A Christmas Tale of Woe

Note: I write about my parenting experiences not only to show by example how to honor deep feelings in children so that those feelings don’t morph into anxiety but also to illustrate what it looks like to tend to our own difficult feelings. If you don’t have children, I invite you to put yourself in the place of the child in the story and imagine it to be your own inner child. Whether or not you have children, you can read my parenting posts in both ways.

We woke up Christmas morning to a world sparkling in snow with luminescent angel-flakes shining in the morning sun. My body felt rested. My heart felt happy. I was ready to celebrate the day.

But while I was filled with gratitude and love, my boys weren’t so happy. The gifts that my husband and I had ordered a week before Christmas hadn’t arrived, … Click here to continue reading...

The Transitions of Childhood

Asher is going through a transition. He’ll be turning four in about seven weeks, and he’s showing all of the tell-tale signs of leaving one stage and shifting into a new stage: reactive, out of control, eating habits shifting and sleep schedule changing. He’s yelling at his big brother for crowding his space, yelling at his dad when he asks if he wants help, and yelling at me when I ask him what he would like to eat for lunch. Five minutes after these outbursts, he’ll be as sweet as pie and telling jokes like the life of the party.

If we parented according to the mainstream model, we would be punishing him for his outbursts and labeling them as attempts to manipulate and control us. But it’s clear to us that his outward displays are his attempts to communicate his inner world: he feels out of control inside so … Click here to continue reading...

I'm sorry; it's not you

Sometimes I think the five most important and responsible words we can say to our loved ones are, “I’m sorry; it’s not you.” In that moment, with those five words, we communicate to others that our bad mood, grumpiness, bitchiness, or whatever term we prefer to describe a closed heart is not someone else’s fault. We take full responsibility and, in doing so, open a space inside for something softer to enter. When we defend against what is, whether it’s sadness, irritability, anger, exhaustion, hunger, or disappointment, we erect a steel wall around our hearts. In contrast, when we surrender into what is, which means noticing it, naming it, and taking full responsibility for it, we take the first steps toward softening the heart and letting our loved ones inside.

Knowing how many people take others’ moods personally and believe that they are directly responsible for others’ feelings, I … Click here to continue reading...

Breathe in the Pain, Breathe out the Love

It’s become increasingly clear to me that one of my primary roles as a mother is to help my kids learn how to soften their hearts to pain so that it moves through their body and the passageways can remain open to experiencing joy and love. I’ve watched too many people – both personally and professionally – develop a belief system early in life that said, “I can’t handle pain,” which consequently caused them to harden their hearts, find ways to numb out and disconnect via various addictions, and suffer from anxiety.

I’m using the word pain as an umbrella term to include any uncomfortable feeling that you want to push away or resist: frustration, disappointment, heartbreak, jealousy, irritation, fear, anger, disappointment, vulnerability, loneliness, helplessness over outcomes and feeling out of control.

Why and where do we learn that we can’t handle pain? It’s largely human nature to avoid pain, … Click here to continue reading...

The Spirituality of Dawdling

“Come on, Asher, we need to go!” I say for the fourth time as my three year old crouches down near the bushes in front of our house to examine a creature.

“But I found something interesting, Mommy! Come look! It’s yellow with black dots and I think it’s a dragonfly.”

He’s right; it’s a dragonfly and it’s quite beautiful, but that doesn’t change the fact that if we don’t get into the car this second we’re going to be late. Still, I bend down with him and am amazed that he can identify a dragonfly, then ask if he’s ready to get into the car.

The dragonfly examination was the fourth stop on our way out the door. First he noticed an ant on the floor. Then he had to make his cat puppet tell him something very important. Then he needed one more drink of water. I keep … Click here to continue reading...