With Love, from Mom

by Marilynn Halas on August 6th, 2012

There is something about a mother’s love that is different from any other love we ever receive. Moms love us even before we are born. They wait for us and pray for us and dream of us whether they are waiting for a birth or an adoption. Mom is the first one to hold us and the last one to let go. She is our first teacher and our biggest fan. Moms can make us feel safe in a scary world and brave enough to grow strong and shelter others. Most of the time moms lead by example and show us the blessing of God’s unconditional love by the way they love us.

No mother is perfect and I know that some can be downright toxic, but today I’m not writing about them. Today I am writing about the moms who are doing their level best to love, support and encourage their children of all ages. The kind of mom we all hope to be, the kind of mom I was blessed to have.

For the first time in eighty-one years my mom’s kettle has grown cold. Today there is no one there to answer her phone or worry about the weather, the traffic or the weekend plans. Earlier this month my mom went to bed in New Jersey and woke up in heaven. It has been the most difficult adjustment of my life, but I know that for all of us, life is changed, not ended.

At this moment I have choices. I can pretend that everything is okay and just keep moving on. I can wallow in my sadness and get stuck. I can be strong and have faith. I can succumb to fear and frustration. I can let my children see my grief or I can sanitize the situation. Choices. Maybe it’s because I am from Jersey, but personally I prefer and instead of or.

My choice is to experience my grief and my faith. To show my kids that death is a part of life and that people who are sad can still be strong. To honor my mother’s legacy by being fully human, a real person with a full spectrum of feelings and experiences. To show my kids that it is okay to feel sad and okay to feel joy and okay to express both.

To give myself and therefore my kids the acceptance my mom gave to me. My mom used to tell me not to work so hard, “You’re not a race horse.” She would say when I was working late into the night. She was right, I’m not a race horse and neither are you.

What if we could spend a day giving ourselves the same kind of love and acceptance that we need from our moms? The same kind of love and acceptance we offer our children? What if we could honor our mothers’ legacy by actually loving ourselves?

I think it is safe to say that most of us love our kids in a way that is deeper and more powerful than we have ever loved anyone else. I bet your mom would say that too. I bet most of us plan to love our kids like that for the rest of our lives and even beyond. I bet your mom would agree with that too. So maybe we should offer our moms, the women who love us so much, some sign that we understood them, that we actually got the message they have been trying to teach us all our lives. The message that we are trying to teach our own kids. We are loved.

We are worth loving. Mom said so. We are loved no matter what. We can relax and remember that love is a gift, not earned, but rather, freely given.

Whether your mom is here to tell you everyday or whether you are keeping her legacy alive. Whether your mom has never let you down or whether you were mothered by others because she was not there for you. The legacy of motherhood is still a part of you. Passed down from generation to generation like a miraculous Olympic torch in the relay of life. You are loved. Don’t forget it. Love and acceptance is your birthright.

Be your best self and accept and even love your human weaknesses. Accept yourself so that your children can accept and even embrace themselves. I think it is the best way to honor our moms. The best way to honor our kids and the best way to step fully into the life each of us is living. Love and acceptance were your mom’s first gifts to you, they were your first gifts to your child, now they can become the lasting legacy of your family. With love, from MOM

Here’s to keeping your face to the sun, even when you might not want to.

Strapped to a Rocket

by Marilynn Halas on June 25th, 2012

Have you ever wished for something? Dreamed about it, longed for it, and prayed for it over and over again? Then the miracle happens. In fact, it’s a more perfect miracle than anything you could have asked for and you can hardly believe your eyes. The perfect babysitter, the most flexible boss, the right college for your child, the feeling is the most wonderful cocktail for excitement and gratitude. Then the dust begins to settle and you realize that no matter how wonderful the miracle, a big change is on its way. They say that change is the only constant and I believe them. So you would think that since we are always in a constant change of growing, developing, we would be good at change. But even so, it can be a little disconcerting. The perfect babysitter may mean that our child is actually disappointed when we get home and the most flexible boss may mean that we will discover that working at home two days a week means we actually get more interruptions and things end up taking longer than they would have and the perfect college for our child is everything we would hope for them even though we will miss them and would choose to keep their bedroom door for a while instead of keeping it empty.

Even the smallest change is something new and no matter how badly we may hope for it, when it finally arrives it can still be a little scary. For our kids, change is even more common than it is for us. New friends, new activities and ever-higher expectations as they grow up. At its best the family team is there to reassure them and help them grow. But when the change is for the parent, that support isn’t always as readily available. Friends and family are likely to be happy for us, but just as likely to be confused at anything less at unbridled enthusiasm for what we wish for. Not to mention the fact that many of us grown-ups like to keep the worries to ourselves and stay upbeat even when our hearts our pounding and our knees are a little weak.

So this is where the great skill of self-parenting, even self-soothing comes in. When babies are trying to sleep new moms and dads are often told that self-soothing is a learned skill that everyone must develop. The ability to comfort and reassure ourselves. It’s a great help when a baby learns that it’s okay to fall asleep when they are tired and they can roll over and get some rest without the whole house being in an uproar. The same thing is true for us grown-ups. Anxiety and frustration and all around stress are not only common parts of being a parent, they are normal. Just when you have things under control, things change. Just when the baby starts to sleep through the night, they begin teething. Just when your preschooler starts to relax at drop-off, it’s time for kindergarten. Just when your high-schooler becomes a responsible and independent person , it’s time for college and all of the unknowns that go with leaving home for the first time. That’s why they call them growing pains most of the time. Most of the time growth is a slow process, perceptible only over the passage of time. But some growth is rapid.

Sometimes change is quick, even unexpected like a rocket launched and those strapped inside can only hold on, grit their teeth and know that they are on their way to the most wonderful adventure with a whole new perspective. So whether you’re at the stage where there is leisurely predictable development like a seed beginning to sprout and grow or whether you’re strapped to a rocket that is blazing a trail up to the stars like a thundering fireball, take a deep breath, hold on tight and know that you are right where you are supposed to be. Making the journey from this moment to the next. I think grown-ups get moments like these to better understand what it’s like to be a child. Parents and kids are always adjusting to change and by giving ourselves permission to experience the moment, we have the opportunity to model for our children the best way to deal with the unknown. Because even if it is exactly what we wished for the unknown is still a little scary. I guess that’s why I really like sunflowers. When they begin to sprout, it is like they already know that there will be times that the sun is hard to find and so they have adapted by learning to turn their face towards the sun.

So here’s to keeping our faces to the sun, whether we’re tending the garden or hurtling through space.


Well Done

by Marilynn Halas on June 18th, 2012

Anyone who has been a parent for even a few minutes knows that it can be a very humbling experience. For me, one of my most humbling moments happened a few years ago. I consider myself a good cook. I am by no means a chef, but no one leaves the table hungry and I am happy to report that I get more than my share of good reviews. Still, that doesn’t mean I have not been humbled.

I learned to cook with my mother. She was amazing. She could make anything and the best lesson she ever taught me was simply to try. She used to say that no recipe couldn’t be fixed, no matter what went wrong. I remember being so sad when a cake didn’t rise and she just smiled and said it would be perfect for trifle instead. As long as you weren’t intimidated, you could make just about anything.

Following her advice, I expanded my repertoire from Irish cooking to Italian, then French and Asian. I was delighted that I had such a great variety of menus and that my children could grow up with such cosmopolitan palettes. I even included a growing number of vegetarian dishes because I was settling into the realization that one of my children was a vegetarian.

No matter how wonderful the Sunday roast, my daughter was not interested. She ate a wide variety of everything else, but she wanted no part of beef. Other meat was tolerated, but hardly enjoyed with the gusto she reserved for pasta and vegetables. I was so delusional, I even congratulated myself for finding creative ways to get her protein. Then came the day that I was humbled.

I was out one afternoon and arrived home to the most wonderful sight. My husband had made a spectacular dinner and our kids were ravenous. As I sat down I realized that even the family vegetarian was devouring the roast beef! I was shocked, but I tried not to show it. Then I was shocked for a different reason.

As someone who spent a fair amount of time in Ireland, I had a healthy respect for the traditional roast. The tradition was to make sure it was well done. Whether that came about in the years before refrigeration or whether we have a genetic disposition to like it that way, meat in my family was prepared until it was cooked through.

So, there I was, awash in a sea of confusion. My child was never a vegetarian. She was busy getting seconds of medium roast beef and babbling on about how it was the best thing she ever tasted. She had never been a vegetarian,
she just didn’t like well done beef. Truth be told, most of my family doesn’t. How embarrassing. The poor kid was misunderstood for years.

I learned three great things that night. My daughter loves roast beef, my husband discovered just how she likes it and even when you think you know something for sure, it is always good to keep an open mind. Who knows? You just might learn something. We spend so much time guiding our children, how wonderful it is when we get to discover who they already are.

In the meantime, I hope you keep your face to the sun, so all the shadows and embarrassing moments will fall behind.


The End Of An Internship – The Beginning Of A Friendship

by Marilynn Halas on May 29th, 2012

A blog from our Liz Lezama.

This is the hardest blog I’ve ever had to write. Not because the experience was bad, in contrary, because it was too good.

I have been a part of 4 Sunflowers Media for about seven months now. It doesn’t feel that long; actually it feels like I just began working with the company. It’s scary how fast time moves, especially when you enjoy what you’re doing.

My time with 4 Sunflowers Media, although it felt short, was very rewarding. I joined 4 Sunflowers Media with a few expectations, mostly that I would be able to do some sort of writing and editing. The experience I received surpassed my expectations by far. I’ve written blogs, my own children’s story and various other publishing related documents. I got to read pre-published material and assist in editing various things. I also got to see the behind the scenes of an emerging publishing company. I will cherish these experiences for the rest of my life.

As 4 Sunflowers Media has grown from its beginning stages and the establishment of its name to the launch of its first children’s book, I have grown as well. The knowledge I have acquired as well as the friendships I have formed will never be matched by any other experience.

I was confronted with tasks I never thought I would be able to complete, especially the personal challenge of completing my first screenplay. My writing skills have improved tremendously since working with 4 Sunflowers Media and I have gained skills sets that will help me through many of life’s obstacles.

Now that my internship is technically over, I find that I don’t know what to do with myself. I hope to continue on and be part of the 4 Sunflowers Media family as long as I can but with outside obstacles such as school and work it will be a little more difficult to continue on as I have since October.

One specific thing that 4 Sunflowers Media has helped me realize is that I now know what I want to do for the rest of my life. So, starting in the fall I will be focusing all of attention on school and my prospective graduation next May so that I may reach my dream job as soon as I can.


by Marilynn Halas on May 24th, 2012

4 Sunflowers Media is thrilled to announce its first title, HELLO, WE’RE THE FUZZWIPPERS is now available and I couldn’t be more proud of our team, or more delighted with this inaugural edition. Our Illustrator, Jeremy Provost, is a remarkable artist and we remain grateful to him for his time and for his talent.

David Rust, our advisor, mentor, consultant and resident genius is a true friend to Fuzzwippers everywhere and to our family, especially. His energy and enthusiasm are the sunshine and needed rain that help our sunflowers continue to grow. Add to that, our precious inspirations, my four kids, and it’s easy to see why the 4 Sunflowers garden is such a happy place to be. Lastly, I need to thank our co-founder, my sweet husband, Stephen. He believed these magic sunflower seeds deserved the chance to see the light of day and he has faithfully tended this garden. Without him, there would be no 4 Sunflowers Media.

Fuzzwippers are wonderful little creatures that do more that entertain; Fuzzwippers empower children. Once your child has a Fuzzwipper friend, he or she is never alone again. More than that, your child becomes the ambassador and spokesperson for their own Fuzzwipper.

The message of Fuzzwippers is simple. Fuzzwippers are here to say that You are loved, no matter what. Knowing that helps a child feel comfortable and secure and that is when the real miracle can take place. A child that feels secure can pay it forward and reach out to another child. That is how we can build compassionate communities, one Fuzzwipper friend at a time.
Lots of toys and books entertain, but only Fuzzwippers empower. These imagination engines help our kids navigate the tight spots in this world. By having their little buddy with them, they become the caregiver, first to their Fuzzwipper and then to their community.

Check our online store and order your own Fuzzwipper first edition. Hello, We’re The Fuzzwippers, available now! http://4sunflowersmedia.com/shop.html

Don’t forget to check out our new Fuzzwipper Videos http://4sunflowersmedia.com/grownups.html and free offer http://4sunflowersmedia.com/shop.html.