Inspiration and Gratitude for Mother’s Day

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

My own mother died after a very a long illness  when I had just turned eight, and I was raised by my paternal grandmother.  She had three sisters,and the four of them were very, very close.  I also had an amazing maternal grandmother.  I was very fortunate to have all of them speaking into my life.

 

The grandmother who raised me wrote this in honor of mothers everywhere for a mother-daughter banquet at her church long, long  before I was born and I share it here with you today: Continue reading

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Nine

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: authentic leadership. Read on for more

 

Children need a kind, gentle and connected parent.  They also need someone to help guide them, answer their questions, help them think of angles they may not have thought of before, to protect them, to make choices that will support and nourish them, and a myriad of other things.  These things require a gentle and authentic leadership from an adult.

 

You are the adult placed into this child’s life for a reason.  You have experience and gifts and talents to share.  Children are our greatest teachers, but yet we have things to offer with our unhurried time as a leader.

 

Being an authentic leader requires some thinking.  What are your family’s values, and why?  How is this shown, modeled, communicated (to older children)?  What are the characteristics of being an authentic leader?  Do the best leaders yell at people or do they do other things to motivate, teach, guide, and relate?  Do you have a sense of humor, a generous spirit, an ability to laugh and smile?  Do you have an ability to be decisive, to be assertive but not unfair or aggressive?  Can you take the viewpoint of the child, the consciousness of the child into your spirit so deeply and work from that?  All of these qualities have nothing to do with yelling to get what you want.  Yelling is often like trying to steer a car just by honking your horn very loudly!

 

No more yelling.  It doesn’t work at all.  Hug your children and love them.  Life is so short.  Be authentic, and be happy.

 

Blessings,

Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Eight

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: self-restraint. Read on for more

Self-restraint is one of the most important tools we can teach our children, and yet it is often an area in which I see parents struggle themselves.  It is hard to teach that which we do not have or know.  Self-control, self-restraint, is what keeps over-the-top emotional responses in check.  Without self-control, this is so very difficult and I think leads to a house full  of yelling, strife and anger.

Many mothers I meet have, often at the root of anger and yelling, a sense of anxiety, worry or helplessness.  Self-restraint often checks this underlying root problem by providing a bit of a reality check, a bit of detachment for the moment perhaps, and enables us to reject the negativity within.

This may be perhaps one of the hardest things to develop in ourselves, and yet, we must try.  Many articles that one reads about self-control has to do with eating and advises things such as being positive, having a plan in place, having support.  These are things that I advised in the beginning of this series – keeping a journal, having an accountability partner, and looking at self-care.  Do you eat, sleep, exercise?  This is a piece that is the foundation of everything else.

But I think the other piece to this is a more side-ways approach.  Anything that you set your mind to and start and finish from beginning to end helps build self-control and self-restraint.  Many of the mothers I meet and talk to say they are so scattered with everything that needs to happen that they feel they cannot complete anything.  So, practice putting the essential in order and doing the essential completely first.  This works on self-restraint and self-control and will carry over into your parenting.  Other ways we naturally model this is through such disciplines as religious fasting, following an exercise program, following a way to clean our homes during the week, having a rhythm to our days.  All of these steps help build inner self-control.

I think the other piece is to be decisive. Making choices, following through, and being confident will also translate into a parenting that is sure-footed and controlled.  There is such a huge amount of information out there today related to any aspect of parenting, schooling, homeschooling.  An ability to weed through that in some way and make the choices that are right for you and your family in a timely way will also help develop your self-restraint and control.

Lastly, working on what we say and how we say it is so important.  Listening to the other carefully without an agenda, without a judgment is the first step.  To pause, breathe, think and then respond is the last step – if a response is even needed. With children, we often need a calm follow-through in order to help further guide a child’s actions since they often do not work well off of words alone.

 

Think of all the ways in which you build up your self-restraint, and build upon your successes.

 

Blessings and love,
Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Seven

 

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: together. Read on for more

“The Barna Group, a national research group devoted to studying the religious sphere, recently published the results of another long-term study in a book called Unchristian……But the single biggest take-away I  gleaned from reading this book was the important difference between providing youth activities for children, essentially entertaining them and doing things for them, and actually including them in spiritually formative and meaningful ways or doing things with them.”

From “Orthodox Christian Parenting:  Cultivating God’s Creation” by Zoe Press

I am reading this book right now, and this quote really struck me as being indicative of what we have done to the lives of our children in modern society.  It has turned into entertaining our children through activities outside the home. We talk to children as if nothing of import can go on within the home and family, but instead we wait for the big day for the child to move beyond the family by attending school, by being able to do x, y and z.  And yet, in order for children to have a firm footing in not just childhood, but in the teenaged years especially, we need to be be WITH our children and do things WITH our children.  The quote above applied to religious matters, but really also applies to life with children.

If you are having trouble with yelling at your children, then I suggest that you look at TOGETHER.  How are you together with your children and are you present?  When would that happen? What is interfering in that?  Too many outside activities?  What do you do together to build positive memories of time spent together?  How are you passing your values  on to your children through your actions and through time together?

If you are yelling at your children, perhaps you need more time together to solve that challenge,  not less.

I invite you to consider this.

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Six

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: struggle. Read on for more

 

One thing I have noticed lately, being forty three and all, is that life just seems to get messier and messier.  When I was in my twenties and thirties, I had this vision that things would be “settled” when I was in my forties, and all should be well by then.

 

All things are well, but perhaps not in the same way I was thinking back then.  Because as one ages, and as one’s children ages, I think life gets even messier.  And mess is a good thing.  It is the genesis of growth, of wisdom, of humility. 

 

Struggle is a part of our biography as human beings who develop throughout the life span, and if parenting is part of that development, you can bet that struggle will be involved.  Whether this is figuring how to cultivate certain inner qualities within yourself, or help guide your children toward adulthood, or figure out what your family’s values really are, life has a way of being a struggle and sometimes a muddle before things become crystal clear.

 

Being okay with struggle is part of rising up above parenting.  I think an essential tool toward regaining your inner rhythm of your heart is to be able to sit in silence and try to be peaceful with the struggle.  The struggle will pass, and all shall be well.

 

Love,
Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Five

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: potential. Read on for more

I recently attended a breastfeeding conference where the speaker talked about a “three step intervention model” for counseling breastfeeding mothers from the standpoint of a solutions model.  The three steps were:  relationship building, goal setting, and developing strategies.

By looking at this series of posts, perhaps you started off with a goal in your mind. Perhaps it was to take your home that you felt was filled with strife, a home that was not yet peaceful and turn it over.  Perhaps your goal was to reduce even your occasional yelling.  Perhaps your goal was to attune more deeply into your own needs.  We often have to start with the end in mind in order to affect any real change, and the first step is to acknowledge that real change is needed and wanted.  Is real change something you feel can do?

Hopefully this series has give you a lot of inspiration in terms of building relationships with not only your children, but also with your deepest and most intimate self.  Building rapport with our children, and building on the strength of our children and the strengths within ourselves are huge steps toward being able to overcome a struggle with anger and yelling.

Lastly, we have to develops strategies.  How will we achieve our goals?  To whom are we responsible?  In the very beginning of this series, I talked about enlisting an accountability partner.  This is very important! 

The reason we think about these things is that anger and yelling zaps the POTENTIAL of our families.  It takes rapport and empathy out of the picture.  It gives a distorted picture of the human soul to our children. 

And it really isn’t enough to just “not yell”.  Yelling is an outward manifestation of an inward spirit of anger, of frustration, of unmet needs.  It has often been said that communication is only about 30 percent verbal and the rest of communication is non-verbal cues.  What energy are you giving off in your non-verbal cues?  Anger zaps the potential of our own selves, our best selves.

There are certain things that we would NEVER do.  What if anger was one of those things that we just would NEVER do?  What would that look like and how could we get there?

We have only a few days (six!) left in this series and I hope to leave you with some strategies and inspiration for long-standing positive change.

 

More to come and many blessings,
Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Four

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: eagle.   Read on for more

 

In my part of the country,  there has been much talk, affection and observation of the nesting bald eagle couple at Berry College in Rome, Georgia.  Eagles mate for life, and this wonderful eagle pair built a nest at Berry College in 2012.  For this nesting season, the couple returned in September of 2013.  An egg was laid on January 14, 2014 and eaglet B3 hatched on Saturday, February 22nd.  The Nest Cam has had over 7 million views, which is remarkable!   If you would like to see streaming video of B3 and his parents, you can see it here:  http://www.berry.edu/eaglecam/ 

 

I love the little descriptions sometimes provided about the eaglet.  On March 10, 2014, it was written, “The eaglet is fine.  B3 ate a lot and slept a lot today.  It also did some wing flaps and attempted steps around the nest.”

 

These simple moments in the lives of the  eagles remind me that family life does not have to be complicated.  Being with children does not have to be complicated.  Listen to the small voice you have inside of you.  You are the expert on your family. You can do things differently if you feel empowered to do so.  It takes some perseverance to change how we communicate, or to go back and work on our own reactions to things, but we can do it.

 

The eagles return year after year to the same nesting spot and fortify their nests with branches. Eagles’ nests are the largest of any North American bird, with some nests up to 13 feet deep and over 8 feet wide!  Just like the eagles, we can think of the strength we can bring to our families and how we build our families when we do the things that we know are right.  Loving each other, building strong relationships and caring for one another is always a sign of a strong family.  It is a family that does not need yelling or harsh words but  instead relies upon love and communication.  And in this way, we raise up the next generation to be strong, and to raise our grandchildren in this strong way.  The way of peace is full of simple moments and simple choices.  Choose love.

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Three

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you:  constancy .   Read on for more

There are two ways I like to think of constancy in relation to discipline, and parents feeling even-keeled.  One is the constancy of being together.  One mother remarked the other day that since she pulled her child out of school and started homeschooling, they actually were getting along a lot better then they had before.  There was a lot less yelling in their home.  I think this is because constancy of the heart matters, and it is the heart of discipline and it is the heart of connecting and being together.  You don’t have to yell if you are relaxed and feeling joyful and as if things are going well.  These feelings come from being connected to those in your family, and I think yelling is actually a sign to pull our children in, to focus on our homes instead of the typical reaction of pushing away.

The other way I like to think of constancy is in how consistent we are being with following through.  Many mothers get upset and say they end up yelling because they asked the first five times and no one appeared to listen.  If you want to make a request, be constant in the follow through of walking up to your child, getting down and looking in your child’s eyes, and talking softly and respectfully.  That is constancy in communication at its best.

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Two

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you:  quiet .   Read on for more

When our world is fast-paced, harried and stressed, it can not only be hard to hear ourselves over all of the physical and mental noise.  We can also become part of that harshness with our gestures, with our voice that is raised or yelling, with our impatience that our request to our children was not acted upon the first time we asked.

What would happen if moments of silence and quiet were taken in reverence?

What would happen if instead of yelling up the stairs for the children to come down and eat, that you walked up the stairs, got the attention of your children, looked them in the eye, and made your request quietly?

What would happen if you interspersed moments of quiet into your day – a lighting of a candle with a prayer at mealtimes, a pause for quiet stories or conversational exchanges or a lullaby at bedtime, a time to listen to the birds together in quiet, a time for quiet rest in the middle of the day?

If your home is a place of yelling, a way to decrease that is to increase how many moments of quiet are interspersed  in the day.  Stand in front of your children, look them in the eye, and speak softly to them.  It will become contagious for the whole house as the people in your home model your actions and behaviors.

Many blessings,
Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-One

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you:  expert.  Read on for more….

Yesterday I was doing a little light (LOL) reading in the book “Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice.”  I have to re-certify my IBCLC credentials this summer, and am trying to get  a jump start on a little review.  One of the sentences I came across was this one, “If research does not exist, expert opinion should guide practice.”

It really got me to thinking about another realm of my life – parenting, (and even homeschooling, too, but I will save that for later). When we feel as if things are amiss in our families, it is all too easy to assume someone else has the answer for us.  In this digital age of instant answer, it is easy to post a question and get instant responses.

But, perhaps the real deal is that if we really believed that we are the experts on our own families, if we really felt as if being the expert meant the key was within us, would we be so quick to post?  If we really had a guiding philosophy to our family and a way we wanted to approach things, wouldn’t we take a few moments and just meditate on what was going on in our lives for a few minutes each day?  Maybe if we did this for a week before firing off a question, we would have the answer within ourselves.

I am not disrespectful of the fact that mothers provide tremendous support to each other, and I am so very grateful for the mothers who have mentored me along the way.  Most of my mother mentors have come from La Leche League, but I also have had mentors that were dear friends and each brought a beautiful piece I needed in the season of life where I was.  Nearly all my mentoring has occurred in person, and I feel so extremely lucky that way.   There are some voices on the Internet that I have also learned an awful lot from, and am grateful for those women as well – Elizabeth Foss is one of my favorites, along with some of the wise mothers who have been in Waldorf homeschooling for a very long time.  But I am also grateful for my faith, for being quiet, and those moments where I really could discern the answer within myself.  I think we all need the time to hear the expert within us.

So, gather the information, but realize you must filter it through your own expert lens for your own family. If someone says something that completely grates on you, don’t immediately discount it.  Perhaps ask yourself why it is so.  Is this an area you need to explore, or is it so far away from your philosophy that you can discount it easily?

Believe that you are the expert, and feel empowered that you have the answers for your family.   Find your own voice.

Blessings,

Carrie