Tag Archives: Family

…and I go to sleep counting my blessings.

Standard

▶ White Christmas Count your Blessings – YouTube.

As I lay me down to sleep, I peep cautiously out of one eye to see if my son has his eyes closed yet. He used to be infamous for his poor sleep, but he is 5 and a half now. All grown up and a great sleeper. He has placed himself so that his head is on the same pillow as mine and his nose is only 2 inches away, his breath warm on my chin. His eyes are closed but I know his breathing patterns and he is not asleep yet, or at least not deep enough for me to sneak away.

I have time to let my mind wander and so it will. I think about this week of holidays, family time and celebration. I have nothing to complain about. I have no wants. No needs. My biggest problem this week is embarrassing at best: deciding whether to switch from an iphone to a Samsung. Seriously pathetic.

So I let my mind wander to gratitude, where I know I can always come away feeling refreshed and light. To reach out and embrace my children. To have them want to cuddle and play with me. To have a husband who is engaged, honest, and fun to be with. To have a home that is warm and safe. To go to work and use my skills to help others. These are my Christmas gifts. This is my joy. I allow the soft hush of this realization to resonate and bring a peace to my mind.

Christmas as we know it today has become a reminder of what I do not need. I give thanks for all the marketing and lights and bells and whistles as they blare out a message: “If you are not enough, then we can provide. We have everything you need!” And I laugh at the ridiculousness of the idea. Didn’t we grow up watching the Grinch learn this very lesson every single year, trying to stuff joy and love into bags and steal it? So then, even if we know it in our hearts to be true, we may not be ready to become it. To live it. To allow the message to seep in, take root and grow, changing us permanently as it thrives.

I remember the smile on the Grinch and his heart swelling in anticipation. I lay there and count my blessings as I count my son’s tiny breaths. One by one, smiling as they come.

CB

Filling the Void

Standard

Image

Today is Black Friday. A day of great deals. Fantastic shopping. A wonderfully cheap way to fill your life full of stuff. Stuff you likely don’t need. Stuff you would almost always be able to survive without. What I would really like to see is a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale for things that really mattered. 50% off a good hug! Save $30 on 30 minutes of meaningful conversation! B.O.G.O. pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks if you bring in a grandparent! A Half-price sleigh-ride up to visit my father before Christmas. Get today’s Groupon! – The chance to have all my immediately family in the same room for Christmas dinner with no arguments! (okay, that was pushing it). But seriously, this year I don’t want anymore stuff. I want people and talking and visits and joy.

This season has historically been consistent at making me nostalgic and this year is no exception. As I write out names on Christmas cards, I am remembering what has been lost and what has been gained. For the gains I am forever thankful. Yet, important people are missing and their vacancy leaves this void that I dance around every day. Like a dent in the Gyproc of the wall in the hallway. I know it is there. I see it very day and yet I look away to deal with other pressing matters.

So what can I fill this void with? Errands and tasks, work and more work. Stuff and more stuff. If I keep busy enough, any voids will recede and becomes less. But I don’t want to look away anymore. I want to see this year. I want to expose the flaws and examine them in full, blinding light. What needs to be done? What needs to be fixed? How do I make it whole? I believe I must fill this space with people. My people. The positive, bright twinkling lights of my friends and family. I know this is the truth but yet somehow I tend to get lost in the fray of everyday living. What are my excuses? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!

Tasks, errands and work. Ah the almighty dollar! We work to make money to survive, right? For some this is absolutely true. Yet for others, work becomes a barrier to actually living the life they long for. Is there ever enough? Do we not just stretch that much further beyond our means once we obtain enough? I have blogged before about searching for years to find someone to share a life with and then spending every day separated from them while we are at work desperately trying to afford this ‘dream’ life together. Then we create little people and we end up scheduling their little lives until again we have lost each other. In a flash, my life is almost over and I can only ask for one thing. More time.

But how do we get time if it can’t be found on eBay or Amazon? Surely it is too difficult to obtain. A chunk of time for a steal of a deal! So let me tell you a secret I have learned about time this year. It can be shifted. A little to the left or a wee nudge to the right is all it takes. Make a window and emblazon it with a gold label bearing such authority that you cannot ignore its importance. ‘LIFE’ ‘TIME’ or ‘LOVE’ ! Take your pick of mine or choose your own, after all it is YOUR life. Shift your meetings and your readings and your shopping and your appointments until you have a void. And then fill that void with something big. Someone awesome. Fill it with memories that will always be with you. Because that big screen TV or that awesome pair of boots won’t be with you forever. Trust me, they are not there with when you go and even if they are, you will no longer care about them.

So I put it to you on this day ear-marked for great shopping. Write down your list before you get started. What do you really want this year for you? What do you need down to the core of your soul to survive? Who is missing that you can find? Take a few minutes and decide how you will fill the void. Happy shopping!

CB

 

Whispers of Sanity

Standard
Image

Silence is Golden
Photo source: http://www.influx.com.br

I woke up this morning in a coughing fit. It seems the little people of the house have infected me yet again. I painstakingly extracted myself from the cozy comforter on my daughter’s bed, writhing awkwardly so as not to wake her. My lungs wracking into spasm just as I closed the door behind me. I fell onto the couch and drifted in and out of sleep for another hour, thankful for more energy to get my small people through another day. I barely remember my husband kneeling next to me before he left for work. I think he apologized for his schedule. Sick or not, I was on my own. When my 5 year old woke and came to cuddle with me, I went to greet him quietly but my vocal cords were in full rebellion. Laryngitis. Oh crap.

I tried a few words but was rewarded with hoarse squeaking instead. For a moment I felt panicked. How was I supposed to parent with no voice? How do I compete for ‘air time’ with small, loud people all day? Can I just take a time-out for a day?

Taking a deep breath, I took stock of my tooIs. I thought about what I know of my children.

  1. They are capable of empathy
  2. They are reasonable (when not ruled by their over-dramatic brain regions)
  3. They love small changes in routine
  4. They are really just small adults

We can work this out, right?

So I started by whispering softly and then as the morning progressed, I just kept whispering. Eventually, they noticed the change and asked what was wrong. So I told them today my voice was sore and I needed their help to listen for my whispers.

As the morning progressed, I was thrilled that they quieted when I whispered. Their little heads would tip forward and lean in to hear me. Wow. Would you look at that! The change was sparking their interest.

Later, as we piled into the car, typical moments of tension evolved but I felt removed from them. Knowing that I could not interject, I felt like I was watching a scene unfold in front of me. I am certainly not a perfect parent and will admit to having to raise my voice on occasion but I still regret it every time I do. How unique to find the choice taken from me today. I have to be quiet, observe, connect and whisper today. I can listen in or offer a word or two of subtle advice, but otherwise, I must allow them to live the moment on their own.

Later still, as I carried my daughter off of the school playground against her will (how is it that even when their fingers are freezing off they still want to play?) I leaned in and whispered some words of comfort and distraction. She leaned her head back against mine and conceded. No big argument. Just quiet agreement. Yes!

This reminded me of something I had read once. A reminder that when we whisper or speak softly our hearts are more connected, somehow in tune with one another.

Below is the full excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s blog:

A master asked his disciples:

‘Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?’

the disciples thought for a while, and one of them said
‘Because we lose our calm, we shout for that.’
‘But, why to shout when the other person is just next to you? ‘Isn’t it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you’re angry?’
The disciples gave him some other answers but none satisfied the master.

Finally he explained:
‘When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance.’

Then the master asked:
‘What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small…’

And he concluded:
‘When they love each other even more, what happens?
‘They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love.

‘Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.’

 

For a day, I have no choice. No option but to submit to calm and cool parenting. But will I remember the lessons learned tomorrow when my voice returns? My children hope so. And so do I.

CB

Dear Momma,

Standard

Dear Momma, 

I love it when you look at me. I love to see your face. When you hold my hand to walk down the street, I feel strong and safe and happy. 

But sometimes Momma, you make me sad.

The times you walk ahead without me. I can see you but you can not see me. What if I fall?  Will you see me then? Will you know? Will I be alone?

I love you most in the world Momma. If I could I would never let you go.

Image

My son just started kindergarten and I have a newly widened social circle. With that becomes new experiences, some good, some bad. Of the things that I noticed, one was a habit that a few parents have when they pick up their children from school. They collect them from their class and then proceed to turn their back and walk in front of them to their vehicles or homes. They seem to expect the children to just follow them like ducklings. Survival of the fittest?

So, I am really interested in opinion on this subject. Are parents just distracted and get ahead of their kids without realizing it? Do you really trust them to just follow you? (I am referring to young ones here…like ages 3-6). Do you have such disinterest in your children that you don’t want to see there faces and speak to them up close? Are you not aware of the myriad of teachable moments that can occur when you walk with your children?

Of course, we see this behaviour in many animals: ducks, horses and elephants to name a few. But aren’t we different? We have an awareness of our own mortality that sets us apart from animals. So I am curious about this behaviour. What drives it? What reinforces it? To me, it seems to disregard the child. A turning away with disinterest.

Either way it makes me sad. So if I feel that way, I would imagine the children in question are as much or more disheartened by the practice.

CB

Intuitive Parenting?

Standard
Strive to thrive, not just survive.

Strive to thrive, not just survive.

The active child. The quiet child. The talker. The screamer.

How can we let go of preconceived ideas of what our children should be? How they ‘should’ behave.  Is it really helpful to use someone else’s theories and methods on parenting on OUR own children?

Before I had children I was bombarded with ‘information’ on how to create the perfect baby. How to eat, how to sleep, how to take yoga classes when I was pregnant. Once the little peanut arrived, how to breastfeed, how to make home-made organic baby food, how to create an amazing sleeper. But did anyone once tell me what I really needed to know? That the very act of parenting would release childhood emotions of my own. That the tears and the unrestrained anger exploding from a toddler could elicit responses from my own inner core that were as yet unprocessed and raw.

Here’s a thought… what if you were to ignore all the input from others and learn how to REALLY listen to your child? What if you practiced extreme empathy? Would your child’s behaviour speak to you and tell you the answers? Perhaps you could you do a better job on your own than by using most of the ‘helpful’ suggestions from parenting advisors.

If there is anything that parenting has taught me so far, it is that intuition rules. If I feel like my child needs a day of rest even though he has not played extraordinarily hard that week, I will keep him home from school. If my child continues to hoarde toys and retreat with them into a corner, I’ll declare a day of self-play and quiet. If my daughter is overly clingy and fussy, we will have a day of cuddles and cancel appointments that aren’t necessary. However, if I were to add any other adults into any of those situations, my responses to my children have the potential to change. My expectations of my children’s behaviour can be significantly different with an audience and the social expectation for ‘good’ behaviour. Clingy toy hoarders could be embarassing if I have high expectations for self-sufficiency in my own behaviours. I don’t ‘do’ needy. Needy makes me angry (it’s a long story). Suddenly my behaviour towards my children is completely changed. I am impatient, unkind and NOT listening. Suddenly, it’s all about me. In fact, the problem is no longer the problem, it’s my percepton of the problem that is creating all the drama.

I can no longer listen to my child and even if I did I would not hear what they were trying to tell me. My own, inner child is screaming too loudly, awoken by the crack and rumble of my shifting ego. Unfortunately, it is these emotional moments that most parent choose to try and ‘teach’ their children good behaviour. Urging them to share, threatening them with toy confiscation if they cannot, using time outs. Let me ask you parents… do you learn well in stuations of stress? No. You will both fail huge as you are in no emotional state to remain observant and calm, resulting in you shaming your child with your words and actions. The distance between you is created and it grows on every such interaction. Children are so very forgiving, but are only human. We never forget how a person makes us feel.

If you are willing to accept the fact that you yourself are a work in progress, you may just have a chance to create a wonderful human being. To do this, you will need to let go of becoming a perfect parent.  You will need to admit to your children that sometimes, “Momma is learning too”! If you yourself cannot communicate open and honestly with your friends and family, why would you be able to teach this skill to a new human being? If you fear change, your children will observe and feel your behaviour. Not a one of us came with an instruction manual. We must all battle with our inner child as we help our own children grow.

So where do we start? Try reading  ‘Parenting From The Inside Out’ by Dr. Dan Siegel. LOL, another referral… but this time a book that leads us to answer questions about ourselves and what we bring to the parenting table. More importantly, a resource that focuses on our ability to learn, change and grow in our role as parents. If you are asking your child to do these things, why should you not be practicing the same?

CB

Inspiration abounds – Start living authentically right now.

Standard

IMG_3662

You haven’t seen a post from me in a while. I won’t force my writing (can I call this writing?). I  grow tired of my own voice, so you will very likely tire of it too if I post uninspired crud. So, on that train of thought, I am going to speak on inspiration. Where to find it, why some of us cannot see it, why it creates different motivation and action for all of us.

I am in the midst of witnessing a rare thing for the second time this year. A child growing up and in that process, seeing, feeling, hearing, touching and doing things for the very first time. There is no better way to appreciate our surroundings than to watch someone experience them for the first time. Just standing in the breeze makes my daughter giggle. She feels the sun on her skin and asks “Ohhh, dat nice and warm?” She will hear a bird tweeting away long before I notice it. The sound has been drowned out from my senses by all the thoughts buzzing around in my head. To watch her revel in touching the fur of a soft animal with a questioning look and a slow smile is pure heaven. There is such joy and purity in these moments, so many times lost if we do not slow down to notice them.

IMG_1674   My son experiences crawling on grass for the first time!

Looking for inspiration? My suggestion is to hang out with a toddler for a few hours. Goodness knows their parents could use the rest! Take them for a walk. Know that it will be a slow, meandering trail and that the intended destination may never be reached. This is ok. Let go of the need for a path. Slow down and see the journey. Seek out things that are achingly beautiful in their simplicity and mere existence.

A fair warning. In order to slow down to the suggested pace, you will very likely have to clear your schedule. This includes setting aside your dopamine-inducing smart phone that bleeps and flashes joyful, round, red numbers at you; inferring loving words of inclusivity. Ditch it. I do not deny the benefits of technology but we must have boundaries if we expect to become more than mediocre.

Back to the point – I often write about living authentically. What does that really mean? By definition, something authentic is of undisputed origin, something genuine. So then, to live an authentic life will be something unique for us all. Not a cookie cutter lifestyle out of a magazine. Not a life of ‘success’ defined by a megamillionaire. A life lived from the heart, where you connect to your inner child who can guide you toward beauty and simple joy, this would be authentic. A life that uncovers your passions and unique connections to allow every day to be one where you help others to find the same. To find their own authentic life inspiration.

So, if we live by the ideals of others, can we find inspiration? I believe it is far more difficult. We will wait to see what inspire others first. Those that lead us. Those we believe we aspire to be. We will tend to sit back and be entertained until these ‘leaders’ find THEIR inspiration. How perfectly sub-par. Think for yourself. We have been given this basic right, so exercise it.

Inspiration creates different motivation for us all…and what a beautiful diverse world this creates. Some are inspired to move their bodies, some to build, some to show us what they feel in pictures, colors or sounds. Others may be inspired to lead or teach. They are following their passion. Living their journey in a very solid, joyful way. Doing what they love and loving what they do. How many of us find great peace or energy in the music we listen to on an iPod? We are enjoying the fruits of what was created when the musicians were inspired but also by the creation and vision of Steve Jobs!

So get inspired! Find your way to your authentic life and start making small changes today. If you have no idea where to start, contact me and I will gladly guide you toward some resources.We all deserve to experience what touches your heart and inspires you.

CB

Women on Top

Standard
Get serious. No holding back!   Photo credit: 1photos.com

Get serious. No holding back! Photo credit: 1photos.com

Women in the workforce. A boring, crusty old topic of conversation, am I right? Well, maybe so, but perhaps there is still more to learn. More to explore. A new cultural norm to ponder.

Many women still want ‘it all’. We want family and we want a career. So, this must mean that we should strive for a mediocre career goal at work, running on autopilot, biding our time before we get married. Once children enter the picture, you simply don’t have the energy (and sometimes the will) to return to work with gusto. So, setting a good pace before we have children is a good goal, yes?

But what if we set the bar a bit higher? What if we fully engaged ourselves with massive momentum and intent from the start?  What if we drove change, honoured creativity, stood firm with clear vision and belief? What if we became the kind of leaders that inspire with every conversation, be it in the elevator or behind the podium? Imagine the kind of impression would that leave, even if we knew that in a few years we would be off on maternity leave and preoccupied by family.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook speaks in her TED talk of the need to encourage women to ‘lean in’. Instead of sitting back both literally and figuratively in our careers, we must engage. Share your ideas, partake in big conversations, seek promotions, set big goals. Don’t shortchange yourself…  what you think about, you bring about. If you don’t believe in your potential, you lessen your ability to make an impact.

I have often felt like I may not be ‘ready’ for a particular  promotion. My husband informed me last night that this is a disparity that  exists between most men and women in the workplace.  He said “Men will take a job even if they don’t know what the hell they are doing.  They are confident that they will just figure it out as they go.” He believes that women often need to feel like they are fully prepared: armed and organized. As a result, we often let huge opportunities pass us by.

Perhaps this is a character trait and not gender-specific? Maybe it is more simple and directly related to self-confidence. Either way, are we showing everyone our true potential? Are we on cruise control or really giving every moment, every day, our very best with the goal of huge personal and professional achievement? “Less mediocrity, more mastery.” -as Robin Sharma puts it.

Women have amazing life experience to bring to the table before, and particularly after, having children. So even if your goal is to spend a few years on and off maternity leave raising a family, make them yearn to have you back at work. Make them remember how amazing it felt to have you there. When you return and you choose to set those big goals…never look back.

CB

Brave. The resolution.

Standard
In my Father's eyes...

In my Father’s eyes…

So where did we leave off? Oh right, I was pacing the room, making myself nauseous and about to meet my father for the first time in my life. What a moment! SO stressful that I will likely never forget that feeling.

There was another feeling I felt later that day that was equally as acute. An aching feeling of sadness as we drove away from my father, leaving him behind again in return to our children and our busy lives. This is it. The intensity. The power. The FEELING. This is what life is about. Yet, so often we shy away from moments like this that will reward us with a feeling so powerful that we cannot help but know we are alive!

SO how was our 7-hour day together? Indescribable. I can tell you that we embraced upon meeting. I can tell you that we talked for hours over coffee while I showed him pictures of me growing up and he showed me pictures of my entire paternal ancestral line going 4 generations back. I can tell you we drove to one of his favorite places to take nature photographs and then did a spontaneous photo shoot with me as the subject. I can tell you that there were so many moments when we just held hands or gazed at each other. I can tell you that I literally felt through his entire being the love he had for my mother.

But none of that will be enough to convey the moments so powerful, like little earthquakes shifting in my consciousness. Moments in which I heard that I was loved, wanted, longed for. Little fissures in my beliefs, followed by new connections that were stronger, less imagined and forged with love. I could never have imagined it better.

I am so excited about this new connection and all its’ potential. I feel the power of it like a surge of energy that can ignite every action in my days whether routine or adventurous. This has been a journey a long time in the making. Perhaps that time was necessary, bringing us to the right moment. I have named this the year to face my fears and this was fear #1. Now that I have conquered the biggest… I can line them all up and knock the rest out of the park. Bring it. I am ready.