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Posted on 24 Nov, 2014 | 6 comments

Your Child Is Actually Raising You

What if your child has kindly agreed to come here to raise and teach YOU rather than you kindly agreeing to raise and teach him or her?

raising parents

I’ve always felt that my children are my teachers but I was nudged into a deeper level of this – thanks to a sentence in Dr Tsabary’s book The Conscious Parent. It was this:

“…it’s my experience that the relationship between parent and child exists for the primary purpose of the parent’s transformation and only secondarily for the raising of the child.”

Well now, how’s that? According to her, the person benefitting more from the parenting experience is the parent! I find that both hilarious and fascinating.

It quite profoundly changed how I look at and engage with my children – especially the one who shows me the parts of myself I find less comfortable. We usually get at least one of those in the lucky packet.

Since that sentence jiggled me, I keep gazing at him in awe and wonder. I’m amazed at his kindness and generosity for offering to help me go where no Eilat has gone before – “The Shadow Lands!” (Cue freaky music).

What a brave, brave soul – to choose to start off his life breaking us in as parents. I mean he has been lashed and flung about on the tides of my learning to function with too little sleep, too little knowing what I’m doing, too little time for myself, too little self-control in the ‘bad’ moments, too little understanding that there is no such thing as ‘too little’…

It is quite a thing don’t you think?

If it really is more about my transformation than about him being ‘raised’ then it adds a sort of seriousness to my task of growing my Self. And a lot of … I don’t know, I want to write ‘funniness’. Because here I am thinking I know so much and that I must teach him stuff and all the while he’s just allowing me to practice living in my truest light. But I already know that.  From the start he has – with the enthusiastic assistance of his brother of course – been showing me my misguided beliefs and pushing me to do things I don’t know how to do yet. Bless their cotton socks.

The main thing though is the stretch, don’t you find? Oh that inner stretching that he offers me. He can’t go to sleep – I have to stretch my heart way more than I’m used to in order to keep my compassion for him at the end of a long day. Doesn’t listen to me – I have to stretch my 

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Posted on 17 Nov, 2014 | 2 comments

Does Parenting Require Us To Give Up Ourselves?

“Oh no, I don’t want to be awake yet” was my first thought this morning – followed shortly after by, “Just leave me alone!”

Untitled1

Well I don’t need to tell you that it didn’t feel good and I am learning to be more and more aware when things don’t feel good. That’s because when something doesn’t feel good it means a deep and important part of myself is telling me I’m off-track somehow. So my inner ears pricked up on hearing these thoughts and I noticed the yukky feelings that followed close on their heels.

“What’s up?” I asked myself.

“Ugh I have to be of service to everyone today. What about me?” my inner voice responded.

Oh.

That.

So I thought about my day ahead.

Yikes!

It’s Sunday. I’m taking the kids to a community carnival in the morning, a birthday party in the afternoon and helping out a family member later. ‘Day of Rest’ my foot!

Now each of these things – on their own – is lovely. I want to do them. I’ve chosen all of them – but do they have to gallop one after the other like that? What about me? Time, you know? In between, to breathe…

But what’s this ‘of service’ thing and this ‘what about me?’ Why do I think my day excludes me somehow?

Because that’s what we are mostly taught. Being of service means giving up yourself. We get told, “Stop complaining, don’t be selfish, grow up and just get on with it”. Taking the kids to carnivals and school, making breakfast, lunch and supper for them, following up on homework, driving them to activities and extra lessons… that’s all part of the parenting job description. Things just need to be done. Life must be lived and parties etc are part of life. The kids don’t deserve to be blamed or grumped at because they have lives that you need to co-ordinate. And yet… I didn’t really mean to sign up as someone’s servant. Did you?

So here is the big question. Does being of service require us to give up ourselves? Do you lose the right to self when you become a parent? Does looking after yourself mean dropping the kids’ needs?

Somehow, somehow we need to figure out how to stay with ourselves while doing what needs to be done for others. It can’t be a them-or-me situation. It just

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Posted on 9 Jun, 2014 | 6 comments

Why We Judge Ourselves

Our theme is being ‘in the moment’. One sneaky way we avoid the moment is to judge it as soon as we find ourselves in it. That, as I said last week, pushes us out of the present and into past or future.

Judgement.

Pah!

pah.

Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear!

That’s all it is.

We are SO mean to ourselves sometimes. We say things about ourselves that we’d NEVER say about others.

I had a chance to engage with judgement this week with a surprising (for me) result.

Someone asked me to list good things about myself. Of course I had an instant cringe response. “What? No way! I’ll look like I think I’m so great. My narcissism will be exposed…”

Then again, past conversations with him have left me with profound insights. So I took a deep breath, leaned into the discomfort, and dared greatly.

He watched me with humour as I thoughtfully laid out things I like about myself. I was aware of sifting through ideas, rejecting some, weighing others carefully before adding them to the list. It pleased me that I could think of many positive things to say about myself.

“It’s interesting”, he said, “that the things you list are all really ‘good’ things. Characteristics that no-one could find challenging or offensive. What about this thing?” he wanted to know, “And that one?”

What? Ugh. Not those things.

I justified, explained and pontificated. Words and words and dances of defence. I criticised and judged the qualities he was pointing out. They’re not good enough, not acceptable in some way. I made it sound logical – but actually I was rejecting those aspects of me.

He laughed at me kindly. Loving kindness allows us to see ourselves. It makes it less scary to look at what we’re avoiding.

Eventually I understood that my list was

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Posted on 2 Jun, 2014 | 8 comments

Do You Find It HARD To ‘Be In The Moment’?

So let’s talk about this being ‘in the moment’ thing. If we all know about it, why do we need so much reminding to do it?

Last week I challenged myself to remember that in any given moment I lack nothing. That I already have everything I need – and some of you joined in with this intention.

How’s it been going?

I’ve been striving to remember to breathe, drop into my heart space and just be in the moment. It’s been an interesting journey.

When I manage to do it, it’s a relief. Like a deep soul whisper, “Everything’s alright.”

But what I’ve also noticed is that a) it’s taken me deeper into myself this week and b) I’ve avoided that somehow. What is that all about?!

So I’ve been listening to and observing myself and others and these are my research results:

Most of the time we are focused on the past or the future – which are both fantasies. Really, they are. They don’t actually exist. The times we ARE able to connect with the present moment, we seem to have a reflex to judge where we are – which is another clever way of avoiding the moment because then we think about why this moment is like this – and that throws us into the past or the future.

And this keeps us stuck in the very things we wish we didn’t have.

For example, I feel I don’t have enough time for myself, or connection with myself even when I get the time. Dropping into my heart space in the very moment I am in eases that feeling of lack dramatically. That’s what I’m actually seeking, yes? So why don’t I do it more? It’s fear people, our old friend Fear.

Let me ‘splain by expanding this into relationships with other people and with life in general.

I want more closeness in my relationship with someone so I practice what I preach. I breathe, I center myself and I open my heart to that person. The first feelings I’m flooded with are sadness, frustration, regret and pain in my heart. Why should that be? Because even in the moment of loving, what I’m unwittingly focusing on is what I feel I’ve been lacking. Why I even need to remember to open my heart to this someone. In other words, I’m thinking of what I haven’t had. And hey presto, suddenly I don’t have the closeness I want and need in that moment either.

Even though it’s right there I can’t access it – because in truth

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Posted on 19 May, 2014 | 0 comments

Who Is Captaining Your Life Canoe Right Now?

 

“I don’t know what they want from me!” Kirsty tells me angrily, then mimics a whiny voice “’You don’t spend enough time with me’…”

She’s talking about her handsome, loving, supportive husband and beloved, beautiful, talented child. She has what one would describe as a happy family. In the important ways, all is well with them – but she feels frustrated and scared because they always want more from her.

Kirsty, you see, is a warm, nurturing, strong woman and others gravitate towards her. When she turns the light that is her onto others, she metaphorically scoops them up in a wonderful embrace that they never want to end. She’s very good at looking after people – less good at looking after herself.

holding

She can’t carry on like this anymore so she’s here seeking change and it scares her a lot. She tells me, “The other day I thought, if you’re going down a river you can approach rapids with fear or with exhilaration.”

I’m excited to hear her say that – it means she’s starting to open to the adventure that is change. “Actually” I reply, “if you think about it, the physical experience of fear and exhilaration are the same. Beating heart, rapid breathing, adrenalin pumping… The only real difference between them is whether you judge those sensations to be good or bad.”

Quietly I think of how I’ve been facing recent rapids in my life river. Maybe not loving that adrenalin so much…

And in that moment she gazes at me with awe, admiration and self-judgement in her eyes. “What makes you so calm in all this?” she wants to know.

Huh? What? Really? Calm? Me?

Anyone who reads my blog can see I’m not always in calm waters. But then again… there is this one thing…

“I’ll tell you what gives me some sense of calm even while I’m being tossed about on the waves” I suddenly answer.

“When I’m heading for the rapids and I panic, I

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Posted on 14 Apr, 2014 | 6 comments

Stop Fighting It

Some Saturdays back was one of the worst ever discipline and compliance disasters in my house. We were like a box of contact-trigger firecrackers being shaken hard. Boom, pop, bang, POW!

Each time one of us lost our control and our temper it would trigger the next one, then the next one and so on until all of us were shouting, wailing, howling… Like a domino line of crackers. Then we’d calm ourselves, pull ourselves together, apologise to the various parties and vibrate vulnerably until the next hair-trigger set us all off – boom, pop, bang, POW!

boom

Like a slapstick comedy, we took turns to lose it first, and each time we popped in a different order. It would have been hilarious if I hadn’t been in it.

At one point, trying to calm things – again – I took the boys for a cycle outside. Then one of them blatantly disregarded a safety rule. “Sorry, you can’t cycle anymore. Back in the house you go.“ Shrieking objections but what can I do? He broke the rule. So in he went leaving his brother and I outside on our own, feeling anguished at leaving one of our party behind. We held out a while but I could hear high pitched, “Mamaaaaaaaa”s being shrieked from deep in the bowels of the house. I think even my heart’s bottom lip was trembling.

So we headed back in to give him a second chance and found him thrashing in his father’s arms – the most fantastically uncomfortable loving embrace I’ve ever witnessed.

As he ran off to get his bike my partner-in-disaster put his hands to his short-shaven head and said in bewilderment, “If I had hair I’d tear it out!” and we both giggled hysterically at the out-of-controllness of the day.

I mean HYSTERICALLY.

That was a good moment.

The funny thing is that I’d set my intention for the weekend to be fully present to the good moments. To focus on the joyful, calm, everything’s-ok moments and to absorb them deeply. And I did manage that too so, strangely, at the end of such a tumultuous day, the feelings of joyful richness equalled – or even outweighed – the dismal sense of spectacular failure.

Apparently the moments I managed full presence were really worth it.

I don’t know what would have happened if I’d managed to maintain full presence the rest of the day. I suspect it would have been a lot calmer and more joyful for us all. But – oh the irony – it was Saturday. I was tired. I wanted to have a weekend. I didn’t want to still have to cater for, entertain, consider, nurture, nourish and contain dependents.

I’ve been looking back on the day to try to understand what went on. I’d really like to avoid another bone-rattler. I have so many tools within myself for dealing with the fall-outs of being human. Why didn’t I apply them?

Well, my assessment tells me that I did apply them, but not whole-heartedly. I was present but only just. I was patient and kind and understanding – but only just. Actually I didn’t want, didn’t want, didn’t WANT to be doing this. I wanted to be doing something else.

gaze

Children – and life – do not accept half-hearted presence. I was being d r a g g e d into full presence and I was fighting it for all I was worth. That was the feeling of the day for me. Pulling away, resisting. And look how it turned out. Or rather don’t look – please. Ugh.

If I had stopped fighting what life was asking me to do, if I’d let go of how I wanted it to be, it might have been one of my most precious days ever. I’ve experienced that many times before. But I so wanted what I wanted and not what it was…

Maybe this’ll learn me. Maybe next time I’ll surrender sooner…

We’ll see.

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Posted on 23 Dec, 2013 | 2 comments

What’s Actually Important To Me And Am I Living Accordingly?

Lately people keep telling me I should really appreciate my kids while they are young. It’s the usual “they grow up so quickly” thing. You’ve heard it, “Before you know it they’re finishing high school and its over”. We all know the theory – but recently I’ve been told this quite emphatically, emotionally and repeatedly.

One beautiful woman I met at a workshop, and to whom I’d never spoken before in my life, looked me deep in the eyes and said it so emphatically that we both got tears in our eyes. Now that’s difficult to ignore. And then yesterday another woman said the very same thing to me and looked at me in a searching way as if to ask, “Are you hearing this?”

listen

So I had to stop and think, “What’s up with that? Am I missing something? Am I not doing this enough?” My messengers weren’t people who’d seen me with my kids and thought “Hoo boy, she’s so not present with her kids. Someone had better sort this chick out!” They were just people passing through my day, dropping off their message and waltzing on by.

I’ve been a mile-a-minute in the last while. Engrossed in my work and writing, my creative projects. I’m even fitting in a few friends and I feel like I spend real and loving quality time with my boys and partner (real super woman stuff) yet this message comes through to me in this way.

In our five minute (I kid you not) conversation, the woman at the workshop, a successful doctor, shared that when her children were young she was so busy with work and projects that the children 

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Posted on 9 Dec, 2013 | 8 comments

Seeing Life As ‘Hard’ Is Just A Protection Device

 

thumbs up

From Dec 9, 2013

I am officially in transition to being excited and joyful about everything. It is my deliberate practice of late. Because everything in our life offers to guide us to bliss.

Even the ‘bad’ stuff.

Lately I’ve been very aware of how much I miss out on when I focus on the hard, on the yukky. And I’ve also become aware that seeing life as ‘hard’ is a protective device – because “You-never-can-tell-what’s-coming-your-way”, so I’d better not risk joy.

There’s a part of me that thinks Joy makes me vulnerable, you see – all happy and open and childlike and then WHAM! Something might happen that I wasn’t prepared for, like a hurt or a disappointment, and then what? How will I survive it?

So I gotta be prepared for the worst at all times – that way it will never get me.

Or at least that’s what the scared inner voice is telling me.

Except there’s one tiny flaw in this reasoning.

If I think like this then it’s already got me. Because if I’m so worried the ‘badness’, the pain, the fear, the disappointment – will catch me by surprise that I prepare myself constantly, then I’m already living in it.  What I’m so afraid of has already happened. I made it so. How ironic is that?

My child – bless those tricksy First-Borns – keeps reflecting this to me and I’m longing to ‘fix’ it in him. He’s just not able to be happy with what he has. He’s always upset about what he doesn’t have – but to ridiculous extremes.

A while back he was sitting eating a chocolate that he always asks for and got as a treat and he says in that whiny voice that drives parents over the edge the world over, “Pleeeease can you buy me chocolate? You NEVER buy me any chocolate!”

It was IN HIS HAND. His mouth was BROWN and that’s what he said.

Thank heavens for my appreciation of the ridiculous in those moments because the victim energy he sends out hooks right int

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Posted on 2 Dec, 2013 | 2 comments

How To Find Your New Balance In Every Situation

Before we begin; Please, oh please, CLICK ON THE RED BADGE over there on the right to vote for my blog? (You can vote for it in either or both categories)

Ok, thank you. Let’s start.

unbalanced

Just when you think you’ve got the hang of something, it all changes again. Have you noticed that?

I don’t know about you, but I find myself thinking, “Oh when this thing is over, THEN I will feel balanced again”.

It’s really not about that though, is it? It’s not about waiting for what’s happening now to change so that you can be ok. It’s about finding your new balance in how things are right now – every time. Over and over…

But it’s unsettling.

It’s so much more comfortable to feel in control of things, don’t you find?

I remember one friend told me a long time ago that after her first child was born she felt out of balance for quite a long time but she managed to ‘find herself’ again. “But I’ve never really got my balance back after my second was born” she said wistfully.

She has found her balance again though – it’s just really different to how she used to think balance looked. In my opinion, it’s bigger and shinier than it was before.

Life – with our children, family, work, and money as its little helpers – seems to knock us off balance or tilt our axis every once in a while. Ok, ok, every time we find our comfortable balance actually. Yes, you cynics out there, maybe it is all just a cruel joke –  the ancient Greek gods randomly testing us mortals, playing with us like pawns in their own power games…

Then again, maybe, like Hercules or Odysseus or Oedipus, part of what we are doing on earth as humans is adventuring along our own indi

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Posted on 25 Nov, 2013 | 11 comments

I Put My Hands In Vomit

So we are having a play date and at lunch our little guest tells me his tummy is sore.  (You already know where I’m going with this…)

He stops eating and goes off to play with a puzzle in the boy’s bedroom. Then I hear a noise. It’s the kind of noise that you just recognise when you hear it but your mind still tries to argue with you. “Nooo, it’s not that. You may think it’s that but it’s not really”

But still… there was that noise…

I put my fork down and race the few steps to the doorway to check on him and there’s the little guy, his face a picture of fear and horror, gazing at his vomit-drenched hands which are held up in much the same way as Lady Macbeth after the murder.

yuch

Poor little guy.

Poor carpet and puzzle.

I go in to comfort him and to quickly direct him to the toilet in case there’s more. There is.

We make it to the sink in time. Whew. But wait, it’s not going down. The vomit is blocking the drain. Oh.

Never mind! That’s ok. I can do this.

I’m trying not to look at the sink and to control my uncontrollable retching which happens whenever I encou

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Posted on 30 Sep, 2013 | 2 comments

How Parenting is FOR YOU – Part 3: For The Practical-Minded

Well folks, we’ve come to the third and final in the series on “How Parenting is FOR YOU”. Then again, this is the overall topic of this blog, so I’ll be writing a lot more about it.

Today is for those who say, “Ok I get the theory, but how does all this apply in practice in my daily life?” Here goes:

tools

Have you ever gazed at someone in awe and thought, “When I grow up I want to be like that”?

I’ve always felt that with truly generous people. Those people who just give of themselves, of their time, their heart, their money…with open-hearted ease, from a place of truth – without calculating how much will be left for them and what they’ll get in return… sigh. Aren’t they just great?

I grew up thinking generosity is something other people have. My ancestry seems to have nurtured the art of feeling deprived – that feeling of ‘there’s not enough for me’. If we had a family crest, we could inscribe “Oy vey izmir” (which means “Oh woe is me”) below it – but we don’t even have a family crest!

I don’t mean to diss my family here – it’s no-one’s fault, this goes back for generations and each of us is working on it in our own way. I noticed that if somebody gave me something I would wait suspiciously to find out what they wanted in return and I’ve seen the same in other family members – they’d become anxious when given something.

So it was as if true generosity was for other people but I watched those other people like a hungry child and I really wanted to know how to do it. Somehow I felt that inside me was a generous person waiting to come out of the meagrely stocked closet.

Having children has been an EXCELLENT space to practice that quality I so admire because NOTHING is my own is it? I think it’s mine but then I have to give, give, GIVE it. “Take your hands out of my plate, that’s my food. You’ve already eaten yours”, “No you can’t have money to go out with your friends”, “No I can’t play with you now because we’ve played all morning and now I have to do some things for me”… and on and on. Nothing is sacred. They’ll grab at everything they can. And I? I get to practice not feeling deprived and gaining that quality I so admire in others.

Now that I’ve had children, I can proudly say

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Posted on 9 Sep, 2013 | 3 comments

She’s Pregnant And What Can I Say?

I had a weird moment today. I found out someone is pregnant and I was suddenly washed over with the huge awareness of the journey she’s begun and what lies ahead for her.

I barely know her and as far as I know there’s nothing unusual or worrying about her being pregnant. So it wasn’t her, it was me.

She sat there looking all vulnerable with her rounded belly and I wanted to say something but I fumbled for words and looked odd and uncomfortable. I wasn’t imagining that because she was looking at me oddly.

wha

I did first manage to wish her a heart-felt congratulations but then I came over all awkward, because a floodgate of knowledge about the journey opened in my mind and I was flooded.

Because you see, for example

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