Friday, November 19, 2010

Bullying comes from me

Oxford dictionary

Bully (noun): a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidation over those who are weaker.

--Or--

Bully (verb): to use strength or or influence to intimidate someone, typically to force him or her to do what one wants.


There is so much being written right now about bullying. The newest focus of bullying has been put on homosexuality, but in the last week I’ve also read two other accounts of bullying. One is over at Bust magazine, where you can read article about how women are bullied because of their social choices. And the other is on a mama’s blog, where you can read about how a girl was bullied because the daughter chose a water bottle that was different then all the other girls, and was too “boyish.”


The second article is titled “bullying starts in first grade” but you know what? It doesn’t start in first grade. It starts the moment we want our kid to be someone other then they are. It starts the moment we want other kids to be someone other then who they are. And it happens EVERYWHERE. Not just with gay kids, or with sexually promiscuous girls, or girls who choose the star wars water bottle over the pink water bottles. It happens to adults, to parents, to people everywhere! Our country was based on bullying. In fact, it seems as though every industrial country exists because of bullying. And of course that is not to say that bullying does not go on in “non” industrial countries. It seems pretty pervasive…


While thinking about this topic while out on a run, I was mystified and quite overwhelmed at the topic of bullying. “It’s everywhere!” I was realizing. “How did this happen? What can we do?” where some of the questions popping up in my head. One could surely do a historical overview to find some of the original causes of our current culture of bullying, which has basically reflected the last three thousand years or so of bullying. And while I actually might find that interesting, and have gone down paths such as that before (and have some rather long papers from college to prove it!), I thought I’d go a bit inward with this. (and those that know me are saying, "*of course* she's taking this inward"! {BWG!} )

Where does bullying really live? What is this bullying all about, on the inside, for me? Well, we know that bullying lives within us, because it seems fairly obvious that most of us are in constant battle with ourselves. And if I ask the question, “where does it come from” and I go inward a bit, I come up with the pretty obvious answer: on every level, bullying comes from me.


I don’t just mean that *I* bully others. I mean, yes, I do! I can freely admit that I have

bullied my daughter from day one. I bully other kids. I bully my husband. I bully other parents! Every time I have judgment, in my opinion, that has some bullying energy behind it. And when the judgment extends to words and actions, then there is full fledge bullying going on! So yes, bullying comes from me. And I am not happy about that. At all. And I am doing my best to stop bullying. That is a topic in an of itself. HUGE!!!!


But what I also realized is that bullying comes from me, in that *I bully myself.* And here is where it gets a bit more tricky and words start to feel limited to me, but I’ll do my best. When feelings come up, rather then *feel* them, our culture encourages us to do anything but feel them. We might feel them for a bit, especially when we’re unable to hold it all in anymore, but rarely do we feel our feelings to the point of integration. And more importantly, rarely do we take responsibility for our feelings. We are much more likely to get angry at someone or something. Or become a victim. Guilt, shame, blame. Rarely does feeling our feelings lead to integration and empowerment.


So what does this mean for our kids? Well, it can be subtle or it can be quite overt. It can mean that when my kid wants to do something, and I judge her want, and show my judgment through facial expressions or other body language, or in more obvious ways such as tone of voice or value ridden language, I’m using my influence over my kid. I’m using my influence as mother, as “permission giver,” as {insert role here} so that she’ll do what I want, or perhaps so that she’ll not do what I don’t want her to. I choose to name this bullying, because I can purposely use my own power as mama, especially if she wants to please me or if she is looking for my acceptance (hence, using power to influence someone who is weaker). And I can also call it bullying, because I *am* bigger then her, and I do have more power then her, on all sorts of levels.


As I stated above, we’ve all done this. And perhaps not all of it’s “bad.” We’ve all read of how to convey messages to our kids using facial expressions…. The baby goes to something we might think of as dangerous, and we scowl or use vocal inflection to let her know that we don’t approve of that. When the baby changes course, we go back to smiling and coo-ing at her. And then as the child grows older, this type of exchange continues to occur, on a larger scale level, with more intent, and with more judgment and with the desire to exert more control.


So what does this have to do with feelings? When our kids want to do something that we don’t agree with, it seems to be the easiest and most popular route to react to what is being requested.

Kid: “Can I have candy for breakfast?”

Mama: “Why in the world would you want to do that to your body?”

“Only if you want to get cavities.”

“Sure, if you’re ok with acting like a crazy person.”

“I’m not ok with you putting poison into your body.”

Notice how all the responses are judgment laden, and overt a very clear desire on the part of the parent, in hopes that the child will make a different choice. What might happen if, instead of responding with a reaction based in fear, the mom took a moment to think about what was coming up inside of her. And what if she allowed her self to have that fearful conversation *inside of her head* and went into that fear. What if she were to find some clarity about what the reaction of fear was all about for her?


I have the suspicion that if parents choose to completely feel their feelings, and choose to feel what was coming up inside of them when their kid wanted to do something that mentally triggered them into either saying no or wanting to control, then the need to bully our kid into submission would not be occurring on the level it is.


So, how does this fit into the larger bullying that is going on, out in the world? It seems clear to me, that if kids are being bullied from a very young age, by those that raise them, that it would only make sense to bully others as a way to feel a sense of control over their own environment.

The hot topic these days is teen suicide. Is it any wonder why there is an increase in our kids wanting to kill themselves? Is it any wonder why there is an increase of kids in their single digits expressing thoughts of suicide? Bullying is not just coming from parents; it’s coming from everywhere. The energy of bullying permeates across race, religion, class, ect.


What might possibly kill the effects of bullying? I realize it sounds pretty airy fairy, but it seems to me that love might kill the effects of bullying. And not just love from others either, but an inner self-love.

What **is** the opposite of bullying? Acceptance? Love? That might be taking it too far, at least according to the dictionary, which uses the words allow and liberate… (That feels pretty good to me…. To be a liberator of my child, or any other person, rather then a bully…) But the energy behind the opposite of bullying, for me, is found in love and acceptance.


And what, then, is the opposite of bullying oneself? Self-acceptance? Self love? How can we get there? Will blaming, shaming, or feeling guilt lead to self-acceptance or self-love? Not for me! Every person is different, but for me, feeling my feelings has led me to truly loving and accepting myself. And in doing so, helps me to love and accept my child. Is this an easy path? Not always. Is it an empowering path? Yeah, it is. Is it a path filled with love and acceptance? Absolutely.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why do I do what i do?

's blog carnival theme this month is: Why do you do what you do?

What a fun blog carnival theme!

Ultimately I do what I do because it both makes sense and feels good. And looking back, those factors are always what led me to follow a lifestyle that can be labeled as unschooling. It always made sense to continue to follow the interests and joys of my kid, long after she was out of diapers and had started speaking in complete sentences.

It always made sense to treat her as a person, rather then an inferior being whose wants and needs were not as important as mine. It always made sense to support her in doing what was fun and joyful for her to do.

In short, I do what I do, because it works, for every person in my family. :)

Going deeper into other reasons for why I do what I do...... I've been slowly undoing a lot of mainstream norms throughout my life (I gave up organized religion when I was in college, and gave up organized medicine when I was in my 20s), so I suppose it only makes sense that my "undoing" led me to question mainstream parenting and then the education system as well as I entered my 30s.

The great thing about unschooling *for me* is that it really supports my own personal desire to deconstruct all sorts of assumptions that I was raised with. Having deconstructed some of the big ones (Sexuality, Religion, Education, Medicine), I am left to deconstructing more of the "mundane" components of living, which range from how I react to various situation to challenging the ideology of "radical unschooling" itself.

Living a life of undoing/deconstruction/unschooling means "un-ing" everything for me.... stripping away all the assumptions, beliefs, expectations that originate from mainstream ideology to counter culture ideology. It means not following any expert or specialist, even those most revered or a part of my deconstruction journey, and instead listening to my own inner guide to find what feels good *with in me*.

The more undoing that I do, the more free that I feel, and the deeper my connection with my child becomes. So yeah, why do I do what I do? Cause damn, it feels good!!! :)







Saturday, September 25, 2010

It is what it is, always.

I have been "working" on being present w/ Kathrynn in each moment.
Yeah yeah yeah old record but what this means for me continues to
change , constantly. Being in each moment has morphed so much over the
last few years, as it keeps breaking down, showing me how many things
can really be in "each moment" when I'm in my head, versus my heart. When I am aware of
my thoughts and judgments, I can see me how "unpresent" i really
am. (or maybe that i am still present, but in judgment, rather in
peace.....)

I have recently realized that when I blame foods or sleep or "other",
I am not really being w/ her in full peaceful presence, because I am
too busy being bitter or in explanation-land about said behavior.

Today at the roller skating rink I blamed a brief "meltdown" on the red
dye number 40 she had had 20 minutes prior. you see, I've come up w/ a
theory over the last 6 months that she might have a reaction to that
ingredient, because while she seems mostly fine w/ sugar, she has reacted a
few times after having artificial colors. So as she was melting down,
I was compassionate in appearance and in action, but in my mind I was
cursing that red dye number 40. This turned into a landslide of me cursing all sorts of various foods that have artificial dyes, not to mention foods w/ mile long ingredient lists that I can't pronounce. My goodness my mind was in over drive!

My head was spinning in resentment and bitterness, over this damn
society in which we live that is filled with dangerous items for my
child to react to!!!!!!! (Can anyone say VICTIM?!?!?!? lol)

As I went out to skate I realized I'd done it again! I'd blamed the
behavior on the X. on the Y, and especially the Z. (This is something I've been cognitively working on *not doing.*) Today it was food I was blaming (old pattern) but it could have just as easily been many other things I was blaming- all things that i could "justifiably"
blame: Kathrynn had too busy of a day, her body was tired, she was
needing the broken cookie to process some repressed feelings, ect and
so on. It's not that any of those "excuses" were not true- it's more
that IT DOES NOT MATTER!!!!

Coming up with excuses to justify behaviors that bring about
discomfort in our society is really nothing more then a control issue
for me. Excuses give me the illusion of control to be able to explain
away my kid's behavior. It might make me feel better as a parent to
explain her behavior away, or feel like my kids behavior is "ok"
because of x, y and z- and both of those come down to issues of
control IME.

In justifying and blaming, I was not as connected to my child when she
was experiencing her "meltdown" as I could have been. If I hadn't been
so busy in explaining away her behavior in my mind, I would have been
more empathetic and still and loving- not just in action and
appearance, but in my inner being, where peaceful presence resides for
me. If I had not been blaming and judging, I would have been done w/
the experience when she was done w/ the experience, but instead I was
angry and bitter and peeved for hours afterward. Not a whole lot of
peaceful presence in that!

Why do I so desperately want to control these uncomfortable
encounters, by taking it to my mind, instead of staying in my heart?
For me it's fear- fear of me being a bad parent, fear of my kid
displaying "unacceptable" behaviors, fear of not knowing when the
encounter will be over, fear that I'll explode.... It's a long list,
and yet when I stay in peaceful presence none of those fears exists.
The fear may exists in my heart, but the story of fear is not there,
and so the fear has no power- I can just be with that fear, in the
same way I can be with my child- compassionately and lovingly.

When I can BE with my child, as she turns into a puddle on the floor, I can
find that quiet place inside my heart and being, and just ride the
wave. And then it is over, and we can be in the next moment... which
exists because it exists, and for no other real reason other then it
is what it is. Always.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fun blog post :)

Arun recently posted an interesting meme on his blog that i found from Frank.
Feel free to do this on your own blog, and please leave me a comment so I can find yours!

“I live in…” Bloomington, Indiana
“The last time I had a huge belly laugh with my child was when…” We share lots of belly laughs constantly- every day I'd say! We shared one last night over something that Kathrynn said, which really just made us all bust out laughing. :)
“My mother would often tell me…” that's not lady-like. :P
“To be the sort of parent I aspire to being, I find myself becoming more…” Aware and gentle.
“If I had a two-week, fully-paid holiday with absolutely no responsibilities and no kids, I would…” I have no desire to have a 2 week vacation without my kid.... If she was with my husband, I could have 1 week away and enjoy myself. I love to travel, so wow, picking one spot would be difficult. But I think i'd wind up somewhere hot and near the ocean-- ok, i'll pick Thailand!!!
When my child gets older, I'd love to travel around Ireland with my husband. :)
“A book that profoundly impacted on my life is…” Illusions by Richard Bach was life changing. :)
“I secretly would like to…” play around in Amsterdam for a week or so.
“At my funeral I want…” there to be a joyful celebration near a body of water with some dancing, excellent food and drink.


“I am…” loving the journey.
“Right now I am in…” a peaceful place.
“Most people do not know that I…” really am out of the box regarding most areas of my life. :P
“I am passionate about…” being self aware and connected to my family.
“Decades from now, when my child thinks of me, I hope that she remember…” that I did the best that I could in each moment, and loved her in each and every moment.
“My soul feels warm and I have a big smile when I remember…” how much I love my family.
“If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to myself when I was 18 years old it would be to…” remind myself that there is nothing more powerful then what exists within me already.
“I think that the most important thing about life is…” to be connected with one's inner Source.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Michelangelo Joy :)

Kathrynn had a few lemonade stands to raise money to cover the adoption fees for the precious kitty she had picked out to adopt!

He came to our house after living with a foster mama on July 30, 2010. He was just under 3 months old. :)






His enormous head and ears are two of his adorable features. :)

August 8, 2010

August 22, 2010

It didn't take long before his arms and legs started to get longer, and his tail too...... We're guessing he's going to be a big boy!
August 24, 2010

Here is is, snuggled with the queen of our house, 15 year old Jazmine.
We spent a lot of (wasted) time trying to keep Michelangelo out of Jazmine's food and water, as well as her "perch". We found that the more control we attempted, the more of a waste of time it was. hahah!!! ;)



They are still getting used to each other. Jazmine is still trying to figure out who this kitty is and why he's in her house. And Michelangelo is trying to figure out why this big cat won't play with him. :)


September 7




Michelangelo loves "playing" with our guinea pig Nadine. :P




That's our life with Michelangelo for 5 weeks!!! :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Exploring the layers of "yes"........




Something happened at the zoo yesterday- I don't know if I'd call it a break through but some kind of shift of understanding.....

We were having a great day, totally in flow.
Then we went to the dolphin show, where Kathrynn decided she wanted to sit up close to the trainers, the area where you get wet. So we sat there, and then didn't really get that wet. In retrospect I see now that she totally expected to get soaked or at least kinda wet, not just get a few drops of water on us.....
So after the show, she was devastated that she did not get soaked. She had one of her classical "allergy reactions"- and yeah I actually think it could have been a reaction to the ice cream she ate- but really it doesn't matter to me in the bigger scheme of things.

She was so so so so SO upset and just kept going on and on and ON about it.
I just held her, offered silence, empathy, explanations, based on what she was wanting from me. Eventually she just kept saying that she wanted to get wet.... over and over, as if by saying it enough I could magically make it happen! I'll get back to this later. :P

Eventually she asked me something she'd never asked me before- how I'd feel if I was the one who had been disappointed. I told her that I might have been sad and angry, and that I would have felt my feelings until I was done. And then I would have tried to enjoy the rest of my day. It was really interesting to have that exchange with her.

Well, eventually she moved through her feelings, and we sat outside for awhile so that I could get some good old deep breathing in as well as get clear myself. We were both in good spaces when she remembered the elephant show she wanted to see. We were about 5 or so minutes late and it was over by the time we got there.... when we walked up kids were petting the elephant (so I'm actually thinking they skipped the show? not sure). Kathrynn was not interested in petting the elephant (although she usually is) and then sobbed some more because she'd missed the show.

Then we went to visit the goats, where you can pet them and sit down next to them. When she pulled at the gate and it wouldn't open she started to sob again. It was like she really needed to unleash all that emotion, until she was really done- and after the first thing that set her off (the dolphin show), it didn't matter what it was, she just had to keep releasing and releasing.....
Turns out you just had to turn a knob for the gate to open, so she quickly flowed into everything being ok and then had a great time w/ the goats and then there was a snake talk right next to that that she loved, and all was well......

At some point, after the elephant breakdown, she was sobbing that the only way that things would be ok is if we got more tickets and went on more rides. We'd already used up all our tix at this point and I was not wanting to spend anymore money, and was wanting to leave around 4 to avoid rush hour, and was tired and ready to go (the zoo can be a bit of stretch for me on a variety of levels) , AND I pretty much realized that she was doing whatever she could do to put off the inevitable... the transition of leaving the zoo. (transitions are particularly difficult for us)

In retrospect I also see that she was wanting me to do things that would "make it all ok." It started with- if I could have magically fixed it so that the dolphins could have splashed her, if I could promise her that next time we went to the zoo she'd get splashed, if we could come back tomorrow so that she'd get splashed then, if, if, if, if!!! When I could not make her dolphin experience any different then it was, those "ifs" morphed into- if I bought more tickets, if I bought more ice cream, if we went on all the rides again, THEN things would be fine....

I was thinking about an exchange on a yahoo group last week- how sometimes saying no to someone else can be saying yes to yourself, and conversely that sometimes saying yes to someone can be saying no to oneself..... I *could* have said what the hell, lets go on more rides, or, yes let's have more ice cream, because that would have made her happy, in that moment. But then we'd still have to transition out of there, and I'd have spent more money, and I'd be in the middle of rush our traffic, and I'd be further into my own mental breaking point. I could have chosen all that, and have in the past. And to be honest, it probably would have been "fine." But that's really not what I wanted... It's not what felt 'right.'

I wound up explaining the rush hour situation to her, and that we'd already used the 14 ticket pass that we'd bought for the day, and that she'd gone on every ride at the zoo already, and that at some point it was just going to be time to leave.... and then proposed an idea of what to see last, which she then added something to also, and then somehow, we were done talking about it, and we both flowed through the rest of our zoo experience together. And the rest of the afternoon went perfectly.

I'm not sure quite what I'm saying.... I'm wondering at what age kids stops thinking that parents can make everything right in the world..... and I'm wondering if I've elongated that for my child because in the past I have gone to the ends of the earth to kinda make sure everything *is* right in the world for her...... Admittedly, I have often done all that has been in my 'power' to make those "ifs" happen for Kathrynn, often times because her discomfort was too much for me, and other times because I felt I *had* to self sacrifice *for* her.....

Many of you may be wondering what the big deal is. You see, I'm a "Yes!" Mom! I heard no a lot growing up, and probably would have been that way myself if I hadn't found unschooling when Kathrynn was about 6 months old. Over time I found that saying yes to Kathrynn was an amazing part of my own internal growth- wanting to be able to say yes more then no forced me to really examine my choices, my fears, my belief systems. It became immensely freeing and expansive to say YES! And yet, there have been times when for reasons I alluded to above, I have said yes to her, which resulted in a no to myself. I have only started to really internally deal with that pattern in the past year, and it's been a slow trip for me to uncover the foundation for being a proud yes mom. :)

Yesterday I had the 'power' to say yes, but that it didn't feel good to me to say yes, and on many levels would have been saying no to me....... Instead we talked about it, expressed emotions about it, and came out on the other side in connection and in peace.

I guess all of this sounds trite, but there is a subtle shift going on inside of me, on all sorts of levels, and this is just one of them that I can grasp.... There is a shifting of consciousness going on, for both Kathrynn and myself. I'm full of appreciation that we are partners on this journey.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The joy in feeling uncomfortable...... flip side to: kid, please act a certain way so i don't have to feel uncomfortable.....

We had a rather intense weekend last weekend, as another radical unschooling family came into our lives. Whoops- I think it was mostly intense for me, not the rest of my family. ;)

After all was said and done, I realized that I was wanting my child to behave a certain way, so as to allow me to feel comfortable with the visit.

The details are too long and intricate to delve into here, but in short, due to some internal issues I've been processing, I was primed for going deep into some old fears, some unresolved anger, and pain and fear from my childhood. That anger unconsciously got transferred to my kid, that fear was internalized by me, and immobilized me on a variety of levels.

My visiting guest, who is keen on picking up energetic nuances, was aware of my internal crisis, but on the outside things were relatively calm. There was no yelling, no external displays of anger, no punishing. I was seemingly kind and gentle with my child. My thoughts were not as kind, however, nor were my expectations and assumptions.

I choose to ignore the comfort levels of my child, because at some level I was wanting my guests to feel comfortable, which could superficially lead to *me* feeling comfortable.

I choose to act in a way and make choices that lost site of who my child is...... My fear of rejection (which for me feels very unsafe) and my projection of my own issues led me down a path where I stopped partnering with my child, and started partnering with my fears.

What a long strange trip it was, and it took quite a bit of time for me to process through all the intense feelings I was feeling.... Days after the family was long gone, I was still feeling my feelings, and unraveling the pieces of what I was feeling. (Much love to Kathy, who I have lauded here before, for taking on an "emergency" Matrix Reimprinting session w/ me, which helped me to uncover some even more deeply buried stuff....)

Wow, what an eye opening experience to see how I used my child as pawn, to avoid my own uncomfortabless. Even more daunting is to realize I have been doing this all her life....

My expectations and assumptions that she act certain ways are rooted in my own fears and baggage. And yet instead of that feeling overwhelming, it ultimately feels empowering, as the pieces start to come together, regarding why she has acted certain ways under certain circumstances all these years.....

It is empowering for me to choose to feel my feelings, even when they are extremely uncomfortable in the moment. It is empowering because I am choosing to be in *my* business, to wade through my shit, because in doing so, I am able to partner with my child and be with her where she is...... Choosing to feel my feelings of fear, anger and sadness allow me to process through my stuff, so that she is able to be truly free in her present moment, and not stuck in my unintegrated moment/baggage, which can cloud my perceptive of what is going on with her.

After our guests were gone, and I had done a lot of processing, I acknowledged to Kathrynn some of the assumptions and expectations I had unknowingly placed upon her. I apologized, and also expressed how amazing I thought she had been; she too had been in a situation which led to her explore and expand her own boundaries and levels of comfort, and in my opinion she did so with both effort and some grace. (much more grace then myself!)

After all is said and done, I see and feel the Joy that comes from choosing to feel my feelings, even when they are extremely uncomfortable and painful for that moment. (And it is here that I must call out to my friend Patience....ohhhhh patience!!!))
It is a journey, and the result is a level of flow and connection and presence.

Monday, July 26, 2010

"I am that Mom, the one who . . . "

Inspired by Ronnie (who was inspired by Flo) **giggle giggle**........

I've been thinking about this for quite some time, because the reactions of other parents to my intense child often intrigue, surprise, and flat out entertain me. In particular, the reactions of other mothers (and occasionally fathers) who watch as my child is free to express herself any way she chooses in any particular moment, assuming that no one is getting physically hurt/feeling unsafe. :P

I am that Mom, the one who stands with her feet rooted to the ground- often silent, sometimes quiet, (occasionally not) - while her daughter comes at her with fists flailing, legs kicking, words blaring and temper flying.

I am that Mom, who seems to ignore the other adult in the room, who is telling her kid that "[insert various behavior/emotion] is not a nice way to treat your mom."

I am that Mom, who takes a deep breath and fills herself with presence, while her child expresses her various emotion in the best way that she knows how, in that exact moment.

I am that Mom, who knows that her kids intense emotions will not be there for long, and knows that if she can maintain presence, the behavior will shift, ebb and flow, quite quickly. And that LATER, they can talk about it.

I am that Mom, who, after all is said and done, is often caught off guard by how FAST those emotions can come, and go.

I am that mom, who is filled with gratitude and appreciation when she remembers to remain calm on the outside, and sometimes on the inside too, when such things occur.

And

I am that mom, who remembers that there will certainly be a next time when she can do 'better', when her presence does falter, and her own emotions get the best of her. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Peaceful parenting, for *me*, not my child......

The other day one of my friends posted this on a yahoo group:
" I love to see my "progress" reflected back to me through my experience of him."

She was talking about how when she does her internal work, it brings about changes not just within her, but outside of her as well, in "him". I agree- I have seen this happen countless times, and sometimes to the extent that the change in someone I'm connected to seems almost miraculous.

I appreciate the "side effects" that can come from doing my internal work.
I have seen "magical" things occur after I've done some clearing away of old stuff. In general, any time I take responsibility for the change I want to see in the my life, an internal shift usually occurs, and is often matched by an external shift. Reading Michael Brown's The Presence Process brought about enormous shifts in my life, internally and externally. More recently, matrix reimprinting, has also brought about a lot of external change to match the internal changes, and it kinda blows me out of the water each time it happens because I am not expecting it *at all*.

I think that for me, the key seems to be me doing my own internal work, with no external assumptions, expectations, or strings attached. ie, I am doing this work FOR ME.

I can see how doing things with other intent in mind backfires on me.....
ie, I am peaceful parenting *so that* I have a peaceful child.

I unknowingly jumped in this bandwagon and let me tell you that the results of me "peacefully parenting" have not always yielded a "peaceful child." *bwg*
I read on various unschooling lists how great it is that when you treat your kids with respect that these kids will also be respectful. That when you are peaceful, your kids are peaceful. I have learned "the hard way" (lol), that setting up the intention that way was a way for me to covertly get what *I* wanted- which was a "product" or a kid that I wanted to be the way I wanted her to be.

Now I am working to be the kind of parent/person that I want to be, for ME. I know that my kid is not here to "reward" me for my choices of parenting, or to make me feel good, ect and so on.

Sometimes I still cringe when I see a person post about how great their kids are and they attribute it to how great they parent. My belief about all this is that each kid and parent have their own path in this world and these paths manifest differently for each parent.
In other words, I still understand the link between peaceful parent and peaceful child, but I feel that it is not always as self apparent as one might believe. and I think that for myself, my intent and my own internal work is "where it's at"- not the desire to produce x, y or z in my child.......

I find myself nodding as I've re-read this- it seems pretty clear. Do your internal work for you. Don't assume that by doing X, your kid is also going to do x. But this parenting stuff is tricky, and even being conscious of the internal desire to work on my own stuff, and not "change" or "produce" a certain kind of kid, does not always mean that I'm living that desire.

I still find myself being kind to my kid, because ultimately I want her to be kind to me. I am sometimes respectful of her desires and her "wants" because ultimately I want her to respect me, and my wants. And at some level, I want her to take responsibility for "making me feel worthy" as a human being, when I know in my heart that *I* am the only one who can truly make me feel worthy as a human being.

Being kind to my kid is a wonderful thing. Being respectful of my kid is a beautiful thing. And being peaceful with my child, is a marvelous thing. They are *not* wonderful, beautiful and marvelous because of the external rewards or payoffs of doing so. They are wonderful because of what they bring about in me- is a true connection to the love that flows in, through, and all around me. And that, for me, is what it's really *All* about.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The joy of the present moment.... where things are always "ok."

"The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day.... Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity." Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The notion of being here in this moment, and not in any other moment but now, seems to be the foundation of most spiritual paths. What seems to be difficult is in actually achieving this state of being. :P

Wes has been out of town a lot this month on work trips. It's a very rare thing, and so it's thrown all sorts of 'newness' to our routine. Balancing Kathrynn's social needs and my quiet needs has been a challenge. Feeling the self-placed pressure of making sure my child is "happy" (ie, has enough play dates and things to do, and also some down time for myself) was a huge weight i choose to carry, that I choose to accept as my responsibility.

But it's tricky. As a homeschooling parent, I help facilitate the various experiences she is going to have- via library books, trips to museums/the pet store, going to the pool, having friends over and going over to friends houses..... none of that happens without some kind of involvement from me.

AND
...none of that guarantees her happiness, or anything else for that matter. The idea of having her busy all the day gives me the illusion that a pressure has been taken off me, that she will be busy and so not needing me to "make her happy" in the guise of entertaining her or providing entertainment for her. But this is just an illusion. Busy-ness does not mean she is happy. And having a lot of unplanned time does not mean it is up to me to "make her happy." This is not an either / or world we live in, after all.

I think back to an awesome blog post called "The Joy of being uncomfortable."
THIS is what it's about for me. This is what I am trying to escape from, by planning all these things..... to slide out from that feeling of how uncomfortable it makes me when my daughter is upset that X is happening, or X hasn't happened, or that she wants X to happen.

I was watching a video of Robin Rice the other day, and toward the end she got to the thoughts that keep me from being in the present moment:
..... Am i ok? What will happen if X happens. What happens when X occurs..... ?
I can't believe I just did X.......

She reminded me that those thoughts are not me. Gina Lake says that voice and those thoughts come from ego, not Essence, what I would call our godself or True self or Being. It is my ego that is crying out in fear, worry, sadness, anger, grief...... It is my ego trying to make "it all ok." It is my ego trying to figure out how to feel comfortable. All.the.time.

My Essence, my TrueSelf, already knows "it is all ok." This state of it "all being ok" does not come from a place of figuring it out. It does not come from a place of doing anything. It never really comes from a place of ego. It comes from a place of Being.

It comes from a place of being.in.the.moment. When i am in each moment, all those thoughts of the ego don't occur. And inevitably, all is well.

Returning to the notion of me as Kathrynn's facilitator, I am striving to find presence in planning. LOL! As I said earlier, the playdates aren't always going to plan themselves! Library programs are not going to come to our house! So it becomes a stretching, of maintaining my Essence, while also extending my awareness "out there" into the world. My awareness staying local, and at the same time moving beyond, to what might be fun for our family. I can check out websites for upcoming library events that Kathrynn might want to attend, AND stay connected to my Being. Phew!

As always, I find examining *Intent* really important. Am I looking for something for Kathrynn to do out of fear? worry? ect? Am I wanting to relieve myself of some foreseen discomfort? Or, am I looking for something for Kathrynn to do because I think she'll have fun doing it?

This morning I dropped her off with a couple of friends for a hike at a local Lake. My initial intent of scheduling this was so that I could have some free time, but mostly so that she would have something to do. In part, it was a way to slide out of my discomfort.... In the last couple days I have *mostly* shifted out of ego and back into Essence, and I realized this when we got to the meeting place, and I didn't want to leave. I didn't want to escape from my child for some peace and quiet. I didn't want to turn the responsibility of making her happy and entertained over to someone else.

I was in the present moment- where things are always "ok."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sleep, like everything, can happen with Joy :P

I was motivated to ponder the issue sleep once I found out about the July blog carnival going on here. I had no idea whatI could possibly blog about, at first. I mean, my kid is no longer in the family bed. We don't have sleep issues. What could I possibly write about!

Then I had the thought that perhaps we don't have sleep "issues" (at the moment! :P) because of how we've chosen to embrace most things in our family- with trust. Breastfeeding, sleep, food, "learning"- they all have involved deep searching into ourselves. Once we went into our fears, old beliefs, our assumptions, ect, and came out on the other side, we were left with a desire to trust our child, and trust our instincts that having a connection with our child was more important then just about anything.

When I was a kid I would occasionally- ok very rarely- here about "those people who let their kids sleep in their beds." The message I got was that it was not a good idea to ever do that. Not good for the kid, not good for the parents. And once you let a kid into your bed, OMG how would you EVER get them out!?!?!?!

Fast forward many years to when Kathrynn was born. Luckily I did a lot of reading prior to her being born, and thought co-sleeping was the coolest thing ever. Turns out that worked perfectly, because Kathrynn rarely wanted to be put down, let alone left alone to sleep. Sure it brought lots of change into our lives. After a year of the three of us sleeping in the same bed, Wes choose to sleep on a futon at the end of our queen sized bed because Kathrynn was a mover. :P Which ultimately meant that for 2ish years Wes and I slept apart. And it also ultimately meant that we were all sleeping. :)

When we moved to a different house when Kathrynn was 3 1/2 we got her a twin bed, with the coolest spider man sheets EVER, and we had the idea that she could eventually sleep in that bed, in our room. What I thought would be a gradual moving out of the family bed became radically different when she announced that she wanted HER bed to be in HER room, and wanted to sleep in there. Wait, WHAT?!?!?!? So we moved the bed into her room, and that is where she slept, and where she still sleeps, spiderman sheets and all. :)

It wasn't quite so cut and dry, however, because also what Kathrynn wanted was for one of us to sleep in her single bed with her, in her room. :) Egads! Wes and I were so close to being back in a bed together!!!!! And ultimately this did happen- one of us (usually me, since Kathrynn was still nursing) laid with her in her bed as she fell asleep, and then once Kathrynn was asleep I went to sleep in Wes and my room. We still used a baby monitor, and so heard when Kathrynn was waking up, and one of us would go to be with her until she fell back to sleep.

Again I heard plenty of responses to how we were going to mess Kathrynn up with these odd sleep habits, and how it was bad for our marriage, ect. But ultimately it allowed for Kathrynn to feel safe when she was going to bed, and allowed for Wes and I to have alone time in our own bed as well. Sure, it was sometimes rough when she was having a restless night, as it meant that one of us would ultimately spend most of the night in her bed with her. But as with everything, that ebbed and flowed.

As she got older she no longer wanted us to fall asleep with her. Instead she wanted to be read to sleep. :) Again, I got eye rolls and sighs, for how my 5 year old daughter was still not falling asleep on her own! I continued to follow my heart and what made my child feel safe. Eventually this morphed into reading before bed, but not to the point where she was sleeping. One of us would, again, lie in bed with her while she drifted into sleep. This phase was short lived, and it wasn't long before we were kissing her good night after we were done reading, and left the room while she was still awake. This happened by the time she was 6. Now, at 7, this is still the way her bedtime routine happens.

I find it helpful, for me, to look at all the stages that were involved over the years. Doing so allows me to see how each change in our sleep routine happened consensually. There was never any pushing or bribing or shame. Of course there were grumpy nights and aching backs along the way. Over all our nights have ebbed and flowed naturally, with Kathrynn, Wes and I all feeling safe and happy. Where this is coincidence or not, I honestly can not ever remember Kathrynn being afraid to go to sleep, or afraid of the dark, or scared in any way that involved sleep.

I can see how our breastfeeding relationship almost paralleled our sleep relationship, but that is for another blog post. The point is that when there is trust and connection- and communication (lots of that!!!)- involved, everything can happen with joy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A slice of June...... :)

Kathrynn had the idea to make a treasure hunt one day, and dressing up as a pirate seemed like the appropriate thing to do.... :)



Another double rainbow......


Making paper at the library:

Tearing pieces of paper....

putting the frames into the mixture of blended paper/water.....

getting the water out....

setting aside the paper to dry!

This was an awesome library activity- neither of us had made paper before!




Lemonade stand:
A perfect idea for a 90 degree day... She made over $8 in 30 minutes before we sold out... :)



Wonderlab glimpses:


Two projects she wanted pictures taken of (hence the posed smiles :P )

Always blessed to be so much a part of this girls life! <3

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Trapeze!!!!!! Workshops Spring 2010

Finally! It took me awhile, but I've finally gotten up the pictures from this month's trapeze workshops!!!!

Kathrynn went to three workshops, and I went to one. :P
Trapeze is one of Kathrynn's greatest passions, and some of these pictures captures her focus as well as her joy. This is her third summer doing trapeze. The first workshop was spent reviewing some old positions and then practicing some new skills. And the second and third workshops were spent focusing on new positions for catches.


Workshop #1
Warming up on the trampoline. :)


Knee hang.
Perfect catch from the knee hang! I love taking pictures during catches- the shots always blow my mind! :)




Catch video from workshop #1



video


Workshop #2

Kathrynn practiced a new position on this day- called a split i think?


Practice video from session 2
video






After practicing it for awhile, her teachers told her she was not ready to be caught using this position. She ran over to me in tears, very upset that she hadn't mastered it to the point of being ready to do a catch with it. We talked to one of the teachers, Jake (who is pictured above and below catching) and he agreed to let her do one more practice of the position. This time she did it perfectly, and she was ready to try for the catch. They were impressed with her determination and focus. ;)


The catch! She had the opportunity to do the catch twice- the first time was a bit off and Jake grabbed one hand and not the other (eventually getting both arms), and then the second catch was perfect!


Catch from video workshop #2 (the one hand catch)


video



Here are a couple of videos of me.......
I had decided last year that I'd try it, and so when we went to the second workshop I did!
I was raised to be afraid of heights, so this was a pretty monumental task for me!
After climbing up the ladder for my first jump I was so overcome by fear that all I could think of was how I could get down in that moment NOW. The first thoughts that passed through my brain were "I am NOT jumping off this platform" and "How can I get down with out jumping?"
After doing some Lamaze type breathing (Wes told me later he thought I was going to have a baby up there bc of my breathing!) I calmed down and did it. And I did it 4 more times! Each time I was wanting, kind of wanting....., to go into a position- a knee hang or a back flip. But each time I went flying through the air all I could do is hang onto that bar for dear life, and ultimately let go only to end the flight of terror, and land in the net that was waiting for me. lol!


The first one
video
Wes was shooting the clouds, then turned to me. I managed not to freak out each time by looking out at the trees, not down to the ground. :P


video

Me, flying through the air. :)


Workshop #3

Warming up.....

Her new move for this day was the straddle.

The catch! I don't have any videos to enclose here, but you can go HERE ((click on the HERE)) to view her doing a catch from the straddle position.

Kathrynn just came into see me blogging about trapeze, and she asked "When is the next trapeze workshop?" Yup, this kid was hooked from day one. :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Anansi play at Leslie's house :)

Kathrynn and her dear friend Leslie :)


One thing that has been a constant over the past 4 years is Kathrynn's love for our friend Leslie. Leslie has been a waldorf inspired teacher for over 25 years, and Kathrynn's connection with her has been magical.
Each week Kathrynn goes to Leslie's house for 4 hours of play and exploration. It's always been such a wonderful part of our life- bringing much joy to Kathrynn, and some "me" time for me!

Last week the girls in Leslie's class performed an Anansi play that one of Leslie's older students had written. The girls helped shape their lines, create their own outfits, as well as plan other components of the play.

Here are a few wonderful pictures of the girls, and a few videos. :)





Before the play, they did a song to help introduce the location of the play, which was taking place in Africa....


video




Kathrynn, the Sun Goddess, in her "spot"

Her friend Hannah played the role Anansi, and her friend Virgina was the narrator in the back corner.




Giving her lines....


video




video
In this video you can see a shot of her friend Zoe, who played one of the animals that Anansi tricks. :)

Kathrynn was so proud of herself, she is just beaming in this picture!
All the girls had so much fun, it was lovely to watch. :)


Leslie, we love you!!!! :)