Sometimes The Best We Can Do Is Allow Things To Happen

Photo Credit: Dane, Flickr.com

Photo Credit: Dane, Flickr.com

My nine-year-old daughter threw me a curve ball last spring when [seemingly out of nowhere] she began to experience anxiety over the simplest of things, such as going to school. Mia had always been an eager learner, an outgoing and friendly child who appeared to take life in stride. The kind of kid who, once she learned how to skip, preferred that method of getting from point A to point B…usually accompanied by a whistle or a song from her lips.

When I began to notice my daughter’s shift in attitude and demeanor, my own anxiety kicked in. I had never experienced my daughter this way before, so I had no idea how to “handle” it. I tried many different tactics which seemed natural to me, such as listening and affirming her feelings (while making it clear attending school was non-negotiable), at times I ignored her behavior or minimized the situation and pushed her through the feeling. Another approach I found myself taking (in response to my own growing anxiety) was to ask her if she could tell me what was wrong so I could help her (“If you can just tell mommy what is wrong I can find a way to help you. I can’t help you if I don’t know what is going on inside your head.”)

One of the biggest obstacles, hindsight being 20/20, was learning my daughter didn’t know exactly why she was feeling so much anxiety. If she didn’t know, how did I expect her to tell me?!

The situation escalated to a point where I felt we needed some outside, professional help. We began to see a wonderful family counselor who, over time, was able to unravel my daughter’s anxiety. The counselor also taught Mia some concrete ways to cope with challenging thoughts and emotions (such as identifying/understanding her feelings, journal writing, and deep breathing exercises). The counselor helped her dad and I understand how sensitive Mia was to the mood and energy in our home. Even when, on the surface, she didn’t appear to even be paying attention to our discussions.

During one of Mia’s sessions my daughter spoke, at length, about a young man (a family friend) who passed away a few years earlier (when my daughter was six). I had no idea Mia ever thought about this person after his death, we hadn’t dwelled on the details, or even spoke much about the incident. My daughter did not attend the funeral…yet, she carried this grief and worry about the unknown for three years.

I learned a great deal in going through this experience with my child. The most important being sometimes the best way to handle her feelings is to simply allow them to happen, to acknowledge the feeling and be with her in that moment knowing we[moms and dads] cannot fix or change every emotion or problem our children will face. However, by acknowledging and sitting with them and the feeling it begins to become less powerful.

The point of my story is threefold: (a) our children pick up on, and are more sensitive than we give them credit for, (b) when one of your children has a mental health issue (such as severe anxiety) the entire family has an issue because the family is an interdependent system, and (c) there is no shame in asking for help, professional or otherwise, when the waters get deep and murky as they often do when raising children.

Creating Healthy Boundaries for Ourselves and our Children

Mom and ToddlerI have always believed and subscribed to the thought that firm boundaries are an important aspect of life. Setting boundaries allow us to designate where our limits are and are not to be crossed. This can apply to all areas of our life – from children, relationships (family & friends), work environment to behaviors/tolerances, respect, acceptances and everyday encounters in today’s world.

If we have outlined healthy boundaries for ourselves and our lives, it goes without saying that these boundaries will translate easily for us as parents to our children and show up significantly in their lives too. But if we have not then much consideration to incorporating firm boundaries into your family dynamics is a must (in my opinion). Between my husband and I – I am definitely more of the one to set the boundaries for our little one. And as we know our different strengths as parents, the “laying of the land” usually falls more comfortably into my hands by default. This has definitely been one area in our daughter’s growth and development that continues to be “tried and tested” and it has come with many deep breaths, tears, upsets and gray-hairs to say the least but we have seen some significant changes recently and for her too. What I have learned in the little 3.5-years of her life and through my own parenting approach is that in order to create an effective outcome from the boundaries that are being set, I must continue to stay conscious of my “presentation” in communicating them to her so that she learns them with as little “noise” as possible coming from me – like frustration, raising my voice, etc. I’ve found that setting the firm boundaries before the anticipated episode (vs. during the meltdowns) is more effective.

Another absolute is consistency and follow-through. Parents cannot expect their children to adhere to the boundaries if they are ever-changing or if the child is not aware of when they are breaking the boundaries. Constant communication and “teaching moments” need to be at the front and center of every parent’s mind so their children value what they are being taught.

The Process of Laying a Limit – Laying limits firmly, yet from the heart is one of the most challenging things to do. It requires that we open our hearts to our children, deeply connecting to our own feelings and then, connecting to theirs. Once they see that we are fully present to our own authentic expression and theirs, we can lay the limit firmly, without guilt or doubt. But first we need to go within, check ourselves, ask ourselves what the limit means to us, why it is important, and then go ahead and lay it. When we do this inner work first, we are then coherent, consistent, and amply clear. Many of us lay limits willy-nilly and this is when they come back to bite us.Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent

How effective have you been as a parent in setting boundaries with your children? With yourself?

Have you clearly communicated with your children what those boundaries are and if not, why not, what holds you back?

The Downside to Multi-Tasking

15 01 14 Downside to Mulit-taskingI am embarrassed to say I used to brag about how well I could multi-task.  I would literally give myself mental kudos and pats on the back for my ability to simultaneously cook dinner, nurse my youngest, correct my two-year-old, help my middle-schooler with homework and take a telephone call at any given moment.  This truly was a very normal scene in our home for many years.  I am certain the amount of anxious energy I generated while trying to keep up with my husband, five kids, and the house was what propelled me through this chapter in my life.

However, there was an unfortunate casualty…the first several of my kids’ growing years were so busy I have little memory of our interactions.  Sure, I can recall feeling I had accomplished a great deal at the end of each day (multiple diaper changes, another three family meals prepared and cleaned up, all of the laundry folded and put away, house freshly dusted and vacuumed, toilets cleaned and sanitized) but, in looking back, I spent most of my time just going through the motions rather than really being present in the tedious, yet incredibly important, daily work of being a mother.  Because I was so busy trying to be everything to everybody else…giving and attentive spouse, ever-nurturing and ever-patient parent to kids who were literally in every developmental stage of life, it hindered my ability to really be a part of most of the small, yet significant moments of life.

Somehow I managed to survive that period in my life…and how unfortunate it is that I use the word survive to describe it!  I wish I had been able to slow down enough to recognize I didn’t have to be the perfect wife, mother, housekeeper, cook, chauffer, as well as possessor of unending amounts of patience for every family member sooner.  Because all they really needed, besides the basic necessities, was my full on presence.

I cannot go back and redo my life during those years, but I am blessed to say that wisdom does come with age.  As I continue down the ever-winding path of motherhood I have learned to let some things go, to moderate the time I spend devoted to tasks such as cleaning and cooking (and even to my computer, since writing requires a lot of time behind the keys).  By releasing these various activities I have less stress and more time to devote to really listening and interacting with my husband and children.  The other lesson aging has taught me is not to feel guilty for taking personal time.  After all, how can I continue to nurture others when my well has run dry?

Motherhood will always be synonymous with multi-tasking to some degree, but prioritizing, releasing or delegating some tasks, and recharging regularly (physically, emotionally, spiritually) increases the rewards of time, energy and patience….ultimately the presence I have to give to the most important relationships in my life.

Do you feel the same?

Creating Healthy Boundaries

15 01 09 setting healthy boundariesI have always believed and subscribed to the thought that firm boundaries are an important aspect of life. Setting boundaries allow us to designate where our limits are and are not to be crossed. This can apply to all areas of our life – from children, relationships (family & friends), work environment to behaviors/tolerances, respect, acceptances and everyday encounters in today’s world.

If we have outlined healthy boundaries for ourselves and our lives, it goes without saying that these boundaries will translate easily for us as parents to our children and show up significantly in their lives too. But if we have not then much consideration to incorporating firm boundaries into your family dynamics is a must (in my opinion).
Between my husband and I – I am definitely more of the one to set the boundaries for our little one. And as we know our different strengths as parents, the “laying of the land” usually falls more comfortably into my hands by default.

This has definitely been one area in our daughter’s growth and development that continues to be “tried and tested” and it has come with many deep breaths, tears, upsets and gray-hairs to say the least but we have seen some significant changes recently and for her too. What I have learned in the little 3.5-years of her life and through my own parenting approach is that in order to create an effective outcome from the boundaries that are being set, I must continue to stay conscious of my “presentation” in communicating them to her so that she learns them with as little “noise” as possible coming from me – like frustration, raising my voice, etc. I’ve found that setting the firm boundaries before the anticipated episode (vs. during the meltdowns) is more effective.

Another absolute is consistency and follow-through. Parents cannot expect their children to adhere to the boundaries if they are ever-changing or if the child is not aware of when they are breaking the boundaries. Constant communication and “teaching moments” need to be at the front and center of every parent’s mind so their children value what they are being taught.

Dr. Shefali Tsabary

Dr. Shefali Tsabary

The Process of Laying a Limit – Laying limits firmly, yet from the heart is one of the most challenging things to do. It requires that we open our hearts to our children, deeply connecting to our own feelings and then, connecting to theirs. Once they see that we are fully present to our own authentic expression and theirs, we can lay the limit firmly, without guilt or doubt. But first we need to go within, check ourselves, ask ourselves what the limit means to us, why it is important, and then go ahead and lay it. When we do this inner work first, we are then coherent, consistent, and amply clear. Many of us lay limits willy-nilly and this is when they come back to bite us.” – Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent

How effective have you been as a parent in setting boundaries with your children? With yourself?

Have you clearly communicated with your children what those boundaries are and if not, why not, what holds you back?

The Transformational Power and Evolution of Conscious Parenting

The Transformational Power and Evolution of Conscious Parenting

The Transformational Power and Evolution of Conscious Parenting

Photo Credit: Takver, Flickr.com

I became a first-time mother at the prime age of 39 (my daughter is now 3.5 years old) and find she is “raising” me in ways I never thought possible. Prior to becoming a mother, I had parenting all “mapped out” from how it would look and how it would “go” and to my surprise it was anything but what I expected. From having her four weeks premature to her very strong-willed and spirited personality, I had all my “ducks lined up” and thought with my “controlling ego” that so long as I was in charge it was all going to fall into place just fine. Now reflecting back, I can see that every part of my pregnancy journey happened exactly as it was meant to be – to better prepare me for what was yet to come when she actually arrived and my own birthing as a mother officially began.

I was about to embark upon a new paradigm shift / awakening to “grow myself up” in ways I thought I already had and see that my daughter was always destined to be called into my life so she could teach me how to grow my underdeveloped being into the mommy she needed me to become that of more ease and calm for our journey in life together.

Before becoming a mother, I would describe myself as follows: full-time career woman, always busy doing, set in my ways, very structured, anxious / anxiety, controlling, impatient, perfectionist, people pleaser, care what others think, black and white thinker, over-analyzer, hyper/intense personality, high expectations of myself and others, not in the present moment / future-based thinker, wanting to always be prepared and ten steps ahead, very fixed on my own expectations of parenthood.

Then after seeing Dr. Shefali Tsabary for the first time this past May on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday followed by her first Lifeclass show, I knew this was my official wake-up call from the Universe (bringing all my past experiences) including the birthing of motherhood to a higher calling. I began reading The Conscious Parent book and it continues to affirm that being right where I am in this very moment is where I am supposed to be – with my greatest teacher, my daughter, as my guide. Furthermore, I began doing some spiritual meditation / work to tap more into my essence and be more present, aware of my past conditionings, limited-self beliefs and behaviors so I could more consciously parent my daughter from a place she needed me to vs. stay stuck in my old ways. I came to recognize through Dr. Shefali’s work that anxiety, doing, control all go hand in hand and had never really looked at it this way before. This past June, I started this personal blog (The Conscious Parent) as a way to continue the conscious parenting conversation and provide a platform to journal (self-therapy) while helping others in return.

When my daughter turned one, I consciously quit my job to be home full time and although this was a blessing to have had the choice to make happen, at the same time it was a huge adjustment from being a career person and having a very structured routine to a non-structured routine and no longer in control of my day. It gave me new insight on how my own anxieties, preconceived beliefs, behaviors and restrictive ways were limiting my ease and enjoyment of motherhood at times and taking ownership of how I was contributing to burdening my daughter’s emotions more through my own frustrations. With my “A-type” personality style, I wanted to be so prepared in knowing it all (about motherhood that is) to be at ease and be steps ahead of my own anxiety at any given point (ego – need for control). Well that back-fired and created more frustration onto my daughter, who sensed my anxious and controlling energy) and when she didn’t fulfill my expectations that I had “planned out” in my head (ego – perfectionism, conforming) my inner tensions deepened.

So here is a glimpse at how I have grown along my conscious parenting journey (and continue to work on these matters of the heart) on a daily basis – while still realizing my unconsciousness can still get the best of me but being more quick to awakening my consciousness and staying present in my own emotions:

  • Developing my patience muscle and awareness to my emotions; pro-active in my thinking
  • Not caring what others think
  • Remaining open and flexible
  • Apologizing and admitting my faults to my daughter and others
  • Speaking more calmly
  • Walking away as needed / pausing before reacting during my child’s tantrums (which have scaled down immensely)
  • Recognizing my emotional triggers
  • Staying honest and vulnerable with my child about my own feelings, emotions, frustrations
  • Teaching / modeling more relaxed vs. anxious responses to my child
  • Re-emphasizing the importance of self-love and self-care
  • Taking more time for me (making me matter)
  • Understanding and empowering my child to do on her own that I know she is capable of – even when she wants to resist greatly
  • Staying consistently mindful of my language choice, tone, behaviors, responses, etc
  • See her and understand her own emotions – letting her have her emotions and upsets and go through her own process removing myself “personally” in the moment it occurs
  • Validating her own being through my words and affection
  • Talking to her after her meltdowns and moving on vs. holding a “grudge”
  • I am learning that as I stay true to my own feelings and remove ego (perfectionism) I can be honest with my daughter about my frustrations, she sees me not as “super mom” but more of a reality to her developing self – to accept her emotions as they come.
  • I am learning that my tolerance has grown (from the past 3.5 years), when I am faced with her melt-down days, I can get through them without letting my anxiety get the best of me and in my most available conscious awareness.
  • I am learning that my daughter needs to have her “off days” too so she can learn and grow through them for herself.

Conscious parenting is not about perfection nor is it about getting to an end-point as it’s a constant evolution of raising ourselves as we raise our children and teaching them as much as they are here to teach us first and foremost.” – Dr. Shefali

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

Photo Credit: Uncalno Tekno, Flickr.com

It’s been said when the student is ready, the teacher will arrive. At forty-six I have enough life experience to comprehend the truth in this statement. I also understand the teacher can come in many different forms and show up in both our most challenging and our most triumphant moments. Upon reflection, I can say with conviction my most valuable lessons have come through twenty-two years of marriage and in parenting five children.

The role of wife and mother have taught me what it means to be part of a committed relationship and, even more important, how little control I have over anyone but myself. While there are myraid ways I have witnessed this throughout marriage and motherhood, the most pivotal lesson came several years ago during a crisis with my eldest son (at the time in his early twenties), and his addiction to alcohol.

It was that particular journey which truly opened my eyes and heart to the essence of what it means to be a parent who loves unconditionally. Prior to this walk I believed I understood the importance of limitless acceptance, in hindsight I know it was (at times) merely lip service and not a thorough understanding or true appreciation for the gifts our children can be in helping us develop into our best selves.

Obviously how we parent our children on a daily basis is very important. But, in the end, we must take care to remember we do not have the authority to direct the outcome of the life they have been given to live. In other words, children come into the world through us, we are chosen to guide them and assist their efforts to work towards their life’s purpose by creating an atmosphere conducive to their growth.

This, in and of itself, is a wonderful gift. We [as parents and grandparents] can choose to take the gift to the next level and remain open to the continuous learning we receive through our children’s journey. For example, once I understood the magnitude of my son’s alcohol abuse I could have spent a lot of time blaming myself or someone else for the challenge. Or, I could have recoiled in shame or guilt for considering myself a horrible mother. Instead, I chose to pray for my own guidance in assisting, supporting, encouraging, loving and learning from my son through the process of his recovery.

There were times when even that was not enough. The epiphany came when I woke up one morning and understood I was not in a position to control the outcome of his battle with alcohol, I was only in control of how I responded to the situation that presented itself to me.

Each day provides opportunities to learn, and people to teach. The question is…are you teachable? If so, look no further than the children in your life to show you exactly where you need to grow.

My Conscious Parenting Journey

Photo May 18, 7 20 07 PM

My Parenting Journey:

From 2001-2009 I was that parent I swore I would never be.  I was a yeller.  I was frustrated.  I was overwhelmed.  I wanted to be better but frankly I didn’t know how.  I’d look at my kids as they were sleeping with those peaceful angelic faces and say, “Tomorrow…yes tomorrow…I will enjoy each moment.  Tomorrow, I won’t rush so much.  Tomorrow I won’t lose my patience.”

Then tomorrow came and you know the story.

So after I ended up running myself into such a rut, I finally got help.  First for myself.  Then, well, for myself again.  It went something like this, if I could simplify it to such a degree.

STAGE 1- The Misery:

1) I was a tired SAHM of 3 girls under the age of 5.

2) I was overwhelmed and frequently took it out on my girls.

3) I felt lost in my life, had an affair and almost ended up divorced.

This led to some awesome stuff.

STAGE 2- The Awakening:

1) I learned that it’s okay to take care of myself, first.

2) I learned how to let go of guilt and stop focusing on perfection.

3) I learned how to stop being a people-pleaser and a victim and started focusing on creating a life I wanted to live.

This led to some more awesome stuff:

STAGE 3- The Application

1) I realized that change was up to me, not anyone else.

2) I decided that I wanted to be a better woman, wife and mother and that I wanted others to join this journey with me, so I became a life coach.

3) I started working with others to help them through the Awakening stage and also found The Conscious Parent in 2010.

Now I’ll be the first to tell you I am NOT a parenting expert.  I am a parent and educator.  

I am always open to learning and growing.  One day as I was dreaming about publishing companies, I came across Namaste Publishing.  By a matter of chance (if you believe in that…I don’t) I found this book, The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary and was so intrigued by it, I pre-ordered it.

Once I received it, I devoured it, and devoured it again.  I started practicing the principles in my home and watched in awe as the environment changed.

My home was more peaceful.  My girls were more communicative. I was more patient and relaxed.  I stop focusing on perfectionism and instead focused on building healthy relationships based on mutual respect.  I learned how to set boundaries with love and also to allow for natural consequence.

You see, this was all a result of Conscious Parenting, and it was the healing balm my family needed.

I reached out to Dr. Shefali and introduced myself.  I asked her question after question.  I was using her book to coach clients in my office.  I was so passionate about her work that I wrote a workbook as a companion to her book, which Constance, the founder of Namaste, approved for use in the courses I began teaching in my area.

I did this to help others see what I saw.  

So if this sounds like something you’d like to learn, if this sounds like an approach to parenting that might just trump a traditional top down parenting-style you might like to explore Conscious Parenting and see if it can do for you what I did for me, and my family.

I am forever grateful for the work of Dr. Shefali Tsabary.  I am grateful that she was able to verbalize this in a way that we can use.  I am grateful that she is willing to be a pioneer in the very opinionated and rocky world of parenting experts.  Her work is a huge part of the shift we all are making on this road to greater self-awareness.

Join us for this 4-week Conscious Parenting Course.

Take it one step at a time.  Go at your own pace.  The course starts when you’re ready and will be delivered to you by email once a week for 4 weeks.  You will need your own copy of The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali.  You will receive a complimentary workbook, which you can only receive by joining this course.

Plus we are over on Facebook in a group that is open for discussion of the Conscious Parent approach.  We are a warm and welcoming group of parents who want to do what is best for our children and for ourselves too.  We want to transform ourselves through our parenting and we are supportive of you as you transform too.  No judgment here.

It all starts with you making a choice to do something different and be the parent you really, deep down, know you can be.  

We love you and hope to see you in the group!  Once you join make sure you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you and your child and we’ll be happy to help you.

Register Now Ticket

 

Dr. Shefali Tsabary on Oprah’s Lifeclass

Less than two weeks ago we crashed Hodges University in Naples, FL for the day to celebrate motherhood, re-energize after a long summer and enjoy speakers like Dr. Shefali who made a virtual appearance on Conscious Parenting, Dr. Scott Haltzman on The Secrets of Happy Families, Cherie Rodriguez and me on Making Money with Meaning and Twitter Basics for Moms, at the 2nd Annual Happy Mom Conference.  

If you weren’t able to join stay tuned the digital pass will be coming out soon and you’ll be able to watch from the comfort of your home.  Make sure you sign up here on this site so you’re notified when it’s available.

Photo Sep 17, 9 35 42 PMDuring the talk I gave on Twitter Basics for Moms, we covered the 3 ways you can use Twitter to make your life easier.  One of them is for Connection.  Guess what I just saw on Facebook?  

A Twitter opportunity for you to talk with Dr. Shefali and Oprah on Sunday Sept 20th at 9pm EST/ 6pm PST.  Use the hashtag #Lifeclass and join in on the conversation that is happening around the world.  If you can’t watch it then make sure to DVR it.

Here’s a snipped of what she’s going to talk about.  Remember Conscious Parenting is about transforming yourself through your parenting.  Want to go deeper?  Take our online Conscious Parenting Course.  Delivered straight to your inbox with a downloadable workbook, 4-weekly lessons and a private FB group to support you along the way.

Revolutionary!  

To watch live online go to Oprah’s Lifeclass.  I’ll be tweeting.  Will you?

Moms Conference in Naples Florida

Happy Mom Conference in Naples FloridaIn just one week, moms from all over southwest Florida will be meeting up at Hodges University to hear speakers, have lunch together, browse the vendors together and have a fun day off!

Check out our ===> Happy Mom Conference 2014 Brochure.  It’s at the printer’s right now.

This year is going to be even bigger and better and I want you to come.  Will you grab a friend too?  

Dress for Success will be hosting a raffle with a ton of prizes and we have amazing vendors.  Dr. Shefali Tsabary will be speaking on Conscious Parenting (virtual) and Dr. Scott Haltzman will be speaking on the Secrets of Happy Families.  They are both nationally recognized experts and you won’t want to miss them.  

I am going to teach you about Twitter, what you need to know and why you need to know it, and how to make money with meaning.  That means you are good at lots of stuff…so let’s figure out how to make money doing that!  

Register Now Ticket

Watch this video below and register today while there are still seats available.  Much love!

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The Worlds Toughest Job…what is it?

I hate to admit it but what I thought was the toughest job is not what this is about and it struck me in a way that I thought it was worth sharing.  

Before I watched it my mind jumped to a few conclusions as to what it would be about…

Top on my list were:

  • Alaskan fishing jobs (I saw a movie on this once documenting how dangerous it is and it has just stuck with me…not sure why I put this on top of the list but it was the first thing that came to mind)
  • Police officer in an inner city ghetto (dealing with drug dealers and gangsters seems really tough..that’s an understatement I’m sure)
  • US Soldier (goes without saying, no explanation needed here!)
  • Neurosurgeon (like Dr. Ben Carson…who separates conjoined twins)
  • ….something along these lines..

But it wasn’t any of these.  This is a real job interview for a real job put on by a real boss.  Comment below when you are done and let me know what you thought it was!