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5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Mom
5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad
3 Stressless Hacks For Staying Whole for the Holidays

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5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Mom
5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad
3 Stressless Hacks For Staying Whole for the Holidays


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Linda Croyle
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5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Mom

Today is my amazing mother's 88th birthday. She is one of the strongest, most resilient people I know. Her training ground was being the 7th of 9 siblings born during the depression to a man who sold used furniture out of his garage and his homemaker wife. Here are some of life's little gems she passed down to me and my 5 siblings.

1) Laughter is the Best Medicine
My favorite sound on earth is the sound of my mother laughing. It's like medicine that heals me instantly. I have heard it for 55 years and yet each time it feels like a brand new reminder to release the seriousness of any situation and feel fully into life's pleasures. Call her voicemail sometime and you too will be transported by the message she recorded through her laughter.   

2) Roll with the Changes
As an Irish Catholic woman with 6 boundary challenging kids, Mom was confronted with her share of issues to wrestle with. Not obstructed by the Church's dogmatic policies or society's edicts, she forged her own path by following what made sense to her, not blindly adhering to someone else's rules. 

With each child, she softened her views even more so as to be more in line with the situation than the doctrine. She intuitively knew that people's happiness and well-being was far more important than any rule or regulation. 

And while I personally benefited from this humanistic approach when I came out to my parents 20 years ago, she still exhibits this progressive mindset to this day as she talks openly, and from a place of respect and compassion, about topics from transgender issues to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.  

3) Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously

Life is too long to be taken seriously. Mom is always game to try something new and fun, be it a party hat, halloween costume or changing her hair to have a mohawk like her grandson, there is not much she considers off limits (except playing RockBand drums again - she will never repeat that!). 

What better way to fuel her "laughter is the best medicine" philosophy than to laugh at herself! 

4) Be Your Own "Comeback Kid" or How to Become a "Tough Old Broad" Without Really Trying
Mom fell and broke her neck this past September. She was in a neck brace 24/7 for 12 weeks and followed that with 8 weeks of physical therapy. The previous September she fell and broke two ribs and was hospitalized for 2 weeks. Up until 7 years ago, she was the wife of almost 63 years to a wonderful man who lived with Alzheimer's for 12 years, 20 years ago she woke up with sudden blindness in her left eye and 52 to 67 years ago she birthed six kids - this woman is a survivor for sure! 

With each additional obstacle, you wonder how she will recover and each time she rebounds and returns stronger and more resilient than she was before. 

There is a spiritual expression "big projects for big people" meaning that tough challenges only present themselves to people who have the capacity to see them through. If this is true, and I believe it is, than Mom is certainly one of the life's biggest people! 

5) Family is the Most Important Thing

It is Mom's greatest joy to be together with family, immediate and extended, and those dear friends she calls family. 

I vividly and fondly remember when Whalens or Croyles kin would visit us when we were growing up. Whether sitting around the dining room table for hours after dinner, chatting in the kitchen over meal prep or playing cards in our living room - it was the beautiful sound of laughter and connection filling our house that I loved.

She is now the last of her 9 Whalen siblings and when her nieces or nephews call or send holiday cards or updates, she is thrilled to hear their news. "Family is the most important thing" is one of her most often used phrases. It gives her great pleasure to know that the next generation is staying in touch and getting together even when she is not present. I am happy and proud to say that my siblings and cousins not only continue to carry this out, but are keeping it alive for future generations. 

Happy Birthday to my most incredible Mom! I love you and so do SO many others!

5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad
by Linda Croyle March 11, 2015
My father would have been 90 years old today. Robert "Bob" Croyle passed away almost 6 years ago after living with Alzheimer’s for a dozen years. A sweet sadness washes over me as I sit in remembrance of him and the lessons he shared with me and countless others over his 84 years of life as a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, teacher, coach, mentor and friend.
1) Be A Friend To All

Dad (far left) with 3 of his closest friends from 
grade school at their annual Cottage gathering
My father personified the expression “he never met a stranger”. He stayed in the area he grew up in and became a teacher, coach, guidance counselor and vice principal at a local high school for most of his working years, and as result, was fairly well known. And, if he didn’t know you, he would walk right up to you with an outstretched hand, and greet you with a friendly shake and a: “Hi. Bob Croyle!”
Whether my parents were in a store or a restaurant, they invariably knew a quarter of the people present. As kids, we didn’t always appreciate the interruptions, or the length of time it took us to come or go from these places, but I see now how that shaped all six of us to be more outgoing and friendly, and to initiate and cultivate rich and diverse friend and work networks that we might not otherwise have been blessed to have.

2) Be The Kind of Person the Yearbook Gets Dedicated To…Twice (or…Bring Out the Best in Others)
Indian River Central School Yearbook Dedication 1980
As friends and family reflected on my father’s influence on them at his memorial service, they spoke of his very quiet, yet powerful way of steering people toward the best of who they were.
I vividly remember one hot summer night in my teens, when I was pitching in a league championship softball game; I was off my game from thinking too much, and my pitching was getting progressively worse. My father, not one to interject in the moment (though not at all shy about critiquing my performance after the game), walked over to me between innings and calmly and pointedly told me: “This is not who you are. You are so much more than what you are feeling and what you are showing right now. Go back out there and give what you know you are capable of.”
It was a life changing experience for me and not just in that moment, but also for the long term, as it taught me the importance of being a mirror for others when I am in the position to more clearly see their goodness, talent and brilliance than they can see on their own.
 3) Have a Place to Go Where You Feel at Peace

 The family (minus Jeff) posing at the Cottage circa 1970

When I was two years old, my parents bought a small cottage on a bay of Lake Ontario in Upstate NY about 20 minutes from our home. Summers were hot and muggy in our hometown of Watertown NY, and this quieter, cooler, slower paced location, with its fixer-up cabin and weedy yard was my father’s refuge.
We moved down there the day school let out each summer and stayed there till the day before school started each Fall. Along the way, it also became my favorite place in the world. No matter where I have lived in this country, each summer I return to the cottage on Chaumont Bay to feel that slower pace and sense of peace and home I loved so much as a kid who was lucky enough to have grown up there.

4) There’s Nothing Like the Feeling of Having Done It Yourself
Dad helping my brother Marty install a flag pole in his yard.
My father was the original DIYer. Borne out of necessity from growing up in a family with little money, Dad became a jack-of-all-trades. And while not exactly a master at any, he got points for creativity – give him some duct tape and plastic tubing from an old hair dryer and voila, you have a sink drain pipe!
I was lucky enough to be around for many of the on-going maintenance and home improvement projects – laying carpet, painting baseboards, paneling every room in the house (and I mean every room), taking apart broken radios, you name it. As a result, I am not afraid to fix or build anything.
And while this can sometimes backfire – like when you have to call the plumber to undo the fix you have attempted and this extra step costs $75/hour – the rewards have been invaluable. The pride and sense of accomplishment I feel each time I view something I have created myself is beyond measure. I have my father to thank for that.

5) Exhibit Patience, Love, and Joy at Every Turn
Mom and Dad not taking themselves too seriously
When you have six kids and your sole income is a teacher’s salary (in the 60s, 70s and early 80s), you have a choice to make – you can either complain and focus on how hard life can be, or you can choose to see the good, have as much fun as possible, and make the most of your time here on this planet. My parents chose the latter and for that I am forever grateful.
My father sang and cracked jokes my entire life, even in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. He had his favorite sayings: “I’m ready’s brother” and “vah socks du” and favorite songs: “Did Your Mother Come From Ireland“ and "They Didn't Believe Me" that he would repeat over and over again; I think it brought him peace and a sense of something more stable to hold on to as his world seemed to grow smaller and smaller.
And patience is probably the final and most lasting quality I learned from my Dad. As the father I knew slipped further and further away as his condition progressed, I needed to call upon every ounce of patience and compassion I could, to be as present, joyful and loving with him in those final years as he had been to me and all the people he touched in his life along his journey. 

It was this last lesson that I treasure the most. 
Happy Birthday Dad!  

3 Stressless Hacks For Staying Whole for the Holidays

"I can't wait till the agony is over January 2nd!" "Oh, this is my favorite time of the year!" 

While most of us fall somewhere in between these two sentiments, we are now entering into arguably the most hectic and expectation filled six weeks of the year. 

One of the best ways to not only survive, but thrive, during this season is to be intentional with your life - decide how you will spend your precious time and money and with whom, and when and how you'll move your body and what you will fuel it with, among other important considerations. 

Without an intention and a plan, your greatest resource - your attention - is at the whim of external circumstances

Other people's agendas become your agenda, their parties are now your obligations, and their dramas can become your worst nightmare. 

Before any of that has a chance to happen, take a few moments now to get in touch with what you truly wish for the next six weeks. 

If you're intentional with your attention and make conscious choices from there, you will be creating the experience you want this holiday season versus reacting to outside forces. 

Incorporating the following three holiday hacks will absolutely help you move from reactor to creator.

To begin,make some intentional decisions about how you want this season to go, starting with how you want to FEEL - physically, emotionally, energetically and spiritually.

Perhaps you'll decide to have the best holiday season ever, to remain relaxed and loving with family members despite their annoying patterns, and to just taste the high caloric and/or processed foods that will abound this season, rather than consume whole 1000 calorie servings. 

Use my handy worksheet to write it all down, and be sure to include the specific things you'll do to accomplish these. 

For example, if you intend to have the physical energy and stamina to make it through the upcoming marathon of parties, celebrations, and services, then you might add "30 minutes of brisk walking every morning," knowing that building up your physical reserves is known to increase your endurance and resilience. 

If you have taken on the family tradition of spending countless hours making cookies/tamales/holiday dinner and it is not in your heart or budget to do so another year, figure out a way to eliminate or modify the expectation. Perhaps another relative who loves to cook or bake would welcome the opportunity to take it on. 

Now that you have your intention(s) set, print out my 6 week Whole for the Holidays Calendar. Having this time period on one sheet of paper gives you an overarching view of the weeks ahead, especially once you add in your own known commitments, activities, and houseguests (including any planning and prep needed for each). 

Once you've added your items, take the intentions from step 1 and schedule time for the people, spiritual activities, and other actions that best support you in accomplishing these (rest, exercise, rejuvenation, reflection/meditation).

Every day consciously take time for yourself by literally creating some breathing room. 

Ideally begin each day by spending a few extra minutes in bed engaging in deep belly breathing while setting your intention for the day. While still in bed, follow this with gentle stretching to prepare your body for the day ahead as well as to tune in to what it needs. 

Later in the day, it might mean to momentarily excuse yourself from chaotic festivities to step outside to breathe fresh air or gaze at the sky. 

Taking several moments of stillness throughout the day to get in touch with yourself and refocus on your set intentions, will go a long way in making this your best holiday season yet! 

I know these three simple solutions can help you create more of what you've always wanted for during this time; they have for me! 

Please comment below about the holiday hacks you've used to get the most from this time of year. 

And please share this post freely - the more of us who are grounded and centered and coming from love at this time, the better for all of us.


BONUS 4th Hack: Get yourself a B.E.S.T. treatment pronto! :)

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