Archive for January, 2013

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indigo love

January 23, 2013

To all of my new readers, welcome to a-few-words-Wednesdays!  Mixed in with longer blog posts I sprinkle in the words of others- short shots of emotional espresso that I call indigo-orange.  (wondering why?  Read about it here).

 

As the elementary school calendar tips us head long into Valentine’s Day activities- I thought we’d celebrate this Wednesday with a quote about love.

 

‘Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.’

Maya Angelou

 

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Don’t worry, be happy now.

January 18, 2013

This morning Cole walked out the door in shorts and a down jacket.  It is half-way day, and this was his mix-and-match summer-winter ensemble to honor it.  He is, exactly, half way through his sixth grade year.  One half of the way from kindergarden to twelfth grade.  His school is marking the event for the 6th graders with a massive science test, followed by bowling.

Last night at my book club we played a game called ‘save the last word’.  Our supreme hostess, Amanda, had picked Carol Dweck’s Mindset.  {get it, leap frog it to the top of the bedside pile, read it}.  We were all required to write down on a note card the one quote from the book that spoke to us most.  On the reverse of the card, we were to explain why.  One at a time we read our quote, then passed our card, face up, to the left.  Each woman in turn then surmised what it was about the quote that spoke to us, how it most resonated in our lives.  As the quote circled around there was lots of laughter.  Lots of thoughtful insight.  Even a few off-colored jokes (that would be blogger-in-crime Kelli).  But what fascinated me the most was that it became a celebration of who we were.  Who we are.  Today.  Now.  There we all sat.  Some in our late 30’s, some just on the other side of 40.  We are, I hope, slightly shy of our own half-way.  And so it was, in its own way, a half-way celebration.

Celebrating half-way honors the journey, not the conclusion.  Celebrating half-way says what you are doing right now matters, even though you are not yet at the end.  Celebrating half-way means pausing, taking time for joy and reflection in equal measures.  It is a bold choice, to celebrate when the second half is yet unknown.

We don’t need to know the end of the story to say we love the book.  We don’t need to know what high school will bring to have said our time with our children mattered.  Celebrating half-way does all of those things.

And it does one thing more.  It reminds us to set aside worry.

Worry lives in the dark shadows of parenting.  We grip our worries with white knuckles and clammy hands, hoping that our vigil will sway the outcome.  Yet there is no scientific link between worrying and the hoped-for better outcome.  Worry gets us, well, nowhere.  If something concerns us, and there is a way to take action upon it, take action.  Be bold. {and sometimes action is being silent, and watching.  Observing and gathering information so we know what the next action step will be}.  If there is no action, set aside worry.  For when we worry, our energy is being drained, our focus is on the negative, and we’re not allowing all possibilities to unfold.

It’s January.  It’s cold outside.  But if you look carefully, you’ll see the sun is rising a little earlier each day, and setting a few moments later each evening.  Spring will arrive, no matter how much we worry about ice or snow in the meantime.  Why not celebrate?  We’re nearly half-way there.

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The Two Martini Lunch

January 11, 2013

Remember Hang On Little Tomato?  It was my very first blog post two years ago on New Year’s Eve.  And with it went Pink Martini’s catchy tune of the same title.

Remember last year that I promised a name for the category of fun, funky, light-hearted maybe even slightly irreverent posts?  You don’t?  Let me remind you.  It was when I wrote about explosive doggie diarrhea.  (yes, I wish I could forget it, too).

So I’m here to bring things full circle and finally name names with a wink and nod back to the beginning.  I’m going to call these posts ‘The Two Martini Lunch’.  Not that I’m getting sloshed at noon (really, Mom, I’m not).  But the idea of The Two Martini Lunch serves as an antidote to the days when you are watching the clock tick-tock and wondering if it’s bending the rules if you use Greenwich Mean Time as your chronometer.  A name to invoke that sense of carefree abandon and a little bit of distance from always being a responsible adult.  And it reminds me of just such day last summer when I sat on the lawn at the Woodland Park Zoo with my sweetest of pals Kelli listening to Pink Martini charm us as the hot summer sun set.  (you can read Kelli’s recap of our adventure here.  Then seriously stay awhile.  She is a fabulous blogger to follow).

So.  We’ve covered the naming thing.  Moving On.

It is in keeping with the theme of The Two Martini Lunch that I am introducing Parenting Bites. Because sometimes parenting is exactly how you imagined it would be….and sometimes…Parenting Bites.  And we just need a morsel, a sweet confection of words to reassure, to guide, to help.

Parenting Bites is starting here, at my office.  Tuesdays at lunch or Wednesday for breakfast.  Bring your meal, $5, and any parenting question.  (want the details?  find them here).

That’s all fine and good, but what if you aren’t in  the land of endless rain Olympia?  We can run Parenting Bites from a distance.  So gather up your colleagues and let’s find a time to chat.  Because while our area codes may be different, the issues of parenting aren’t.

Can’t make it to my office?  If you are in the OlyPeeps area, I can come to you.

So let’s do lunch.

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I’ll tumble for you.

January 1, 2013

This morning I did a cartwheel.  Hand.  Hand.  Foot.  Foot.  {Grin}.

Eleanor is obsessed with mastering the art of the cartwheel.  And she wanted to see one.  Not hear about it.  Not have help doing it.  But see it.  Live action.  I avoided it as long as possible.  I tried to distract.  I tried to explain.  And then, after a mental shrug and a hiatus of decades I tipped myself over and did it.  A cartwheel.

But first, I made Eleanor back up.  Not to better observe my mad skills, but in fear of clobbering a six year old with the potentially cattywampus momentum of a 42 year old hurtling her body through space.

In the moment of free-fall, I felt eight again.  As I landed, I was struck by keen vulnerability.  Joy teetering in the good will and acceptance of others.  And I remembered. This is what it feels like everyday to be a child.  A new skill, goal, task, expectation is before them.  Try.  Attempt.  Do.

And sometimes, Do Not.  Sometimes, no matter the commitment, no matter the dedication, no matter the depth of effort, there is failure.  And children experience failure much more often than we do as adults.  Because we’ve gotten very good at picking our way around experiences that might set us up to fail.  We choose jobs, relationships, hobbies, even vacations that line up with our strengths.

Except now.  This twist of time.  The year-end close-out special known as New Year’s.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have always hated New Year’s.  Not for the hats, not for the parties, not for the kissing at the stroke of midnight.  I hold the dread solely for the resolutions.  For a long time I didn’t understand why.

And then in that upside-down moment I was reminded of the words of Brené Brown, describing the comment of a colleague.  “I know you want to help these kids, but you must understand this:  you cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behavior.”  Yes.  Yes.  Sage words.  Good advice.  Important parenting tool.  But the tumblers that fell into place were these:  what happens when we are the kids?  When the child is actually the one hidden inside an adult body?

How do we treat ourselves when we tumble?  What words do we mutter?  What profanities leak out?  What dangerous and silent tirades streak through our minds?

The problem with the promises we make on New Year’s Eve aren’t in the resolve or will power or dedication.  The issue is with the aftershocks.  The manner in which we beat ourselves up when we stumble- which we all eventually do.  We may say we are focused on what we want to improve, but for most it’s really flight from what we think is wrong.

We try to shame ourselves into change.  And the problem is, it doesn’t work.

The gym-membership spikes of January 2nd turn into the glutinous chocolate gorging of February 14th, 15th, 16th….and before we know it we have fallen off the resolution wagon before it reached the fast lane.

I am fat.  I am weak.  I am dumb. I am unlovable.  Every time we think this way we wire our brains to believe it.  And our bodies respond biochemically with stress hormones, loneliness, judgment and depression.  (isn’t this all warm and fuzzy and encouraging for the start of the year?)

What if we remove the shame and mentally align ourselves with our goal before we even begin? Focusing on becoming ‘er’.  Healthy-er.  Strong-er.  Smart-er.  Lovely-er.  It may seem like mere semantics.  How powerful is the ability to reframe?  Ask any athlete who practices visualizations.  Creating a win in your mind triggers the same neural pathways as running a win.

‘er’ sets you on the path, points you in the direction you want to be headed, assures that you have the ability to problem solve how to get there.  No matter that you stumble, you are already well on the way there.  Returning is just a matter of taking a few steps back to center.

We know the best way to help a child learn is in the midst of love.  What if we try in this New Year to love ourselves in the middle of our own learning?  A resolution to be kind in thought, word, and deed.  Begin with love.   And keep me posted.

 

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