(4) Evaluate the Options

Yesterday I spent 3 hours sewing this dog for my youngest daughter. She had been begging me for a homemade toy so I sat down and made it. Because I’m a stay at home wife/mom I take my duties seriously and often prioritize meeting their need first 24/7. This is not healthy and I realize that, but I also need to take their demands on my time into account because moments like this one (above) are not something I will give up.

Remember step 2, where we tried to understand everyone’s interests in this issue? This is where we put that information to use. Let’s look over the list of solutions we made yesterday and evaluate them based on the interests of me AND others in my life. To keep this step simple to explain I will reuse the example from yesterday and add the evaluation step:

  • Liposuction my husband is against all unnecessary surgery
  • Go away to a diet ranch my kids need me around
  • Actually stick to a diet I really stink at this
  • Actually stick with exercise I stink at this too
  • Hire Athlete Courtney Ustrzycki to train me – I wonder if she can fit me in… that would be cool
  • Take diet medication not sure any actually exist that work
  • Gym as soon as I drop kids at school – I really really should do this!!!
  • Find an accountability partner – maybe Courtney and/or Rosalee
  • Give up Diet Coke – I really should do this, but my kids now like it too… should no one drink it?
  • Eat only when the sun is up I do this anyway so it’s not really a thing that’ll help
  • Drink lots of water – I need to do this. I’m bad at consistency
  • Give up alcohol – I need to do this too, wasted calories
  • Switch to black coffee I’m not ready for this yet
  • Prioritize sleep (at least 7 hours a night) – yes
  • Start lifting weights I don’t know how to do this
  • Stop eating junk food – this is a MUST
  • Only eat at home too challenging with travel
  • Give up Starbucks no, I could give up Starbucks food but not coffee
  • Find a diversion when I’m hungry too vague
  • Buy a Peloton my butt was not built for a bike seat
  • Use my treadmill – good idea
  • Start memorizing bible verses instead of snacking – actually a great plan
  • Bribe myself for weight loss with rewards – my husband is fully supportive of rewarding me
  • Find something physical to master I don’t know what this would be so it won’t work for me
  • Keto – possible
  • Decide I don’t actually care enough that it’s no longer a problem at all I am not okay with this

So this is what I have to work with: hire Courtney, gym after school drop off, accountability, give up Diet Coke, lots of water, give up alcohol, prioritize sleep, stop eating junk, use treadmill, memorize verses instead of snacking, bribe myself for weight loss with rewards and do keto. These are all things that I CAN do. After a detailed review, there is nothing stopping me. I feel like this is a big step. I love excuses. I make them all the time for why I can’t prioritize my health. But these solution are not playing that game. There is no reason why I can’t do them. None. I’ve checked.

If you have been taking your personal issue (🥥) through these steps I feel like you should be pretty excited right now. We have done some big important work and you should be proud. Next we’re going to figure out exactly HOW to make this happen. 🙌🏻


(2) Understand Everyone’s Interests

So we’ve decided that our problem (🥥) is that we don’t want to do what is required for change (wrapped in a complaint like “I hate going hiking every time my husband and I go out together”) blocked by the notion you should have to be dealing with this in the first place because of xy and z (such as none of your friends always have to go hiking with their husbands). It would be great if we could jump right into solving this problem but we don’t quite have enough information to do that yet. We have to get an understanding of how others interests will effect our ability to make the change.

See, the solution to our problem won’t work UNLESS everything and everyone we want to include is satisfied by our solution. We often ignore our true interests as we become attached to one particular solution. So who will be effected if I change this, and do I care? Let me list all the types of people who would be effected by a change in my life: myself, husband, kids, friends and extended family. There may be other people who need to be considered in your solution. The best solution is the one that satisfies everyone’s interests (especially when you’re a mom).

The step we will be working on today is active listening and information gathering. You will need to explain the way you want to actually start making changes. See if the people in you life have any concerns or suggestions and listen with the intention to understand. Let me give you an example:

I want to actually do what it takes to do something with my husband other than hiking. And I need to figure out how this will effect the following people:

myself – I will need to assert to my husband that I want to make a change and come up with alternate activities. It won’t be easy to begin this conflict.

husband – My husband will have to be more flexible in activities. Not sure how that will go.

kids – If my husband doesn’t agree with the change and I really want it to happen, there may be conflict that effects the kids.

friends – Hopefully friends wont get involved but if they do I will have to consider how it would effect friendships.

extended family – Again hopefully extended family won’t get involved but if it becomes a problem that gets relayed to others I will need to be prepared for that as well.

Now that you have gathered this information you can move onto the next step which will be brainstorming solutions. And because you took the time to do a little research you can make quality decisions there. Maybe you are going to decide to prioritize some feedback over others. Maybe you can now see more clearly the difficulties involved in making this change.

And remember, the random example I gave above is only to show you how to go about collecting information. You need to insert your own particular 🥥 in there and ask some tough questions of yourself and others in your life. If you do this you will be ready for the next step! Keep up the good work!


(1) Identify the Problem (🥥)

What is your problem (🥥)? In order to identify one we need to know what one is, so here is my definition:

🥥 = [problem (wrapped in a complaint)] blocked by an excuse

By the time you finish reading this formula will make perfect sense. Promise. Now the best way to start working this through is to ask WHY so many times you’d even annoy your toddler. Take what you think your problem is and start asking why, why, why, why. Here’s an example:

You: 🥥 = I am so exhausted
Me: why?
You: because I never get any sleep
Me: why?
You: my kids decide they want to talk about all their issues at night
Me: why?
You: that’s when they think of issues and I want to be available to them
Me: why?
You: Matthew 7:3-5 (it’s easier to focus on other people’s problems than fixing my own)
Me: why?
You: because then I don’t have to change and I feel good for being a sacrificial mom at the same time
Me: why?
You: change is hard to make
Me: why?
You: I don’t like it
Me: why?
You: seriously stop asking why
Me: why?
You: I don’t like it

Now this is just one issue out of a million I could have picked, but you can run through the same scenario with ANY 🥥 you have. But once you get to the end of all those whys I promise you are going to end up in the same place I did. We don’t like doing what is required for change. That friends is actually your 🥥. It’s my 🥥 too. And we can address things like lack of sleep, dry skin, unhappy marriages and body fat until we’re blue in the face – but unless we address our real problem, we don’t like doing what is required for change, we will get nowhere.

Now what I am NOT saying is that everything bad in your life is your own fault. Because that’s ridiculous. Bad things happen for no apparent reason all the time… but things that we have no control over are not allowed to be 🥥. For example, if your house explodes in a gas leak fire and you lose all your stuff you have experienced a tragedy. Any number of 🥥 can come from that such as: I have no house, I have no money, I struggle to feel safe, I moved and now I’m lonely. Those are problems, 🥥 we can address.

I’m going to take this one step further and you all are going to hate me, but I’m going for it. Your “problem” that you have been struggling with is actually your complaint. Just being honest because what you have always viewed as your 🥥 is actually… not. Watch this:

Complaint: I have no friends.
Problem: I’m don’t want to do what is required for change.

Complaint: I’m fat.
Problem: I’m don’t want to do what is required for change.

Complaint: I’m exhausted.
Problem: I’m don’t want to do what is required for change.

See it? Our complaint is masquerading as our problem but it’s really not the actual 🥥. And in order to change something we need to make sure we know what we’re changing.

So now that we are at the heart of the issue I’m going to tell you the one thing that is capable of stopping your ability to move any further. I’m actually going to tell you WHY you have been unsuccessful at solving your problem no matter how many plans you have made. Here it is: you don’t feel like you should have to. Most likely your friends do not all struggle the same way. So you are going to have to do things that they don’t have to do in order to solve your 🥥.

I’m going to leave this post here because I think there is a lot to consider already. But before you move on to the next post on solving problems (🥥) you need to understand these three things:

😭 complaint: unique to you (fill in here)
🥥 problem: don’t want to do what is required for change.
🚧 roadblock: don’t feel like you should have to.

Okay? After you get to this point I hope you have a good understanding of the 🥥 you’re facing and have decided NOT to let the roadblock stop you. Big hugs friends. This is tough stuff. More soon… 😘


Today you are YOU!

“Or worse than all that…Why, you might be a WASN’T! A Wasn’t has no fun at all. No, he doesn’t. A Wasn’t just isn’t. He just isn’t present. But you…You ARE YOU! And, now isn’t that pleasant!” – Dr. Seuss

Seven years ago I gave birth to this little munchkin. This spunky, clever, industrious and giggly Claudia who I am so glad to call ours. But all this delight comes in a complicated package, just like your kids I’m sure. So I want to share two stories, giving you a more complete picture of this terrific kiddo.

When Claudia was two she decided she wanted to be a super hero. She didn’t karate chop her sister’s, smash through doors or save neighborhood cats. No… she stripped naked and colored a super hero costume on her body with sharpie markers. I still remember the excited face she was wearing when she came to show me her work. But I didn’t have quite the enthusiasm she did. I admit to being unhappy. But when I saw her face sink I knew I was wrong. She hadn’t meant to be “naughty”. She meant to be the best version of herself she could be. So I hugged her and told her she was creative and precious and super. And then I cleaned her up and bought her a costume instead. Claudia loved that costume and the smile she had when she wore it was deeper that materialism. She knew I understood her heart and encouraged her dreams.

At three we found ourselves at a similar crossroads. Claudia wanted to cut her hair. She didn’t want a “hair cut”. No. She wanted to cut off all her hair. I said no because well, you can’t really do that right? But she asked every day. Finally, I came upon her in the kitchen with a pair of scissors. A chunk of her hair was missing. And I had two options. Remembering a year ago and the sadness I caused by my disappointment I took her in my arms and asked her if she really wanted to cut her hair off. She assured me she did. So… I gave her some kid scissors and told her to have fun cutting it all off. And she did.

Every child is different. They will have different strengths and different weaknesses. Claudia thrives on the ability to make her own decisions. And as her mom I do my best to create a safe place for her to explore decision making. And when I do this, she grows. When she is met with arbitrary rules and constraints she is so easily frustrated so I try to remember, even when the request seems contrary to my preferences, that she is a unique person with preferences different from mine. Of course she can’t always be a free spirit and do as she pleases, but I try as often as I can to let her be HER.

So happy birthday you great big seven year old. I hope you explore the world your way this year and learn to make wise choices. I’m cheering you on and encouraging you. And watching you thrive reminds me to be fearless in discovering my own dreams.