The Seeds We Sow

 

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“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson

Sowing seeds and blossoming has never had a more poetic meaning than when I became a mom. According to the calendar I am now entering into the harvest time of parenting. The time when all the seeds have been sown and all the lessons I can teach my young fledglings has come to bear fruit and to see just what took root inside of them. In hindsight it took no time at all for these many seasons to pass and yet it has taken a long, long time of hope, nurture, love, sunshine, feeding and faith to get to this point. Sowing seeds in our children doesn’t always mean that everything will come up roses and I don’t always like what I see in the blossoming which has led me to ask myself….

How do I know I was a good gardener?

As a parent this question has been embedded in my soul from the moment I held my child for the first time. It became more specifically a question of how do I or will I know I did the right thing or did right by my children? The answer is, I won’t know. How can that be? Free will.

The idea behind free will in my children is that although they are a combination of 2 really great and loving human beings they have the God given right to develop their own set of values and life rules, opinions, choices and decisions, just like we did before they existed. In the harvesting time, like what I am going through right now, where the seeds are blooming in a crazy wild manner in every which way, it feels like weeds have taken root. They try to defy gravity and nature and it gets really scary and feels hopeless at times. As a parent I absolutely will not always agree with their decisions and choices and values, oh my, but above all, I know I must have faith that the seeds I have sown will yield a beautiful crop to be proud of.

“A weed is but an unloved flower.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Oh, don’t misunderstand. There have been and there are glimpses of good manners because that is one of the seeds I planted inside of them, there are snapshots of seeing me in the things they do or say because like it or not that is also one of the seeds I planted inside of them and there are moments of joy and love because above all else that is the seed I wanted to grow most of all.

It’s those times when all seems to be coming up weeds and those weeds threaten to choke the life out of the beautiful flowers I am hoping will bloom, that it all starts to fall apart for me and I over nurture and over water and over feed my seedlings. They are searching for their own growth space and I am trying to stand them up tall and proud. But they are not ready for that because they have not decided to stand up tall and proud for themselves yet.

“Parents can only give good advice or put their children on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” Anne Frank

I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to wanting a full bloom in my children. All I can do as a gardener/parent is love them and be there if and when they need me and hope like crazy that whatever seeds I planted along the way of their growth will yield beauty of spirit and mind.

For all of those times when I realize that perhaps I didn’t always plant a good seed and for all of those times when I think that the weed that is growing right now is what will always be truth, I am learning that in order to ensure that the seed doesn’t turn into a permanent weed is to plant faith. Faith is a very needy seed. Faith needs constant nurturing, constant attention and constant awareness. Faith also needs a sense of humor and an ability to see life backwards. In the spirit of seeing life as backwards here is my short list for all those times when it all should make some kind of sense and doesn’t but in the end still has a chance…..

I might be a good gardener/parent if:

I make all kinds of mistakes from a horrible tasting dinner to turning a white shirt pink in the laundry. It means that although I may not be perfect as a parent, gardener, or human being I am always willing to learn and grow within myself for my children.

I have acted selfish or self-centered. It means that I am vulnerable and human just like my children are. It means that letting them see my true colors makes me more down to earth for them.

I feel deep inside of my soul I have failed. It only means that I have tried something and it didn’t quite work out the way I hoped it would but I am still standing and able to try again another day. “I’m sorry” is the same as Miracle Grow.

I find myself feeling scared and helpless. It means that my heart is so invested and striving for goodness. It is okay to experience every possible emotion that exists and still create beauty and love in my children. Living by example gives them comfort and room to bloom.

I know that without meaning to I have said the absolute wrong thing. It means that I was communicating and trying to find a way to break through verbal barriers with people who speak a different language from mine. Parent talk is very different from kid talk.

In any situation, being able to put myself in someone else’s shoes not only connects me to their point of view but it also grows empathy. In each instance I am becoming a more valuable seed within myself.

So……

What kind of gardener are you?

If you plant honesty, you will grow trust

If you plant goodness, you will grow heart

If you plant humility, you will grow connectedness

If you plant perseverance, you will grow courage

If you plant hard work, you will grow success

If you plant forgiveness, you will grow reconciliation

If you plant love, you will grow the world.

Call to Action

When you take a moment to see the world as your personal garden, what would you like to plant there?

How do you see your garden influencing the garden next to you?

If your garden seems to be growing weeds, what kind of nourishment does your garden need?

From your perspective, what are the signs of a great garden?

The ABC’s of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

 

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Here is a little riddle for you compliments of www.lifehack.org:

“You can only have it once you have given it.

One of the most misunderstood concepts out there, respect is asked for yet seldom given. Some even try to take it by force or buy it, but if you are unable to show others respect and treat them as equals you will never be able to truly earn their respect. People respect bravery, intelligence, skill, talent, compassion and physical and mental strength, and these things cannot be faked.”

Lately the question of respect has morphed into, how can someone honestly, truly respect you if you don’t respect yourself? I believe respect should at most start within each of us….

You would think that after raising 3 children I would be the veteran of momhood. You would think that after all I have endured in learning my children at every age and stage of their lives so far I would have nothing left to learn except how to co-exist. You would think that when they hit the magic government age of 18 that says, “Hey, welcome to adulthood, but not really”, that I would be able to transition with them from apron strings and purse strings to I’ll-take-care-of-it-mom strings and no more routine bedtime strings.

Yup. You would think all of these things because after all, I’ve been with them since the moment they were conceived. Alas, not even close. I’m learning, what I think is the biggest lesson of my whole life, other than not to be afraid of death, and that is the word and meaning of respect in all its Technicolor dreaminess.

Okay, so here is this posts vocabulary lesson. The dictionary defines the word respect as meaning

1-      an act of giving particular attention or consideration

2-      high or special regard or esteem

3-      the quality or state of being esteemed.

In the case of our first definition I think I did an admirable job of showing respect to my children and their needs such as food, attention, time, education outside of school and moral support whether asked for or not. Just to name a few.

In definition number 2 when the kids did something that went above and beyond their basic level of earned respect, and by that I mean getting homework done well and on time, helping with chores, not arguing when an extended family visit was in order, I made sure they understood why I was calling attention to my “extra” respect. I’m a huge fan of answering those “why” questions.

In definition number 3 I always tried to find reasons to celebrate them. I never enjoyed keeping to the “traditions only” rules of celebrations. For example I always enjoyed celebrating their ½ birthdays. I would serve them dinner on half a plate, I would buy a silly, non-essential gift and not wrap it or give them the first ½ of a gift and then the rest on their actual birthday, I would give them ½ a glass of a beverage, I would even supply half a cake without anything written on it and sing very badly a half version of the birthday song. They thought it was cool and funny but I really just wanted them to know how aware I was of them and their lives.

Now, a mom would think that after a lifetime of showing them how to be respectful, what respect looks like and sounds like and feels like, that they would automatically have it in them by 18 years old to have respect as part of their DNA.

Yes and no.

What I am learning very painfully is that I did so much respecting of them that I never stopped to fully show them how to respect themselves or me. On some basic level I did teach them self-respect like bathing, teeth brushing, care of clothing, and the importance of a thank you whether in note form or verbal but it wasn’t enough. I did teach them to stand up for themselves but it seems not very well.

We all have demons living inside of us that talk trash to us about how we are not good enough, not pretty enough, not worthy enough, not talented enough. Some of us are able to outgrow those little annoying negative voices and some of us are slaves to those voices.

So, here I am dealing with all that I hid from myself and unknowingly did not deal with when it came to my children about how to first and foremost respect myself from the inside out. The most powerful lesson is that even when your children grow up there will always be ways to parent them. The job changes and evolves but the investment never ends. Words, actions, emotions live on long after our bodies do. I’ve learned an important lesson when it comes to integrity of self and of others.

My youngest is going through a very lost, very confusing time in his life and his inner demons are being played out in glorious fashion. His very low self-respect is causing our whole family to want to hide away from all of his negativity but we can’t and more importantly we won’t, regardless of how we feel. His low self-respect shows up in ways such as guilt, blame, lying, secrets, volatile emotions and stress. His body is not responding well to all of his low self-respect and so it is becoming very dangerous for him to continue on this path and that is not healthy for him or for any of us who care and love him so much.

I am forced to see so much of my own insecurities and lack of self-respect showing up in him and I feel at times helpless to empower him and hypocritical to try. But here’s the thing, and it really matters right this moment, we are going through the same thing at the same time and I just might be able to help him and he help me. What wouldn’t a parent do to save their child?

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” –Mark Twain

What does self-respect look like?

If I were to draw a picture of self-respect it would look like flowers blossoming with hope and integrity in the early cool, spring air. It would look like my boys did when they were young and wanted to wear super hero costumes because that is how they saw themselves that day. It would look like girls in high school who wear real clothes when everyone else is wearing pajama pants and slippers to class. It would look like teenagers laughing out loud at something funny their parent said and they didn’t care who saw or heard them laughing.

What does self-respect feel like?

Self-respect feels like warmth. Self-respect feels like having that superhero living inside of me, All. The. Time. Self- respect feels like knowledge, wisdom, confidence and courage all wrapped into one amazing 6th sense. Self-respect feels like being small in stature on the outside but feeling 6’ tall on the inside and letting the inside out. Self-respect feels like being good enough, worthy enough and just enough.

You’ve heard me say it over and over, perspective is everything. What you concentrate on most is what your life will bring to you. If your perspective is negative about yourself then everything you see from your point of view will have undertones of negativity and hopelessness. If you change just one aspect of your point of view from negative to positive then you are creating a crack in the negative to let the happy, positive light in.

I poured all of me into being a mom and took little to no time out for self-development. In that vein I simultaneously showed my children that being an adult meant giving up on all your personal individual rights and being only for someone else. No wonder my son is having a hard time growing into his manhood/adulthood. It sounds like I’m putting an awful lot of responsibility on my shoulders for who they have become so far and not enough responsibility on theirs and maybe I am, however, I feel blessed in the fact that I can see these characteristics so clearly now and hopefully say something and do something and then back up what I say and do in my own life’s example so that he doesn’t continue to believe that he will have to lose himself completely.

So how can I build self-respect and pass on those building lessons to my children?

Understand that self-respect is a close, very close cousin to self-confidence and self-esteem. Each can stand alone if necessary but they all work better together.

Believe every day in my own authenticity. Always stay in touch with my truth and my inner child. The child that day dreams, plans, schemes and loves to show her individuality. My truth showing up in the confidence of the decisions and choices I make, even if my decisions and choices are not in line with someone else’s. Somewhere in our teens we get it our heads that we equally want to be seen for our individual selves while blending in to the social norms so we don’t look “foolish”. We can’t have it both ways. It will always be more fashionable to choose ourselves over being a clone of someone else.

“Don’t go the distance trying to fit in the crowd and be accepted by others. Accept and respect yourself first.” Elizabeth E. Castillo

I think the most important step to create respect for myself is to forgive myself. I will absolutely, without a doubt make mistakes and have things from my past that I am not proud of. Respect grows from understanding what went wrong, learning from those wrong steps and constantly improving who I am and who I want to be. Self-respect grows from acknowledging wrongs to others as well. As a child I had a hard time saying I’m sorry to anyone but being able to be so vulnerable and humble builds self-respect quicker than anything I have ever experienced. I’ve also learned that once I apologize to myself and/or to others, I need to let it go. Move forward and leave the pain and incident behind. If I keep bringing it with me I haven’t learned anything and I might as well wear a sign on me every day that says “unworthy.”

I have learned that the person I have to ask for forgiveness from the most is: myself. You must love yourself. You have to forgive yourself, every day, whenever you remember a shortcoming, a flaw, you have to tell yourself “That’s just fine”. You have to forgive yourself so much, until you don’t even see those things anymore. Because that’s what love is like.” C. JoyBell C

Know my character strengths, know myself. Character strengths are the building blocks to who I want to be and been seen as; what I believe about myself without a doubt. These strengths allow me to develop my own core standards of living and the talents I can use to actually make that life happen. These strengths allow me to handle criticism with a growth mindset instead of persecution mindset, they allow me to see beauty and excellence in all things, and they allow me to work on values that are not so strong yet because I have a growing understanding of all the possibilities that live inside of me.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Maya Angelou

Dress to impress……ME. Treat me as I would treat a stranger or anyone I love. If wearing nice clothes helps me feel good about me then I need to make sure I wear nice clothes. How many times did I tell my children, the boys mostly, that when you dress to learn you will learn because you feel good about your appearance. Feeling good makes you stand taller and talk more and interact more and take responsibility more. When you dress to be slouchy and comfortable you will be lazy in all things. Besides that little nugget it’s so fun to wear clothes that look nice. When you look nice you feel nice and then you act nice.

“If I waited for a proper occasion to get dressed up I’d never wear half of these clothes. Put on the clothes and you make things happen to match them. It doesn’t work the other way around.” Erin Kelly

Best foot forward. This goes beyond what I wear. This speaks to my reputation and integrity. Stay true to who I am and who I believe I am. I may falter from time to time, my ideas may not work out the way I planned but I will always try to pick myself up again each time I fall and that is what people will know for sure about me. If I lose respect for me how can anyone keep respect for me?

“Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.” George Eliot, Adam Bede

Give what I want to get. If I want to have friends, I need to be a friend. If I want people to support me then I have to be supportive of others. If I want respect then I need to show respect, always.

“If you don’t give, you don’t get.” Krishna Sagar, Summit Your Everest: Your Coach for Obstacle & Failure Management

Let bad feelings come and then promise to let them go. Don’t let bad feelings about me linger too long. It takes no time at all to fall down and stay down.

“Self-pity, while it should be accorded due respect, is the greatest of all acids to the human soul.” Paul Hoffman, The Last Four Things

Don’t become dependent on the praise from other people. Sure it’s a great feeling to get those “atta girl” accolades but with all my heart try not to depend on the approval from others. Be confident enough within me to know for sure that I did a great job even if no one took notice.

“Hold dear and true friends close to your heart, it matters not where you find them, only that you treat them with love and respect always.” L.M. Fields

I hope this list of lessons will help you on your journey through self-respect. Need some help? Write to me and I’ll be your helper.

Call to Action

“If you had to spend every second, of every day, of every year of your life with someone, would you do whatever it took to love that person? Would you be a best friend, a teacher, coach and mentor? Would you do whatever it takes to treat that person with respect? Well guess what? That someone is you! Who deserves the best more than you do? Think about it and have an outstanding day…!”James A. Murphy, The Waves of Life Quotes and Daily Meditations

9 Times Curiosity Softens Judgment

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“….. it would be interesting to find out what goes on in that moment when someone looks at you and draws all sorts of conclusions.”Malcolm Gladwell

The dictionary defines judgment as “an opinion so pronounced; a formal decision held by a court; the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing; an opinion or estimate so formed.” The word judgment has a kind of negative quality to it and when exercised seems to put a person in a mirage of control and power with regard to their words, thoughts and perceptions.

Discernment however is defined as “the ability to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently; the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.” Discernment to me feels more like open-mindedness and forethought. It feels empowering because it seems to take into account all aspects of a situation without negativity.

As a life coach we are taught about the top 24 value characteristics and their definitions and how these values are used to strengthen each individual. Judgment falls into the value characteristic with critical thinking and open-mindedness. The definition says, “Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.” I love this definition because it is positive and freeing. I would love to see the word judgment changed to discernment. It also happens to be in my top 5 strong value characteristics of who I am at my core.

Why am I giving you a lesson in judgment?

Well, I recently came up against a very irate reader who felt compelled to voice her discontent to one of my blog posts. In my quick mental response I was thrilled because it meant that I generated so much emotion that a reader felt so strongly as to write about it in a personal email to me. Upon further perusal of her rant I realized that although I welcome all responses with open-mindedness and curiosity the actual response didn’t get specific in any way as to what was so emotional for her or why she felt compelled to write. I could tell it was a rant because the tone was negative and she used capital letters and exclamation points. Courage dear reader….don’t be shy, let your thoughts fly free.

“One reason we rush so quickly to the vulgar satisfactions of judgment, and love to revel in our righteous outrage, is that it spares us from the impotent pain of empathy, and the harder, messier work of understanding.” Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing

Maturity tells me do not provoke the monster. Let the reader have his/her say and move on. Not everything I write is going to please everyone and I’m okay with that. It’s almost like an oath writers take when they go public with their thoughts as happens often with blog posts. I couldn’t help however the questions that kept running through my mind:

How does lack of curiosity play a role in judgment?

When does judgment become negative?

Can curiosity keep judgment at bay?

When my children were little I found it fascinating to watch them learn something new. Their curiosity didn’t always include a question right away but their actions and body language and facial expressions showed their desire to know more and learn something. As they got older and the questions started coming along I realized it was a great indicator that they were ready to understand the answers to their questions. How I answered them was just as important as being open-minded to answering their questions for the age they were at. If I didn’t know the answer we would look it up together. I hope I taught them to always get the facts before forming an opinion or judgment.

As adults I have to wonder when did judgment take a front row seat and relegate curiosity to the back of the room?

The pure definition of curiosity is “the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.” I can’t imagine what the world would be like if curiosity didn’t exist; if we just accepted what we were taught or what we read without question or wonder or awe.

“Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one’s bridges because you’re never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.” Saul D. Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals

As I get older 2 things are happening:

One, mortality screams louder and louder with each passing day and

Two,  curiosity for me means pushing my life to limits I’ve always only been afraid of . Fear now takes a back seat to curiosity. We only have this one chance at life so why hold back from what piques our interests?

“It is simply this: do not tire, never lose interest, never grow indifferent—lose your invaluable curiosity and you let yourself die. It’s as simple as that.” Tove Jansson, Fair Play

So how do we stay curious without judgment?

Here are some ideas that might be of help and interest….

It is human nature to form an opinion about almost everything. Opinions are great but if you don’t have information to back up your opinion, if you don’t show truth and/or facts with your opinion then it becomes judgment and judgment just doesn’t feel good no matter how you look at it. You can still maintain your opinion but be open-minded to new information. My father used to say that the only things that are for certain are death and taxes. I’m not so sure any more about the taxes part but there is no arguing with death although there are people that would argue that they were declared clinically dead and are still alive today so see, even death seems negotiable and curious. The point is that life is open for business and being open is expansive and freeing.

“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” Tony Schwartz

Opinions are based on curiosity. Wanting to know the “why” or “how” of something drives our inner self to stay free of judgment for a bit if only because we are learning and growing and seeking truth and wisdom.

“I had discovered that learning something, no matter how complex, wasn’t hard when I had a reason to want to know it.” Homer Hickam, Rocket Boys

Curiosity allows for personal internal expansion. We don’t know what life experiences led someone down a certain path of life or thought and it may not be for us to know but when you are curious about a person and their thought processes, instead of judging without knowing their story or the facts you have the freedom and dare I say responsibility to put yourself in that person’s shoes and imagine what their experiences and feelings are like. This is empathy. Once you can feel what they might be feeling there is no room whatsoever for judgment.

“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.” Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

Curiosity allows for gratitude. Judgment allows for nothing but walls and road blocks. Sure there are times when I look back over my life so far and can more easily find what is missing than what is right with my life; what is a burden rather than a blessing but then I pull back, step out of my own picture and think about what I still want to learn and experience. How can I make those curiosities happen; how can I be grateful for the opportunity to learn and be and evolve as more of who I am? Being grateful for what life has given me so far allows me to seek and learn about what more there is out in this big world.

Curiosity encourages, no demands, relationship. Judgment screams isolation. In his book, Making Marriage Simple, author Harville Hendrix writes, “We are wounded and healed in relationships. We cannot know who we are except in relationships.” This can be a love relationship, a spiritual relationship, a co-worker relationship, a mentor relationship, etc. If we never expose ourselves to the ideas and teachings of others, if we never allow all the many relationships of our lives to peak our curiosities then what are we living for?

“When I think of the wisest people I know, they share one defining trait: curiosity. They turn away from the minutiae of their lives-and focus on the world around them. They are motivated by the desire to explore the unfamiliar. They are drawn toward what they don’t understand.” Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

Always be ready to ask yourself if what you are thinking is of a closed mind perspective or open mind perspective. Questions like:

What exists beyond the way I am seeing this?

How can I learn more about this?

Where might there be another opinion or perspective?

We can’t help judging ourselves but judging others is never a good idea. We are all perfectly imperfect and we all have a lifetime of opportunity to hone and chisel and smooth out those areas of our lives that we alone choose to judge to be wrong or in need of repair. Fear holds us back sometimes, okay, lots of times; fear asks us to face our own truths and we don’t like doing that. It’s hard to look in the mirror and see what we don’t like and easy to then pass on that internal hate toward others. Practice compassion and curiosity with yourself and judgment will find it very hard to settle in anywhere. Find a tiny bit of courage to shine a light on your own troubles or circumstances and you’ll see people rally to help you, no judgment.

“You cannot be fair to others without first being fair to yourself. Know that a well-honed sense of justice is a measure of personal experience, and all experience is a measure of self. Know that the highest expression of justice is mercy. Thus, as the supreme judge in your own court, you must have compassion for yourself. Otherwise, cede your gavel.”Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Judgment is like poison. It alienates others and at times can be contagious. It alienates others by making people not want to be near your constant judgmental attitude. It can be contagious because if you find someone who enjoys judging others like you do then gossip takes root, judgment grows like a cancer and before you know it feeling bad and opinionated without facts become the disease. Staying curious and open-minded is the best medicine for the poison of judgment.

“If you didn’t grow up like I did then you don’t know, and if you don’t know it’s probably better you don’t judge.” Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Curiosity creates knowledge. The more curious you are the more curious you become and the more wisdom and knowledge you obtain. Your mind grows, your spirit grows, your conversations grow, your connections grow and more doors to the world open up. Judgment keeps all doors closed. Nothing grows in judgment.

“A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet.” Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World

Call to Action

Thanksgiving is coming. How can you practice curiosity with gratitude and without judgment? When faced with family and friends that push your buttons how can you come from a curious place and not a gossipy, judgmental place about those people that rub you the wrong way?

 

Moms Sleep Then Conquer the World

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Moms Sleep then Conquer the World

“Now for a good twelve-hour sleep, I told myself. Twelve solid hours. Let birds sing, let people go to work. Somewhere out there, a volcano might blow, Israeli commandos might decimate a Palestinian village. I couldn’t stop it. I was going to sleep.”  
Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Oh the joy of that first newborn baby. How prepared are/were you for those sleepless nights?

When my daughter was born I did everything I was told to do in order to take care of her and myself. She and I were in a world to ourselves and it was bliss except where sleep was concerned. Very quickly I learned that a bad night’s sleep can wreak havoc on every single part of the rest of my functioning life. I slept when she slept because I could and that part was fine but the nights were another matter. It was easier in the beginning when she was brand new because she either needed a diaper change or she was hungry but as she got older and I started weaning her off the breast she would wake for reasons like losing her pacifier during the night or  just wanting to be held for a while. It was impossible to get her into a routine of sleeping through the night.

If you are like me you feel like pulling your hair out because the mystery that has become sleep is overwhelming. There are pages and pages of information through Google to help parents search about how to get a better night’s sleep with a baby in the house. At the top of the list is establishing a routine as early as possible. I did not do this because from day one my daughter slept through the night. Sleep became a problem as she got older. Of course the routine will change and evolve over time as it should but staying firm to the structure is a great place to start. Years later I can tell you that eventually the babies grow and learn to love to sleep. See, there is hope but until then……

Not too long ago I was working with a client who is a new mom and going through these elusive sleepless nights. As fate would have it I have a coaching colleague who specializes in sleep disorders. Dr. Kevin B. Handley, Ph.D. was more than willing to offer up some great inside information and advice when it comes to getting the sleep we all need in order to have a happier, healthier life. I hope this brief interview will be of help to you:

By way of introducing you to my readers please briefly talk about how you recognized a passion in working with people with sleep problems? 

“A couple of things came together at the same time to help me recognize this passion for sleep. After the birth of our first child, my wife and I were generally surprised at how little people knew about how sleep works, especially in infants and children. At the same time, I had begun teaching at the college level and was surprised by how many people in my classes suffered with sleep problems. I knew the statistics, but it was still shocking when two thirds of a college class raised their hands when I asked “how many of you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep most nights of the week?” Lastly, when I began to focus on sleep enhancement in my clinical patients, it was obvious that sleep was a linchpin that led to better results in less time.”

I know that insomnia is your ideal client specialty but I am wondering if there is one common question or issue that clients bring to you regarding sleep outside of insomnia. 

“The most common question is “why am I tired all the time.” There is an epidemic of willful sleep deprivation in the United States. People simply do not value sleep and do not believe that they need more sleep than what they are getting. Unfortunately, this begins in childhood. A close second would be parents’ awareness that their children aren’t getting the sleep they need and they don’t really know how to help them.”

How important do you think it is, especially for moms with infants, to get GOOD sleep? What does GOOD sleep look like to a specialist like you? 

“It is essential that new mothers get good sleep. But unfortunately, new moms have poor sleep habits that were in place before the birth of their child. Mothers with infants do get referred to me, but sadly, it’s often after a period of extended sleep deprivation has already driven a mother to the point of exhaustion and often depression.

Good sleep means that you get enough sleep, at night, and on a regular schedule. People need to sleep a minimum of seven hours straight and preferably, with a standard wake up and bedtime. There’s also a functional aspect to it. You know that you’re getting good sleep when you wake up refreshed, stay alert all day long, and have the energy and focus you need to get done what you want to get done in your life.”

How does a mom with an infant even begin to incorporate the habit of good sleep and what do you suggest as a starting point for establishing a routine? 

“When you are a new mother and you start to lose sleep, your problem-solving skills aren’t what they should be and you can easily get overwhelmed. People can even get overwhelmed by listening to too much advice about how things should work. 

The key is to make small changes over time, but make certain that the changes you make are actually good ones. The good news here is that a few simple changes will enable your baby to sleep through the night without much effort because that’s what babies are designed to do. Most babies are born with the ability to sleep on a schedule. Unfortunately, we parents fail to honor that schedule. Newborns are not going to sleep through the night, but when they are biologically ready to do so, it isn’t that hard to achieve a regular sleep schedule.  When you put in place a few simple principles that help baby fall asleep and stay asleep, the baby’s tendency to sleep on a schedule will kick in and everyone will sleep better.”

When your children were infants, did you have sleep issues to deal with regarding yourself and/or the baby and if so how did you solve those issues? 

“We’ve never really had sleep issues with our children, but that is only because we went into it with a full understanding of how sleep works. We also were able to organize our life in a way that honors a child’s natural sleep schedule. This is difficult for most households with working parents, but it can be done.  Of course we were tired from getting up in the middle the night to feed, but we dealt with that by changing our sleep schedule and planning to get more sleep.

And this is the part that most people miss: People get tired and then get stressed about how they’re going to get everything done. The choice to deprive yourself of sleep is never a good one. It simply does not work.  It starts with a mindset shift. You have to believe that more sleep for yourself will result in more sleep for your child and that everything will get done more efficiently when you’re well rested. In fact, our commitment to our children’s sleep helped us diagnose our second child with medical problems that had not been detected. With all of our standard procedures for getting him to sleep not working, we knew that something else was wrong. It turned out that he had severe reflux. We would not have known that this was a problem if we didn’t have a good sleep process in place that should have promoted him going to sleep easily and without fussing.”

Is there a magic bullet or magic spell that could be used across the sleep issue spectrum to help people sleep better with infants or start to sleep better overall? 

“I wish there were! But I think the closest thing we have is the realization that getting sleep isn’t as difficult as people think. I think the best place to start is to realize that the benefits of sleep will come, but it takes a little bit of time. Over time with adequate sleep, people can enjoy better health, better mood, and even weight-loss!  I think the best place to start is to create good sleep hygiene:

*Rid the sleeping environment of anything that might keep you awake.

*Start by creating a sleep environment that is cool, quiet, and very dark.

*If you use electronic devices all the way up until bedtime, try turning them off about 15 minutes before bed.

*As far as a sleep schedule goes, choose a standard wake up time and get up at that time every single day, regardless of how you slept the night before. You will be surprised at how quickly you can resolve most sleep problems by simply getting up at the same time every day.”

My mantra is “if not tonight, then tomorrow night.”  People tend to worry about getting enough sleep, but they forget that they can do an awful lot under conditions of sleep deprivation. With infants, it’s important to remember that infants are programmed to sleep on a certain schedule and if we make just a few small adjustments, that schedule will kick in and they will sleep like champs!

Digging a bit deeper uncovered this information from the WebMd archives, “Everything can wait to get your attention except the baby. It is very tempting to want to spend that quiet time getting chores done or reading a book or catching up on correspondence. The fact is that no amount of cleaning or “catching up” is going to keep the house clean or caught up for very long. When the baby is up so are you so taking advantage of the time to rest your mind and body are just as important if not more so than cleaning the house.”

 “People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” –Leo J. Burke

So what can moms do to get their sleep on?

Get help right away. Don’t play the martyr. Ask for help from anyone that is willing and able to give it. My husband and I were so tired after the birth of our 2nd child that we both came down with the flu. I had to ask my mom to take the kids for one whole day and an overnight so that we could medicate and sleep. It was the one and only time in my whole life, then and now that I slept for one whole day straight. It felt so good and so necessary.

Prioritize your time. Seriously consider all that you want to get done in the course of your day and then pare that list down to what you know for sure you can get done, allowing for flexibility with the baby dictating the flow of the day.

Consider keeping a journal of your sleep times and circumstances so that you can find patterns that you can capitalize on. For example when is the best time for you to nap when baby naps? What foods sit solidly in baby’s stomach that makes for the best night’s sleep? What daylight pattern seems to work best for baby and you?

Count on things changing because they will. We get so caught up in the day to day that we gloss over the changes that take place in our schedules, routines and children. As they get older, although they are still changing all the time, the changes are less noticeable. When they are little they change so fast and furious that it seems impossible to keep up. My daughter completely stopped napping at age 1 and my body was not ready for it but motherhood calls so I had to be awake and ready. I promise that when your child walks down the aisle it won’t matter at all that the dishes didn’t get done for a week when he/she was 3 years old.

Rule out sleep disorders like sleep apnea or anemia that could leave you feeling overly tired. Not enough sleep can lead to depression so pay close attention to your mood swings and overall well-being. Your moods affect the baby so take care of you. A 20 minute nap during the middle of the day should revive you enough to get through until bedtime.

In another interview I did with a coaching client and new mom, Stephanie Read had this to say regarding her experience with sleep issues:

“It took me a full year to regain a sense of self and motherhood because I was so tired. It helped that I had a husband/partner that was willing to do whatever I needed when it came to sharing the schedule of taking care of our son. HOW I asked for his help was as important to our relationship as his physical help. It is hard for husbands to bond and get that baby time when mom is breast feeding so I learned early and quickly that the tone of voice I used, the way I phrased my questions, and the way I needed his help was a key component to his ability and love of helping and bonding. Following a schedule that he and I made together was the best overall action step.”

Other suggestions:

Do not eat too close to bedtime. I played around with this one for many years and what I have found to work for me is to finish eating for the day by 7pm.

Eliminate as much light as possible when going to sleep.

Try not to drink too much before bedtime. Stop at least 2 hours before bedtime.

Put an end to cardio workouts at least 3 hours before bedtime.

Keep the room cool to at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sleep in loose fitting clothes or nothing at all.

Try to get 7-1/2 hours of sleep each night. This means going to sleep by 10p or 11p the latest. Get your partner or extra hands caregiver on board to help with this. A happy, rested mom creates a happy baby.

Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously.”  
Jean-Pierre Barral

In doing these interviews and learning ways in which to help moms sleep better I thought to myself, what if the tiredness mom’s feel isn’t solely based on their baby’s sleeping habits and erratic night patterns? What if it is a sense of having to be all and do all now that they are moms? I thought about this because that was me playing at perfectionism.

On a hilltop station in Rajasthan, in the Aravali hills of India Mount Abu sits. It is a quiet place known for its ancient heritage and regarded as a scared destination for spiritual rejuvenation and empowerment. Here is where you will find the spiritual headquarters of Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University and well renowned spiritual teacher Dadi Janki. Her perspective on sleep and tiredness really truly resonated with me because I saw myself in her words when I was a new mom. I would like to share her letter to her students with you:

Dear Friend, 

Om shanti. Sometimes when we are together, you ask me why I don’t seem to get tired when I travel from India or give programs into the evening. Tiredness is a kind of sickness. When we work with honesty and love, everything happens without tiredness. When we know how to take cooperation from others, there is no tiredness. It is not a matter of how long we sleep that determines whether we feel tired. It is waste and negative thoughts and actions that create tiredness. Create positive thoughts and elevated actions and you will take strength from that, and your tiredness will leave you.

Work for money and you will count your hours and your salary. Work for love, and you can work sixteen hours a day with happiness and without getting tired. Serving others brings energy. You will then feel your happiness accumulating.

Love,
Dadi Janki

When I reflect on high creative moments in my life I remember the energy that existed there. I remember feeling alive and in flow with my purpose. Creative things like cooking a good meal or baking a great dessert for my family, choosing carefully the books I would ultimately buy for my children because our bedtime ritual always included one story each, purposefully setting time aside from “have-to’s” in order to create time and space for “want-to’s” like blowing bubbles outside for the kids to catch. It is in this flow state, where time and space and life all around me seems to disappear that I become one with my souls’ purpose. When I emerge from this flow state I am revitalized, happier than I’ve ever been and I naturally pass on those positive, life giving feelings to others. In hindsight is when I realized that my children were better in their overall well-being because I was better in my overall well-being.

Where can you let go of stress and worry and exist from a place of pure love, kindness and inner peace?

Call to Action 

All of the advice in the world is not going to present itself in the flesh at 2am when you are tired and again, still, trying to get the baby to sleep. There is however a bit of comfort in knowing that you are not alone. You are safe among a score of mom’s who are also sleep deprived. To this I say, this too shall pass and although I don’t miss those sleep denied nights I do miss my children being so little with so much of life still ahead of us. How can you appreciate each moment, good and bad right now, remembering all the while that there are no do-overs.

Image by bing.com

Complain or Vent: Which way to you lean?

 entitlement

Don’t be a Little Mary Whiner

9 Strategies to Conquer Complaining

The dictionary defines the word complaining as to say or write that you are unhappy, sick or uncomfortable or that you do not like something; to express grief, pain or discontent. The example from the dictionary is, “If you are unhappy with the service you should complain to the manager.”

The dictionary defines the word venting as a way of expressing an emotion usually in a loud or angry manner. The example from the dictionary is, “She vented her frustrations by kicking the car.”

Complaining to others is another matter altogether. It opens the door to deadly sins such as self-pity and rage.” Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

The question is which way do you lean? Do you tend to complain or vent? Which feels better?

In his book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle talks about the effects of complaining.

See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always non-acceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.”

To Mr. Tolle’s last point where he says to speak out if necessary or possible I think of this action step as venting. In venting we tend to release emotional pent up energy surrounding the circumstance that caused such out of control feelings. Once the energy is released and we are calmer we can use a more clear way of thinking through the situation and make better decisions.

Complaining has a weighted, heavy feeling of negativity and adds nothing to the circumstance by way of a solution. Complaining just feels yucky. Complaining is also contagious. Think of someone you know who tends to complain about things but never takes any action toward a solution. If you are around that person long enough you will tend to pick up on the habit to complain.

I was visiting my mom recently and while we sat at the kitchen table talking and catching up I heard myself and the way in which my voice sounded and how I was retelling a story about my life experiences. It seemed to come really easy for me to sound like I was complaining about all the things in my life that I had labeled as “unfair”. Maybe it was just that mom has sworn to love me no matter what so I let it all out. My words sounded awful, like my life is so burdened and full of hardship and yeah right now things are not going the way I would like them to go and yeah at times I do feel like life is unfair but I hated the way I was sounding and speaking and realized that I needed to think of solutions but instead I just unloaded and complained.

I caught myself at one point and started to rephrase my answers while I was talking and when I heard those words back I realized that I did have solutions and I didn’t feel so heavy and negative in my chest. I felt a bit proud that I had come up with some solutions and for that brief moment I felt validated and empowered. I wasn’t just sitting with a problem and doing nothing about it, I was allowing myself time and giving myself permission to work through a problem at my own pace. Switching my mindset from that negative place to a mindset of just letting it all out and then getting into solution mind really made the difference. Venting seems to be so much more satisfying.

What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
Maya Angelou,
Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

So how do we go about changing our perspective and mindset enough to either complain effectively or just turn the complaint into an emotional discharge like venting and then move through the problem?

Here are a few tips that might help:

Define your feeling: Are you feeling jealous, heartless, unfairness, general unhappiness? When you can define and pinpoint where the complaining is being generated from you can begin to break it down in your mind as to how to go about changing your perspective.

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Aristotle

Surround and surrender: Whenever possible avoid the negative people in your life. I know, that is easier said than done but if you say no to those people before the complaining gets out of hand or can distract yourself away from the negative atmosphere you will feel so much better quickly. Surround yourself with people that do not use complaining as a way of dealing with problems. I used to work with a woman who would always complain. Her days were filled with people she held judgment against and didn’t like, foods she didn’t like, work circumstances she didn’t like. It took all my emotional and mental strength to block her negativity and not let it affect me. I surrendered to who she was and to my authentic need to distance myself from that person by reminding myself that I have 2 choices; I can either join in or opt out. I opted out and it felt like the sun came out from behind a very massive, gray, heavy cloud.

Always work with/surround yourself with people who help make you a better version of you. Kindly avoid those who don’t.”
Don Roff

Practice Gratitude: I have said this so many times but when the truth is the truth it can’t be ignored or said enough. For every complaint you feel yourself making promise yourself that you will also balance the complaint with something you are grateful for. Notice the difference in your emotional energy. Which way gives you a deeper sense of calm? Always try to ask yourself in those hard to handle moments, “What went right today?”

Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
Alphonse Karr,
A Tour Round My Garden

Let It Go: I’ve recently come to realize that from the moment we are born we are cosmically being taught to let things go. What we hold tight to is usually not going to help us through anything. When you notice that you can’t solve the problem, let it go and find where you can be productive and solution focused. My solution through tough spots is to clean the house. It clears my head, it is physical energy being released and the end result is satisfaction because now I have a clean house and feel less likely to continue to complain. My mom used to count to 10. Whatever works for you find it but let go of what you can’t affect positively.

The day I understood everything, was the day I stopped trying to figure everything out. The day I knew peace was the day I let everything go.”
C. JoyBell C.

Take Action: Along the lines of counting to 10 or cleaning something, absolutely try all you can to solve the problem that you feel you are complaining about. Don’t let it sit there without trying to fix it. There are only 2 outcomes, you can either find a solution or you can’t so move on to the next thing. Empower your action steps toward a positive outcome. Staying in the status quo and making no decisions is a decision in itself.

In the end, people should be judged by their actions, since in the end, it was actions that defined everyone.”
Nicholas Sparks

Connect Spiritually: If you are like me then you are learning or experiencing the power of prayer. It’s more than giving your problems to a higher power. It is the act of letting go and releasing the emotion built up inside. By talking to a person or power you can’t see you reinforce trust and faith and a knowing deep inside of you that you can’t go this alone and in most cases you don’t want to go this alone. Faith does not allow for doubt. It accepts you for who you are where you are and allows humility to bring you down to earth.

The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
Søren Kierkegaard

Lend a hand: I can’t emphasize this enough. Volunteer. Everyone on the planet is going through something. Help a brother out.

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.
Khalil Gibran,
The Essential Kahlil Gibran

Don’t complain, vent: If the problem is unsolvable then just vent your frustrations. If the problem can, in time, be solved then get to work and find the solution sooner rather than later. Don’t waste your life minutes stuck in a nowhere place of complaint. Allow yourself to feel the frustrations and disappointment but then get up, get living, and get into solution mind.

There was something peculiarly gratifying about shouting in a blind rage until your words ran out.”Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

Save your skin: Complaining causes wrinkles because it is by nature negative. It takes so many harsh, angry frown lines to really get the most effect out of complaining. Save your own skin by letting up on contorting your face into those ugly, unpleasant and permanent facial lines. Go for the laugh lines instead.

It depends on you whether you want wrinkles or dimples on your face.”
Raaz Ojha

Call to Action

The next time you feel a complaint coming on stop, right where you are, even if it is mid-sentence and really think about how you look to the person you are complaining to. Think about whether this is the impression, reputation, feeling you want to leave that person with when you walk away. Practice being your higher self whenever possible.

 

 

 

7 Strategies Toward a Decided Heart

 

 

 

whichwayoriginal

“A dream is not just a wish your heart makes.  It is the hope that God places inside your heart to believe in what may seem impossible to accomplish, but in fact is completely obtainable.” – Shonna Stallworth

And so began Matthew’s personal journey to find his life. Only 3 shortish long months into his journey and already the path he thought he set himself on has altered completely and he now finds that he has to start all over again, from scratch, setting out a new course but trying to keep to the integrity of his decided heart. Oh how life twists and turns and messes with our plans. But I believe that life’s destiny is about facing life with a decided heart which is embedded with courage.

“Struggle is proof that you haven’t been conquered, that you refuse to surrender, that victory is still possible, and that you’re growing.” Jon Walden

What is destiny? The dictionary defines destiny as a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency; something that happens or will be experienced in the future.

Are you living your destiny right this second? This moment right now is the present and the future of where you were and you don’t know for sure if there will be more of a future for you. So if you are living your destiny right this minute are you happy, satisfied, excited, and energized?

Is there a way to harness destiny? In other words, should we stay the course with rigidity or should we be flexible to the changes?

I’ve always believed that flexibility has its merits. Being stuck and rigid to one plan or ideal can cause more harm than good but it also shows perseverance and determination. Can your mantra, your credo, your personal life code be rigid and yet flexible within?

In his book, The Traveler’s Gift, author Andy Andrews talks about 7 decisions for determining personal success. He lists these decisions as a code of ethics, as armor toward his destiny. Take a look:

  1. The buck stops here. I am responsible for my past and my future.
  2. I will seek wisdom. I will be a servant to others.
  3. I am a person of action. I seize this moment. I choose now.
  4. I have a decide heart. My destiny is assured.
  5. Today I will choose to be happy. I am the possessor of a grateful heart.
  6. I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive myself.
  7. I will persist without exception. I am a person of great faith.

The thing that strikes me most severely is Mr. Andrew’s passion and determined presence in these 7 decisions. He sets his destiny within the decisions his heart makes. I feel the power of his convictions in each one of them and I am moved to believe without a doubt that he will meet with great success toward his destiny. The pathway to his destiny will, however, be tried and tested and so will his 7 decisions. The trick is to approach his future with passion and stability in his decided heart but make friends with the flexibility life will require of him. Once you know where your heart stands the devil then is in the details.

Matthew has a decided heart. He knows where he wants to make his life happen. He is staying open and flexible within his heart in order to live these 7 decisions. He has already come up with a possible plan should this new pathway on his journey not work out quite like he is imaging. To me this means he has already learned that what he set out to accomplish may take a whole lot longer than he hoped it would because one just never know what fate has in store. The big lesson here is to remain determined to see this journey through and to learn as much as he can along the way.

I am so jealous and so inspired. I am jealous because I have yet to master the flexibility aspect to my satisfaction and I sometimes feel stuck in the events of the past. I feel inspired because he is like a jumping bean moving to the rhythm of his decided heart and adjusting for curves along his destiny’s path. This is the year of my battle with indecision. I have a deep, yearning pull deep within my core to have a decided heart but to decide so many important things about which direction my life should go has left me standing still. Some things have been decided for me. As I have learned if you don’t decide, that itself is a decision which yields ugly outcomes. Some things are still hanging in the air, blowing in the wind, and waiting for me to attend to it.

Getting in touch with the truth of who I want to be now, how I want to live my life now, and what influences I want in my life now are really tough decisions to make. Some people call this a mid-life crisis. I call it lunacy. I was so happy living in the fantasy of existing in someone else’s life. I was a mom full time and caught up, lovingly and wholeheartedly in raising my children to be able to do exactly what Matthew is doing. I should feel so proud and I do, truly I do, but I never imagined how lonely and lost I would feel when the kids all grew up and spread their wings. I have had many incarnations of myself throughout the motherhood phase of my life but now I really need to hone in on what exactly I want to absolutely dedicate my time and energy toward.

“No matter what your history has been, your destiny is what you create today. What are you going to create?” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

If every decade has the potential to be a new incarnation, a chance to write a new and exciting chapter of who I am evolving toward then this decided heart thing should be fun not anguishing. 

And so it begins. I give myself permission to create a decided heart around a lot of emotional topics like my marriage, my career, my financial future, my home, my family, etc. I am not the kind of person that can cross the street without looking both ways. I just can’t leave it up to fate to determine whether I make it across safely. I think things through to such a degree that I make more choices for myself than need be and that is where I get stuck. Some people see the world and their decisions as black and white but I see all shades of gray and have a hard time choosing which shade feels the most authentic.

The question then becomes how can I create my own destiny and therefore a decided heart? Here is what I’ve learned so far…

  1. See your future. Silly right? If you can build it, it will come. Build the image of the future you want and plan every step along the way as best you can but allow for divots. Life will always create a sinkhole somewhere but instead of seeing that sinkhole as a problem see it as part of your destined path. What will you fill them in with?
  2. Get real. You can play a really amazing game of baseball but truly, will you become a pro athlete on a team for the MLB association? Know your limits and strengths and play to them always. Stay authentic and relevant so that you don’t waste too much time getting lost in fantasy.
  3. Know your why. Knowing right from the beginning why you are in pursuit of your destiny will help determine who you want to see yourself becoming and what the purpose of your destiny really is. Defining your why will enable you to streamline your energy, focus, values and ethics.
  4. Source it out. Don’t always think old school when creating ways to get where you want to go. You may not be in the know about new resources and how they work but don’t let that stop you. Part of your destiny is to learn, learn and then learn some more.
  5. Enlist your tribe. There will be those people that want to and feel compelled to tear down what you are trying to achieve but don’t listen. Most likely they are jealous because they lost momentum along their destiny’s path and haven’t been able to get it back. Use constructive criticism to your advantage. Seek out those people that know more than you so that you can grow and gain insight into your journey.
  6. HARD is not a four letter word. Adjust for rough roads. Those rough roads are the nitty-gritty of your destiny’s journey. The grit is what makes the hard work worth it in the end. Let hard work be your friend and ally. If there is no sweat or tears then it wasn’t worth pursuing in the first place. Nothing that comes easy ever has a really great story attached to it.
  7. Eat your way to the top. Always be mindful of your health. Know your energy limits and eat when you are hungry. Your journey depends on you actually getting to the end of it alive and well.

Please visit this list for more destiny to- do’s.

When all is said and done destiny is very much like the chaos theory or the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect simply means that the tiniest influence on one part of a system or plan can have a huge effect on another part down the road. Your destiny will have details to it that will undoubtedly impact your preconceived outcome and will also then affect someone along the way. It did for me when Matthew decided to take his destiny in his own hands and it did for him when one small fluctuation changed everything. It wasn’t just the act itself that impacted me as his mom but the way in which he lets his heart decide his next steps when the butterfly affects his plans.

Call to Action 

“Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.” – Chris Hadfield

 

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

A Mother’s Prayer

 

prayerhands

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” –Elizabeth Gilbert

I know Ms. Gilbert said that as a personal incentive to create the life she wanted for herself but when I read it with a mother’s perspective it takes on a whole new meaning. As mom’s we must participate relentlessly in the manifestation of our own blessings, our blessings being our children. We will get it wrong a lot but we must continue to be relentless because our children need us to be so. However in our relentless pursuit of caring for our children we forget the one most important lesson, the one thing that sounds the most backward…

“But kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. Motherhood is the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.” – Barbara Kingsolver, Pigs In Heaven

I need to remind myself of this nearly every day because my heart wants them to need me but in reality it’s a different kind of need that I truly want. It’s not a dependency need it’s a memory lane kind of need.

So how do we muster the strength to be relentless? In a word, love.

“Evil itself may be relentless. I will grant you that, but love is relentless too. Friendship is a relentless force. Family is a relentless force. Faith is a relentless force. The human spirit is relentless, and the human heart outlasts – and can defeat – even the most relentless force of all, which is time.” Dean Koontz, Relentless

I am relentlessly in pursuit of life meaning and life purpose and understanding free will and just what it means to be grateful and feel blessed. I was led to get in touch with my daughter’s co-worker today because she and I seemed to have similar life struggles that called to both of us for support. It was the best thing I did today. During our conversation she spoke of her struggles with her son and in the middle of her story I heard this, “…….a mother’s prayer……”. I knew what I wanted to do right then.

“The greatest heroes in life are those that never give up on someone. They stick it out and make it work. They sacrifice things in their life, in order to help others grow. They give up what they want because someone needs it more. They work hard and overcome adversity. They fail for a moment, but get back up on their feet to show others they don’t have to stay down. They show their loved ones that love is not “proved” by conformity. They teach others that having a voice is a sign of courage, and they will not stay silent to make people feel comfortable. They are fearless and will do whatever it takes to bring about the greatness in the ones they love because doing so brings them peace. Their name is—MOM.” Shannon L. Alder

Relentlessly I pray for my children. For their safety, for their good health in mind and body and spirit, for their good thoughts both for themselves and toward others but I know that their journey is individual and just as it has taken me all these years to learn and grow and discover and uncover layers of who I am and who I am yet to be so I must allow time to work its magic on them. My prayer then becomes one of asking that they be led to a path of self-discovery, self-sacrifice and self-awareness for their immeasurable blessings.

What does your prayer sound like?

Call to Action

There are no rules to this thing. Just let your heart speak. There is no special day or time of day, there are no special words to use because all prayers are heard and answered in the right space and time. Right where you are in the middle of the chaos and relentless pursuit of raising your good, free-thinking, loving family is the best and most right place to speak your prayer.

Share your mother’s prayer with me and it just may wind up in my new book.

I came across this beautiful poem/prayer that I have to share with you because it could be every mother’s prayer for her child/children any time of their lives:

“For Equilibrium, a Blessing:

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore, May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance, May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth, May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in, So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said, May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames, May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough to hear in the depths the laughter of god.” John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

If you would like to explore more about personal growth in any direction, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.