Archive for ‘Love’

December 13, 2011

The Gift of Nurture

This week’s gift is one that I know all of you amazing mamma’s out there give to others- generously, beautifully, wonderously- every single day of your existence. You are the goddesses of nurture. Holding your families in nearly every thought with love, concern, appreciation and understanding. Or at least that’s your intention and your touchstone- what you come back to even when life feels hectic, out of control, too much ….. and well, normal.

Nurture is also what we do. Giving hugs. Making meals. Showing our kids how- when they want to try something new or do what we can do. Patching up boo-boo’s with compassion, validation and a kiss. And being present with their heartaches… also, with compassion and validation. And knowing when a hug or a kiss won’t be helpful.

But we often do not nurture ourselves. We forget to do the things that make us feel loved and supported. We don’t keep ourselves in our loving, appreciative, understanding thoughts. Sure it feels wonderful to have someone else nurture you in some way- making a favorite meal, providing you with a clean bathtub and a warm towel, giving you a hug after you slip in the dog slobber on the tile floor and land hard- but we can provide ourselves with the same. (Okay, maybe not a hug, but a chance to rest or that hot bath after the last one…)

I challenge you to come up with a list of 3 ways you can nurture yourself this week, starting now. I have a friend who has filled a jar with pomegranate seeds, to be treasured at will. I like to do yoga or meditate outside. Or go to a beautiful natural spot and just breathe in the beauty. Take a walk, or a run. Just be alone. Nap. Borrow any of these, come up with your own and report back in the comments! For bonus points, tell me what you’ve appreciated about yourself today.

Know someone who could use the gift of nurture? Share the love using the links below….

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December 6, 2011

The Gift of Permission

Your permission slipWhen I first considered what gift I’d like to give myself this year, permission was the first word to come to mind. What do I want permission for? To be more of a thriving creative force in the world. To do work that excites and fulfills me. To stop being critical of myself and seeing criticism in the words and actions of others. I am the only person who can give me permission for these things.

But why permission? There’s a formality to permission. A granting from an authoritative source. My generation, and those before it, have been trained deeply to look to an authority, someone who knows a great deal about a subject, someone who others also look to for information and guidance in that area. And the fact is that you are the best and absolute authority on you. Only you know your private thoughts and your inner workings. Only you truly know your greatest joys and fears. Only you know what is best for you.

Granting yourself permission is not only allowing yourself that thing that you want, it is declaring authority over your own life. There is no single more powerful thing you can do for yourself. Even if today you’re only granting yourself permission to take a walk in the woods, an extra long hot bath, or half an hour to release your inner artist. Giving yourself permission is empowerment.

So, what will you give yourself permission for today? For the holidays? For the new year and the rest of your life? Let me know in the comments!  Do you know someone who would benefit from giving themselves this gift?  Share the love. (links are right below!)

December 6, 2011

Gifts to Yourself- A holiday blog series

Sorry, forgot to wrap it....As much as some of my previous holiday posts may contradict this- I LOVE Holidays. Particularly ones with lights, their own music, stories, food, and traditions. But it’s also a time of year when many of us get so caught up in our duties as the creator of holiday joys that we forget to care for ourselves. So for the next few weeks, I’ll be posting holiday gifts to give to yourself. They will be linked below, so this is one place you can find them all, but if you subscribe to my blog over there on the right where it says “Get Updates by Email”, they’ll come right to your inbox each week.  They won’t cost you anything. They have no calories. They won’t even take much time. Play along and let me know in the comments…. there may be an extra gift for you from me when you do. Enjoy.  And share the love.

Week 1- The Gift of Permission

Week 2- The Gift of Nurture

Week 3- The Gift of Play

Week 4- The Gift of Rest

November 21, 2011

I Refuse to Survive the Holidays

Every year around this time I start noticing the magazine articles, tv talk show blurbs, and even blog posts about “how to survive the holidays”. While I know these can be incredibly helpful when you don’t know how to deal with your rude Aunt Marge or have backed yourself into a corner by saying yes to every event invitation that comes your way- complete with requisite cooking and gifting tasks (“gifts must be handmade” says the invite- oh yes, that sounds cool- until you realize you need to not only figure out what you can make, but actually make it, by next week.)…. this year every one of these tips has me both laughing and groaning. Putting “the holidays” and “survival” in the same sentence brings up images of harried women on a remote island, trying to forage and craft a “lovely traditional holiday” while competing in immunity challenges and plotting votes to exile their tribe sisters. The idea of “surviving” the upcoming holidays just seems equally absurd to me.

I have survived the holidays. Worn out, sick, grumpy and making up ugly holiday stories about how I can never do enough and my efforts are always thwarted or aren’t appreciated. No more. I plan to CELEBRATE! I will grab hold of joy and wave it boldly through the streets. I will appreciate everything around me and be delighted. Small things. Big things. Giving in delight and doing what is fun. Survive the holidays? No thanks. I think I’ll have fun and celebrate instead.

How? By refusing to do things that don’t feel good and running with what does. I’ve ordered Thanksgiving dinner. On Black Friday, I might go out – not to shop- but to observe the absurdity of it all and smile at everyone I see. Funnier than reality tv. My kids and I will snip paper snowflakes and cover things in glitter. It will be ephemeral and euphoric (or not ;-D, then I’ll stop). Impromptu holiday movie parties, with appropriately themed snacks featuring the 4 food groups- candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. Because it’s fun. I’ll plan a day to wrap gifts, because I love creating beautiful packages, complete with holiday chick flicks. I will take my daughter to do her holiday shopping- she’s so excited to do it. Perhaps we’ll make a day of it. And that’s probably it. No pressure. No obligations. No trying to be Martha Stewart or Mrs. S. Claus or June Cleaver or Molly Weasley (I mean, the woman has a wand. No muggle should even attempt that one!) Likely I’ll strike several of these things from the list. And I’ll do it gleefully. And joyously. And while singing out whatever tune strikes my fancy… whether it’s Deck the Halls, Caught in a Mosh or Blah, Blah, Blah. Because I’m celebrating…. life and love and light and everything. And celebrating feels good. If not, it’s not celebration.

So, what about you? How will you ditch survival and celebrate?

Lesley

ps. Somehow I feel like I’m missing out on that whole plotting thing…. but hey, I bet I can find some kind of joyous plotting to do…. hmmm….

May 18, 2011

Be Amazed- a public service announcement

This week I graduated from  Martha Beck Life Coach Training !  I just realized I haven’t fully celebrated this.  I’m a bit stunned that it’s over already as it’s been an amazing 8 months.  Big congratulations to all my fellow graduates and big thanks to all the master coach instructors and Martha Beck herself- everyone’s participation has contributed to this being a life changing experience and I’m so appreciative of everything I’ve learned, all the challenges I’ve encountered, and all the opportunities for growth.  I’m just full of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you and all the experiences.  My next step is certification- I’ve completed most of my coaching hours, but still need some more.  Keep an eye out for how you can support me by gaining skills in supporting your own inner wisdom in my upcoming program (still in the planning stages!)  I’m in the process of writing my talk for the 2011 We Shine Celebration next month- “Finding light in the darkness- transforming shame, fear and self-judgment into freedom“.   Feeling lots of good butterflies on that one- about my topic, about the phenomenal group of people I get to spend the week among and about how much I get to learn and grow in the process.  Yay!  Now onto the actual blog….  Much love, Lesley

Last Friday I received an urgent reminder in the form of a circus performance.  Be Amazed.  Pay Attention.  Widen your focus and let it all in.  Believe in Possibility.  And here’s how it happened.

I’ve wanted to see a Cirque du Soleil performance ever since I heard of the group back in college (yes, those ancient years of the 1990’s).  This year the planets aligned, or whatever, to make it happen.  Affordable tickets became available.  My baby, the one in the picture who is now 7 years old, wanted to join me.  We made an afternoon of it- driving downtown to the arena, buying an overpriced soft pretzel, taking our seats.  Then as the show began, an interesting question popped into my mind- What is the point?  Why, when there are so many important things to do in my life, so many opportunities to make a difference and so much sadness in the world, would I spend a somewhat significant amount of my monetary resources and time to seeing some circus acts, no matter how freaking cool they might be?  Okay, so this is definitely the part of my mind that feels like I need to be productive and save the world- and that oddly enough puts so much pressure on me to do this that I end up doing little, if not nothing about it.  But I’m at the point where I can recognize these kinds of questions and just consider them.  I sat there and consciously decided that I was going to enjoy the show and not concern myself with answering that question.  I set an intention to simply be in the moment and appreciate the performers, as well as sharing this experience with my daughter.

And in doing so- in being present in the moment, in being appreciative, I found the answer to my mind’s question.  The point of seeing a performance, the point of these performers doing the show, the point of them putting their life’s energy into developing their unique talents and in the audience putting their life’s energy into buying tickets and showing up to see them is this-  Be Amazed.  Pay Attention.  Widen your focus and let it all in.  Believe in Possibility.  And what do all those things add up to?  Joy.  Or in Spanish, the title of the show “Alegria”.   In that performance there was so much with which to be amazed- the skills of the performers, their precision, the choreography, the music, the fact that no one collided, snapped in half or fell to their death (one trapeze artist DID fall during the performance- making me appreciate the systems in place to keep the performers safe).  And last but not least, that I liked the clowns.  Oh, yes, liking clowns is a pretty amazing experience for me.  I’m just not a clown person.  The show encouraged me to be fully engaged and widen my focus- with so many performers on the stage and so many details it was necessary to take it all in.  I’m sure I still missed quite a bit.  And possibility?  Did you know that it is possible to sit on top of one’s own head? That the human body is capable of this?  A week ago I would have said it was impossible.  Now I know better.  Makes me wonder what else I think is impossible that can be done.

I think this is the point of anything that seems to serve no logical purpose- to help us see the beauty and miraculousness of everything.  To help us live in a state of amazement and presence.  To encourage us to explore what is possible and reconsider what we thought was impossible.  I walked out of that performance with a renewed commitment to myself to be fully present and truly see what is around me, to be amazed at all of it, to play with possibility and keep a wide open focus on joy.  I’d say that’s not a bad investment of $60 and 3 hours at all.  Then again, we are free to be amazed and open and present and joyful in every given moment.  How amazing is it that I can sit in bed and write something that anyone can read?  How amazing is it that there are small feathered creatures flying and singing right outside my window?  How amazing is it that the baby in the photo is now a child who creates things and shares her own ideas?  How amazing is it that my husband and children seem find just the right ways to push my buttons so that I can access thoughts and beliefs that are limiting me and clear them out?  Pretty freaking amazing.

And so that is my public service announcement to the world, courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.  Be Amazed. Pay Attention.  Widen your focus and let it all in.  Believe in Possibility.

Enjoy!

January 21, 2011

Illusions

I’m recycling an old post of mine from an email list this week- edited slightly to make some kind of  sense separate from the conversation.  I’m just tired and decided that rest is my priority at the moment.  And I sort of like this piece of writing.  My apologies if you’ve seen it before, and many thanks to anyone I was paraphrasing in the original (much much love to my shiny peeps!).  Have a lovely, restful, joyful, wonderful week everyone!

For years I have been trying to find the way to truly feel and embrace and embody the kind of parent I have wanted to be.  But knowing something and living it are two very different things.  I struggled, I strived, I read, I thought- and I think I know what was missing through all of it.  *I* was missing.  I think a lot of Moms who are drawn to gentle, connected parenting are those who are “pleasers” by nature or circumstance.  We want everyone in our lives, particularly those we love, to be happy.  We want to support their happiness, we want to help fulfill their needs, but we forget that we also have needs and desires and sometimes want support for our own happiness. 

 In the mainstream this so often turns into a rigid “I need to have my needs met, to hell with yours” (and I have seen this approach taken on by parents who began with the intention to be kind, gentle, loving and connected and then burnt out because they’ve ignored their own needs for so long).  This is often aimed at children, particularly infants, but it permeates interactions with everyone in their lives.  I think for those of us who have chose NOT to take that route, it so often results in carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.  Often this leads to a sort of under the radar blaming energy- the martyr role- which creates a repeating cycle.

 It really was only in the past few years that I realized that it is not my job, or purpose in life, to make the people I love happy.  As it’s quite literally impossible to MAKE someone happy- happiness is entirely an inside job.  This puts pressure on everyone.  (if my job is to make you happy, your job is to be happy, NOW DO YOUR JOB!) Then it becomes a blame/guilt/shame cycle.  I have finally learned that to support and uplift and be there for those I love does not mean “make them happy”- and I think many moms in this cycle misinterpret the idea of connected, supportive parenting in this way. 

 To support and uplift and be there for those I love means I create a foundation.  I am strong and clear and loving and kind.  And to do that, I need to make sure MY needs are met.  Back to what I said before- this does not mean “I have needs, screw yours”- it means that to be of any use to anyone, to be able to serve our children and the world in the best way we can (which does not mean “making them happy”) we need to be well cared for- and we need to do this ourselves. 

 We need to be happy and be gentle with ourselves, get enough sleep and physical activity and nourishment (both the physical and dare I say “spiritual” kind).  We need to nurture our own connection to our wise selves- not to the exclusion of others, but to the benefit of others.  The love we send out to the world is diminished if we are not already saturated in it ourselves- self-love, self-care.  It’s like the concrete that creates a strong foundation for a building- it allows us to then support and uplift those we choose to carry with us. 

 Maybe those of us who are strongly left brained are more prone to this – not automatically connecting these things, because they exist in the more feeling realm? (I consider myself strongly integrated brain-wise- but usually my initial processing, my default processing is left brained- logical and linear)  We carry the weight (sometimes quite literally- or at least in my case- and I think there’s a huge connection between these revelations and the healing path I am on now- I am both literally and figuratively letting go of the weight that’s holding me down *updated note- I did begin a personal wellness journal blog this week, which can be found here)- and it’s not something you can learn, I think, from a “thinking place”- it’s a “feeling place” thing. 

 And it does come down to honoring and accepting, recognizing and feeling what you are feeling- walking away from those mental constructs we create because we’re so AFRAID of what those feelings might do to us- that they might be too much.  I used to think I was flawed because I couldn’t just “get over it”.  And that’s pretty much the opposite of validation.  Not validating our own feelings makes it awfully challenging, if not impossible to validate anyone else’s.  And when you’re busy trying to “get over it” the kids’ joy and silliness can’t even reach you- the self-invalidation is like an invisible wall- like an awful version of casting a “protego” charm around yourself and living inside it- separated from everyone and everything else by an invisible force field.  Sure, nothing can hurt you, but nothing can touch you either. 

 I’ve known for a while I was one of those people- one of the “try-ers”- but have been at a loss how to get out from under that cloud, that weight, the burden of Atlas- which is something like “Hey, I’m barely avoiding being crushed over here- I’m okay with it, really- I’m smiling- but please don’t be unhappy because then this will actually crush me as I try to help you”.  I’ve had to make a significant investment in myself- to heal, to trust, to rest, to feel.  And hey, it turns out that the world I was carrying around- it was a movie prop- an illusion- it was pretty darned heavy, but I was never actually in danger of being crushed- just seemed that way.

p.s. can you find the teenager in the photo? 

December 29, 2010

Respecting darkness

Some poor choices today brought me a bit closer to this subject than I like, however most fortunately  I wrote this a few days ago.  I’m making this post late for that reason, but also because I was busy making up for lost sleep, cooking delicious belgian waffles, helping look up hints for Lego Harry Potter, and making sure we had toilet paper.  And, well, eating too much leftover candy…

Enjoy, comment, share, subscribe… another post tomorrow, but especially don’t forget to check in on Friday!

With the darkest part of the year just behind us, I want to reflect on loving and accepting the darkness within ourselves.  I’m surprised to see how little this is addressed, seeing how even the most optimistic among us at least occasionally have a rough day, or an experience that challenges our positive outlook.  And even more so, seeing how many people seem to go through life with a distinct desire, or a persistent habit, of focusing on the negative- to always find what is wrong, rather than what is right.  There was a time in my life when I actually felt pride in being a pessimist.  I thought “I might not be happy, but at least I’m aware”.  It surely wasn’t the happiest period of my life, but it also wasn’t the worst. 

 I’ve always respected darkness, and for a long period of my life I respected the dark and heavy places within myself.  This was during my pessimist period, but it was also partially during a time when darkness seemed inevitable to me.  I was a minor and didn’t yet have the freedom to fully choose my direction or my everyday activities (which are what move us in a direction).  I accepted what came out of that- I was angry and I expressed it in what I hoped were creative and productive ways.  I developed a place within myself where I honored the anger and lack of freedom- my own and that of others.  Being highly empathic, I picked up on others’ frustrations- and believe me, many of theirs were much more difficult to bear than my own- and I held them, saw them, and recognized their rightness and their beauty.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I recognized the rightness and beauty of the dark places within us where there is pain and anger and fear.

 Fast forward fifteen years or so to a life where I was no longer denied the freedom of self-determination simply for being young.  This was a life that was nearly everything I’d ever dreamed; an incredibly supportive and loving husband, 3 beautiful, healthy, unique, wonderful children, and the financial resources to allow us to live a bit more than modestly while I stayed home with the kids to support their curiosity, empowerment and freedom.   Here I was with everything I always wanted, yet struggling against my dark places- mostly pain and fear, but also some anger.  Most of it was old, some of it newer, and almost all of it aimed at myself.  What right did I have- a woman of freedom, intelligence, good fortune and privilege- to be entertaining any of these dark feelings, or to even possess dark places within myself?  My life should have been all positive energy, gratitude, light and love, right?  I had no right to darkness in my world full of freedom, love and comfort.

 But there it was, all the same.  *This* was the worst time in my life.  So I did what I could to make it go away.  I numbed- with food, with distractions (Zuma, anyone?), even with complaints and blame- reaching outside myself to look for the solution to make the darkness go away.  It didn’t work.  As I came to learn from my experience, and recently found words for in the brilliant work of Brene Brown, a shame researcher, numbing can’t be done selectively.  When we numb our pain, fear and shame we also numb our delight, excitement, interest and gratefulness.

 So, what to do with that darkness?  We all have some of it.  Some of us, at times, carry it around like a dark cloud or the weight of the world, like Atlas.  Oh boy, have I done that.  I think I was a frequent, long term visitor to that place with the t-shirts to prove it (you know, the ones that are the size of a child’s tent, covered in stains and dotted with holes?).  And we carry this weight and try to pretend we’re not standing in the cold rain being crushed to death as we smile and look for the positive.  We already know that doesn’t help.  So, alternatives?

 I suggest that we find the place I did when I was an angry teen- the place where we recognize that as much as we’d like to *not* feel those feelings, they’re there.  They won’t go away until we honor their presence and give them our love and respect.  Those dark places hold energy and power that we can use to draw ourselves out from under the clouds.

 I’m not suggesting that it’s good to repeat our stories ad nauseum- usually that’s a way of avoidance through blame (ie. complaining).  I’m also not saying we should act out these feelings and dark thoughts.  If one is feeling any serious urge to act harmfully or violently towards another living being, self included, that’s where some professional psychological help is vital.  But we can feel, honor and express our fear, our pain and our anger in ways that release the energy and free us.  I think everyone may be different here, but I’ve found much of this release through physical activity, music, art and occasionally a good hard cry.  (Any other suggestions?).Once the energy is released we can recognize the beauty and importance of our darkness- giving it the love and respect it deserves as our strongest and most effective guidance system, showing us that somewhere we are numbing or suppressing or hiding from vital parts of ourselves.  Then we can turn towards the light of what is calling us forward. 

 In both darkness and light,

Lesley

December 27, 2010

If I had one wish

Be the star cookie man!Just a quick note to mention that I’m finishing up this year with daily blog posts, making some updates and changes, AND a big announcement and opportunity on Friday.  Subscribers will get this announcement first- so if you’re curious go ahead and subscribe. 

And Happy Birthday, Mom!

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“If I had one wish this holiday season…” – Steve Martin

 Okay, so I’ve now proven that I’m truly scarred by a lifetime of SNL viewing.  And my one wish has nothing to do with singing children, swiss bank accounts, all encompassing power, revenge or orgasms.  If I’ve lost you here, I can only hope to catch you up with a youtube clip

I have a holiday tradition of wrapping gifts while watching movies.  I love this time alone.  I love making my gifts look beautiful.  And I love holiday movies.  My favorite gift wrapping movies for the past few years have been Love Actually and The Holiday- because they are ones the rest of my family scoffs at as “chick flicks”, which results in them somehow being magically repelled from my presence for a couple of hours.  Brilliant.   

As I watched and wrapped this year, I noticed something I hadn’t consciously noticed in the past.  At some point in the story line, the characters are overtaken with the urge to do something unusual.  Something that’s out of character.  Something bold and daring.  Even something that everyone else thinks is completely nuts.  Or that actually is kind of insane.  And they don’t have the urge to do these things simply for the expected result.  They have the urge to do these things because they can’t *not* do them. 

 This is the magic in these holiday movies- watching the characters being overtaken with a completely illogical urge to follow their hearts.  They become unflinchingly honest.  They admit to their mistakes. They panic and nearly back out.  They say “What the hell am I doing?” then do it anyway.  You get the sense that the result is irrelevant.  They seem to be saying “Hey, this may work out, and it might not.  But the only thing worse than it not working out is not taking the chance”

 There really is something like magic in that feeling.  Just following your heart, or your inner being, or your essential self.  Just doing what feels perfectly right.  It might be a little crazy.  It might be a little scary.  Or it might be a lot of both.  But it feels absolutely and perfectly right. 

 That is my one wish this holiday season.  That everyone, myself included, live a life of heart inspired action.  To experience that wild-excited-scary feeling and to follow through, knowing that the thing much worse than an unexpected or unwanted result is to not have taken the leap of faith at all.  I wish this for individual moments, this season, and for the new year to come. 

 A somewhat belated happy holidays and a very, very happy new year to all.

Lesley

September 16, 2010

The greatest thing our children give us

Spring 2010- blossom pathOne day a few weeks ago I had an amazing experience.  I hadn’t slept well- hadn’t done my usual pre-sleep writing, stayed up late, and had actually fallen asleep still wearing my jeans and underwire bra- and not even in my own bed, but in my older daughter’s as I read Alice In Wonderland to her.  Not my ideal rest circumstances.  I had a full load of thoughts in my head as well and clarity was not coming.  This is probably because I kept THINKING- stirring up those muddy waters, opening the door in the freezer aisle of my mind so that the view was obscured unless I either waited for it to clear or opened the door again.  So, naturally, I wasn’t getting what I’d call “quality rest”- after a night of disoriented half-waking and thinking periods, the sound of my husband getting ready for work in the morning woke me enough to get my eyes open.  I made the decision to go to the gym as scheduled, feeling both muddy and groggy.  As I headed to the shower after the gym, I noticed that  my younger daughter was sleeping in my bed- she had been in her own bed when I first got home and it was clear she had fallen asleep in much the same way I did (except for the jeans and the bra).  She was curled up in a corner of her bed surrounded by books and toys, with her lamp still on.  She must have wandered into my bed while I was outside watering plants.    

I love watching my kids sleep.  Don’t we all?  So I looked at my no-longer-tiny baby girl (she’s 6, far from *a* baby, but still *my* baby).  I saw her peace, her sleepy smile when I hugged her, and I decided that the best thing for me in that very moment would be to curl up next to her for a few minutes, to be in her peaceful presence and take a few minutes of hibernation.  So I did.  I curled up next to this warm sleeping happy little person, blissing out on the joy that is our lives.  Then it hit me.  Clarity.  Like a sudden burst of light, there it was.  And it was beautiful.  So I had to get up and write about it- because my life at this point in time is all about writing from that same place of peace and clarity and absolute love for my life, my family and for all the families out there finding their own way. 

But I also needed to write because this was, for me, a prime illustration of how our children can be our guides, our teachers, our gurus.  At that moment my youngest child was bodhisattva, an enlightened being able to transfer peace and joy simply by her existence and presence.  At this moment, as in all moments, she was truth (coincidentally, her name means “truth”).  As much as we lead our families as parents- through our actions and the tone we set (notice also that my girl’s sleep situation that night reflected my own), it’s also important to recognize when our children are leading us to better places and to accept that they are here to teach us about what we’ve forgotten.  As human adults we are experienced and fairly adept at the practicalities of life in ways newer humans often are not- we can walk and talk (some of us can even chew gum at the same time!), we can think and plan and rationalize and use logic.  All useful things.  But those newer humans?  They haven’t forgotten who they are, that they are whole, that they are an important part of the greater universe and the most important part of their own smaller universe.  They simply radiate this, at all times I think, but sometimes it’s harder for us to see from a place of limiting thoughts.  We feel it when they’re sleeping, though.  When we’re tired, distracted and lost in muddy thoughts, or just let our guard down we’re able to see and feel and experience this.  My goal is to see and feel this at all times, so that I can reflect it back to them in the moments they are overwhelmed in their thoughts- stomping, screaming in frustration, stuck in indecision, sad, impatient or bored.  Because this is what was given to me that morning- a reflection of the peace that is my own true self. 

September 9, 2010

The absolute greatest thing we have to offer our children

Believe it or not, I have a teenage son who will choose to hug me in public simply because he wants a hug from his mom.  (Don’t ask him to show this off – that will make him very uncomfortable- but watch us and you’ll see that it’s true).  As difficult as it is to say this without playing my personal copy of “Who Do You Think You Are? & Other Greatest Hits of Your Inner Critic”, I have to admit that I’m a pretty darned good mom.  I know this because my kids tell me so.  Regularly.  Without prompting and not necessarily because they want something.  They’re generally happy people and given the opportunity to radically change things in their lives (which they have at all times), they choose the life we live now. You’d think that I have this mom thing down.  That I live, every second of every day, knowing exactly the right thing to do and feeling that if every parent could just find what we have, do things the way we do them, that there would be peace in the world and we’d reach the apex of human potential (or some stuff like that).  Yeah, um, not quite.

 Honestly, I don’t think that it’s possible to never have doubt, to always do the exact right thing, or that there is one way for every parent in the world to create a life of joy, peace and love with their children.  In my actual experience, it takes intention.  It takes commitment.  It takes awareness.  It takes mistakes, lots of them.  It takes the actions of love.

 The shocking fact of the matter is that I have days when I find it difficult to actively love my children.  Don’t get me wrong, I always love them in the sense that everyone loves their own children.  I truly believe that all parents, along every part of the parenting spectrum, LOVE their children.  What I mean by saying “actively” love my child, is to love that child in the sense of seeing the needs at the root of this small, inexperienced person’s actions and addressing these needs regardless of behavior, and regardless of how inconvenient addressing these needs may be to me in the moment.  I mean that I’ve found it difficult to actively love my children in the sense of knowing that my children are often most in need when they are acting in ways that push my buttons- when they are whining or yelling or stomping, when they are breaking things or attempting to hurt others, and even when they are imploding and turning their anger and frustration inward, against themselves.  Yes, this is attachment parenting 101 stuff that I *know* to be true and that I’m not here to argue or defend.  There have been times I have failed miserably- by denying these truths, by being unwilling to inconvenience myself, by being unable to overcome the stuff that comes up when my buttons are pushed.  There are also times I have failed because I wasn’t paying attention, was refusing to listen to my intuition, or because I was not seeing my child clearly. 

 Mostly, the root of these failures comes down to one thing. 

 It is impossible to give something you don’t have for yourself. 

 My deepest goal as a parent is for my children to remain whole- to reach adulthood as fully themselves as they were the day they were born, as complete human beings who, at the time, were entirely dependent on me and highly lacking in skills and experience. It is inevitable that these complete human beings will become less dependent, that they will gain skills and experience as they go through life.  It is not inevitable that they lose their trust in themselves, their ability to love unconditionally, their connection with their own deepest joy, and their inner radiance and brilliance.

 For many years I *tried* to be the parent I choose to be.  I tried to trust in them and support their trust in themselves.  I tried to love them unconditionally, to be an example of unconditional love.  I tried to support their connection to their deepest joys.  And I watched as on many occasions, my own actions or words dimmed their inner radiance and I didn’t recognize their brilliance in each moment.  I say “tried” because the fact is that I didn’t trust myself.  I wasn’t able to love unconditionally because I never allowed myself to experience unconditional love.  I was disconnected from many of my own deepest joys, in spite of the fact that my children’s very existence is one of them.  And the fact is that my own inner radiance had become nearly unreachable and I couldn’t see any brilliance whatsoever. 

 Luckily, I have come back to myself.  It has been my own unique path, but it did take the intention to find my own happiness, to feel loved and supported, and to trust myself.  It has taken commitment to these intentions as well as choosing in each day and each moment to keep or renew these commitments.  It has taken awareness of when I am moving away from my intention or have gone to place I no longer want to be, so that I can renew my commitment at these times.  I make mistakes and keep making them, which is why that awareness is so important.  But most of all I am taking actions of love- treating myself like I have value, like my needs matter, and as if *I* am my most important resource in my being my children’s mom.  Because I am. 

 And so are you.

 As parents, having the clarity of knowing who we are is what allows us to, at times, set our other priorities aside to attend to the needs of our children.  It is also what allows us to work through the times when we don’t have an immediate solution to a challenge.  It allows us to look for the “and” instead of the “or” when it may appear as if our own needs and those of our children are in conflict.  And it allows us to see our children’s truth and brilliance and radiance even if they are struggling to do so, to support them in connecting with their deepest joy and to love them unconditionally.  Which is why I believe that the absolute greatest thing we can offer our children is to be our own unique whole selves, and from this perspective, be their unique whole loving parents.

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