Let go of the past. Obviously, detaching from negative experiences in our past is easier said than done. If it were that easy, half of my clients would not need to work with me. But it is something we must all learn to do in order to keep living in the present. The clearest way to let go of the impact of the past, is to forgive, both ourselves and others. When you find yourself focusing on regrets, or hurtful memories, explore why it is important to hold on to it. We can not change the past.
What function is your guilt or resentment serving? Is there any benefit to keep reliving, or fueling your guilt or anger over past events?
What process do you need in order to let go, forgive yourself? forgive others? Forgiveness does not mean you condone the behavior or the choice, only that you move from anger to acceptance about it. It may be helpful to work with a counselor if you are burdened with the past and struggling to forgive!
To Grace and Mindfulness!
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Rarely do we take the time to understand how others feel. Instead we are quick to judge, blame, and become angry in the heat of disagreement or assumption. We don’t realize how easily we would resolve our issues with others if we simply put ourselves in the other persons shoes for just a moment.
The next time you don’t see eye to eye with someone or a person irritates you, hit pause on your emotional reaction, and ask yourself, “Do I know what this person has been through today or where they are coming from?” I am frequently guilty of reminding my spouse of this when he is suffering from frustration with other drivers on the freeway. ”What if they are lost, old, upset, running out of gas….” While your spouse may not be open to your feedback, this exercise will help you to find compassion instead of intolerance.
Additionally, you can model this with your children. Share your process with them. Coach them to think about how others might be feeling. This is a simple and easy exercise to practice with siblings, playmates, or children on the playground when there are disagreements over toys, hurtful comments, or other misunderstandings. Teach empathy while practicing it yourself!
To your Mindfulness and Grace!
This is own of my favorite topics. Serenity. Make time for your serenity. Our hectic schedules don’t allow for much “me” time. We run around taking care of business, chores and others so that we often forget to take care of ourselves. Take 30 minutes out of your day (today and every day) simply to bond with yourself in your favorite way. Bask in the beauty of your own company. Take a walk, practice yoga, stretch, write down your thoughts or meditate quietly. Practice letting go of what you can not control or change. Do whatever helps you get back in touch with yourself. Gently allow thoughts of others, or tasks, or “shoulds” slip away while you focus on this time with yourself. Ponder your dreams, your goals.
I am reminded of a client who surprised herself by taking a short coffee break and while sipping away, taking in the coffee shop scene, she suddenly remembered her young self, her dreams, and the aspirations she had locked away for years. She was overwhelmed and amazed that she has so effectively put her own needs away, while tending to her marriage, young children and career.
Don’t wait 10 years to find your own serenity again! For a nice lengthy list of ideas for self care, click here!
How is your day going? Are you bogged down in details, surviving the daily grind? Are you racing around feeding the dog, carpooling kids to school, paying bills, rushing to a meeting, forgetting a coat for yourself, and feeling lucky to have remembered to brush your own hair? Slow down! Take a minute to bring awareness into your day. Try this: tell three people you love them. How good does it feel to hear the words “I love you?” Many of us simply do not say it often enough to the people who need to hear it. Instead, we take our time with others for granted until we no longer have them in our lives. Call three people you care about today and tell them just how much you love them, what you appreciate about them, how their presence enriches your life. Consider calling someone you don’t speak to on a daily basis, but think about often, and expressing to them your heartfelt affection. If you like feeling loved, validated, and affirmed, then dole it out. Spreading love is contagious, and the more you share it the more you will receive it. (And you are modeling a valuable skill to your children by practicing this exercise!)
Our choice of actions carries us through life day by day. But when our actions fail to include conscious decisions, we limit our capacity and well-being. The true power and purpose of our potential becomes evident when we choose to interrupt our routine to practice mindfulness and sprinkle small reminders of grace into our everyday life.
Last week, we focused on cultivating patience. We practiced compassion, and mindful breathing to contain our impatience, gain grace and experience mindful presence in our every day lives.
This week I challenge you to Thank Yourself. We cultivate the habit of saying thank you to everyone. Notice through out your day, how many “thank yous” you put out there. We train our children to thank each other all the time — for sharing toys, opening doors, clearing the table, and helping in general. But when is the last time you thanked yourself?
Try this: stand in front of a mirror and smile at your reflection. Express self-gratitude in a few simple words. Thank yourself for your hard work, your commitment to family, your community involvement, your ever evolving efforts to improve yourself, your generous nature, and your drive to succeed. Make your own list! Take credit where it is due. So many women shrink away from accepting compliments, from taking credit for their awesome work.
Nurture yourself, appreciate yourself, rejuvenate your reserves in order that you can continue caring for and nurturing others.
Most of us have learned to live life as a routine — we’ve stopped thinking about what we could do or would like to do, and instead only think about what we need to do. Wake up, get dressed, get kids ready for day, make lunches, check backpacks, pack extra cloths, sports uniforms, get out the door on time… But living consciously is a choice we can make every moment. Small changes in our daily automated routine will help shift our state of mind to cultivate a sense of grace, tranquility and calm, as well as increased meaning. Rather then surviving your day, live your day!
Today’s post will kick off a seven week series of posts pertaining to this topic, as we gear up for Fall, the holidays, and back to school routine.
This week I challenge you to practice patience. Practice patience towards yourself, and towards others. Our patience is tested in small ways throughout each day. It may be morning traffic, a dawdling toddler, a long line at checkout, a talkative friend, our own shortcomings, or a particularly slow person walking in front of us. Pay attention to your body’s impatience as well as your thought process. We may feel our neck tighten, our face flush, an urge to stomp our feet or yell. We may have thoughts of physically moving someone out of the way, of plotting how to speed things up, or of angry irritation towards a person or situation. Approach challenges to your patience with a compassionate mind and a calming breath for your body. You may try an affirmation such as “practice patience”, “slow down”, or “just breath” with your breath. Repeat several times.
We are role models for our children, and they are watching. This was driven home for me recently when my son asked me to do something. I said a bit emphatically, “just a minute, you need to be patient”, and he replied, “but Mom, you always ask me to do things RIGHT NOW”. And yes, I had recently been rather impatient with my children’s sense of time vs my own sense of timeliness. So back to breathing for me! Try inserting compassion and breathing into your week when the urge to rush or snap arises! Slow your body down and think about your blessings for a moment. Throughout the day and throughout the week!
Summer break is coming to a close for better or for worse. As we prepare to enter the school year, I have been reflecting on what areas were challenging last year, as well as what worked well for us during the school week. In our home, we have challenges with the common transition times: morning routine, time between walking in the door and dinner, tending to home work, as well as bed time routine.
My mama friends tell me that the amount of homework increases greatly in third grade, and I am preparing now to avoid the meltdowns of last year. If you can predict a behavior then you can changes things up to prevent it!
Here are some ideas on how to get organized around homework hassles before they start:
Visual Cues: Get a big calendar and hang it in a prominent place. We use a write-on-wipe-off board with small cork board section, that we fill in the dates for each month. It is located above the breakfast counter where my son can read it each morning and be informed about activities and due dates. I also pin permission slips and such to this board, to keep them on my own radar.
Teach/Model Organization: When your child comes home from school have your child write the assignments and due dates on the big calendar. Have a designated place store homework, as well as a space to do homework.
Reduce Overwhelm: Break down projects into bite size pieces and put the smaller “to do’s” on the calendar, or at least spend a few minutes identifying a reasonable task to complete in the time allotted. Book report due in two weeks? What are the steps, and what part will you do today?
Be Available but Occupied: Have children do homework in the same room as you. The kitchen table is a perfect place. While your child is doing homework, sit with your child, and pay bills, read or plan your own projects.
Establish an end point: Set a timer for homework completion. If you know that 2 handouts should take 30 minutes,set the timer for thirty minutes. This will motivate your child to complete the assignment.
Always reward with something positive.
Remember, the best rewards are time with YOU!!
Here is to a happy low stress start to the school year!
Ahhh. Summer vacation. I look forward to summer time with my kids. I allow my schedule to lighten up. I plan camping trips, swim lessons, water play at the park etc. But I am certainly not the perfect parenting model by any means, which I was reminded of yesterday while at the park with my children. I was past ready to leave. I had a few work related details on my mind, had received a frustrating voice mail from my MIL, and a call from my husband reporting that the dog has injured her front foot and won’t put any weight on it, or let him look at it, so can I come home soon. And as you all well know, kids are not always ready to leave the park when parents are. It is a usually a process. A process requiring patience. There is at least one round of five minute warnings as the older ones fly by completely focused on the tag game of the moment. There is the process of figuring out with other parents who will be coming over for a play date, without ending up with six or more children myself. Then we have to find the 3 year-olds, remove them from the play equipment, find their shoes, pick up the trail of clothes left by the fountain. Then we deal with the kids reaction to the parent made plan regarding play dates, who wants to go with who, which sister can not stand to be separated from her brother (“Bubby”, in our family). Parents reconvene and modify the plan. Some of the kids, their wet cloths, shoes and leftover lunches come with me to the van. At the van, there is the dispute over who will sit where, which sister wants to sit by which Bubby, in which car seat. It is hot. We are however in the shade. I take a deep breath and decide to try taking the high road. I will not yell, or micro-manage the seating arrangement for the 5 minute drive home. I take another breath. One is crying, one is clinging desperately to her Bubby. I calmly say, ” Ok, you guys can figure this out. I will make a quick phone call to grandma, and when I am done, and when you are all in your seats buckled in, we will go home for popcicles.” Good idea right? Well, I get on the phone with my MIL, which immediately tests my patience more, as we review financial facts that have been reviewed many times already, but that she is newly concerned about, and my son pops out of the van tattling on someone…
SO much for my high road, quietly handling the kids. My poor MIL gets an earful as I vehemently restate my directions to him, as well as a loud reminder that while I am on the phone, he is not to interrupt me, EVER. My MIL asks if it is a bad time, I say oh no, this is how it is, and there is no better time. We conclude our terse conversation, and I approach the van. Miraculously, the children have all settled in to their seats, my own daughter having made the choice to be flexible and give up the seat she wanted. I praised her for her flexibility, and contemplated mine.
Clearly I have more work to do, to yell less, practice patience, model the behaviors I ask my children to display. I have had some good ideas lately. While on vacation last week, I was able to let go of everyday stress, and tap into more creative ways to redirect my children. One intervention that I like is again related to car travel. My 3 almost 4 year old found her screaming voice, as well as her sassy, bossy pants, know it all voice, and frequently unleashes it on her 8 year old brother while we are driving. Mind you, we are often driving to do something fun, like go swimming in the lake with friends. I can feel my frustration rising. How many times do I have to tell her not to yell while I am driving. Do I turn around and go home, cancel everyone’s fun? So my new tactic is silence. I pulled over, (in a shady spot) and turned off the engine. There we sat. My son eventually asked his sister “do you know why we have stopped?” She proposed that we were at a red light. He explained for me that we are stopped because she was screaming. Off we went, only one more stop was needed on that trip.
Some other ideas I have had are whispering, using sign language, and calmly stating that “X” privilege will be lost if I have to ask them to put their shoes on again. Of course these interventions are all dependent on the situation.
How do you tell your children to be quiet, follow directions, stop what they are doing with out yelling it?
To a lovely and peaceful summer,
- Come into my bedroom at night, tuck me in and sing me a song.
- Tell me stories about when you were little.
- Give me hugs and kisses and sit and talk with me privately.
- Spend quality time just with me, not with my brothers and sisters around.
- At dinner talk about what we could do together on the weekend.
- At night talk to me about about anything; love, school, family etc.
- Let me play outside a lot.
- Cuddle under a blanket and watch our favorite TV show together.
- Hold boundaries, (discipline me). It makes me feel like you care.
- Leave special messages in my desk or lunch bag.
Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids, by Rebecca Cohen
Well Wishes, Rachel
Summer is here, and moving into full swing. I have taken a break from blogging in the interest of practicing what I preach- self care. For a few months, I had to step back and assess priorities in order to determine where I needed to put my energy. It turns out that I do not have an endless supply, contrary to my old beliefs. Writing, among other things went on the chopping block temporarily, while family time, yoga, gym time, and my other business rose to the top.
So, I am happy to return feeling refreshed, and ready to tackle summer, blogging and all! There are many, many benefits to making your self-care a priority. For me, practicing self-care, (prioritizing my needs along with those of others sometimes ahead of others), has helped me to be more easy-going and to learn to “go with the flow”. It has helped me to see that little things stay little (my daughter writing on the walls, or my 8 year old son having a complete meltdown when his sister gets the last popsicle, the ongoing bedtime struggle, the half painted dining room which I started months ago). This perspective allows me to be more present in the moment with my children, my spouse, and my friends. I am feeling more compassionate and patient towards others (whether it’s a waitress, family member, car mechanic or colleague). And sometimes, (not always, but more often then before) I am able to connect with that deeper sense of peace, that things will be ok, even if it is 11pm, my daughter has gotten out of bed twelve times, and my husband and I are trying to discuss his mother’s deteriorating health.
It is officially summer. Make your summer bucket list: revel in lazy weekend mornings with the kids, camping in the back yard, throwing water balloons, picking fresh berries, but also, put your own needs on your list. What rejuvenates you? What feeds your soul? If you could do anything for yourself, what would it be? Start now!