Sunday, November 25, 2012


I’m awfully fond of breathing.

Usually my lungs and I are on the same page about this one, but today we are at odds. My “lingering cough” has taken a turn for the worse. When the hacking gets so bad I’m sleeping on the couch each night and I have to hang up the phone mid-conversation because I’m unable to get a word out, even I have to admit it’s more than “just a cold.”

There’s never much time for Mom to see the doctor. It falls down the list along with “pull out the refrigerator and dust the coils” and “back up computer files.” Something that really does need doing, but isn’t causing immediate problems and can just as easily be done another day. Or the one after that. Or never.

Except when it starts causing immediate problems. The kind where I have to cancel plans.

Like taking the ferry to Vancouver Island last weekend to hang out with my cousin (and longtime bff), her 5 kids and 11 newborn piglets. I was SO excited to show off my new son and enjoy a day of big-city-cousins-run-wild-on-the-farm.

Or our plans today to meet the daughter our dear friends just brought home from the Philippines. We’ve been praying for her and oohing over pictures for months. I couldn’t wait to finally meet her and have a long been-there-done-that “adopting a toddler” discussion.

Or the playdate I JUST set up yesterday with the little boy we’ve chosen to be our son’s new best friend. They haven’t met, but he’s so cute and we love his parents and it’s just meant to be. I had decided I would definitely feel better by Friday, so why not?

This is a problem for me. I hate cancelling. I hate it.

Not only do I miss out on the activity, but I have to rearrange my plans and change my expectations. I hate that too. But the worst part is: I have to admit my weakness.
I can’t do it. I can’t blame the kids or the weather or the economy or the politicians or even my husband for being unreasonable (as he is wont to do when I overcommit us). I have limitations and I’ve just run smack dab into them.

I HAVE to get better at noticing those ahead of time. Apparently acute bronchitis doesn’t need to get this bad. If only I would slow down and rest. You know, BEFORE coughing up green and sticky all the way to the walk-in clinic. I’ve had pneumonia more than once and that’s where I’m headed if I don’t slow down.

There is a time for pushing through and getting things done. There is a time for rest.

There is a time for making plans. There is a time for cancelling and rescheduling and just letting things go.

There is a time for doing, making, cleaning, teaching, writing, talking, fixing, helping… 

There is a time for breathing.

So here’s me, *hack, hack, hack* and it’s time to rest, even if it kills me. Because in the long run, it’ll kill me not to.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Petraeus Affair: The Attractiveness of Holly Petraeus & Paula Broadwell


Once again, the extramarital affair of a beloved public figure has come to light. Since the resignation of General David Petraeus, the talking heads have been blathering up a storm. Their conversation has been further fueled by emerging details that make the unfolding story seem nothing short of a soap opera. (Jimmy Kimmel did a good job of breaking it down here.)
I have clients who are recovering from affairs, so I kept my eye on the story and listened to other people about their perspectives. At a coffee shop recently, I overheard three women having a conversation about the affair. (When I heard what they were talking about, yes, I eavesdropped.) After discussing the newest, juiciest details of the story, one woman said, “But have you seen his wife?” Pictures of Holly Petraeus have been splashed all over the world, and while commentators have been deliberate to speak in only glowingly terms about her, the side-by-side comparison with Paula Broadwell has been blatant. In one photo, for example, the wife and mistress are even captured in the same frame with red circles drawn around their heads.
Then yesterday, Pat Robertson weighed in on the subject on his TV show. After saying “I don’t think [Petraeus] is a devious human being,” Robertson listed Petraeus’ brilliant accomplishments. He then turned his attention to Broadwell and itemized why he thought she was so attractive. Robertson completed his analysis of the situation by saying “The man’s off in a foreign land and he’s lonely and here’s a good-looking lady throwing herself at him. I mean, he’s a man.”
While you might be tempted to go on a rant about Robertson (for the moment, I am going to side-step the “he’s a man” comment), he did what normal, every-day people have been doing privately. Without knowing the details of the situation, he painted a picture of a hot seductress chasing after a brilliant man. The woman at the coffee shop underscored the stereotype that a “frumpy” wife cannot compete with a hot seductress. On the airwaves and over coffee conversations, people from different backgrounds and genders reduced the affair to one factor: how the women looked.
I am deeply disturbed by this type of oversimplification. It devalues women – not just these two women, but all women. Robertson’s reflections made no mention of Broadwell’s accomplishments or what the strain of working overseas might have done to her marriage. The women sipping their lattes made no mention of the years Holly Petraeus spent raising the kids on her own or fighting on behalf of other military families in financial trouble. But when we support and participate in a culture that focuses exclusively on how women appear, we all lose. It creates an impossible standard: in order to stay unmarred by the pain of an affair, you have to be attractive, but not too attractive.
Engaging in this depiction does not stem the tide of infidelity because it does not accurately reflect the reasons why people have affairs. Many men have affairs with women who are less attractive than their wives…because how these women look is not the temptation. Noel Biderman, owner of the cheating service Ashley Madison, has been quoted as saying, “If you sat down with 20 people who’d had an affair and said, rate the person you had an affair with ‘better looking’ or ‘worse looking’ than your partner, almost 90 percent will say worse. You can build a profile right now of an unattractive woman, overweight, whatever, she’ll still have a dozen men interested in meeting her.”
As long as we reduce an affair to the way the women involved looked, we will remain vulnerable of having one ourselves. Men, if you think that only a marathon runner with great arms will tempt you away from your wife, then you are going to get blindsided by the plain looking woman who works in accounting and can listen with empathy to your stories. Women, if you think your husband is only in danger from a woman who has a DD chest, you will be stunned with it turns out the “frumpy” woman knows how to love him better than you.
Let’s stop the oversimplification and take a long look at our own relationships. Let’s start having candid conversations with our spouses about what we, as individuals, find tempting. Let’s find out what draws our eyes, bodies and hearts away from our spouses. Rather than making assumptions about the causes of infidelity, the information we glean through these conversations will actually reduce the risk of us straying.
ERYN-FAYE FRANS, Canada's Passion Coach ®

Monday, November 12, 2012


Ladies, this holiday season the pressure is OFF. 
I release myself (and you) from the need to cook the perfect turkey, be the most attentive hostess, buy the most creative presents, and decorate as if I was Martha Stewart’s inspiration. I am attempting to let all of this go wondering what Thanksgiving and Christmas could look like for me and my family if I move the focus from what is good to what is great.
Please understand that this proposal has humble origins. As I type, there are Christmas decorations fresh from the store sitting on my counter, and I have already had one planning session with my mom to prepare for the PERFECT Thanksgiving dinner. I am feeling the pressure to make sure my napkins and tablecloth match and my turkey is golden on the outside and juicy on the inside. Knowing this about myself, I am taking a moment to step back and consider who I want to look like over the next few months – Rachel Ray? Or Jesus?
As I continue to make my holiday plans, here are a few things I will take into consideration: 
  • “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 (Even those crazy relatives.)
  • “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 (Honor my husband when he needs a break from the parties and get-togethers.)
  • “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (I will ENJOY time with my family and friends. I will express gratitude, happiness, peace.) 
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (If I burn the turkey, there will still be lots to eat.)
  • “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.” –C.S. Lewis (Spend less on decorations so I can spend more on someone who needs it.)
And now I am off to test out these grand ideas with the hope and belief that Jesus will work in us and through us this season!


Monday, November 5, 2012


It is the best, and sometimes hardest, answer to give.

As a parent. As a person of faith. As a person of science. As a human being.

Sure, there are those who use it as a cop-out. Shrugging their shoulders as they go with the flow. They hand it out liberally: a get-out-of-responsibility-free card, an excuse to stay on the sidelines, a reason to stay in lock-step with the group. Might as well leave the thinking to someone else.

But for those who honestly struggle. Those who want to know. Those who are willing to change. Those who will be inconvenienced by truth.
For those who teach. Those who inspire and motivate. Those who take responsibility to lead.
For those…

It is brave. 
It is sincere.
 It is humbling.

Sometimes it is the place where certainty and faith intersect.

Sometimes it is where Mom becomes a mere mortal.

Sometimes it is the only right answer.

Because life is full of mystery. And the Universe is infinite. And God is bigger than our minds can comprehend. And we are only human after all.

There are times when the only answer we can give is:

I don’t know.

So here’s me, grappling with questions about afterlife and how to deal with after school tantrums and whether my 12-year-old is mature enough to read Hunger Games.