Category Archives: Parenting

Compassionately Honest children

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Honesty. It is something a lot of us strive for. It does however often leave us feeling very vulernable. When we meet that honesty with compassion a wonderful thing happens. We reach a new level of understanding. Suddenly progress is being made where it had not previously happened. As a parent I struggle with this. How do I be open and honest with my daughter about how the world is? I want to protect her and keep her safe.  For awhile I clung to this quote : “Parents need to fill up a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can not poke enough holes to drain it dry. ” Alvin Price.

However, the more I thought about it the more I didn’t like it. Why? Why must I fill her bucket so high? What if I just had a child with a healthy self-esteem? Would that be enough? What if instead of filling her up so much that she might overflow, What if I just told her the truth?  If I do that, do I have to have all the answers? It took me a bit to realize, I don’t. I don’t need to be able to tell her why it is, just that it is.I can tell her I don’t know why these things have to happen. They have happened and now we have to deal with them and go forward. If we have open and honest discussions about what is going on in the world, compassion and empathy can be fostered. Not too long ago I found this quote which made so much more sense to me than the first one.

“It is not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It is our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless. “L. R. Knost

So then my questions turned a different corner. How do I raise a child who can survive this world AND possibly make it better? How do I keep her the loving, peaceful, compassionate and kind child she is with the reality of this world?

The longer my daughter has been at a Montessori school the more I am convinced this is the right path. She is honest about situations but not in a way that is lacking empathy or compassion. This is something Montessori has fostered since the beginning of school for her. There are variations of it but I have heard it called, the peace rose the most.  If feelings are hurt, sit down and figure out how to make it better. Acknowledge that certain behavior was not right without blaming one specific party. I only see this as helping the world be a better place in the long run. If five year olds can do this, What is holding us back? What if all schools everywhere used this process starting in kindergarten. Sure the progress would be slow but I guarantee there would be change.

In order for peaceful conflict resolution, you have to look inside yourself as well. How many of us want to sit down and honestly look inside ourselves? I do it, but I am still squirmy and uncomfortable. I do it because I know my daughter needs the example. I do it because I have seen her peacefully resolve conflicts with skill that just blows me away. Actually, I am not sure if I am being the example or if she is. I know she showed me it is possible in a way I never understood before. I am sure someone had explained the concept that Montessori uses before. It just took my daughter actually doing it for me to understand. Now it comes as second nature to her.  What if we had a whole generation like that? Can you imagine the changes that would happen?

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Strong girls, confident girls and American Girl

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I love perusing the bookshelves at Goodwill. I have found some real treasures there. Sometimes for as little as a quarter. Sometimes for as much as two dollars. Over the past few months I have come across American Girl books. First of all, I had completely forgot there was a book series. Then I discovered they had these guide type books.

Having a ten-year-old girl to raise, I have wondered how to approach subjects. When do I approach them. I am constantly looking online for information on this. I had not really thought to find a book that explained it to HER.  The first one we came across was ” The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls.”  There was nothing in this book I had not told her already. However, she dove into it and really seemed to finally grasp some basic concepts. She was understanding why she needed to change underwear every day. Why she had to use shampoo conditioner and soap when she took a shower. I can’t tell you how many times she asked to take a rinse off shower. Why brushing your teeth last night doesn’t count in the morning.We read some of it together but for the most part it was just in her room for her to read. I know she read it as when I went in to check on how clean her room was, It was always in a different spot.

Now instead of figuring out how to have birds and bees talks and your changing body talks I could focus on other important issues. With school starting back up, I thought I would go check out the book store again. We had visited lots during the summer. She has more chapter books than she knows what to do with.

When I stumbled upon another great book from American Girl. This one is something that some of the other mothers I am friends with and I have discussed a lot lately. “Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends Dealing with Bullies and Bossiness, and Finding a Better Way. It is hard for me to comprehend that at Ten years old this is what she is dealing with now. She is my baby. Wait how is she walking? Why is she growing so fast? Alas, she is and the best way to deal with it is to pull up my panties and be ready. So I got the book, even though it was not remotely what I was looking for. I walked in to find books for a friend and maybe one for me.

Knowing my daughter is an eager to please type person like myself. Knowing how that affected me when I was her age. I wanted to fill up her bucket as much as possible, to strive for her not having the crippling self-doubt and lack of confidence I had.

Like the first book she started reading it right away. As she read things she liked or made sense to her she would talk to me about it. Normally reading hour is a bunch of me reminding her she is supposed to be reading and a lot of her rolling her eyes. This is why it’s an hour instead of the twenty minutes required. Once she had this book in her hands though it was all she could focus on. Even the next morning I found her walking around looking at it. I mean seriously how do you get upset she is not getting ready when she is reading? I really struggle with that. In the car she continued to read it and all these little squabbles that had come up, some when she was in Kindergarten, that she had never told me about. She had ideas of how to handle it if it happened again. The book encourages to set a personal motto, so that was what she was thinking about as she got out to go to school.

I remember being told to respect my elders. It didn’t matter if that elder was bullying me or being overly bossy. I was a kid. I had no say and if I said anything it was disrespectful. I have tried to encourage her to speak up for herself. To stand up for herself when she needed to. I have tried to teach her that if she sees it happening she should say something. I want her to feel heard but also have respect for those in charge. How in the world do you teach this as a parent who is eager to please and overly anxious to a child who is the same? Being the researcher I am, I looked up the book. Then to my wonderful surprise, I found there was all kinds of curriculum material available all centered around this book and another American Girl book.  Not once anywhere did I see it mention they should behave this way because God wanted it. I was so relieved. This was actually usable stuff to me! She is already eager to please and I want her to stand up for herself for HER. Not for anyone else, not even God.

My eyes have been opened and now this is probably something I am going to research more.  She already wanted to share this book with her friends so I have volunteered to do a Sunday School class on this subject. Perhaps this is something I will try to do more often. Perhaps I need to make this a goal for myself.

It starts with us, the parents and will trickle down from there. My hope is if we all do this, one day the world will be a kinder place.

Tales of struggling with Anxiety

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It is just one of those mom things we do,think about what we have to do while we are driving. Sometimes though we get so lost in thinking about it we forget we haven’t actually done it yet.

Today as we were driving from the house we are staying at (while our plumbing is fixed)to school. I almost turned down the street to go to our house instead of taking the kid to school. In my head I had already dropped her off and was thinking about what I was going to clean first at the house. If the water was back on and if it wasn’t maybe I would do some computer work. Luckily my head was clear enough I turned the turning signal on which got the kid’s attention. ” Why are we turning?”  she asked. ” What? Um oh crap. Yeah school first.” I miss the days that she would just let it go at that. Not any more. Now its ten million questions about every thing that happens. ” Why were you going to turn to the house?”  ” Because in my head I had already dropped you off.”  Which then spurs her to tell me about when this kind of thing she does when she is thinking in her head. At some point, thirty seconds into her spiel, I tune her out. I found myself thinking.  oh god I can’t believe I almost did that. Yet again another reminder of how heartbreaking it is when kids get left in hot cars and how easy it is to happen. At which point my anxiety pipes up.  Remember. Remember when she was little during the summer you would sit in your car and stare hard at the car seat to remind yourself you had remembered to drop her off at daycare. OOOOhhh and remember those dreams you had that you had in fact been one of the parents to leave a kid in the car. Remember that. Remember when you woke up drenched in sweat and sure you had killed your kid by leaving her in the car. Oh lets also think about Sandy-hook and how those parents dropped their kids off at what they thought was a safe place. Okay she is never leaving my sight ever. Or if that doesn’t happen someone could break into the school or the hurricane brewing could send off storms that have tornadoes. YES!  A Tornado could hit today. lets think about that!  Because this is exactly what I planned to happen at eight fifteen in the freaking morning. Lets panic about things that happened nine years ago.

I don’t think enough people realize how close anxiety can be to post traumatic stress. How vividly it can make you feel that panic all over again. At the same time your body is starting to panic from remembering that panic attack. It doesn’t matter how many times I take deep breathes and say stay present. Anxiety is irrational is a motto I repeat over and over when anxiety is happening. It does help but anxiety is a bastard like that and it doesn’t prevent it from coming back.

I did manage to calm back down. I took a wedge of my ativan, not a full dose. I focused. I wrote. Then I go to scroll Facebook as a break because I got so much accomplished. The very first thing in my newsfeed is about a school shooting at a University. That Anxiety voice starts up again. Seeeeeee. SEEEEE didn’t I tell you. Go pick her up right now. Go get her. You have to get her to keep her safe. It is storming right now too. Seee I told you a tornado could happen today. The whole process of stepping myself down from panic happens all over again.

The beachy week of Ten Things of Thankful #10thankful

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The beachy week of Ten Things of Thankful #10thankful

So I cracked the whip at Lizzi to post the link up before my own piece was ready.  Depression and anxiety sometimes makes me feel like I am grasping at straws and like I said in my post earlier this week. It is therapy. It is part of my therapy. It works. It slowly and steadly works. Thus the reason I am so anxious for it to start. I know I haven’t commented much but I have been reading and trying to social share as much as possible.

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We went early to the beach on Tuesday and it was gorgeous. We even saw a pod of dolphins come in. Thankful we had beach time and Thankful we had time to rest afterwards.

Wednesday we had a hike. It was hot and humid even at eight thirty in the morning. I pushed and we took a three mile walk. Thankful we had such a great walk. Thankful I could spend most of the day recovering from the hike too.

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Thankful for friends who take my daughter for almost two days so I can just chill and pace myself cleaning. I had time to just decompress and have some alone time with hubby.

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It has been awhile since we took the dog to the dog beach. He was never a fan but oh my the tantrum. He was quite ridiculous about the boardwalk down and then the sand as well. The sand reaction was much more severe! It was quite hilarious. He liked the water for once. I am sure it felt wonderful on his arthritic hips. As long as his paws didn’t touch the sand he was good. I was quite impressed with how much he swam. When he was younger he would bolt out of any water.

I am fairly certain I have ten things of thankful in there. Pictures do count too. This week was an extra emotional week so the breaks to the beach and hiking were quite needed. I am also thankful that I have friends who just listen or make me take some time for myself. They always seem to know exactly how to fix me, or at least put a bandaid on it so I don’t fall apart.

This coming weekend I have spent some time reaquainting myself with the Actual real Declaration of Independence and really think about the State of the USA. Of course, there will be food, family, beach and fireworks but this year I have decided to also meditate a bit on politics. I know that seems anti-relaxing but I think I need to. SO I am gonna go with it.

 

If you would like to leave your ten things in the comments, I would love to hear it. If you are in a dark place right now, just start with one.

From the ground up (A #1000speak post)

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It’s all over the news these days. It is hard to avoid it. Police brutality! Police shoot civilian! On and on it goes. It starts to get depressing. It is so easy to only see one side of the story, as media often only shows one side.  Even media that tries its best to be unbiased. Are any of us truly unbiased? When the only stories you are being fed are sensationalist and horrible, it starts to taint your view. If you are not looking at the picture as a whole, it is not easy to see why police are acting the way they are. It seems random and unconnected. Folks, it’s time we all started looking at the bigger picture.

When I worked in probation, I saw it progressing. The blatant disregard for law enforcement. It hasn’t gotten any better from what I have seen. In fact it has gotten worse. Both civilians and police over reacting because of past events. ” I wasn’t really resisting!” When you think about it as only your actions it doesn’t seem like resistance.  When you look at it from the perspective of the police who not only have to keep their safety your safety and the safety of anyone in the immediate area in mind at all times. Someone pulling their arm away can seem like a bigger threat.A small resistance can be where it all falls apart. They can’t possibly know that you never intended to escalate it to anything more than that. They are human. They are subject to adrenaline rushes just like anyone else. No? They should control it better? Really? If a person fails to rescue a child being crushed by a car because the adrenaline rush is not enough to lift the car, would we blame them? Would we say they should have been able to control it and lift the car. No one would ever say that. If you really step back and look at it, both situations are one where safety is threatened. They really are not that different of situation. The problem is not them. The problem is not us. It is all of us. It is both sides. Both sides need to reach out. Compassion can be that bridge.

Race seems to play into it sure, but that can end with us. It takes both sides reaching out. If you look back over time there have been many races all over the world that have had clashes with police, for all kinds of reasons. It is not just an American problem. It is global. GLOBAL people. That should be getting our attention. It is practically shouting for change. We can be that change. It won’t happen over night I know that. Right now it is all about planting seeds of compassion. Compassion is capable of building that bridge between them and us. Because really there is no them and us there is only we. We, the human race. There is a lot that needs to change. Compassion is the first step in those changes, I promise. Trickle down effects work. We know they do. We have seen it. Its time to use the same process to go up. Start with compassion from the bottom and it will reach the top. It will. Compassion can go up that chain of command and before we know it change will be happening.

We need to start now, at home with our kids. We need to be setting the example and looking for the good. We need to be scouring the internet for good stories and sharing those twice as much as the negative stories.  We need to be teaching our children to find the positive. We need to get the message through to media that we are tired of only negative stories. We are emotionally burdened by the repetitive horror stories of what the human race is capable of. We need to not shelter our kids from the horror but show them that there can be balance. THEY can be the balance. They can make the difference.  We need to lead them by example. We need to be working towards the changes just as hard as we are teaching them. We need to not only tell them there are two sides to every story but show them. Find the other side of the story. Give them all the facts. Demand that media do the same. From what I have already seen from the up and coming generation they are going to blow us away. They are holding tight to compassion and spreading it. Call it a renewal of the hippies if you want, but peace, love and happiness are not horrible goals.

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Start now. Join us. Read share and comment on the links in the link up below. Link up your own compassion post.

Connecting with Compassion to who I am #1000speak

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Everybody dreams what their life will be like when they are older. Especially when you are a teenager and life is so hard and no one even remotely understands you. Life will be so much better when you are an adult and in charge.I would get married. We would have at least two kids but probably more and of course we would have a boy first and then a girl. We would have this nice house which I would always be able to keep clean. We would have success after success at our careers. We would have money for vacations and would be well-traveled. This picture of how it will be drives you on and on and on. Until it doesn’t. Until that is not how your life is going at all, not even remotely. Your daydreams didn’t account for reality. They didn’t account for infertility, job loss, deaths of loved ones, and on and on the list could go. That’s the problem I struggled with for a while, the picture of my life in my head and how it really has gone.

Many days and nights spent berating myself for messing it up so badly. I obviously wasn’t trying hard enough, doing enough, being enough. I had to get my act together. It was past time to grow up and be the adult I dreamed I would be. In time, I added to that. It was time to be the wife I dreamed I would be. It was time to be the mother I dreamed I would be. It was time I had the career I wanted. I was so good at criticizing myself. Really , I still am.

Every month for a week at a time I would beat myself up. It was so easy to get pregnant we had been told. It only takes one time. Every month I struggled with the feelings of not being enough. Not being woman enough to do a simple thing like get pregnant. Made worse only by doctors who said “ah your young it will happen. There is nothing wrong.” Nothing wrong at all with a nineteen year old, a twenty year old, a twenty-one year old trying month after month to get pregnant and failing. Month after month of seeing my dreams flushed down the toilet, literally. Finally when a doctor did believe, I wasn’t relieved. I didn’t feel vindicated. I felt broken. The day came and the test was positive, for a short while everything was back in place. Then it was gone. I was back to flushing my dreams down the toilet. That picture in my head said I should be pregnant with baby number two by now. That picture in my head was starting to shake and tremble. If I was really honest that picture had broken years ago but I refused to see it.

The test was positive. I took a million more. I didn’t really believe it. I was sure something was going to happen. Even as I was in labor, something would happen. My dreams can’t be coming true. I will mess this up some how. We were leaving the hospital with a baby. WITH. A. BABY. For a few days I believed and then, you have eighteen years to mess this up every day. For eighteen months I worried about every single detail. No, I didn’t worry, I obsessed. I question every decision at least ten times. My house could never be clean enough, I could never be doing enough for this precious life. Obviously the only answer was to try for another baby. You know so I could mess it up twice. I mean so I could get at least one right. Maybe. Two months and nothing. So much for the second time being so much easier. Then the phone call. My husband lost his job. Laid off. Back to the doctor I went, for birth control.

At this point you maybe wondering if I had the same issues around getting married. The simple answer is no. The process was not simple at all. Three weeks after we met my husband was in a car accident. He had been taken by Helicopter out to a trauma hospital. Scary words were said, like life support, coma, brain injury. To see someone like that is not easy. To see someone like that and suddenly know they can’t die your suppose to marry this person.The only second guessing I have is , if he hadn’t been in that accident would I have ever known? Would I have messed that up and walked away. For a long time that answer was probably. Probably I would have walked away from the greatest thing in my life. I am sure I would have messed it up.

One day it was clear. I needed help. Therapy started quickly, before I changed my mind. Medication happened. Medication changes and more therapy. It took me years to be comfortable with self-analysis. This was just simply not done. You simply didn’t do self- analysis with someone else. This is what you did in bed late at night when no one was around. Most certainly you never told anyone, let alone discussed it. Slowly progress was made. Until it all fell apart. It like literally fell apart, got laid off then my car blew up and then I wrecked my “new” car. I tried to pick it back up and worked at a new job for three months and then I realized. No my family is more important to me then this. This work and have nothing left, using medications that allowed me to work but ultimately would shorten my life considerably. My family deserved more than this.

It really wasn’t though, it just seemed like it. Instead it was all falling into place. All that therapy was not for nothing. I have been slowly coming to accept where I am. The first thing I had to do was tear up and burn that picture in my head of how life was supposed to be. Chronic illness had dictated long ago just how clean I could get and keep my house. It dictated a lot of things for a while. Second thing was to tell this chronic illness crap it wasn’t the boss of me, well not all the time. I started writing as a form of self-analysis and as something that maybe eventually one day it would help someone else. Even if it only helped me it was worth it.

Four years later, trying to look back to what really ultimately helped me make the change. The change that took me from a person who had to please everyone else even if it didn’t please her to the one who likes to please others but knows she has to please herself as well. I can’t tell you how much watching tv show after tv show actually helped because I stayed true to what truly interested me. How many Doctor Who episodes I watched at just the right time. The universe was getting its message to me.

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I can’t tell you how much these words stuck with me long after the episode was over. I can’t tell you how much I really just sat and thought about how I feel about these words. There were quite a few others I am sure that I heard but didn’t really hear. I know now that it wasn’t the right time for me to hear them. Somewhere along the way I found myself back to being an avid reader. Somehow I was finding myself. Four years of this, so don’t think it was just one day. I can’t tell you where I was in the journey when I saw this next quote. I just know it stuck with me.

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Huh, yeah. THAT. For a while I just related to this post. I would see it and it would always get a “like”. Then maybe I shared it. The more it sat in my brain just percolating the more I thought about it. Then came the final point, the epiphany if you will. What if I just let go of that picture? What if instead of burning it or ripping it in anger of how it was “suppose” to be. I just let it go. Slowly, I began to actually enjoy my life. I began to start analyzing what I do have about a year ago.

I can’t tell you that voice that always says I am not enough, not doing enough is gone. It is not. It is not always easily squelched under foot either. This is where Buddhism has really come into play for me. Reading some of the Buddhist texts and books available through the Unitarian Universalist Library in our Church I found this quote.  This quote quite often becomes my mantra during meditation.

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I can’t tell you how many times that voice tries to rise and I can only answer Self compassion repeated over and over. I am not quite there yet. I am not quite to who I am yet. I am getting closer and stronger in it every day though.I am trying every day to connect with who I am instead of who I thought I would be.  I hope you are too. I hope you are showing yourself compassion because that voice is wrong. It is dead wrong. You are enough.

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Classism amongst kids

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Most nights my daughter and I have a bedtime routine that she crawls into my bed at seven pm. We discuss whatever is on her mind while snuggling and most often watching Chopped on the Food Network.
Last week what was on her mind broke my heart. What she told me shocked me and then had my heart breaking. Two girls in her class were picking on her about living in a trailer. That she was poor and where did she get her clothes anyway. I tried to think and recover at the same time. I told her there are people that are much poorer than we are. I told her we have a house and food and clothes which is more than some people. She said yeah like those homeless people in the parking lots. Then I told her there are some people who live in big houses and more food then they know what to do with. They drive big fancy cars and wear fancy clothes but they are poor. I told her poor doesn’t always just mean money. We have had many discussions that money is not everything and happiness is much more important than money. We discussed that she doesn’t get her clothes anywhere different than most of the other kids in her class. I know for a fact many get their clothes from Target,we do to. We also like to go to Goodwill. I told her going to Goodwill doesn’t mean you are poor. It means you are smart. You know that clothes get outgrown and instead of spending lots of money on clothes you won’t wear long you go to Goodwill. She immediately said her favorite dress comes from Goodwill. Yes, yes it does.
The next morning I still could not get it out of my head. My heart broke for her that she was having to experience this. My husband and I both come from similar backgrounds and this was a huge issue for us growing up. I emailed her teacher. I didn’t tell her I was going to and I was kind of nervous about what her reaction was going to be. He assured me he would address it immediately.
When she got in the car we talked about it and she said she was glad he talked about it. She was happy I emailed him. I didn’t necessarily agree with what was said but I also am taking into consideration that it was filtered down through the mind of a nine and a half year old.
It kills me that this is even still an issue amongst our kids today. Why? WHY can’t we get it through our heads that this kind of thing gets us nowhere. All it does is hurt.

What the hell is wrong with people……a Ten Things of Thankful version?

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This title is drastically different from Wednesday’s post now isn’t it. That is because later that day I discovered, yet again, there are seriously messed up people in this world. Seriously. Messed. Up. I thought we had hit the break we needed. I thought we  the light at the end of the tunnel was suddenly shining brighter. Instead I am dealing with police investigation and a lack of a job. Scam scam scam and you can bet there will be a whole blog post telling others about this so no one else falls for this because there was no mention of wiring or sending money anywhere. Deep breathes, but I am determined to learn and move on. I am determined to not let these people completely destroy what hope in humanity I had built up. I am not going to let them pull me into negativity.

That being said, I am spent the day thinking about how I can be thankful about all this. It helped I also had a puking and too sick to play little girl laying half on top of me most of the day. That too has a spot in my thankful believe it or not.

1. Thankful that I was smart enough and consciences enough to go into the bank to deposit check. Apparently what she meant by overnight deposit was to put it in the ATM. The bank took one look and said it was counterfeit.

2. Thankful that I asked for further verification and thus they added to the evidence by actually calling me.

3. Thankful that I don’t now have a criminal record for check fraud.

4. Thankful that I don’t now owe the bank money for a fraudulent check.

5. Thankful for great friends who helped pick me up, get my head thinking clearly and back on tract.

6. Thankful that even though the kid puked in my bed at three am. I am thankful that it is so much different than when she puked as a toddler or young child. There was no hysterical crying after each puking session that inevitably only made things worse. She was able to communicate effectively what part of her body was bothering her and how it hurt. So much easier to deal with than a hysterical three year old who if asked will say her eyelashes hurt.

And no I didn’t take any pictures of these events.

7. Thankful that I could spend the day in bed with her and that she even exploded my heart into a million pieces telling me she didn’t want me to puke from snuggling with her.

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8. Thankful that on Tuesday even though I didn’t really want to I forced myself on a walk and got to see two otters playing and eating in the canal I was walking along.

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9. Thankful for friends who knew how much I needed a short walk on the beach before I knew how much I needed a short walk on the beach.

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10. Thankful for more friends who rescued me on sick day with Gatorade, chicken noodle soup, yogurt and my favorites coke and benedryl.

Then I stumbled onto these on The Master Shift Facebook page and they have really stuck with me.

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Reconnecting my soul

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We are often out hiking or taking nature walks so I didn’t even realize it was missing. The part of my soul that nature just seems to click back in place from all the crazy of life. The problem had not been we were not out hiking or walking, the problem had become it was all too familiar. I needed somewhere new to explore. Once I started thinking about it , I knew that was it. I knew I needed to go some where new to explore and I needed to get dirty. Where oh where could I find that in Florida? The swamp. Oh that sounds perfect. We made plans with a friend to combined families and go to Corkscrew swamp. The day we were to go I decided to look up Corkscrew and see what to expect. What I didn’t expect to find was a twelve dollar per person fee. It would cost us thirty dollars to go hiking? Pass. We will save that for a special occasion hike. So the night before we were suppose to go I was scrambling to look up a place to go. I looked at a bunch of different parks but nothing was striking me. I was actually really looking forward to swamp stuff. A boardwalk through the swamp was just what I needed, or so I thought.

I found Green swamp in Lakeland. It is spread across five county parks. I narrowed it down to Colt Creek Preserve.

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Yes, my daughter chose to wear white to the swamp. I let her because , Bleach. We found great spots to explore. Places where wild boar had dug up, plants and flowers to inspect, and birds so many birds to listen to. It was even a bit wet.

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It was pretty near perfect. Within thirty minutes of the hike starting I felt my soul reconnect, that click that being out in nature does for me. Grounding whatever you call it , I felt it.

We even walked through trail that was past our ankles deep in water. We even scared a turtle out of hiding tromping through that trail. It was not what I had thought. It was a bit more water than I had thought to go through, but it was perfect in so many ways.

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We even came across some wild blackberries growing and some were ripe enough for the girls to eat. We left plenty for the animals though.

We found all kinds of places to explore. I had plenty of water with me and I had taken Ultracur that morning and had enough with me to get me through the rest of the day as well as a nutritious and balanced picnic lunch packed. Plenty of carb replacement and protein along with veggies and fruit. We did not set a certain pace and took breaks as frequently as we needed to.

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The kids did great. We came to a pavilion not too long after this part of the trail. The girls were so busy playing in the field when they were not complaining of being hungry. My friend and I decided to leave the girls there with my husband and go get the van, where we left our lunches. They walked a bit over three miles , not too bad for four girls under ten years old.

When I wanted a swamp hike, I did not envision stomping through water that went almost to my knees.

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In case you think I was kidding, that really was the water line. I didn’t stop while we were stomping through it because I was in anxiety overdrive. If I had been alone or even just with my husband I would have probably turned back. I probably would not have pushed through. I have a lot of anxiety about that much water and not being able to see the bottom. There are snakes and snapping turtles and alligators just so many things my brain could come up with. I was glad I had been practicing deep breathing because it really helped. Whatever was left out of alignment clicked in place after making it through that. The exhilaration of overcoming it really was something I needed, had you told me that ahead of time I would have told you you were crazy.

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I definitely felt the walk the next two days but it was exactly what I needed. It was much easier to give myself permission to rest and recover. I had squelched any fears of not being an involved enough mother. I had stomped on any feelings of uselessness. Truthfully I think my daughter was just as tired as I was afterwards. I definitely felt connected to the Earth and the fact that Earth Day was just a few days away made it seem even better.

When nurturing is hard to do #1000Speak

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There is so much going on in the world that is bad, sad, disheartening and dare I say evil. When you have a kid you just want to protect them from all that bad stuff. I want to stick my daughter in a bubble and not let any of those bad things touch her. I don’t want her to know there are people who are cruel to animals. I don’t want her to see the devastation of deforestation. I don’t want her to see children starving. I don’t want her to see polluted waters and animals dying from it. I don’t want her to see what happens in oil spills. I don’t want her to know anything about terrorist or suicide bombers. I don’t want her to see or hear or be part of any kind of hate or discrimination.

Ultimately parents should do what is best for the child and I know as harsh as it seems, hiding her from those things will not help her.

Why in the world would I want to expose her to any of this? Well, if she doesn’t know about it , I can’t nurture any feelings of compassion for those children, animals, plants, whatever. If I bite the bullet and have the courage to talk to her about these kinds of things, I can help her see more than just one point of view. I can nurture a point of view that comes from compassion and love.  I can help her separate the behavior from the person. I can help her see how much even just voicing her dissent is important. I can help her see that even if it seems no one hears her dissent what matters is she voiced it. I can help her appreciate what she does have and how valuable just knowing where her next meal is coming from is. I can try and make sure the information she receives isn’t biased or warped. I can help foster her natural compassion for nature by open and honest conversations. Perhaps we can even learn together ways to do better , make an impact or just have a better understanding.

When I was in third grade I had to go to summer school. I had to go to summer school basically every summer but that is besides the point. This summer was memorable. Mr. Kelso was this amazing teacher I had that took a week to talk about Earth Day. In the middle of the summer! For years I assumed Earth Day was in the middle of the summer. When it came to my attention it was in April, I was like um what? No it’s not. Did they change it? He had made such an impact that it never occurred to me that it wasn’t actually Earth Day that week. When I think of that summer I think of Mr. Kelso and planting seeds and exploring the ocean tide pools and a bright hot pink Earth Day t-shirt we got. I can truly trace back my wonder in nature and the amazing world we live in to him. He nurtured a compassion for the Earth we live on just by using free materials because they were “old”. Did he think it was no big deal? Just something to fill the time that was also free? I don’t think so. He had an excitement about the whole week that just couldn’t be faked. Even if he did what a great example of how the smallest cheapest things can make such an impact.

This is what inspires my desire to make sure my daughter’s summers are rich in education and fun at the same time.  I started by trying to spread out what I remembered in that one week in the summer of third grade and spread it over the entire summer. We go to science museums and events that are geared toward specific issues. We go to things that to her just seem fun, Puppet shows and gardening events and such. Those puppet shows are about the rainforest and why its important to save it. They are pretty spectacular in and of themselves as it is not just a regular puppet stage type set up. The whole front half of the room is the stage.  We go to Gardening events that have focuses on growing your own food, on the importance of trees and many more. We go on nature hikes with biologist to learn about different insects, last year it was dragonflies. We went to demonstrations on controlled burns and demonstrations on the hazards of water pollution.   This summer we plan to go to a village that is run entirely eco-friendly. Don’t tell Rick Scott but they talk about climate change there.

Maybe all those summer’s ago, Mr. Kelso figured out what I have learned. It is not going to be me that changes the world for the better. It is the seeds I am planting. One of those seeds happens to be my daughter. The seeds I am nurturing in her are hopefully going to be planted in turn and continue in a ripple affect.Ultimately they are seeds of compassion in its many forms.

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