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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.

Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

  • Lisa Lou

Listening Effectively

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

Do you find your spouse often saying, “Are you listening to me?” Maybe you feel your child is not being an active part of the dinner conversation. You keep having to pull them back into the conversation. If this resonates with you, it might be time to brush up on the finer points of being a good listener, while teaching your family to do the same. Below are 11 tips to help you get back on track so you can start enjoying deeper and more meaningful communication with those you love.

1. Whether at a party or in a business meeting, a good listener will always make eye contact with the person they are speaking with. Put yourself to the test. After you walk away, can you remember the color of their eyes?

2. A respectful listener will not look around the room, or over the shoulder, of the person they are conversing with. This sends the message you are not interested in what is being said. Give the speaker your full attention and do not be distracted by your surroundings. After the speaker has finished, you may politely extricate yourself from the conversation. (link: how to exit a conversation)

3. An active listener will mirror back what the speaker is saying.

Speaker: “I just returned from New Zealand.”

Active listener: “You just returned from New Zealand?!? How fabulous! Where did you go during your trip?”

4. An active listener will ask questions, when clarification is needed, but they will not steer the conversation a different direction.

Good Example:

Speaker: “We just returned from our church’s trip to Israel, and it was truly life changing.”

Active Listener: “I have often heard that from friends who traveled there. Can you point to anything specific that made you feel this way?

Bad Example:

Speaker: “We just returned from our church’s trip to Israel, and it was truly life changing.”

Selfish Listener: “You went on the trip with the church? I heard Nancy and her husband were on the trip. Her daughter was supposed to go with them but could not since she is expecting her first baby. I do not think she is pleased with her doctor. Did you hear that medical facility is closing down?”

See what just happened? In the first example, the active listener showed interest in the speaker by seeking more information about the trip and keeping the focus on them. In the second example, the selfish listener diverted the conversation to what SHE wanted to talk about, instead of being a good, active listener and staying engaged in the subject the speaker brought up. If you find yourself guilty of this, quickly get back on point so the speaker does not view you as uninterested or selfish.

5. When someone is telling a story, do not interrupt to complete their sentence. I recently attended a party where I attempted to tell a story 3 different times, only to be interrupted at every turn. The person in our group was not intentionally being rude, but they were in a state of excitement and could not calm down enough to be a good, active listener. It was exhausting trying to speak. I finally stopped trying and moved on to another group. An active listener practices patience by focusing on the speaker’s words.

6. Do not just listen to the words. Listen to the tone of the speaker. Our physical body and our words do not always speak the same language. Concentrate on the person’s heart, not just their words, and determine what the speaker is really trying to convey. If someone is upset, their words will come out as complaints, but deep down they are trying to express they are hurting.

7. Let the speaker know you are listening AND interested. Give little tidbits of feedback throughout the conversation. “That must have been very exciting!” Or even a simple, “Oh, wow!” will suffice.

8. When listening to others, NEVER check your phone. Even if it is to look down quickly to see who sent you that text. Don’t do it! By taking your eyes away from the conversation, you have allowed someone else (the person on the other end of the phone) to interrupt your conversation. If a live person interrupted the conversation you were having you would not allow this, because it is rude. Think of your phone as a person because guess what? It is! Just in digital format. (link to good cell phone manners)

9. If you are in the middle of a project and your spouse comes into the room and begins talking, put down what you are doing, make eye contact, and give them your attention. If you cannot take a long break at that moment say, “I want to focus on what you are saying. Give me two more minutes to finish this task, and then I can give you my full attention.”

10. Body language is important if you are to be an active listener. Good posture, whether standing or sitting, will tell the speaker if you are interested or bored. When someone is speaking, lean forward and show you are physically engaged. Stay within 18”-24” of the person you are speaking with. Any further back and your body language will be screaming, “I’m trying to leave this conversation!”

11. Repeat back to the speaker what you heard them say. This becomes more important when you are engaged in talks that are not just social in nature. In a marriage, you might say, “Let me make sure I understood what you are asking me to do.” This is good active listening, and it greatly improves communication. It is amazing how often two people really do hear things differently. By clarifying the comments, you can save yourself a lot of problems later.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou