parenting

Perfectionism Feeds on Fear and Fear Alone

perfectionism_tree There are a lot of things I’m afraid of:

snakes---more specifically snake FANGS and VENOM criticism---yes, even from you hairy spiders---oh lord scary movies---the Exorcist gave me nightmares for TWO DECADES isolation---being utterly, truly alone with no one who understands me. Terrifying. the dark---it’s true being judged---but, WHAT IF THEY DON’T LIKE ME??? A constant work in progress weird bugs with crazy looking pinchers---earwigs anyone?! abandonment---so so scary night terrors---my son has these and they scare ME not getting it right---hello, perfectionism

It’s that last one that I want to talk a little bit about today. Not getting it right. Also known as perfectionism.

As a fully struggling and recovering perfectionist, it’s sometimes hard for me to pinpoint exactly where I could ease up on myself.

Enter, my relationships.

Because our closest relationships are our most intimate mirrors to our “stuff,” it’s the people I love and cherish most who give me the gift of understanding where my perfectionism makes life a bit more challenging than need be.

Perfectionistic tendencies become sharp and blinding, especially when I’m under stress. The exact time when it would be really beneficial to soften into kindness, I’ve gotten into the habit of getting even more critical and to control the outcome.

For example, my son’s sleep (or lack there of) has brought up a LOT of these perfectionistic tendencies. Since he was tiny and dealing with reflux issues, we as a family have been struggling to figure out how best to get the rest we all need.

You know those people who can go for weeks on four hours a night? That is not us.

In my pre-motherhood life, rest was one of the main tools in my self-care toolbox. It helped me stay centered, grounded, thinking clearly and feeling whole. In grad school, I rarely stayed up past 11. I did my best work in the pre-dawn hours, usually awake to see the sun rise with my cup of tea and some creative endeavor in front of me.

As a mother, I’ve had a hard time adjusting to this no-sleep (or just less sleep than I’d like!) regimen. Going to bed later than I’d like because I stayed up to eek out a little creative project, talk with Andrew, read a book---simple pleasures that, when indulged in for too long (as in over an hour), would leave me reeling the next day. Even if we went to bed at a decent time, say 10pm, we would be woken up 1-3 times per night, up for the day by 5:30am.

As the sleep debt kept getting bigger, my patience wore thin, and the perfectionism ogre’s sharp jaws clamped down tight. And didn’t let go. In fact, I’m still prying those teeth out, but at least it’s not the death grip any more!

Getting enough rest for all of us is an issue. And the irony is not lost on me that my son is now having night terrors. In harder moments, I blame myself, feeling deep shame over “not getting his sleep right” or not doing SOMETHING, anything right. After all, being tired is one of the main reasons kids have night terrors. So isn’t it all my fault?

Sigh.

Last night, he had his worst night terror yet. We had just gone to bed about 45 minutes prior, each needing some deep rest because we are all getting over a virus. Being roused from that early, waking-dead-deep sleep, we decided he probably needed a diaper change (our sitter earlier that night couldn’t find the nighttime diapers so put two regular diapers on him). We assumed he was probably just uncomfortable.

Turns out, he was having a night terror. Andrew went in and tried picking him up. Screaming and thrashing, Little Mister was inconsolable and wild. I was called in to help. Trying to change his diaper was impossible, but somehow, we managed. He wouldn’t calm down, continuing to scream and thrash. Somewhere a voice reminded me “turn on the light.” So we did.

With the glow of the lamp in the corner brightening the previously shadowy room, we both sat next to Little Mister while he continued his inconsolable screaming. He wouldn’t let us touch him, much less get near him. This went on for about a half hour.

We spoke in low tones, telling him everything was going to be okay, he was okay, mama and dad were here, over and over. Finally, it was as if he woke up (because that’s what happened---night terrors are different from nightmares, and you are totally asleep through the whole thing. It’s way more traumatic for the parents!). He looked at me finally, started crying again. I was able to reach out and ask him if he wanted to cuddle. He scrambled up into my arms crying, but not thrashing or kicking. He was back.

It was so extremely difficult watching my son struggle like this---or what I perceived as a struggle. I couldn't do anything other than wait it out. No action, nothing. Just waiting for the storm to pass (one in which we had made worse by trying to change his diaper then physically comfort him in the beginning) while using a soothing tone of voice, comforting words.

I found myself having lots of conflicting emotion during this eternal half hour. Everything from: this needs to be over now! what else can I DO? oh my god, we didn’t DO THIS RIGHT from the beginning, so now it’s worse! And on and on. Blame started rising up, my chest tightening, my jaw setting. I could feel my own anxiety spilling forth…

But then, I stopped.

Kindness.

Be kind, I heard:

You are scared. This is scary. This is so hard. You and Andrew were in a deep sleep. Neither of you knew it was a night terror. You will know next time. This will end soon. Everything will be okay. It’s okay to be scared.

While my spoken words to Little Mister were soothing him, I was having this internal dialogue soothing myself. It was kind of strange, but so helpful.

And then, I felt...better. Not great, because the situation wasn’t ideal. But I was able to stay calm and out of the funnel of negativity and self-flagellation. While cuddling him, I was able to think clearly, focusing on getting my son comforted and back asleep. I also wasn’t worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get back sleep---an issue I’ve had for the past year. Because of “restless mind.” You know, when you can’t sleep because you’re woken up in the early morning hours and the thoughts. just. won’t. stop.

Kindness to yourself will help with that.

Self compassion didn’t make this situation less scary, or try to sugar coat it with positive thinking. It didn’t make things better on the outside like making my son feel better or stop the screaming.

What it did do was give me the comfort I needed in order to go forth and offer that comfort to my family. It took me out of myself---from feeling isolated in my own fear and like I was responsible to DO SOMETHING NOW, because otherwise the world was going to end (perfectionism)---to seeing how we were all experiencing this together. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. There was no blame. We were all scared and worried. We could and would figure this out. It was going to be okay. Kindness.

Be kind.

With yourself. With others.

It works.

Every time.

I promise.

How To Give Space To Your Thoughts And Why It's Actually Awesome

true_self_compassion My eyes scrapped open, like they were sandpaper instead of skin . My right shoulder, the arm I predominantly carry my son with, throbs pain up into my neck as I try to roll over and look at the clock. I lift my head a little.

It’s 4:30am. Again.

For the third week in a row, he’s been waking up well before the birds. He had gotten into the habit of needing Andrew to rock him back to sleep in the wee hours.

Except, even the rocking stopped working. The minute he was put down, he’d cry and want to get up for the day. So Andrew would be stuck in the chair with him until he needed to get up for the day and get ready for work.

Something, obviously, needed to change.

What do we do? How do we change things? What’s our first step? OH. MY. GOD. MAKE THE FUSSING STOP AND LETS ALL GET SOME FREAKING SLEEP ALREADY.

It’s in these early, exhausting, painful hours that I face my absolute toughest critic. It’s a nightmare really. And it’s created by none other than, moi.

As the sleep debt got bigger and bigger, each early morning prompted even more internal criticism, more internal judgment. Her list got longer, harsher. It was down right mean. Now, not only was I exhausted, I was beat down.

Way down.

Next to my bed, I have piles upon piles of books. They're mostly overflowing out of a big basket under my side table. It’s filled with a variety of authors Nora Roberts, Sylvia Boorstein, Cheryl Strayed, Dan Siegel, and Thich Nhat Hanh.

One day, during this very long slog of sleep deprivation and foggy mental capabilities, Little Mister started rooting through said basket. He pulls out Mindful Motherhood, by Cassandra Vieten.

He liked looking at the cover---an illustration of a sweet mama-baby pair, swaddled against each other, each with a little smile.

He handed me the book, open. On the page was the section titled: Cultivating Compassion For Yourself. Point taken. I brought it downstairs with me to look through. I hadn’t read it since my ninth month of pregnancy---a far, far cry from the realities of ACTUAL motherhood.

On the first nice day this spring, with the warm sun shining and melting the recent snow, we went outside to play. I brought the book with me. Grabbing a highlighter, I sat down on our next door neighbors lawn chair while Little Mister played in the mud.

After reading a few pages, I highlighted: “Have others in your life ever changed as a result of you being increasingly harsh or judgemental towards them?”

Sitting back, I was a little startled, then curious about why I chose to highlight this first.

Looking closer at the question however, it made perfect sense. The thought of being intentionally harsh, critical and judgmental to anyone else makes my stomach turn. Especially as a means to make someone or something change.

So why would I go ahead and do this to myself?

Silence. A bird was chirping near by. Little Mister was happily babbling and splashing in a puddle in the yard.

It was a good question. Very good.

Reading on, she clarifies:

“True [self] compassion sees the situation clearly, acknowledges the pain or grief that gives rise to the situation, and then takes realistic action to address that pain and grief. That might mean getting counseling. It might mean asking for help in other ways. It almost always means taking some action that prevents further pain and grief.”

As a recovering I-gotta-do-it-all-myself person, this was a good reminder. Vieten continues:

“Compassion is good for you…[it] acts as a buffer against emotional states such as anxiety and depression, rumination, and thought suppression, as well as promoting positive emotional mindsets, such as greater happiness, optimism, wisdom, curiosity and exploration, personal initiative, positive emotions, autonomy, competence, and relatedness.”

Gosh, yes, please. Let’s do this! I thought. SELF COMPASSION is where IT’S AT!

Sometimes there’s this wiser, older voice that will pipe up when I’m having serious doubts. It’ll say something along the lines of: who said you have to know how to do everything, anyway? Girl, that’s a lot of pressure! The point in life is to LEARN. You gotta start somewhere and so here you are! You’re not your thoughts anyway, honey, so let’s move on.

Good point, I usually reply back to myself. For some reason, the voice that says these wise things to myself sounds like a boisterous, go-get-em old southern woman.

Andrew’s great grandmother, Ma, I imagine sounded like my inner-compassionate voice. She was a tiny woman, with big, 70’s style glasses. There’s a picture of her and her sister in his parent’s hallway. Taken at a Sear’s photography studio years ago, I imagine she’s telling the photographer to get a move on with it, that the lights are hot and she has got A LOT to do today. It’s the spark (not a sparkle, not just a light, but a genuine spark. A deep, seen-it-all spark) in her eyes that tell me she was a woman to be reckoned with.

I look at that picture every time I visit Colorado. She tells me, in no uncertain terms, to get a move on with it. Life is short and you’ve got important things to do. No sense in moping around, girl. Worry? What good did that ever do? You’ve got a life, so live it! Come on honey, let’s go!

I have no idea if Ma was really like that or if she’d ever say something like that to anyone. But I’d like to imagine so. Spirit. Spunk. Self-compassion.

self_compassionate_individuals_web

“Like mindfulness, self-compassion is not just a form of positive thinking---cheering yourself up or reframing everything with a rosy glow...Self-compassion refers to the ability to hold difficult negative emotions in nonjudgmental awareness without having to suppress or deny negative aspects of one’s experience...Because self-compassionate individuals do not berate themselves when they fail, they are more able to learn, grow, and take on new challenges. This makes self compassion, which overlaps with mindful awareness, a great ingredient for becoming a new mom.” ---Cassandra Vieten, Mindful Motherhood

The other day, while on the bike at the gym, I felt my super harsh inner critic gaining speed along with my strides. My throat constricted, my heart started racing even harder, the tears welled up in my eyes. I was spiraling, walking (or riding) directly into my inner critic’s judgments.

Suddenly, out of the blue, I remembered: you are not your thoughts. Notice, I am thinking. I am thinking these thoughts. But you are not your thoughts.

Over the next 50 minutes on that bike, I practiced this. The judgment would surface and I would just notice. The criticism would start winding around my gut, and I would pull back, to watch.

And it worked. It always does---which still surprises me. But it’s a practice. A constant, daily, hourly, minute by minute practice.

I’m given ample opportunities to practice, too. AMPLE. Our early mornings are getting easier. I no longer feel like the living dead most of the time. That’s huge. It’s also given me space to problem solve the issue more. See a different perspective. That and talking to my girlfriend Megan!

With all this practice, I’m getting quicker at noticing before I slide down that slippery slope. I watch. I breathe. Always breathing. And it’s getting easier (halle-freakin-luja!!).

Give it a try. If you’re struggling---like I have been---with being bogged down by inner criticism, you might be amazed, too.

Notice. Give space. Breathe.

And then remember: I am not my thoughts.

The Link Between Boundaries, Barriers and Compassion, Demystified

most_boundaried_people_are_most_compassionate There is a vast difference between boundaries and barriers. VAST. EXPANSIVE. Huge.

When I first learned about the concept of boundaries almost a decade ago, I had a hard time figuring out how to put them into practice. Not because I didn’t agree with the concept, but I first had to get over old thinking where the term “boundary” was used in conjunction with “negative discipline.”

While boundaries are used as a form of protection when something negative happens, they are also used in the wonderful, beautiful daily business of living.

It’s a way of living honestly. In our truths. Vulnerably.

Boundaries allow clear communication to happen. Barriers shut down communication.

Setting healthy boundaries takes a lot of courage. It all stems back to allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.

The process goes something like this:

  1. Acknowledge any pain. What’s truly hurting deep down. Is it really someone or something “out there” or is it something within?
  2. Identify your triggers.
  3. Acknowledge how much you can and can not handle. What are your limits? This is especially tough for those of us---myself included---who think they should do it all.

The bravery it takes to even get to this place is tremendous. GINORMOUS. Did I mention it takes guts? Yeah, those too.

After getting clear (see above), the intention of setting a boundary will naturally come from a place of making communication clearer. A compassionate beginning. Nothing messy or twisted. Just, clarity.

“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.” ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Boundaries allow everyone to be on the same page. Everyone knows where the other stands which brings in clarity. Clarity allows next steps to be taken by everyone, because there are no mixed messages.

Sending mixed messages is a sign of using barriers instead of boundaries. We are stuck, so to speak. There’s no clear path forward, no movement on either end.

Being on the receiving end of someone’s boundaries which provoke or make us angry isn’t easy, either. But everyone knows where everyone stands. That understanding gives parameters for what there is to work with. Clarity.

Personally, I’d rather work with clarity, as opposed to confusion or mixed messaging, ANY DAY. I've been in that confusing space of mixed messaging---both on the receiving end and as the messenger---and it didn't feel good in either position. In fact, all it did was cause pain for myself and for others.

So where does compassion come into play? How is it, as Pema Chodron states, that “the most boundaried people are the most compassionate?”

Doesn’t compassion mean to do good, be good, and be open and loving to any and all?

Nope, not even close.

People who have strong boundaries have, quite simply, done the work. And they continue to do the work. They understand and feel their pain, they know their triggers and they know exactly where their limits are. They know themselves and they are clear about what they need or what they don’t need. Plain and simple. Not easy, but very straightforward. This is also known as self-compassion or self-love.

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

The key words used are “honestly and gently.” Compassion!

Boundaries set us free. They are also evidence of our inner work made tangible to the world. This can be a very powerful, and empowering, message we send out.

That message says: I am worth it. I know and love myself enough that I can not and will not accept X. Here are the parameters I’m willing to work with to move past X. But if X doesn’t stop, then so will this form of our relationship.

Many times, when talking about setting boundaries, the example of physical abuse is used. Of course, this is a prime example where boundaries are so very necessary. But there is a huge spectrum where boundaries are beneficial, physical abuse being at the very far end. This means it could be something seemingly minor, but still necessitates a boundary.

It could be at work. It could be with a friend. It could be with a family member. I could be with yourself, even.

Example: I’m going to find a new route to walk to work because the pastry shop is too tempting for me. I’ve made a promise to lower my sugar intake. I know that if I smell those pastries, I will stop in for one! I’m going to honor my promise to myself by not putting myself in temptation’s way.

A simple boundary to keep yourself on track and healthy.

They key is to recognize when you’re feeling drained or anxious. This is usually the first tip off that a boundary hasn’t been addressed and is being crossed. Of course if you’re feeling angry, frustrated, rage, depressed, or afraid, then there are most likely some boundary issues happening that haven’t been addressed, as well.

If you’re struggling with boundaries, you are not alone. This is a skill that develops and refines itself over an entire lifetime. Each time a new boundary is needed, it’s an opportunity to flex that muscle of self-compassion. To send a powerful and empowering message to yourself: yes, my dear, you are so worth it. You are loved.

Next time you’re confronted with setting a boundary, try remembering:

Healthy boundaries set up clear communication. (Sweet!)

Healthy boundaries take courage to create. Start with being vulnerable with yourself. (You can do it!)

Healthy boundaries can stop unnecessary suffering in it’s tracks. For you, of course, but also for the entire situation.

And they are WORTH IT for the clarity and forward momentum they inspire. For everyone.

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ― Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

Thank you, Pema.

My mission is to leave the world in better condition than how I found it. I’d be grateful if you shared this post with someone for whom it may make even a tiny bit of difference. Let’s start creating that positive ripple effect, together! Big hugs xo

Lean Into The Sore Point and Witness Your Beautiful Unfolding

deeply_completely_accept_myself “Hold your hand over your heart, like you would when you’d say the pledge of allegiance in school,” she said. “Then, gently start to move your finger tips around. There should be a sore spot. It’s an acupressure point.”

“Okay...yes, I feel it,” I replied, wondering why we all had this “sore” spot but figured that question was for another conversation. Rebecca was on a role.

“Good. Now, repeat after me. Are you ready?”

“Just...one...sec,” I said as I reached into my bag to find a pen to write down what she was about to tell me. Furiously using one hand, crashing through pages in my notebook, I finally came to a blank one. Popping the pen top, it was poised and ready.

“Okay, ready.”

“I deeply and completely…”

“I deeply aaaand commm...plete..ly…” I said, drawing out the words to give me a little more time to write them as I said them, one handed, sitting in the car balancing my notebook on my knee while massaging the “sore” point with the other hand. I had our babysitter come over for an hour and a half so I could talk uninterrupted. Turns out, the car is the best place to do that these days.

She continued, “love and accept myself...”

“luh..ve aaandd ac..cept myselffff…”

“exactly the way I am…”

“ex...act...ly the waaaay I aammm…”

“even if I never change.”

“eev...en---wait, what? That’s hard.” I whispered.

“Go on,” she coaxed. “Even if I never change.”

“even. if. I. never. change.”

“Now, repeat it back to me in it’s entirety,” she said.

I took in a deep breath, saying it out loud:

I deeply and completely love and accept myself exactly the way I am even if I never change.

“But the whole point is I want to change. Need to change. SOMETHING needs to change,” I pleaded.

“You are changing. You are in the midst of great change. What this exercise will do for you is help heal and comfort your inner child who needs you even more now as you go through these big changes. She is railing against the change because she’s scared and doesn’t know that you can handle it. You can and all she needs is some firm gentleness and understanding.”

Sigh. Relief flooded through me for being understood but I was also weary. Already tired from the frustration of having “dealt” with my inner teen for a while now, I was ready for a break. She was hard work.

The thing is, I’m in my thirties, and just now going through these unprocessed feelings.

Why?

As a teenager, I was lonely. I didn’t have the normal boundaries or parental guidance to bump up against. “Just be good,” was what I heard mostly. This left me trying to figure it all out by myself, all while trying to be “good.” It was exhausting, frustrating, and put me squarely on the perfectionist track.

And god forbid I didn’t know something. Or tried something and failed. It simply wasn’t allowed.

Our family had other, deeper issues going on. Life at home was reactionary, every one usually high on cortisol and walking on eggshells at the same time.

Those formidable years of feeling firm in a solid foundation that would have allowed me to try, do, make mistakes and try again were instead spent agonizing over how to be “good,” do everything perfectly and quite literally not be seen. If I was seen, it meant I did something very wrong.

Yet, trying new things and failing are all a part of knowing ourselves.

Being allowed to fail in an environment that contains us without judgment, then validates and acknowledges our attempts is one of the greatest gifts we can ever give or receive.

Being shamed over failure or made to believe we are a bad person because we failed, misses the point entirely. Not only is it damaging in the long run (trust me, I know!) but it never teaches someone how to separate their BEHAVIOR from their TRUE SELVES. Then, that person goes on living their lives as if they were bad, terrible, and striving for perfectionism---which will never happen because PERFECT literally DOESN’T EXIST.

My 16 year old self didn’t know that though.

That budding young woman didn’t just eat it and go away, however. She’s here right now and asking for my attention, validation and open heartedness. This is so tough with a teen! They’re angsty and angry. They back talk and sulk. They test, push and test some more JUST to make sure you’re still firm, you still love them and you still have their backs no matter what. It’s like a toddler times one hundred.

“I deeply and completely love and accept myself exactly the way I am even if I never change,” I repeat before bed. Pausing while doing the dishes. On the bike at the gym. Driving. “I deeply and completely love and accept myself exactly the way I am even if I never change.”

She hears it and acknowledges it’s validating powers. And even though I’ve softened into it more and more---maybe even believing it from the sheer amount of times saying it---what’s really helped has been Andrew.

He sees my struggle and can verbalize back to me what I’m going through.

I’m not alone. I’m not doing this by myself. We’re in this together. A team.

And my inner teen revels in that. She loves that she has a family---strong and loving people (Andrew and myself) who she can rely on even in her darkest moments of fear. She can make mistakes, say things she immediately regrets, and express a full range of emotions. Meanwhile, she won’t be labeled, judged or shamed. The behavior is addressed separately from the person. Through it all, she’s still loved. And she’s growing from it day by day, blossoming into the woman she’s destined to become.

I have an incredibly hard time with slow. As a natural “doer,” I tend to try to find solutions as quickly as possible whenever a problem or frustration arises. And this can be really beneficial in many cases.

But there are many cases where a good, long seasoning needs to happen. A slow progression, so nothing is missed, everything is touched, revealed. This, for me, is where I deeply struggle. It’s so uncomfortable that I WANT IT TO BE DIFFERENT NOW. Enter my inner child.

The past two years of my life have been my immersion in fully understanding this long, slow unfolding process. It’s been painful. It’s hurt. There has been so much I wanted to run from, screaming. But circumstances kept me firmly planted where I was, to face it all head on.

Onward.

I feel it coming to an end though. And while I can’t say I’m sad about that, I can say I’m humbled, relieved. A tiny bit proud, even. I'm making it. I'll survive!

Sometimes, I’ve realized, it’s the simplest things.

Pressing into a sore point.

Reciting a self-compassionate prayer out loud.

One prayer at a time, moving forward.

A slow but beautiful unfolding.

My mission is to leave the world in better condition than how I found it. I’d be grateful if you shared this post with someone for whom it may make even a tiny bit of difference. Let’s start creating that positive ripple effect, together! Big hugs xo

Intentional Everything

2014-11-07 12.36.53_sm 2014-11-07 12.39.11_sm

There are so many things I want to tell you! But I'm going to just highlight a few here so I don't write a small novel in one post. Little Mister is onto one nap a day --- which means more "doing" for mama!

When Little Mister was born, my Aunt Laura suggested taking a parent/infant class at a Waldorf School. It was exactly what I needed as I was wading into the murky waters of first-time parenthood. What a scary place to be, as I had no safety net! Realizing this was essential for survival with a new little person, I set out to create one.

2014-11-07 12.40.39_sm(Miss Liz sitting in her classroom spot) 

The past year, I've done two parent/infant classes with Waldorf. Both taught by the lovely Liz Hagerman, we were guided to observe our babies, give them space to just be instead of constantly projecting our own worries, doubts, concerns and judgments onto them. How eye opening! Since they obviously can not talk, it can be so easy to conclude something that---with a little space and observation---turns out to be something completely different than what we had expected. Or, it actually was as we thought and was confirmed through observing. It was a wonderful foundation for listening to my gut. Turns out, that's where most decision making comes from as a new mama (and, I'd venture, as humans!).

2014-11-07 12.38.21_sm

We talked a lot about intentional parenting. Mindfulness, trust, boundaries and rhythm as the foundation of "discipline" were explored amongst the group. We were given the gift of space to become comfortable with trusting ourselves--- as their parents, we know what our children ultimately need if we observe and listen. The experience helped shape my approach to parenting and rippled over, touching how I approach life.

Intentional everything. It's something I've been contemplating for a while (and also authentic power, but that's another post!). The past year felt like I was being taken for a ride. The tides of life were sweeping me under like a strong undertow. I was allowing circumstances and situations to run amok, versus creating healthy boundaries and asking for help (from sources who could and would really be there for me) when needed. But since I can't breathe underwater, I intended for things to radically change---and they are bit by bit, day by day, little by little.

The change I'm referring to has been spurred by a compilation of things: the wonderful space the Waldorf experience has given me---to see how I'd like things to be and make the changes to move in that direction; meeting other wonderful people in my life going through similar situations (Megan, Alexis, Laura, Andrea, Carolyn, Jourdan!!); and having friends from all walks of my life holding the space for me (Kiija, Deidre, Chelsea, Martha, Grace, Heidi!!). For it all, I am humbled and grateful.

2014-11-07 12.42.23_sm(Little Mister finds me where ever I am!)  

2014-11-07 12.42.53_sm

A little verse Liz recites for us when we end our snack, so lovely, succinct and wonderfully full:

Blessings on the blossoms Blessings on the roots Blessings on the leaves and stems And blessings for this food.

For the golden corn, and the apples on the trees For the golden butter and the honey from the bees For fruits and nuts and berries, that grow beside the way We bless your loving kindness, earth And thank you every day.

2014-11-07 12.37.36_sm

2014-11-07 12.39.25_sm

2014-11-07 12.40.15_sm

Pumpkins and reflection

IMG_5627_sm IMG_5648_sm

IMG_5656_sm

The pumpkin tradition continues with our little family. There's a great pumpkin patch down the road held by a church. Every year they get the most beautiful crop of pumpkins from New Mexico. Definitely not local, but I can't help but imagine the beautiful Big Blue Sky they grew under and came from. A pumpkin patch nestled in the desert somewhere, pops of orange against red and brown hues and that stunning sapphire sky above -- I'm surprised Georgia O'Keefe didn't paint something similar.

As it's All Hallows Eve, the shadow or darker side of things tends to be more in the lime light than usual. Which, for many, is a wonderful thing. All too often, that shadowy "stuff" that scares the crap out of us gets relegated to dark, deep recesses of our mind and bodies. "No! I don't want to think about that! Go away! I will deal with you later! (maybe)." Yeah, all those things. But, in celebration of bringing a more holistic approach to our selves and our lives, I'll leave off with a few quotes to ponder. When I read them, they spoke kindly to me.

Happy Halloween!

"Work on your stuff," says Steven Forrest, "or your stuff will work on you." He means that it will sabotage you if you're not aggressive about identifying, negotiating with, and transforming it.

The shadow is not inherently evil. If it is ignored or denied, it may become monstrous to compensate. Only then is it likely to "possess" its owner, leading to compulsive, exaggerated, "evil" behavior.

"Whatever is rejected from the self, appears in the world as an event," said Jung. If you disown a part of your personality, it'll materialize as an unexpected detour.

Novelist J.G. Ballard placed his faith in the human imagination. "I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world," he wrote, "to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen." -- via Rob Brezny

True, Kind & Necessary

IMG_3876_sm IMG_3888_sm

IMG_3873_sm

Is it true, kind and necessary? This question was posed in the book Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne, pertaining to simple, kind speech. It's a filter meant to help us to speak less, but more consciously. It allows the true meaning of our words to come forth -- without any spin and counter-spin, noise or drama, they mean more.

The author jots down true.kind.necessary on his calendars or notebooks so he can carry them throughout the day. He notes "like everything worthwhile, it takes practice to consciously erect these filters somewhere between our minds and our mouths."

Like everything worthwhile...

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?