Other Mothers

Other Mothers

Have you ever been an Other Mother? You know, that person who gives advice, encouragement, and love to those outside your family whether they want it or not. I know I have.

One of the things I have enjoyed about living in a small town is that there have been other mothers who guided, loved, and sometimes corrected my children as they were growing up. It was comforting to know that when my children were at school, scouting events, soccer games, the pool, or the park without me that there were other women who knew and cared about them enough to parent them. I’m not sure that my children always appreciated that level of interaction but I sure did. The downside for them was that it was difficult to get away with anything. The upside was that a cadre of women was available who could nurture, love and encourage them when I wasn’t present, or when I didn’t have the necessary wisdom or experience that my offspring needed.

Other mothers can bring a fresh perspective to a situation and can offer guidance that may be new, thereby expanding our world and allowing us to grow outside of our own heritage. The support that other mothers (and fathers) offer is a source of strength when we falter or steer off course. They can provide a communal nurturing environment where we have the opportunity to blossom into the individuals we are designed to be.

Other Mothers grow strong communities by:

Encouraging – They see the good in us and aren’t afraid to tell us what they see. When women who are not related to you tell you that you are gifted, you tend to listen and believe them primarily because they aren’t your mother. Who could you speak words of encouragement to today?

Loving unconditionally – They offer grace and love us even when we aren’t at our best. They might not always like what we do, but they believe at our core that we are good. They know we aren’t perfect and will always be a work in progress….yet they love us anyway. Who needs your unconditional love to today?

Modeling – The best way to influence others is by example. Other mothers recognize that they are a role model to more than just their own relatives. We know that a whole host of people are watching and deciding if they want to be like us or not. Are you being the person that you want your children, or the people you influence, to be?

Not fixing it – One of the hardest challenges of relationships is watching someone we care about struggle. Yet in the struggle lies their opportunity for growth. Other mothers know what they can and can’t do. They know they can’t take the painful circumstances away. However, they can be present in times of adversity to love, hug, cry, and maybe even bring a smile or a laugh. Who can you be present with today in the midst of their challenges?

Other mothers are truly special people. You may be someone who is an Other Mother, or perhaps you need an Other Mother. It’s safe to guess that you are both. I know I am.

I hope you will seek out the Other Mothers that you need… and also provide Other Mothering freely in your circles of influence. May you build and be blessed by strong, nurturing communities of love.



Today’s author: Carol deLaski, PCC, is a speaker, author, and coach whose focus on strengths-based leadership develops strong, confident individuals and businesses. You are invited to attend her Discovering Strength workshop on May 21st which is based on her recently released book, Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith. Attendees will identify and develop the source of their inner strength and resilience to better manage challenges at work and in life overall.

Click here for more details.


A Message from Heaven

A Message from Heaven

This is a picture of me and my cousin, Breanna, on my wedding day.  Two days ago, on February 11, 2014, she was killed in a car accident.  She was a passenger in a car which slid off a snow-covered road in North Carolina.  My initial reaction was one of shock and denial.  “No, not Breanna.  She’s too young to die!”  (She was 23 years old).

As the initial shock wore off, I found myself standing in my kitchen talking to Breanna. The words I found myself speaking to her were that I believe that she is still with us, just in different form, and if  I could in anyway be a conduit for her that I promised to be open to receiving; whatever that would look like.  I immediately got the message, “I am alright” and got an overwhelming feeling that Breanna was at peace.

I went to bed that night thinking about Breanna and wondering if I would dream about her. I had a restful night, but no visit from Breanna.  As I got in the car the next morning the radio came on.  It was set to one of my daughters stations and not one I usually listen to.  Of course, Breanna was on my mind, and I started thinking about how in the last few months of her life she was using music to express herself.  What she would do is post songs, along with the Youtube video, on Facebook.  Songs that represented her thoughts, feelings, and emotions.  With that thought in mind I decided to stay on that channel and just be open.  As I drove, I noticed that I wasn’t paying particular attention to what was playing until all of a sudden a song came on and there was a feeling of , THIS IS IT, and I knew that this was something Breanna wanted me to share for her.  So, in Breanna style, here it is:

[yframe url=’http://home/wholisu6/dev.wholisticwomanretreats.com.youtube.com/watch?v=9tXzlVjU1xs’]

When I saw that this song was by a band named, Alternate Routes, I thought, “Of course it is!”.  You see, my cousin definitely took alternate routes in her life.  She had been through a lot in her 23 years.  Without getting into the details, suffice it to say that it was music to my ears when I talked to my aunt last week and she said to me, “Laura, Breanna is doing great!”.  I knew that she was because we had been speaking via email and Facebook messaging.  I knew that she was awakening to understanding that she was love and deserved to be treated by herself and others as valuable.

As the lyrics say,

To be humble, to be kind.
It is the giving of the peace in your mind.
To a stranger, To a friend
To give in such a way that has no end.

We are Love
We are One
We are how we treat each other when the day is done.
We are Peace
We are War
We are how we treat each other and Nothing More

To be bold, to be brave.
It is the thinking that the heart can still be saved
And the darkness can come quick
The Danger’s in the Anger and the hanging on to it.

Tell me what it is that you see
A world that’s filled with endless possibilities?
Heroes don’t look they used to, they look like you do.

This is Breanna’s message from heaven!  Pay attention to how you are treating those around you.  We are not separate from one another.  You are the hero in your own life!  Now go out there and save some hearts, including your own.

Thanks Breanna!


Anticipating Love

What do you anticipate at this time of year? Amid the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays, what are the experiences that will make you pause and savor the moments? It’s easy to become so preoccupied with our to-do lists that we overlook or brush past those precious times of connection, laughter, and joy. Don’t miss it!

Perhaps you are like me and find yourself anticipating the look on someone’s face when you give them a gift that you’ve thoughtfully selected for them. For me, it will be giving the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ to my six-year-old granddaughter.

Shopping isn’t one of my favorite things to do, but when it comes to shopping for the children in my life, I must admit that I have trouble restraining myself. It happened recently when I was in a store and saw this whimsical elf on display. It caught my eye and brought a smile to my face, and I knew in an instant that it would have the same effect on my granddaughter. As I write this, I can picture her eager face as she enjoys the challenge of this game, which is to find the hidden elf in her home each day leading up to Christmas.

Looking forward to spending time together fills my heart with anticipation even more than gift giving does. This year, in addition to the Elf on the Shelf, I plan to make a gingerbread house with my granddaughter. I can picture her enthusiastic bright eyes as we put the puzzle pieces of the house together, sticky fingers being licked, gumdrops being carefully placed, and the feeling of her slender arms wrapped around my neck in a hug hold, as we survey the masterpiece we have created together. It doesn’t really matter how the gingerbread house looks. The joy is in those moments of fun, creativity, and connection as a new memory is being made. Who knows…perhaps it will even become a tradition.

The way in which holiday traditions form is an interesting phenomenon. There is comfort found in the routines which link one holiday to another; year in and year out. As a child, I remember wanting to hang a certain mistletoe ornament in the same place every year when we decorated our home. There was something very satisfying about recreating the atmosphere in which our family celebrated together.

As an adult, however, I was caught off guard when my children declared traditions had been started simply because we did something two years in a row. I realized that I needed to be mindful of what activities I repeated, since I never knew which ones they would take to heart and want to repeat annually! My sons had a strong desire to create our family’s unique traditions, many of which continue now that they are young adults. They can easily tell you the kind of tree we get, the cookies we bake, the way we open gifts, and what we eat on Christmas morning. It’s not so much what we do but that we do it together that matters. Our hearts are warmed when we both anticipate and perform our family’s rituals.

There is a flip side, however, to the happiness that traditions can invoke. During difficult years of upheaval and change, traditions may need to be altered. In my lifetime, separation and divorce dictated that we couldn’t continue certain ways of doing things. This occurred when my sons were young teenagers, and I remember how important it was to ask them what traditions they wanted to keep as our family went through this change. It was interesting to learn which ones no longer mattered to them. Having a say in the changes helped my children tremendously in adapting to new situations. My older son, Patrick, could care less about outdoor decorations, but my younger son, Ben, really enjoyed them. So a new tradition was formed that Ben and I became the two family members that decorated the outside of our home each year. Patrick loved a freshly cut tree, but instead of going to the farm and cutting it down ourselves, we adjusted to buying one from the Boy Scouts. Adaptations to our traditions were made, and we even formed new ones as our family evolved as a trio.

Knowing how and when to change traditions is as important as being aware of how and when they form. A dear friend of mine lost her mother to cancer this year. This will be her first Christmas without her mom, who was also her best friend. I admire how she has thoughtfully decided where she wants to be on this holiday, and with whom she wants to spend it. She knows that she will miss her mom no matter where she is, but she feels that being somewhere that her mom loved, and with the people her mom loved, will help her to connect with the spirit of the woman she longs for. Adapting her family traditions this year is what she needs to do to manage her sense of loss and grief.

Changing traditions can cause distress within families, particularly when everyone may not agree about those changes. Ultimately, we must each decide for ourselves what we need to create the comfort and connection that our hearts desire. No one knows better than you what will satisfy you to your core. Even if others don’t agree with your choices, I encourage you to persevere and choose the experiences and moments that will fill and overflow your heart with love.

Because a heart full of love is ultimately what this season of the year is all about. Love came down at Christmas and continues to come to us in many forms. My wish for you is that you will feel the light of love in your life as you capture the special moments this season has to offer.


Today’s author: Carol deLaski is a life leadership coach, author, and speaker. You may contact her at [email protected].


Thank You – for Changing my Life

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the words ‘thank you’ just aren’t enough?

At times those two special words fall short of encompassing the depth of the emotions that we feel.  They suffice for simple acts of courtesy and thoughtfulness, but seem insufficient when thanking someone for helping you through a life-altering experience. Those people who help us navigate major crossroads in our lives are special indeed. In my opinion, these game-changers deserve a deeper, more meaningful, expression of gratitude, but such feelings are sometimes hard to convey.

Think about it. Is there someone you’ve always wanted to thank for having pointed you in a new direction or provided guidance or support during a time of great change? It may be a teacher, coach, parent, grandparent, or even a boss, which was the case for me.

There was a manager early in my career who had made a lasting impact on my life, yet I didn’t know how to find her to thank her. Our lives had gone in different directions many years ago and we had lost touch. Then, just recently at a work reunion I found myself standing unknowingly beside her. I heard someone say, “Suzanne”, and I turned to glance at the name badge of the woman next to me and looked fully into the face of the woman I had been carrying a burning desire to thank for the last twenty-some years. A moment of simultaneous recognition occurred as she glanced at my name badge and we exclaimed our mutual surprise. I told her that I had longed for this chance to thank her. I wanted her to know that a decision she made, and a choice she gave me, created an opportunity that took my life in a new and wonderful direction. It impacted both my family and me profoundly, and I told her how incredibly grateful I have been over the passing years. The words thank you seemed inadequate to express the deep appreciation I felt towards Suzanne. Interestingly, she was unaware of the impact she had had on my life, which made this encounter all the more meaningful and sweet. We recalled our bonding experience……..

In 1986, we were working together on M Street in Washington, DC for a telecommunications company that had developed the first public email system. At that time, email was largely unheard of and this new technology drew people who were pioneers; innovative and capable of thinking ‘outside of the box’.  It was an exciting time to work among so many creative individuals.

I was a 27-year-old young professional commuting to DC daily on the Metro from Rockville, where I lived with my husband at the time. The commute itself was memorable because I went into labor one day while en-route to work when I was pregnant with our first child. It was two weeks prior to my due date and I was in the final stages of wrapping up work projects as I prepared for maternity leave. I realized that my labor had begun on the metro and went immediately to Suzanne after walking to the office. I saw the quizzical expression on her face as I hesitantly told her that I desperately needed to leave, even though I had just arrived at work. Her face changed from curiosity to alarm as the dawning realization registered that she had a woman in labor in her office. Unsure of what to do, she quickly called for help from fellow co-workers (relying especially on the wisdom of those who were mothers) and devised a plan to get me to a nearby hospital.

Once at the hospital, everything went smoothly and our son Patrick was born that evening. It’s safe to say that becoming a mother has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I fell deeply in love with my newborn son and basked in the time I had with him at home in those first weeks of his life. We were challenged by colic,yet even that difficulty didn’t affect a growing conviction in me that I wanted more time at home with him. Near the end of my maternity leave, I visited my office with Patrick, who was practically a celebrity there. Babies at work were always a pleasant distraction, but Suzanne and my co-workers were especially enthralled with Patrick, given the part they had played in his arrival into the world.

During that visit, I found the courage to ask Suzanne the burning question on my heart. I told her how meaningful it was to be at home with my baby, and asked if I could extend my maternity leave by working from home for three more months. At that time, telecommuting was unheard of and my request was completely out of the norm. Suzanne gave me that quizzical expression again, but this time she knew what she wanted to do. She said with conviction, “Carol, I believe that in these times companies need to make concessions for women as they raise their families. I’d like to help make that happen for you.” Her confident answer gave me an initial surge of hope, which then deflated somewhat as she went onto explain that she would have to get approval from upper management. She said if it was up to her, she would do it for me in an instant, but it wasn’t her decision to make. I went home encouraged that I had someone within the company advocating for me,and I prepared to wait and see what would be the result of my asking for what I truly wanted. It was a brave new idea and neither Suzanne nor I knew where it would lead.

Coincidentally enough, Suzanne’s boss at the time, Leslie, was now standing beside us at the reunion. Leslie laughed as we recalled the story and remembered that her initial response to the idea of me working from home was an emphatic ‘no!’  She had reasonable doubts at the time; questioning how they would know the quantity and quality of my work. In the face of her resistance, Suzanne and I came up with measureable work assignments, reporting methods, and a commitment on my part to come into the office once a week. Despite Leslie’s overall reluctance, Suzanne persisted in advocating for my cause, even taking the discussion to happy hour at the local hot spot that Leslie and other managers had frequented at the time. With such focused effort, Suzanne eventually won the approval needed to allow me to work from home for another three months.

The endeavor was so successful that after three months my petition to extend my working from home was easily approved.  I continued to work from home for six years while raising both Patrick and our next son, Ben. The independent work experience gave me the confidence to become a telecom contractor for the following nineteen years and set me up for success when I began a second career as an entrepreneurial coach. Working from home, quite simply, changed my life.

The decision Suzanne had made to advocate for me had not only changed my life (and the lives of my children) but it set a precedent that rippled and impacted other lives. My venture into being one of the first telecommuters was so successful that management easily approved telecommuting for other new working mothers in following years.

Our recollections at the reunion were made even sweeter as I shared that Patrick was now 27 years old (interestingly, the same age I was when the original encounter with Suzanne had occurred). Suzanne received this news with genuine happiness and a nod of acknowledgement to the bittersweet passage of time.

Leslie pulled me aside later to thank me for relating the story of how their decisions had impacted my life. She shared that Suzanne hadn’t wanted to come to the reunion, and Leslie had gone to great efforts to get her there. I’m glad she did because my heart is now more peaceful knowing that I have thanked the woman who gave me the opportunity to define my own balance between mothering and working. The door Suzanne opened for me led to a path that brought substantial and overwhelming meaning to my life, and I genuinely thank her from the depths of my heart.

As you consider this story…

Who do you want to thank for giving you an opportunity?

How has your life been changed by someone who supported you?

And what will you do with that information?

I encourage you to look for ways to express your gratitude this month and welcome hearing your stories. Write to me at [email protected].


Today’s author: Carol deLaski is a certified leadership coach, author, and speaker. At her monthly Breakthrough Workshops in November she will teach a 7 level tool to communicate more effectively. For more information and registration details on Communication That Makes a Difference click here


What Do You Expect?

What Do You Expect?

Do you think its possible to live your life without expectations?

For me, the answer is not yet.  I’m not spiritually evolved enough.  I haven’t learned how to fully live in the present.

My observation is that expectations come from past experiences and are related to how we believe or want something to turn out in the future.   They get in the way of being fully present in the now.

As a life coach, I work a lot with people on managing expectations.  Unrealistic expectations set us up for disappointment.  This is true on so many levels.  From little thing like when I was playing golf yesterday and I expected that I could make the 4 foot putt, and I didn’t, to bigger things like how I expect my children to dress and behave now that they are teenagers.   I encourage you to start observing how expectations show up in your life, both at work and at home, and how they may be causing you unnecessary frustration.  How often do you expect something to turn out a certain way, and when it doesn’t you get upset.  As Byron Katie says, “If you argue against reality, you will suffer”.  How would your life change if you started practicing accepting reality instead of arguing against it?

Accepting it is not the same as liking it.  Accepting it is about neutralizing your feelings about it.  I believe this puts us in a better space to choose what our next step is.  We are responsible for our own lives.  We have response-ablility.  We choose how we respond when our expectations and reality don’t line up, and what I know to be true is that when we are coming from a place of frustration, anger, intolerance or any other angst filled emotion, we are reacting and not responding.  I don’t know about you, but I always feel better when I respond versus react.

I am undoubtedly a work in progress when it comes to practicing this.  I catch myself needing to manage my expectations on a daily basis.  Being aware of the impact of my expectations has opened me up to seeing reality more clearly.  And, as reality becomes clear so do my choices of how to respond.

I encourage you to experiment with this yourself. The next time you are frustrated, mad, or just otherwise irritated, take a look at how your expectations and reality are not lining up.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on expectations vs reality and how it is showing up in your life!



Today’s author: Laura Hall is an iPEC certified life coach whose business, Hall Coaching, was established in 2009 with the vision of waking women up from the nightmares of “How did I get here?” and, “Is this as good as it gets?”, so that they can begin creating and living the life of their real dreams, hopes and desires. She offers both one on one as well as group coaching services. She can be reached at [email protected] or check out her website at www.hallcoaching.com


Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

What scares you? Where is fear holding you back in life? Before you read any further, STOP! I want you to really think about those questions.

OK, thanks for playing along! Now we can proceed.

Something you should know about me, is that I LOVE quotes. They motivate me, challenge me and inspire me. Neale Donald Walsch’s above quote is something I believe and try to live on a daily basis. It reminds me to challenge myself and to remeber that it’s OK to feel uncomfortable sometimes. I work on being comfortable being uncomfortable. Does that make sense?

When I see other people stepping outside their comfort zone, it warms my heart. I feel a kindred connection to people who are willing to feel fear and instead of using that as an excuse, they turn and face it and refuse to let it hold them back. Today, I’d like to tell you about two amazing wholistic women who I recently had the privilege of watching step outside their comfort zone. It just so happens that these two amazing women are my teenage daughters, Kayla and Helena.

Let’s start with Helena, for no particular reason other than she’s the 2nd child and usually gets listed 2nd so today we are going to let her go 1st.

Helena is 15 years old and recently bought herself a ukulele. In the span of about 3 weeks she taught herself to play, added 3 songs to her repertoire, and decided she wanted to step outside her comfort zone and challenge herself to perform at an open mike night at one of the local coffee shops. The night of her big debut came quickly and as I sat there with her, waiting for it to be her turn to perform, I noticed she was very quiet. She was nervous, but I also sensed a determination to not let her fear stop her. When they called her name, she walked with confidence up to the performance area, joked with the audience about how if she messed up they should give her a break as she had only had the ukulele 3 weeks and proceeded to play 3 of her songs to an audience of about 40 people. I was so proud of her! Here is a brief video of her performance:

Helena’s Performance

The next story is about Kayla, my 18 year old daughter who is a senior in high school this year and will be attending Towson University in the fall to study nursing. About a week ago I had a little accident at home which resulted in 5 staples in the top of my head. I won’t go into the gory details because they aren’t important. What is important is that because I have a degree in physical therapy and my husband is a dentist, I convinced the doctor at the urgent care facility to give me the staple remover so that I could take them out at home instead of having to make another visit to urgent care. When the night came to remove the staples, I asked Kayla if she wanted to take them out for me. She said yes, but admitted that she was feeling a little sick to her stomach and was nervous about hurting me. I assured her that I have a high pain tolerance, and after my husband demonstrated the technique to her, she then removed the remaining 4 staples, growing in confidence with each one. She is going to make an excellent nurse one day and I am proud to say that I was her 1st patient.

I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank my daughters for being an inspiration to me. Watching them step outside their comfort zones reminds me that it is normal to feel uncomfortable and even to experience fear when we are challenging ourselves in some way. The problems arise when we let the fear stop us. Being fearless isn’t about not being afraid, but rather fearing less. As Mark Twain says, “Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.”

Where in your life are you stepping outside your comfort zone? I encourage you to share your story in our comments. You may just be the inspiration someone else needs to turn and face their fear.


Today’s author: Laura Hall is an iPEC certified life coach who believes every woman deserves a coach. She offers both one on one as well as group coaching services. She can be reached at [email protected] or check out her website at www.hallcoaching.com