Vibrant Life! (Or, Get Out Of Your Own Way!)

I have been talking to so many people lately who are experiencing tremendous growth.  They are building businesses, creating new loving relationships, experiencing an increased level of intimacy with their partners and children and more!  It is very exciting, and so inspiring!

Yet, there is a certain group of people I hear from.  For lack of a better word, they are stuck.  I understand stuck; I had a fairly fallow period last year where I felt stuck for awhile.  However, sometimes stuck can mean  years  in something that is like a never-ending cycle that the person  can’t  seem get out of.  Of course, bad things can always, always happen to good people!  However, we always have a chance for growth in how we respond, and by being open we are to change and growth.  And I have found in talking with mothers and spouses and young adults, that this cycle often has identifiable patterns, if only one could see them.

We can always ask ourselves, “What area of my life am I “stuck” in right now?”  We can look for substantial patterns by reviewing our own biography – where were our major life events, and when?  Were the big things external or internal?  Was I  a mover and a shaker or did things just happen passively to me?    What were my reactions to things?  My reaction to stressful things?

Identifying that we are stuck, (and I think most of us have been there at one point or another, again,  I know I have!)  is only part of the battle.  The other part of it is DOING something about it. And this is where I find most people have trouble.  Because whether or not they want to admit it, there is some kind of pay-off to being stuck in the same patterns and cycles over and over.  Maybe it is easier to withdraw rather than stand up.  Maybe it is easier to not choose intimacy and vulnerability.  Sometimes just being comfortable and not having to risk anything is enough of a pay-off.  Sometimes being rigid is protective.  I don’t know what the pay-off is for any particular reason; that is something that they must discover within themselves.

If we can identify patterns in our life, where we are stuck, and what our pay-off is, I think then we have a chance at changing.  And in order to change, we have to be more open and more flexible than ever before.  Some people are just not flexible or ready for growth. This step can take time. Sometimes this step can take the help of a really good counselor or other mental health care professional.  Because if we are willing to grow, then we can think in the possibilities and in the positive mindset of growth.  The most amazing things can and do happen!

Once we are open and ready for change, we can set goals, and then break those goals down.  We may  have to think in the smallest of steps.  For example, what one step could I take today toward this goal that is now broken down into smaller steps?  What are the few things I can do each day to make that one step happen?    Realistically, what do I need to make the smallest of steps happen? Do I need support from a friend? Therapy?  More money coming in?  To free up time?  To change my priorities?  To put myself out into the world in a vulnerable position and accept that?

Don’t be stuck; get out of your own way and make your beautiful life happen.  You have it in you!  The possibilities are before you. ❤

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Special thanks to my good friends S. and N. for many discussions on this topic!!

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Combat Your Emotions: Sustainable Parenting

Perhaps one of the most incredible lessons we come up against as parents are the emotions that parenting withdraws from US.  Fear, anger, worry, jealousy – all of these emotions are real and we must deal with them in order to be the best parent we can.  Different stages of child development, different stages of adult development, and where we are in this process of dealing with our own internal emotions all mix together, and if we do it right, we become a parent who has  a sustainable parenting style.

While I actually don’t consider emotions such as fear or anger negative, the older I become, the more it hits me over and over that having these emotions and attaching to these emotions is just not sustainable in parenting.  For me, being able to acknowledge the emotion or feeling and then being able to let it go without feeling the need to act upon it has been freeing.  It is okay to feel sad, angry, upset, fearful in parenting.  We all go through it.  However, instead of falling into these emotions (and falling apart) and burning up our physical and energetic levels, we must instead use clarity of thinking as a great balancer.

Children do things that are annoying.  That is just a fact.  Children do things, that through no fault of their own, trigger our own emotional baggage.  Thinking things through instead of just reacting become a lifeline that we can hang on to!  Some of my favorite ways to combat my own emotions and calm down include taking everyone outside; going for a walk myself; making sure I have eaten something and have been sleeping (and getting help if I have not); breathing in the moment and knowing I can come back to something that is not a life or death situation; letting go of my emotions and try to remember what developmental level my child is in and where I am.

What things help you be a sustainable parent?

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it isn’t even sustainable for an evening. I don’t like conflict; I get a stomachache and I don’t feel well.  The whole house is unhappy.  What works better for me is to figure out long-term boundaries; to be able to think in the moment the best way to handle a tired and screaming child or a snarky teenager that doesn’t involve anger.  Because the minute I allow anger into that scenario, nothing goes well.  Anger, if we let it, can

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Birthday

Above my head the stars do shine

Each star is like a flame,

And one is mine, that o’er me shone

When to this earth I came.

Upon this Earth my step is firm,

The stones are ‘neath my feet

I see the birds and beasts and flowers,

And loving people greet.

And every year the day returns

When my star shineth bright,

And I receive within my heart

The glory of its light.

-from “Waldorf Education:  A Family Guide”, page 130

Birthdays  in the Waldorf tradition for small children often involve a cape and a crown, lovely homemade cupcakes that are not too sugary, wishes from others for the development of character traits or the simple things in life, simple gifts of unusual stones, shells, flower petals.  It may involve a story of the child’s birth.  As the years go by, the cape and crown and simple gifts may recede, but the sentiments remain the same.

Today is my birthday, and I find it is an amazing day full of gratitude.  I am so grateful for all the things I learned in the last year, even the hard things!  I am grateful to be here for yet another birthday (47 today!), and grateful my husband has celebrated 29 birthdays with me.

Being in the late 40’s is empowering.  The crisis of 35-42 is gone, and I find these late 40s  on the cusp of a new cycle to be one of imagination, newness, warmth, and confidence.  I am so looking forward to this year and to 49 next year – the beginning of a new seven year cycle of 49-56 which I hope will bring more fun, more adaptability and humor.  My husband expressed to me this morning that life is a journey and how we enjoy the ride together.  This may sound like a cliche, but not at our age.  There are so many new possibilities to be open to, and the ability to grow and change together.  I have ideas just flowing into my head lately, and hope to be able to make at least a small part of them reality!

I hope when you have your birthday, you remind yourself of your own special energy, your own special thing that you bring to this short walk on earth, the wonderful gifts that you bring, and all the possibilities that life has for you.  It should be no less special to have  birthday when we are fifty  than when we are four.  Let us not forget!

Many blessings to you, my friends, and thank you for reading here.

Carrie

Rest As A Task For The Waldorf Homeschooling Parent

There is an interesting article entitled, “Sleep As A Task Of Waldorf Education,” by Peter Loebell available here. If we view sleep as an essential component not only of education, but as a way to gain inspiration and intuition from the spiritual realms, how much more vital is sleep and rest for the homeschooling parent who is not only parenting 24/7 but teaching multiple main lesson blocks to children of different ages?

The three ways this article discusses engaging children in the curriculum in order for it to carry positively applies to us as teachers as well.  The three conditions are:

  1.  Use of creative tasks that require symmetry and sense that the child, (or we), want to “finish.”  This implies, that we, as teachers, should be finding time for our own artistic pursuits – music (singing and instrumental), form drawing, drawing, painting, sculpture, movement, and having an impulse to finish things.    The article mentions: “The active urge to finish incomplete forms stimulates the body of formative energy to pulsate further during sleep. The child has, through this, the tendency to finish what was begun so that through the night a permanent ability can be attained from the practiced activity.”
  2. Engaging both the physical body and the life-forces of the body through an outer activity such as eurythmy.  We often don’t have eurythmy at home, but we do have physical activities as part of rhythm, and we do have use of the word and gesture through poetry with movement.  These things can be carried into sleep and help form the next day’s energy.
  3. Lastly, we teach ourselves when we are preparing for a lesson and we carry this into how we present things to our children. ” If we do not stimulate the children to their own physical activity during a lesson, then there is a third aspect to consider. We must stimulate the deliberate, understanding perception of the children when we teach from a phenomenological science experiment or describe a historical event in such a manner that they direct their full attention to the lesson content so that they are constantly coming to conclusions.”  This is also why we often have a day that invokes “feeling” work (artistic work in a Main Lesson) and another day for the formation of concepts, the academic work.  The work we do with our children can inherently be restful to ourselves so long as we are not rushed.  If we have many children who need main lessons, we combine as much as possible, and then we can also choose to offer  main lessons three to four days a week so we have no more than 2-3 main lessons on a day.  Many mothers say they cannot teach more than two main lessons; I personally know many mothers, including myself, who have to teach three main lessons.  It is doable, but only with rest as a priority.  I do not think teaching more than three main lessons would be doable for anyone; and many could not teach three separate lessons, so combining down to two lessons would be the best way to do this if possible. If you would like ideas about combining main lesson blocks for grades, please email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com

Joy, creativity, learning, and rest are all interwoven.  We chose to bring the artistic component into our own inner work and lives in order to become better teachers and better human beings.

Blessings,
Carrie

Building Your Homeschooling Around Rest

This topic has become so important to me  I devoted an entire Pinterest board just to rest.  And I discovered, in the process of gathering pins and thinking about rest and relaxation, the reason I couldn’t make a homeschool schedule for the year yet.  I wasn’t coming at the rhythm of the day or week from a place of REST. Instead, I was coming at it from a place of how to cram all the things three children of wildly disparate ages (ages 7-16) needed into a week or a day or a school year.  I still don’t have a rhythm for the school year yet, partially because I don’t know when some of our outside activities will be meeting, but when I do sit down to look at what we can realistically do, I know it will be from a place of  what we need in terms of rest and relaxation as the foundation for our school year.

Here are some of the things I am thinking about, and maybe some of these will resonate with you….

  1.  Rest during the day.  I see many homeschoolers blogging about  taking rest during the day, like from 2-4 in the afternoon.  This is probably possible for many of you with small children.  We always rested after lunch and still tend to have a rest period, but I am guessing in order to take an entire afternoon , people who are able to rest from 2-4 each day either are not homeschooling multiple children in grades 7 and above, or perhaps don’t have high schoolers, (or maybe they do, but perhaps their children aren’t super involved in outside activities or taking any outside classes?). So perhaps, like me, you need to think creatively  about the day and week in order to acheive rest.  For example, a four day  school week would allow for a day of rest.  Rest could be after lunch or before dinner in a daily schedule, even if it isn’t a huge span of time.
  2.  NAP.  Yup, take a half-hour nap every day.  Even this small amount of time can be beneficial!
  3. It may not work for you, but when my children were smaller, early bedtimes were really helpful.  And even now, I feel no need to entertain the children who are grades 7 and up.  I may head to bed before them, we may relax together and we usually do talk at night, but I also rest and pursue my own creative interests before bed as well, and so do they.
  4. Choose a weekend day to rest and relax without commitments to be somewhere.  We are busy on Sundays, so Saturdays are our restful day, and this school year I intend to really guard that day as much as possible.
  5. A restful morning and evening routine to begin and end the day.  I would like to write more about this in a coming post,  but in the meantime if you have a restful morning or evening routine, would you care to share it in the comment box?
  6. Leaving time and space in the margins of life.  Scheduling less days of school per week, less weeks of school per school year, and scheduling in time to do next week or next block’s lessons each week (NOT on the restful weekend day), and vacations.
  7. Work in seasons.  For our family, horseback riding doesn’t really work in seasons, so we don’t get much rest from that, but some activities do work in seasons of six to eight weeks and you don’t have to fill every six to eight week period up!  This is a great thing about an activity like 4-H.   Working in seasons also means we rest more in the summer to balance out a busier school year.  We cannot go all out, all year round.  So, choose your extracurricular activities and volunteer commitments wisely.
  8. Build your school routine around self-care; do not leave self-care to be last on the list.  Self-care are the beginning and end marks to your day.
  9. Use planning ahead of time to increase your sense of relaxation. For me, part of this is keeping my house clean and the laundry done each day (this may not be your thing).  If I do a little each day, and my children help each day, then it is relatively neat and clean.  I also like to food prep for the week on Sunday afternoons.
  10. Use tools to increase relaxation .  Things that help  me include:  healthy meal prep, exercise, yoga and stretching, relaxing music, essential oil diffusions, Epsom salt baths, creating.
  11. Create routines around mindfulness – these can be built into those morning and evening routines, and  the special routines that you develop so you can rest and relax when the moment is more stressful (emergency stress routines).
  12. Enjoy being with friends without children involved.  Sometimes, especially as children get older, having time to talk without children present is really valuable.  Socialization and play for mothers is just as important as it is for children.

I would love to hear your favorite restful strategies or comments.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Boundaries and Toxic People

The other day I had a little post that talked about boundaries for older children.  A question came up regarding toxic people,  setting boundaries, and is it possible that this be done in a loving way.

Perhaps this question is a little out of my wheelhouse.  I am not a psychologist, and I am certain a psychologist would have better things to say than I on this subject.  However, because I think boundaries are such an important piece of being a healthy adult and something we should be working hard to model and guide our teenagers and children in establishing, I am willing to share my experience with this topic.  As always, if you need more help, there are many licensed psychologists and other mental health care professionals out there to help you!

One hears many definitions of “toxic people”.  Usually this alludes to behaviors or relationships caused by woundedness; usually this involves creating drama, infecting others with negativity, or being narcissitic, and using others to get their needs met.  To me, and again I am not a psychologist, my definition of a toxic person is that they cannot abide by boundaries in order to be in a healthy relationship with someone else; boundaries to me are key no matter the variety of behaviors displayed.  Therefore, because a toxic person cannot respect boundaries, by definition, there will be no truly “nice”   or “loving” way to limit the exposure of a toxic person to your family because the toxic person will have an excuse and will have a hard time respecting the boundaries that you set. So, establishing very strong boundaries or to even cutting the toxic person out of your life if you are in a situation where that is possible is often difficult, but I don’t think impossible, so long as  you don’t expect the toxic person to go along with it calmly!

From my experience, my  tried and true ways to deal with toxic people include:

Setting emotional distance.  You don’t have to answer every text, call, or email.  You can choose to only respond to facts or what needs a solution as opposed to all the barage of emotion and drama.

Not getting  into one- to -one situations with the toxic person.  There is safety in numbers.  Always have someone else with you for interactions with  truly toxic people.

Setting limits on negativity and complaining.

Setting a very close circle around me of positive people who have a firm grasp of reality and have different perspectives that help me see things clearly. 🙂

Letting go of guilt. Like many people, sometimes I want everyone to like me, and the reality is I am definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.  So letting go of that is important, and depending upon how old you are, you get more and more okay with that as you get older.  It is okay not to be liked, and especially by the toxic person, because in my experience many times a more toxic person will not like you if they cannot control you.

Not forgetting what the toxic person has done or the chaos that person caused.  Forgive the illness that consumes this person, but do not forget!   Sometimes I find toxic people seem to cycle in and out of creating emotional chaos, and it can be easy in the good moments to forget the emotional craziness the person created in the past.  I am all for growth and second chances, but in my experience, toxic people do not really change but only get better at manipulating and hiding motives with age.

Hope that not only helps answer the question, but also points out the value of boundaries in ourselves and raising our children to become healthy adults who can go on to have healthy families of their own. As always, consult your friendly local mental health care professional with your questions, as I can only share my personal experience.

Many blessings,
Carrie

The Lenten Promise: Re-Committing To Our Children

During this Lenten Season, let’s remember and re-commit to doing well by our children. Depending upon the age of our children and the season of life we are in, it can be easy to grow weary. This particular time of year is a call to renewal and regrowth, and may this be the season to pull things in once again and move forward.

If we acknowledge the individual differences our children hold in the view that all children have gifts and marvels to share with the world, this journey becomes easier. Sometimes it can be hard to hold on to that when a child is struggling socially or through medical or learning challenges or just through a tough patch in development, but the gifts are there are surely as the sun shines. Look for those gifts, and repeat those gifts to yourself.

Let us step back a bit. Our children are capable and trustworthy. We need to trust that our children will makes mistakes, and hopefully the mistakes will be fixable and not catastrophic. However, let us also  not become complacent and uncaring. Studies have shown that children who have uninvolved parents have the worst outcomes of any parenting style.  Let us also acknowledge that whilst every child is different, there are developmental milestones that all human beings go through in aging.  If we can understand childhood development in a broader sense, it helps us hang on and see that many things are shared in the childhood journey.

Let’s re-commit to  kindness in our homes.  This back post from 2009 outlines several steps for kindness in the home, beginning with ourselves.  We cannot nurture our families if we are at rock bottom.  Most of us do not have extended family to lean on with our children, and we need to learn how to craft routines that include our own self-care and nurturing.  I can honestly say I am only starting to get this now, fifteen and a half years into parenting, but this is a crucial strategy for nurturing the family!

And finally, let’s re-commit to love being the ultimate goal and method of our homeschooling.  It can be difficult to feel loving in the midst of trying to help a child write a paper, tackle a hard subject, deal with a child who is not working up to his or her full potential or to not get lost in trying to rush through homeschooling in order to deal with all the things life is throwing our way.  Love brings with it an enveloping quiet and warmth, and a soothing quality that can help even the most frazzled of homeschooling situations if only we slow down to remember.  Love causes our words to become as pearls.

Here is to a season of growth, renewal, and love.

Many blessings,
Carrie