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Posted on 7 Mar, 2016 | 6 comments

What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

lean back

This is going to be a short post because this highly complicated skill is actually very simple.

When you are trying to do something and your child (or whatever else) is not behaving the way you want, stop leaning forward to push your way, to try to MAKE it happen. As soon as you notice yourself getting tense, uptight, defensive, irritated, righteous – stop. Just stop right there – mid-word if you have to. Just stop. You are fighting what is. You are trying to paste a preconceived picture over what is actually right there in front of you. You are deluding yourself. You are missing out on some important information that will help you get to the next step of where you want to go.

It’s like being in a foreign country and looking for a road sign but because you are holding up the map to look for what you think you should see, you can’t see the actual road sign standing right there in front of you.

So, as soon as you notice yourself getting upset with someone or something

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Posted on 11 Jan, 2016 | 0 comments

What Is Your Truth?

If I’m not true to myself then whose life am I living? If I don’t do what I find important and interesting then what am I expressing into the world? If I learn to parent by listening to all the books and social opinions, then how do I know what to follow when nothing makes sense?

I’ve started a new project recently and I keep feeling overwhelmed and lost and confused in it – which makes me

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Posted on 28 Dec, 2015 | 0 comments

There Is No Such Thing As Failure – Part 1

We’ve all done things in our lives that didn’t turn out so well. Some of us have done it gracefully and covered it up with style and others of us have belly-flopped and farted in front of a large crowd.

Some hardy folk with solid self-esteem can simply laugh at themselves and move on unaffected.

whatever!.

Most of us though, flinch away from thinking about those times. If we have to think about them we get that cringe or shame sensation followed by feeling down-hearted about ourselves. Ironically, even though we try not to dwell on these moments – or we deny they ever happened – they actually often steer our lives in sneaky, invisible ways. That’s because we judge ourselves to have failed and our feeling of threat from that teaches our brain to prevent us from doing that again

BUT

What if there is no such thing as failure?

I’ve been exploring this deeply lately as I head out into areas that remind me of old belly-flops – at least TO MY MIND at the time they were belly-flops. I keep having to strongly nudge myself to keep going because a large chunk of me is sending out warnings that this is Failure Territory. My brain learned well.

So why am I doing it? Why not just avoid the things I ‘failed’ at before?

Well! If my life is going to be pleasant and fun – yes I said “pleasant and fun”. Otherwise WHAT is the point people? Seriously! – then shame and fear just can’t be allowed to play leading roles. Shame and fear are no fun at all! And excuse me, but threatening myself with “What if I fail?” gives them lead roles. So sorry, no. Not happening.

In my work I get to observe people’s lives. I see the reasons for their choices and I see the outcomes of

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Posted on 26 Oct, 2015 | 0 comments

Positive Or Negative – Which Do You Choose?

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee were born on the exact same day, in the exact same year, at the exact same time, in neighbouring villages of the exact same country. They had the exact same kind of parents, went to the exact same same school in the exact same class and for some uncanny reason their whole lives followed the exact same path. They had the same careers, had the same amount of friends, got married in the same year, had children at the same time and lived identical average lives where nothing really bad ever happened to them.

The only difference between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum was that Tweedle Dee was a jolly sort of fellow who chose to look at the good in things whereas Tweedle Dum was an anxious man who chose to focus on the worst.

You’d think this wouldn’t be such a big difference but in fact it was. You see, when Tweedle Dee’s parents got it wrong and messed up – like all parents do – he could see they loved him anyway and he knew they would do their best to take care of him. Tweedle Dum though, felt great fear and resentment about the things his parents didn’t manage to provide for him and he didn’t trust them to get it right – even though he knew they would do their best to take care of him.

When Tweedle Dee’s father shouted at him or his mother shut herself in her room because she felt it was all too much for her Tweedle Dee wouldn’t feel good, but he would remind himself that they loved him and that pain is temporary. He knew everything was actually ok and that he would eventually be ok – even if bad things happened. He knew this because his mother had told him so many times.

When Tweedle Dum’s father shouted at him or his mother shut herself in her room because she felt it was all too much for her Tweedle Dum would feel hurt, abandoned and bereft. He worried there was something wrong with him that made them behave that way. He felt constant fear of what would happen and if he would ever be ok. Even though his mother had told him many times that everything was ok and that he would be ok – even if bad things happened – he couldn’t relax and believe it. So he worried and he fretted and as he grew up he was often grumpy and angry with his parents for the things they did. The very same things Tweedle Dee chose to see as flawed expressions of love, he just saw as flawed.

While Tweedle Dee felt he grew up in a loving home with humans who were just trying their best, Tweedle Dum felt his needs were unmet by his flawed parents. Adolescence was a

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Posted on 12 Oct, 2015 | 16 comments

Don’t Compare Your Insides To Other People’s Outsides

So I had a conversation at a party – what is it with me and conversations at parties? People are going to start avoiding talking to me…

Anyway, my lovely conversation partner mentioned she reads my blog and finds it amazing that I can share things so publicly. Things she can’t even bear to share with her husband – like if she shouted at her child that day. “It seems so easy for you”, she said self-deprecatingly, “I guess some people can just do that.”

Hoo boy.

First of all, when someone tells me they read my blog I immediately feel exposed. Aargh, they know things about me! Maybe they like what I write; maybe they think I’m a narcissistic misguided fraud… Breathe in, breathe out, reassure self, relax tensed shoulders…

To make it harder still, she reminds me that I share things that are potentially shameful and I want to run and hide.

yikes

Breathe in, breathe out, remind myself what it’s really about, open up and lean into the discomfort…

Maybe it looks easy for me. It’s not. It has been excruciating at times to expose myself in this way.

So why do I do it?

Because it’s SO darn good for me. (not to mention how much FUN I have writing and drawing…)

My main reason for writing this blog is that it helps me plough through, heal and release OLD fears and preconceptions that hold me back or keep me small. It helps me to stay conscious in my life and parenting and it is teaching me about keeping my self while I parent – what does that even mean?!

A second but important reason I write here is the healing for others. In my work I’ve been allowed the awesome privilege of hearing the truth about people’s lives. Not what they present to the world, but how they really feel inside the facades. It is a privilege I cherish deeply. And person after person comes to me and says, “Other people seem to have it sorted. Is it just me that struggles with this?”

Parents especially are a strangely isolated group. For all the chatting and play-dates, not many dare to speak about the real stuff. The shameful moments. The hidden smacks, shouts, rough grabs that we cringe to think about and prefer not to look at. It only takes one brave soul to stand in truth, dare to be vulnerable and speak out, for others to learn they are really NOT alone in their fears and struggles. That is why I choose to expose myself. I’m backed up by the

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Posted on 28 Sep, 2015 | 2 comments

Listening To Yourself

Listening to yourself and to life is like white-water rafting. You are travelling on a river called Life which, like any vast river, has its moods and phases.

river

Your task is to navigate the flow of the river. It’s a moment by moment thing. You need to watch and observe and be in tune with what you are doing and what the river is doing – ALL the time. There are times you need to put your paddle in and row furiously, there are times to gently hold your paddle in position and there are times to take out your paddle, lean back and let the river carry you.

If you put your paddle in at the times you need to let go, you bump into rocks or capsize. If you let go when you need to paddle, you end up going in directions you didn’t mean to, or you don’t move much, or you get stuck in an eddy. (Poor Eddy).

Listening to your inner voice is an exercise in letting go and trusting the river completely while at the same time maintaining mindfulness, consciousness and being fully present. Listening is important in both small and big things. It’s about the partnership between you and the river.

The other day I got to see what comes of paddling instead of gently, lovingly listening and let me tell you, it ain’t pretty!

I had planned to meet up with someone and was really looking forward to it. I just wanted to show up and enjoy a heart connection – which is ironic because I unwittingly did the opposite. I stuck in my paddle when it was time to lean back and let go and the result was a meeting full of bumps into rocks and a startling cold water dunk at the end.

Afterwards I found myself asking for the courage to listen honestly at all times in future because what I now realise is this:

If I listen as closely to myself and to life as I keep saying we need to, I have to relinquish control because NOTHING will ever be like I think it will be. I mean, you can plan to travel a section of the river in a certain way but there are so many factors that contribute to it – your mood, the weather, the state of your canoe, the state of your body… that it will never be entirely in your control. The best you can plan on is how you want to focus and be present to the ride so that your outcome feels good to you.

It’s as simple as this:

On the morning we had decided to meet I recei

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Posted on 18 May, 2015 | 2 comments

Don’t Let Others’ Fear Bring You Down Or Hold You Back

Sometimes we hit a certain period in our life and we are restless and curious to seek out new things. Sometimes we can feel we need to move, change, grow. We get to a place where we can see if we stay in how things are it will eventually kill our spirit.

Sometimes we have an idea. The idea excites us, energises us, feels like the right thing to do. We feel drawn to it with all of our being.

drawn

And then someone objects.

Maybe they have good reasons and maybe they don’t but their objection usually brings us to a sudden halt and then we begin to question ourselves. We begin to doubt.

Questioning ourselves is a necessary, constructive thing.

Doubting ourselves is not.

When we know something, know it from deep inside, we need to acknowledge it. When we do so, our spirit soars. When we don’t, our spirit droops. When we allow other people’s objections to stop us, we hurt our spirit sharply.

Think back to when you were little and you wanted to do something. Think of a time when someone approved of and supported what you wanted to do. How did it feel? What was the outcome?

Now think of a time when someone disapproved or objected. How did it feel and what was the outcome?

Sometimes your child wants to burn matches, climb a high tree, mix paint on the sofa. She is inspired in that moment, she is expressing herself – but it’s not safe or wise and it’s your job to keep her safe and well so you must stop her from doing those things. HOW you stop her will affect her spirit.

“What a stupid thing to try and do! What were you thinking? I really thought better of you. You can die that way or get us all killed! If our house burned down it would be your fault.” Shutting her down by telling her she should know better and that’s she’s stupid to even consider doing it will make her spirit droop and she will trust in herself less. (Familiar self-talk anyone?)

“Oh I can see you are in the mood for trying new and exciting things. When you explore, remember it’s important to

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Posted on 27 Apr, 2015 | 0 comments

You Always Have Choice – Even When It Doesn’t Look Like It

A funny thing about choice is that we often don’t feel like we have it – but we are never without it. When people come to me trying to figure out how to improve some difficulty or another I explore with them what choices they are making to create or enable the situation to be what it is. After all, it always takes two to tango.

tango

The thing is that when we uncover the ways someone is actually making things be what they are – or at least not stopping it from being that way – they often deny that they could do it differently. “I don’t have any other choice!” they cry out.

I know the feeling – but it’s always an illusion.

When I was in my final year of high school I had an extremely difficult and painful time. A confluence of events and situations left me totally overwhelmed and at cracking point. I was in a sorry state and I didn’t know what to do. Then, a conversation with my mother one day profoundly shifted how I understood the concept of choice. It was a moment of sheer brilliance on her part – probably borne out of her own desperation about what was going on with me. You know when you watch someone you love choose things that make them feel terrible – and then they come and complain to you…

So I was complaining to her one day, listen, I had real reason to complain, most of what was going on was not in my control but nonetheless, there I was expressing my desperation and overwhelm and she turned to me and said, “Well if it’s so bad and you’re so unhappy you could always leave school.”

What?!

Was she totally mad? Drop out of school half-way through my final year? Who the hell would do that? Wh

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Posted on 20 Apr, 2015 | 6 comments

None of us actually HAVE to do anything

I don’t know about you but however much I love most things about my life there are times I feel trapped and annoyed and resentful about things I ‘have’ to do. If I buy into the obligations and responsibilities approach, I get very little time to do what I want to do. Little time for creative projects and play and hanging out with friends and just being.

Then the other day I had this very deep realisation; I don’t actually HAVE to do anything. None of us actually HAVE to do anything.

What?

Untitled...

I’m still wrapping my head and heart around this. It goes so deep that I sort of get flickerings of ‘getting it’ and then I lose it again. So I figure if I write it down here for you all to see and try to ‘get it’ with me it’ll make it stick better. Because I really want this to stick. I find it liberating and heartening.

Ok it goes like this. We live in this society, in a family or group that has norms and expectations of its members. We grow up learning what those expectations are and then doing our best to find a balance between fulfilling the expectations while retaining a sense of self and independence and finding satisfaction for ourselves. It’s a tricky balance to maintain and when you have dependents of any kind that balance gets trickier yet – because of those obligations and responsibilities. If you have to look after your ailing mother or your young child or you are the breadwinner for the family then what can you do? You just need to get on with it, sacrifice your own desires and try to find snippets of nice things for yourself while you meet the expectations.

That sounds logical and familiar, right?

But then you get those people who don’t meet the expectations. They just shirk their responsibilities and they carry on living. So how does that work? Does it mean we are actually free to decide? About everything?

Here’s what I’m trying to wrap my head around. I don’t HAVE to do anything. I can choose what to do and what not to do. Everything I choose has consequences and I decide which of those are preferable to me at any given point. I don’t HAVE to mother my children. I could walk away. There are many parents who have done that. I don’t HAVE to follow the rules. I could choose not to. There are many who have done that. I don’t HAVE to connect to others, be kind, be ethical or be moral. There are plenty out there who don’t. So why do I have to?

The answer is

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Posted on 16 Feb, 2015 | 6 comments

Don’t Allow Fear To Be Your Guide

How simple it would all be if we didn’t doubt ourselves.

Has this ever happened to you:  You know what you want, you get all excited about it, you start to take steps towards it in some way and then fear starts to sneak its way in and before you know it, you have talked yourself right out of something you really, really wanted.

I cannot TELL you how much I see this play out in people’s lives.

It’s startlingly easy to bring in doubt and throw ourselves off the scent of happiness and fulfilment. All you need is one insidious doubtful thought, “Maybe this won’t work” to start off the snowball effect, “Then I will fail. How humiliating. I’d better not take the risk. It’s actually such a silly thing to do. What was I thinking? I’m not good enough. It’s much better to stay where I am and do what I’m doing. Now that I think about it, I don’t even really want to do that anyway. It’s a lot of work and effort and for what? No, I’m definitely better off and safer just leaving it. It doesn’t even interest me actually. How strange that I was SO excited about it a moment ago…”

There is something in my life currently that I’m excited about but I keep ‘checking out’ of it in this way. So yesterday I did an internal process with myself on this ‘numbing out’ pattern and found beneath it a memory of something I had loved doing when I was a teenager. Back then I had reached a peak doing it and then moved on to other things. To my recall it had just sort of faded away and I didn’t feel much about it. But yesterday there it was, alive and whole, flowing beneath this denial of my attraction to my current pursuit.

jump

I followed the memory back to that time as a teenager when I was excited about this thing and I gave myself permission to relive it and feel it and reclaim it as something I love. It was wonderful! The feelings of joy and freedom were so strong that they lasted the whole day. I feel like I got a piece of me back. I still smile to think of it now. I see now that I had cut it off because I had reached a peak and was afraid to fail. At the time I had decided I wasn’t really interested anymore – but it wasn’t true. I was scared to go further. I doubted myself so I lost something I loved and I lived a different life than I might have.

I spoke to someone who is considering a second child. She really wants another child but she has so many doubts about

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Posted on 26 Jan, 2015 | 2 comments

Do You Ever Feel Trapped?

“It’s all very well for you”, people say to me sometimes about my philosophies, “you are self-employed / confident / you know how to do this stuff… I have to listen to my boss, deal with my spouse’s demands, I have crippling anxiety / depression / a learning disorder…”

Sometimes it feels like life has us trapped; that we are at the mercy of our circumstance and it feels cramped and powerless and scary. We can’t move, we can’t change how it is…

Or so we believe.

I remember when my first child was born and I was in a total state of overwhelm. Sleep-deprived, space deprived and time deprived. My post-natal hormones were causing havoc with my mood, I was anxious, couldn’t think clearly (though if you’d DARED to suggest it was because I was hormonal I would have killed you just to silence that nonsense – so basically I was mildly unstable.) I was essentially surviving from one moment to the next, not knowing what I was doing, being anxious and depressed and burdened with the huge responsibility of being ok for a new-born and keeping us both alive…

My first born had a bit of a scare at birth so he needed to feel especially safe in the world (a lil’ bit like his Mama). From the start he sought to be in constant physical contact. I remember lying next to him when he was one day old. I wanted to sleep but didn’t want to squash him by mistake so I left a gap between us. I thought that would work but within seconds he had wriggled his tiny little body so that it was pressed against my side. I moved him away again but he wriggled right back. At one day old! I was amazed.

I was even more amazed by how bloody difficult it was to sleep with a small baby pasted onto my side! I mean he didn’t just snuggle gently, he glued himself to me like a tight pressure bandage. I worried he couldn’t breathe! We used attachment parenting methods and kept him in constant physical contact with us during the day and then at night he independently applied his pressure bandage approach to me. Like a heat-seeking missile he found my body wherever I sneakily snuck it – behind pillows, at the other end of the bed… As if that’s not enough to disturb my sleep, he was extremely movement-sensitive so if I moved him in any way while he slept (like by turning my aching body over for example) he would wake and cry for a really long time. So, for my sanity, I would lie glued to him perfectly still for hours, longing for sleep but awake. All I wanted was some space on my own. Some sleep, to move freely, no-one touching me all the time…

I remember lying stock still between my tightly applied baby who was twitching and snoring and my partner, who was twitching and snoring and feeling trapped, trapped, TRAPPED! Angry, frustrated, wretched, despairing… burning up with feeling and lying still, still, still.

I could have done it differently but during the many moments I considered heading for the hills, I knew that it was my choice to lie there still, it was my choice not to put him in another room and let him cry (shudder), it was my choice to stay there rather than run away or mainline hard drugs just to make it all stop.

And then one night, letting go into the dark hole of despair – ah, the gifts of surrender – I had a realisation that I suspect saves the sanity of many a conscious prisoner.

baby face

I became aware that

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Posted on 22 Dec, 2014 | 0 comments

As Precious As Your Child

Two things first:

1) Do you have a self-care plan for this holiday craziness? If not, plan one NOW. Do for yourself what you’d do for your child in the same position.

As part of my holiday self-care plan I’m re-posting some favourites from this past year. Sometimes I just love a particular post SO much and I wish I could take it out for another little outing. So during this holiday period it gives me a break and the posts get another chance at a play date with you. I hope you love them as much as I do 🙂

2) If you haven’t voted please do. Just click on the red badge at top right over there. Voting closes end Dec.

Enjoy!

……………………………

“No you can’t have another biscuit, you’ve already had two. Remember we agreed on two?”

“But you had THREEEEE!” he screams at me in indignant rage.

Er, that’s true.

oops

Actually I’m quietly relieved because this uncomfortable moment could be so much worse. He didn’t spot the one I scarfed down as I was putting them onto the plate, and also not the other one I shovelled in as I was bringing the plate to the table.

And so once again a parenting moment brings me face to face with myself.

Why won’t I let him have another? Because it’s bad for his little body. So then why is it ok for me to have three? Ok, five… maybe six or so – I did have to clear the table afterwards you know and there’s really no point in 

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