Posts in Category: Parenting

Finding Courage to Let Go

May 9, 2014

The reality of impermanence overtook me this week. My control issues as a mother overwhelmed my heart. Knowing that my 22-year-old daughter would be flying to China today and far out of my reach made my heart clench in my chest. At the same time, my heart was filled with joy for this wonderful opportunity she is living.

The looming departure that would separate us by continents and oceans dominated my consciousness. Fraught with worries and ‘what ifs’, I willed myself to keep moving and helping her prepare to leave. At the same time, it was clear to me that these feelings do not match with my belief system built on faith, trust, and embracing life as it is knowing there is no ultimate control. And yet I am human and I am a mother. Her trip half way around the globe brought existential truth and the reality of impermanence straight to the center of my attention.

At some point, I had a talk with myself. The worry and powerlessness were keeping me from being fully present to her. These emotions were keeping me from enjoying these precious wonderful moments with her. I wanted to breathe her in, hear every word she spoke, and wallow in her joy and excitement. Watching her, I saw a strong, confident, capable woman embarking on her first independent adventure.

This week was an opportunity to absorb her as she is now. She will return home a changed woman as a result of her experiences. My perspective shifted into the gift of this time with her prior to her departure and knowing I will witness her evolution when she returns. It is comforting to have my own adventures in my memory bank to draw from and relate to what my girl is about to step into.

Someone asked recently how this was different from when I went to India five years ago for six weeks. “Very different indeed!” I replied with passion. That was me leaving and taking risks and feeling very much in control. This is her leaving me…and me not having any control or ability to rush to her aid should she need me. I also know the joys and soul stretching moments that traveling brings. The thrill of knowing the new places she would find within herself were countered with the knowing that there will be challenges too. Challenges she will have to handle on her own. Mama lioness protector kicks in here.

When my children were growing up, there were many heart seizing ‘firsts’ that called for me to let go. The first sleep over, dropping them off for three weeks of camp, flying away on trips with grandparents and dropping them off at college. These all seem easy compared to where I stand now. I’ve never considered myself an over protective parent. It has been my intention to raise them to go boldly out into the world. This was just another opportunity to reach inside myself and find the courage to evolve as a parent.

So while I flit around the house…keeping busy with the silliest of chores…I know I am growing too. I am stretching my heart and opening to grace. (Did I mention that this is painful??) There is nothing for me to do but trust and let go. Let her go into her life and keep these worries to myself. After all, this is her adventure, which I refused to cloud with my concerns and constrictions. My adventure is private and within. Someday if she is a mother she will have her own inner adventure of struggling to let go. And maybe she will share it with me realizing that I have already survived that challenge.

These feelings reconciled slowly over the week. The intensity that gripped at me has dissipated and left me open to sharing in her excitement. My parting words to her were not “be careful, keep in touch” yet rather “live large, keep your heart open, and don’t miss a thing.” It felt good to believe in her and trust life while feeling joy and delightful anticipation of the return the new woman she will have become…while appropriately out of my reach.

Change Your Mood – Lighten the Load

April 4, 2014

Parenting can take its toll on our enthusiasm and zest for life. Even the most enamored of parents have times when they have run out of fuel and everything feels difficult and demanding. If even for a day, feeling cranky makes every little thing a challenge.

It is on those days that I would try to change my perspective to restore my sanity. I loved my daughters, took pride in being a mother, and did not want to feel the way I was feeling about my life. It is difficult to admit that I had a propensity for getting mired down in a gloomy outlook. Once that perspective took hold, it could be quite a challenge to get me to lighten up.

One pattern that could grab me in a heartbeat was to see everything around me as work…even if there was a fun side to it. For example, I would be reluctant to get out the play dough thinking only of the mess that would result rather than imagining the fun and creativity that would happen. Or when one daughter would grab the garden hose and soak the other, I would think about the change of clothes needed now rather than embrace the laughter that was all around me.

Another pattern was hearing myself say, “I’ve got to…” This sent a message of entrapment and lack of freedom, which felt like a heavy pack on my back. The truth is I was victimizing myself. Things shifted when I would challenge myself by asking, “do you really have to? Or do you want to??” This revelation came to me one day while packing up for a picnic and play day at the park. I was quite grumpy as I gathered everything together refusing to look forward to a fun, relaxing afternoon in the sun with my daughters. Wanting life to feel more like play than work, I gently would shift my perspective. Yes. I do want to go to the park and play.

Now well out of the thick of intensive parenting young children, I still confront my attitude and perspective. Just the other night, I went to get my cherished microwavable neck wrap; a personal treasure that eases my aching shoulders at the end of a day. It wasn’t in the basket in my bedroom where it belonged. With a deep sigh, I went to look for it in my daughter’s room. There it was in her bed.

In a moment, the crease in my forehead shifted into a smile. Was it really a problem to look for my neck wrap? Or could it be a sweet sign that she prefers to use mine rather than her own because of how close we have grown. Of course it could be she didn’t know where to find hers…and I think you get my point.
I like to consider this as morphing from an Eeyore to a Pooh. Slowing down and listening to your gloomy perspective then being curious if there is another way to regard the situation can accomplish it. Similar to watching a play and choosing to shift your seat because there is something on the stage you cannot see. Maybe..sometimes…there is something we are missing in the life that is playing out before us.

Is there somewhere you’d like to change your view?
Are you eager for a shift in how you feel and live?
Would you enjoy the relief of shifting from a negative, heavy perspective to a lighter one?

Check it out and feel free to share your experiences with all of us!

What If…

February 28, 2014

What if I had believed I had more time?
What if I had boldly taken the time?

Time to paint animal names on stones when we buried them…
Time to bake cookies more often when they asked…
Time to shop for supplies to make Halloween costumes instead of buying them…
Time to go for walks in the woods after school one day a week…

I often believed there wasn’t enough time and I raced…
I know better now.

If you are a parent who laments the fun things that don’t happen in a week…
Or wishes for more soulful moments with your children rather than errands…
Or hears your heart making suggestions you don’t believe you have time for…
Or looks back over a month or a year wondering where the time went and why your good intentions/dreams/plans with your children didn’t happen…
This blog is for you!

I don’t write this to make you crazy.
I write so you might reconsider some of your choices.
Because there is enough time for what is important to your heart…and theirs.

Time and maturity have taught me something amazing.
When I am certain there isn’t enough time to answer what my heart calls me to do and I boldly do it anyway,
Time expands and makes room for everything.
Everything that needs to get done just does. Don’t ask me how. It just does.

On top of that, to make it even better, I feel more content and efficient doing it!

I believe it is something bigger than me knowing better than me…if only I will listen.
These are magical moments. And while I knew there things were more important than picking up groceries or dropping the shoes off for repair…I did not always heed the call.

Sometimes I did and felt gratitude down to my bones.
Magic happened and my daydreams of fun parenting came true!

Other times I pushed on, certain I knew what ‘had’ to happen.
Now I see. Now I know better. Now I am sharing this with you.

Listen to the call of your heart…breathe deep…and follow its lead.
Magic will happen.


Being Chosen

February 21, 2014

One of my first blogs was Modeling Imperfection. As a recovering, perfectionistic parent, it was wonderful when learned to understand and accept the importance of not being perfect for my children. The role my imperfections played in making me real, authentic, and a model of loving myself, had never been shown to me. It makes me laugh to imagine how much therapy my children would have needed if they had been raised by a “perfect” parent. Talk about achievement anxiety!

This was an important step in loving and appreciating myself as a parent. However, there were still qualities about myself that I wanted to banish from my personality. Some personal imperfections were easier to accept and have compassion for than others. Deep inside, there were things about me I wish my children did not have to live with at all.

At the time, I had become deeply involved in metaphysical spiritual work for a multitude of reasons including healing myself in a quest to be a better mother. It was in this work that an amazing concept was introduced to me that brought a deep and sudden peace to my heart. As soon as I heard it, it resonated deep within my own knowing. The concept is…children choose their parents before they are born. Somehow, by mutual agreement, our family agreed to do this together.

This was a light bulb igniting for my heart, body and soul. To consider that somehow, someway, crazy kooky as I am, my daughters had chosen me, was a revelation. Whatever they came to do and be, I was the one they needed to be their mom. This meant that who I am is not a mistake or a burden to them. Even my control issue may be the very thing they need to live with to learn some valuable lesson from for this life.

Forgiveness and self-acceptance went to a deeper level. There was Divine order in who I was and the evolution I could model for them. Healing parts of myself was still very important and actually came easier once I discovered the peace of loving me just as I was in that moment. This truth gave me permission to relax, enjoy my children, trust myself, and be grateful for our shared lives. As a result, I became an even better mother.

With the little angels that chose me

With the little angels that chose me

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2014

It’s LOVE Day. And it doesn’t have to be merely romantic love. Love encompasses much more than that. In raising my girls, I took pride in teaching them about loving themselves and sharing that love with the world. This day brought fun into our home as we celebrated our love as a family. They witnesses their father and I express our romantic love for one another AND we included them in the celebration. As a parent, I prefer to write my own meanings and traditions into any holiday rather than blindly follow societal precepts. It’s more fun and calls me to define my own values, meanings, and celebrations.

As my girls have grown, seeing their ability and willingness to share love with others shows me I’ve done a good job. Love is important everyday and maybe we don’t need a designated day to celebrate it. And I say, “why not?” It’s nice to have a reminder of the importance of love in our lives and our ability to share it with the world.

This week with our ‘epic snow’ here in Asheville, NC, I was blessed to enjoy love and fun with my daughter. We walked and sledded together in the snow thoroughly enjoying one another. Our beloved dog Magic came along for every adventure. He is the Love Ambassador! Being present to my love for her brought great joy to my heart. It occurs to me, yet again, that the greatest gift of love we can give our children is our presence. They feel it when we are not distracted or caught up in our own lives. Their lives are enriched when they experience our loving gaze and full regard. This is the gift of love and maybe the best way to celebrate the day.



Does your family celebrate Valentine’s Day in a special way?
If so, I’d love to hear about it and your thoughts on the day!
Wishing you and your family a weekend and year full of love

Parenting Self Care

January 31, 2014

Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. It makes demands of us, often without immediate reward, and does not have a quitting time. As a parent, you are on call 24/7.

It is easy to get caught up in the days and weeks forgetting to give ourselves credit for all that we are doing. Even when things are running smoothly and without incident, pausing to appreciate and care for our self is essential to optimal job performance.

Over the years of my parenting career, I’ve often found myself out of balance from having consistently placed myself at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list. Everyone and everything else always seemed more important. In my mind, I told myself that I would feel better once ‘x, y, and z’ were done. Of course, as a parent, you are never ‘done’. You might as well be waiting for pigs to fly.

Self-care sustains us and invigorates us to be able to give and do for others. If we’ve not taken the time to fill our own teapot, how can we possibly pour anything into anyone’s cup? While I can share a list with you of good things to do, such as take a walk, maintain a hobby, read a book, have an interrupted chat with a dear friend, etc. What really makes a difference is when you listen to your own heart and hear what it is you really need. What is revealed may surprise you.

When this was first suggested to me, I was stunned to realize that it was very difficult for me to ‘hear’ what I wanted or needed. I had absolutely no idea. That inner voice had been ignored for so long, that she had quit talking. This was a muscle that needed to be re-energized.

To re-establish this connection within myself, I just kept asking and listening…no matter how long it took to hear the answer. Sometimes I would propose specific ideas trying to coax a response. Do you want to do this? Would this be fun/relaxing? The suggestions started to pave the way to knowing what I did want by figuring out what I did not want. The things I did learn that I wanted and needed were not the typical things I expected.

One thing I discovered that was very important to me was having my own ‘space’; an area of my home that was off limits to children. For me, this was my bedroom. This is not to say my daughters never went in there; they needed to have permission. They also knew that if I were in my bedroom with the door closed, they needed to knock. The feeling of sovereignty this gave me was deeply satisfying. Something in the world was designated as mine that I could choose to share or not.

Another revelation was how important my evenings were to me. After having given my all for the day, a consistent bedtime was really important. I loved our routine of bathing, reading, and snuggling and when all was done, I was done. Knowing this about myself helped me to be clear and adamant about them going to bed and staying there. My tone was kind and firm. There would be no negotiating. And I was even heard to say sometimes… “It’s bedtime and I am done parenting for the day. I love you. It’s time to sleep.” (Makes me think of that hilarious book “Go the F*** to Sleep”…check it out for a laugh)

With all the times the children’s needs had to come first, it was honoring and uplifting to place myself first when I could with things that I had discovered were very important to me. Of course there were other, simpler things I discovered that filled my teapot. Afternoon matinees by myself, having one night a month out all on my own or with friends, reading or napping when they napped, and many others.

I am deeply grateful for the parenting coach who first suggested I make a priority of my wants and needs. Not only did I come into balance and be a better parent, I got in touch with a source of inner guidance that helped me in many ways. Listening to that inner voice and knowing how to bring myself into balance sustains me to this very day.

Bound Support

January 17, 2014

As a 24 year old, first time mother, I felt very alone and in over my head. Being an only child with no babysitting experience, I felt alone in a darkened wood without a compass. In addition, none of my friends had children yet…except one. My oldest and dearest friend, Laura, thank goodness! She was a friend of 20+ years so truly more like a sister to me.

As a new mother, I wanted to feel less alone and more confident in what I was doing. It was not practical to think I could phone Laura several times a day. I had to find comfort and confidence on my own. From this need, I discovered the joy, wisdom, and comfort of meditation books on parenting. Over the years, there had been a multitude of daily meditation books on my nightstand ready to help me start my days. Yet, somehow, it had never crossed my mind to look for a parenting book to point me in a positive direction.

The first one I found was not a daily meditation book per se, however the entries were short, supportive, insightful and uplifting. The book was The Tao of Motherhood by Vimala McClure. As a spiritual person, by which I mean open to inspiration from any faith, the title caught my eye. I had loved reading The Tao of Pooh in college so what might this have to offer?
This book touched and comforted my heart on many days as I found my way in this new role I had chosen. Here is a taste of what you will find:

“A wise mother does not necessarily interfere with her child’s life.

Your children have their own processes – their own thoughts, feelings, and reactions – which must be allowed to unfold.

If your childhood was painful, you may get overinvolved with your children’s lives and smother them. Or you may find yourself forcing them to think and feel the way you do, to adopt all your values and live the life you wish you had.

If you do not trust your children’s process, your children cannot trust anyone or anything. Your confidence in them builds their confidence in themselves.

Assist your children in such a way that they think, “We did it ourselves!”

~excerpt from “The Tao of Motherhood” by Vimala McClure

(These words spoke deeply to me when I had toddlers and even more now that my daughters are young adults. The role of mother never ends, I am learning, and does not get easier… fyi… just different.)

I believe every parent feels alone and overwhelmed at one time of another, some of us more often than others. To find support and connection in the words of another is a simple exercise anyone can do. For me, it’s just another way as assembling ‘the village’ I need to be the best mother I can be for my children.

Parenting with an Open Heart – January 10, 2014

On Children
~Kahlil Gibran~
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Credit to Susie Keeth

Credit to Susie Keeth

These words have always inspired me in my parenting. They remind me to love with an open palm and heart, enjoying the privilege of watching my children grow into their own lives. It is a fine line between guiding and teaching them while giving them space to be who they are in this life.

When they arrived, it was my job to protect and care for them completely. Within a short time, my process of gradually detaching began and continues to this very day. To catch and stop myself from imposing my own agendas and ideals on them is part of my growth. This has always required courage on my part and has become more challenging, as they get older and more independent. When I do, it is with pride that I get to experience them for the incredible beings they truly are and are growing into. This is just one of the many blessings of parenting.

Reflections on my Daughters

January 3, 2014

This blog is dedicated to my girls who had hallmark birthdays in 2013. They are now 18 and 21! And yes, I am in shock…could I really be that much older?? Someone asked me this week why I kept referring to them as “my 21 year old” or “my 18 year old”. My response… “You don’t have children, do you?”

These girls of mine are remarkable young women. I am proud to say that not only do I love them with all my heart, I truly like them and enjoy their company; a rich blessing indeed. When they choose to share their lives with me including very personal things, my heart is deeply touched. Their trust in me is an honor beyond words.

This is not to say that we haven’t had our shares of ups and downs over the years. We’ve been thick as thieves, were estranged for a time early in my divorce, have argued toe-to-toe, laughed and cried together. Our relationship is well earned. They are amazing women whom I admire very much.

They’ve scared me many times (a gross understatement). Parenting tweens and teens will test everything you’ve got, in my experience. Watching them try different personas and approaches to life until they found their own truth has been terrifying at times. I like to think that my love of them, allowance of their exploration (with boundaries and consequences, of course), and unwavering presence supported them in becoming the beautiful young women they are today. Not to mention the multitude of angels combined with their own inner strength and wisdom which safely brought them round.
Folly fun18
As the New Year begins, it is customary for me to reflect on the past and count my blessings, including my daughters. This piece is also intended to encourage parents who might be in the thick of it with their own children at this very moment.

Keep faith and a strong heart.
Believe in them and yourself.
Lift them up with your heart and mind whenever you are inclined to worry.
And do not ever give up and think it is too late. It is never too late for love to make a difference in the lives of our children.

Creating a Sabbath

December 27, 2013

The end of another year has arrived. Difficult to believe and yet it is here! This may be a time when you are considering the year ahead and changes you want to make for your self and home. If so, I have one for you to consider that has the potential to bring your family closer and gift you with greater peace

My suggestion is to make one day of each week a Sabbath, meaning a day of rest for you and your family. I’m not talking about ‘getting religion’. I’m suggesting a day of rest, or at least less ‘doing’ that benefits everyone in your family. The definition of Sabbath is “a day of religious observance and abstinence from work.” I wasn’t sure about the religious part so I looked that up and found a gem, “a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.” Perfect!

By choosing one day a week where you do very little, or only what you truly want to do, you model the ‘supreme importance’ of slowing down, connecting with self and family. These can be days that create connection within your home that renews everyone for the coming week. Similar to an earlier blog I wrote about building connection by dining together, having one full day a week in your home can build the foundation of your family that empowers everyone to go back out into the world fortified and centered.

I’ve never been one to think that going to church was supremely important for God. It is hard to imagine Him/Her getting mad at me for not coming to a specific building once a week. It is my belief that Sabbath was proposed so we would slow down, connect with ourselves and our inner connection to the Divine, which defines, uplifts, guides and supports us. Going to church offers a way to connect and reflect as well. With this in mind, the old tradition of literally doing nothing on Sundays makes sense.

How you create a Sabbath is an individual choice; there is no right or wrong way to do it. It may have nothing to do with the Divine, or it may. When I started this with my daughters, it was as simple as me not driving anywhere that day. No play dates were scheduled, no errands were run, and nobody went anywhere. This kept us home for the day. There were Sundays I gardened and bored children would come and sit with me. Beautiful and meaningful conversations transpired. Some days I organized recipes and planned meals for the coming week. On others I truly rested and just read a book with a nap in the afternoon.

The point is to be home, around family, and available to be with one another. When children were little, it was easier to plan family games, cooking together, and other fun activities for our Sabbath. As teenagers and reluctant to be told what to do, it was enough that we were all in the house. Eventually, we would connect over the day without me forcing an agenda. It fed us all deeply.

If you had one full day a week to do as you pleased in a restful state of mind, what would that look like?
If you already take one day a week to be home as a family, what do those days entail?
Share your thoughts and ideas so we may all be inspired to deeper connections in the New Year!