Happiness doesn’t live in a box

The thing about patience, control and our kids is really about trying to put them, and us in a box that neither of us fit into.

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When you are challenged by your kids, chances are you are trying to put them in a box that they don’t want to be put in.  Clean your room NOW, because I say so.  Because if I don’t say so, and I don’t make you, then I don’t fit into that box that is labelled “Good Mom”.  If you refuse to compliantly climb into the box labelled “Good Kid” then I cannot climb into the box labeled “Good Mom” and that feels bad to me, because I want that.  Somehow I believe that happiness, contentment, is stashed away inside that box labelled “Good Mom”.  And I need to you to do what I say in order for both us to fit the dimensions of that box.
The question is, who created that box? Who is in charge of determining the dimensions of that box? Is it you? Likely not.  More likely it’s your mom, the TV, your friends, some expert on the internet.  It’s very likely that the dimensions of that box are not something that resonate with who you are naturally.  That is why it doesn’t feel good to try and jam yourself into it.

The thing about kids is that they are not designed to fit inside of the boxes we created for them.  Just as we are not designed to fit comfortably into the box that society, our “friends”, or our own mothers designed for us. And happiness doesn’t live there.

Paradoxically, the development of patience, while it does seem to fit in the category of “Good Mom” does not come from contorting ourselves or our children to fit into the “Good” box.  It really comes from throwing away the box, really looking deeply into ourselves, and our children, and becoming soft and pliable.  It comes from a really deep place of allowing.  It comes really from throwing away all conventional expectations, getting to know who you are your child are, and then designing your lives to fit the shape of your souls, rather than demanding that your souls conform to the shape society says they “should”.

It is here that contentment lies.  It is here that we are free to connect with the truth and the peace that are hidden deep at our core.

Patience really comes from throwing away the box and designing your life, your way.  It comes from releasing control, developing vision and having the courage to be the square peg in the round hole that you really, truly are.

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Let’s Talk About Patience

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I put out a survey awhile back asking what my readers and clients really needed help with. The number one response I got back was PATIENCE.

There is no two ways about it.  Parenthood requires a boatload of patience.  Without an abundance of it, we find ourselves losing our cool, and our marbles more often than we are comfortable with.  We yell, we cry, we get into fights with our kids and our spouses.  Then we feel guilty because we lost it, and said or did things that we regret. It’s really a bad scene.  I’ve been there.

So what is patience and how do we get more of it?

When you lose your patience, it’s because you’ve been triggered.  Something someone has said or done has activated a wad of emotion that you have stored inside of you and you blow.  Most of the time when you are triggered,  you become unconscious and are running on programming that you are not directly controlling.  When I say unconscious, I don’t mean lying on the floor drooling.  I mean that you are not consciously selecting your actions or words in that moment.  If you feel into the experience of being triggered you will likely find that you feel tight, closed, like there isn’t enough room inside of you for all the emotion you are feeling.  I know I feel rather like a volcano, spewing fire and brimstone, most of the time from my mouth.  Yikes.

So what do you do about that?

I created a resource to help diffuse a trigger when it’s happening.  Find that here.  This will help you to come out of a trigger quickly, and not inflict as much damage on yourself and others.  In turn, you won’t end up feeling guilty.  In fact, you will feel pretty good about yourself 🙂

Once you gain the skill of being able to see a trigger consciously, you now have the opportunity to do the work that will shut that trigger down for good.  I am going to create a resource for that process as well, but truth be told that work is better done with support the first few times until you get the hang of it.  I will write more about this step soon.

As you do this work, you will notice that you are triggered less and less, and more patience will emerge.  It’s really quite easy to do.

Ultimately, patience is about opening up, not shutting down.  It’s about connecting deeply inside of yourself,  becoming intimate with your deep inner life.  Patience is about softness, flexibility and compassion.  Anger, triggers and your “shadow parent” are rigid, and cause you to close down.  To the extent that we can connect with ourselves and become soft, we will develop patience.

It’s not a path for the faint of heart, but it IS the path to healing.  It takes courage, not cleverness, compassion, not control.

and when you walk it, you will wonder why you walked any other way.

Sanity is at the Bottom of Your Sink

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The work of motherhood can pile up.

Rather like the dishes can pile up in the sink.

As we move through our lives at this higher level of being that is motherhood, there is much that falls to us and us alone. Love the children, wipe their tears, do the laundry, wash the dishes, pay the bills.  And it seems as though as soon we we have accomplished one thing on the list, another shows up to take it’s place.  The cycle of work of motherhood is never complete.

At the very beginning of my path my experience of this endlessness was devastating.  I was so overwhelmed with the endlessness of it all that I felt i would never be able to rest, that i would be consumed by the immensity and constancy of it all.  I felt lost, weak, inadequate and frankly afraid of annihilation.

I hated doing dishes.  Why do them now when there will just be another pile the same size or bigger there tomorrow for me to do again?  What was the POINT?! If it would never be “done”, then what was the point in the doing of it.

In this way I allowed it all to pile up on me.  It became a behemoth on my back that I had to carry around with me all the time. No wonder I was exhausted.  I didn’t believe I was capable, no wonder I was depressed.

One day I did my dishes.  And to my immense surprise, I found the tiniest shred of peace and fulfillment in the reflection at the bottom of my clean sink.  And the next day I found another little shred of peace.  As the days went on, and I moved through my resistance, the shreds of peace I found in that reflection began to accumulate.

Yes, life was still chaotic.  Life as a mother is always a bit chaotic.  Yes, there was, and is, still a great immensity of tasks and responsibilities that I am accountable for.  And yet, through it all, my dishes remain a touchstone of sanity in my life.

I drop into that sink.  I surrender all my worries, all my fear, all my anxiety in the soapy water and the task in front of me, and one by one, they are all washed clean.  Each day, I scrub ad shine my fears and anxieties away, soothed by the warm water and the routine of it all. My sink is always there for me.

Have a look at the bottom of yours.  I suspect that you may find the same.

A Little Bit on Meditation.

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One of the purposes of meditation is to train our minds to be present to what is. We do this by continuously returning our attention to the breath, as we realize that we are identified with thought.

Identification with our thoughts is a big part why we suffer. Our thoughts can never be focussed on the now. They are always concerned with either the past, or the future. Neither of these is where our power lies. When we drop deeply and profoundly into the now, we access our true power. The past is gone, and as such it is just something imagined in our minds, a story. The future has not yet arrived. In fact, if you really think about it, it never really does, and as such is yet another imagining, a story. The only thing we ever truly have is the now.

Consider it like this.

You’re child isn’t eating, again. You become stressed and upset because of the past that has led you here, and the accumulated pain, stress and guilt of those experiences. You are also mentally weaving a story about how this will never end, and your darling child will starve themselves to death and it will all be your fault. You become angry, and pressure your child to eat, perhaps raise your voice and an argument ensues. Where did the argument come from? Your little one? No, they are only responding to the cues from their body. They generally have very little sense of past and future. It came from the stories in your mind.

Now, don’t go getting all guilty on me. I have gone through this very thing myself. Often. My son is not a great eater.

The story is to illustrate the point that presence is key. It is where our power lies, and our stories are often where our pain, stress and suffering arise from.

So.

Just for today, be present to what arises. You can see your thinking now, so be present even to the emotions that arise in you. Even be present to your reactions. You will be surprised at what you see. And it is in seeing it that we have the power to create great shifts in our lives.

Namaste mamas 🙂

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I’m a blamer

Let me tell you a little story about blame.

This literally unfolded in my house this morning.

And then I got smacked in the face by this video from the lovely Brene Brown that made me realize just how I had ruined my own morning.

My son is a picky eater.  This means lots of wasted food, lots of mealtime stress and lots of well intentioned thinking and work on my part to make sure that he is consuming enough of the “right things” so that I am confident his body is getting what it needs.

So I bought these cheese danish things from the store and I was all jazzed thinking for sure this would work.  He would love it, and get a bit of protein from this tidbit and some of my stress would abate.

Or, you know, NOT.

He didn’t want it.  He took one little tiny nibble from the corner and declared it “yucky”.

I was livid.  It literally took me half a second to lose my mind.

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I’m a blamer.

Check out this video, and then read the rest of the story.

 

Wow, right?

At this point I am looking at things quite a bit differently.

What this meant to me was that my expectations had set me up for a fall.  Instead of accepting that he just is an incredibly discerning eater and understanding that there was a good possibility that even this little treat would not pass his requirements, I had decided that I was an awesome parent and had done the work to find this little culinary connoisseur something that would please him.  I had hung my worth on his choices.

This ruined our morning.  I was convinced it was his fault.

Lovely, right? Blaming a nine year old for just being himself.

Then I listened to Brene and realized that this was MESSED UP.

Yes, I was frustrated, and that is ok.  But, instead of sharing my feelings and working through it with him, I jumped immediately into a diatribe about how his picky eating makes me crazy.  I swear it lasted ten minutes at least.  Clearly, this got us nowhere.  By the time he left, we were further apart than ever, he was mad, I was mad and this was how we went our separate ways.

I will be buying donuts to say I’m sorry.

This is what creates connection.  Vulnerability, accountability and sharing our feelings with one another.

Not blame, or toxicity or anger.  Love, empathy and sharing.

This is what conscious parenting is about.  Learning to see ourselves, and take responsibility for the darkness that parenting (and life, quite frankly( shows us is inside of ourselves.  And then accepting it, owning it, and integrating this knowledge into our lives.

Tell me your stories mamas, if you are brave enough to be vulnerable.

Welcome to the blame club.  We are all in this together.

The Evolution of Modern Parenting

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I recently read an article about The Collapse of Modern Parenting.  It was definitely an interesting read, and it gave me a lot to think about.

Modern parenting is definitely in a state of change.

Is that change a collapse? I am not so sure.

Dr. Sax, the expert that is heavily cited in this article, points to this collapse for children being “overweight, overmedicated, anxious and disrespectful of themselves and those around them.” For anyone who cares to look, these are accurate observations, but I am not so sure that what is to blame is a “collapse” of parenting.

I would take it in a slightly different direction.

I do feel that modern parenting is undergoing an evolution.  We do not want to parent our children the way that we were raised by and large.  The authoritarian parenting techniques of our childhood just don’t seem to fit with the direction we are choosing to head as individuals and as a society.  Is it a bad thing that we are choosing to dismantle hierarchies. question authority and respect our children as human beings from a very young age? I would say not.

We are coming up against some challenges though, this much is certain.

Andrea Nair, a psychotherapist and parenting educator in London, Ont.  explains it this way “We’re trying to pull off the emotion coaching but we haven’t received the training, it’s like teaching your kids to speak French while you’re learning it in the textbook.”

This much I would say is definitely true.

Our generation is working redefine everything right down to the way we parent our children.  The trouble is that we lack the skills and training that we need to pull this off with the level of mastery required to make it successful.  And we really don’t have that much tolerance for failure.  Our parenting confidence is dangerously low and this is leading to depression and anxiety in record numbers amongst our community.

Community, that’s another thing.

In an age of dual parent working families, and smart phones, we are more disconnected than ever from the flesh and blood community that historically surrounded families that we rearing children.  We had camaraderie and support when dealing with the hugely challenging role of parent. Most people present a shiny picture of their lives on Facebook, and hide their struggles.  This causes those who are struggling which, let’s face it, is most of us, to believe that we are absolutely alone in our struggles.  Hello depression and anxiety.

I propose that instead of believing that we are alone, we recognize that parenting is HARD for everyone and that we reach out.  I propose that we realize that not only are we parenting our own kids, we are recreating what it means to parent.  I further propose that we come together, talk about our struggles, share our solutions and raise parenting from collapse into evolution.

This is a much less grim picture, and we grow much stronger from hope than we do from fear and shame.

The future is ours to create.  We as parents do this through how we raise our children, and how we raise ourselves.

Keep coming back here to read more about how to raise your parenting, raise yourself, and raise your kids.  Together, we will raise the future.

And sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date on opportunities to share your journey with others, learn new skills, get freebies and connect with experts, mama’s and tools.

xo mamas ❤

Stephanie

** image credit – Chris Fertnig

Raising Hell This Holiday

I am going to level with you ladies.

This was a tough holiday in my house.

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(This is not my kid 🙂 )

 

As I said in a previous blog, my son is going through some things that are incredibly challenging for him emotionally.  This has led to some serious regression when it comes to how he copes with his BIG EMOTIONS.

And it happened over Christmas Holiday.

This has meant that I have had to be super present, deal with situations that have a high potential to trigger me, and be open to whatever is needed for us to get through this, learn, and be better on the other side.

It’s HARD to see our kids go through things like this. It was clearly incredibly challenging for him.  What was harder was that it was causing him to display behaviours that require me to apply consequences.  Doing this with a calm mind, an open heart and love was one of the hardest things I have had to do in a long time.

Not rising to the invitation to yell when he is yelling at me, being cruel and insulting, and doing all he can to incite the fight he needs takes a ton of patience, self love, compassion and downright gumption.

Thank heavens for my practices.

I want to share with you how I did it.

1.) First and foremost, conscious breath is key.  When he starts in and I can see where we are headed, the first thing I do is start breathing deeply into my belly.  This activates my own calming response.

2.) Remember that this is hard for him.  It’s not personal.  This is really difficult, especially when the words that are coming out of his mouth are incredibly personal, and designed to hurt and trigger.  He is rather like an animal, backed into a corner.  He will bite, spit, claw and howl.  What I can do is make the space for him to get out of that corner.

3.) Be present to my own triggers – I do get triggered in these situations.  When I am able to pay careful attention to what is happening in my body, I can see these triggers happening and respond before they come flying out of my mouth. I will tell him that I need to take a time out, and I will walk away, providing that there is no immediate danger to him or anyone else.  A mommy time out is a great modelling tool.  If he sees that I take times out when I am feeling triggered, eventually he will do the same.

4.) Balance – Times like this call for a delicate balance between love, space, modelling and consistency of expectation.  I do have to apply consequences when he gets aggressive.  I also have to apply love.  Setting boundaries, being present to enforce them while still providing space, love and healing requires dropping into the moment, over and over, and knowing what each moment calls for.

I messed up a bunch of times.  Everyone does.  We are all human.  The last key is forgiveness.  For him and for me.

And you know what?

We survived the holiday. In fact, we had some wonderful moments.  And thanks to the necessity of being deeply present, I didn’t rise to other family drama that might have triggered me in the past.

So thanks to my mommy path, I am learning, evolving, and becoming more deeply connected to my soul.

It’s like they say, the obstacle is the path 🙂

How were your holidays? Did you get triggered? How did you deal?

xo mamas 🙂

Stephanie

#25daysofmindfulnesschallenge day 23

Everything is energy.

You are made, at your deepest levels, from a field of infinite potential.  Everything is.  With intention, we can direct our energy and choose what we connect with.

When we feel unstable, ungrounded, and kind of lost, it is an incredible practice to send our energy down into the earth and connect with her power.

The planet is ancient.  She has survived many catastrophes, and continues to spin placidly about her orbit, and support every molecule of life she has spawned.  Connecting with her energy stabilizes us.

Breathe deeply and send your energy down in the earth.  Gather her strength and allow it to flow up into you.  Send all your heaviness, your fear, anger, sadness down into her.  She will absorb it and transmute it.

She’s got this.  You’ve got this.

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xo ❤

Stephanie

#25daysofmindfulnesschallenge day 22

We are all mamas here.

So I am gonna get really real with you guys.

Things with my son have been HARD.  He has had some changes in his life that are VERY VERY CHALLENGING for him.  He is having BIG feelings, and is lashing out with anger, sadness, and feeling like a victim.

As his mom, I have choices.  I can disconnect and discipline him for the admittedly horrible things he is saying and doing.  Or, I can recognize that what he is going through is really hard for him, and I can reach out, connect and let him know that I am there for him NO MATTER WHAT.

It’s not easy.  It requires me to be incredibly present to him, his feelings and all the ugliness this is bringing up for him.  This hurts.  It makes me want to shut down and run away in a lot of ways.  Yet, I know this will not serve him and it will only make matters worse.  So, I am choosing to see past the horrible, into his heart, and reach out, lean in and love.

As we move into the crunch of the holidays, this will be a moment by moment practice.  I can do this.  Every time I want to shut down, I commit to opening up and leaning in.  For him.  For me.  For us all.

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xo mamas ❤

Stephanie

Need some support in your Parenting Journey?

Hello lovelies 🙂

I am busy enjoying this holiday with the kids home from school 🙂  How about you?

I am also busy creating new workshops, offerings and ways to heal your journey for the New Year!

How can I best serve you?

Take one or two minutes and fill out this survey I created to gather information, so that I can design an offering that is just right for your unique needs.

Stay tuned in the New Year for the big things that are coming!

Happiest of holidays to you all.

Love yourselves, enjoy your children 🙂

It is seriously possible.  I swear 🙂

xo

Stephanie