Archive for Emotions

Beating Down Frustration in Your Home Business

Beating Down Frustration in Your Home Business

Yesterday a huge wave of doubt and frustration came over me. It came unexpectedly and rose to such heights that I found I was drowning in negativity and talking irrationally. I expressed it to Jim and Molly, my 13yo happened to be in the kitchen too. She had never seen me doubt myself in quite that way. She was worried and showed a side of sympathy and concern I had never seen in her before.

I feel so bad for Cutie,” she kept saying. That’s her nickname for me. “What are you going to do?” she asked me time and again. I didn’t have an answer.

Has that ever happened to you? Where you just couldn’t hold it in anymore and the demons of negativity started beating you down?

“You’ll never make it,” they say.

“You’ve totally missed the mark, why keep trying?”

“If this was the right path, shouldn’t it be easier?”

Typically, if you’ve hung around with me much on this blog or you’ve worked with me before, you’ve experienced the opposite. I believe you can do anything you set your mind to and cheering you on makes me happy. In my core I see the potential and good in everyone.

But sometimes, it’s hard to believe the same for me. That’s the truth.

So today I’m just being honest with you and working some things through on paper. If you’re feeling confused, write THROUGH the emotions and figure out why. Asking questions help. These are core coaching concepts I work with my clients and use on myself too…let’s see where they go…ready to hear some inner dialogue? Keep reading.

Why am I feeling doubtful?

Since I opened my life coaching practice I have always had this HUGE vision to help moms live happier lives. I’m an intense person in general and having small goals just doesn’t work for me.

I remember researching publishing companies within weeks of opening my practice, because I knew I had to ‘see’ where I was going. What would be better, Namaste Publishing, or Hay House?

Conscious Parent CourseIt was then that I found Dr. Shefali Tsabary on the Namaste Publishing website. I pre-ordered her book The Conscious Parent and loved the concepts so much that I incorporated her theories into my life and practice, developed a friendship with her and wrote a companion workbook which was approved by Namaste for use in my Conscious Parent Course.

Great. Or not.

I loved what I was doing and I was making a little bit of money doing it. But my vision was bigger. I kept asking myself HOW can I reach more moms?

So I set out to writing my first book April O'Leary - Ride the waveRide the Wave: Journey to Peaceful Living in which I share my own personal transformation from frustrated at-home mom and how I was able to let go of much of my reactivity. I wrote it in a week (the first week I had to myself in ten years since becoming a mom) and shared it with my contact at Namaste. They weren’t interested. So I found a way to make it happen for myself and learned the art of self-publishing.

I continued coaching privately and knew that with a one-to-one practice I would severely limit my ability to reach thousands of moms with the strategies I shared in my book. This led me to creating the 13-01-13-uofmoms-header3University of Moms, developing some online courses and eventually to founding the Happy Mom Conference Happy Mom Conferencewhich ran in 2013 and 2014 providing educational talks and mom-focused vendors in an atmosphere of support.

Great. Or not.

I loved what I was doing and I was making a little more money doing it. But my vision was bigger and I had put a lot on myself. This was WAY more work than I had planned and it was taking WAY more tip.

Yes the vision persisted. How can I reach more moms?

Looking through the photos from the conference I saw moms who were thriving in direct sales and network marketing businesses. Their tables lined the perimeter of the room and suddenly I saw something I had never seen before.

Yes! Here are the moms I’ve been waiting to reach.

That year I took a complete shift in my entire business and rebranded my practice to help moms, like you, to build your home businesses, but more than that, to experience happiness and feel recognized and valuable as you did it.

Now that I’m writing this through I can see where the frustration is coming from. Isn’t that interesting.

I’m not an expert in network marketing. Yes I wrote a book with Jessica Higdon, and we hit the best-seller list just recently. The fact is, I’ve only just begun incorporating the network marketing model into my coaching practice as an added source of revenue.

What I am an expert in is life coaching. I love helping people navigate their personal challenges. I love helping them examine their core beliefs about themselves and their world around them. THAT is where I have had a major life change and THAT is where I can help you.

Yes I have learned about marketing along the way, but truly that’s not my goal. It’s a sideline skill you need to build any business.

BUT if you are unhappy in your life, becoming a top-earner in your company is not going to change that. I know plenty of women who have achieved that level of success and are no happier because of it. And the truth is, often it brings its own unique relationship challenges that need to be addressed.

Being out of alignment!

That is the core reason I was feeling doubtful. When you are out of alignment in your life, your emotions will alert you. It’s that simple. Don’t sweep them under the rug dig deeper (in writing) and find out why.

For me, today, those emotions of frustration were simply alerting me to dig deeper and now I have a choice.

You see how writing can take you places you might not have otherwise gone. I could have chosen to let my mind continue to spin tales all day long. Beating me up. Telling me I’m not going to achieve my dreams. Now I can choose to shift and embrace the journey and get back on my course.

It’s why The Katy Perry movie is my favorite movie of all time (and there are plenty of other real-life examples to support this concept). During her rise to fame she was told to be more like Avril Lavigne, and she kept saying, I just want to be Katy. When she stuck with it, despite her car being impounded and having no money magic eventually broke through.

All it takes is one connection. All it takes is persistence and staying the course. Someone will rise up to help you. I truly believe that. The universe will not let your dreams fall flat.

Yes, you’ll learn plenty along the way. Yes, you’ll doubt yourself. Yes, you’ll want to quit. Yes, you’ll see in others what you don’t see in yourself. And YES you’ll have to decide are you going to let frustration beat you down or will you stay the course?

For me. I’m staying the course.

Now I have to go wake up Molly and tell her I’m not quitting.

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Thoughts On Raising A “Strong-Willed” Child And …

 Thoughts On Raising A “Strong-Willed” Child …. how we choose to accept our children for who they are, separate from our ego.

Over the course of my daughter’s four short years of life, I have undoubtedly called / labeled her “strong-willed”. I find I do so when she inserts her will, her voice and her way. Am I alone, I venture to say I’m not. Why? Because as parents when our child projects their will onto us we naturally (get triggered) and become defensive and sometimes feel powerless. We lash out with our roaring egos of power, control and authority and unconsciously break the spirit of our children when all they are doing is showing us who they are at their core. We call it “defiance, manipulation, bad behavior, strong-willed and stubborn”. We insert our will right back and show them “who’s boss”. Our body language reflects it. Our tone of voice commands it. Our behavior mimics it as our own inner-child (tantrum) shows up. We don’t like the way it feels, we are the ones that are most uncomfortable and we want to control the situation so these feelings go away (for us). And so it goes … the vicious cycle and patterns our children learn to navigate through and ultimately protect themselves from (hence the creation of their ego) which shields their authenticity.

Does this sound at all familiar to you? The latter are very common behaviors that reflect a thread through that of traditional parenting. Yet the teachings of conscious parenting that Dr. Shefali Tsabary so brilliantly reminds us of is anything but from this mindset. Instead, conscious parenting asks us to pause, give space to that “feeling” we are having and find the lesson to be learned in that moment that our child is bringing to us. Conscious parenting invites us to accept our children for who they are but only when we can accept ourselves first. And it brings forth the opportunity to ask “what about this moment is triggering me, is mine to own and not my child’s to receive”?

I continue to hold gratitude in my heart for these wonderful reminders that I have been embracing (over the past year) and had I not opened my heart and mind to taking a more conscious parenting approach with my child, I believe my parenting journey would have brought upon more (power) struggles for both of us.

Nevertheless, I believe we all have a strong-willed fiber within us and we have the ability to view this from a positive (engaging) vantage point as opposed to a negative (disengaging) one. Through generations, we have been conditioned to mask our feelings, emotions and all that lies at the root of our being. We have been made to believe that it is “bad” to speak up, say how we feel, stand for what we believe, disagree with others. We have been “shut up”, ignored, made to feel less than and ultimately distrusting of our inner voice. So when our children reflect to us their “strong will”, we automatically label it is  as “wrong and unacceptable”. Here in lies the reality – our child’s strong-will is part of their authentic being, just as it is ours, and comes without any intention or malice to do or be wrongful. They are showing up as they are and if we don’t stay mindful their spirit can quickly turn into “ego” form (just as it has for us) and the unconscious pattern will carry on.

So how does one parent a strong-willed child with a more conscious mindset? I offer no perfect strategy however  I have discovered a few ways that have worked for us, all while incorporating a conscious parent approach, that you may find helpful too:

  1. When she does not back down and wants what she wants … I  attune to the situation at hand and ask myself “Is that she wants an unreasonable request?” “Is her demand going against my agenda / need?” “Is this a teachable moment for both us to connect better and allow me to help her better understand the boundaries / limits”?
  2. When she continues to negotiate … I listen to her request and allow her to share her point of view / reasoning for (this provides empowerment and the ability to trust that her inner voice matters and counts).
  3. When she doesn’t accept or do something I am asking of her (e.g. need her willingness / cooperation) … I look at the situation at hand and look for the “why”. Is it because of my approach, or that she is not focused on what I am saying? Do I need to connect better with her (eye-to-eye) and to get her attention? Am I stressing out and expecting her to meet my agenda / needs without any compassion for what she is doing in that moment?
  4. When she talks back, raises her voice and gets in one of her “moods” … I look at what is it about my child’s behavior is mirroring back to me to learn. Is she doing what I do at times? Is she trying to tell me through her actions that she is needing more connection and or space?

By nature, parenting is not easy and I don’t believe the intention to become parents through the Divine work of The Universe was ever meant to be easy. What I have found so bitterly sweet is how the child we receive to nurture, love, guide, protect and teach ultimately becomes our greatest teacher in which we learn how to grow more deeply, intimately and vulnerably within ourselves – and what a beautiful gift we are given for our continued self-growth.

Long live the strong-willed ….

 

from The Conscious Parent Blog.

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Each Child is Different, meet them where they are…

Each Child is Different, meet them where they are

Photo Credit: Victor Cristian Mitroi, Flickr.com

The oldest of my five children, Nick, who is twenty-seven, and my second son, Allen-Michael, twenty-one, could not be more different from one another. Because they were raised by the same mother I just assumed the boys would be more alike. Though it makes no sense to expect this since I now understand each child arrives in the world with his own temperament, sets of challenges, and lessons for us, and a unique destiny to pursue as well.

Over the past few years, having made the shift from thinking and “do-ing” my parenting from a place where I was in charge of the teaching of my children, to the daily practice of the concept of their teaching me has been the wildest, yet most enlightening/rewarding journey of my life.

When I let go of my expectations (even those I would not have verbally acknowledged) and simply met my sons where they were, my world opened up.

For instance, Nick has been challenged with addiction to alcohol. He has battled this disease (some days more so than others) since he was fifteen years old. Almost five years sober at this point, he doesn’t attribute his recovery to faith in God or any other Higher Power. If you ask Nick he will say his fear of going back to jail is what keeps him away from any bottle. Nick does believe in God, but doesn’t actively pursue a relationship through church attendance or in his everyday life. He was raised Catholic (I will admit, inconsistently), but doesn’t care to make time for spirituality or religion today.

Allen-Michael, on the other hand, who was also raised “inconsistently Catholic” has had an increasingly close relationship with God since his teen years. Calm and easy-going from the day he arrived in the world, he avidly pursues daily mass, mission work, feeding the homeless, and even contemplating the priesthood. Allen-Michael feels very strongly about the gospel and looks to the lives of Catholic saints as inspiration for his own.

It appears to be too early to tell what role faith and religion will play the lives of my youngest three children, but they continue to be raised in the same way by a mother who often verbally and through her actions places more value in the intuition of a higher calling and a purpose greater then oneself than on the structure of any denomination or book.

What I love most about the different ways in which my children approach life is their ability to show respect for, and tolerance of one another choices to take a path different from their own. Knowing, above all else, I have helped create an environment for that to happen in is very gratifying.

What do you say and do to foster a sense of individuality in your children?

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Conscious Parenting: Raising the next generation to new heights!

Photo Credit:  Matt, Flickr.com

Photo Credit: Matt, Flickr.com

Like so many other people, I have a dream.  This dream of mine began small…under my own roof in fact.  But, the more I learn and invest myself into the process and potential of this concept, the greater my desire to be an instrumental part of seeing the dream become a reality not only for my home,  but for homes throughout THE WORLD.  I firmly believe it can be done, I just wonder if it will be a reality during my lifetime…

What is this dream you ask?

My dream, along with a growing number of others, is the ability to experience what the world would be like to live in if the next generation of children were raised by parents determined to do so consciously.

How can those of us who are working toward conscious parenting build the momentum of this dream?

For starters it means regularly sharing the idea with other parents.  For example, I recently knew three babies born so I bought a copy of The Conscious Parent for each family as a gift.  The recipients will need to be open to take a risk and an  initiative to evaluate their parenting with an open mind.  They would ideally begin to understand much of our child rearing skill comes from what we have experienced in our own upbringing.  While our parents may have loved us very, very much, they were not raised in a way that honored their authentic being, therefore they were unable to raise us in a way that honored our inner self.

Instead, previous generations of people have been raised to believe it is the parent who carries the power, deserves all of the respect, and whom should be honored and obeyed without question.  As a result of many generations raised with those ideals in mind, there have been untold amounts of emotional wounds passed down.  If we choose to continue to ignore,  or to approach parenting the same way our elders did, those emotions will be given to our own children.  When we neglect to tend to our own emotional baggage and uncover, layer by layer, our own authentic life we are doing not only ourselves, but the next generation, a disservice.

And the emotional burden and unauthentic living will never end.

Our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and all parents before them did what they knew to do to raise children.  We now have a more enlightened answer and path.  

When we know better, we must do better.  Therein lies the hope in the conscious parenting movement.

Having the courage to look at the relationship we have with ourselves, and with our children.  To look in the past long enough to recognize where we need to change in the present to positively affect future outcome. Easy, no.  Worthwhile, yes!

Because when we can look at our child as a teacher, rather than as our student, and we comprehend they were brought into the world to serve a purpose which can only be revealed through our attuned presence with them in tandem our encouragement, support, and unconditional love.  The power and practice of this idea will help make the dream of conscious parenting a reality!

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The Essence of Conscious Parenting

Photo Credit:  ann_jutatip, Flickr.com

Photo Credit: ann_jutatip, Flickr.com

When we desire the thought of having children and then the Universe fulfills our wishes, most of us don’t realize the full commitment it takes in raising them after they are brought into this world. We talk about our desires so freely, scripting the play-by-play on how it will look and be once we have them. We have already planned out all of their years and framed them accordingly to meet our standards. They will do this and be that, they will do as I say (not as I do), they will know who’s boss and know their place, they will listen when I speak, they will not talk back, they will not be like the next door neighbor’s child, they will be better, more and the list goes on.

Anyone with a child (whether a parent, care-taker, guardian), knows these egoic patterned thoughts and beliefs all too well if they are willing to admit it. Yet, most don’t – for fear of shame, guilt, lack of acceptance, judgment and caring what other people think.

What I absolutely love, admire and respect about the brilliant work of Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent, is her matter-of-fact yet authentic, truthful and insightful approach to how parents have been doing it all along from the conventional parental hierarchy mindset to a more conscious-minded parental approach – and how with just a shift in consciousness and more inner connectivity to ourselves, we have the power and the ability to recognize and to transform these patterned beliefs into empowering and life-changing ones, both for ourselves and ultimately for the benefit of our children.

So when our children are brought to us, we need to raise our level of consciousness to new heights to meet them where they are and what they have come here to teach us. We must release the grip on our ego and embrace our child’s essence, all while tapping into our own. It’s no longer about the wish but now about truly facing the raw reality and messages that our children have come to deliver.

Through our full on presence, daily connection – emotionally, physically and spiritually, our children’s presence awakens us to the core of our being (if we so let them) and to the point that we experience our own re-birthing, attending to the inner child within that was left behind for so many years. The inner child that needed the attention, validation, acceptance, love, connection – yet through life’s peaks and valleys – that child was no longer nurtured, covering its head and heart so it didn’t have to bare the pain any longer. That pain can remain sedentary for years and manifest through ones actions, behaviors, emotions, thoughts until one day it cries for help. It is through the practice of conscious parenting that we are given a gift to nurture and connect to our inner child so we heal those wounds and in turn what we ultimately project outwardly to our children is that of wholeness and abundance – allowing them to lead an authentic life that is true to their own essence and being.

So with each day, each new sunrise, and through the daily awareness of your own self, you will come to see your children not as an extension of you but as their own being?

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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.

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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.

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Gratitude: One Photo at a Time

13 11 22 Gratitude Collage

Frustration.  Toleration.  Acceptance.  Gratitude.  Love.  Freedom.

Traveling the journey to greater peace and gratitude one photo at a time.

These past 4 weeks Brene Brown’s Course “The Gifts of Imperfection” have been nothing short of life changing saving for me.  Thank you Oprah for having her create this course for me!

Being a perfectionist, by nature I presume, is not easy.  I have put a lot of pressure on myself, and others, to keep everything running smoothly, and neatly…and that’s not easy with three kids, a husband and a plethora of pets!

In 2010 I had the epiphany moment that it was okay if my house wasn’t perfect, which is part of the story of how Ride the Wave: Journey to Peaceful Living was born.  A constant source of tension was released, which was huge for me and my family.  That may seem like a simple realization, but for a perfectionist, being able to live without stressing while some dirty dishes lie dormant in the sink is nothing short of miraculous.

Well as all journeys begin with excitement and mystery it continues on to this day with revelation after revelation, setback after setback.  I’ve certainly had my highs and my lows.  But you see the honest truth is I’ve been struggling lately.  Even having accomplished so much and having launched my first big conference just 2 months ago, I had fallen into a slump. 

Have you ever felt that way?  Like, when is enough enough? How much more do I have to DO to prove to myself that I’ve done a good job?  It’s flat out exhausting!  So in my job as a life coach I wear the hat of a teacher most often, but I needed some time to be taught and I signed up for the course, not really expecting anything supernatural, but thank God for the unexpected.  The commitment to stick with it and keep going on this path to teaching moms how to be the best they can be has been renewed over these past few weeks.  As I sit here typing this now I feel a great sense of joy.

What happened?  How did this change come about?  It lies in the transformation of a mindset of tolerating to being grateful.  There is a difference between tolerating something and embracing it…you know what I mean?  Tolerating is equivalent to ignoring but ultimately zaps your energy.  It’s the things you are ‘putting up with that need to be fixed’.  Embracing something is knowing it’s not perfect and saying, “That’s just fine.”

Back to the story…my house had become a ‘toleration’ and so had my business.  They were both something that I put up with (albeit peacefully) but in the back of my mind there would come a point where I needed it fixed.  Whether that meant cleaning up messes at home or ramping up my programs online I had to jump into action to make it ‘right’ again.  Be the best in every area.  

So after completing the first 3 weeks of assignments which included making a list of things I am giving myself permission to do (or not do) during the class…for me one of them was permission to cry…finding a picture of me when I was at my most authentic, and also my most awkward and then recognizing my trigger points, how I numb myself when I’m triggered and what brings me true comfort, I thought I was home free.  They were fun and revealing exercises, but nothing too heart-wrenching.

Photo Nov 25, 8 49 48 AM

Enter week 4.  Gratitude.  Now to say this was orchestrated by the greater powers that be is an understatement.  Two months ago I was booked to speak to a group on the power of forgiveness and gratitude THIS WEEK and what is this week’s lesson?  Gratitude.

Assignment: Get behind your camera and take pictures of the everyday things you’re grateful for.  Easy enough…or not.  I was home one morning and decided to tackle the task.  I walked around the house with my iPhone and started snapping.  A pile of shoes in the closet brought a tear to my eye.  A sign taped to Sadie’s bedroom mirror “Disney Imagineer at Work” stuck out amongst her unmade bed and messy floor, Molly’s miniature drum set sat atop her neatly arranged desk overlook her trampoline, the one she begged us for last Christmas, and Amy’s self-portraits from kindergarten.  My how time flies.  Her progress shown right there hanging proudly on her magnetic dry erase board.

Photo Nov 25, 9 01 26 AMAs I sat down at my computer to review my photo shoot, I took one last shot.  This is my life.  Me.  My yoga pants.  Working.  My computer.  On the kitchen table.  With Monty at my foot.  How these moments slip by so quickly unnoticed.  I began crying.  I mean really crying.  It felt weird.  I wanted to stop it, but I remembered my permission slip, so I went there.

No one was home, the kids had gone off to school and Jim was at work.  I felt my heart that had been so productive and focused and goal-oriented for the past 3 years crack open to a new sensitivity.  The tears were running down my cheeks and I let it all out.  Recognizing that what really matters is the mess. 

My girls who are growing so quickly.  My husband who is so relaxed that a messy pile of shoes wouldn’t even register on his radar.  And my freedom to be able to work from home, pursue my passion to help moms live happy and fulfilling lives and still be present for my kids.

This is what I’m grateful for.  I’m not tolerating my life, the messes, the to-do list, I am grateful for it.  It means that there are people around me who need meals cooked for them, it means the girls have permission to be themselves without the pressure to perform to my preference of perfection, it means I can embrace my hubby without thinking about the pile of shoes that need straightening.  That is true freedom.

So I challenge you to look at what you are tolerating and see if you can embrace it.  Stop just accepting life as it comes, be grateful for each and every moment no matter how small.  Gratitude for the small things brings love, freedom and a new appreciation for whom and what surrounds you. 

With Thanksgiving just a few days away take a minute to snap a few of your own photos to mark this precious and fleeting time in your life and see how that brings new perspective on the ordinary, messy and often overlooked moments.  I bet a tear will come to your eye too.

Post a comment below to tell me about your Gratitude Photo Experiment.  I’d love to hear it!

April O’Leary, B.A. Ed. is a Certified Master Life Coach and founder of the University of Moms.   She is the author of two books: Ride the Wave: Journey To Peaceful Living and Focus on You: Your Needs Matter Too.  She happily resides in Southwest Florida with her husband and three daughters. 

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2 Simple Questions for Every Mom

One of the major problems I often see when I talk with parents is that they forget that it is okay to have personal boundaries. Just because you are a parent does not mean you need to set aside who you are, all your needs and focus excessively on your children. 

Although the starting point is a desire to show your children the most love you can and be the most attentive and best parent you can be the end result as you can guess is often a child who is whiny, does not take no for an answer and does not respect you and you end up exhausted, frustrated and angry. 

This then makes you lose your confidence and self-esteem as a parent because your initial intention (the desire to be the best parent you can be) is not matching up with who you are in the world. This can be devastating.

Ride the Wave Front CoverThe good news is there are simple corrections that I have seen to work time and time again (which I share in my book). Think of it as a balance. Open communication, compassion and caring are extremely important but if you are feeling frequently frustrated or are not enjoying parenting or your children take a look at one of two areas. 

1) Are you taking good care of yourself? 

2) Are you setting reasonable boundaries for your children that support your needs as well? 

When I say reasonable boundaries, you have to determine what is reasonable for you. For example, I don’t like it when my children pull on my arm to try to drag me somewhere and show me something. So that is a personal boundary. If they do this, I immediately say, “Excuse me. I don’t like when you pull on my arm and I will not come when you do that. You can kindly ask me.”

For others that might not be an issue. But figure out what bothers you personally and then be ok with setting boundaries to protect your own well-being. That is reasonable! 

Do you have any thing you’d like to share?

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Don’t Be Fooled By Life’s Mirages- What My 6yo Taught Me

Do you ever have those brief moments of insight? Those flashes of discovery that come unexpectedly through your children?

As I drove my girls to a birthday party last weekend we came upon a mirage on a newly paved road.  What my daughter Amy said changed me and the way I see the world, my future, the successes of others and more.

Just from 1 question…1 innocent question…thank God for children!

Listen to the hidden wisdom of a mirage and see what three things I learned from this conversation in my minivan.

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