My Midlife Oasis (I have no patience for a crisis) is always in a constant state of flux. Whoever said life would calm down and be simpler once the nest was empty was totally lying. TOTALLY LYING.
One of the latest ‘big things’ to happen in our lives was not just big…it was huge! We recently became In Laws!
Our oldest son married the love of his life a few weeks ago. Our family grew and we could not be happier. Seeing the love and respect these two amazing young people have for each other is incredibly heartwarming.
With this new role as a Mother in Law I felt the need to ponder what that might mean. The term Mother in Law (especially MIL of a new daughter in law) tends to conjure up thoughts of an evil, mean, heartless woman who is bent on asserting her authority and making the new bride miserable.
I think that is crazy.
My own mother in law always treated me with love, kindness and respect. She treated me as if I were her own daughter.
So today, as I think about this new role I have just stepped into, I want to say a few things to my new daughter in law and to my son… to make a few promises that I will try to always keep. I love you both and want the very best for you!
1) I promise to always be respectful of your marriage. It is a big change to go from Queen Bee in your little boy’s life to second fiddle. However it is a GOOD and proper change.
“FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.”
There it is, right there in the bible…and for good cause. A healthy, long lasting, happy marriage relies on this truth. I have seen the love and care and respect you show my son each and every day. I am so very happy to know he has you by his side and that you have his back. You both complement each other so well. It certainly eases this Mama’s heart and mind. I promise to always respect that.
2) I will always be there for both of you, you are both my children. I learned this well from my own Mother in law and plan on using her good example as a guideline. If either of you need me I will do all that is in my power to be there for you.
3) It is your house, your family. I promise to always call first. I promise to ask first. I promise to always treat you as Lady of the house. I will try my hardest to never ‘take over’ and if you feel I am, please tell me.
4) If you want my opinion or my advice, you just need to ask for it. I will be glad to share my thoughts, experiences and ideas with you on any and all topics. However I will not force them on you, I will wait until you ask. Never be afraid to ask, I will always answer!
5) Please know that if I ever do anything to hurt or upset either of you, I can guarantee it was unintentional. Tell me…I may not realize or may not have meant it the way you heard it. I would much prefer you tell me right away, rather than let bad feelings or misunderstandings fester.
6) I love you. Always. No matter what.
I am sure there are many things that I will learn and discover about being a new Mother in law. I hope my growing pains and my learning curve are not too painful for us all. You two get to ‘break us in’ on the whole In Law thing. So that means you will probably live through a few more growing pains than the rest! For that I apologize ahead of time.
Now that our daughter has just recently gotten engaged as well (Did I mention life has been HUGE around our house)…I will have to learn how to be Mother in Law to the new Groom soon enough!
So skin, we all have it. It is in fact the largest organ the human body has. It is also often overlooked.
I raise my hand here because I am very guilty of this. Beyond sunscreen (I am a very pale, freckled Irish skinned girl) I have done little to keep my skin healthy throughout my life. I do have some things on my side in this department: I do use sunscreen all of the time, I don’t smoke, and I have been blessed with fairly good genes in this department. However the last few years I have been noticing changes. My skin is drier and I am getting fine lines, broken blood vessels, dark circles under my eyes, etc. I am ok with my body aging. It is a fact of life folks. However I do want to have a healthy look. I do want soft skin. I don’t want to shift the aging process into high gear.
So I have been reading up on how to get and keep my skin nice and healthy and supple. I have been trying some new products as well. Totally new to me stuff. Cleansers, and primers, and serums. Seeing what makes me look and feel better and what doesn’t.
So, let’s talk about some of the things I have learned, shall we?
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure page for more details.
Skin: Feed me!
You already know diet can do powerful things like transform the size and shape of your body. But did you know it can drastically affect your skin as well?
A healthy diet rich in hydrating whole foods and low in sugar and chemical additives (both of which can trigger skin inflammation) will make a huge difference in how youthful your skin is. Probiotics are also important for skin health. They combat gut bacteria which can really wreck havoc with your skin. Taking a daily probiotic and eating food that are rich in antioxidants and probiotics will make a drastic difference in your skin and overall health.
Choosing foods that are hydrating is also key to healthy, soft, supple skin. Also foods high in vitamins, especially A and E, will help maintain healthy glowing skin.
Some foods to add to your menu for Healthy Skin:
Berries – especially blueberries, strawberries and blackberries
Spinach and/or Kale
Almonds and Walnuts
Not so good for your skin:
Dairy in excess
Greasy Junk Food
Skin: Hey I am Thirsty too!
Skin needs hydration to be healthy. Lots and lots of water people. I myself am an “ok” water drinker. Plain water is just kind of blah most days. Hot and sweaty? Sure hand me a huge glass of ice water please. However, you average day I am a sipper of water. So I don’t get enough in by a long shot. There are ways to combat that however. Let’s look at that a bit…how on earth to get all of that skin quenching, organ healing, digestive aiding, weight-loss assisting water down the hatch, ok?
Alternatives to PLAIN water:
Green or Herbal Tea
Mineral or Tonic water
OR….you can just jazz up your water with an endless variety of Infusion recipes that you can create in no time! Or even freezing herbs (Mint? Lemon balm? Rosemary?) or fruit (Lemon wedges? Berries? Grapefruit?) into ice cubes and floating them in your water to add a bit of flavors.
To infuse water, you simply add whatever flavors you find appealing – say, Cucumber/Lemon/Mint or Lemon/Ginger/Basil wash well, slice or chop and add to your glass. Then ‘muddle’ (crush a bit) to release some of the juices/flavors. Pour in water and stir or shake. Allow mixture to sit for several hours in the fridge to allow the flavors to combine. Easy right? You can also buy a water bottle with an attached ‘cage’ to put slices of fruit/herbs/veggies in and just let it hang out in your water for awhile to flavor the water. This method is much more mild as there is not muddling involved.
On a hot summer day you can break out the blender, some ice and your favorite fruit combos and make a healthy and hydrating slushy! Or even an ice pop…now there is an excellent and tasty way to get your water in! Some spices will work as well! Especially in the slushies.
A few recipe/flavor combos to try:
Skin: Clean and Gentle
Your skin is right out there. In the world, mixing it up every day with dirt, toxins, weather, germs and all sorts of filth. You must be sure to keep it clean in order to keep it healthy. I currently use Mary Kay’s skin care products. I love the Time Wise products and it is great that they have Good Housekeeping’s Seal of Approval. I love the difference in my skin! So much so I am now a Mary Kay Consultant.
Basic face washing – at the very least every night, preferably twice a day:
Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol. Strong enough to clean the skin but mild enough not strip the oils from your face. Preferably one that coincides with your skin type ( Dry/Oily)
Wet your face with lukewarm water and use your fingertips to apply cleanser. Using a washcloth, mesh sponge, or anything other than your fingertips can irritate your skin. Use warm, not hot water. Long hot showers are very drying to your skin.
Resist the temptation to scrub your skin because scrubbing irritates the skin. Exfoliation is different and when done properly an important part of keeping your skin healthy.
Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel. No rubbing!
Now that your skin is clean. What now?
Well, your next step should be toner (unless your cleanser already has that in it like mine Mary Kay’s Time Wise 3 in 1 ) Toner is excellent at removing any residual impurities still on the skin and reduces pores.
Next up would be any Serums that you might like to use to focus on any problem areas or issues you might have with your skin.
After that you need to moisturize your skin. No matter what your skin type, your face (and neck) need a moisturizer. Oily skin needs a lighter lotion type moisturizer, while dry skin needs a creamier product. Either your moisturizer or serum should contain sun protection.
Lastly an eye cream is an important step in your daily skin care regime. Eye cream is important no matter your age because the skin around your eyes is very different than the rest of your face.
This entire process should only take a couple of minutes.
These steps either deep clean or remove dead/old layers of skin. This allows your daily products to seep in and work even better. Revealing new, fresh skin will help you look better and your skin will be super soft. These type of products are not for everyday use. Either once a week, or every 3 days is plenty.
Now, the last thing (before make up of course) is a face primer (Mary Kay Face Primer is great and adds another layer of SPF protection) Face primer is the suit of armor for your face. Keeping the good stuff against your skin (serum, moisturizer, etc) and everything else away from your skin and pores (makeup, dirt, toxins). It also smooths the look of your skin and helps your makeup look more even and last longer.
You only get one face….take care of it. Treat it well, pamper it now and then.
You blinked and now it is here. How on earth did this happen? Where did the years go?
Yes….it is that time of the year…graduation time. Now as a mom who has been through this several times I thought I would let you know something. It will be alright! Really!
I may not be an expert, but I have done this once or twice or even EIGHT times (and at least two more to go!) So I thought I would hold your hand, hand you a tissue and walk you through a few things.
I was there, when our first child graduated high school and we left her at college…all alone (I can still remember the feeling as we drove out of the parking lot!) I cried my eyes out, we all did. How could she be old enough to be off on her own? What if she gets sick? Would she make good choices and do well at school? Would she be overwhelmed? How would our tight knit family do with a member missing?
A million thoughts, questions, concerns and insecurities rattled around in my head. Unease….even panic welled up at random moments.
We soon discovered that she not only survived but thrived in college. She blossomed into an adult with her own thoughts and opinions and she discovered many new facets of her adult self. We also survived. We realized that we saw her often enough and she did call, text or facebook regularly. We also discovered that we liked having an adult child. Getting to know this side of her was exciting and fascinating. We enjoyed hearing about all she was learning and experiencing.
When our next two children graduated and headed off to college…well we cried, but not as hard or as long. We now knew what was ahead and that the secret is to look forward with excitement and hope not behind with sadness or loss. This change really IS good. Getting to know these brand spanking new adults and see them try out their new wings was a blessing. If you did a semi-decent job raising them, they will bloom where they are planted. They will (generally) make good decisions and do well. They will keep in touch. They will involve you. So be present…when you get a phone call, ask questions, listen, pay attention.
Now the trick was when our youngest child graduated high school last year (as Salutatorian no less)…..the last one to leave the nest. That means we will have (between college breaks anyway) an empty nest. Wow.
We have had at least one child at home full time for the last 26 years. Talk about a major change! It is another new chapter, another new season. Although it was a hard, and there were tears, I am so looking forward to seeing my ‘baby’ grow into an amazing man in his own right. I plan on taking it all in.
The Parent’s Graduation List
So here are a few bits of advice from a veteran Mom of four…take them or leave them as you see fit.
I had read this and many, many teachers, professors and veteran parents have said it…and now I believe it is true…when you drop them off RESIST the urge to visit or have them come home for the first month or so. Experts say that the more freshman students see their parents/family when they first get to college, the harder time they have adjusting and the more homesick they become.
You will miss the ordinariness of everyday interactions and that is normal. It will be hard and very strange at first. It will not be very long before you are adjusted to your ‘new normal’.
Don’t ask them if they are homesick. With so much excitement and activity they may not be. The power of suggestion can definitely change that!
There WILL be a ‘crisis’ phone call. That A student gets their first failing grade, they have a cold or flu, a professor was dreadfully unfair, some social catastrophe has occurred, or they are just plain overwhelmed. When the call comes, be understanding, listen, give advice if needed and then STEP BACK. Don’t jump in the car and race off to the rescue for these mundane mini freak outs. Part of growing up is handling the ups and downs of life. Express support, but give your children time to solve their own problems—it will ultimately benefit them. Colleges have all sorts of support at the student’s disposal. Of course if it is super serious, go. However most of the time the crying person on the other end of the phone needs to know that YOU believe in them and their ability to get through it.
Expect Change. They may change majors, roommates, friends, dorms, or even schools etc. You may also see changes in their attitudes, ideas and beliefs. That is all normal. Part of this experience is figuring stuff out and making changes is part of that. You helped them develop character and now they are searching for their calling.
When you do visit try and meet their friends. Offer to take them out to burgers or pizza. These are the people in their life…and friends do matter. These are the people your child is spending their time with. Take the time to get to know them.
Encourage your child to get out of their rooms and join some clubs, attend some school activities, volunteer, or participate in whatever might interest them. Try new things. They need a healthy balance of school work and non-school work to be happy and to grow into their best self.
Remind them to always remember their morals, their values and their integrity. Hold on to those. Remind them that they ALWAYS have a choice. Remember that the choices they make can and will be positive or negative and they determine that outcome. Remind them to be an adult includes taking responsibility for their choices and accepting and dealing with consequences.
Be present! I said this before but it bears repeating. These moments are a blessing. Be involved, be engaged, ask questions, read about the new topics and ideas they bring home. Enjoy the fact that these young adults are so willing to share what they are thinking about the world.
So go, take lots of pictures (and tissues) and enjoy this special day, this wonderful achievement. Be excited for them…and for you.
Noah’s Salutatorian Speech – posted with his permission
“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.” These words by poet Patrick Overton are a great way to describe our situation here today. All of us are taking a step into the unknown, into that new darkness. All of us are splitting up, and going our own way. Some of us are going to college, others into the military, or into the workforce, even the parents here today are taking a new step when they walk their child down this aisle to receive their diploma. Change, in and of itself, is always scary and difficult. Yet life is always changing. Every day is different from the one before. Every day is a new unknown.
Some in here will take that step into the unknown and find themselves on solid ground. For them, things won’t change very much at all. A few will take that step and soar like an eagle, adapting to the changes in their life with ease. Most of us however, will take that step, and not find solid ground awaiting us. We will have trouble flying at first: leaving home, the weight of college debt, boot camp, or real world bills, pulling us down. Some of us will struggle to learn. Some will find the many changes overwhelming. Some of us will feel that they may never fly.
Remember that you have, up until this point, consistently conquered each and every change that life has thrown your way. So don’t panic. If you feel as though your wings are not strong enough, then think outside the box. Maybe to fly you need to simply build yourself a plane. Find another path to take. There is always another way if you take the time to look for it. Each choice you make and path you take has its own risks but it also has its own rewards. Denzel Washington once said, “Nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. FALL FORWARD. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.” Just because you don’t fly easily doesn’t make you’re a failure. It makes you wiser. You’ve had to learn a different way to succeed. I believe everyone sitting here today will succeed in their own way, at their own time. Every single one of us will fly, but no two of us will do so in the same exact way.
I know almost everyone here is worrying about the unknown future that awaits them. Will I like my roommate, will I like my classes, will I succeed? There are a limitless number of worries for everyone sitting here. However you will never know what will happen if you don’t take that step into the unknown darkness. Esmeralda Santiago is right in saying: “How can you know what you are capable of if you don’t embrace the unknown?”
How can you know? Everyone is scared to go off on their own, to feel alone. However you are never truly alone. You have your family, friends, and loved ones. You aren’t the first to take these steps, and you certainly won’t be the last. Although everyone has different experiences every day, those who have taken similar steps as you will be able to help. This year I was the lead of the Drama club play. I had never had to say more than 20 lines on stage in front of an audience. This year I had close to 200 lines! It was one of the most nerve-racking things I think I had ever done at that point in my life. However that doesn’t compare to my sister. In college she went to Italy for the summer. No one in our entire family had traveled so far, let alone by themselves. Not only that, but she is just returning from living for two years in Arizona. Again she left, on her own, to an unknown place with unknown people. She didn’t have a place to live, she didn’t know the area, and she didn’t know any one there. She had so many unknowns, so much darkness, and no one’s foot steps to follow, but she knew we were there for her, supporting her choices every step of the way. She is a great example of diving into the darkness and coming out on top. She not only survived the unknown, she thrived.
When you feel overwhelmed and afraid by what is happening in your life, take a moment to reflect on all of the examples of strength and courage the people in your life have shown you. Think about how many challenges and ‘unknowns’ your parents face every day. Yet they endure. They face each new day bravely…and usually with a smile. My parents and my older siblings have an amazing way of getting through all of the challenges they face with love and laughter. What better example could I have? You too have footsteps to follow and people who will cheer you on and support your choices. Today, maybe we should take a minute to thank them for all that they do and for helping us get this far.
Let me leave you with something I’ve learned from my parents, brothers, and sister: be brave. Go out and do new things because every step you take will bring you a different experience. You might as well take as many as you can, and learn from each one. There are no wrong steps to take as long as you learn and grow with each one. Remember that you will never have to take a single step alone. You will always have family, friends, and loved ones to help you when you need them. So try to spread your wings and fly because they will be the wind under your wings. I’d like to end with a quote from Mother Teresa. Something I want everyone here to think about: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Thank you.
I am not a doctor or psychologist, I don’t even play one on tv! I am not an expert at all…at least not officially. I do however have a bit of experience (28 years married this May) and a very happy marriage so a I decided I wanted to share what works for us and for our marriage. This is not a scientific double blind government approved type study. This is me and my husband. Bumbling through life together. That is it.
I have posted about marriage before (click here), but this is a more encompassing post on the subject instead of a single topic. When it comes to love and marriage, I have a lot to say I guess.
My parents will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year, my husband’s parents also had a very long and happy marriage. Our homes were full of laughter and compromise. Love and understanding. Trials and triumphs. We learned by their example and by our own trial and error.
Not everyone has that type of example, but that does not mean you can’t have a long and amazing marriage. You just may need a little help, some support, a reminder, or a few pointers. Or maybe a basic map to help you navigate the road ahead. It is a long, winding, scenic, sometimes even bumpy road. However, it is most definitely worth the trip. Now I don’t know if this list could be considered a road map to marriage by any means, but it could be perhaps a rough outline. Something to reference or get you headed in the right direction if you are off course a bit.
So here is my list (in no particular order) of things to do to have a long and happy marriage. What would you add?
1: Laugh. Laugh at yourself, laugh at your spouse, laugh at the absurdity of life. Just laugh.
2: Focus on the positive. Don’t fall into the trap of complaining constantly, it is a tough habit to break once established. It can also spiral quickly into a pervasive bad mood. Yes, you get to have a gripe session when needed. Just don’t unpack and live there.
3: Pay attention. Little details make the biggest difference. Paying attention to your spouse’s “favorites”, being aware of their mood, knowing when something big is going on at work, etc. All of these things express your love and let them know how important they are to you.
4: Forgive, after all you are both human. You will make mistakes. This person that you love will also make mistakes.
5: Don’t keep score. Don’t tally up how many times you did the dishes, how many times your spouse forgot to pick up milk, who makes more money, who has the harder job, who works the longer hours, etc. If you keep in your mind that you love this person and want them to be happy and they do that for you, you don’t need a scorecard. You will both be giving 100% and both be receiving 100%.
6: Keep your own cup full too. Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, get your rest, see the doctor, exercise, enjoy a hobby…whatever you need to do to recharge your battery and stay healthy. When your own cup is full you can more easily pour out to others.
7: Say please and thank you. Manners are always important. No matter how long you are married and how comfortable you are with each other, remember that manners are a sign of respect and appreciation. Thank them for fixing dinner, fixing the car or saying please when you ask them to stop for milk on the way home or get you a cup of coffee. Simple, but so very powerful.
8: Ask about each others day. And listen to the answer. Be present. Ask questions. Remember important things so you can ask about them later.
9: ALWAYS kiss hello, good bye, and good night.
10: Treat their family with respect. You may or may not get along with a family member but that does not matter. You don’t have to be friends but you do have to be respectful.
11: Appreciate what they do…and tell them so. Notice those ‘I love yous’ that are actions and not words. Notice and comment on them. Let your mate know you appreciate them and what they are doing.
12: Stroll down memory lane now and then. Remember why you fell in love and tell each other stories from ‘back in the day’.
13: Always be dating. Flirt. Put your best self forward more. Smile. Listen. Go out together.
14: Do things together. Develop rituals and traditions. Even mundane things like Friday night movie cuddled on the couch, or Saturday morning yardwork, or having breakfast together no matter what, all make an ‘in this together’ or an ‘this is our thing’ feeling of closeness.
15: Recognize each others needs for time, attention, being alone, quiet, fun, or whatever your partner may be lacking at the moment. Focus on the giving rather than the taking.
16: Celebrate your spouse. Be each others biggest cheerleader.
17: Spend time alone together and always keep the friendship side of your marriage alive and well fed. Talk, laugh, play, and continue to connect throughout your marriage.
18: Be intimate and physically demonstrative with each other. Both sexual and non-sexual closeness and touching are very important to a happy marriage. Touching is vital to growing and keeping that closeness a good marriage needs. It also improve health and mood. From a hand on the arm while chatting, to hand holding, shoulder rubs, hugs, kisses and on and on all the way through sex…it is all important.
19: Arguments and disagreements will happen but recognize that most arguments have shared responsibility, that both people have valid points and valid reasons for their feelings. Listen to understand instead of to reply. Let go of criticism and blame. Fight fair. You should at least be nice, no matter what. Recognize that the underlying shared values and commitment to the relationship is greater than this single argument or your desire to be right.
20: Make your marriage a top priority. It started with the two of you and in the end it will be just the two of you once again. Pray for and with each other. Faith is so important to the sanctity of your marriage.
21: Use these sentences daily: “I love you”(you just can’t possibly use this one enough!) , “I’m here for you”, “I understand”, “I’m sorry”, “Thank you”, and “I really appreciate all that you do”.
22: RESPECT. Keep insults out of your marriage. There is no place for name calling, being mean, and belittling. Always, always speak well of, and to, your spouse. Do not cause pain with your words.
23: Accept them as they are. Your job is not to change them, just to love, honor and respect them.
24: You are entitled to a bad mood. You are not however entitled to take it out on your mate. Simply saying “Honey I am in an awful mood, I am sorry but I don’t feel like joking around right now.” Will go a long way to keeping the peace. If you do snap at your spouse… own it and apologize.
25: Support each others interests and hobbies. Go cheer them on at the big race, surprise them with hobby supplies, listen when they excitedly tell you about the game/craft show/club/book/recipe/ or whatever it might be.
26: Keep your promises. It is all about trust and respect.
27: Share your dreams and your fears. Talk. Listen. Always be truthful.
28: Don’t just commit to your mate, commit to the whole concept of marriage. Choose your spouse every single day. Take your commitment seriously.
29: Never, ever, no matter what go to bed without saying “I love you”. Even if you are away for work, angry, sick….no matter what. No excuse.
30. Simply put, Love each other unconditionally. If something is off, address it right away. Fix it, don’t throw it away. Till death do us part is a huge commitment. It may not always be simple, life may throw you curve balls and rough roads. Remember you are in it together and that will make all the difference.