Meryl Runion isn’t going to baby you. If you need a pity party, Moms in School, this ain’t it. But if you need some inspiring words, read on.

Runion is author of the books, “Speak Strong” and “Power Phases.” Thus, she doesn’t mince words. She believes in education (she is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with a degree in Political Science. She also has a Masters in the Science of Creative Intelligence from MERU European Research University). But she also believes in balance, thinking long term and having some respect for yourself.

Here are some of her mantras: “Preparation makes the difference. Get armed and ready to get the respect and recognition you deserve. Resolve to develop and grow.Build support for your plans to take yourself to the next level.”

More about Runion: She started working in government and quickly gravitated toward acquiring and teaching personal development skills. Her commitment to powerful communication was galvanized in 1986 when she was unable to penetrate her late husband’s denial when he developed cancer. After years of being “a woman on a mission” to learn to say things in gracefully powerful ways, she now considered herself to be a “recovered passive.” Meryl’s seven books about character-based communication have sold 350,000 copies worldwide (Power Phrases, Perfect Phrases for Leadership Development, Perfect Phrases for Managers and Supervisors, How to Restore Sanity, and others). She lives in Cascade, Colorado.

Q: How can a mom get the “right” kind of attention from the world? She’s usually taking the back seat on attention.

A: What is the right kind of attention? It’s important to discern what we want because the world says we should have it, and what we want because it’s a piece that will help us fulfill our destiny. Moms often take the back seat on attention because we’ve chosen the role of helping others achieve their goals. That is a very noble role, whether it is recognized or not. There are many highly successful business women who succeed because they play that role in work as well.

There are cycles in life, and motherhood has its own cycles. In many ways, motherhood is a great teacher for business because it teaches us to get beyond our own needs for immediate gratification and forces us to think long term. It’s easier to settle in to the cycles of motherhood if we recognize those cycles and don’t try to live every aspect of the cycle at the same time.

When my son was young, I worked as a massage therapist because it allowed me the flexibility to be with him. When he got his driver’s license, a new cycle began and I was able to travel with my work.

When we’re in more of a back seat part of the cycle, we still need to set boundaries for respect and support, even if we’re not front and center. We need phrases like:

  • I’ll be happy to do that when you ask rather than demand.
  • I need a half hour every evening for reading. What time do you think would work best?
  • I’d be happy to take you to the store if the dishes were done.

That kind of thing. Phrases that say – you matter, I matter, we matter. Let’s learn to balance our needs.

Q: What can a mom who is balancing everything do to activate herself and all of her plans?

A: I refer back to a culture that suggests we can have it all and do it all – at the same time. That often leaves nothing done well. I say think long term. Don’t discount the importance of being a mother, even if society discounts it. Think in terms of how you can make your kids more self-sufficient day by day so you won’t be doing things for them that they should be doing for themselves as they get older. Plant seeds toward your future, but don’t make yourself crazy trying to rush the process. I think of my sister who posts a fabulous blog about her kids twice a week to move her toward her dream of being a writer. When she gets more time, she’ll have a foundation to build from.

Q: Can you give us a “pep talk” about why it is important to value education and make the effort to improve yourself?

A: I’m a life-long learner. My education has been outside of school for decades now, but it’s been very intensive. I don’t think in terms of how to improve myself as much as how to unfold who I am. That is a very satisfying experience. Education gives us options. Learning communication skills, which is one of my main focuses, means we can respond rather than react. The more we know, the more choices we have. Whether it’s formal learning or informal, continuous growth is natural to life and satisfying. It’s a fascinating world out there! Why stop learning about it? It’s great to go for a degree. It’s also great to follow your own interests, whether it leads to a degree or not. You never know where any trail will take you. Your love of gardening could lead to your new career.

Q: What else do you want mothers going back to school for a degree to know or think about?

Don’t try to do it all at once. Don’t compare what you can do to others who don’t have families. Think long term. Raising kids is very important work. Go for the degree – go for mastering the skill that will get you closer to what you want professionally. But balance your aspirations with the privilege of parenting. If it stops being fun, scale back. Enjoy your children, enjoy your own growth and continually integrate the two.

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