New On The Blog

With Father’s Day coming soon, you and your family will be celebrating one of the most important men in your life- Dad. As a child, he was your hero, your protector, and your solid rock. Now that you are older, you admire him for all that he has done for you and you still look to him for advice and wisdom. Picking out the perfect gift for Dad is not easy!

School is almost out for summer! Many of us want to gift our child’s teacher something special at the end of the year for all the love, kindness, and patience they have poured out on our little ones. Being a teacher is not easy, and they are so deserving of our gratitude especially after this wild 20/21 school year! Some common go-to gifts you might have thought of are bath and body products, Starbucks gift cards and mugs, but below are some additional gift ideas your child’s teacher will be touched to receive:

School is almost out for summer! Many of us want to gift our child’s teacher something special at the end of the year for all the love, kindness, and patience they have poured out on our little ones. Being a teacher is not easy, and they are so deserving of our gratitude especially after this wild 20/21 school year! Some common go-to gifts you might have thought of are bath and body products, Starbucks gift cards and mugs, but below are some additional gift ideas your child’s teacher will be touched to receive:

Graduation is a pivotal point in a young person’s life. It is the beginning of a season of responsibility, coming of age, and independence. As these twenty-somethings are about to discover the meaning of “adulting,” here are some gift ideas that will no doubt be a blessing in your college grad’s new life.

If some of you are thinking, “I believe I have read this letter before,” you would be correct. Our son and daughter (in law) had a beautiful wedding ceremony planned for April of 2020. As with thousands around the country, they had to postpone the big event, but chose to hold a private covenant ceremony in our backyard. Well, we are finally celebrating their wedding vows, and it was on my heart to re-post the letter I wrote to my son last year. Some things have changed (he is now 25, not 24 as the letter states), but I hope you enjoy!

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching! As a busy mom, Mother’s Day can sneak up on you with the chaos of end of the year school activities, home projects, and travel plans. Moms have a heart of gold and do not have expectations of presents, but we still love the gesture of gifting to make the day special and show our appreciation for everything she does for the family.

“We read a lot of articles and books about how to get through the engagement process, but no one ever talked to us about what it would be like the first year of our marriage. I wish we had known what to expect,” said one of the couples my husband and I mentor. This is a common comment, and if you find yourself having similar feelings, do not fret! You are not alone. The first year of marriage is fabulous, but it can also be difficult. Two people learning to become one does not happen overnight.

We all like to think we have good manners in marriage, but with the people that are closest to us, we can sometimes find ourselves slipping a bit. As stated by Cindy Grosso of the Charleston School of Protocol, manners are not about a bunch of rules. Manners are the outward manifestation of the condition of our heart. If we have a heart that loves, honors, respects, and cherishes our spouse, then these traits will show in how we behave.

Society is opening and people are resuming long overdue vacations. This is great news! I recently posted some tips on making your travels successful, but let’s focus on dos and don’ts of traveling with friends.


1. Boundaries: When traveling with others, set guidelines, boundaries, and expectations before leaving town. If you know you and your husband want one night to yourselves, express this up front. If a quiet breakfast in bed is necessary to start your day, see if this fits with the group’s schedule. 

The world is opening, and it is time to celebrate! One of the first things people are doing as they exercise their recaptured freedom is heading out of town to new destinations. I thought a few refresher tips on travel might be good for all of us.

Walking into the room, my husband pauses in front of the TV. Turning to me with a spoiler alert about my favorite Hallmark movie he says, “Hey Lisa…they get married.” And you know what? He’s right! The girl found her prince charming, and the couple has a happy ending, every time.

How many mornings have we left home in a state of utter chaos? Breakfast was late, children were crying, and we hurriedly throw on clothes from the night before only to realize how wrinkled we look. This mad dash makes for an unpleasant parting from our family and it is usually caused by a disorganized approach to our routine. So much of the bedlam we experience at the beginning of the day can be avoided if we are willing to implement a few tasks the night before.

The mamor (mother-in-law) and damor (daughter-in-law) relationship is meant to be beautiful and strong. In parts 1 and 2 of our series we learned why women in these roles might have certain feelings in their new family dynamics. Once we learned the “why” we then explored practical steps we can take to strengthen these special bonds. As we bring our series to a close, I want to impart some words of wisdom we all need to hear, and be reminded of, to ensure we create a healthy, life-long bond between the mamor/damor.

In part one of our series on the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship we learned why the women who find themselves in these roles often experience emotions ranging from pure joy to hurt and sadness. Once we discovered the answers, our understanding of this special relationship came into focus. We had an “aha” moment which makes our path forward easier to navigate.

  • Lisa Lou

How to Depict Someone’s Success

Updated: Jan 22

How can you tell if someone will be successful? When I was in high school, they still had a category for a graduating senior titled: Voted Most Likely to Succeed. How, at 18-years-old, could classmates look at someone and say, “Yeah, I think they will be the most successful person in our graduating class.”

It is not hard to separate those that will be successful from those that will not. There can be many factors, but one stands out. Donald Miller from StoryBrand says, “How do you depict someone’s success? Ask yourself, where are they getting their dopamine hit? Social media, walks, eating, cigarettes? Big spikes in dopamine make you want to repeat the action that is giving you the hit. If you get a little dopamine boost with a walk in the woods, but a big dopamine hit when you are on Instagram, where do you think you will spend your time?”

What is dopamine? It is the feel-good neurotransmitter in our brain. A chemical that sends information back and forth between neurons. Dopamine is released in our body when we eat food that we crave or participate in an activity that we love. Dopamine provides satisfaction and the feeling of pleasure. Our body uses it as a reward system.

When our dachshund, Louie (short for Lieutenant), was a puppy, he struggled with potty training. All other areas of obedience went great. He came to us immediately when we said “here.” He sat on command (actually, he lays flat on his long stomach, but he obeys). The last piece of the puzzle was getting #1 and #2 under control. So, we began excessively praising him. When Louie walked to the grass and did the doo you should have seen my husband and me. We would jump up and down, calling his name, praising Louie, giving him back rubs. Louie’s tail would wag a mile a minute. He was so excited! Do you think our four-legged furball received a dopamine hit from all our praise? Will this make him want to continue repeating the action that led to that good feeling? Yes! This is how dopamine works. The more you reward yourself with dopamine hits, the more you will go back to the activity that gave you that chemical rush, and eventually, that activity will become a habit. Or, in some cases, an addiction.

Dopamine can reinforce negative habits, too. If someone gets high on a drug, they receive a dopamine hit. It feels good, so their brain now says, “I want another.” They will be tempted to do it again. The problem is, they will eventually become numb to that level of dopamine, and their brain will say, “I need more.” This is what usually causes a drug addict to start with a less dangerous drug but end up as a crack addict. Their body says, “It’s not enough. I need more. I need stronger.” And soon, the drug has become an addiction.

This same thing happens with food. For many of us, when we eat chocolate, we get a dopamine hit. Our brain asks for more. “Unfortunately, the more you provoke dopamine with food or drugs, your body will become desensitized and need more.”-Food Coach. No longer will one piece of chocolate be enough. Now you need two. It is the same reason it is difficult to eat just one chip. Our body says we need the entire bag. “We need more stimuli for the same high. More chocolate, more ice cream, and more bread.” -Blog from Food Coach/New York/Los Angeles.

Addictions can happen in many areas of our life. When these activities that cause the addictions are ones that are acceptable to society, we find ourselves on a slippery slope. Thirty minutes on social media? No one faults you for that because everyone does it. It feels good to click on the app, and we get a dopamine rush when we see how many people “liked” our post. But soon, 30 minutes is not enough. The dopamine that ran through our body tells our brain, “I want more!” Thirty minutes becomes 45 and soon we have spent an hour doing nothing more than watch how other people live their lives.

How do we break these negative habits? Set boundaries around yourself. This is the reason I rely on my daily calendar (see BUJO blog). I set my schedule for the day each morning. Once I accomplish my tasks only then can I reward myself in whatever way I desire. As Donald Miller says, “Don’t reward yourself for doing no work.” Tell yourself you will only check social media twice a day. During your lunch break and for 30 minutes after work. We all need to set up healthy boundaries to live successful lives. Do we really think millionaires achieved their success by wasting 2-3 hours a day doing fruitless things? Or maybe we think of them as overachievers? What if most of them were normal people like us, but they learned the importance of boundaries. They learned the importance of a daily schedule. It is like the turtle and the hare. If we were betting on the race the odds would be with the fast-moving hare to beat the sluggishly slow turtle. But the hare did not set boundaries, have a schedule, or a plan. The hare ran all over the place and was constantly distracted. The hare stopped to check social media and take a long lunch break. But the turtle? He may not have been as smart or as fast, but he set boundaries, he had a plan, and he was disciplined. In the end, the turtle won. The millionaires among us are not always the smartest or fastest, but they have learned the power of boundaries, structure, and how to get the best use out of their time. They live each day in a way that gets them closer to their life goals.

Ask yourself, what are the negative things in my life that give me a dopamine rush but are keeping me from making successful progress in my life? What harmful activity am I engaging in that is getting in the way of living my life story?

When trying to eliminate food addictions the Food Coach states, “Abstain from your trigger foods for 21 days so you can rebalance your brain chemistry. If this sends fear running through your body, you’re using food as a drug.” This same philosophy applies to all areas of your life. Can you go without IG for 21 days? Can you go without it for one day?? If this makes you hyperventilate, then social media has become a drug. “You’re not a slave to your brain. You’re in control and you can direct it. You do this by breaking the habit and creating a new one.”-Food Coach. Personally, the only way I can break habits and stay focused on positive actions is through the daily boundaries I set around myself. That is why I am such a stickler for a daily schedule that places strong borders around my time.

Let us have Donald Miller answer our original question. How can you depict someone’s success? “Tell me where they get their dopamine hit, and I’ll tell you how successful they will be.”

Together with you,

Lisa Lou