Waking the Walker

A mother's quest to survive her son's "zombie" years – aka his teens.

Tag: Motivation

An Attitude of Gratitude

After the insanity of the past couple months at work, which lead me to feeling as though I had lost my way, I had one day early this month where I was actually caught up, at least for a few hours.

Something I haven’t experienced in months.

I knew this moment would not last long; so I took advantage of it and allowed myself time to breathe. During that time I meditated on the fact that despite the frenetic days we can all experience at my office, everyone generally stays in an upbeat mood.


Are there moments of bitching and complaining? Sure, we are human after all. We have our limits.

Overall though, there is an attitude of gratitude. My co-workers are grateful to have a job, and have the opportunity to do overtime to help make ends meet. Not every company would be so generous.

It made me realize that although in general I too am upbeat, over the course of the past couple months, I have had some days that I resented having to do overtime.

Not because I mind doing it. Honestly I don’t mind an extra hour every day, or a day here and there when I might need more than that to get almost caught up.

What I resent is that I now need to do it in order to make ends meet. I don’t have an option.

You see, my Son had received Social Security benefits because his father passed when he was three. This additional monthly income allowed me to make ends meet and not have to do overtime all the time in order to do so.

BUT, when my Son graduated from high school that money was cut off. Personally I feel that makes no sense. Wouldn’t that money come in handy when sending your child to college? Of course it would.

Obviously Social Security doesn’t think that way, but I won’t get into that now.

Leading up to the date this money was to be cut off I was having anxiety attacks about how to replace this money. Did I need to take on a part time job? Or, would there be enough work at work to warrant consistent overtime?


My answer came as things began to get busier than normal in late Spring, and explode through the Summer and Fall. Just at the time I needed it.

Will things stay this way? I don’t know for sure, but for now I am able to fill the financial void that caused me great anxiety, which is a good thing.

And, over the course of the past couple months I have adjusted to a longer workday. It has become my new norm.

In addition, should I need to supplement with a part-time job if the OT ends up not being consistent, I will be mentally and emotionally prepared.

So, although I may not be thrilled that working more than 40 hours a week is my new way of life, I am grateful that the opportunity is there.

I am also grateful that I didn’t have to do this while my Son was still at home. There are many families out there that can’t say the same.

While pondering all this, I have realized though that you can’t just say you are grateful, you have to live life with a grateful heart. It has to be at your core, all the time.


I have also discovered this is most definitely easier said than done. All it takes is one overly stressful day to push any form of gratitude back into resentment.

It is with all of this in mind, that I am working on not just consistently having an attitude of gratitude, but living every day with a grateful heart. And this applies to all aspects of my life, not just my work situation.

My hope is that in so doing, I will be putting positive energy out into the universe, which in turn will bring positive energy back to me. Thus creating a circle of positivity, which can only open doors to a better way of living.

I do realize this may seem like a Pollyanna concept, but what better time of year to come to this realization and decide to make a conscious effort to change my way of thinking.

The holidays are upon us and a New Year is beckoning.

A new year in which I have vowed to introduce my new blog “Waking the Woman – a Mother’s quest to rediscover herself after her Son leaves for college.”

AND, part of my rediscovery will most definitely involve working on living with a grateful heart.

Everlasting Love

As we head into one of the busiest times of the year, I’m quite sure my efforts will be tested on multiple levels, so check back next month for an update on my progress.



© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2018. All rights reserved.


At a Crossroads Without a Compass

In 1995, at the age of 34, I walked out of a dead-end marriage. I was beyond stressed, not just about my marriage, but work too.

Anyone who has ever worked in advertising or marketing can relate to the ridiculous levels of stress one can experience in this world. In the beginning it was exciting, but one can only take all that BS for so long, and I had been at for 15 years.

I felt trapped at work and home. I felt like there was no way out.

Dead End Sign Maze No Way Out Danger Warning 3d Illustration

It was a co-worker who encouraged me to just set a date, and leave my husband. At first I thought the idea was nuts.

How do you just do that?

The worse things got though, the more it made sense. 

I knew I could only tackle one life-sucking situation at a time. Leaving my husband was a lot easier than figuring out what to do about my job, especially because the stress of the two made me brain-dead.

Read the rest of this entry »

Never Give In and Never Give Up

As my Son once again became Mr. Pessimist about the future of his English grade this marking period due to a bad quiz grade, I once again wondered how the Son of an optimistic Mother could become so negative. How quickly he turns to “the world is coming to an end” and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. He is willing to pack it in at the first sign of trouble.

11008299 - the four horsemen of the apocalypse in the sky.

Not sure what kind of help he’d be in a real apocalypse.

If this was the only area I saw the defeatist attitude, I could equate it to the fact that in general, schoolwork has come fairly easy to him over the years. So when he gets a not so great grade, whether it be because he didn’t study enough, misunderstood direction or just plain hit a wall, he gets angry with himself because he prides himself on getting good grades.

Academic success is a priority to him, so one would think that this would be the best motivator ever, instead of taking on a defeatist attitude.

The truth is, he reacts this way to just about everything. Something wonky is going on with his computer, his reaction, it’s broken, it can’t be fixed; I need a new computer. When I feel he may be gaming too much and it’s interfering with not just schoolwork, but home chores, he instantly goes to, “Fine, just get rid of everything. I’ll just sit and stare at the walls.” Or, if something is lost, obviously in the house, he freaks and says it’s gone for good.

22066918 - sad man, head on knees, vector illustration

There is no mid-way, he goes from life is fine, to it’s an apocalypse in a matter of seconds. I have to first calm him down; then, back him off of the cliff, in order for him to see the situation is not as grave as he sees it. Once I get him here, he usually resolves the issue, sometimes rather quickly, and the apocalypse is averted. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking Bad Habits

With a new year upon us, I have renewed energy and good intentions to change the things I know aren’t working or need tweaking in my household, thus creating a healthier environment for my Son and I. We all have bad habits. We are human after all and therefore not perfect. The issue though is whether we recognize them and realize they need to be broken.

As I have written about in the past, I can trigger rather quickly when frustration sets in and the bulk of my frustration comes from my Son’s lack of action. As the frustration builds so does my temper. With temper comes yelling, and some choice words, both of which I am not proud of.

39279427 - angry woman

I know I can’t change my Son.

All change has to come from within. One has to want to change; otherwise all efforts will be half-hearted and set you up to fail.

So the key here is for me to find a way to prevent frustration from setting in or find a way to redirect my frustration and defuse the temper before it triggers. I know this is easier said than done, because if it were I would have mastered it already.

My Son does not see or understand my frustration. He believes I am a nag.

The dictionary defines nag as: to find fault incessantly; to be a persistent source of annoyance or distraction; and to irritate by constant scolding or urging.

55880365 - illustration of a teenage boy covering his ears with his fingers

Considering the fact that my Son sees my questions or suggestions as me finding fault or badgering, not as helpful, by definition, in his mind I fit the bill.

Over the years I have stepped back from checking on my Son too much, particularly about schoolwork. I know he has to learn how to manage his time and workload on his own.

But, when his poor planning or work habits interfere with say our dinnertime, frustration sets in. Or things he used to do without any reminding, like practicing his trombone, or taking the garbage out, become a constant reminder, frustration sets in. Especially when he can still find time to game or watch an endless stream of useless videos on YouTube, which on some occasions is what he’s doing when he shows up late for dinner.


Now I’m not begrudging the need for my Son to take a break, but when the break lasts longer than the time spent doing homework, chores or college preparatory projects, frustration sets in. Read the rest of this entry »



Much like walkers, teenagers can meander aimlessly, not in search of fresh flesh, but with their noses buried into an electronic devise and no destination in mind, unless they’re playing Pokemon Go. In addition they spend much of their free time hauled up in the dark cocoon of their room, staring into the blue glow of their computer monitor, but, unlike walkers who would be motivated by any loud noise, it takes more than that to get a teenager to leave their “cave” even when food is involved.

As a matter of fact, if their headphone wearing teens, like mine, they are even more insulated from noise, making the motivation factor an even bigger challenge. Not even the smell of food can lure them from the security of their virtual world. To be honest, I think walkers are more motivated than most teenagers, or at least my teenager.


Motivating my walker to do anything outside of what is absolutely necessary is a major challenge. Some days even that can be extremely frustrating.

Although, my Son was determined to get exempt from final exams this past school year, which meant getting straight A’s for final grades, which he did achieve. He had a goal and was motivated to follow through. I was glowing. I felt like we were actually turning a corner.

The problem was, once accomplished, he shut down. Some shut down over the Summer can be expected, but my Son was all about getting a Summer job so he could earn money for some games he preordered which are due out in November. I figured this alone would be enough of a catalyst.

Boy was I wrong.

He thought he had a Summer job all lined up at the Daycare he volunteers at, unfortunately when we approached them about it we were told they didn’t have the money in the budget. Of course, he could still volunteer. Why pay for labor when you can get it for free.

He is volunteering one day a week, but has decided he will not continue during the school year. Can’t blame him for that. He’s been helping out there for 4 years. He knows more than some of the people who were hired after he started volunteering. He should have been hired even if just one day a week.

SO, now he had to go back to square one and it was already June. Needless to say he dilly-dallied and till he even put one application in it was the middle of July. Who wants to hire you for a couple weeks?

Zoned Out Teen

The last thing I wanted was my already zoned out walker having too much free time on his hands over the Summer. I had previously told my Son there are plenty of things to do around the house that I could pay him, outside of his standard chores, but he wasn’t very receptive, so, I decided to create an application for a House Project Assistant. He seemed to like this and completed the application at which time we discussed the projects.

One of the biggest projects was shredding old documents. I have boxes of files to shred and just never seem to have the time. The position would pay $10 per box. Easy money, right? If he did all the boxes he would have almost all the money he needed. I thought for sure this time I had found the answer to motivate my walker.

The first Saturday after completing the application he came home from his second volunteer job at the library and went right to shredding, completing one box. I was thrilled. I figured the combination of convenience of work and desire for game related funds had done the trick to get my walker moving.

47474938 - illustration of a cartoon man with shredder

We are now in August and he has not done any more shredding. He did purge his clothing which was a project avoided by both of us for a while, so I was grateful he got that done.

With Band Camp the last two weeks of August and football/marching season starting August 26th, I highly doubt I’ll see much more work out of my House Project Assistant and I’m concerned that a Summer with very little structure and self-discipline will spell disaster come his Junior Year in High School, which we all know is the year that counts the most when it comes to college.

My Son swears it will not. I hope he is right.

It’s not like he hasn’t done anything all Summer though. Besides his 2 volunteer jobs, he also had to get college and career research done and auditioned for Jazz Band and Section Leader in Band, which entailed more practice and essay writing. In addition, he did a one-week video game design camp, which turned out to be a worthy investment for his future.

Yes, I can actually say something video game related was good in reference to my Son.

As I have mentioned in the past, my son is a big gamer, and although that is not my thing, I am well aware of its relevance in the entertainment world.

Video games were not even a thing of the future when I was kid, but now there are many making a lucrative living as game creators and coders. It is for this reason that I had to finally acknowledge that it was a valid career to pursue, which made my Son very happy.

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We have already begun college visits and all of them have been to schools that offer game design as an arm of the computer science program. I find this all very exciting, but my Son seems far from exhilarated about any of it. I don’t know if it’s because the reality of moving into that phase of his life is frightening or if he just isn’t that enthusiastic.

It is for this reason that I’m concerned my very creative child who has been coming up with game ideas since he was 7 years old will end up being nothing more than a tester of someone else’s games because he’s just not that motivated. He’s got the talent and brain to be the next great game creator, but he just doesn’t seem to have the drive and I have no idea how to change that. When he’s playing he’s very enthusiastic, but when it comes to reviewing and comparing schools and what they offer he does as little as possible.


Knowing my Son, I suspect fear of being a “grown up,” so to speak, is at the root of his ambivalence. Since he showed promising signs of maturity during his Sophomore Year, I hope and pray by the time he gets through his Junior Year he will have risen to a new level in the maturity department.

If he does not, Community College may be his best option. I do not want to put out a large chunk of change for a big dog school if my Son isn’t going to do his part. Fortunately for him, the local Community College does offer Video Game Design/Programing so, it’s not like he’d be giving up on his dream, he’d just be taking the longer root to achieving it and hopefully “growing up” through the process.

So, although my Son may be “dragging his feet” in the drive to achieve department, he does still at his core have the goal to fulfill his dream of becoming a Video Game Designer/Programmer, and it is this fact that allows me to keep the faith that his enthusiasm and motivation level will shift into at least the “rabid walker” mode sometime through his Junior.


© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2016. All rights reserved.

Photos courtesy of AMC

Paper Shredder – Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_brux’>brux / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Want Ad – Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_tashatuvango’>tashatuvango / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Gamer – Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_iconicbestiary’>iconicbestiary / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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