Author Archive

When Adopted Kids Can’t Bond: ‘Rescuing Julia Twice’ Explains RAD

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Before reading Rescuing Julia Twice, I had no idea there was such a thing as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). This happens frequently in kids of internationally adopted children. These children have trouble bonding and loving–and that often breaks their new parents’ hearts. This is not the average I’m-so-lucky, big-group-hug book on the subject. Author and adoptive mother Tina Traster gets real.

Since we all know someone who has adopted, it’s a must-read. Tina holds nothing back–about the wonder and joy, yes, but also about the many challenges. Check out my Q&A with her below to get more scoop about this stunning book.

KK: What inspired you to finally tell your adoption story in your new book, Rescuing Julia Twice?
TT: In 2010, a Tennessee woman put her adopted Russian child alone on a plane back to Moscow, saying he was psychotic, and she couldn’t parent him. That was an extreme and immoral thing to do, but I knew that many parents like me were living some version of that woman’s life. I understood what it was like to adopt a Russian infant who didn’t bond for years. Fortunately my story had a different outcome. My husband and I had helped Julia bond, and turned around her life, and made us a solid family, I felt compelled to tell my story.

KK: What was it like for you when Julia didn’t bond easily?
TT: I don’t know what it would have been like if Julia had bonded right away, but because she didn’t, and because she was my first child, I assumed her inability to bond was my fault. That I’d made a terrible mistake, that I was incapable of being a mother. For a long time, I languished in a state of despair and isolation. I did not see a parallel world in the mommy-and-me universe between my circumstances and others. The savings grace was the support and love I have always had from my husband, Ricky.

KK: What is RAD? Is it common?
TT: A serious condition associated with infants and young children who have been neglected, abused or orphaned in infancy. The traumatic break of the maternal bond, or the primal wound, as some call it, affect the child’s capacity to trust and bond to one primary caretaker. RAD is difficult to diagnose; in fact many therapists are unfamiliar with the syndrome, and it is often mistaken for other afflictions. In my opinion, RAD needs to be better known and understood, it needs the same attention and exposure as the autism spectrum.

KK: Would you tell us about your ‘aha moment,’ when it hit you that Julia suffers with Reactive Attachment Disorder, commonly known as RAD?
TT: For the first three to four years Julia was home, I’d heard the term RAD a handful of times, most memorably from her pediatrician. But it wasn’t until by chance I caught a television interview of an adoptive mother of a Russian child who was serving time in prison for that child’s accidental death. Listening to her describe the child’s behaviors was chilling because I could identify. That program led me to the Internet, where I learned there had been a number of cases of deaths of Russian-adopted children, and many were suffering with RAD. I saw common behaviors, and it gave me the urgency I needed to help my daughter rather than hoping she’d eventually bond.

KK: You write that you understood how it might be possible for other adoptive parents to snap and injure their kids, and even accidentally kill their adopted Russian children. Would you explain why?
TT:
I’ve never felt violent toward Julia, but I do know how devastating it feels to parent a child that won’t accept love. You try and try but the child rejects you, and acts up 24/7, and you feel exhausted, defeated and angry. What stopped me from sliding into the abyss was gaining an understanding of RAD. Once I did, my heart really broke for Julia. I understood how deeply she was suffering. My husband and I devoted all our energy to shifting how we dealt with Julia and doing whatever it took to get her to bond to us, which she did, over time. But the game-changer was empathy.

KK: What would you most like all the mothers out there, and especially adoptive mothers, to take away from Rescuing Julia Twice? What’s your advice for them?
TT: First and foremost, you are not alone. So many of us who are parenting internationally-adopted and foster-care children, are living with deeply wounded children, and so many stars need to align for the healing to begin. A good marriage is a necessary foundation. Patience and perseverance are the guiding pillars. Understanding RAD completely — by reading everything you can on the subject — is what you need to help your child. You may want to partner with a therapist who is qualified to treat RAD but beware of the many professionals who are unskilled. Finally, an adoptive parent, maybe any parent, must be willing to relinquish deep-seeded expectations about what parenting or being a family means, and instead be open to a path that was unforeseen.

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Stop Eating Sugar: 4 Tips for Getting Started with Sugar-Free Parenting

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Could you live for a year without sugar? What about you and your family? That’s exactly what Eve O. Schaub did and then wrote about in her new book, Year of No SugarSound like torture to give up hazelnut flavored coffee creamer and Girl Scout cookies? Well, it’s even more than that–sugar lurks in breads, deli meats and so many other places. Check out this list–you’ll be sugar shocked. So Eve is here to help. She gives 4 Tips for Getting Started with Sugar-Free Parenting including grocery shopping lists and recipes. Read more about her successes and setbacks below:

KK: How did you get the idea to go sugar free? Why did you extend it to the whole family?
ES:
I got the idea to do a Year of No Sugar after watching a YouTube video my husband happened upon. It was a 90-minute medical lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”It’s not exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to go viral, but that’s just what happened: It’s been viewed over four million times to date.

After watching the video, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that sugar was hidden in plain sight everywhere we went. Once I had the idea to do a Year of No Sugar, it seemed natural for us to do the project together as a family. After all, I do most of the family cooking, and we eat most of our meals together. Additionally, I felt that while one person can do any old crazy thing, a whole family eating a particular way would represent something far more interesting and meaningful.

KK: What were the kids reactions when you told them?
ES: Ohhhhh, not good. We were driving home from a visit to my mother’s and as soon as my husband and I started explaining it they instantly knew that this was a terrible, awful, horrible idea. They immediately started wailing and gnashing their teeth: “What about Christmas? What about Halloween? What about Birthdays?” It wasn’t pretty.

KK: Did you go cold turkey or gradually reduce sugar?
ES: 
Our project began on January 1, pretty much cold turkey, which isn’t to say we didn’t make any mistakes. Immediately we began experiencing a very steep learning curve as to what was going to be involved in our Year of No Sugar, for example: We went to a pancake house for breakfast on New Year’s Day. Now, surely, I might have realized that simply avoiding the maple syrup container on the table wasn’t going to be enough (there’s sugar in the pancake and waffle batters, in the bacon, in the sausage) but at that time I really didn’t. It would take weeks before we got into a groove of understanding how to best ask questions in restaurants, how to efficiently read ingredients while grocery shopping, how to plan ahead for times when we’d be out and need to have some food on hand.

KK: I’m very interested in doing a version of this for my family of six. Do you have 3-5 tips for getting started? I don’t even know if I can do it!
ES: 
You can totally do it! I firmly believe that anyone who wants to avoid sugar can do it, even in our super sugar-saturated society. In many ways I think our culture’s addiction to sugar is as much an issue of convenience as it is of taste; Americans love convenience, and sugar is one of the ways the Big Food companies have been able to give it to us. Consequently, avoiding sugar is often simply a matter of becoming more aware of what’s really in our foods, and being willing to spend a little extra time searching for alternatives. That said, here are 4 Tips for Getting Started with Sugar-Free Parenting:

  1. Don’t drink sugar. This is our society’s biggest sugar-culprit, from soda and sports drinks to bottled teas and, yes, juice. Stick with water, milk, unsweetened coffee or tea. Wine contains a vanishingly small amount of fructose (the bad part of sugar), and is way preferable to alcoholic drinks mixed with syrups, juices or sodas.
  2. Read ingredients. Always. If I learned anything in our Year of No Sugar, it is never to assume I know what is in a product. You’ll be amazed the places you will find sugar once you start to look: crackers, bread, tortellini, chicken broth, peanut butter, salad dressing, cold cuts, baby formula. Even if you can’t imagine why sugar would be there, check.
  3. Know Sugar’s Aliases. Today there are so many bizarre laboratory-born ingredients that it’s tempting to give up trying to know what is in our food. On my website, you can check out my list of sugar’s popular aliases as well as the list of things that sound like they might be sugar but aren’t.
  4. Don’t make it a big deal. The last thing a kid wants to hear, or many adults either for that matter, is how good for them something is. Sugar in our culture is synonymous with fun, so saying something is sugar-free is tantamount to saying it is fun-free, not to mention probably taste-free. I find the best strategy is not to mention that the Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting you brought to the potluck has no added sugar and then watch as the entire thing disappears, down to the crumbs.

KK: What’s the challenging part of sticking with it?
ES: 
The most challenging part of our year caught me by surprise: It wasn’t the cravings or the temptation to cheat, it was the social isolation that comes with eating differently than everyone else around you. I never realized how heavily our culture relies on food to make things official, and in our culture food means sugar. From birthdays to funerals to fundraisers to the last day of school picnic: we often found ourselves existing in some inexpressible way apart from our friends, acquaintances and neighbors… celebrating next to them, rather than with them.

KK: What was good or bad about the year?
ES:
Some of the results of our Year of No Sugar were easier to anticipate: It made us feel healthier, the kids missed fewer school days, and we all became expert sugar sleuths. Other things took us more by surprise – not to be indelicate, but we pooped more. Whereas I had once been a recipe-slave, following every instruction to the letter, I learned to enjoy improvising and experimenting. Also, our palates began to change, and we found ourselves disgusted by the taste of once-beloved treats.

For me, the down side of doing a Year of No Sugar was that once we stopped, I felt adrift: How do we go on? What are the rules now? Figuring out how to have some small amount of sugar in our lives without going overboard was yet another significant challenge.

KK: Are you glad you did it? Are you still on the no-sugar diet?
ES: 
Everyone in our family is glad we did our Year of No Sugar. The kids are proud of the fact that we accomplished something that plainly horrifies their classmates. By the same token, everyone is glad that the year is over and that we don’t have to be quite so strict as we were during that Year, for example, we now eat mayonnaise and ketchup with impunity.

We are now what I’d call “High Level Sugar Avoiders:” We eschew sugar in most things, make our own breads and sauces and cook as much as we can at home. It still makes me irate when a product contains sugar needlessly like crackers and salad dressing. As for dessert, we save it for special occasions, not more than once every week or two.

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This Passover and Easter, Many Parents are Raising Kids Without Religion

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

As you know, we’re coming to the end–and the pinnacle–of Holy Week. Much of the world celebrates Passover and Easter–but not everyone. Deborah Mitchell, author of Growing Up Godless: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids without Religion, is part of a rising demographic that is not teaching her kids about any tradition. She prefers science over what she cannot see or prove. Is that okay with you? Or maybe that is you. (On the other end of the spectrum, here’s a great article on How to Teach Your Kids About Religion.)

It’s an issue that a lot of parents just don’t want to discuss. But not Deborah. She has a lot to say about raising kids without religion. Her book is informative, thoughtful and answers as many questions as it raises. I just had to talk to her to find out more. Check out her views below.

KK: What does it mean to grow up godless?
DM: It means that you’re not trying to convince your children (or yourself) of myths and concepts that don’t make sense to you. For example, kids want to know how the soul goes to heaven. What exactly is a soul and how is it transported to heaven? It means that you’re not teaching your kids to be fearful of an intangible deity in the sky, a God who can hear every thought and see every action. (God is the original Big Brother!) It means that you are teaching your children, instead, to answer to their own conscience. It means that kids won’t look to a prize at the end of their lives; they’ll find the gifts along the way, in every ordinary day, in every ordinary person. These realizations make us live with a lot more awareness and the feeling that we are in control of our destiny.

KK: What percentage of parents are forgoing religion now?
DM: It’s difficult to measure. Do we include those parents who reject religion but still believe in some sort of god-force? Do we include those parents who identify as Christians but reject church? What about secular Jews and mixed-belief families? There are also people who, due to a negative perception of atheism and pressure from society, disassociate themselves from the atheist movement.

Regardless, it’s clear that parents who want to raise their kids outside of traditional religion and belief is a growing demographic. We need to advance the awareness that not everyone believes in God, and we definitely don’t want religion forced on our kids. On the other hand, it’s also important for our children to know about the world’s various religions and to have respect for other belief systems.

KK: Why are more people passing on religion now?
DM: There are several factors at play. One thing I realized when I started writing about this topic was that parents have been quietly forgoing religion for years. A lot of moms and dads with grown children told me they had raised their kids without god (and they turned out just fine!). Some parents don’t like that religion has become so political, that it judges and preaches intolerance. I think people have responded to the rise of the religious right by speaking up and saying, “You don’t speak for me.” They are starting to come out of the closet now because they’re tired of being bullied. Another factor is that parents are choosing intellectual honesty over unwavering faith. People have questions about God, and they can find answers that make sense. Now, instead of blindly following what the church teaches, people are choosing “boutique spirituality,” skepticism, humanism and atheism. Finally, as parents become aware that religion is not important in raising happy, healthy, moral kids, they feel comfortable “leaving it behind.”
KK: What other ways can we teach our kids morals and good ways to live life?
DM: Morality doesn’t come from religion. It doesn’t come from a distant God who doesn’t communicate with us. It’s a social construct that we learn first and best from our parents. We must teach our children self-awareness, reflection and empathy. They have to understand that their actions and words can harm others, physically and emotionally. When your child hits you, tell her it hurts and show her the mark it leaves on your arm. Use words to explain your feelings. Show her appropriate ways to ask for attention. Children naturally want to please us.

As humans, we have a responsibility not to hurt others and to help when we can. Let your children see you helping; ask them to join you in helping your community through volunteerism. Positive acts and words will inspire others to respond in a similar way. This is how we make the world a better place for everyone.

KK: Why do you care if kids or teachers talk about their church at school?
DM:
Unless students are part of a world religion class, there really isn’t a need to discuss church business at school. It places undue pressure on students of different faiths and views. There is a special place and day for worship and prayer. There is also a special place for learning. We don’t bring chemistry and English classes into church on Sundays, so it just seems fair that we shouldn’t bring religion into the classroom.

KK: How do you explain that the universe came from nothing? If there is no God, how do you explain to children how we got here?
DM: 
I’ve always told my kids, “I don’t know” a lot. And I don’t know and won’t make up answers. I told them what I know about the origins of life, according to the body of knowledge we have right now. One day, they may know much more than I do, or they may have different answers.

Science is not always right, but it admits to its errors and its uncertainties, and makes adjustments. It can be updated, recalculated and rewritten. Religion doesn’t have that same sort of flexibility because, if religion says it’s wrong, it may no longer exists.

KK: Do you teach your kids that religion is bad?
DM: No. I don’t teach my kids that religion is bad. I teach them that belief is a choice. Our family doesn’t find that there is any proof for the existence of God but others feel that there are reasons to believe and that’s okay. We can still find a lot of common ground with those who believe. We’re all on the same page, in reality, and we all can work together to make the world a better place, regardless of what we believe.

 

 

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‘I Heart My Little A-Holes’ Author Karen Alpert Writes a Non-Love Letter to Her Daughter

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Are your kids a-holes? Be serious for a second. Sure, you love them a lot. But sometimes, don’t they act like scumbags? Mine do. Just yesterday, I was coming home from a very long day at work. As I walked in the door, I caught my 8-year-old daughter unplugging my iPhone charger in the kitchen. And replacing it with her iPod charger that does not work.

I know you know. And so does author Karen Alpert who just released her first book, I Heart My Little A-HolesShe also runs the funny and candid website called Baby Sideburns, a popular site dedicated to tell the truth–the whole truth–about raising children.

Karen just wants us all to get real about parenting–and laugh our asses off. Exclusively for Parents readers, she wrote the following letter to her future 18-year-old daughter.

A Letter to My Daughter in the Future: Minus that sappy crap you see on Huff Post
by Karen Alpert 

‘To my daughter when she turns 18 (many many years from now):

Well, hey there, kiddo. Remember me, the mom you used to love but now probably hate with every bone in your teenage body? If you’re anything like the little shit I was at your age, you’re barely speaking to me right now, much less listening to my brilliant words of wisdom.

The way I see it I’ll be hitting menopause at about the same time you’re in the thick of puberty, so basically we’re F’ed, so I figured I better write you this letter now before we’re not speaking to each other. Then again, if I’m wrong and we’re like totally besties, I’ll just tell you this shit over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and give you this letter so you’ll have it in writing too.

Before you move away from home (at which point I’ll be locked up in the bathroom, drowning my tears in a bottle of vodka), I wanted to make sure to pass along some words of advice to you. Here are a few things to do in your early adulthood before life sucks the life out of you:

1. Get shitfaced once in a while. Some of my best bonding moments were when I had one (translation: four) too many cocktails with my girlfriends. Just don’t do any of the following while you’re shitfaced: Walk home alone, drive drunk or sleep with a guy. Even if he’s like ridiculously hot. No, not because he might turn out to be fugly when you’re sober. Consider this shit: If he’s that attractive, guess what else might be attracted to him? Herpes, genital warts, and crabs. Going home with a hangover the next morning is doable. Going home with the Red Lobster menu crawling all over your hoo-ha not so much.

2. And while we’re on the subject of bonding, try to make a lot of great friends in your 20s. Here are a few things that happen when you’re a young adult: You go out a lot, you drink, and you hang out on people’s couches. As you get older these things happen less and less. Not that you can’t bond with a friend over a stinky diaper change. It just doesn’t quite bring you together the same way dropping your pants to pee in an alley does. Not that I’ve done that.

3. And speaking of dropping your pants, let’s talk about your career choice. Yeah, picking something you love is important, but here’s some shit the career counselors won’t tell you. You know how you say one day you want to get married and have babies and all that junk and give me little grandbabies I can cuddle and love and hand back to you when they take a shit? If you can, pick a job that’s going to be flexible with hours one day and let you work from home. There’s no such thing as a part-time investment banker. Or a part-time cardiac surgeon. They’re fabulous jobs, and yeah, I’d be proud as hell to say my daughter is doing a heart transplant, but I’d also be watching your kiddo all day, and I’m not sure how cool it would be for me to walk into your operating room and say, “Here, take your rug rat. He just made a doodie and I ain’t changing it.”

4. Notice how in that last paragraph I said one day you want to get married? I didn’t say you want to find a husband. Yeah, if you’re a lesbian, just tell us. Don’t beat around the bush. Wait, yes, beat around the bush, but tell us you’re beating around the bush. It’ll actually make us feel better, especially your dad, who has a gun ready for the first guy who asks for your hand in marriage.

5. Which is a great segue to dating. Whether you’re into men or women, you’re going to date a bunch of assholes along the way. They might break up with you in a text message or cheat on you with their ex who they broke up with in a text message. And they’ll probably make you cry and feel like crapola. Just know that they are not a waste of time. They are all there to teach you what you DON’T want in a partner.

6. Because one day your boobs will droop so low they touch your ankles, and your elbows will make you wonder whether you’re one-quarter elephant, and your eyesight will be so bad you’ll fail to notice your one-haired goatee until it gets tangled in your necklace, and that’s when you’ll want a partner who’s not going to throw up in their mouth a little when they see you naked. You want to end up with someone who thinks you’re more gorgeous than the day you first met.

7. And one last thing. Even if you’re not talking to me right now, know that you can always tell me anything. ANYTHING. I’ve probably been there myself, even if I never told you about it. I might want to kick the shit out of you and lock you in a room forever, but I won’t actually do it. I will always be there for you (with a bottle of something hard if you’re twenty-one or a pint of something chocolatey if you’re not). I love you.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Love,
Mommy (Of course I realize by now you’re probably calling me Mom. Or Shithead.)

For more funny stories, you’ve got to flip through this quick and organized little book, I Heart My Little A-Holes. Oddly, it will make you appreciate the sh!theads you have at home.

What career is your child destined for? Click to find out.

Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail
Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail
Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail

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‘What Am I Going to Do With My Life?’ Author Richard Shell Brilliantly Helps Answer This Question

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’ Oh, good. Then we all have something in common. This new book, by a brilliant author, helps you answer this question. Finally. For real.

The book is called Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success. The author, G. Richard Shell, turns your world upside down to help you answer your questions and find meaning and purpose in whatever it is you are doing–or want to do. The paperback will be released this month.

First and foremost: You’re not too old to make your dreams come true right now. Shell spent his 20s unemployed and didn’t start his career until age 37. Today, he is a professor at Wharton, consultant to the Navy SEALS and creator of the Success Course.

You’ve got to read his great book and the Q&A with him below. He will tell you how to see success differently: He says, “The people who are able to unplug from professional life, spend time with the people they love, and gather new, inspiring ideas about what to do next with their lives, may be every bit as “successful” as those who stay on the “track” of an advancing career without asking themselves what they are really accomplishing.

He also gives tips on how to get started on a new path if that’s the direction you want to go. His advice applies to SAHMs just as much as high-profile lawyers. Read my Q&A with him below:

KK: Why do women tend to question themselves and what they’ll do with their lives right after they have kids?
RS: Of course, let’s first note that not all women feel this way. Many are absorbed with raising their children and have no regrets whatever that they have made the choice to focus on the family aspect of social life. But most of us take our perceptions of what it means to be “successful” from our surrounding culture and, for better or worse, our society does not publicly celebrate being a “mom” as much as it does being a celebrity, high-status professional or high-tech entrepreneur. When a woman who has been socialized to aspire to status-based success finds herself spending all her time changing diapers and going to the playground with her kids, she may naturally question if she is on the right path. She loves her children and is ready to sacrifice for them – but it feels like a “sacrifice” exactly because she is thinking about all the other women who appear to be racing ahead on the “fast track” to professional success while she is not. It is much harder for her to imagine the feelings of regret and frustration that high-status professional women sometimes feel about either not having a family at all – or allowing hired help to do the heavy lifting of caring for their kids day-to-day.  You need to remember that, from the outside, most people look like they have life all figured out when, from the inside, they actually have significant doubts, bad days and feelings of inadequacy.

KK: How do we get back on track or on a new track of being successful after a break from office life?
RS: Just the way this question is asked contains an assumption I would like to challenge.  The people who are able to unplug from professional life, spend time with the people they love, and gather new, inspiring ideas about what to do next with their lives, may be every bit as “successful” as those who stay on the “track” of an advancing career without asking themselves what they are really accomplishing. When people really sit down to think about what a successful life actually consists of, they often conclude that it feature three things: good health, meaningful work and love. If a break from the office routine can help you make progress toward one of more of those three targets, it is time well spent!

Assuming you are going back to work you find interesting and challenging, however, you may need to give yourself some time to make the transition back to the pace of an office job.  That is really about energy – so you should be sure to get exercise, sleep and “down time” whenever possible so your battery does not run too low too fast in the first few months of a transition to the office routine. Also, it is very important to seek out some assignments that spark your imagination so you get your motivation locked in. Finally, you’ll need to make time engage with the people around you – not just the tasks. The better your social support system, the more likely you will be able to bounce back quickly when you have the inevitable setbacks and frustrations that come with office politics, people who do not deliver what they promised, and the biases that always seem to creep out to bite you just when you get your confidence back.

KK: How can moms figure out what they want to do?
RS: Moms are no different from anyone else when it comes to figuring out what they should do next. Think of people coming back to the civilian workforce from being in the military or someone who has just had a serious illness or accident that makes it necessary for them to change direction in life. They may face major transitions that feel as daunting as climbing Mt. Everest. But everyone who is urgently asking “What’s next for me?” needs to follow a very similar path in terms of their planning process. In many ways, these are just the people I wrote Springboard for – and the books lays out step-by-step guidance for thinking this question through.
You need to start by surveying your genuine capabilities – what do you do better than most people around you?  Can you write, cook, engage with children or young people or organize social events? There are substantial careers in each of these areas of competence (indeed in every single area of competence you can imagine) – from helping people write their resumes to starting your own wedding or event planning service. Target work that uses your talents – at a realistic level for someone just starting out.

Next, you need to think back and re-connect with your sources of self confidence. Go talk to people who believe in you.  Think back to times when you have overcome obstacles and lived to fight another day. With your confidence renewed, set up interviews with people who are successful doing whatever you think might be fun or exciting to do yourself. People are often very, very generous in helping others think about how to get started in their professional area. Maybe you’ll need to go to school or get specialized training. Maybe you’ll need to apprentice to a skilled person for a time. The most important thing is to start doing things related to the area you are targeting. Once you are in motion, good things happen.  You meet people who know other people. You gain experience.  You can get a “lucky” break.

Basically, after that, it is a question of trial-and-error. You need to learn from what happens, adjust, and keep moving… Be humble. Be willing to learn. But be persistent.

KK: It’s fascinating that you started your career at 37. What advice do you have for those of us who think we’re too old to aspire toward a new dream?
RS:
The first half of Springboard is designed to help you get over the idea that you are “too old” or “too young” or “too ordinary” to have an interesting life. Indeed, as the saying goes, tomorrow is always the first day of the rest of your life. If you have a “beginner’s mind” about everything you do, then no job is too menial or too basic to get started in a new direction that excites you. The main thing is to pay attention to your inner sense of excitement and fun. I have been a restaurant waiter, a social worker, an improvisational actor, a house painter and a university professor. I love what I do now, but I am using a lot of what I have learned about at earlier stages of my life. And I would probably feel the same way if I reversed the order of my working life. There is a great book called How Starbucks Saved My Life by a guy who went from being a high-status professional to working at Starbucks serving coffee – and he actually got more out of his Starbucks job in terms of personal fulfillment and satisfaction than he did when he had a corner office in a high-rise office building. If you learn to think about life from the inside-out – applying your own true measures of what “success” really means to you, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that come along compared with living a life in which you let others (or the media) define success for you.

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