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Stop Screaming at the Microwave

How to Connect Your Disconnected Life
By Mary LoVerde

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: When You Can't Keep Up

Hurried and worried until we are buried, and there's no curtain call, Life is a very funny proposition, after all.

-- George M. Cohan

I got home from work and flopped into my easy chair, totally exhausted. I turned on the answering machine and heard the baby-sitter for my (then) five-year-old son Nicholas. She explained how she had driven him to preschool that morning, walked into the classroom and saw before her nineteen little boys and girls, all sitting in a circle, wiggling with excitement, and...she noticed, each one of them was wearing a Halloween costume.

All of them except Nicholas.

She went on to describe (in brutal detail) how he had burst into tears, clung to her leg, and begged to go home.

OK. So Mother of the Year I wasn't. In fact, I felt like the worst parent on the planet. Despite my best efforts to keep all those plates spinning, I had let one fall. I had humiliated my child in front of his friends. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted, and I vowed then and there I would never let my life get so out of balance again.

But how? I had tried the superperson route and had failed. Yes, there were some days I could pull it off, sometimes even for days in a row. I just couldn't keep it up. I needed something a little more realistic. Surely there was a better way. (There is.)

We're All in the Same Boat

You might see yourself in this story. Whether it is failing to meet the needs of your family or failing to get it all done at work, many of us feel like we are doing just that: failing. No matter how hard we plan or work, it never seems to be enough.

We aren't alone. According to the National Study on the Changing Workforce, Americans are overwhelmed, exhausted, and constantly under stress from trying to accomplish more than we can handle. If you feel that you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, well, you are not imagining it. Actually, you are not in this predicament because you are failing in some way. There really is too much to do. We know we can't keep up. We are going 90 miles an hour and the faster we go, the farther behind we get.

Do you remember the Leave It to Beaver show? To many of us baby boomers who grew up with the show, the Cleavers were the perfect family. Part of our current frustration stems from the fact that we still cling to the "Cleaver ideal." Don't get me wrong: I have a lot of June Cleaver in me. I believe in the values we associate with that model. However, I discovered I was trying to run my life according to Cleaver Principles. I believed things like:


  • I can solve all problems in thirty minutes.

  • The division of labor between men and women is equal and agreed upon.

  • I can always "be there."

  • My idea of a juvenile delinquent was Eddie Haskell!


We live in a very different world than June and Ward experienced. In America, women now make up more than 50 percent of the workforce. One in two marriages ends in divorce. We have biological, open adoptive, single, joint-custody, step, foster, and surrogate mothers. We have in vitro, latchkey, and boomerang kids. And a dozen flavors of deadbeat, Disneyland, and dedicated dads. The Cleavers we're not. That doesn't mean family life has gone to hell in a handbasket. It means that we can believe in the values of days gone by -- with the understanding that our lives probably won't look like June and Ward's.

We Disconnect in the Name of Balance

I once listened to a man proudly announce that he was "going at breakneck speed to meet his deadline." I had a gut-wretching response to his words. I prayed his body would not obey his vicious command. I started listening carefully to how we describe our lives. I was flabbergasted at the language! Ask someone, "How are you?" and she might respond:

  • "I'm hanging in there." Is she saying she needs a lifeline, not a noose?

  • "I'm torn in a million directions." Would she rather be centered in one direction?

  • "I am coming apart at the seams." Does she want her connections intact?

  • "I am pulled in a dozen ways." Could she really be pleading to have her life together in one "peace"?


I was astonished to hear how we felt hung, torn, and pulled apart. Such pain! It sounded like I was on the set of the popular nineties television drama ER!

I could hear the cry for unity. We hurt and we attempt to relieve our psychic pain by disconnecting.

We Disconnect from Ourselves

First, we separate from our bodies. This is like ignoring the advice of a loyal devoted friend. Our bodies tell us when things are out of kilter. Initially, it informs us nicely; we get tired, thirsty, hungry, achy, short of breath, forgetful, or irritable -- and our pants get tight. Then, if we take no action, it talks louder and more urgently; we get ulcers, insomnia, headaches, chest pains, rashes, panic attacks -- and our pants get tighter. As a last resort, our bodies make final attempts to get our attention; we get heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, emphysema -- and our pants no longer fit at all. As the former director of the Hypertension Research Center at the University of Colorado, I saw patients regularly who insisted they had no symptoms before their heart attack, stroke, or bout with gout. In fact, we called hypertension the "silent killer" because people did not know anything was wrong.

How ridiculous! Of course our bodies talk to us -- over and over again. We have taught ourselves to override the early detection system that protects us. We rob ourselves of a healthy diet, adequate exercise, enough sleep, and good medical care because "we don't have time." We ignore our bodies in the name of balance and end up with a butt-related depression. Even our Wonder Bras have a limit to the miracles they can perform. We can't fool Mother Nature.

We Disconnect from Our Families

I will never forget the day I was at the computer, feeling pestered by the kids, when I shouted, "Leave me alone! Can't you see I am writing a book about connection?" Immediately thereafter, I developed a case of guilty writer's block. Who could blame me? Once again, in my zeal to get it all done, I disengaged from who I was and how I wanted to be. And I am not the only one who acts this way. My audience members tell me how they stay up late completing all the chores and end up too tired to hear about the delights of the day. They confess that their conversations deteriorate into "Who's picking up the kids?" "Can you get the shirts from the laundry?" "Your mother called -- again." They describe how they work hard to buy things that will make them look sexy and attractive, and then are too tired for romance. We disengage from what feels good. (And we still don't get it all done.)

We Disconnect from Others

Many of us could sit down right now and make a list of fifteen friends who we genuinely enjoy but haven't contacted in months, maybe even years. When we get overwhelmed we often cut out the very people who could help us the most: the ones who encourage, stimulate, and challenge us; the ones who know us warts and all and like us anyway; and especially those fun, zany friends who always make us laugh. God knows we could all use a good laugh. But we decide we are too busy right now and so we put our noses to the grindstone and try to solve our problems in a vacuum.

We Disconnect with the Big Picture

Feeling this disjointed, we can't find our way in the world. We doubt ourselves and our God. It is unsettling to be so out of touch. We want sublime balance and end up with confusion and uneasiness. Some of us lose hope.

What They Said Would Work...Doesn't

Ironically, many of the strategies we use to find balance actually disconnect us -- making us feel even worse. In an attempt to get everything completed we lock out our true emotions and shut ourselves off from who we really are and what we really want. The isolation and frenetic pace we create can literally make us sick. The sad part is that our valiant efforts don't work anyway -- there is still too much to do.

We Tried Time Management

Many time-management ideas are invaluable and I use them regularly. The problem with this strategy, however, is that for every hour that I allegedly "save," I have ten hours of demands competing for it. Many of us focus on our bottomless to-do lists, frustrated that there is never enough time -- and we are right -- we will never get more than twenty-four hours a day. So we speed up.

I read on the sports page this summer about a race car driver who, in a risky strategic maneuver, skipped the scheduled pit stop to try to win the race. His plan worked and he narrowly won -- and then he ran out of gas in the victory lap and had to be pushed back in. Isn't that exactly what some of us do? We maximize every minute, refusing to pull over for a pit stop so we can win our "race," and then we run out of gas on our victory lap: too exhausted to have fun on the weekends, too distracted to enjoy our evenings, or too full of health problems to savor our retirement.

"Time" itself is now controversial and the experts can't seem to agree on the truth about time. Some time-management researchers say we have more leisure time than ever. Others declare we could go home if we wanted to but work is so appealing and home so chaotic, we actually prefer the office. All this flies in the face of what real people tell me: "I don't have time for the important things in my life."

Whatever the real truth about time is, the perception by most is that we are out of sync. I believe the conflicting reports stem from the fact that time is not really the source of our dissatisfaction. We are disconnecting to cope -- and that is the opposite of what it will take to achieve harmony.

Is Living in the Moment the Answer?

I don't think so. I wish I were better at this. I know I could get a lot out of cherishing each minute but frankly, at some moments I want to: a) burst into tears and crawl into bed; b) eat the whole container of Häagen-Dazs; or c) ram the car ahead of me (not real hard, just enough to get the guy to go a little faster). If I focused on those moments I would definitely be disconnected...or so the officer explained.

pardWhat About Prioritizing?

Many experts tell us to live according to our priorities. OK, I'm game. So how do I do that? I understand and admire the concept of "first things first," but how do I use this advice on a day-to-day basis? I have a difficult time even ranking my priorities, and I bet you do, too. Is going to work my top choice so we don't lose the house? Is it more important to stay home with my child with the croup? (Only soon we wouldn't have any place in which to "stay home.") Or maybe I should call in sick and go to the gym and exercise because if I have a heart attack and die I can't pay the mortgage or raise a child. I know I have to live my life according to what's important -- and I try. It's just that I'm not sure on an hourly basis exactly what that looks like. On my hassled harried days I want to scream, "Which things first?" I can get bogged down trying to make every decision based on priorities. And it doesn't feel good. I second-guess myself and feel guilty for choosing one priority over the other.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

I also tried to simplify. I especially enjoyed Sarah Ban Breathnach's lovely book, Simple Abundance. Her strategies did help. But no matter how simple I made my life, complicated problems kept cropping up. The solutions to the problems weren't so easy to implement, either. The other barrier: I was not a great student of the craft. I did not want to ride the bus to my children's orthodontist, stop dry-cleaning my wool suits, or collect rainwater to wash my hair. I was the remedial reader of the simplicity movement. I discovered I could streamline my life but sometimes that took away the things I really liked. And there was a limit to how much I could cut out of my modern urban life. Taken to an extreme, I felt unattractive, dull, and muddled. My life was simple -- and boring.

Is the Secret to Just Get Organized and Delegate?

My problem is not getting organized -- it is staying organized. I don't know exactly where those piles come from, but no sooner do I get one down than another mysteriously pops up. I could devote my life to pile reduction. I tried that but just didn't find much levity in it. I finally got all my ducks in a row and then I realized I don't like ducks!

I also learned that my dependence on organization made me think I could have more and more things -- "I'll find a place for it." It reminded me of the Zen masters who teach that when we set our material standards so high, we are held in bondage by the things we ourselves hold in bondage. I hate to think of the weekends I've wasted sorting "stuff" that held me captive in my closet.

I am also the master of delegating. I can take what is on my desk and dump it on someone else's in the time it takes to say, "You do it." The gambit often works -- for a while. Then I get back to my office and find that the voice mail is full of requests and the heaps start again. Giving it to someone else didn't make me feel better. It didn't get me home any earlier or earn me more money or make me any friends. It did not connect me with anyone or anything.

I also wrote mission statements, made pie charts, and read my daily horoscope. I juggled until I was black and blue, and still I lagged behind. While all the strategies helped, they were not enough. I still hurt.

Time for a New Solution

Most of the strategies for balancing your work and home life focus on how to do more: work harder and faster and sleep less. We don't need to know how to do more. As one woman wrote to me, "I feel like a stretched rubber band about ready to pop." And we don't need government statistics, research findings, or fifty-two exciting ways to make chicken (after all, Domino's delivers).

We are smart. We know that our demands at work are not going to lessen, little elves are not going to suddenly start cleaning the bathroom, and an hour of daily, uninterrupted leisure time is not going to be a reality anytime soon. What we want most now is to experience some joy. We are tired of being tired. Many of us haven't felt good in a long time. This lack of excitement in our lives is a particularly bitter pill to swallow for a generation who grew up with the motto "If it feels good, do it."

We are desperately searching for ways to feel good. We buy Prozac in the convenient fifty-five-gallon-drum size, we channel-surf looking for something to entertain us, and we use retail therapy to buy some happiness. It is not hard to understand the recent increase in heroin overdoses, our debt-ridden society, or the epidemic of depression. In my fifteen years as a faculty member at the University of Colorado Medical School, I often summarized my job description as "find the pain and fix it." I believe we have to do the same thing to cure ourselves. Instead of just medicating ourselves, we have the power to restore our natural joy.

It is not easy to shed our old ways. But we must. Michael Annison, author of Managing the Whirlwind, said, "Because many of the rules of the past no longer apply, doing what we have always done is a prescription for disaster." He concluded,

"If you are going in the wrong direction, speeding up doesn't help."

Although he was offering business advice, his wisdom applies to our personal lives as well. I believe concentrating on to-do lists and doing more -- faster and faster and harder and harder -- is definitely a step in the wrong direction. I've concluded:

Our problem is not a need for speed, it's a correction of direction.

OK. So What's Your Point?

We've learned the hard way that what we have tried hasn't worked. We have done everything we could including jumping through burning hoops and we have made little or no progress. I believe that unless we learn to connect, no amount of managing, organizing, delegating, prioritizing, or simplifying will make us feel good.

Feeling good is what balance is all about.

The Best Blueprint for Balance: Connection
Disconnection causes our pain. Connection will relieve it. Our game plan for living the good life must focus on connecting because it will exhilarate us in ways that clean houses, completed projects, or even cold, hard cash never can. It is time to come to a new realization:

Connection creates balance.

It may be the bonds you make with your spouse and family or your friends and colleagues. It may be relating to those countless strangers you meet every day. It may be the inner peace you make with yourself when you meditate, pray, or allow yourself to enjoy nature or experience silence. Or it may be the communion you feel when you connect spiritually. In moments of sheer exhaustion and maddening stress, it is these bonds that will make us whole again.

It is time to start viewing life balance in a different light. The new life balance motto is:

When you can't keep up, connect.

What Is Connection? How Do I Use It to Balance My Life?

Defining connection is like trying to explain love, peace, or justice. Such complex and intense feelings are hard to articulate. I asked my good friend "Webster" for help and found many definitions. Let's take a look at them and see how they relate to balance.

CONNECTION IS DEFINED AS:

The relation between things that depend on, involve, or follow each other; a causal relationship.

Barbara Lubbers, a personal trainer and fitness guru, told me about a valuable lesson she learned. She said, "I understood what you meant about connecting when I visited my husband, Steve, at his office one day. He was speaking with a customer and neither of them saw me walk up. I heard the man ask my husband, 'How's Barbara?' Steve answered, 'For someone who doesn't work full-time she is the busiest damn person I have ever met.' They noticed me just then and we all had a good laugh, but later his words hit me like a brick. I was shocked at his message. Despite my weekly volunteer work at the hospice, my herculean efforts to be a good mom, and my dedication at the gym and my church, I was disconnected from my husband. He was saying I didn't have enough time for the most important relationship in my life."

Barbara and Steve realized that they need to depend on each other and to be intertwined in each other's lives. Despite successful businesses and a desire to serve others, they couldn't find true balance without relating to one another. Living in the same house or even working side by side doesn't guarantee togetherness. Connection requires involvement.

CONNECTION IS ALSO DEFINED AS:

The act or means of transferring from one train or bus, etc., to another in the course of a journey.

Scott Friedman, my mentor and the funniest humorist I know, showed me how this definition can help us in our daily decision-making. Scott invited me to cohost a party with him for twenty of our mutual business associates. The only date available was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. He casually said, "But that's OK. I'll simply tell my family I've made other plans. They will just have to understand this is the only night we can have our dinner."

About two weeks before the party, with all the plans made and invitations sent, Scott called to say he would not be able to cohost after all.

"Scott!" I lamented, "You can't bail out on me now!"

"I am really sorry, but actually it's all your fault."

Scott is a pretty funny guy so I couldn't wait to hear how I could be to blame. "It's those questions you taught me to ask. When I asked, 'What should I do?' the answer was, 'Keep my commitment to you.' But when I asked, 'With whom do I need to connect?' the answer came loud and clear. My Jewish faith grounds me. As a bachelor I need to be reminded who I am, where I come from, and who I can count on. I love living a single man's jet-setting lifestyle, but without my Jewish traditions, beliefs, and family experiences I would be lost. I need to be with my family for dinner that night. I have to say I am surprised at my decision. At first I didn't think it would be any big deal to miss the holiday celebration, but it just didn't feel right. Now I understand why."

Scott is absolutely correct. Our connections help us find our way in this trip we call life. They take us where we want to go. David Nichols wrote, "Without connection, there is something dangerous and wrong about the world." I agree. I also believe the converse is true. If we emphasize our connections, we stay on track, the world seems less scary, and we can find our true sources of joy and comfort. Many of us may be like Scott, surprised at the places we find those connections.

There's More

I then read the meaning of "connect."

TO CONNECT MEANS:

To plug into an electrical current.

I was in a San Francisco hotel, resting up after a long day of speaking engagements and client meetings, when I got the call from my husband. He very excitedly related the events of the day. While our daughter Emily was at a movie, a young man in her class named Adam placed a ten-foot homemade sign on our garage door that said, "Homecoming '97 -- Adam?" Then he lined the driveway and the sidewalk all the way up to the front door with chocolate kisses. On the doorstep he placed a red rose and a note that said, "Now that I have 'kissed' the ground you walk on, will you go to the homecoming dance with me?"

Emily got on the phone squealing with excitement and filled me in on the details.

My first response was, "Emily, I just have one thing to say: Marry him."

Now I realize she is only fourteen years old, but correct me if I am wrong -- she could do worse.

When I hung up the phone my heart sank. I missed it! I should have been there! What kind of parent am I? There was that Cleaver principle rearing its guilty head again. I stopped myself and asked, "But where is the problem?"

Everyone was turned on! It was as though we were all plugged into an electric current. Emily was tingling and floating on air. Adam was ecstatic -- the girl had said yes! His mother (who had driven him over and was sitting in the car while her son made his rite of passage) was grinning from ear to ear. It wasn't so long ago she couldn't get him to take a shower and now he was Romeo asking Juliet for a date. My husband was having a ball being totally obnoxious with the video camera. Everyone was connected. To be honest, I was having a few magical moments of my own in San Francisco, hooking up with an old friend for dinner and feeling very in tune with my audience, doing what I love to do.

When I viewed the situation from a "connection" point of view, I couldn't find a problem. There was nothing to feel bad about.

The next week Emily and I are out shopping for the perfect dress, matching shoes, and a slip that doesn't show. I am talking about how happy I am that she was asked to the homecoming dance in such a clever and romantic way when she stops in the middle of the mall, puts her hands on her hips, looks at me warily, and says, "You're going to use this story in your talks, aren't you?"

I already had. We were so close she knew me. She understood I couldn't pass up a tale this good. My heart warmed because she had me pegged. Doesn't that turn us on -- when someone we love knows us so well that he or she can predict what we will probably say or do? I realized I hadn't missed anything. The experience was a turn-on for all of us. The connection was electrifying.

(For those of you who, like Paul Harvey, want the rest of the story, I can tell you they had a wonderful time at the dance and Emily looked like a supermodel. Unfortunately she decided not to marry Adam. I've secretly kept his number so if she ever changes her mind...)

I believe the next definition explains why connection so powerfully balances our lives.

TO CONNECT MEANS:

To reach the thing aimed at. (Like hitting a ball or a target solidly.)

We accomplish our goals and attain our dreams when we connect. Isn't that, after all, what we are really trying to do? We connect when we "reach" what or whom we are aiming at: ourselves, our family, our world, and our spirituality.

Melanie Mills, president of Higher Ground Training and Development, Inc., told me, "Connection is that moment when I am aware of being present and fully available to the situation at hand. It is the spontaneous moment that reminds me I am alive and well and there is much for which I am grateful. It is the gentle times when I choose to let someone ease into my traffic lane, notice the colors of the sunset, or hold my honey before drifting off to sleep. It is when I hear my own breath while exercising, make eye contact with a stranger and exchange a gentle smile, send a card for no reason, sing on a friend's voice mail, or cry while watching Oprah. I feel connected when I am real, authentic, and fully engaged. How do I stay connected? By following my hunches and acting on my instincts in the very moment they speak to me."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

I Like All This Emotional Feel-Good Stuff, but How Do I Get It All Done?

When I ask my clients how they cope with multiple demands, they throw up their hands and shrug. Tom Christal, president of a food brokerage company in San Antonio, told me matter-of-factly, "I could work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and still not get it all finished." He's right. Most of us couldn't get everything accomplished with a fairy's wand.

So how do you get it all done?

You don't. It is no longer a realistic expectation. Each morning I prepare my to-do list and it often looks something like this:


  1. Make dentist appointment for Emily
  2. Finish notes for Friday's keynote
  3. Rewrite presentation for new client
  4. Shop for Saturday's birthday party
  5. Prepare monthly accounting
  6. Return calls and e-mail
  7. Get milk
  8. Arrange travel for next month's trips


...and so on and so on...up to twenty tasks. I prioritize the twenty things itemized on my pad -- A,B,C -- and all of them are an A. We have been out of milk for four days. My accountant has called three times for my accounting information to meet the filing deadline. Emily has a toothache. The airfare goes up unless I book the trips today. I can feel my blood pressure rising. I know I can't get all twenty things accomplished today so I start to stress out.

The fact is, I can probably get eight of them done. I can "do them disconnected" (and feel bad) or I can "do them connected" (and feel good). Either way, eight is it. For you, the number might be twenty or ten or five. But by now I hope you're beginning to realize the importance of doing things in a connected way. You can cut your list down to size and get connected by doing the following:

Ask the Four Questions

Before I leave on a business trip I have forty-seven things to do. As I prepare, I ask myself four questions. For example:

Q. What should I do before I leave?

A. Go to the charity board of director's meeting.

Q. What do I want to do?

A. Exercise.

Q. What do I need to do?

A. Wash the clothes so the family will have some clean underwear while I'm gone.

Then I ask the most important question:

With whom should I connect?

I realize that I will be gone for several nights. I remember that my daughter and I had a spat last evening and what will make me feel better is doing something fun together before I leave. So the answer is easy: my daughter Emily. The charity's board of directors will forgive me (or get over it), I can exercise on the road, and clean underwear every day is an overrated concept. (I mean, who is going to ever know?)

The next week on the road I will ask the same four questions:

Q. What should I do?

A. Return the twenty-two calls that have come in since I was gone.

Q. What do I want to do?

A. Sleep.

Q. What do I need to do?

A. Call home.

Q. With whom should I connect?

A. My audience. This is their "opening night" and I must give them my undivided attention.

And the following week the answer to the last question will be: myself. I'll exercise and get some extra sleep. My body has served me well and I owe it much gratitude. Fully rested, I will launch an attack on that ever-growing paper pile.

The next time you are faced with too much to do and not enough time to do it, try asking the four questions:

THE CONNECTION SOLUTION


  1. What should I do?
  2. What do I want to do?
  3. What do I need to do?
  4. With whom should I connect?


My Connection with You
Here are the facts. We will not ever, ever, ever again get everything completed. We will never say, "I think I will go to bed now because I can't think of a single thing I need to do." No one will thank us for our efforts at work and insist, "Why don't you take the rest of the week off ? You've made our company enough money for this month." We won't live like Ward and June did, have lifelong job security, or revert back to the good old days. Nevertheless, we can live a passionate, peaceful, purposeful, and -- yes -- balanced life if we learn to relate, bond, and get turned on. This book is designed to help you do precisely that.

I arranged this book to make it very easy for you to use the ideas. You will find four parts: Connecting with Yourself, Connecting with Your Family, Connecting with Others, and Connecting with the Big Picture. The order is deliberate. I believe we must begin with ourselves and then link up with the people we are closest to before we can continue outward. I wrote the chapters so the light shines directly on you. Throughout this process, I want you to ask yourself, "What makes me disconnected?" "What can I do to feel more connected?" "What can I change?"

I also want to make it easy for you to get started. Beginning in Part I of this book, each chapter ends with suggestions to help you get past your barriers. You'll find:


  1. The New Solution, encouraging you to reevaluate how you are handling common problems and to zero in on using connection.

  2. Microactions, containing a list of steps you might take. (The concept of microactions will be explained in chapter 3.)

  3. In Real Life, featuring an inspiring letter from someone who has successfully used the strategies described in the chapter.


My fervent wish is that you will find many ideas you'll want to implement immediately.

I Think I Can. I Think I Can. I Think I Can.

I know the concepts in this book can work for you. Applying these simple principles, tens of thousands of people have improved their lives. You can, too! It's easier than you might think. Dare to make changes. Dare to become your best self.

The Halloween Story, Continued...

So I am sitting there with tears streaming down my face, as I listen to the heinous crime I have committed by failing to send my child to school properly costumed. On the food chain, I feel like I am one step above the common garden slug. I am sure any minute Social Services is going to ring the doorbell and revoke my parenting permit.

The doorbell does ring, but instead of Social Services, it is Nicholas home from preschool. I took one look at his sweet face, and said, "Oh, honey, I am so very sorry for forgetting your costume."

"Oh yeah, Mom, it was awful! I cried and I cried. But then I found out: YOU GET CANDY ANYWAY!"

"You know what you have, Nick? You have a mom who feels really bad for forgetting your costume. But you know what I have? I have the neatest little boy in the world."

He shrugged, then threw his arms around me. "Oh, Mom," he told me. "Don't worry about it. I still love you."

I knew then what balance was all about.

We don't need a costume.

We don't have to be perfect.

And we do not have to get "it" all done.

All we have to do is....connect.

Copyright ©1998 by Mary LoVerde

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