Hi, I’m Ellen. I am a Master Life Coach. I help teens get emotionally ready for college. But what I really do is have deep conversations with really cool people who are ready to create a life they love.
I let my 15-year-old daughter go to New York City for four days.
Over New Year’s Eve.
Originally the deal had been that she could go visit her friend by herself, (well, with another 15-year-old… better or worse?) with the caveat that she wouldn’t go to Times Square for New Year’s Eve.
Well, things got all busy with the hubbub around my son’s knee surgery, so it wasn’t until she was up there, and it was New Year’s Eve, and plans had changed and she WAS at Time’s Square that I had time to stop and think about it.
I had been originally worried that she would get separated from the group in the freezing cold and not be able to find her way back to her friend’s apartment.
But now it was the Eve, and I switched on the TV around 11:30, and suddenly the light flicked on in my head: obvious terrorist target.
Worry had reared its ugly head.
Worry never helps anyone.
I know you think it does, but it doesn’t.
Worry just FEELS like we are doing something about something.
Somewhere I believe that if I worry enough, that hyper vigilance will lead me to think of the one thing that could save my baby girl.
Now, I know that it feels like if you worry, you have some sort of control over the situation.
But you don’t.
The truth is, you have no control.
You can only make decisions and take action.
The truth is, if you raise your blood pressure/increase your heart rate, can’t focus, breath shallowly and bite your fingernails (aka worry) you are less likely to make the right decisions and take helpful action.
So, what could I have done?
It has taken some practice to slide from my scary thought right into d. , but that’s what this coaching stuff is all about.
I’m loving it!
Those who have known me for a few years know that I delight in my traditional evening meal on December 25th.
Yes, my friends, this is the origin story of the Christmas Nachos.
One special evening in the 00’s we were driving home from Greenville, NC on Christmas Eve. It was fifteen minutes until grocery stores closed… still four hours from home… when I realized we had no food in the refrigerator at home. Catching the exit and wheeling into the Piggly Wiggly, I realized my spartan cupboard at home resembled an NPR Lynne Rosetto Kasper cooking challenge… we had nothing but cheese, onions and a can of refried beans. We had successfully whittled down the food before we left on our trip to prevent spoilage.
It had seemed like a good strategy at the time.
New strategy: I sent Whitney in for tortilla chips and a jar of salsa.
So, one night a year, this mother has the dinner she wants. Everything else on Christmas day is for the children. And that makes me happy. But that one day a year, I just want to collapse in exhaustion with a pile of gooey cheese covered with caramelized onions.
However, the real legend of the Christmas nacho dates back to biblical times.
For in the town of Bethlehem, lying in a manager there was a small child and they named him Jesus. When there was a respite between visits from Kings and angels and taking the donkey out to do his business, Mary had a private talk with Joseph. “Now Joseph, you know I love no one but you. And I know you have been wondering why Jesus doesn’t look like anyone in either of our families. Well, Joseph, the thing is… He’s nacho’ baby.”
And thus, the legend of the Christmas Nacho was born.
My friend Tammy Jackson is full of the most wonderful stories, but the one I want to tell you about today is a story of perspective. It is a story involving a dog, butter, and a little boy.
It was a holiday… Thanksgiving, I believe… and a special dessert was being prepared. Tammy had set the stick of butter on the counter to soften when she realized she was missing one vital ingredient for her dessert.
So, off to the store she went, and when she got back home, the stick of butter was missing from the counter.
Newla, the dog had gotten the butter, and not a morsel was left.
Newla was in the doghouse (so to speak).
Well, two weeks later, Tammy’s mother was coming to visit.
Tammy’s mother gave her a couch, you see, a beautiful floral brand-new couch.
Floors had been vacuumed, bathtubs scrubbed, all things were shiny, clean and put in place.
With only moments until her mother arrived, Tammy went to fluff and dust the prized couch.
Only then did she notice that one of the cushions would not lie flat.
It was the butter.
Newla had “buried” it there for later consumption. (Perhaps the dog apocalypse.)
Now, I thought the story ended there with a mad scurry of greasy cleaning as her mother pulled in the driveway, but that’s not the curious thing.
I found it very curious that as Tammy’s 4 year-old son came in to see his mother cleaning the couch, his comment was, “I was wondering what the butter was doing in the couch.”
He already knew about the butter in the couch.
What was this boy thinking? That perhaps butter belongs in a couch?
And why didn’t it occur to him to mention it to his mother?
I mean, come on! It’s butter.
In the couch!
This boy questions everything else. Why not this?
But that made me think.
What is my butter?
What am I seeing and dismissing… thinking, “Huh – that’s just how things are” – and going on with life?
Maybe my butter is the trapped feeling of working from home.
Maybe my butter is sending the kids to a school that gives five hours of homework.
Maybe my butter is determined by how much control I think I have over the situation.
I think your butter is anything that is out-of-place but you haven’t stopped to question it.
So, the next time you get a questioning tingle that makes you go “huh”, stop and check to see if it’s your butter.
Instead of dismissing it, question it.
It’s those little, gnawing, “huh?” feelings that are trying to signal you that a course correction may be in order.
It’s that moment between “huh?” and dismissing it that makes you powerful.
You are not four years old.
There is butter in your couch.
Is that OK or not?
And then take action.
You get to choose.
You have the power.