thank you for staying with me all these years,
But lets face it – it isn’t that easy. Holidays are complicated and stressful for so many reasons creating moments that are anything but a Hallmark movie.
But lets face it – it isn’t that easy. Holidays are complicated and stressful for so many reasons creating moments that are anything but a Hallmark movie.
Unfortunately, before I started my Orange Rhino Challenge to go 365 days straight without yelling at my four boys, then ages five and under, the “Not-so-Great” Thanksgiving of 2010 happened. Oh how I wish that I decided to teach myself to “Yell Less, Love More” before that turkey day for then this story wouldn’t still be stuck in my memory because it wouldn’t have happened in the first place! Nope, all the lessons I learned on my 520 days straight of not yelling would have come in to place and prevented me from ruining that Thanksgiving with my relentless yelling. Sigh. Oh well. Here’s how it went down, literally.
* * * * *
I don’t like turkey.
Or cranberry sauce.
Or any of the foods that one typically serves on Thanksgiving for that matter.
Except well, for the white stuff: bread, butter, mashed potatoes, and more butter! But I love Thanksgiving Day. I love making a big, roaring fire and then cuddling up with my boys to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love “oohing and ahhing” over all the floats together and sharing stories with my boys about when I was a kid and couldn’t wait to watch the Parade. I love sitting down to eat and first having cranberry juice with rainbow sherbet and telling my boys that this is a tradition passed down from my great-grandmother.
Oh, there is just so much to love on Thanksgiving Day.
And yet, I hated Thanksgiving 2010 because I ruined it.
I ruined it by yelling, big-time. Over a picture. A freakin’ picture. Seriously?! Yes, seriously. As soon as the parade wrapped up, I deemed that it was therefore the perfect time for the annual “Let’s watch Mom jump up and down and act like a clown to make us smile” holiday card photo shoot. Yes, of course, trying to get James, Edward, and Andrew, then ages, four, three, and one, to sit still and cooperate—after they had just been sitting peacefully and quietly for an hour and just wanted to run outside and play—was the perfect time to ask them to sit still, again. And smile. And keep their hands to themselves. And try to be patient with my constant requests for, “Just one more picture, please?” I knew at the time that I was pushing my luck, given the circumstances and their ages, but yet I still pushed.
As expected, given my picture-taking history, my boys whined when I told them it was picture time. As I geared up to corral them into the living room (and to start offering bribes galore), Andrew took off as usual and ran into—of all rooms—the living room. He jumped onto the couch, laughing hysterically as he crashed into the pillows. James and Edward of course followed suit and all three boys started laughing and tickling each other and having a grand old time. So much so that, when I shouted, “Hey, look at me!” they didn’t realize I had just taken a picture. It was, and still is, one of my favorite pictures in the entire world. The happiness. The love. The joy. The smiles. It melted my heart.
So you think I would have stopped right then, right?
No more pictures needed, right?!
I wanted to make sure that I had the best picture. The perfect picture. I wanted to see if I could do better, even though I felt I had just been delivered a miracle. I got greedy, really, really greedy, and I asked, “One more picture, please?” They acquiesced for a few minutes, but understandably soon grew tired of my never-ending demands to sit still and smile. They had behaved wonderfully and cooperatively for so long; now they were done. They had reached their limit and started squirming, whining, pinching each other, and refusing to cooperate. So I started yelling. And I didn’t stop. I didn’t stop because I so badly wanted the perfect picture and I thought that yelling would force them to behave.
“Sit still!” I barked.
“Just one more! Be good!” I whined.
“WHY CAN’T YOU JUST DO THIS FOR ME?!” I yelled.
And my famous, or rather infamous, Thanksgiving 2010 line:
“It’s Thanksgiving, for cripe’s sake! I would be so grateful for just one good picture. PLEASE! Just smile!” I screamed.
The more I yelled, the more they cried. The more they cried, the worse the pictures were, so the more I yelled. Finally, I gave up and said ever so shamefully and nastily, “That’s it! I have had it. All I wanted was a picture. Thanks for nothing.”
James, Edward, and Andrew then promptly ran out of the room, crying to Daddy and the grandmas. James screamed, “Mommy’s a meany.” Edward sobbed, “I don’t like her.” Andrew just cried and cried, clearly scared by how loud and nasty my voice had gotten. And I went to the bathroom and also cried and cried, feeling all the same thoughts as my kids. I pouted the rest of the day as I felt so mortified and ashamed that I had screamed at my young children for behaving well; ashamed that I had unnecessarily taken my own problem with perfection out on them.
I couldn’t look any of the other adults in the eye for the rest of the day. I felt so sad that my need for the perfect picture pushed me to lose it so horrifically. My guilt and shame then kept me from enjoying the holiday. Thanksgiving is one of the days where I often feel nothing but love, and yet, that year, that year I couldn’t feel it because I had yelled to the point where all I felt was hatred for myself.
The sad thing is, that Thanksgiving wasn’t the only time I felt such anger at myself for yelling at my kids over trying to get a picture. Nope, it had happened many times before. And while I sit here wanting to write that it’s all just because I am a perfectionist and seek perfection in everything I do, that’s a partial cop-out. It goes deeper than that.
Yes, yes, I seek the perfect picture of all my boys looking at the camera, smiling flawlessly and not picking their noses. But it’s not just because I am a perfectionist; it’s also because I am insecure. Oftentimes in life, I seek comfort, confidence, and reassurance that I am living a happy, good life, that I am doing good at this parenting thing, that I have happy children. And well, whenever I feel that way, I find that looking at pictures soothes my insecurities and proves to me that I am doing okay.
If I feel frustrated and down and overwhelmed by the challenges of parenting, I can look at that “perfect” picture and look straight into those gorgeous twinkling eyes and remember that it is all worth it, that my kids are happy and it’s worth the work. If I find myself feeling sad that life is passing by too fast, my kids are growing up too fast, and I feel I have missed out, I can look at that “perfect” picture and remember: no, I didn’t miss it, I was right there and it was wonderful. And if I feel stressed about life in general, then looking at pictures of my family having fun, enjoying a special vacation, enjoying a special holiday, enjoying each other helps soothe my negative mood and move me to a more positive, grateful, happy, and definitely less stressed place.
Pictures bring me comfort by helping me feel secure in this world, and rightfully or wrongfully, I rely on them for this. That is the real reason I push for perfect pictures. I don’t refrain from yelling at my kids during picture time because I want the most beautiful picture ever; it’s because I am afraid that if I don’t get that picture, then I won’t have something to look at when I need it most. I yell at them because of me, because of my insecurities, not because of them and their inability to sit still longer than children their age should.
The Orange Rhino Challenge and all the trigger digging I did helped me to see the real reason I yelled. And by default, it helped me let go and chill out during picture time. Now when I find myself struggling to not yell at my kids when I desperately want a picture, I say to myself,
“Hey, just relax. You’ll get what you get. Don’t push it or you won’t get a thing expect crying kids, an upset you, and therefore a bad picture and a more upset you. It’s not worth it! (Yelling doesn’t work, it just makes things worse!) Remember, it’s not them you are frustrated with; it’s you. They are doing fine, you are causing the stress. Chill out. Just chill out. Remember, the goal isn’t the perfect picture. It’s enjoying the moment. Don’t ruin it by yelling.”
I can happily say that I now enjoy those special moments in my life even more than before because my plight for perfection and my instinct to yell aren’t dampening them. Do I still struggle and have to push myself to let go of perfection at times? Yes. Do I still struggle and have to push myself to “Yell Less, Love More” during trying times? Yes. I am the Orange Rhino, but I am not perfect! But I struggle a lot less and for that I will jump up and down, act like a clown, and do all sorts of crazy things to make me smile and feel good about my progress. Because of all the things I have learned on my Orange Rhino Challenge to Yell Less + L.O.V.E. More, one most definitely is this: the goal is not about perfection; it’s about progress.
And I am making progress, I am yelling less and loving more, and that is what matters to me more than perfection.
This story is from my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” Part parenting guide, part memoir, part journal, her book takes you on a 30-day journey full of honest stories, alternatives to yelling and steps to follow so that you too can Yell Less. Find more about my book here: www.TheOrangeRhino.com/the-book and join The Orange Rhino Revolution at www.Facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino
* * * * *
I will not be sharing much more directly about my divorce out of respect for my children and their father. And well, because that is a past chapter and it is time to focus on the new chapter!
I will say this though, divorce is a loss on so many levels. Lost partner. Lost family. Lost friend and friends. Lost dreams, a lot of dreams. It is a loss that is not truly or widely spoken about. It is often dismissed, the grief that comes with divorce. But let me tell you, it is real and deep and it doesn’t just go away overnight. Or after six years. Grief shows up when you least expect it to and when you don’t want it to.
It shows up in aisle four at Home Goods – when you are shopping to pass the time without your children and you see a serving platter for entertaining and think how perfect it would be, only to remember, “Wait, I no longer have a husband to entertain with or really people to invite over.”
At a soccer game – when it is still early and awkward and uncomfortable and want to share joy over a son’s goal like when you were married.
In the grocery store – when you go to pick up something you used to get for your partner only to remember that ingredient is no longer needed in the house.
When scrolling Facebook – and you see all the 15-year anniversaries, all the odes to wives and memories built and memories to come, and you look at your finger and no longer see your wedding band.
When cleaning up old boxes – and you find the love letters you wrote to each other back in the day and wonder, how did we lose this?
I could go on and on. In the minivan. At the doctor. On the couch watching a movie. You name a place and time, and grief over my divorce has probably come unexpectedly and unwanted. Still.
Yes, the loss of a marriage and the dreams that came with it cuts deep.
And it is more than loss. With the loss of my marriage, came a shitload of shame, and again, more feelings of failure. I felt embarrassed by my divorce, by being divorced. People avoid the subject like it’s the plague. Very few people acknowledged it. And when I tried to talk about it, the conversation was often short. So, I didn’t really talk about it a lot, still don’t fully share the depths of pain and sadness and shame. It was, it still is lonely at times.
I felt like a true failure and honestly, still do. How could I do this to my kids? How could I have not kept my marriage going? How come I am the only one I know who doesn’t know how to have a successful marriage? How come I couldn’t keep the one thing going I dreamed of in my life for so long? How come I couldn’t make it work?
My divorce gutted me and somedays I feel like the knife is still in there, twisting away, even though it was the right thing for us and our family. Truly.
But that doesn’t take away the pain.
And it certainly didn’t give me strength back in 2016 when I was trying to return to being The Orange Rhino. Or in 2017. Or in 2018.
While I started to feel better in 2018 and really pondered getting back to writing, I had come to the point where I worried it was the point of no return. You know what I mean? The point when someone calls you and you forget to call them back and then too much time has passed and you feel bad/weird/awkward calling? (Or is that just a me thing?)
I didn’t know how to come back AND I was scared to come back. Scared of looking silly for disappearing, scared of more negative comments, scared of well, let’s be honest, writing.
This past summer. I was enjoying the beautiful day, walking along, looking at the flowers and the blue sky, feeling the warm sun against my face when all of a sudden, bamn! I was crying. Something was said in the podcast that triggered a totally unrelated thought. I was crying because it hit me – not only did I not show up as The Orange Rhino because I didn’t know how to after so many years, but also, to be brutally honest, I was more than empty inside back then, part of me had felt dead inside.
The part that was alive was mustering up all energy it could to be the best parent that I could be in the moment, under the circumstances. The part that was alive was just trying to survive, just trying to stay afloat. The part of me that was alive was friggin’ exhausted. To say the very least. And the part of me that was alive, damn well knew that if I started journaling, if I started writing about my pain and sadness and grief, that I would sink.
I couldn’t afford to sink. I had to be present for my lovely, loving boys. I simply had to keep so much bottled up so that I get out of bed every day, so that I could show up. I simply could not admit to my full range of feelings or I wouldn’t be able to show up in the way I wanted or in the way my kids needed.
Now mind you, the way I was showing up wasn’t even that beautiful. But I showed up. And I learned what the word “grace” really meant and what the saying “I am doing the best I can in this moment, right now, that I can” really meant.
I used that word and that saying, consistently. And I showed up, consistently. (And maybe that is why that parenting advice about being consistent with boundaries and rules and consequences and all bothers me – because sometimes just being consistent in showing up is a feat in itself, a feat worthy of being honored.)
But, with all of this sh*t bottled up, and despite giving myself grace and knowing I was doing my best? the part that was alive and showing up? Well, I was yelling. There were days that I didn’t honestly even have the energy to change or care because I was yelling as little as I could and that was my best – in the moment. After the negative comments about my ability to not yell,
So yeah, writing scared me. Writing meant truths would come out and I didn’t want to face them. I didn’t want to write about my yelling given the commentary about me being a fraud and a failure and I didn’t want to write about my aching heart, my broken spirit, my grief. So, I avoided writing like the plague, just as talking about my divorce was ignored, perhaps even more. But I avoided more than writing. I avoided The Orange Rhino altogether.
Writing is only part of The Orange Rhino world. I could have very easily have showed up and posted old tips, old stories. I could have very easily have still supported all of you and enjoyed that immensely. Except for one thing, one major road block.
The Orange Rhino didn’t just remind me of someone who is determined and choosing not to charge with words, but to remain calm, loving and warm when provoked and triggered. No, at that point in time, The Orange Rhino reminded me of all the harsh words that had been thrown at me and it readily reminded me of my marriage and well, now my divorce.
My EH was woven into so many memories of The Orange Rhino. The note he wrote after I completed day 1 of not yelling. The orange flowers I received on day 365 of not yelling. The frequent texts reminding me I could do it, that I just had to get the kids to school and then the day would be easier (oh did mornings suck when they were little!!) The book launch party when “Yell Less, Love More” came out. The time in our lives when we were a family of six. My marriage ended as The Orange Rhino community had already slowly started fading. The two endings were infused together in my mind. How could I return to one, when the other I couldn’t return to? So, again, fear won and I stayed away.
I even stayed away from the color orange for a long while. Truly hated seeing it. I hated seeing my book, The Orange Rhino image, my blog. As I sit here now, writing, figuring it all out as I type, I think it was easier to hate the color orange than it was to focus on what I hated about my divorce. I could close the door on The Orange Rhino and be done. I couldn’t close all doors to my EH because we still co-parent together. So, I closed The Orange Rhino door, kind of.
The Orange Rhino wouldn’t let that door fully slam shut. Instead, The Orange Rhino stayed in my mind and quietly listened and just wouldn’t leave me be, even when I wanted it to! I wanted to shut down the blog, but couldn’t bring myself to. I wanted to throw out the orange clothes, but something made me hold on. I wanted to let go of the trademark on The Orange Rhino, but part of me refused. No, The Orange Rhino firmly and confidently remained on my mind all these years, even after all the negativity I threw around. Yes, The Orange Rhino confidently remained calm, patient and loving despite being triggered and provoked by me.
Whoa! Hhmm, I just freakin’ realized that. Goosebumps, seriously. Full circle moment and I am at a loss for words. The Orange Rhino, Orange Rhino’d me!
So, I guess, The Orange Rhino never really left after all. The Orange Rhino stayed so that when I was ready, I could stop yelling at myself and my life so much.
So that I could return energized and determined to remain calm, loving and warm when provoked by my children and now also, when provoked by my life and…myself.
AND so that I could return to this amazing community. Thank you for still being here and for reading my story, for giving me a place to put it. I feel better already just getting it out. I feel lighter and freer. Again, thank you.
* * * * *
Since 2015, I have felt guilty and disappointed and ashamed for just basically dropping The Orange Rhino blog and community. I don’t quit when the going gets tough, it just isn’t me. I might take little breaks, but I don’t quit (unless it is a bad situation to be in.) Except here I basically did.
For seven years, The Orange Rhino has been in my head, nagging me with her presence, taunting me with her presence. Not like she did in my early Orange Rhino days when I was trying to not yell – then, then her presence was welcomed. Then she would say kind things like, “You got this! You can do this without yelling! I believe in you. It’s possible. Way to go! You did it!”
No, no, no, I wish this is what The Orange Rhino had been saying to me these last seven years!
But no, the last seven years? Well, she didn’t say anything mean per say, she just has hung out silently while my brain yelled at her not so nicely for she, me, didn’t have the energy and determination to charge forward with confidence towards, well, anything! So, the negative thoughts came and came and came…
There were the ones about being a quitter…
“Why are you quitting? You don’t quit.
Come on, just write again. Do it already.
Are you really going to let all your hard work just go?”
I tried so hard to challenge this narrative but it was really hard to because well, the evidence at the time was that I indeed, was a quitter. So, these negative thoughts about being a quitter stayed and kept me away.
And there were the ones about essentially being a loser…
“Are you really going to let those nasty comments get to you?
Just let them go already. Why can’t you? What’s wrong with you?
Maybe those book reviews and comments were right. Maybe you are ridiculous. Maybe you have nothing good to offer, nothing good to share.
Maybe those emails from the non-supporters were right, you share too much negative stuff about your life.
You are not an inspiration, you just bring people down.”
I tried so hard to challenge this narrative too, but unfortunately, I truly believed most of the thoughts because well, the commenters weren’t far off – I didn’t have anything to offer. Forget not being able to offer the “right” content they were seeking, I couldn’t offer anything because I was EMPTY inside. Freakin’ empty. I had nothing to give. I had nothing inspiring to say. I couldn’t even inspire myself to not be a quitter, how could I inspire anyone else? And I was learning in real time that sharing about my true feelings about what was going on in my life made people leave, so I certainly didn’t want to offer up my truths here and lose out more. So those negative thoughts about being a loser stayed and kept me away.
And then, then there were the negative thoughts about being a fake, a phony, a failure.
“Why are you yelling again? Why can’t you stop? Don’t you even care?
You wrote a book about not yelling and here you are, not following your own book.
You are a failure.
You are a letdown.
You are a FRAUD.”
And these thoughts? These thoughts I couldn’t challenge at all. They were loud and were being yelled at me constantly. Why? Why did they have such power? Because there was one comment out there, one comment that hit me on such a deep, personal level that it ever-so-easily latched on to my own thoughts, just giving them more staying power. That comment? It more or less was,
“even The Orange Rhino can’t actually stop yelling. She said she could, but she couldn’t. Go here and read how she failed at her own goal.”
Blech. This comment? This made me feel like a freakin’ fraud in a way I never had; it made me feel worthless. Why did this hit me so personally compared to all the other negative comments out there you ask?
Well, the person who wrote what they did, who shamed me for yelling again, didn’t know why I finally broke and yelled.
They didn’t know the real deep, painful and personal reason why after 520 days of not yelling, I “broke.” They didn’t know I was broken at the time. They didn’t know the heavy secret I was carrying, the struggle I was having, the immense pain I was in on day 520 and that I still felt in 2015 when they made the comment.
Oh, and they also clearly didn’t read my book title or my book which was about self-forgiveness and how being perfect isn’t the goal and that at the end of the day, it is all about yelling less and loving more. (Nope, not bitter lol)
No, this commenter didn’t know that the reason I yelled on day 520, and the reason why I couldn’t find the strength or determination or confidence to rise above all of my negative thinking and the negative comments out there was because…not only was I already feeling like a pretty failure in the Orange Rhino world – I was “failing” at keeping my blog and book alive, I was “failing” at continuing to not yell, I was “failing” at providing the right content and meeting readers expectations – but also I was “failing” at
My marriage was failing.
And I was devastated.
And my soul was destroyed.
And I barely had the strength to show up for my kids.
So yeah, the comment pierced me to my core. My feelings of being a fraud, a fake, a phony, a failure just escalated. It was as if I someone kicked me while I was already down. No kind of, actually, that is exactly what happened. I was down on the ground from the weight of the marriage boulder I told you all had grown a little in 2013 but that now in 2015, it had grown a lot. I was just too afraid to tell you all then, because well, I didn’t want to admit that the boulder was so big. I wanted in to be a little pebble I carried around.
But it wasn’t. It was heavy and obvious and couldn’t be missed. It couldn’t even be tripped over. It made you fall down. Repeatedly.
That heavy marriage boulder wasn’t the only thing keeping me down. I did my best to get up, to move forward with confidence, but every time I literally tried to be The Orange Rhino – for the sake of my sons, myself, and my family, something in life made it harder. Something would happen that needed all my energy and attention and focus…something that made it hard to take care of myself, to warmly manage my reactions. My son was really sick. Then I tore my ACL, got a blood clot, and literally needed to learn to walk again. Then my other son needed more support from me.
And then finally, after my struggling kiddo was doing better and I was walking more confidently, it all came crumbling down. My feet were knocked out from beneath me
My body, my marriage, had held together long enough to get my youngest through his medical stuff and my other through his stuff, and me through my physical stuff. But it was over.
My marriage was over.
My now ex-husband moved out in April 2016.
I know divorce is far too common so maybe saying that I am divorced and that is my big “story” seems like nothing. But let me tell you, it isn’t. Unless you have walked in the path of being divorced, or had a front row seat of someone going through a divorce (and even then, it isn’t a full experience) it is hard to fully grasp the depth of pain that can come from a divorce – even one that is mutually decided on.
Yes, our decision to divorce was mutual. It was the right choice for us. We worked really hard for several years to get our marriage to where we each wanted and needed it to be. But we both ultimately knew that our kids deserve two happy parents and we could both best be happy and be the best parents we could each be by no longer living as a married couple, but by living separate lives.
And yet, oh does it fuckin’ hurt even to this day. Six years later this month.
My ex-husband (EH) moved out on a Friday late in the month. I still remember that night way too vividly. Not the part where we told the kids – that is a blur, a moment not to be remembered. But the moment when he officially left our house for his new place, when he walked into the garage and into his car. I stood by the hood of my dirty minivan watching him get in his car, slowly backing out of the garage. When I heard the click of the garage door starting to come down, I too came down, but much more violently. I collapsed down onto the hood and pounded it while the tears began to pour out of me. My face became covered in dirt from the car as I screamed “Don’t leave. Don’t leave. Please don’t leave!” Even though it was a joint decision, it was painful nonetheless and even that is an understatement. I slid down the hood and fell into a heap on the garage floor, landing right besides three bags of trash. Which is exactly how I felt in that moment. Like trash. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. And then it hit me, “I have no one to even help me up off the ground. I am alone. I am all alone.”
Turns out I wasn’t alone.
Bless my childrens’ hearts who at the time were 9, 7, 6 and 4. I went to bed that night – all alone in a huge king bed – except that I wasn’t. There were two little bodies in it when I got there J And when I woke up, four little bodies had brought me breakfast in bed. Breakfast of champions I might add. Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries with whipped cream and they even attempted to make me coffee. Breakfast even came with a cut out heart with their names on it. It was impossible not to cry, but happy tears this time! They brought breakfast for them too, popcorn! Then they all got in bed and my oldest said,
“We thought you might want to watch one of your movies this morning. So, we decided to watch Frozen with you.”
And at that moment, like Olaf does when the sun comes out, my heart melted. The love these boys showered me with that moment, even when they too were writhing with pain and sadness and confusion, will never be forgotten.
(c) The Orange Rhino, 2022
(Here is Part 1 from November 10 if you missed it!)
Part of ensuring that I am more likely to respond with a warm voice instead of a harsh yell is to ensure that I do not carry a lot of sh*t around with me. Like my dog Hope, I am freer and happier when I let that sh*t go. So it is important to me, as I fully re-engage here in The Orange Rhino community that I fully share why I started disappearing in 2015. Today is the day because I have had enough of carrying it around for seven years.
But first, I am an organized person and feel the need to just put a quick timeline in place for perspective.
2012: The Orange Rhino Challenge to not yell for 365 days starts and this community is born!
2013: I celebrate one year not yelling in February; five months later in July, I yell.
2014: “Yell Less, Love More” comes out – along with lovely support from you all and negative not-so-support from those who don’t know my style or my blog or my background.
2015: I start disappearing.
2016: I really disappear.
2017 – 2018: I really want to come back…but just can’t find the ability to do so.
2019 – 2021: I really, REALLY, want to come back, I tell myself, but still can’t find my way. Something was holding me back, keeping me from the key board. I know that part of the reason was that if I dared to write, I would write about 2016 and I wasn’t ready to fully acknowledge that year of my life. I couldn’t. Just couldn’t.
2022: I finally start to realize through years of therapy and self-reflection, that The Orange Rhino, while a positive place that I want to be, also started carrying some real negative memories and has some real negative ties to it. It almost became a slightly traumatic place for me as it triggered some of my little traumas in life and has ties to something that happened in 2016.
September 2022: The Orange Rhino returns.
November 2022: I announce the upcoming release of my audio version of my book. Which is exciting and scary as hell based on what happened in 2014/2015. But I also see it as a gift from the universe. I learned in April 2022 that it might happen. I was shocked. My book hasn’t been selling as much because well duh, I haven’t kept the community going for seven years! Why now? The answer basically was, why not? My publishing company has a new approach for creating audio books and somehow, lucky me, Yell Less and Love More was chosen.
For seven years at this point, I have been wanting to get back to The Orange Rhino. Seven years of wanting to do something, but not. Seven years of fear and regret. Seven years of not being able to find the strength to show up, not being able to find the courage to overcome the negative memories. Oh, so many negative memories embedded in The Orange Rhino.
And then, voila! A true, honest to goodness gift from the Universe.
A second chance. Repeat. A. Second. Chance.
A chance to come back as The Orange Rhino.
A chance to come back and face my history and no longer let it suck my energy out.
A chance to come back and take control over how The Orange Rhino story goes.
A chance to come back and no longer regret how my book release went in 2014, no longer regret dropping the ball and the community after the book released, because, I now have…
A better chance to keep the energy going after this audiobook release because I am now better equipped to do so emotionally.
Oh, and lest I forget, I also have…
A chance to come back and keep growing as a person, keep learning how to not let negative comments get to me, keep learning how to remember the positive, keep learning how to love myself more so I can yell less at my kids.
A chance to come back to an amazing, supportive community.
AND a chance to really get back to not yelling so much.
I have always believed in second chances. And I am grateful for this one. This second chance has given me the strength – it has forced me to acknowledge the last seven years and move forward from them.
Halleluiah because these last seven years – while many, many wonderful things have happened – they have also held me back. Or did they? Perhaps they didn’t hold me back, but allowed me to stand still, get some roots down and grow?
Which leaves me with another tip to yell less: change the narrative! Note I didn’t say ignore the negative. See the negative. Feel it. Allow it to be real. And then as soon as you are ready (which might not be immediately and that is okay!), change it so that it doesn’t change your mood and your ability to respond warmly when triggered.
These last seven years have been cruddy…AND incredible.
These last seven years I didn’t move forward as I hoped in some areas…but I learned a lot staying still that will propel me forward now.
These last seven years I yelled more than I liked…but I also taught my kids a lot about forgiveness to others and ourselves. I taught them about how being imperfect is okay. I taught them about how my yelling isn’t because of them, but me. I taught them that while yelling isn’t okay, it does happen and what happens afterwards is super important.
And, I taught them, am teaching them, that it is never too late to do something. It is never too late to change. To go after a goal. To try again. To keep trying. I am teaching them to be determined. I am teaching them to be warm and calm to THEMSELVES when provoked by others.
In other words, I am teaching them to be Orange Rhinos, and isn’t that ultimately the goal?!
Thanks for reading and being here, Part 2 is coming. It turns out I have too much too say hahahaha.
Here’s to telling yourself a positive narrative today, about yourself, your life, your children, and your childrens’ behaviors! (A narrative switch for today. Switch “my child isn’t listening or behaving” to “My child is having a hard time listening and ‘behaving,’ there must be a reason, something is making it hard.” Then work together to figure it out and if you can’t, work together to lighten the mood – laugh, play, sing, dance, watch the dog go to the bathroom and trot away, whatever works!
“Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids – and How You Can Too!” available where you buy books! Audiobook coming in January 2023.
A little more about why I disappeared from The Orange Rhino…as you read this vulnerable, unedited, quickly written story, please remember…You all know that I am brutally honest with you – about my ups, my downs, the in-betweens and that I share my stories and random thoughts in hopes of inspiring you, making you feel less alone, and helping you on your own journey to stop yelling. I do not do it for pity/attention/or to make you think terribly about me. Story below will clarify why this statement is here. Anywho, onwards…
When I started The Orange Rhino, my confidence in sharing everything was fine. I felt okay doing that. I knew it helped others not feel alone. Then my book came out and some not nice things were said about me / my struggles and that confidence took a hit. Big time. I think one of the things I read somewhere was, “Wow, she is really screwed up.” Another one, “she’s just a mom, no degree.” (That comment needs a whole post dedicated to it. Is there really such a thing as “just a mom?” Um….no!) Numerous people (who didn’t even read my book) jumped on the yelling less bandwagon and backhandedly bashed me for not being able to completely stop yelling and how ridiculous my goal was in the first place (to go an entire year.)
People made judgments about me without fully knowing my story, my insights, my conclusions. I had been completely vulnerable – and okay doing so – and then I got shamed/slammed/insulted for being so.
I am proudly an Orange Rhino – a parent who when provoked, calmly charges forward with confidence and warmth and not harsh words – but I don’t have the thick skin of a Rhino.
The personal attacks were very hard to receive. That is an understatement. Some days I cried. There is one that I don’t share that still bothers me – how many years later? Words hurt, folks. Period. I know that big picture, I could ignore these words. They were “just words” and I knew my truths. But, the words hurt so much that made it hard to access that mature part of my mind, the confident part of my mind, the determined go get ’em Orange Rhino part of my mind (as my mom calls it.) I would cry to my mom and she would said, “What would The Orange Rhino do? What would she say?” I couldn’t even access it. I didn’t want to.
I went from being excited to be The Orange Rhino to not wanting anything to do with it. The Orange Rhino went from a positive place for me to a negative one.
But here’s the thing…those comments? They weren’t verbal. They were posted on the ever-loving-Internet forever to be seen, forever to be accidentally stumbled upon in a google search. I can’t escape them.
Which brings me to yesterday.
(Insert insecure comment here: you might be thinking, for real, this is her response to some negative comments? The answer is yes, being publicly shamed for being brave and being you, sucks.)
I felt my body shrinking at the computer. I suddenly felt tired. I wanted to just stop and give up and walk away. Fortunately, I needed to do just that because my kids needed to be picked up I got into my totally awesome minivan, and the radio came on. And I kid you not, the lyrics that belted through the radio?
I’m unstoppable ”
(Song: Unstoppable by Sia)
I mean, for real?! This song came on and started at the precise moment when “I’m Unstoppable” was first heard?
So here I am. Afraid to share, but armor on. I will keep trying to charge forward with confidence and be strong and share – because I want to. I truly want to. I will have ups and downs. That is life.
But I’m Unstoppable.
I won’t let negative comments take me down.
(Okay, I don’t totally believe that. But it came off of my fingers tips so clearly my mind WANTS to believe that. So I will try to. Perhaps you can too?)
Thanks for reading,
The Orange Rhino
(Apparently fighting amongst siblings who are now awake is also Unstoppable so off I go…no editing, just hitting Post because otherwise, I never will.)
“Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Stopped Yelling at Her Kids – and How You Can Too!” available on Amazon
Recently while scrolling, I saw some “quote” made all visually pretty with the sentiment of: “A child’s behavior doesn’t indicate a good/bad parent, it’s the parent’s behavior that does.” The first half of the statement I agree with it’s the second half that really got under my skin. It hit a nerve. It pissed me off. Perhaps I felt personally attacked because sometimes my behavior is not ideal. But here’s the thing…
We will all make mistakes.
We will all have moments where our behavior is less than, even lower than less than.
We will all have moments when we are triggered and overreact in a poor way because maybe, just maybe, that moment brought up something from our past that we didn’t know was an issue so how could we prepare for it or even work through it prior to that moment?
We will all have moments when we behave in exactly the way we don’t want our children to because we are STILL learning and growing…and because we are freakin’ human.
We will all have moments where we shock ourselves with our behavior, perhaps embarrass ourselves with our behavior (again, we are all human.)
We will all have moments where we simply had a bad day, a bad phone call, a bad interaction, and didn’t have enough time to re-group before a parenting moment that required us to be at our calmest and most collected…and we will snap, or yell, or just be grouchy or rude.
These “bad behavior” moments DO NOT, and I repeat, do NOT mean we are bad parents. PERIOD. I screw up all the time. I have had moments that I am so not proud of. I have seen my kids reflect my behavior and it does make me cringe. But I am not sitting here intentionally screwing up. I am standing here, doing my freakin’ best, working on my areas of improvement as a parent.
Parenting doesn’t come with a manual for how to take care of a kid and likewise we weren’t given a manual that said: Here are your behaviors that you will struggle with, here is how to manage them and overcome them so that when you are a parent, your behavior will be perfect. If you got that manual, awesome! I, however, as I am sure many parents will agree, did not.
So yeah, I have some behaviors that aren’t ideal for parenting, that I wish I didn’t “show” my kids and that therefore didn’t “show up” in their behavior. But I am working on it…and oh, my working on my “bad behavior” is also showing my kids some good behaviors:
Orange Rhinos don’t just yell less at their kids…they have strength and courage to charge through obstacles with confidence and determination. It isn’t easy identifying parts of ourselves that we would like to change – and it isn’t easy doing it. So kudos to all you parents put there doing just that!! In my book, you are a pretty, gosh darn good parent.
(sidebar: yes, they are actually some parenting behaviors that are horrid, i.e. abuse. This post does not apply to those behaviors. But I don’t think the quote I read was referring to those behaviors.)
Okay, rant and soap box over. Charge Forward with Courage and Confidence Orange Rhinos!
Thank you all so much for being here and for coming back after all these years.
The Orange Rhino
Wanted to share my personal goal for the week as it is perfectly relevant here. My goal: Not to Give Up. Or with a more positive spin: Just keep going. Keep doing what I’m doing. I am not seeing/feeling progress in a few areas of my life where I am really working hard and I can’t help but think, why work so hard if it isn’t working? Why? Because of my why, that’s why! Okay, way too many why’s so how about some how’s…How am I going to keep myself going and not giving up?
I am going to remind myself of my big why I am after the goal in the first place (personal health to prevent illness, personal growth so I can show up better for myself and my kids, and more.)
I am going to remind myself that change takes time. That small steps add up to big gains. That sometimes progress isn’t seen even when it’s there.
I am going to remind myself that giving up gets me nowhere, but staying on the path gets me somewhere even if that somewhere is right where I am but STILL on the path.
Starting now. Ugh, harder than I thought lol. Not giving up I have been waking up at 5:30 consecutively for three weeks now which is a HUGE change for me and a mini-goal that is allowing me to goal after the other goals so I can achieve change.
If you feel like giving up today on yelling less – or any other personal goal because guess what, those goals and achieving them will help you feel less by default – remember what you have done so far. (Here’s a hint: having a goal and knowing what you want is a great step…admitting struggling and getting support is another…trying again is another…there are so many options here!)
(Audio version included!)
Y’all. Yesterday…yesterday was a crap day. Within ten minutes of waking up, I felt a storm coming. I am not talking about a weather storm (although I do always feel those comin’ in my knees….) Nope, I am talking about a cranky mood storm where I just feel off and can’t precisely figure out why so I end up snapping more and sometimes even yelling more than I like. I felt agitated. I couldn’t focus and when I could I wasn’t productive. I felt exhausted but knew I wasn’t tired. I didn’t have a pep in my step even though I had done the things that normally give me energy.
Although I didn’t know what the heck was going on with me, I knew for certain that if I didn’t get ahead of this storm and prevent it from happening (or at least tame it a bit), that it would end up hitting right around 5:00 when all four kids come home hungry, and overwhelmed with exhaustion and school work. And I knew for certain that my personal cranky mood would most likely spread to the boys (moods, good and bad, are contagious!) and that we would then go from a personal storm to a total, utter sh*t storm. This doesn’t even consider what moods they would be bringing home!
Obviously, a total utter sh*t storm was not desired. I can tolerate an average one, that is just expected around here 😉 but a total utter sh*t storm? No thanks. They suck.
I tried everything I could to ease my crankiness.
I went for a walk (nature is very soothing for me.)
I drank cold water (helps the nervous system amongst other things.)
I listened to happy music (seriously, listen to happy songs and try not to sing along.
I talked to my therapist (perfect day to have that scheduled!)
I sat outside in the sun and imagined a favorite vacation this summer (distraction.)
I made another cup of coffee because I love the smell of it and I hadn’t fully enjoyed my morning cup (find joy wherever)…and I used my favorite minions mug because it brings back happy memories with my boys.
BUT NOTHING WORKED.
Not only did I not want a sh*t storm later, but I didn’t like how I felt and I had so much to do and not being productive was just making me feel worse.
So I went to my back-up bag of tricks to ease my crankiness. I sat down and tried to write. Often when I write, my thoughts kind of sort themselves out. Folks, even this didn’t work! So now I was two levels into my “how-to-uncranky-myself” handbook. Onto the back-up, back-up. I went for another walk to “clear my mind.” No podcasts. No music. No dog to slow me down. Just the sounds around me.
My mind kept telling me, “Sheila, your mood is driven by that damn scale you stepped on this morning! You are working so hard to get healthy (another post) and you aren’t getting any positive feedback from the scale or anywhere. Progress pictures? Not helping. Measurements? Nope. Better mood? Okay mostly but not today. Looser clothes? As freakin’ if.
I wanted to hang my hat on this explanation for my cranky mood so that I could move forward, but I still felt unsettled. And then it hit.
The lack of perceived progress with my weight wasn’t the real issue (although it sure as hell wasn’t helping). The weight of parenting was – I just hadn’t fully allowed myself to process all that was going on with back to school.
The first two weeks of school have been a doozy, as they always are. This year though, there is an added layer (or a thousand) of worry. So, while I wasn’t tired yesterday per say, my mind and body were exhausted. My pep was gone because it has been in over drive supporting my kids. I was agitated because well, I love my kids and there is so much I want to do for them/with them to support them and to help them grow into wonderful adults and yet given the strain of the first two weeks, I was starting to wonder if I was getting any of the parenting thing right! AND if I would ever get it right or even close? (Because folks, there is NO complete right way to parent.)
The scale yesterday frustrated me because it didn’t give me positive feedback despite my hard work. This led to self-doubt and the desire to say f*ck it I won’t try so hard. Funny, parenting can be the same. Kids don’t necessarily give you feedback that your hard work is working. There is no guarantee that if you do everything “right,” they will be okay. There are moments, for sure, but they are fleeting. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying. It just means that we have to keep the faith.
And that we have to keep watching our own storms brewin’ so that we can be at our best for them when their storms brew…and hit!
Despite me having this huge moment of clarity on my walk – I still felt cranky. (Normally I feel lighter after such moments; knowing what’s up brings me peace because then I know I can at least make a plan to work through it.)
So, I went to my back-up, back-up, back-up bag of trips and reminded myself,
“It’s all good. Somedays are just hard. Just do your best to get through the day. Go to bed early. Tomorrow brings a new day.”
And I forewarned my kiddos, “Guys – mom is wicked cranky. It has nothing to do with you. It’s just me. So, I am going to try really hard to not snap but if I do, please just remember it isn’t you.”
It took A LOT to get through the evening because my boys brought home a lot with them! I relied on my original bag of tricks quite frequently – I would pop outside and take breaks, I drank cold water and instead of envisioning a warm, relaxing vacation…I envisioned bedtime 😉
And I listened to my current, favorite uplifting song “Keep the Beat.” The lyrics couldn’t be more perfect…
“All I can do when the road bends…is lean into the curve…and
All I can do…when the tanks run dry…is see what’s in the reserve.”
Orange Rhinos, somedays your reserve will be more full than others. But you always have a reserve – you just need to know when it is going to be needed and how to get there.
RELEVANT TAKE-AWAYS for your Orange Rhino journey to YELL LESS and LOVE MORE:
Don’t fret if you don’t have the answers to any or all of the above, just pick one and ponder it…and remember, tomorrow brings a new day.