Tag Archives: parenting

Art Understanding

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Be brave and show your colors! Source:Ticktacktoeleb.com

Be brave and show your colors!
Source:Ticktacktoeleb.com

I started my second painting class last weekend. I have newly discovered the joy and release of painting using acrylic on canvas. Placing myself with paintbrush in hand in a completely new environment at the age of 36 has been so refreshing. It’s a new way to open up creatively, throw myself off balance and choose to become vulnerable thus learning more about myself in the process. Surprisingly, it has revealed a little more about my parenting style. Painting has shown me that one of the hardest things to achieve as a parent is to let your children experience the world in their own way without introducing any of our own biases or opinions. My work is my interpretation of the world. It can be judged but the critque will not change the facts and emotions behind my experiences. My children deserve the same from me. I should allow them the experience, encourage full artistic licence and make no apologies for what they create.

My class has about 6 participants of all ages and most of us are beginners. This means we are still finding our creative voice and feeling out of place. Still lacking confidence and quick to judge our own work, it is common to hear across the room at any point, “Ooops, I think I did it wrong!”. This statement made me think about how my children approach art. When my son was 2 or 3, he showed his own interpretation of the world in his visual art with no apologies made for colors, shapes or sizes used on his impressions. But once he began to join social groups and hear critiques of his work, he would also begin to judge his artwork. That head on the dinosaur is a bit small or the lake is not the right blue. Outside opinion became influential, so I became aware of my own judgements in this manner. I have to remind myself that art is interpretation and shows glimpses of how we see the world. There is no right or wrong. Expect variety and difference.

Being the recovering perfectionist that I am (see blog post here for details) , I had previously had moments of conflict while helping my children draw or color. I used to look over my children’s works of art and feel a compulsion to add or direct color use. I would even embellish pictures after they completed them! You may have experienced similar compulsions or you may think I am a complete control freak. Either way, we can learn from this ridiculous tendency.

I believe there is great value in teaching our children that their thoughts and impression are valid, regardless of popular opinion. Through art, we can teach that not everyone will agree with what they see and feel, but that does not make their experience any less significant or important. If, as parents, we embrace their works with empathy and share our past experiences of harsh judgement, we can create a strong bond of solidarity and teach shame resilience. We can teach strength, compassion and kindness.

So when someone in my painting class announces they have screwed up….I  like to grab these moments to shout out…. “Not wrong! Just different!”. We usually have a giggle, but it lessens the judgement. It opens up our ability to use different blends of color, paint a sky with a few extra clouds, or sketch a skyline with a few extra peaks. Creative freedom found in a world where we feel constrained and must ‘fit in’. This support of being different helps us to feel conviction in our work and confidence as we press on. Such feelings I would be thrilled to pass on to my own children.

CB

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Mad Men

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Cast as one of my favorite fictional men: Sam Heughan. Source: Twitter.com

Cast as one of my favorite fictional men, Jamie Fraser in Outlander: Actor Sam Heughan. Source: Twitter.com

Men are awesome.

I mean that in the most literal sense. They invoke awe and feelings of fear and wonder to name a few. They can be formidable, dreadful or extremely good.  But what is it I love about them the most? Maybe their consistency?  Their forgiveness? Their cool under pressure demeanour? Maybe I am just describing my perfect version of a man. Perhaps what I love about them is that they are just so different from women. Thank God!

I love that men can be so direct, so simple. No games. Of course, this is not always the case. There are many exceptions. But let it stand that the men I love don’t play games or have an agenda. There are only a few things they really need in their lives. Give them basic things like food, love, laughs and good beer and they just keep coming back for more!

So today, I want to celebrate the best parts of men. Especially since Mo-vember is lurking around the corner (dreading it). One big positive moment before I want to look away from all their hairy faces for a whole month.

Here are some of my fav bits about men… online bits that is. 😉

The epic Man Cold video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbmbMSrsZVQ

46 reasons why Men are Amazing: http://suzie81.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/46-reasons-why-men-are-amazing/

One of the most endearing traits of men: http://davidkanigan.com/2013/10/16/yep-about-right-4/

Because they make amazing fathers: http://thebhj.com/

Blogs that can help ease my headache… teaching you how to rock your manliness.

I particularly love the dress and grooming section of this blog: http://www.artofmanliness.com/category/dress-grooming/

Single parent for the weekend

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Parental escape…Go big or go home  always say! Photo credit:lasvegas360.com

Parental escape…Go big or go home is our motto!
Photo credit:lasvegas360.com

My little family keeps busy in a great way and we all work hard to get our breaks away. My breaks are usually for dancing  and my husband’s typically for business but occasionally for guy time. This time apart always refreshes our tolerance for the routine and the frustrating parts of parenting. We remember why we chose family. We remember how being alone was not a desired option in the long term. When we escape together, our romantic weekends away are fantastic even 6 years into our marriage but we cannot wait to get back for those little arms to wrap around our necks and squeeze. Those little faces lighting up on our return. What a powerful feeling. Love, full-throttle. No hesitation.

When we take separate time away though, the experience for one of us is very different. When I see the looming dates blocked out in green on my calendar, I get antsy. ‘Dave in Vegas’ scrawled across 4 full days. Anxiety creeps in so I shut down the app and try not to think about it.

When the day arrives, we are so swept up in the morning routine to get to school, we barely say goodbye. “Gotta run, have fun!” The rest of the day pans out as normal since Dad is always at work anyways. The hardest part of the day for me as a temporary single parent is late afternoon. Kids are tired, I am craving a moment to myself and dInner is yet to be served. Instead of thinking “How can I make this day special and have fun with the kids?” I am thinking “Please just let this day be over!”. It is a different kind of exhaustion than my regular work. More emotional and seemingly endless.

There is no competition between a 12 hr critical care shift full of resuscitation and transports. 12 hours with two small children is way more challenging. Even at work there are moments where I am only responsible for my own hunger, my own bathroom breaks. Childcare is relentless. I am needed non-stop.

Late day moments are the hardest. I have looming thoughts of the kids never ever getting to sleep or at least taking 2 hours to complete the process. Knowing it will all repeat the next day makes it worse. It becomes a challenge of just making it through the weekend, not enjoying the time together.

However, there are some truly unique things that occur when I am a single parent for the weekend. Situations that make the parenting just a little easier in a way. I never expect them and always forget they exist, hence the anxiety.

One benefit is that there are no conflicts in leadership. I am the boss. I make the plan (or so the kids have me fooled into thinking). I don’t have to think out loud or ask for help with the basic tasks. It is all me. No communication blunders here. It’s a one-woman show!

Another perk of the partner-less weekends are that family and friends are more willing to help you out. (I realize that I may be in a unique situation here as some families have no helpers around). Invitations for the three of us abound for dinner, visits and play dates. Have pity on the Mom at home while husband is off in Las Vegas. (More so pity the Dad left alone with kids because ‘What on earth will they eat all weekend?’). My husband once skirted out of every single meal when I was away for the weekend with takeout and family BBQ invites. He was quite proud he didn’t have to cook once. I was honestly relieved! We don’t have a fire-extinguisher in the house!

This is not my husband, but this IS the only cooking tool he knows how to use. Gotta love a stir-fry!  Photo credit:dadsthatcook.com

This is not my husband, but this IS the only cooking tool he knows how to use. Gotta love a stir-fry!
Photo credit:dadsthatcook.com

The last perk that I can find is that I get Me time at the end of the day. No discussion about whether to read or watch a show. The brain just winds down doing whatever I like. I often choose my solo pastimes here; painting, blogging, reading or catching a quick show on Netflix.

But that is where I run out of positives. I’ve stated before on my blog that I marvel at the sanity of full-time single parents. I cannot imagine not having backup. No respite for days on end. Wishing the days over instead of seeing them as opportunities for growth, fun and play. If I was a single Mom, I don’t know if I would be able to really slow down and practice gratitude. Those moments would be few and far between. I also marvel at multigenerational family living. Is this as easy as the families make it look? Having grandparents in the same home to engage in every day life. Having extra eyes and hands for the little ones. Do these benefits outweigh the lack of privacy?

I am grateful for what I have. Grateful for all the good moments and also the ones that drive me toward my favorite Riesling. The changes keep us thinking, learning and growing as parents, which is also what I ask of my children. Monkey see, monkey do. Or so I hope. The change and the time away gives us a Super-Mario style power-boost. If it wasn’t my turn this time to relinquish my parental duties, then the anticipation of planning the next trip is tantalizing enough. Heck, maybe next time, we’ll all just go to Disneyland!

CB

Dear Momma,

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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.

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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?

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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

Car Crazies!

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So unexpected. Such a feeling of freedom in an unexpected place. I crank up the music and roll down the windows.

I am a Mom with NO KIDS in my car!

Rev up that engine...it's ME time!

Rev up that engine…it’s ME time!

Dear God, what has it come to? The mere thought of driving sans children makes me giddy. How could I have ever taken this for granted?

I can sing at the top of my lungs. I can listen to WHATEVER I choose! I am relaxed and eager to do errands, buy groceries, even run this baby through the wash!!!

It only took 5 years of driving with infants and young children in my vehicle to get here. Those uninitiated to baby/car or kid/car situations cannot empathize. Nothing will allow you to feel the anxiety, the dread and the hell that is infant transport. The buckles and tears and fussing and crying. Oh God, the crying! Like an electric current up my spine, instantly inciting neurologic chaos. Can I reach the soother? Where is the soother? Ok, just stay on the road and reach for the soother behind you. Make it stop!!!

No longer is a day running errands an opportunity to explore the town and rest my brain. Now I shuffle children in and out and in and out of buckles and belts with the remnants of little orange cheesie crackers crusted in the cracks. Nevermind the incessant nap schedule. Can I make it out before she sleeps or will she fall asleep in the car and then wake when I move her and then be crazy until I go crazy and then not sleep at night and on and on and on…?

But not today. Today, for 30 whole minutes, I have my car-time back. There are no words for this luxury. This is heaven. I will enjoy every last second of my music and even stop for a latte. Hell, I might even go really crazy and stop at a shoe store!

Look at me! Oh yeah… I got this!

P.S. Get out and go inside the Starbucks. Drive-thrus are for Moms.

Top Ten Ways to Waste Time and Never Create Positive Change

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Tick tock. Are you getting younger? Make your days count! Photo credit: timemanagementninja.com

Tick tock. Are you getting younger? Make your days count!
Photo credit: timemanagementninja.com

Here’s a Top Ten List with a twist. How to recognize everyday actions that are wasting your time or serving against your hopes of achieving your goals.

#1 – Keeping a little too ‘busy’. Have you noticed that when you ask how people are these days, more often than not you will hear ‘Busy’. I too, am guilty of this one. This is really not an acceptable answer. If someone asks how you are and you deflect by telling them the state of your current social and professional calenders, we have a problem. Try looking them in the eyes and giving an honest answer for a change. Try telling them the truth. Maybe you will create a real human connection for a change. Running around town with a crazy schedule,booking your children in class after class teaches your little ones nothing about life except how fast Mom can drive and what words are acceptable curse words. Slow down. Have a picnic. Talk to your children. Play with them and model true engagement and socialization.

#2 – Over-organizing. Put the double-sided tape away Martha. Back away from the laminator. Have you ever explored exactly why you need to perfect things like you do? What awful things will happen if you don’t align those pamphlets…again. I too love every thing in its’ place, but sort it out and get on with it!

#3 – The rules of zero engagement.  Are you guilty of general busyness without any attempts to create connections in the form of meeting new people? How many times have you had your children in classes and by the end of 6 or 8 weeks you still have not even spoken to any of the other parents? Same goes for adult classes. Example: that yoga class where everyone sits in their own little zen bubble and pretends that they are oblivious to each other. Not to harp on Yoga classes, but Namaste means ‘Salutations to you.’ or “Not for me…but for thee.” as a statement of service to others. Get connected. Engage. Start by using a casual statement about the class, weather, class size, whatever! Just put down your cell phone and drop your barriers.

#4 – Keep doing what your doing, even though you hate it. There is a great quote by Albert Einstein that states “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If you don’t like where you are, who you are or what you are currently doing daily, change it. Change your direction right now. Make the choice and follow through.

#5 – Never write down your goals. Do you even know what you want? Have you established where you want to be in 3 – 5 years? If you do not have a clear intention, it is no wonder you feel lost. Nothing like trying to win a race that has no finish line! Make your short term (daily, weekly, monthly) goals and set your intention and vision for your future. Write down what you will achieve. Make yourself a vision board and clearly display what is important to you. Family. Time. Security. Debt repayment. Travel. This is as individual as you are. Make it yours.

#6 – No vision, big problem. If you do not bother to set a clear vision for what you want or where you want to be in a few years, you cannot begin to reveal the path to get you there. Example: I was struggling with my career choices the other night when my husband reminded me of the creative process. What do I want to create? Where am I now? What steps do I need to take in order to get ‘there’. Big decisions become easier when you set your vision.

#7 – Go it alone. By not engaging the power of two or even many,  you are making the journey harder. Use your spouse, best friend, mother, whomever you connect to the best. I have been sharing exciting things that I have learned in success coaching and using the creative process with my husband lately. It is really helpful for me when he recognizes opportunities to use what I’ve learned when I cannot. We are learning about change, both personal and professional, together and by doing so, are reinforcing new behaviours and habits as we go.

#8 – Keep your old habits. If you have made great effort to learn, grow, understand and change but then do not practise what you have learned, you are wasting your time. New habits need to be created and that takes a change in practice. Daily practice. To begin a new, creative, positive behaviour, you must cease other established behaviours. This takes focus and continued effort.

#9 – Consort with people that do not share your values. You read every night and have no idea what PVR stands for. Your friends recount episodes of the Bachelorette like their lives will be altered if their favorite guy is chosen. Maybe you get along famously despite this? However, some people may not want to watch you grow and become who you really are. They may feel threatened by your goals since your current life is no longer ‘good enough’ meaning that what they are doing is not good enough either. You have a couple of options here. You can either explain what you are trying to achieve and hope they don’t look at you like you grew a third eye or you can change your network of friends. Follow your instincts.

#10 – Fly ‘by the seat of your pants’. If you need to get something done, set aside the time. In writing. Do not assume that you will sneak your work into the day somewhere. If you need to read, set aside time in the morning before everyone else is up. Schedule it in, set your intentions and create the time.

So, if you like where you are (on the couch, being a victim with nothing positive to say about your life), then by all means, keep doing these ten things. If you are ready to achieve your full potential, make the choice and never look back!

CB

A fine balance – Sources of positive energy.

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sunflower field

Energy…it flows through us and around us every day. The world is swirling, turning, and teaming with energy. So, why do we all feel so tired? Why do our days feel overwhelming and exhausting?  Is it because we are exhausting our energy stores without knowledge of  how to fill ourselves back up? Are we not making time for the things that create energy in our lives?

With this post I am hoping to give you some options. Ideas on how you may ignite a new spark of energy flowing into yourself instead of the endless river flowing out that you are likely very familiar with.

Idea #1 –Mindfulness practice. A few years ago, I was struggling with my first child as he made his way slowly and steadily into the ‘terrible two’ stage. I was a mess. He was a mess. I could not manage his random tantrums and they threw me so off-balance that I would end up on the floor beside him in tears. I looked for help. It came in several resources. The one that has made the biggest change in my life (and likely thousands of others) is Dr. Dan Siegel. If you have not yet heard about neuroplasticity…get Googling! Your neural pathways can be altered, your habits changed, your fears alleviated and your stress reduced. Books I suggest for learning about how to become more aware of your mind, brain and relationships around you are: Mindsight, The Whole-Brain Child and Parenting from the inside out. Once you begin the practice of disconnecting your emotions from your core belief of self…you can lose the negative and revel in the possibilities for good.

Idea #2 – Success and leadership coaching . There is nothing like a fantastic coach to boost your self-esteem and your drive to surge forward with energy.  Learn time management skills , how to set goals and actually achieve them, how to craft your vision for the future and how to lead without a title. I personally enjoy the teachings of Robin Sharma and think he is a GREAT place to start since he has so many free video resources on YouTube and his website. Jim Rohn’s book Twelve Pillars is a must-read also.

Idea #3 – Rediscover how to communicate. I’m just going to come out and say it. Television is toxic. Victims watch television. If you are sitting in front of the television between 1-3 or more hours a day and you are complaining about your life….then you are your own worst enemy. PUT DOWN THE REMOTE! Take control of your own life. Go out and join a class. Meet new people. Make things happen simply by engaging in conversation and participating in your own life! The only way to reap the rewards of a positive life with great energy is to do the work. Start reading and stop playing the victim. 

Idea #4 – Play, play, play. This point is especially key if you have children and feel so overwhelmed by a busy schedule. There is time for work and a time for play. Separate the two and find joy in games and play again. Rediscover fun and laughter. Swing on a swing. Race across the sand. Stop being so SERIOUS for even just an hour!! Remember that simple things can bring great happiness and good energy.

Idea #6 – Exercise the demons/You are what you eat. This one is so self-explanatory and we KNOW this by now! Exercise takes your energy to a greater level. It is necessary if you do not have  a job that requires physical labour (most of us!). The more you exercise, the more energy you will have and the more time you can commit to becoming  WHO you want to be and getting WHERE you want to be. Learn what a healthy diet looks like and make small changes every day to get you on the track for success.

Idea #5 – Choose your ‘peeps’ wisely. In my short 35 years on this earth, I am sure of only a few things. One of those things is that you cannot change other people. People can only change themselves. If you have friends or co-workers that routinely suck the energy right out of you by way of negative thoughts and comments, then you must simply choose to limit your exposure to them. Move on and surround yourself with those that do impact you positively. The negative ones WILL protest. They will call down your new choices. They will say nasty things to get you back under their dark cloud with them. Let them bray like mules and keep focused on the light ahead! You will be more beneficial to so many more people if  you find the BEST you.

Go for it!

CB

Because it is just AWESOME! Arbonne for body and soul.

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Okay, I only have a few minutes – actually only enough time for Dora and Boots to get through the jungle and up the tallest hill to reach the fix-it machine!?! Wow, if they can do all those things in 20 minutes, I can surely write a blog post! Right?!? Feeling inadequate.

I marvelled after my morning face-prep routine today at the state of my skin. After 2 children, I had some looming dark circles, skin with absolutely NO rebound and wrinkles were setting in BIG TIME! 5 months later and so much has changed. I have a firmness to my skin that is astounding after I thought I had lost it forever! My husband was amazed at how soft my face is. AND, those lines of experience are ever-so-softly reduced, making me feel not so weary when I catch a peek at myself all covered in crumbs and disheveled after a long day with the kids.

I’m not what you would call a materialistic or narcissistic person in general, but there is something to be said for taking care of your body. Confidence has it’s roots in my body and my soul and I can truly flourish when I look and feel my best. When I know that I am happy with my presentation of self, I can really focus on my interactions with others. I can listen to them, see them and really hear what they are saying without being interrupted by that little voice in my head saying “Hmmm, looking a bit ragged today, eh Momma?”.