it came to parenting. He knows my 17-year-old boy pretty well and he asked how we helped him turn out so well. I gladly would have accepted the Quinn compliment alone. But he gave me a platform right there in my conference room to talk about my parenting style.  I didn’t know I had such strong core values.  They started flying out of my mouth one by one over the next fifteen or twenty minutes.

The rest of this post is about the values I shared with my friend. It’s also about reflecting upon your values this Mother’s Day week. It’s about challenging you to talk to your people about your values and how they are blooming (or maybe hiding) in your own life.

This Post is a Tribute to Mothers, Biological, Spiritual and Adoptive Alike.

To clarify, if you don’t have biological or adopted kids, I am sure that you are a mentor or an auntie to some chubby toddler or awkward tween that needs you. You too are a mother, and this post belongs to you.

We each have our core values and varying parenting style, whether we are mentoring biological, spiritual or adoptive kids. I suspect that much of what we bring into this role comes from our own mothers, aunties and female mentors. Much of what I am going to say comes from my mom (and dad) and the rest comes toppling out of my own life experience.

My Intention is to Help You Reflect this Mother’s Day.

Before I lay out what I shared with my friend, I will tell you in advance my intention. It is my hope that you will take the next few days leading to Mother’s Day to think about your core parenting values. Jot a few of your core values down. Let them swim in your mind. Maybe write down another one or two or revise one of your earlier thoughts. You will eventually be satisfied with what your have reduced to writing. I am confident of that.

Challenge No. 1

Once you have that part done, I challenge and encourage to reach out to one of your mother figures or mother. Share with her the parts of your parenting that you graciously account to her blood, sweat and tears. This is a gift to her in and of itself.

Challenge No. 2

Next, I challenge and encourage you to share with your biological, adoptive or spiritual kids what matters to you and ask them if they can see that in your life. This could be a bit risky on a day where you are not really hoping for any surprising feedback. Nonetheless, this conversation will bless you and help you grow (one way or another).

Here goes, soul sisters.

Value #1 – Follow Your Dreams

My mom cheered each of us as if we were the most likely person to succeed. She helped us try lots of new things and provided the best tools within her reach. She let us go as far as we desired when it came succeeding. The world does a good job of knocking you down and chipping at your self-esteem. But I’ve always had just enough faith to keep going because of my mom. Even at the rock bottom, dark night of the soul, my mom has been there to encourage me towards hope.

Part of the Follow Your Dreams value is that race, ethnicity, economics or gender is not a reality strong enough to limit our dreams. I was the first on my mom’s side to go to college. Her parents were the kid’s of first generation immigrants. I was one of the few girls in the DECA business club in high school. I made it through college and law school, often times, by counting change.  

In my own experience, I understand the hardship of being a woman and not having a lot of financial resources to work with. I also acknowledge the privileges I was afforded. But that wasn’t what my mom’s value was all about. It was about not allowing limits to define your future.

The last part of this value was that it was not just for us. My mom and dad taught us to see and treat others with the same limitless value. Of course, I didn’t grow up colorless or genderless or classless. But we were taught that dreams are limitless for ourselves and dreams are limitless for others. This value had a direct impact on how we viewed and treated others – with respect and value as a person who had limitless dreams too.

Value #2 – Help Others Right Where You Are

My family had a strong ethic to help others. Back in the day, the Sun Sentinel ran an annual article around Easter time with a list of local families you could help. Clearly, privacy laws were not intact thirty/forty years ago. My mom would pick a family from the list. She would contact them directly and ask them what they needed. We would bring gift cards (or whatever it was back then) and Easter baskets and visit the family most of that year.

It was awkward going into neighborhoods and homes we weren’t familiar with. The food looked and smelled different. The little kids pulled at and played with my hair. But my mom always had a connection with the mother or grandmother. We all, the family and us, smiled and laughed through the awkwardness.

This is just one example. My mom has mentored neighborhood kids. Hired women just out of jail. Helped women educate themselves. Poured into countless homeless men and women. She took us along with her for the ride and hoped we would do the same in our own lives.

Value #3 – Give Them Wings and Let Them Go

Part of the freedom of growing up as my mom’s kid was that she was clear that her job was to give us wings so that we could fly on our own. She poured into us deeply but not in such a way that exhibited control or dependency on either part. We knew well that we were revving up to go out into the world. That created a sense of ownership and drive to move forward even if we were a little scared. She provided a foundation of care that created confidence to take steps in our own direction.

Value #4 – Maintain your Character at any Cost

By no means did I learn this on my own, but it could not feel more personal. As I reflect on business ownership over the last 16 years. As I reflect on friendships over a lifetime. As I reflect on marriage. As I reflect, Matthew 16:26 comes to mind.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

In a very competitive business field, where kickbacks and shady incentives are all around me, I’ve had to lean into this verse. It’s not so much that it’s been difficult not to make such an offer in exchange for business. It’s that others ask it of me. It has been fairly easy for me to say no. However, a few years ago I lost 30% of my business because I clung to Matthew 16:26. It was a very scary day when that happened. But it has never been clearer to me that character is worth the loss when and if that happens. I hope my kids see that in my life.

Value #5 – A Spark of Hope is Enough – Just Keep it Lit

My mom says that panic, anxiety and depression were never part of my personality or who I am. It was circumstances that ushered in and cracked the joy and freedom inside of me. In the years leading up to 2016 (when I crashed), I knew that from time to time, I felt a sadness; a lack of control of tears; and an endless feeling that “everything was lost.”

When friends, family and others think of me, I hate to think that this part of my story rises above the beauty that God has made from the dark times. That’s what parenting value #5 is about.

A spark of hope is enough.

The light does become dim sometimes. There isn’t necessarily an hourglass to tell you when the sun will reach noon again. But I do know that during these times, just a spark of hope is enough. It’s the mustard seed or yeast effect. If you can place your speck of hope in the hands of the Trinity, they will keep the light lit just long enough for the sun to come out again.

In these dim times, I ask the Holy Spirit to come in to break down walls and throw the enemy in the lake of fire for a swim. I let myself feel the cheek of the Father next to mine as I allow Him to give me rest in the night. I trust that my brother and savior Jesus – who has a full understanding of who I am and streets I walk – will lead and teach me through all that I lack.

This is what it means that a spark of hope is enough. This is how I’ve learned to keep it lit. This is what I hope my kids see and turn to when the full sun is hidden from them.

Biological, Spiritual and Adoptive Mothers alike. This post is for you.

Mothers, it will have been a miracle for you to have finished this piece in one sitting. I hope you’ve read it in pieces at red lights, as you dosed off to sleep, as you’ve waited at the doc’s office with your aging parents, at lunch or on coffee break. I hope that you’ve taken just enough time to read for your own core values in parenting to spark.

I am including the challenges below again for you. What a pain to scroll up to find them!

My Intention is to Help You Reflect this Mother’s Day.

It is my hope that you will take the next few days leading to Mother’s Day to think about your core parenting values. Jot a few of your core values down. Let them swim in your mind. Maybe write down another one or two or revise one of your earlier thoughts. You will eventually be satisfied with what you have reduced to writing. I am confident of that.

Challenge No. 1

Once you have that part done, I challenge and encourage to reach out to one of your mother figures or mother. Share with her the parts of your parenting that you graciously account to her blood, sweat and tears. This is a gift to her in and of itself.

Challenge No. 2

Next, I challenge and encourage you to share with your biological, adoptive or spiritual kids what matters to you and ask them if they can see that in your life. This could be a bit risky on a day where you are not really hoping for any surprising feedback. Nonetheless, this conversation will bless you and help you grow (one way or another).

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Spring Collaboration with my Mom!

This is my beautiful mom. Over her life, she’s baked to make a living, baked to make others feel special, baked for charity, baked to express her poema. She’s an artist and the hardest working person I know.

We collaborated for Spring!

SPRING COLLECTION INCLUDES

  • 2 pounds of her handmade cookies in a box
  • Recipe for Shortbread Dipped in White Chocolate
  • Spring Bucket List
  • Spring Tips to help you love and grow this Spring!
  • $59.99, Including Hand delivery to Broward, Dade and Palm Beach
  • Order by March 31
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I Answered, Who Am I? It’s Your Turn!

Ever have the thought that you wished you met your expectations of yourself?

Not in a depressive kind of way. Just in a super candid kind of way.

I pretty much always wish I could do more.

Big ideas. Big plans. Lots of details. And the décor of it all looks beautiful.

That what lives in my mind anyway.

I will leave some big open space for you to think about that and make a few observations of yourself. This will all make sense in a few paragraphs.

Here are two thoughts for you today.

The first thought comes from the new book I am reading. The book is called Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First, by Laura Tremaine. I am going to ask you the question she asks in the first chapter. I’ll give you my answer first (as she also does) and then I will lovingly encourage and challenge you to answer also. To a friend. In person. Over the Phone. By Text. By commenting to this post. Whatever. Take time to know and be known.

Let yourself answer despite the insurmountable problems or people you are facing today. Despite the long list of adult things that need your attention, skill and time. Because, really, you can’t tell me you don’t have twenty minutes. You may think you don’t, but you do. Believe me, I have been there, on both sides of this claim. I know the time lives in your twenty-four hours, you must claim it as your own.

Did that sound harsh? I meant it to be a tad stern. Claiming twenty minutes is a version of self-care. I want that for both of us.

The question is

Who are you?

Don’t run just yet. I did say I would go first (as the author also does).

But still don’t run just yet. It may be a deep question, but it can be expressed in a few simple ways. The author says, I am asking how you see yourself . . . where you’re from, what your family looks like, what your passionate about. She says to come up with three to five things you would tell a potential new friend over coffee.

What Does My Family Look Like?

I’m me.

I’m a mom to Quinn and Leila. My first born is gentle, mighty, present, humorous and witty, pure hearted and resilient. My daughter is a diamond, physically and mentally strong. She shines and gets me every time with her contagious laughter. I describe them because their qualities, in part, describe me.

I was recently asked by an old friend who is now a single dad – What are your core values when it comes to parenting? I spontaneously shared four things.

  • No matter how much money you have, no matter the color of your skin, you can do anything. Treat yourself and treat others just like that.
  • Serve others. Go out into the community and find a way to love others.
  • No matter the cost, choose integrity.
  • Be humble. Offer yourself to God. Offer yourself to others. Choose mercy and grace for yourself and others.

I share my core values because they describe who I am.

I learned the first two from my mom and dad. My mom was a young woman in love with my dad who was a few years older (who was equally in love with her). They are both intensely idealist. I believe their strong commitment to equality comes from their vision of idealism.

They both believe the best and are greatly disappointed and maybe even wounded when others choose a path of darkness or harm. Because, as idealists, there is always a path to freedom, light and peace. They both served their community with their gifts and, as kids, we were part of that intentional effort. I am who I am in my everyday life and as a parent because of them.

No Matter the Cost, Choose Integrity

I learned the third from owning a business and being the practice of real estate law for the last twenty years. If you want to know how questionable my field can be, ask Anna’s mom Suzanne D. We both are real estate veterans, and she tells the narrative better than I do.

The bottom line is that we all have opportunities to take short cuts with our work or take or give unlawful kickbacks/favors. Nothing is won in dark or murky waters. And, I have found that, even when I expected to suffer great loss for choosing integrity, the worst never happened, and God paved a way.

Be Humble

The last I learned from my brother Cameron’s observations of me. He told me years ago, after I was enraged about a movie I had just seen, that it was obvious why I was so upset. I hate the quality of arrogance and that was a character trait of the lead role in the movie. I then realized that I value humility. Hence, be humble.

I have told you about my family of origin, a little bit about my kids. (Never too much because they have asked that of me). My words have told you how I see myself. My core values shape what I am passionate about, which is the last element of the question. Here goes.

What Am I Passionate About?

My passions play out in my LOVE OF SHARING. Emphasis necessary because I love it so much. I love to share through writing, teaching, talking, making friends and encouraging people to become who God created them to be.

I am currently passionate about being in the moment. I have become very excellent at doing in the moment. But I am shifting with great intention to being in the moment. In fact, that will be the topic of my next class. You can do me the great favor of praying for that for me.

Okay, I did it. In twenty minutes or less. I answered, Who am I? Your turn!

Answer with a friend. In person. Over the Phone. By Text. By commenting to this post. Whatever. Just do it!

I mentioned that I had two thoughts for you. The second thought is a verse.

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Genesis 2:2

Do this favor for me. Take twenty minutes to answer Who Am I? and then take twenty more before you fall asleep tonight. The second twenty is for your rest. Acknowledge all the work you have done this day. Know that, to God, even if no one else in your life acknowledges it, your rest is holy ground. Take the speckled outcome of the day and give it to Him. And, then my dear sisters, go to bed in peace.

Love,

Sasha

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Convictions: Now is the Time to Own Them

All throughout the spring and summer of 2020, I read. The daily timeline and load were so different, so gentle to my soul, that I read two books at a time.

I read in bed in the morning and I read outside in the sun in the afternoon. Initially, I didn’t see the recurring book themes. But, by the end of year, I graciously accepted what I gained from the patterns that I saw in the pages.

I graciously accepted that the arrows were pointing toward living differently.

How long does it take to gain a new pattern or habit?

The experts say it takes about 66 days, or two months. I find it humorous that I am writing to you at the first week of March, almost two months from the beginning of the year. Exactly the time in which it takes the brain to learn new habits.

The pattern that spoke to me on the pages of books. The pattern that I have been working quite hard at the last few months. IS. A SET. OF DISCIPLINES. Almost all of the disciples start with S – which I like because most of my closest friends’ names start with S.

My nature is to tell you about all the fails. All the places that I am falling short or plain out forgetting to care about. On the other hand, I could show you my calendar which would evidence the tools and wins that I have experienced as patterns form.

But I will do neither.

Instead, I am sharing with you the dance in my mind and spirit as I live and breathe in new wineskins.

I can’t seem to get away from the parable of the wineskins. It has merged in my mind with Galatians 2:18.

If I rebuild those things that I tore down, I show myself to be a lawbreaker.

Here is what I said in December and in February and now again in March:

You can’t put new wine into old wineskins, or the container will burst. You can’t rebuild what God tore down. Or else. You’ll burst. Or be a lawbreaker. Both sound bad.

I’m finding that the wineskin parable is about creating new patterns and not going back to the old habits that are slowly dying. Remember, new habits take at least 66 days to form, so yes, it is a slow death of the old.

Let’s pause here mamas.

Trying to live in the old is a slow death.

Even if it feels painful, boring, maddening or maybe you’re just too numb or bitter? Even so. Stop for just a moment.

Consider whether you are living and breathing something that was meant to be dead. Write it down right now. Scribble it somewhere. There is always something dead to shed. Don’t be so afraid of the new that you won’t acknowledge what needs to go.

I will tell you what I am trying to let die.

Dead to Shed #1: Missing/Hitting the Mark

I am trying to let die the belief that I haven’t hit the mark as a person when I don’t put in a blow out day at the law firm. I started writing down everything I do in a day in a journal once or twice a week. I am proving to myself that I do a lot at the law firm. That I do a lot in life. Changing my “markers” is a path to changing how I judge the success of the day – which is, in turn, shifting my worth towards the way of Jesus and not the way of Sasha.

I don’t want to kill you with me and my dying beliefs/habits. But. I have three more.

Dead to Shed #2: Impacting the Global Poor

I have been convinced (by one of the authors of one of the books) that, if I don’t spend any money one day per week, then I will positively impact the global poor who are working seven days a week for little pay or as slaves in factories that are producing the stupid stuff I order on Amazon. One day per week of no purchasing could result in one day of rest for one soul. It’s a slow death, but I will do it in 66 days or less.

Dead to Shed #3: One Person/One Moment

I am letting die the notion that impact is measured by big numbers. I am replacing it with a simple trust in God that tells me that intentionality and obedience in this very moment is better than claiming to have faith big enough to cover a whole lifetime. One person and one moment matters greatly.

Dead to Shed #4: Headspace Over Multitasking

I am attempting to let die multitasking in exchange for headspace. I pride myself on doing many things at once. But sometimes I can choose differently. I can drive without Bluetooth tasking, texting or emailing. I can listen to a podcast without grocery shopping on Instacart or planning my week. I can complete a bible study without stopping to text at every whim. How about silence instead of multitasking? I think God has something to say if I just allowed the headspace.

Is the title of this blog starting to make sense?

In the course of the last two months, I initially set out to live by a few new principles that required the carving out of time, adjusting my head space and toning down the pace in my mind. The first month was mostly about intentionality and discipline.

But then something different began to happen. I began to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

In my momentary choices, I began to feel the choice between the old and new habit. The old ways were just not right for the new wineskins. As I felt the conviction and the opportunity to change, it occurred to me that this is more than the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I own these new wineskins. These are my Convictions too.

Sister, here is where I feel peace and joy. As I recognize and acknowledge the fruit, I see how much I like the feeling of agreeing with the Trinity.

My commitment to new patterns and ways of living are my firmly held beliefs – My Convictions. It’s not about running for cover and curling up in a ball as the Holy Spirit convicts, it’s about claiming the Convictions. Living the Convictions. Declaring the Convictions. I feel joy as I claim the Conviction that the Holy Spirit offers me. I like that I can own the change in my life.

I won’t get too mountain toppish here. The reality is that some days I win on a few fronts and lose on others and then it flip flops the very next day. Sometimes I blow air at the conviction of the Holy Spirit and cling to the old wineskins. But I don’t like that feeling in the end.

For some, they say, it can take up to 254 days to form a habit. It takes longer for some of us to “teach” our neurons to fire up over the new patterns instead of the old. I don’t really want to take 254 days to stop contributing to oppressing the poor or multitasking over the voice of the Father. Or, basing worth or value on the vastness of achievements. Right?

What’s your list?

What are your convictions?

What new neurons do you want to fire up?

What are you missing because you’ve got the wrong noise turned up?

Who are you negatively impacting with your actions?

What part of yourself needs to be acknowledged as valuable and what part of yourself needs to turn off or tone down?

Claim Your Convictions. Live Your Convictions. Declare Your Convictions.

Feel joy as you claim the Convictions that the Holy Spirit offers you. You can own the change in your life.

Love,

Sasha

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Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Stubborn or Stuck?

In my family, we have a stubborn strain running through our DNA.

I’m not particularly against it.

This kind of stubborn keeps you from giving up when it matters. It helps you stay for the long haul in relationships and friendships. And, it keeps you following your dreams even as life’s seasons change and morph.

We are particularly stubborn with people. We believe the best, want the best and don’t like to see our loved ones give up. Whether career paths, raising families, hobbies or passions, we give you every reason to keep going no matter the obstacle.

This kind of stubborn can take you far.

When you just keep showing up and not giving up, the balance tends to fall on the good side of the pursuit. My mom says reach for the moon because you may just land on a star. This is the sparkly, shiny, shimmery side of stubborn.

Stubborn has another side. You can call it the matte finish, dull side or mix-all-of-the-paint-colors-together poo color. Yes, I did say that. It’s my middle brother’s fav emoji when he doesn’t like what I say.

This is the other side of stubborn:

  • I can’t see the (bad) reality of my marriage or close friendship.
  • I’m not a people pleaser; I just care a lot about whether people accept me.
  • Of course I understand grace, I just like to work hard to prove my value.
  • I trust God, but I feel abandoned when I don’t understand the hard things in my life.

This is the flip side of the good stubborn.

When life is going fairly well, it is hard to know if you have the good stubborn in your DNA or whether you are headed for stuck.

I remember stuck well.

The old version of myself really believed I could do it all. Full time work. Present mothering. Domestic queen. Write a book. Take two classes. Volunteer. I was very stubborn about this.

Until one day, I couldn’t go anymore.

Really, that’s what happened. I got out of bed one weekday morning. I walked partially down the hall in dim light to wake up my kids. I stopped half way and desperately prayed that I would make it back to my bed without collapsing or throwing up.

That was five years ago. It’s not possible to summarize the last five years. Instead, I have transparently shared bits and pieces of my story with you and what I have learned along the way. This post is yet another piece of that story and the growth that took place.

Are you stubborn or stuck? It’s a fine line.

I already said that the good stubborn can take you far.

The bad stubborn will take you down.

What is bad stubborn?

That’s when you are stuck. Although I tried really hard to recover from my burn out, I was using worn out tools that didn’t help me move or breathe again in new freedom. I really did try. I reflected a lot about who I wanted to be to my family and self. I wrote in my journal. I prayed. I talked to God. I got some rest. But not a lot changed.

The depression set in deeper. The anxiety began to show up during the day instead of just at night. The sound of the alarm clock caused my chest to feel like someone low volt tased me. Music turned up the anxiety instead of calming me. Work was one of the few things that steadied me. But that was one of the problems.

After getting worse, I began counseling. I mostly sat in silence for a few months. I wrote the counselor journal notes from my week. He would read them in advance of our meeting and then he would tell me stories that had principles tucked in them. After telling me the story, he would ask me what I got from it. I would eventually relearn my faith and gain an abundance of relevant tools to live by.

How does one move out of deep silence and extraordinary loss? The answers do not come with the degree I have.

But what I do know is that I had a significant revelation about six weeks into counseling. I determined that, although I had a fairly good view of myself in terms of strength, capabilities and relationship with God, there must be something off center. Otherwise, I would not be in the state I am in.

Ding. Ding. (That’s the bell of revelation).

I ventured into a new way living, a new way of understanding God and new tools to work with the mental illnesses that became part of my life at that time.

So, are you stubborn or are you stuck?

If you are good stubborn, you are pressing into the battles and obstacles that lead to life, freedom and service.

If you are bad stubborn, you probably are stuck.

I trust the timing of God. I wish that I had not suffered for the six months or so before I acknowledged I had to change the way I thought, my faith and the way I ran my life. My good stubborn ran out and I didn’t realize it. I had tipped the scales to stuck and stayed there until I almost completely lost my hope.

If you are in a place of anguish, anxiety, depression, burn out and emptiness, your good stubborn has run out. You are stuck. You will have to choose to give up your ways and relearn life and faith. Or you can remain flopping like a fish in a puddle craving oxygen.

Even if you don’t understand the path ahead or how you will navigate the loss, you will have to choose new life if you want to recover.

I am going to share my Big Three with you. This is all extra. I hope I have already said enough to help you decipher between stubborn and stuck.

The big three helped me sort my way out of silence.

Friendships

When it comes to friendships, very few are core. Most are circumstantial or peripheral. That’s okay. Cherish and rely on core friends. Enjoy the other friends as they move through the flow of your mutual lives.

Impossible Things

When it comes to control, remember that life is a moving target. The only control you have is over you. When hitting the target becomes impossible, it’s a cue that the arrow belongs to the Holy Spirit. Pass the impossibility to the one who is faithful to work out impossible things.

Expectations

When it comes to expectations, they must be based on past experience. Stay in reality when it comes to your expectations. When I am rooted in reality, I am able to plan my days with security. This means that whatever happens, I can do what’s right without fear. 1 Peter 3:6.

Do you know if you are stubborn or stuck?

The good stubborn will take you far.

If you’ve morphed into the bad stubborn, then you are probably stuck.

If you’re stuck, my hope is that you’ll simply acknowledge that there is a better way to live, think and believe. I didn’t understand the path ahead or how to navigate it, but that’s not a condition for getting unstuck. The condition is that you are willing to reach outside of yourself for wisdom, grace and the hope you need to change.

I love you my friends.

Love,

Sasha

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