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Posts tagged ‘overcoming’

A Lesson in Heart: Why the Relative Age Effect is Wrong

Contrary to what some writers and sports analyst think being the smallest and youngest does not guarantee failure in a persons athletic career. Lessons are learned by team sports which go far beyond physicality, follow a child through their entire life and set them up for success.

My son is super active and in constant motion. We figured sports would help put that energy to use. We really didn’t give that much thought to the myriad of lessons learned through team sports. As we approach the end of the season I am reflecting on the amazing change and growth that team sports has brought in my child.

My son actually began with T-Ball and had an instant love for the sport. He took to it easy and made friends quickly. However, he is literally the youngest…I mean the absolute youngest player in the entire league. Due to when the division cut offs fall and when his birthday is. Much like school, in sports he is the youngest one out there.

Age is nothing but a number

If you have ready Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers, ” then you might have thought, much like myself, that having the youngest smallest child in sports would be to set him up for failure in life.  According to NY Magazine, one of Mr. Gladwell’s points is “…an initial advantage attributable to age gets turned into a more profound advantage over time.” This theory has become known as the Relative Age Effect and in my view is  bull.

Me and my husband initially considered theory for a long time and actually thought about holding my son back in school to ensure he was bigger, stronger and more mature when he began. However, intellectually he was ready and decided we would be doing his a disservice by holding him back.

When we signed him up for T-Ball, this idea came back to haunt me. Would he be the smallest? What if he is picked on? What if he struggle? How it effect his emotionally and scar him for life? Ok I probably was a bit over dramatic. But aside from the scarring him for life part all of that has happened and it is not a bad thing.

Season one and two

My son was the smallest. In being smaller and younger he did not have the motor coordination, at first, that the other players did. I watched in agony as he would miss ball after ball. However, my agony was not his. He was having a blast. He loved his coaches and they loved him as well. My son was learning what it was like to be part of a team and how to support your teammates.

More importantly he was learning resiliency. How to keep trying even if you might not get the results you want the first time. Each practice he tried his best. Never gave up and enjoyed every minute. By the end of the first year he was actually hitting the ball!

Season three

The second year brought new challenges. The size different between my son and the other kids were much more apparent. Likewise the skill level difference between him and other kids varied greatly. He fell somewhere in the middle, with older, bigger kids having more skill and motor control then he had. To my surprise there were older kids that were similar in stature to him struggled throughout the season.

Also, due to the cut off he was no longer in T-Ball. He was moved up (too soon in my opinion) to Coach Pitch. My son was scared he wouldn’t be able to do it and almost choose not the play. However, after meeting the coaches and other kids he wanted to try.

Sometimes he went game after game without a hit. Without a play or so much as touching the ball. There were a few times I turned to mush as he cried that he wanted to give up. The difference is he didn’t. He asked me and his Dad to practice with him more. (which we did.) He started to pay better attention during practice. With hands on his knees he was “baseball ready,” instead of throwing his mitt around the outfield.

While it was heartbreaking to see him leave the batter’s box dejected and sad, there was a lesson in this as well. It was a lesson about playing with Heart. Heart, Will, Determination, Fortitude, Resilience, call it what you will. It is what winning teams are made from.

You can see it time and time again when the underdog, underestimated teams blowing away their opponents. The 1980 US Hockey team, the 2004 Red Sox, and most recently the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.  In most cases it is not purely, skill, strength or physical prowess that does the job. It is Heart and that is what my son was learning.

His abilities to field, hit and pay attention long enough to get through an inning were finally starting to come on line. By the end of the season he was hitting pretty regularly and had a good grasp of the game. Plus, he understood what it felt like to overcome a struggle.

Season Four

This past season was yet another lesson. Most of his teammate were almost a full 2 years older then he is. Many were now in travel ball league. This meant they had skills far beyond my son. I mean these kids were turning double plays! He had just learned how to hit. However, what surprised me was the social struggle. It seemed like none of the kids knew where they fit with each other. The age and skills varied so greatly. The older kids were not very nice. With the idea they were better players they acted like jerks to the younger kids.

My son, who pretty much gets along with everyone,  had a really hard time with this. It was the first time he was encountering bigger kids who were being bullies. He doesn’t really find them in school because of the anti-bullying efforts, but here on the ball field they still exist. I had a big issue with this and was ready to pull him out of the league.

However my husband stopped me. He reminded me that he NEEDS to learn how to deal with them. IF he doesn’t learn these lessons now he will have a harder time in life when he encounters bullies in the real world.  Boy was it tough to watch these kids but I knew he was right. he had to learn to stick up for himself. If things got bad I could step in. But as painfully hard as it was I had to let him fight his own battle. Uggg!

He was right, my son did learn how to stand up for himself. The effort in overcoming his fear also brought with it a new confidence in his abilities. I watched in amazement as he no only became a solid hitter he actually began to hit it into the outfield. Along with this his fielding also improved. With the encouragement and knowledge of incredible coaches he has grown into a strong player and a respected teammate.

Lessons for life

Being part of a team sport has brought along its challenges but the lessons learned and triumphs have been so worth it. These lessons learned through sports are what will make him a success, not the month he was born and when his birthday falls.  So Mr. Gladwell you are dead wrong that the smaller, younger kids are set up to fail due to age disadvantages that follow them through life.

You didn’t take into account all of the people like coaches, players, friends and family who help to mold them. Mr. Gladwell you also did not consider the many athlete’s who were not the ideal physical specimen, who might not have natural talent but still achieve greatness through hard work, will and determination.

Yes, my son is still the youngest and his is still one of the smallest but like many underestimated people he has Heart and that is what you need to win in the game of life.




5 Weeks of Scary: Week 4 Take on a Problem

tackle a problemWelcome to Week Five

Before we close out this challenge with our final task let’s review last week. Week 4’s task was to Take on a problem. Tackle an issue or feeling you have been avoiding for a while. Face it head on and break through the fear. As I said last week, I thought this would be a tough one and I was right.

Initially when I examined what task I wanted to take on I didn’t readily recognize a cause that required attention. As a matter of fact, it seems I have buried many of these feelings so deep it was hard uncovering them. Deep down there lies several fears that I have let linger and have never fully addressed. When you start to peel back the layers of covering over the hurt, weird things happen.

You want to push them away again. Like the pile of laundry hidden in the back of your closet. You know it is there you can see it briefly if you open the door a bit. But if you never actually look at it you can pretend its not there or push it of to deal with another day.

The problem I pushed away

The task I have decided to face this week was one I put in the way back of my closet after my father passed away. Every now and then I venture into that pile of memories looking for something but quickly stash it back away before it spills out and I have to deal with it. The task is to forgive my father. There I said it… and it was a lot harder to write then I thought it would be.

I mentioned my issues with my father in this post. Here I addressed my own co-dependency issues that arose from his alcohol abuse. My father wasn’t a bad man. No really he wasn’t, but he was damaged and I see now how he could have benefited from anti depressive medication.

Anyhow, back to the task at hand. I have been carrying around a bag of hurt, self-doubt, low self worth, fear and lack of confidence ever since I was a little girl. Growing up in a house of narcissism and co-dependency these feelings have effected every aspect of my life. Having never felt like enough, never feeling like I mattered, and always feeling less then those around me.

The one question

Over the years I have navigated these feelings or pushed them away enough to function. When I thought about this task I realized all of my hurt is wrapped around one question that I could never fathom.

Why did my Dad pick alcohol over me? Why was I not important enough?

I remember hearing stories of other people’s parents who would move heaven and earth for their children. Having children of my own I know I would do this for them. So why then wouldn’t my Dad give up alcohol for me? Why was having those extra years of life with me not worth it to him? Why could he not stop after seeing all the pain and hurt his addiction caused?

Finding forgiveness

It is because he was an addict. Not being addict I know I can never truly understand the physical, emotional or chemical dependency that comes along with addiction. But what I do know is I must let go of this question. I must know that my Dad loved me but he was not like me. He was weak, depressed and lacked the will to be anymore then what he was.

He loved me the best way he could, but he was flawed and broken. I must forgive him for his weakness. It was not my doing or

Winnie the pooh

Image found on Pinterest

something I could have fixed. More importantly, it was not a reflection on his love for me and does not mean others will love me less.

I know moving forward this will be a struggle but overtime I plan to unravel the layers I have built up. Hopefully, in facing this fear I will be able to released this hurt and heal myself.

There we have it friends. We have made it to the final Week of the Challenge. Week 5…

Week 5: Take your power back

We have done a lot of work over this month. We have faced fears physical, mental and emotional. In the final week we reflect on all that we have learned about ourselves during this challenge. What fears have we overcome? Are any still plaguing you? Has your view of fear changed?

My hope is that you feel empowered and emboldened by this process. Maybe like me, you have gotten to know yourself a little better. Maybe you realize you are so much more than you appear to be. Each and every one of us is capable of amazing things if we believe we can. If we ignore our self-doubt, if we overcome our overwhelm, move past our guilt and run towards our fears.

Thank you so much for taking this journey with me over the past month. I hope it was transformative, insightful and helpful. Please share your stories in the comments about what you have learned from this process.

A Matter of Mindset

success in parenting

A Matter of Mindset

by Ann Marie Flanagan, contributor

As a mom, have you ever had a legitimate sick day?

I am talking about being alone in your home, cell phone in the off position, no email or social media groups that need immediate or constant attention. No, you haven’t had that? Really? Yea, me either.

What happens to us when we get unexpected news about our health and we have little to no time to process the information? Or this unexpected news is delivered in the presence of our children because we did not have the ability to leave them in the waiting room? Yes, this does happen and it happened to me the other day with my eight year old in tow.

Let me give you a little background before I share what occurred. I am a mom of three children. Their ages are 25, 16, and 8 years old. The 8 and 16 year old are under my room. My middle child is my clone and my youngest son is extremely sensitive to changes that concern me. He is a little feeling detective.

I tell you these things because I am sure your children are sensitive to your needs, even if they don’t express that verbally. Children have a keen sense when something is about to go down. So, here is my recent health journey.

Last September, I was given a diagnosis that took me off guard. It is not life-threatening, just life changing. It knocked me down for about a month because I could not wrap my head around the fact that I am “sick.”

I don’t feel physically sick and I didn’t know that most people don’t feel this way on a daily basis. Having always prided myself on my, mostly healthy lifestyle, I allowed myself to feel defeated. Until this behavior began to affecting my relationships.

Changing your mindset for yourself and your children

When I saw the reflection of myself through my children’s eyes I received my wake up call. My behaviors (short-tempered, depressed, and angry) were not examples I wanted my children to follow. Seeking out the counsel of another mom who had the same diagnosis, as well as two friends of mine that are nurses, I made additional healthy choices. This included going on a gluten-free diet to decrease my inflammation and using essential oils, to heal my body. That was the easy part.

But my biggest obstacle is my mindset. My journey of being mindful is my biggest challenge. Why do I want to be mindful? Illness will not freely reside in me and be fueled by unhealthy thoughts and feelings. I want to be everything I can be for myself, my children, my husband, family, and friends.

In order to work on my mindset, I chose to surround myself with people who are examples of this very concept. To continue to remove negative influences that are causing my self-doubt to sneak in. These negative influences are negative people, past experiences, social media, and the list goes on. How am I doing this?

Well, I am a list maker. I am making a list and methodically removing these items from it. It is not an easy or quick process, but it has begun. I need to also continue to remind myself why I am doing this. It is for ME!

When I have a healthy mindset, all of those around me will begin to reap the benefits. Why is this a difficult process? Because ever since I was a child, I have never lived my life this way. The idea of having a healthy mindset ignites my fire to do right by my children. So I may be their positive role model again. When I say “my children,” this includes not only my biological children, but also the ones I have in my class, my “Girls on the Run” team, and others  I come in contact with daily basis.

Another way I am changing my mindset is by using researched-based information and practicing what speaks to me.  Not all of the research-based suggestions work for me, so I pick and choose the ones that fit. Likewise, I have also found “influencers” that have me striving to be the best that I can be.

Getting up after a set back

Now I will share my most recent health set-back. I have had an enlarged lymph node in my neck for as long as I can remember. Always thinking it was just a swollen gland, I monitored it but paid it little attention.

That was until recently when I discovered two more nodes in my groin area. This concerned my physician and she sent me to an oncologist. This resulted in an immediate setback to all of my self-care.  Just by hearing the word oncologist and the fact that I know have one, was enough to create a feeling of foreboding.

They ordered ultrasounds and a CT scan. The first doctor wanted to cut the lymph node in my neck out and then test it.

HECK-to-the-NO! I asked for other options, choose to wait three months and rescan those areas. Except I was scared and allowed those three months to come and go. I told myself, since there is no pain involved in these areas, I must be fine.

Well, last month the doctor’s office called to say they set up my next appointment since I didn’t follow up. I had the ultrasounds last week and received the news that the groin area nodes are the same. However, the node in my neck has increased in size. The surgeon said he was not convinced that it needs to be removed but is concerned and is sending me for another CT scan to get a better look.

I asked “why” even though I knew in my heart what he is looking for. Unfortunately, all of this news was delivered in front of my 8-year-old. Thank goodness when I asked him, he said, “The C-word,” for the benefit of my child.

After the appointment, I went into a tail-spin. It was ugly. I informed my “tribe” about my results and then turned inward. It took that entire evening and part of the next day to pull myself back up. Deciding to not allow this situation to define me, even if the “c word” is what it is.

Because what if it’s not??!! Why am I wasting my time worrying? I made the choice I was not going to give in to the fear and worry.  My CT scan is next week and the results will be given the following week. I WILL survive and throughout this process I will teach my children how to stand up to what life throws us in a dignified and positive way.

We all struggle with our health at one time or another. Your struggles may be much more than mine. If you would like to chat you can reach me privately at

If you have children, please join for a place to share your successes, ask for help, and form long-lasting friendships with other parents. I cannot wait to see you there.

In addition, I live stream on Periscope at @AnnMarieFlanagan where I discuss techniques and strategies for helping our children excel.

Beginning October 17th I am involved in a new Periscope channel called @SelfCareSociety. We will be sharing great tips for self-care in all parts of life. Thank you for allowing me to spend this time with you!

Ann Marie

5 Weeks of Scary: Week 2 Learn Something New

5 weeks of scary week 2No one said is facing your fears was easy. But is rewarding. This we the task was to learn something new that you might find intimidating. I had a difficult time figuring out what task to select.  There are things that intimidate me yes like diving, singing, speaking in public but when I examined these I can’t say my fear was enough to hold me back from doing them if I wanted to. I really just didn’t have enough interest in them.

So what did I finally choose? Home construction. Yes I know its not very sexy and it surprised me as well. But let me back up a moment. My job (outside of mommying and blogging.) is working for the building department of a local municipality. It was never something I went to school for, was trained for and was kind of a place I ended up in last April.  Not knowing at the time where I would fit in the department or if I would even like it, I was blessed to encounter some wonderfully encouraging people and genuine kindness. One of the opportunities I was given was to shadow a building inspector. He was extremely knowledgeable and I learned so much from him but…I felt like a complete fool.

Like I said I ended up in the building department by happenstance. My training had been in communications, records managements and journalism. I know nothing about building codes, reading plans and construction requirements. However, I really found  I was interested in seeing what went into how a home was built. learn something new

The craftsmanship, materials, design. There was something about watching a space go from nothing to slowly grow into a home or a business. Learning how these material might one day protect a family, provide a job or make use of natural resources in a whole new way, sounded really well… cool.

But then self doubt entered my head. Having just turned 41 and was I too old to be trained in an entirely different field? I know nothing about this and it would take to long to learn enough to be useful? I’m a girl this was a field for boys. (Yes, I actually thought that.) All of these reasons continued to seep into my head, dulling what interest I had. So I let it go. Forgot about it. Until this challenge.

So far I have taken a few books from the library and plan on shadowing some other people in the building department but for now at least I am ignoring the fear and self-doubt. I am eager to learn and see where it takes me.

What task did you choose? What did you challenge yourself to learn this week? How did it help you? Did you overcome a fear? Please share your experiences I would really love to hear about it!

On to week three….

Week Three: Test your physical Limits

Do something physically that will oush your body further. How many times have you done something physical and stopped when you felt the beginnings of tiredness? Do you realize, with a little mental fortitude, how much more you could get out of your body? In other words, we give up way to soon and way too fast at even a minor sign of discomfort?

So how are you going to challenge yourself? Are you going to run a little faster? Lift a bit heavier? Walk farther? You are stronger then you think…go get it!

Get double the sweets in your first Treatsie box!

Five Weeks of Scary October Challenge

5 weeks of scaryAs mom’s sometimes we feel like we are in a rut. Caring for the family, cooking meals, doing laundry, rinse and repeat. Right? Sometimes we forget we are more than just moms. We are women with hopes, dreams and ambitions. People who have our own feelings outside of the diaper changes, veggie battles and school car line.  So here is what we are going to do. We are going to get ban together, challenge  and support each other for the next 5Saturdays. This challenge is designed to get you in touch with who you are, or who you once were. To shake things up and remind you that you are a mom and you are capable of amazing things, you just might not have had the opportunity of reason to do them for a while.

This challenge is 5 weeks of doing something that scares you, makes you feel vulnerable and pushes you out of your comfort zone. Something that  pushes you to try something new, makes you feel unprepared and even a bit stupid. These actions are intended to make you realize you can do more than you think you can do.

Each week I will post one overcoming a fear type challenge. Use the 3 steps listed below to help move you forward and ultimately learn what wonderful things you are capable of. So don’t hold back. We will walk through our fears together and share our experiences here. Together we will face our fears, unleash our greatness within (thanks Tony Robbins) and together we will grow stronger. Here are the 3 steps we will walk.

Step One: Change your mental dialogue.

No more can’t, won’t, shouldn’t aight top’s. For the next 5 weeks no more negative, self doubt filled speech. Be conscious of when you are doing it. Everyday, every time, every word we say to or about ourselves needs to change from negative to positive. Catch yourself and mentally rewrite the words in your head, Instead of can’t do that, say I can do it!. After the 5 weeks you can go back to your old ways if you want to …but I bet you won’t.

Step Two: Pick a task.

Don’t hold back. Don’t make it easy. Remember this is a challenge; the only way you are going to learn about yourself is to test yourself. Yes, it’s scary. It can be difficult but it is also exciting and invigorating. You can do this!!!!

Step Three: Reflect on your actions.

You can do this in any number of ways. You can use the journaling sheets created for this challenge, comment here under each challenge post or share it on the In between moderation Facebook page. I can not wait to hear what you thought, what you learned, good and bad. What did you discovered about yourself? Like I said this challenge is designed to remind us mom’s how strong, powerful and capable we truly are. Please help me make this a community experience and leave your views in the comments.

Now on to the first week’s challenge…

WEEK 1: Cease the moment

Do something spur of the moment like ask for a discount, book and impulse trip or make an investment in something you have been holding yourself back from. Ask that guy to lunch, mail that book proposal, or pitch your new idea. Whatever it is stop sitting on the fence between should and shouldn’t.

Get out of your own way and just do it. Without forethought, without over thinking the outcome and without regret, follow that impulse…that intuition and give it a try. Don’t over think things, don’t let your mind weight out the pro’s and con’s and fill you with self-doubt.

For this week silence those thoughts. Don’t give yourself the opportunity it talk yourself out of it,. Remember what is in you. Remember all the amazing things you have done and are still doing. You’ve got this. Be bold. Go for it and don’t hold back.

Please share your task in the comment box below so we can encourage each other.

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It Is Not A Problem In You

four agreements

Image found on

Just wanted to share something I learned recently. For anyone that tuned into my Periscope last week, I conveyed the whole story of my “crappy day.” I won’t get into that again, only to say that I learned a huge lesson and it has to do with “The Four Agreements.”(Affiliated Link Below) If you haven’t heard of “The Four Agreements,” it is a book that boils down how to live and interpret the world by using four key phases. These phases help explain the actions of others and how you might feel in reaction to situations.

Over the past several years, I often wondered why I was place in the position I have been in. What was the lesson I was meant to learn from this? Now I see it. I needed desperately to learn the 2nd Agreement. For any of you who don’t know what “The Four Agreements” are look to the top graphic to summarize.

For most of my life I have grown up in a codependent household. This is how Wikipedia defines co-dependency.

“Codependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and identity.”

Codependency goes much deeper then this however, and usually manifests because of some form of addiction. The addictive behavior creates a learned response that it passes from generation to generation until it is “un” taught essentially, thought therapy. An example of this being a woman seeking out the same abusive traits in men that were exhibited by her father. Only though unlearning this codependent behavior can these repetitive damaging actions be changed. These behaviors are usually learned from a codependent parental figure.

One of the traits of a codependent child is placing blame. They assume blame for the actions of others (the addict.) They assume something they did, said, was or is caused others to behave a certain way. For years, I have struggled with this. I have been to therapy and have worked it out in my rational mind. However, I have frequently felt powerless and victimized when others mistreated me. I always fall back on assuming blame for their actions.

I say to myself, “something I did caused this person not to like me.”or “Something I said caused them to behave in such a way.”

I am blessed to have a husband that helped me out of this blame cycle. However, in certain environments, like work for example, these behaviors persisted. Over the past several years, I often wondered why I was placed in the work situation I have been in. The situation that has elicited such a strong codependent response. Here is why.

I needed to learn not to take anything personally. For most of my life, I have been subject to the codependent lifestyle of blame and victimization. It is a lifestyle of narcissism and selfishness. I don’t mean this in an angry way, only that people in that environment learn this extreme narcissism from an addict. They learn that this type of behavior is acceptable, expected and don’t know that there is another way of life. Although, it effects their functioning in normal society, they think that everyone else is this way.

That is until they are shown otherwise. I have always assumed (Agreement #3) that something I did caused others to be the way they are. I must be the bad guy; I must be the wrong one. People can’t just act irrational, nasty or angry because of something unrelated to what I did. I must be the cause of it all. I essentially enabled their actions by assuming the responsibility for them. I viewed myself as the cause, so they were not responsible for their bad behavior. I was.

Here is where we get around to Agreement #4

[ctt tweet=”“Nothing others do is because of you. It is a projection of their own reality.”” coverup=”1y56I”]

Like I said, I have struggled in the work environment because I assumed the responsibility for the actions of others. I caused a bad manager to be a bad manager. I caused a lazy worker to be lazy. Last week, that all changed. Over my time in my current job I have wanted in my heart to be friends with my manager. To get to know her and it was killing me that she didn’t like me. That every interaction with her was nasty and angry. I was constantly on edge and felt an ongoing responsibility to correct our poor relationship.

The codependent in me assumed (Agreement #3 again) I had done something to make her so angry and nasty towards me. After one final interaction of nastiness my mindset changed. It was as if a veil lifted and Agreement #4 hit home.

I saw her for the person she was, not filtered thought my lens of blame. I finally recognized that on this day, my last day with her, she was still angry, nasty and bitter and for once it was not my fault. The paradigm shift in my head was incredible! I could see! Really see the sad, lonely, bitter old woman sitting in front of me glaring at me, trying to feel powerful. She was this way before me. She would remain this way after me. I was not the cause. It was not personal! It was just her view of her own reality.

Later on I discussed this with my friend Nicole, who lent me “The 4 Agreements” book in the first place. I wonder if my friend will ever know what a dramatic impact she has had on my life. On the drive home, I mulled the day over and realized why I was placed into this situation. I was meant to meet Nicole. She was put there to guide me in this Four Agreements lesson.

Here I had been blessed to learn about myself, overcome obstacles, misplaced anger and even betrayal. This was a trial meant to make me stronger. To know myself, to outgrow the codependent child and embrace a better me. I am not sad to end my time in my former position. I am eager to start something new and move away from the negative environment that has plagued me over the past 3 years. However, I realize I don’t regret having been there and am actually grateful for having been though it. Thank you for letting me share this lesson with you.




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