Our guest today is my friend Peggy Nolan from "Stepmom's Tool Box" blog and Radio Show. She is a frequent contributing writer to The StepMom Magazine.Peggy’s mission is to connect stepmoms to the tips, tools, and advice they need to thrive in their remarried families.
What stands out about Peggy is her passion, energy and love of life. I think she gives new meaning to the idea "living out loud!"
How did you get so good at being a stepmom?
I don’t know if I’m good at being a stepmom but I’m pretty good at being me. I fell into many of the traps most stepmoms fall into – especially trying to be better than I needed to be because I felt like I was under the microscope and everyone was watching me. By everyone, I mean my husband, his ex-wife, and his ex-wife’s family. It was all rather unnerving, but once I realized that no one was really paying that much attention to me, I calmed down. My husband gave me the best advice a stepmom could ask for: “Just be you.” I can do that – being anyone else other than me is too exhausting and too much work.
The Bold Life: This is brilliant and what stand out for me is your authenticity. What you see is what you get. What a fantastic husband you have. Who you are is a bright and shining example of energy and love. He knew if you were anyone but yourself that would be hidden.
Can you describe your remarried life?
The short version: James Joyce once wrote, “The shortest way home is the longest way round…” In 1980 I fell in love with a boy who broke up with me six months later. Twenty five years later we reconnected and I fell upside down crazy in love with him all over again. We were married five months after we met for our first cup of coffee at Denny’s. I brought with me my two daughters, Jessica and Christina, from my first marriage and Richard gifted me with his four children, Richie, Kelly, Katie and Christopher, from his first marriage. Our children are all adults now and starting lives of their own. Richard and I are blessed and grateful that the drama and chaos that surrounds so many stepfamilies did not impact us as much as it could have. I credit our ability to reduce our emotional baggage to a carry-on, to communicate with each other with respect and honesty, and to resolve conflict in a way that brings us together rather than pull us apart.
The Bold Life:This is why you have so much to share with the stepmoms of the world. If both parties carry their past baggage into the new family there’s no room for love to grow and flourish. How wise, wise, wise, Peggy!
Respectful communication, honesty and conflict resolution will cement every relationship. The qualities you demonstrate set your family up for a life time of happiness!
What makes being a stepmom so difficult?
Based on what I hear from other stepmoms I believe we get in our own way trying to “fix” something. Stepmoms step into situations and think they need to fix it – whether it’s the relationship between their husband and their stepkids, their stepkids’ behavior, legal issues, child support issues, or ex-wife issues.
Stepmoms believe they can make things better; when in fact, they unintentionally make things worse.
Stepmoms take on responsibilities that are not theirs – they fill in the gaps and try to make up for lax or permissive parenting. After taking on responsibilities that clearly belong to either their husband or the ex-wife, they become angry and resentful.
It’s a vicious cycle because many stepmoms will tell me, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” Stepmoms create their own out-of-control merry-go-round and I offer alternative suggestions on how to jump off and do things differently.
Do you realize Peggy the peace you teach these stepmoms not only creates peaceful family relationships but ripples out and adds to peace in our world. That’s pretty amazingly awesome;)
Another thing that makes being a stepmom difficult is the complexity of stepfamily living.
Last night I interviewed Ron L. Deal, co-author of “The Remarriage Checkup” and Ron states that “complexity equals stress and stress thickens the bloodline.”
What this means is that a dad will often side with his kids, leaving the stepmom feeling more like an outsider. Ron also gave a sobering statistic: The stress level of the first two years in a remarriage with children equals the stress level of the average person during the first two years post divorce. That’s a lot of stress!
The Bold Life: Peggy, again this is exactly why I want to help get word out about what you have to offer. If stepmoms make use of the tools you offer we can change that stress statistic! That would of course reduce divorce statistics as well! This is good stuff!
What are your top tips for Stepmoms?
I originally wrote these tips for the April issue of StepMom Magazine – You can read the full article on my blog http://thestepmomstoolbox.com/ten-tips-from-the-toolbox/
Believe in Yourself
Believe in Your Husband
or Significant Other
Keep a Journal
Move Every Day!
Meditate or Pray Every Day
Give and Receive Hugs
Kiss Your Husband or Significant
Other for at Least Thirty Seconds Every Day
Become a Resourceful Stepmom
The Bold Life: Believing in your husband or Significant Other stands out for me. Because of the relationship he has with his ex I’m sure it’s easy for a stepmom to feel insecure and needy. Those feelings bay. One then becomes their own worst enemy.
You're always on the move. I can't keep up with everything you have going on…two blogs, a radio show, writing. What motivates and inspires you?
I am slowing down a bit – pruning some of my do-ings and activities. When I can’t keep up with me, I know it’s time to press pause and take a look at where my energy is going. With my husband and son-in-law deploying for a year in September, bringing my energy back to center is my top priority right now.
But back to your question! I am motivated by a burning desire to make a difference and to have a positive impact on the lives of other people. The best way I can help others is through my writing and by teaching yoga. My radio show is a mouth piece for my writing and the expertise of other published authors and experts.
I get inspiration from so many different sources. It can be from something I read; a good quote; the way dirt smells right before it rains; watching my garden grow; the way my grand-daughter giggles; my dog, Edgar, and the way he’s always in the moment; people like you, Wilma Ham, Joy Holland, SuZen, Megan Bord, Jodi Sloane, (and others!) Above all else, my husband is a huge source of inspiration and support. Not to sound cliché, but he is the wind beneath my wings.
The Bold Life: Peggy you are making a difference, a big difference. You add peace, joy and love to the world through the work you do.
It will continue on with future generations because stepmoms have the opportunity to change and grow through your energy, work and passion! All stepchildren are lifted by your work as well…like I said future generations are blessed in advance.
Yes our blogging friends are great aren’t they. I had no idea I’d be blessed like this when I began blogging. I love that your husband is the wind beneath your wings. He had me at the “Be You” advice!
Tell us about your new blog?
My new blog,"Infinite Yoga and Reiki" is a collaborative effort between me and my workshop training partner, Teresa Thompson. I’m the Yoga and she’s the Reiki J It’s our vehicle to help promote our workshops and to bring awareness to what yoga and reiki are and how they both bring wholeness to mind, body and spirit.
The blog itself is still under construction but we will have a regular posting schedule once or twice a week and we’ll share our favorite resources that are aligned with our vision to expand possibilities and live authentically.
The Bold Life: Congratulations on your new work and please let me know if I can do anything to help. Again that energy amazes me; )
Tell us something about you we don't know.
I really, really like Zombie books – seriously – I do! I just finished “World War Z” by Max Brooks and I LOVED it! “Breathers ~ A Zombie’s Lament” by S.G. Browne is also very good (and funny!) and I understand it’s in development as a movie for 2011!
The Bold Life: I’m not familiar with the Zomie Books. Leave it to you to be two steps ahead of me!
What do you do for fun?
I love to travel and see new places. Last month I was in Utah and visited Zion National Park, The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Snow Canyon, Dinosaur Park, and a few other places near St. George. Later this year I plan to visit my oldest daughter in southern Spain.
Besides traveling, I love to hike, practice and teach yoga, read, write, crochet, and three times a week you’ll find me in the dojo practicing Thai Kickboxing and finishing my class requirements for my first degree black belt!
The Bold Life: You’re a shining example of creating a life filled with fun and adventure. I think we could get you another blog called, “Catch the Spirit!”
What’s Your Favorite Quote?
“If you are unwilling to impose your terms upon life, then you must be willing to accept what life offers you.” ~ TS Elliot “The Confidential Clerk”
I’ve been imposing my terms upon life since December 2002!
The Bold Life: Like you Peggy the quote is very inspiring.
Thank you Tess! Your blog and your book have made a difference in my life! I am so honored to be here today!!
The Bold Life: Peggy you’re welcome anytime you want to visit or be a guest! Shine On!
About Peggy Nolan: Peggy is the mother of two adult children, the stepmother of four adult children and the grandmother of one. Peggy is the creator of The Stepmom’s Toolbox Blog and Radio Show where she dishes tips, tools and advice for stepmoms and remarried families.
Peggy shares her passion for expanding the possible through her yoga workshops. For details on her upcoming workshop in August, visit Infinite Reiki and Yoga. Peggy lives in Derry, NH with her husband, Richard and
Ed, The Wonder Dog.