Parenting Seminars

Saturday, February 15, 2014

So I've shifted, how about you?

My last post was October of 2012.  I became a full time working mother that month in a new town, new state and new home.  What happened over the next year and a half has been both a whirlwind and an intentional shift.  You know those moments when you are SO right in your skin that you feel like you are exactly where you are supposed to be?  I'm not there yet but I am so much closer than I have been for many years.

I don't think this is the place to talk about all the nitty gritty of big personal growth as there are too many people involved.  But know that I did not suddenly arrive to a more peaceful, present and grounded side of myself.  I moved here through dark sludge, sometimes gliding on perfectly designed waves, sometimes shoving boulders out of the way or dragging sled loads of crap which spilled its contents as I released what was no longer serving me.  Sometimes I leaned on friends and family to help me carry my load or prop me up for enough restoration until my next move.  Sometimes, I quietly, stubbornly moved along the path alone out of a need to be clear and own the decisions I was making or guilt and shame for how I got on the path in the first place.

And I haven't reached some ultimate destination.  That's not what life is about, is it?  It sounds so trite but it really is a journey and how you live that journey is the point.  I am in a process of aligning myself to Joy and Spirit and Compassion and Ease and Abundance.  What is happening is super cool.

I am now using this blog to just speak from my heart.  Express what is happening in my daily life in an effort to keep my mind and soul focused on what matters:  how I show Love and Compassion to those around me and Create opportunities for expansion.  I am feeling a strong urge to share my thoughts and feelings with others so if you resonate with my words, I am thrilled.

Today I felt drawn to take the dog on an early morning walk.  The light was just beginning to illuminate the snow and mountains through the clouded sky.  Its so quiet at this time of the morning in our little mountain town.  The sounds of the dog's steps in the icy snow was almost too loud to bear.  I found the air and the stillness the perfect solution to my buzzing brain.  I have SO much to figure out all the time.  Whether its work or bills or organization in our home, I am in a constant mode of problem solving.  Its actually a skill I'm quite good at but it sometimes goes haywire and takes me over in sleep and awake times.

Something has been happening during meditation over the past couple weeks.  I sit and close my eyes and I feel this intense sensation of being divided in half.  That half of me, my internal view, is separated from my body by a couple inches and the void is dark and scary.  Its starting to get annoying as it is very disorienting and I don't want to keep my eyes closed.  Today, I tried to sit with it longer and stopped my brain from trying to figure out why or what to do about it.  I just started repeating statements like "I am one."  "whole, complete and perfect", "divine moves through me" and after some time, I felt this strong white glowing light flood through me and that chasm of disconnect disappeared.  I was whole again.  In alignment.  And filled with such a lovely sense of connectedness.  That sense of being exactly where you are supposed to be.  Yeah, that's what I felt.

I have done a lot of spiritual searching over the years.  Each place of guidance has allowed me strong sensations of what resonates and what doesn't.  I'm still exploring and probably always will be.  But what I am learning to trust is that I have a very strong ability to "feel" or "know" what messages or strategies are going to help me reach my highest self and which ones aren't quite right for me.  I am also VERY aware of how we are each on our own journey and therefore our own path.  So as I write here in this blog, I'll be connecting how Spirit is guiding me on this very earthly experience.  How in the midst of parenting, financial problems, work and life balance, I am learning to stay connected to Spirit and keep learning.  Always learning.

I expect to fell Joyful today and send it your way to find as well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Girls being angry

Yesterday, I had to rip my 3 year olds hands off my body and put her in someone else's arms screaming at me and so sad that I was leaving.  It is one of those parenting moments when the physical experience perfectly reflects the emotional one.  I felt like I was ripping apart a piece of my heart and leaving it behind.

And yet, I knew that I had gone through our normal routine of reading a story together, 3 hugs and 3 kisses and even gave a longer hug and reminder that I would be back at the end of the day.  Because I knew early that morning, when she first woke that she needed a bit more from me.  She needed a slower morning pace. Not so much nagging, not too much talking.  Just a quieter, calmer morning transition.

But that extra attention, adjustment doesn't take away the need at drop off to still be sad, to still release the emotions that have been building.  As the Mama, even though I was feeling the same thing, I needed to model strength, emotional resolve and confidence.  I needed to show her that she could be sad and angry and I could be strong for her.  I could be confident for her.

That balance, is a tough one.  There is always a question.  "Am I being too emotional, to sympathetic and causing her to be more worried?"  "Am I being too confident, too cold, too distant and teaching her that her emotions are not valid.  That she needs to just suck it up."

The teacher said that after I left, she yelled to be put down.  She stepped away from the teacher, took a deep breath and went off by herself for a while.  I've seen this reaction.  She goes to angry and control and pushes those emotions back in order to move through the day.  Its a great skill as there are plenty of times in our lives where we need to do that.

But not always.

And that is why, at home, when she is emotionally releasing, I let it come without too many boundaries.  Because we all need some place that is safe to completely let it all go.  And we hug after every hitting, slapping anger release.  And we talk about how much we need that hug.  And we talk about brave girls that are able to move on from sadness at school.  And kind girls who are able to say sorry when they've hurt someone.  And powerful girls who are always able to say what they feel and be angry when they need to be.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dual Family Income

I started a full time job last week.  Does that statement stir the intensity for you as it does for me?  I haven't worked full time since 2004.  At that point, I had no children, I was just about to get married and start graduate school. 

Now, we have two young children, we live in a new town and I am SO ready to be engaged more fully in a focus outside of our house.  AND...I would really love a little financial relief!!

So I am coordinating a teen sexual health grant in our county.  The job is really perfect for me.  Besides the personal commitment to children's health and wellbeing, I am working on something with intensity.  There is a chance of confrontation and scandal that keeps me excited.  The hours are completely flexible and I can work from anywhere.  Plus, I get to travel around the county and out of state, I get to meet folks all over who are invested in teen health, I get to teach and I get to organize communities around this important issue. 

And yet...the transition to full time work, to adding another compartment in my multi-tasking brain has been exhausting.  The family is doing great.  We are working out the logistics of a one car family with two jobs.  I take the bus most days but its not always practical with the amount of stuff I have to lug around for my mobile office or with the locations of some of my meetings.  So we are planning on getting a second vehicle in a couple months.  I really like feeling good about being a one car family and riding my bike all over town but I will have to impact my carbon footprint in other ways. 

Some things I've learned so far on this journey:

1.  ALWAYS get fully ready for the day before the children are awake.  (this means showered, dressed, makeup and hair done and sometimes even breakfast!)

2.  It really does make sense to do lunches the night before.  As exhausting as that is each night its better than the rush and craziness to start the day.

3.  Notes to self at the front door are not silly.  They keep clothes from getting left in the laundry for several days and keep me from paying gigantic library fines.  (I had such a nice routine when I wasn't working)

4.  The tantrums, defiance and general irritating behavior from the kids in the morning are directly related to their sense of disconnect from me.  They are tired, need me to stop hounding them to hurry up and mean that this week, I will work one day from home with a toddler so she can have a little break from her big transition to full time daycare. 

5.  Family time has a different value now.  I am appreciating little interactions more than before. 

6.  Listen to my husband when he says that we don't actually have to attend the parent info meeting at school on a night when we are all exhausted and just need to have a quiet night at home even though this goes against every cell in my body that must meet or exceed the expectations of authority figures.  Thank you Rodney!

7.  Living with extended family is SO great but it is also necessary for our mental health, our stress levels and our family's success. 

I'm sure there are more lessons to be learned.  I'll share them as I discover them.  Mostly I am grateful that I was able to be a mostly stay at home mom for the girls first few years of life.  I am grateful I was able to maintain a connection to my work life with part time jobs with lots of flexibility in a field that understands and respects family.  And I'm intensely grateful for all the family and friends who continue to be our support through each transition we make.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Family Commitments

I have been gone a while, I know.  Sometimes the universe asks for a bit more focus in one area of my life and it requires me to put all my energy there.  This past month has been focused on family.  My own small nucleus, my family of origin and extended family.  I have been wanting to write about so many pieces along the way.  And yet, continued to hesitate.  Wanting to respect privacy, respect each person's process.  Wanting to honor the movement, the stalls, the stress, the joys without taking them out of context.

And now as I reflect on the past month, I think about how dynamic family can be.  How we are all placed or place ourselves into these clans with a life's mission to re-invent our roles constantly.  There is no stagnation even when some members try to create stone characters of ourselves.  We are ever changing beings taking on new tasks and responsibilities as we grow and learn more about ourselves, our potential, our relationships with each other. 

I found myself supporting my parents through a very trying time after they lost all of their possessions and their home to a fire.  I watched in wonder as my 4 siblings and I rallied and reflected on our resources and skills and how to best share of ourselves.  I felt such pride in how we were able to step above differing perspectives to get to the basics of what was needed.  This family I was born into now has 7 adults with 5 spouses and 9 children among them.  There are plenty of perspectives.  And yet, when tragedy strikes, there is alignment, consensus, united forces. 

And I marveled at my parents, dancing between trauma, dispair, loss and potential, gratitude, and peace.  I am grateful that they were able to accept help and yet I was and am conscious about not taking over.  Not parenting them.  My mom mentioned at one point that it was hard to go shopping.  It wasn't fun or relaxing.  It was stressful and overwhelming.  I watched them try to make decisions about things that in another time would have been easy but now required lots of energy.  Maybe the consequences were bigger but I also think the sheer number and importance of each decision was overwhelming. 

I was thinking about people who deal with trauma on a daily basis.  Who function under a level of stress that we only get in small doses.  Even my parent's experience is an isolated event.  They have the skills, the family and community support and emotional bank account to move through this and find some peace on the other side.  But people who are in life situations that always have them on guard must be experiencing a level of confusion, overwhelm, stress and disorientation that is debilitating.  I understand alcoholism, abuse, retaliation, homelessness in a different way now. 

And I think back to family.  One that is strong enough to rally, to support, to heal the small and big moments we experience in our lives.  Without that, we are often lost.  Because how often do we step up and respond to others whom we do not know as well as we do with our family?  So I came home to my two girls and my husband and I see my role as a bit different today.  I'm reminded, in the midst of all life's daily tasks, that I have a greater purpose in this little clan.  In the process of us discovering ourselves throughout life, we need each other to scaffold, to prop us up, to gather round when we are hurt, troubled, lost and beaten.  We are vital to each other's survival.  And there are lots of folks without this family structure who need us to see them as family.  To act as we would with family.  I'm thinking I have a new mission calling me.  We'll see where that goes.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Worm Bin and Fungus Gnats

Yummy, right?  Yeah, well, it happens.  Especially with just the right environment.  Dark space, basement apartment, no garbage disposal.  You get the picture.  What wasn't going in the bin was going in the garbage and it really doesn't take long.

So here's where we started.  I had a worm bin I had already created a few years ago.  I killed all the worms in my first attempt with too much citrus and onions, or so I thought.  I now believe I killed them with too much food in the beginning.  Like any good composting system, it takes a little while to find the right balance.  But with a pound of worms costing $25 I wasn't ready to try again so quickly especially when we had a yard/food waste pickup system in Seattle that took absolutely every food scrap we created.  SO...we move to Colorado and there is no yard waste or food waste pick up.  And it is suddenly clear how much we throw out that could be turned into that garden gold. 
My husband actually took the leap and ordered the worms which made us really commit.  There are lots of tutorials online for homemade bins.  They are not complicated.  They need some air holes and need to be opaque.  But other than that, the bin is the easy part.  Its the balance of materials that can get difficult. 

We have a paper shredder that never seems to get used for the confidential mail we originally purchased it for.  So instead, it sits in a cabinet next to the bin in the kitchen so I can shred newspapers.  They make a perfect bedding for the worms.  I've been keeping a box ready so its easy to add.  We layered damp bedding, a small amount of soil and the worms in the bin.  Then we spread out some food scraps and added another layer.  The first few days the worms looked so happy.  They were getting big and were very active. 

Then at around the one week mark, gnats exploded in my kitchen.  Its already crazy hot here so fruit is ripening really fast on the counter.  My fridge is overflowing.  But suddenly the kitchen was swarming with them.  It was gross.  So I took the bin outside and my mom and I did massive research online.  Oh the strategies people came up with.  I was starting to feel overwhelmed and like the bin wasn't worth keeping.  I wasn't ready to create a mosquito net bag for the bin and treat it with some spray each time I added food. 

Instead, mom found a simple technique we decided to try.  I like to start simple.  A jar with about a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dishwashing liquid.  Then add a cone of paper.  The gnats fly down the cone attracted to the vinegar only to be trapped by the dishwashing liquid.  And why the cone?  So those flying in can't get out before they drop into the liquid.  Just in case there are some smart ones in the bunch. 

This method is FANTASTIC!!!!  Within hours these little buggers are trapped and drowned.  I get a bit of a high checking how many are settled in the bottom of the liquidy tomb.  I know, a bit morbid, but it works for me! 

To the bin, I've added much more bedding discovering that we probably overfilled it and I dumped an entire batch of pancakes that I messed up which probably tipped the scales in the fungus department and aided the reproduction of gnats.  So we are letting it sit for a while and re-establish itself.  I'm hoping I haven't killed the worms.  Last I looked, they were still there, but not as busy.  I keep reading they just need more bedding.  I'm hoping that is the case and we can get back to business. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Making Beautiful a Priority

Something has struck me recently as I find myself in a new consciousness about the impact of my thoughts on my daily sense of wellness.  I have been functioning in a place of disconnect for so long that I didn't even realize I stopped caring.  Or probably more accurately, I created such a psychological wall of denial that I convinced myself I didn't care.  I have known for so long that I was disrespecting my body and ignoring my creative self and so the consequence was a body I didn't like and surroundings that didn't reflect who I really am.  So to make peace with this disconnect, I had to create a story that suggested I didn't care.

Oh and how I can spin a story.  For a few years I pretended I just didn't care about how I looked, the latest fashion trends or tips and techniques for applying makeup.  And then came the stage of feminism.  Declaring that attention to my physical looks and "superficial" fashion or decor purchases was somehow a direct submission to the oppressive culture we are a part of.  And then came the environmental angle.  Reuse, recycle is my mantra.  We can't throw that out, it still has some use.  I know its broken but we can turn it around or use it in another way.  This one makes me feel so righteous too.  I am saving the planet because I'm not throwing away anything and I only shop at consignment and thrift stores. 

One of my favorite themes that seems to run through each phase is a feeling that I don't have the finances to pay for those "luxuries".  This is probably the most damaging in some ways because either I feel like I'm always poor or I feel guilty when I spend money on some basic self care like hair cuts, new clothes, or new shoes.  I'm not talking accessories here.  I'm talking some needed items.  I have about 5 outfits that I rotate through until they are shredded and then buy another set of Target specials.  The guilt from these purchases often drag along with them resentment which leads to poor shopping decisions and bad timing.  Its a horrible cycle really.

But I'm really tired of clothes not fitting.  I'm really tired of the psychological work that is required to step out of the house in clothes that make me feel embarrassed.  Or the hair style/lack of style that makes me feel disheveled and unkempt.  It really is exhausting.  So much so that I try to avoid mirrors most of the time.

I look at my house and am tired of looking at a room full of furniture that looks like a college student collected it from several street corners.  I think there are 4 colors of wood finish in my living room!!!

But here's the trick. I believe women should be heard and not just seen.  I believe women should be valued for all of who they are, not just how they look and I'm not comfortable with the way some women are using their physical appearances to manipulate the sexist world around them.  I also believe in being very thoughtful about my use of materials and how my living makes an impact on our environment.  I do feel good when I'm able to re-use something and it turns into something really ingenious or beautiful.  And the reality is, we are in a tight financial situation right now.  But we haven't always been and more importantly...


Feeling beautiful and creating beauty in my space does not require mass amounts of money, or a submission to a sexist culture or disregard for the environment.

When I type that it seems so obvious and yet, these are the stories in my unconscious.  I have to deal with them!

So this year, I'm on a mission.  I intend to make decisions that include beauty as a quality.  I get to feel beautiful.  I get to look at my home and see beautiful spaces.  I get to feel proud of my consumption decisions and know that I am choosing quality, sustainable materials.

The first thing I've started to do is get my bathroom rejuvenated.  A coat of paint makes a huge difference, don't you think?  I wish you could have seen it before.  Off white walls, oak finish on cabinets, weird stains and splatters on the walls, broken sheetrock from towel racks improperly installed.  A new rug is on the list but that's a pretty small investment.

What?  Isn't this the first thing you think of when I say beauty in the bathroom?  Clean blue walls and white fixtures.  That's clean and fresh to me!

I'll keep posting about how beauty is showing up for me.  What priorities do you make to keep beauty in your life?

Monday, August 15, 2011

One Year Ago

Our primary mode of transportation around town in our new town in Colorado.  Trailer on one bike, trail-a-bike on the other. 

I have been reading through some recent journals gathering tidbits of information for a book I'm working on.  And I came across an entry from my birthday about a year ago.  You that time, neither myself nor my daughter had gone through an elimination diet.  I was still questioning my instincts and yet I was gaining confidence.  I wrote:

"This is a year of self discovery around food.  I feel like I am on the edge of making big changes for our family regarding food."

One year later and I am 35 pounds lighter and feel more deeply connected to my body than I thought was possible.  I am in no way eating perfectly by anyone's standards except my own.  I am listening to my body's responses and accepting my choices with forgiveness or joy.  I have a strong awareness of the unique formula my body, mind and soul need to stay balanced and thriving.  This awareness didn't come overnight but throughout a gentle year of small steps that required openness, honesty, forgiveness and strength.  But it also required a massive support system.

We hear about this a lot, don't we?  From every exercise guru, psychotherapist and Oprah.  But the thing is, I haven't been thinking about calories I've burned, who did me wrong in the past, or a specific diet plan.  I've been focused on what works for me, just me, not everyone else.  And you know what I discovered?  When I focused on what works for ME, I became more invested in myself and my health.  The feeling of knowing myself this clearly is liberating!  I can feel myself slipping.  I recognize the stress peaks and instead of running to food, hiding, denying or the myriad of other ways I used to cope, I step into the things I know that work.

And I'm learning to create a routine and rhythm instead of saving myself from the edge.  This is hard with young kids and all the transitions we've made in the past few months.  Its easier to fall for the "mom gives to everyone else first" mentality.  But that so sucks and all of us suffer in the end.

So what worked for me?  A simple attention to my physical self, mental self and spiritual self.  My emotions are more balanced, the depression has subsided and my body is transforming.

I know I need daily exercise and fresh air in some combination.  My current and long time love is yoga.  It mixes my spiritual and physical selves beautifully.  I love challenging my body in poses and seeing such instant results each time I practice.  I love seeing my body become more toned and muscles pop out that I thought I'd lost.  I love the spiritual piece that keeps me grounded, breathing and balanced.  Zumba is also a love as I feel that little fluttering of silliness and sexiness in the moves while making my heart pump and lungs work.  I love sweating and knowing my hips more intimately.

And I have depended greatly on our spiritual community in Seattle as a weekly rhythm.  For anyone there, The Center for Spiritual Living is a beautiful new thought community.  They/we look at the common spiritual principles that connect different world religions above the cultural limits.  I was regularly inspired and pushed to see health and wellness as my right and that I needed to own that.

I also signed up for all those online newsletters from inspiring mamas who encourage and challenge us to live fully, find our creative selves after motherhood and model living with intention and courage for our children.  I needed these voices to overpower the doubts in my head.  A special thank you to Visionary Mom and Hannah's Harvest for keeping me focused and inspired!

I met Hannah originally when I was looking for a resource that would combine my need for some therapy, health support and medical counseling.  I found Hannah online and have taken part in personal coaching, cleanses, holiday support groups and a recent Joy Up group.  She helped me change my eating habits with simple, easy recipes, lots of inspiration and thoughtful posts.

And then my friends.  All those people who listened, supported and joined me at the gym or on walks.  It really does take a tribe of support but with some awareness.  Not just an exercise buddy.  I needed to address all those areas of myself so I could understand my unique formula of sustainable healthy living.

I can increase the amount of greens without having to adopt a raw lifestyle.  I can make it to a yoga or zumba class once or twice a week without adding a workout every morning.  I can spend an afternoon once a week in quiet meditation and focus on my dreams without expecting to find a quiet meditative space each day.  I'd love to increase all these things but even at this level, I've lost 35 lbs and feel really great!!!

I feel more free, more able to move, more energy, more mental space.  And I'm ready for this next big year.  So if lifestyle changes feel big to you, remember that the little steps really do count.  Focus on the now, the little step today.  Eventually, you'll notice that lots of days went by and you had lots of little steps that were making big changes happen without a lot of effort.  Its a beautiful thing really!