New Year’s Resolution

I have a theory that everyone’s New Year’s Resolution are essentially  the same.  Some people say they want to find a new job, lose weight, get organized, be a better parent, keep the house clean, create a better relationship, etc.  Really, I think what we all want is simply to FEEL BETTER.

I decided that teaching my daughter to become a more respectful and polite little girl, would help me feel better.  Although loving and kind to us, my daughter couldn’t muster polite social graces for grandparents, family friends, other parents, and strangers.  Many times, parents expect their children to know how to behave in social situations.  I realized this was something my kids needed to be taught so I embarked on “how to be polite” lessons.  The more I instructed, role played, made suggestions, gave reminders, the more it backfired.  My daughter went from being tolerably shy, to being queen of disrespectful irreverance.

Although an irreverent sense of humor is almost a prerequisite in my house, the poor social graces were making me feel horrible.  I stumbled upon Jennifer Kolari’s fabulous book called Connected Parenting.  She talks about mirroring your child’s thoughts and feelings to help them understand, organize, and regulate their own emotions.  Intuitively, I knew this would work.  What surprised me was how quickly and easily it worked in comparison to the years of effort I had been putting into “teaching” my child how to be polite.  I started saying things to my daughter like, “You felt uncomfortable when he asked you how old you are.”  and “It’s not easy to start talking with someone you don’t know very well.” and  “Always saying ‘thank you for having me’ at the end of a playdate must be really boring”.  This mirroring takes practice but WOW does it ever work!  Suddenly my daughter is able to articulate her inner world so much more clearly!  She now says things like, “I don’t understand what I did that wasn’t polite”.  This invitation to educate my daughter at a time when she is ready and willing to listen, is much more effective!

It turns out having a more respectful daughter did not make me feel any better.  What makes me feel on-top-of-the-world better, is feeling like I am being MY best.  This “mirroring” approach to parenting is perfectly aligned with who I want to be as a parent.  When I “mirror” my kids, I feel tuned in to my child, I trust my intuition, I feel smart, loving, kind and I am being the kind of person I want to be.  The fact that this approach helped me accomplish my goal, only served to validate my instincts.

So go get that job, lose that weight, organize that home.  Just remember that feeling better, is about you, being the person you were meant to be.  Start today by writing down 5 ways in which you were better today than yesterday.   Brag about yourself to your kids.  Do things that make you feel better.  Repeat.  Call me when you reach enlightenment.

 

Want to give life coaching a try? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

Overcoming anxiety

My husband has been declined for health insurance three times in the last three months.  A year ago, this would have sent me into a cloud of anxiety as dark as the Iceland volcano.  When I am worried, I try to control things I have no control over like whether my husband talks on the phone while driving, wears his seatbelt, eats fruits and vegetables, gets enough sleep, etc.  Trying to control things that I cannot control gives me the illusion of power.  What it gives me in reality, is the feeling like something bad could happen at any moment and it’s up to me to prevent it.  Living in a state of almost constant stress has many negative side effects, including being called a micro-managing worry-wart by one’s beloved.

In the last year, I have learned how to have a thought without attaching to it.  I can picture my husband getting into a skiing accident or crashing on the bay bridge (oh, yeah, my worrying lizard brain loves drama).  Now, I notice what I’m picturing or thinking, without reacting to it as though it is truly going to happen.  I just finished reading, My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, where she talks about a 90 second window between thinking a thought, and having your body react to it as though it is true.  It is in that 90 second window, you can choose to believe your own thinking, or not.  When I see these dreadful scenarios play out in my mind or think that something bad will soon happen to me, I just smile, take a deep breath, and thank my little worrying lizard brain for trying to keep me safe.  If I question my thinking from a calm place, it’s easier to see logic and reason.  Is it true that something bad is about to happen?  Is it true I am the only one who can prevent it?  Is it true that if something bad happened I wouldn’t be able to cope?  When I stay calm, evidence to the contrary is easy to find.  My husband has gone three months without insurance and nothing bad happened.  He’s been driving for 24 years and has never been in a car accident. If something horrible happened, I would rise to the occasion and deal with it.  I don’t have to start dealing with it now, in anticipation of it happening.

If you can catch a worry, notice it, breathe deeply, thank your brain for trying to keep your safe, look around you and question it, is it true?

 

Want to give life coaching a try? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

My 40th Birthday

Boy did I stress out about turning 40 this month!  Not because of getting older, but because I couldn’t decide what to do for my birthday!  Because it was “the big 4-0”, I felt a lot of pressure to do something big.  I had all these voices in my head saying “You should have a big party to celebrate with all your friends” or “You should do something big, different, exciting, etc.”.  These messages were coming from my ‘social self’.  The social self is the part of me that is defined by my parents, my culture, my language, peers, media, etc.  Developing ones social self is very important and a large part of our work as parents, is teaching these cultural norms to our kids. “We don’t hit when we are angry”, “we don’t throw food on the floor”, etc.  A crucial part of our child’s emotional well being is to feel accepted and respected by his or her culture.

An equally important part of our well being is to listen to and respect our ‘essential self’.  This is the part of us that would have been us no matter who our parents were, what language we spoke or what country we were born into.  This is the part of you, that is essentially YOU.  The essential self is easy to spot in children and how different one can be from one another.  Some kids prefer dancing, art, building, running, some love attention while others shy away.  When we enter the “tween” years, the social self grows stronger.  Do remember wearing matching clothes?  Only wanting to eat the same foods as everyone else?  Camoflauing is the word we use to describe the way many kids want to avoid their essential self and identify more with their social self.

I had a strong social self until my mid-twenties when I gave myself permission to reconnect with my essential self.  Many of my decisions, these days, are based on what I feel is most aligned with my essential self.  Which is why it surprised me so much when this 40th birthday rolled around and suddenly I felt really torn about how to celebrate.  Once I realized that I was in a battle between my social and essential self, it became clear what to do.  Many of my life coaching clients struggle because they have listened too much to their social selves and feel disconnected from their life’s purpose.  Your essential self always has your best interest at heart and learning how to listen to it, is a wonderful journey that reconnects you to your ‘right life’.

So, I ended up having a fabulous 40th birthday.  I spent the day, all by myself, at a wonderful spa.  Then the next day, I met a group of friends out for some good food, drink, and wonderful conversations.  No big party, no big adventures, no cake (my essential self will take fish tacos over cake any day!).  But my essential self felt very loved from family and friends, but more importantly, from myself.

 

Want to give life coaching a try? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

10 ways to stay rich

I always thought my financial journey would look like my parents.  Start out poor, then slowly and predictably increase my income, until I retire with my pension and retirement savings fully vested.  And then I met my husband.  The words slow and predictable hardly exist in his vocabulary.  The amount of money we had in the bank and the amount of money we have earned has fluctuated wildly.  With brokers making us broker, dot coms busting, start-ups, bad people giving us good money, and surprising gifts of cash, we are riding a much wilder roller coaster than my parents ever did.  What I found fascinating is that no matter how much money we had, I always worried about it.  I was under a misconception that worrying would give me control over it, so that it couldn’t disappear.  Coaching people around their money fears has become a huge passion of mine.  I now can see how unnecessary worrying about money can be.  Some people use money fears to motivate them to take better care of their finances.  I think there is a better way.  Here are ten tips for staying rich in December.

1.  Find Money – Every time you find money, whether it’s a dime on the ground or a ten dollar bill that’s gone through the wash, use it as evidence to prove that you never know where money will come from.  Repeat to yourself,  “Money comes to me in many surprising and unexpected ways“.  Look for times in your past where this has been true.

2.  Make Money – Return that item to the store with the tag still on it.  Sell that thing on Craig’s list you’ve been meaning to get rid of.  Have your kids offer their leaf raking, dog sitting, gift-wrapping services.  Create evidence to prove that there are endless ways to earn money and you can always make money if you need to.

3.  Give Money – Drop your coins in the Salvation Army’s baskets.  Donate your canned goods to the local food bank.  Ask yourself, “If I were money, would I like me?”  If the answer is no, we need to talk. Money is energy, respect it, treat it well, and use it for good.  Remind yourself that you will always have enough to share with others.

4.  Feel Rich – Carry a crisp, clean, $100. bill in your wallet as a reminder that you ARE rich and you DO have money.  Catch yourself saying “I can’t afford that” and switch it to, “I CAN afford that, but instead I am choosing to live my values.   And I value living within my means.”

5.  Indulge your senses.  What do you love to look at?  Christmas lights?  People camped out at Best Buy for three nights and you not being one of them?  Snow on the mountaintops?  A marshmallow melting in a cup of hot chocolate? A fire in the fireplace?  Mmmm.  Point out the beauty to those around you and help them enjoy it too.

6.  What do you love the smell of?  Pine trees?  A real fire in the fireplace?  Chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven?  Cinnamon?  The fresh air after a rain?  Ahhhh.  Take time to notice and enjoy.

7.  What do you love the taste of?  Grandma’s cookies?  Pumpkin bread?  Egg nog?  Latkes?  Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles? Yummm.  Invite friends over to indulge and enjoy with you.

8.  What do you love the feel of?  Ripping open wrapping paper with a vengeance?  Warming your back by the fire?  Sitting over a heater vent with a blanket?  Soft, snuggly blankets? Taking warm clothes out of the dryer?  Savor it.

9.  What do you love the sound of?  If it’s NOT Christmas music, go shopping with your iPod on and revel in the sweet rebellion.  I love the sound of kids playing happily so messy craft projects, forts, and stair sliding are common sights in my house in December.  I also love silence so I make sure find it in nature and yoga class, especially in December.  Figure out what you love to listen to and incorporate more of it into your daily life.

10.  Gratitude – Being grateful for what we already have is what we imagine rich people do every day.  Funny enough, they worry about money as much as anyone else!  The reason we want to be rich is because we want to have that feeling of not worrying!  So why not start today.  Every time you spend money, think of something you are grateful for.  Make a paper chain with your kids and write down a different thing to be grateful for on each link.

When we spend time in gratitude, it activates a different part of our brain than worry.  In fact, it is very difficult to be in gratitude and fear at the same time.  Appreciating all our blessings and indulging our senses, is what feeling rich is all about.  When we pay attention to the current moment, we have access to joy.  When we worry, we are ignoring the moment and imagining a dismal future.   Since no matter how much we try, we cannot predict nor control the future, why not enjoy what we have right now in front of us?  It’s where joy and richness reside, and it doesn’t cost us a dime.

 

Want to give life coaching a try? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

What good Moms do

My son was a challenging baby.  When we managed to get enough sleep to access some portion of our thinking brains, my husband and I determined he was easily over-stimulated, highly sensitive, highly active, had a sensitive digestive system so he was often uncomfortable, and had no trouble communicating all his feelings, LOUDLY.

One day, during his first year of life, I set out to do the unthinkable, I took him shopping at Macy’s.  Despite Tyler’s intolerance for the stroller, things were going surprisingly well. I was so enjoying being out of the house, showered, dressed and amongst other human beings, that I tried to make it last as long as I could.

The meltdown came as I was heading through the jewelry counters towards the door.  Loud screams and a squirming body writhed as every head in the quiet and peaceful store turned my way.  I saw another Mom with her baby and looked her in the eye for sisterly support, thinking “don’t you hate when they do this”.  But instead of solidarity, I got condemnation!  I couldn’t believe it!  She looked down her nose at me like, “what are you doing to your child to make him cry so much!  What a terrible Mom you must be!  Why can’t your child behave like mine?”  Okay, maybe I was reading into it a bit, but it was definitely a look of judgment, not the support I was reaching out for.  I stormed out to my car, thrust Tyler into his car seat, shoved the barely collapsed stroller into the back of my car and drove off in anger.  I was mad at Tyler for not being like other babies, mad at that woman for not understanding, and mad at myself for getting so mad!

That’s when I knew.  Moms being judged by other Moms, totally sucks!  And I was quite guilty of it.  I had all sorts of opinions about what ‘good Moms” should or shouldn’t do.  In my effort to become the best Mom I could be, I formed many opinions about working vs. staying home, breast feeding vs. bottle, cloth vs. disposable, vaccinations, co-sleeping, crying it out, you name it!  Those who judge others are often very judgmental of themselves.  Before Tyler was born I believed a “good Mom” wouldn’t let their baby cry, yet my son cried no matter what I did!  I thought “good Moms” stayed home to raise their kids but I was going crazy, feeling trapped in a prison I had built myself!  Being a parent is hard enough without judgment around how it’s done.

My intentions were good. I love children and truly want the best for them.  But that day, in Macy’s, I realized that the best way to help children was to give their parents as much encouragement and support as they could handle.  It has become my passion.

Think about this for a minute.  Do you know anyone with a Mom or Dad who doesn’t care for themselves: physically, emotionally or financially?  How does that affect their child?  Many adults describe it as a heavy weight, a burden that keeps them from experiencing their own lives fully.  On the contrary, if you have a parent who takes good care of themselves, really think about how that feels.  I am blessed with two parents who eat healthy, see doctors when necessary, manage their finances, enjoy healthy relationships and find pleasure in everyday life.  What a blessing that is to me!  That gift allows me to fully be ME.  Because my Mom and Dad are happy, I feel free to pursue my own happiness.

I believe the best gift we can give our children, is our own joy.  Listen, not to negative judgments, but to your own inner wisdom.  What lights you up, energizes you, and makes you come to life?  What brings a genuine smile to your face when you think about it?  Try filling up YOUR cup first this holiday season, do things you know are good for you, your kids will value it more than you can imagine.

Want to give life coaching a try?  Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me