Author Sherri Mills

Monday, June 29, 2009

Long Marriages

Want a long marriage? A couple said the secrets to their successful 70 year marriage include remembering a few bits of wisdom:

Everyone has faults: "We decided to put up with each other's faults, rather than find new ones."

Stick it out for the kids: "Divorce is so hard on children, so we never wanted to see ours go through it."

Jobs at home: "We decided to divide up the household chores, from paying bills to maintaining the yard, and we do our jobs in our own way."

We meant it when we said "I do.": She said when she recited her vows--"to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part"--she meant it.

Let the "disagreements" go: Don't hold on to grudges; life is too short.

I cut this piece of genius out of the newspaper and have had it in my wallet for many years. Based on my experience, I believe every word of it.

I would also add, "You can't always be right and have a happy marriage at the same time."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Raising Accountable Kids

My editor told me about a positive parenting plan called Accountable Kids. I was so excited about this idea that I sent for the book and kit for my own daughter who will be melding two families together . I was really wondering how this was going to work out. I can't wait until my material gets here.

I showed my granddaughter the website and she was as excited as I was. She couldn't wait to be in charge of the whole process.

In my book, I have a complete list of chores: daily, weekly, monthly and periodical chores to choose from. I also have a chapter on teaching kids how to do chores. However, I strongly suggest the Accountable Kids store for tools to help parents teach their small children to balance choices and consequences in a fun and productive manner. This card based program has behavior charts, chore charts, reward charts and responsibility charts. The child marks his progress on the personal progress board.

Find out more: P.O. Box 155 Fredonia, Az. 86022

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Children are our specks of light.

This is a dark poem that one of my customers gave me. She was in the middle of a very messy divorce -- a divorce that left her hopeless. She wrote it one night long ago while seriously contemplating suicide. Thoughts of her children always brought her back. The specks of light referred to in this poem were her children.

Here is the poem:

What is a dream? An altered state of our own reality? It might be a wish with a bit of imagination mixed in.

Can our nightmares become such a part of our every day thoughts, that we soon fail to comprehend the danger that we have unconsciously placed ourselves and those around us in?

How many times will we be allowed to ask for that which we shouldn't, before our answer is given with a bellowing "YES" from the eternal damnation that we all should fear more than a spiraling life which we think we have the right to run from?

Is it possible that we all choose all too often to only hear that which we want to hear? Even if at that very moment it may only be sounds of sorrow and ill intent, when the truth is, that there are so many individuals who at that very same moment are screaming out their concern and thoughts of well being and prayers of safety for the one that they love.

Why would we choose to not hear such beauty, when it would be that beauty alone that would snap us back into the world we once knew? A world we once loved and once would have never left? It may be because we are sad creatures who are swayed too easily into darkness even when the light around us is so bright that it glares brighter and warmer than the sun.

It may be that those few specks of light which are not let in, by some miraculous force, find their own way in to save you, at just the right moments in time. moments when the darkness can be felt and tasted like nothing you have ever experienced.

It may be that those specks of light have been purposely positioned to fight the darkness, when the "God's" will, that you were born with, has lost it's own energy. For those specks of light, I am grateful and secure. For those specks of light, I hold my head a bit higher. For those specks of light, I will one day find redemption, salvation and peace.

It must be said that this woman is fine now and is enjoying life like never before.
Isn't it wonderful what the love of our children can do when life seems so hopeless.

Studio 5 Interview with Liz Hale

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Wife Asks for Help

In Carolyn Hax's help column in the Salt Lake Tribune, a woman writes that she has been married for six months, adores her husband, but is not excited about spending the rest of her life doing everything in the house. She is resentful of him but also of herself because she lets it happen.

Can you even imagine how she is going to feel once the kids start coming along?

Carolyn's answer was right on. She said, "You do not ask him to [help out]. It's his responsibility as much as yours."

That is wonderful advice on the surface. However, the writer gives the wife no hint as to how to make it his responsibility.

My guess is that the writer, being like the majority of society, still thinks it isn't the man's responsibility.

This is a societal problem. The idea that women should be responsible for everything in the house isn't the man's fault. Deep down we all believe it. The idea is embedded in our culture. The ugly little secret is we want it this way. We don't want to ask for change. We don't want to create change. We don't want to go through the discomfort of change. We can over-work ourselves and continue to have resentment, anger, and sometimes pure hate for our husbands, because change seems impossible.

One thing I have discovered through my research is that until a woman can believe unequivocally that she is not responsible for it all, she will never convince her husband of that fact.

The good news is, it is possible.

Dr. Liz Hale

Yesterday I received a card and a box of expensive chocolates from Dr. Hale. What an amazing lady.

She wrote; "What an honor it was to sit with you a second time as you dispersed your great wisdom and insight. May great rewards be yours, again and again."

The honor was all mine. It is hard for me to describe how much respect I have for this woman. Not just because she is a psychologist/TV host, or the many other accomplishments she has achieved. The respect is more for how much she cares. She emanates compassion.

My mind goes back to the first time I met her; I had made an appointment with her as part of my plan to have psychologists read my manuscript.

When you make an appointment with a therapist, the first thing they ask you is, "What is the problem?"

As I had done with the other unsuspecting doctors, and told them the truth. I said, "My kids are getting a divorce and I am losing my mind."

Once in the door, I would also add, "I really wanted to ask you to read my manuscript for a reading fee and give me your honest opinion."

All the others said yes and were ecstatic about the message and wrote glowing letters about it.

Dr. Liz however, very kind, but in a very determined way said, "I'm sorry, I don't do things like that." Obviously, knowing what I know now, she was way too busy.

I left with mixed feelings. First, I was exhilarated because as it turned out, I was losing my mind and Dr. Liz put my mind at ease in one visit. On the other hand I was deflated because this masterful woman was not going to read my manuscript.

On the way home, I told my husband, "I don't care if she said no, I am going to send it to her anyway." I was determined not to let this amazing woman get away. I said, "The worst that could happen is she could throw it in the garbage."

I sent the manuscript and got a call a few days later. "Sherri," she said, "I read your book and it was truly amazing. Did you know that you quoted me twice in the book?"

I about fell off of my chair, "You're that Dr. Liz?" I asked

The rest is history.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Whose Responsibility is it anyway

Yesterday was my day off so I stayed down, praying I would be over my flu bug in time for work today. I feel a lot better this morning.

I look back on the years before I went on strike and getting sick would have meant that I had no help, a messy house, and everyone waiting on pins and needles for me to get better so I could be the family slave once again.

Fast forward to today and my husband has become so used to taking his part of the responsibility that he automatically takes care of me when I am sick. He cleans the house, makes sure I am fed, and cleans up after every meal. (Just as I would do for him if he was sick.)

This week was another week of eye openers on the domestic front.

On Dr. Phil, the show for the day was about couples trying to save their marriages. He asked one wife was asked what her biggest complaint was. She said, "He doesn't do anything around the house."

When the husband was asked what his biggest complaint was, he said, "She is continually nagging me."

Now it seems like it would be easy to figure this one out, right?

The man could start doing his share and that would automatically cause her to stop nagging.

Marriage saved.

If it were as simple as that, I wouldn't have had to write my book.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The flu bug

I have been gone for a few days. I caught the bug, which means after I get home from work I come home and go straight to bed.

I know, I shouldn't share the bug with the world, but when you are a hairdresser, you call and warn everybody. You ask if they want to reschedule their appointments for another day, the answer is always, "no." When somebody needs their hair done, nothing keeps them home, so I put on my mask and go to work.

Now that I am well into trying to market my book and my clients know all about it, the subject of household overwork always comes up. Everybody has a legitimate complaint in their own lives and can't wait for my book to be published.

One lady brought up the saying, "Don't follow someone else's path. Make your own path and leave a trail." She said, "That's you, Sherri."

Another lady brought me a plaque that said, "Stand up for what you believe in."

I am so proud of all of my clients. Just a year ago, they were all afraid for me, afraid of what society would do to me just for bringing up the subject of householder overwork. Most of them were even hesitant to admit there was a problem, even those who opted for divorce instead of facing the problem.

Their eyes are open now and they have hopes for the marriages of their kids and grandkids. They are not afraid for me any more either. They shouldn't be. I tell them, "I'm too old to care," and besides, somebody is going to have to plow through old stereotypes to help keep marriages together.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back to the beauty shop

Well, Thursday and Friday were the days I met with the clients whose appointments I had to cancel or transfer last week so I could do my television interview.

What a bunch of beautiful people. They had to wait longer and change their appointment dates, but they were all so supportive. One lady even came down to the salon on the wrong day because, try as I may, I couldn't get ahold of her.

Guess what? Not one of them acted like they were put out in any way. They were all just really excited to hear about my interview.

As they all have done before, most of them said they were afraid I'd quit cutting hair as soon as my book is on the market.

I told them not to fear. I have a lot more books to write and most of my life's research comes from the beauty salon. So there I will stay. After al, they are my second family.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The never ending storm

I asked a fourteen year-old girl how she was doing with everything she had to deal with regarding her parents divorce. She left and came back with this poem she had written.


Like thick grey clouds amongst the sky,
some things begin in the simplest form.
What seems to be a small confusion
is only the beginning of the storm.
Disagreements here and there,
fluttering through the air
like light rainfall drizzling away.
It isn't much of a scare.
Light rain becomes pouring rain
as growling thunder echos round.
The storm continues lively now,
but I hope it soon goes down.
Over time, the sky appears brighter,
it must be fading away,
but then the lightning
strikes once more,
ruining my chances for a better day.
The never ending storm continues,
thriving off of tears and hate,
but through it all I will keep hope,
for after every storm, a rainbow awaits.

Deep huh?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A mom who is a great example

My mind is going back to the graduation I attended on Thursday. During the ceremony, the mom of the graduate, who is divorced, sat as far away from her ex-husband and his new wife as she could.

When it came time to take pictures, however, she surprised me by putting on a happy face and cordially inviting her ex and his wife to take pictures with her daughter. The two of them took full advantage of the opportunity and stood for numerous pictures, even one of the diploma by itself.

As I was standing in the back, the mother's 12 year-old daughter came up to me and said, "This is very hard on her. I'm so proud of my mom." I discovered why she was so proud after her father and his wife were gone and the happy mask began melting off of the mothers face, disclosing a face full of tears.

"Her dad has never been a part of her life until just recently," she sobbed. "Everything this family has gone through to help her graduate, and all the time he scoffed at her, calling her a loser and telling her that anyone could be on the honor roll at that school."

I suddenly could see the significance of taking a picture of the diploma. My guess was that the father and his wife had to prove that the daughter they were now taking credit for actually did graduate from a real school.

I asked the mother why she was being so kind when it hurt so much.

Her answer was exhilarating. "I didn't do it for them," she said, "I did it for my daughter."

Birthday Party- when you are divorced

Yesterday I went to a birthday party for an 8 year-old little boy. His parents are divorced and his real dad wasn't there. Buddy, the birthday boy, was forlorn the whole time, on a day that was supposed to be so special.

One of Buddy's two step-sisters was at the party. The other step-sister wasn't even invited due to family resentments.

These poor little kids are the by-products of divorce. In their sadness, they figure out some way to cope. Some of their methods of coping are good, some are bad.

When I said in my earlier blog that aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas, and even cousins suffer after divorce, this birthday was proof. I see it all the time. No family member escapes the ravages of divorce.

Buddy was missing his dad and sister all day, and was sad even when opening his multitude of presents.

I left with tears in my eyes.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

TV interview

I missed a day of blogging because I was in Salt Lake for a graduation, then yesterday, June 5, 2009 I had to film a segment for a program on TV.

The interview went real well. We talked about what expectations new brides and grooms should have when they are first married.

All too often couples have so many stars in their eyes, they don't seem to prepare themselves for the 'real life' that follows a wedding.

The reason I was there was to give a perspective on the reality of domestic responsibilities. All of the fallout that permeates through the marriage when it isn't addressed in the beginning. Resentment, hidden anger, a feeling of not being respected on the part of the wife, and a dwindling sex life are just a few of the problems they will face.

When we were off camera I jokingly told all of them the translation of "No, I have a headache." I said, " That statement really means (how dare you ask for sex, when all you do is treat me like a slave, you think I am going to do all the work in the house, take care of the kids, make sure you are all fed, then gleefully wrap my arms around you and want to make mad passionate love? NOT ON YOUR LIFE.")

One of the camera men at the shoot had been through the not enough intimacy situation and came to the conclusion that doing his share of the household duties made a big difference. I wanted to interview him to find out how he came to this conclusion. He said I could call him anytime. I needed to know how he was brought up, if he came from a single parent home or if his father was a helpmate at home. These little things would help me understand how he figured this out on his own and help me with the research for my next book.

One of the things that surprised Dr. Liz was how many times I had heard "if it doesn't work out I'll just get a divorce."

When I was asked what advice I would give young couples getting married, I said, "the first thing I would say is to be sure you want to spend the rest of your life with this person because if there is a divorce in your future, especially if children are involved, you will not be prepared for the hell that will follow."

I talked about the fact that when two men become roommates, they decide going in who will be responsible for what. The same thing happens when two women become roommates. Now we are going to have a man and wife who are going to be roommates, so I said, "to make it work, pretend you are roommates moving in together and sit down and print out exactly who should be responsible for what, (for a life-time), and stick to it."

Another bit of advice was to consider your marriage a job to work on every day in order to keep it fresh and together, and to never take each other for granted.

The interview lasted for about 45 minutes. It was very enjoyable.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Family hair day and a call from Dr. Liz

I am exhausted this morning from doing 7 family members hair in an afternoon. Everybody was so excited, one grandchild wanted a special kind of streaking, one wanted her whole color and cut changed, all the others just had their hair cut and streaked.

The joy I got in witnessing the interaction of daughter-in-laws and almost all of my grandchildren was exhilarating. They enjoyed each other so much,It was like they were having a party and I was part of it.

In the middle of the madness at the Salon, I get a call from Dr. Liz Hale telling me where to go for my interview. I told her how much more I had discovered since I wrote my book.

She said, "you have something big here Sherri. You have started a movement that is not going to stop, people need this, I see it in my practice all the time."

I know this to be true. Clients who formerly wanted to discount how lopsided the domestic duties were, are now admitting how bad it is. They are screaming for change, afraid for their kids and grandkids and desperate for me to get my book published.

One client I had yesterday said she thought the original denial came because we all collectively thought we are alone. The only ones who couldn't get co-operation, and we are embarrassed to admit it. She is right, I am discovering that more and more all the time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Debilitating illness

My last client last night was a beautiful 26 year-old girl. She has three beautiful children and she has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease.

As I was cutting her hair she started to sob and asked me about my book. She said she could hardly get out of bed in the morning and her husband would not lift a finger to help with the kids or the house. She said she was afraid for her kids, that they were used to a nice clean house and now it was filthy because she couldn't do it any more.

She said, "How many times do I have to scream at him to get him to listen? He just doesn't care."

I don't know her husband, so I have no idea if he does care or not. My guess is that he does. What I could be sure of was what I told her: "He has no idea how hard it is to take care of three kids and a house. No man does until he does it for himself."

I told her to leave the kids home with him. His mother (their babysitter) should take her to the doctor out of town. This would help the man experience the challenge of taking care of three little kids and a house, and maybe win her some empathy. However, I think my advice fell on deaf ears because she was so stressed.

She cried the whole time she was there and told me she was so angry she thought she would get a divorce.

You can imagine how I responded to that.

I told her that divorce was the last thing she needed. It would be incredibly stressful. Her insurance would be gone, and she definitely needed her husband's paycheck now more than ever. That may sound like a crazy thing to consider, but is so true. Imagine going through the stress of a divorce and a medical problem with no insurance and no money. The practical things have got to be considered.

I told her to get marriage counseling as soon as possible. I was so afraid that if she didn't try to improve her marriage, a husband who was as disconnected from her as this one seemed to be just might leave her when her illness got worse. I didn't tell her that, but I have seen it happen.

I said a little prayer for her as she left and wished I could have helped her more. I told her to call me any time she wanted.

I felt so bad for this girl. Even though I've learned a lot about how to save marriages, results don't happen overnight. Time was not on her side.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I am trying to squeeze everybody in for appointments at the Beauty Salon Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because I am going to be gone Thursday and Friday. Then I get a text message from my granddaughter asking if I would have time to do all of the girls' hair.

Isn't that how it always works out? Last week I would have been able to work them in easily. However, this is my blessing in life. I have a profession that makes it possible to see my teenaged grandkids on a regular basis, when otherwise they wouldn't have time to come around much.

I am not going to mess it up; I would do their hair at midnight if I had to. They are wonderful kids and they are my joy.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Wonderful husband

After Dr. Liz Hale called about the interview on TV, I had a discussion with my husband about what we were going to talk about. Dr. Liz had said she wanted my husband to be part of the discussion this time. (On Studio 5, I was the only one interviewed.) I asked him what he wanted to say about the division of householder responsibilities and how he felt about it.

He said, "I don't do that much."

He really does do plenty. He cooks, he cleans, he waits on me as much as I wait on him and he does all of the yard work. I reminded him of what it was like in the beginning, "You did absolutely nothing in those days," I said.

He couldn't believe how much he left to me back then, and how much happier our whole marriage had become after the strike.