Bat-shit Tantrums & Cuddles

“I’m telling you, I’ve never seen temper tantrums like these – grunting, throwing, kicking, screaming – never-ending….If my stepkid wasn’t in my life, it would be easier.” – My client, last week.

And hey, can we blame her? How many of us have thought this exact thing?

Or looked longingly at our friends and their perfect little nuclear families?

But here’s the thing: with or without our stepkids, our lives would still be challenging – people we love will pass away; our spouses will lose their jobs; kids will tell us they hate us.

And also, our minds LOVE to look for problems – it’s what they’re wired to do.

So regardless of our situation, we’ll always find that life is half incredible half terrible.

Here’s a question we can ask ourselves, to help us decide to go all in on our stepfamilies and make peace with our current situation:

If I knew that my life would be 50% wonderful and 50% shit regardless, would I stay in this marriage, with these children?

My answer is a resounding yes.

Yes, I’m all in:

for the bat-shit temper-tantrums and the move-night cuddles;

for middle-of-night projectile vomiting and the first: “I love you”;

for the fear of not being important to these kids and the joy of loving them anyways

I want all of it.

What do you want your answer to be?


I want my spouse…but not my stepkids

“I want my spouse…but not my stepkids.”

My client told me this the other day as tears welled up in her eyes.

It made her feel so conflicted – to be living a life she only half wanted.

And I asked her: What would it take to make you want all of it?

She paused for a moment and said: “Well, maybe if his kids acted like they loved me more, or if they cared about me and their dad equally…then, I would want them here.”

This is where you’re wrong, I told her gently.

Our stepkids can’t make us feel better, regardless of how they act or what they say.

Only we can do that.

And it starts with the things we tell ourselves.

When we think: “I don’t want these kids in my life” – it feels miserable. And we act miserable. We avoid our stepkids, or snap at them. We don’t give ourselves the chance to ever truly enjoy them, or want them in our lives.

But what if it were possible, just for a moment, to imagine wanting these humans in our lives.

What if, regardless of their behavior, we wanted them? Just as much as we wanted our spouses.

We already kind of want them in our lives.

Want to know how I know this?

Because they’re already here.

We’ve already chosen them.

And no doubt about it – raising kids is hard work.

But there’s a part of us that wants to do it, wants to love them hard, wants to go all in.

And I offered this to my client the other day – why not just decide you want them? why not just love them?

Either way, we’re going to get hurt. Either way, being a stepmom is going to be hard. Just like being a parent is hard.

But deciding we want them and that we’ve chosen them feels so much better than deciding the opposite.

And we suffer less.I 

The Mirror

“You shouldn’t have so many problems getting up on time.”

“You’re never going to succeed at anything if can’t stick to your morning routine.”

⬆️ ⬆️ ⬆️ ⬆️

That used to be me -judging myself after I decided to sleep through my alarm.

Can you imagine saying something like that to a friend?

I can’t – but that’s how I used to talk to myself sometimes – and not just for sleeping in.

But then I discovered what it means to really love myself –

It means accepting all of me.

Even the part of me that resists sticking to my morning routine, or that loves eating too many sweets, or that wants to binge watch the Netflix Cheer documentary.

Instead of judging myself, I started to say this: Of course you want to sleep in. You like being warm. And asleep. What human doesn’t?

Of course you want to binge watch TV – it takes no effort and what human doesn’t love laying around?

And guess what?

Once I started being more compassionate with myself across all areas of my life, it was a game changer for my relationships with others.

See, how we treat others is like our mirror: it’s oftentimes a reflection of how we treat ourselves.

So, I went to wake up one of my stepkids the other day and I was met with an emphatic: No! I don’t want to get up!

Instead of just dismissing him and yelling at him to get up or else, I countered with a compassionate:

Of course you don’t sweetie – I basically never want to get up each morning either. But unless you have a fever, we gotta get you ready for school.

When I approach others in my life in this way, they soften up too. We have honest conversations. And we don’t yell.

But in order to have these kinds of interactions with others in our lives, we need to pay attention to our inner monologues first.

And decide to choose love and kindness and compassion for ourselves always.

And honor all of our humanness.

The Secret to Actually Enjoying your Stepkids

Tens of thousands of years ago, our ancestors fought for their survival every single day. 


Living past the age of 30 was rare. 


But our minds evolved to help us survive.


We learned to look for and avoid danger. 


With our minds, we imagined, and then created: 






Warmer clothes. 


Domesticated animals. 






Today, and thankfully, most of us rarely find ourselves in imminent danger.


But, our brains haven’t entirely caught up. 


Parts of our minds are still scanning for that saber-toothed tiger.


And guess what? 


This part of our brain also perceives our stepkids as legitimate threats to our resources, and our security. 


It’s not entirely rational – but it’s there. 

If we want to, we can learn to override this part of our minds – and it’s much easier than we think. 


It all starts with becoming aware of the things we tell ourselves about our stepkids. 


We have to pay attention, be curious, and ask ourselves: why do I feel threatened or jealous or resentful? what am I thinking?


And then we need to listen to our answers – even if they sound crazy ( I promise you, you’re not crazy). 


And then we get to decide whether or not we want to keep believing those things. 


And then we practice our new beliefs, everyday until they become second nature. 


That’s all there is too it. 

One Question…Changes Everything

What would love do?


It’s a simple question, adapted from one of my teachers.


And it’s one I ask myself when I am unsure of what to do.


My stepdaughter is kicking the table and slamming her toys into the ground. 


Deep breath – What would love do? 


Love tells her to breathe. 


Love lets her know that if she doesn’t stop, there will be a consequence. 


My stepson just pushed his little brother to the ground, hard.  


Deep breath. 


What would love do?


Love reacts with patience and calmly tells him to go to his room.


Love later asks him what was going on. 


I’ve found that love always knows the best answer. 


Love is compassionate, yet firm. 


Love sometimes means no. 


Love sometimes means giving someone a consequence. 


Love is wise. 


Try it out sometime for yourself. 


When you’re faced with a challenging moment, ask: what would love do? 


You’ll be amazed by your own wisdom, and how well you handle things. 


Plus, acting from love never leaves you feeling guilty or regretful- it feels true and compassionate.

It’s 2020: What will your choice be?

It was my wedding anniversary, and I was sitting in the airport. 


I was supposed to be on a flight to my husband. 


But I missed my connection. 


And I was upset – 


Why couldn’t they have waited? 


Why did I get put on a flight leaving 8 hours later? 


By 10:30 am I should have been home. 


Celebrating with my husband, relaxing. 


Instead I was stuck for the entire day – at the airport by myself. 


And then I remembered:I have a choice: 


I can choose to be miserable.


Or I can choose to make the most of my 8 hour layover.


I chose the latter: I read my new book, I journaled, I planned, I had a nice lunch, I walked around the airport, listened to podcasts. 


We always have this choice – no matter what happens around us, or in our stepfamilies.


You can decide to make the most of your time with your stepfamily if you want.


What do you want your 2020 to be like in your stepfamily? 


If you want, it could be your best year yet. 


The BEST Way to Enjoy the Holidays

Just like this family photo, my holidays are never perfect

But there’s always one thing that makes my holidays 100% more peaceful and enjoyable.

It’s a firm belief that the small moments are filled with love and fun:

my stepkids literally losing their minds when unwrapping gifts
my little rolly-polly nephew and his beaming smile
my sister’s hilarious renditions of her life on the west coast
my dad’s stories about the pranks he used to play in his office – they never get old.

Of course there will be moments of tension, frustration, and hurt feelings. Probably a few crying kids. Maybe some tantrums.

But I’m choosing to remember that I can always have fun, and look for the love.

And these moments are available to me and they’re available to you too to fully experience, if you just look for them.

What are you going to look for over the holidays?

Join me – open up to the love and keep things fun.

Happy Holidays from my family and I!

The Truth About Jealousy

First things first: ain’t nothing wrong with jealousy.

If you find yourself feeling jealous of the way the stepkids interact with your spouse/ their bio-parent, don’t worry, you’re normal.

Jealousy is a normal part of any human relationship.

Jealousy is an emotion, and an emotion like jealousy is caused by our thoughts.

Most of us were taught that someone does or says something that makes us feel jealous.

But the truth is that it actually happens like this:

✅Someone says or does something
✅We have a thought about it and the thought makes us feel jealous

So for example, let’s say my spouse and I are taking his kids to the movies. I really wanted to sit next to my spouse, but the kids surround him and I’m stuck on the outside.

In that moment, I could tell myself something like this: They always get to sit next to him and I never do. And I would feel jealous as a result.

Or, I could instead choose to believe:

✅They love him so much and don’t get to see as much – of course they want to sit with him.
✅I’m a little bummed but I know my spouse loves me
✅This isn’t what I wanted but it’s OK.

So, in this scenario, it’s NOT their actions – it’s my beliefs ABOUT their actions that determine my feelings.

Next time you find yourself feeling jealous ask yourself this simple question: why?

And then decide if you like your reasons, or your thoughts, for feeling jealous.

There’s no right or wrong answer.

Just know it’s a choice, and you can decide to focus on something that makes you feel better.

This is the only thing that’s truly in your control.

What all stepmoms need to THRIVE

I have found that there’s ONE thing that makes stepmommying 100% better.

It always works. It doesn’t require anyone else around you to change.

Want to know what it is?

It’s a firm belief that you are:


No matter what and just because you’re a human being.

Why does this work?

Because when your stepkid doesn’t listen to you, you’ll know their behavior is not a reflection of some inherent character flaw in you – because you are good, and worthy, and capable no matter what.

See, your feelings only get hurt when you BELIEVE the mean things people say or do to you – you make their words and actions mean you’re unworthy, unlovable, and unappreciated.

Believing upfront, everyday, that you’re good and worthy and capable is the antidote.

And you can just decide to believe “I’m good and worthy and capable.” Remind yourself of this everyday.

You will feel better once you start doing this. Guaranteed.

And, it’s like a virtuous cycle – the more you believe that you’re good and worthy and capable, the more you’ll start to notice positive changes in your stepfamily.

You’ll be approaching your family from a kinder, gentler, softer place – just because you know you’re good and worthy and capable.

You’ll be able to handle the ups and downs of your stepfamily life with grace and integrity and love – because you know that you’re good and worthy and capable.

Join me – I already know you’re good and worthy and capable no matter what.

What do you want to believe?