Category Archives: Writing

The fight within

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Lately I have really felt like I am struggling. It has not been more pain per se. We have been busy but not that busy. I had had a hard time putting my finger on what was missing. What was I forgetting to do? What was I not attending to? It took me entirely too long to realize one simple thing. It was emotional overload.

People who feel everything so deeply need more than once a week spiritual self-care. I forget that. I feel like I should be able to be like everyone else and Sunday should be enough for me. I was getting really good at carving fifteen minutes a day out just for me. I still need to do that. I also need to figure out a way to incorporate more meditation, more nature more healing for my heart. It has only been in the last two years or so I have set up healthy boundaries. The problem I still struggle with is,being okay with those boundaries.  I need to be okay with saying no. I have done it, which I know is good. It just still kills me to say no. I can’t help you right now. My desire to hug and hold everyone and squeeze them until all their broken parts are mashed back together is so strong. The answer is also not, to just not be there for people. That is a slow death in a different way.

It looks like then, I have to start scheduling time to ground myself and re-center myself. I can’t let myself think I am too busy for that. I need to remember that it is essential to life. As much as breathing air is essential to life. Some days it is my own emotional upheaval that I need to quite and soothe. Some days it is letting go of others emotions that I seem to absorb. This has been my inner struggle that I had a hard time putting my finger on. I know I need to do this stuff. I know boundaries are good. I know they are healthy. It is quieting the voice in my head that says, but if you can help you should. It is letting go of the guilt of saying no for my own mental and emotional health. It is being at peace with my own limits of how much I can help and how much emotional trauma I do absorb. I have no doubt I don’t absorb it. When you tell me something and I say that breaks my heart, I mean it. There is nothing worse for me then hearing a need and feeling helpless to help. Even knowing that some issues you have to workout yourself. Even knowing that sometimes the best help I can give is by just sitting there. Even knowing that sometimes the best thing is to say no. No because this is not something anyone can help you with. No Because sometimes you reach out when really you need to reach within.

Yesterday I took some steps to implementing small things in my life that will help with all this. I bought a smudging sage and some new crystals specific to helping with these issues. I am determined I will light the smudge stick at least, at least once a day. I am thinking instead of reading during my me time I need to sit outside with my smudge stick and crystals and feel the ground beneath me.

What are some ways you attend to your self-care? Are you including spiritual/emotional/mental care as well?

 

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The way I see it.

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 When you are a Mother, sleep is often something you dream about getting a lot of.  When you are a Mother and have chronic pain/illness, well sleep is an illusion. A very nice illusion of escape, one that rarely happens for long enough stretches. It’s waking up to pop your joints than realizing you have to pee.  For me it is also laying back down and then realizing you are drowning in post nasal drip again. Back up to get Benadryl. Praying it kicks in quickly. It’s laying their with your eyes closed. Your eyes feel like sandy little bags stuck in a cave that they have been crammed into. Keeping your eyes open seems impossible but closing them makes them start to water. You focus on your breathing, in one-two-three-four-hold-one-two-three out one -two-three-four-five-six-seven, waiting for sleep to over come you but it never does. I can spend hours in that eyes closed yet not asleep state.
That all being said, I have been awake several times to see the sunrise and set in the same day.
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Sunrise has always been the most special to me. Not because I like being awake that early, I don’t. Pre-sunrise is quiet and unassuming. The sky gradually gets lighter and lighter. It seems to stay at that soft in between stage for quite a while. It doesn’t matter that I can’t see the horizon, there is no way to miss once that sun has peaked above the horizon. It shouts I am here. Often with fantastic rays of light that spread across the morning sky. Spreading the softest, gentlest light on to trees and grass and even buildings. You can’t look away once that happens. The sun is in an awful hurry to share its light with everyone. It often brings the colors of the rainbow to the sky with it. First soft pinks and then some light orange, soon clouds darken with the deeper orange and purple glow. Everything looks fresh and new. The grass often covered in dew adding to that feeling of newness.
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Sunset though, seems to cling to the day. The large ball of molten yellowish orange light seems to slowly ever so slowly, sink down. It seems to say I don’t want to go, but I am enjoying today, look at all the light I have shone down on you.  Yet even still it does go down. In my mind when I watch the sunset when it hits that watery horizon I hear it hiss, its final temper tantrum over bedtime. The reflected golden orange glow in the water only increasing that sensation. Til finally, finally it drops quickly below the horizon, as if once deciding to go to do it quickly.
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Perhaps we should all be a bit more like the sun. Perhaps we should all shout ” I am here I am here, look at me shine” each morning. Each evening we cling to the day we had, seeing the good in it. Also though we cling to what we know, what is safe. We know what today held. Night time is an unknown and the day after even more so. Perhaps we should allow ourselves that small little tantrum at the end of the day before quickly plunging into the next change our day brings.

What it is like

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Social media can truly be a miracle sometimes. When asked a question you have time to think without your facial expression giving it away or making it awkward. It is a small thing but one I find very helpful. Recently I was talking with someone who had just gotten diagnosed with a chronic pain illness. It would be a matter of constantly managing it. She asked me, “What is it like? How do you do it? I just can’t imagine ever being okay with this. It is so distracting and I absolutely hate it.”  I agreed. I still feel all of that. It hasn’t gone away, more like it is just simmering.
Simmering, yeah that is a good description. Let’s go with that. It is a lot like cooking a meal that will never ever be done but you know it will be worth it.  It is a labor intensive meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. It is like you have four pots on the stove and something in the oven.
One pot is emotional/mental health. One pot is physical health. One pot is spiritual. One pot is work and in the oven is the family. Just like in cooking you have to keep adding ingredients and it can simmer on its own for a bit but it needs a stir now and then. Every so often, and often when you feel you have it the most under control, all the pots start boiling over. Sometimes some smoke even starts coming from the oven.  Normally though the boiling over happens one at a time and you can handle it and move on. You take a taste every once in a while to check on it as a means to see how it is coming along. Sometimes tasting can tell you if there is a problem. Sometimes it tastes good but really something has started to go bad you just can’t taste it yet.
Then there is the other problem. Suddenly an ingredient is no longer working. It is no longer bonding with everything in the pot to make it one solid thing. It could be that self-care has fallen off your radar. It could be that you cut back on exercise. It could be that you thought it was self-care by sleeping in on Sunday, but really you hadn’t done anything else for spiritual health so it really wasn’t self-care. It could be that you cut back on exercise–physical health–for good reason, yet it negatively affected another part of physical health, vitamin D.  Sometimes you find an ingredient you thought would work well actually doesn’t and you have to take it back out of the pot.  Sometimes while you are disposing of that ingredient another pot starts to boil over. Don’t forget you changed the dynamics of that one pot you took the ingredient out of so you will need to adjust the temperature!
Yes, but that is essentially life isn’t it? You have to add the chronic pain as well. You are right about that, we are handling that as well. Hopefully each of the pots and the oven are helping that. Chronic pain though, that is the tricky element. That is the part that makes the ingredients suddenly stop working so well. That is the part that says, “that worked for a while, but now, not so much.”
On the really good days the chronic pain is like the background noise of the dishwasher going. You hear it, you know it’s going on. You just try not to pay too much attention to it until it dings. When it dings that is when you find out that suddenly the soap you were using didn’t work or something got gummed up in the hose and the rinse cycle didn’t go off. Sometimes there is not even running water to wash the dishes by hand while all the other stuff is happening. Chronic pain does that. You find something and your brain says, “hey, thanks this is really working,” so it starts focusing on something else more pressing.
So essential pain management just becomes part of your routine. I can’t tell you when it happens, just that it does. I can tell you that I am never okay with it. Chronic pain just adds to depression and anxiety because you are constantly longing for what you cannot have. Things you used to do are no longer an option. It took quite a bit of looking around trying to figure out what I wanted to do. It took even longer for me to realize that what I want to do will always be in flux. Some days I am overwhelmed that my health issues are only going to get worse as I age  because they are degenerative. Degeneration is already an issue as you get older. It is just sped up in my case.
Some days though, I don’t care. I am enjoying the moment for all that it is. Those are the days that make all the above worth it. They balance out all the bad days where all the pots are boiling over there is smoke coming from the oven and the dishwasher just plain won’t work.
It takes a lot of self-analysis to make those good days happen. In the beginning, I fought that. Don’t look too closely. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. If it is hanging on by a thread and still working, it isn’t broken. There comes a time though that it just doesn’t work any more. Nothing about it works and self-analysis is forced on you. You have to sit down and look at it. You have to acknowledge the problem.
Slowly you realize that sometimes you could be a bit more proactive. For a time that is all it is. A thought. You don’t act on it. Then one day you do something proactive and you see it pan out that it fixed a problem you didn’t even realize was coming. I am not saying that before you know it you are doing this all the time. I am not. I know I am not. I know there is always room for improvement.
At the end of the day, that is what I tell myself. I think about the things I handled proactively and the things I didn’t respond to that I should have. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I tell myself, we will try again. We are not going to try harder because we are already trying our hardest. We will just simply try again. I can tell you that if you keep telling yourself this each night you will believe it. I can’t tell you how long that will take. It could take months. It’s harsh to think that, Months! I can’t take months! I need a fix now! So take a deep breath and remind yourself that slow and steady cooks the meal.

 

 

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.

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.

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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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.

Link up or read other post that are part of 1000 Voices of Compassion Speak here:

All the Meme’s, #1000speak, April announcement

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When I get on the internet sometimes it is like this:

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Sometimes it even gets to this:

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I have enough pages and friends that I follow that I even get this :

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However this is often what happens

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Which is why I am so glad to be part of the initiative of 1000 Voices of Compassion. There is one day of positivity and good happy reading. We have had two great months of posts. I have to has gone a long way to helping me have faith in humanity on a regular basis. The best part is there is so much to read that I can go back when the news is a little overwhelming.  While March was a hard brain bending topic of Bullying and showing compassion, we had some just simply amazing pieces linked up.

April’s theme has been announced.

Nurturing. Which we brain stormed , so the link will take you to some prompts to get your brain going. Or to interest you into coming back to read and share the posts.

While that might not sound exactly like it is a hard concept, remember the overall theme is compassion and being positive.

While I know all these fantastic writers and followers of 1000 voices are great. I am pretty sure it is not like this

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Our goal is to help spread happiness and kindness , love and compassion around.

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We hope that we can share some of it with others and in turn they will share it with more others and soon others will spread it as well. Maybe we could even bring back unicorns!!! Okay well probably not but, I would love it to see if more people spit out rainbows instead of hate and anger.

I have compassion, but not for them? #1000speak

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When I watch T.V. I rarely just watch T.V. mindlessly. Recently I was watching a re-run of Criminal minds where Aaron Hodgner has a parent teacher conference about his son, Jack. He finds out the child his son has referred to as a friend and wanting this kid to come over and all the fifty million other requests that a child makes when they like someone, is actually picking on Jack. Jack has chosen to be the peacemaker and is set on making friends with this bully. I keep thinking about this. Every-time I read about bullying or hear about it, or see it! I am so thankful that 1000 speak compassion theme this month is on bullying.

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One of the principles of Unitarian Universalism is that every person has inherent worth and dignity. I keep thinking about this and how it applies to bullies. Are we telling our kids that everyone has inherent worth and dignity, except bullies.  Really that except part, you can tack anything on. Is this really what we WANT to teach our children? Probably not. The fact is though, in many ways we are. Just sit with that a minute. Really turn over the words in your head and really think about it. It is a hard concept to wrap our brains around. When we look at why people bully; attention, power, to fit in we can perhaps wrap our mind around that. In my mind, once I accept that a person who is considered a bully does have inherent worth and dignity; it opens a door. A door to compassion. A door of seeing that person for a person. I fully understand there is a difference in bullying child to another child and a bullying adult to another adult. However the more I think about it the more I circle back that the best teacher my daughter has is me. What am I modeling to her? Am I modeling that I truly believe that every person has inherent worth and dignity or am I teaching her that there is an except (insert stereotype).

Let’s look at what does this mean exactly? What is inherent worth? Dictionary.com says that inherent means: existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute. It says it is an adjective, a describing word. What does worth mean? Here again I went to Dictionary.com for a definition. This one was a bit more detailed. It can have a few different meanings.

preposition

1.good or important enough to justify (what is specified):

advice worth taking; a place worth visiting.   2.  having a value of, or equal in value to, as in money: This vase is worth 12 dollars.
3.having property to the value or amount of:They are worth millions.
noun

4.excellence of character or quality as commanding esteem:

women of worth. 5.usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for purpose:
Your worth to the world is inestimable. 6.value, as in money.  7.a quantity of something of a specified value:
ten cents’ worth of candy. 8.wealth; riches; property or possessions:net worth.
No where in there does it say that it is dependent on that person or even thing, to be good, nice, pleasant.  We could even go on to say that we are talking about; each person has an inseparable element,quality or attribute useful and important to the world.
When you take this and apply it to someone who is a bully. WOW. Mind blown! We have to stop and really look at that person as a person. They have some(or a lot) not so great aspects, but what about the good things? At first I was thinking, Well they are really good at being mean. So lets look at Toy Story, at the neighborhood kid Sid.  We could say he is really good at blowing up toys. He is really good at problem solving how to blow up toys. He is really good at deconstructing toys. How do we then apply that to real world things? Well repairmen have to be really good at deconstructing things. Chances are if you are really good at deconstructing you also understand how it is constructed. There is always something somewhere being constructed. Often we think of blowing things up as only bad.  The fact is though, there are plenty of things that require that kind of knowledge. We often blow up buildings to take them down when they have become a hazard or a danger to others. This is not even to mention all the science behind it, that can be applied in other areas.

Let me spin off here and tell you a little story:

Recently my daughter told me that one of her friends was not really treating her as a friend should. It was mostly mild things. Let’s call this friend, Ruth. Ruth was not letting Maggie play the game she wanted. The way she wanted. She would play with Maggie in before care but only until another friend came then they went off and played. There were a myriad of other little things like this. I discussed with Maggie that she needed to tell Ruth how she was feeling. That she needed to stand up for herself and say,” hey wait a minute, this isn’t right.” I told her Ruth may not like it. Ruth may say not nice things back to her. I then told her she didn’t need to believe any of those things. I reminded her that as long as Maggie was happy with Maggie then just let it roll off her. For days when I picked Maggie up I asked her did you talk to Ruth? No. Which led to more conversations about it being okay to be scared. It is a hard thing to do. However once you do stand up for yourself, you will feel so much better. I let it go. Her solution seemed to be to just go play somewhere else.

When our kids are younger we tell them to use their words. We then turn around and tell them if they don’t like how someone is playing to go play somewhere else. There is a missing link here. We would like to think all problems will be that easy. They are only three or four, they will have other friends, but is that really teaching them the best thing to do?Yes there does come a point and time where you do have to walk away. However we should be telling them to use their words first. Tell that other kid that you don’t like how they are playing. This is an essential tool they are going to need later in elementary and even beyond.

It happened one day. I think it was about a week after it first came up. Maggie got in the car and said.

” I did it! I told Ruth she was not being a friend to me. I feel really good about it Mommy! “

She was beaming from ear to ear. I responded with :

“I am so proud of you. What did Ruth say?”

Maggie says “Well at first she just kind of rolled her eyes and said whatever and walked away. But she came back a little later and said. I am sorry I have not been a nice friend. How can I make it better?”

Now this may not be typical in mainstream schools, as much as I wish it was. Maggie and Ruth are at a Montessori school. This is what they spent a whole semester in Kindergarten working on.

” See aren’t you glad you said something? Stood up for yourself?” I asked.

“Yes! and it was hard! It was really hard because I was afraid she would depart from me. I didn’t want to lose her as a friend but I decided to say something. And it worked!”

” So maybe tomorrow you can go to Ruth and ask her if there is anything she needs that you can help her with.”

This lead to more discussion. I explained to her that often bullies are bullies for attention or to feel better about themselves or even to fit in with others. We have to look beyond their behavior and see if we can find out why. I related it to when she gets over tired she gets sassy and cries easily. She is not a sassy girl but the underlying problem is that she was overly tired. To which she responded ” or when I have sugar and am all crazy and you say I am bouncing off the walls. ” Exactly. We can’t always do something about the underlying problem, like a sugar rush, but we can have compassion and show that. We discussed that if Ruth had said ” I am not being mean, I am a great friend.” that it would be time to walk away. It wouldn’t mean that Maggie didn’t care about Ruth anymore. We sometimes have people that we care about but are not really friends with anymore.

Now, it is also true that this is a very mild case of bullying. However if we are discussing this with our kids and actively helping them problem solve the little things. If we are demonstrating that we also do this in our lives with the people we interact with. I truly believe they will have the confidence to tackle the bigger things like showing compassion to bullies.

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