Transitions can be scary: a place of unknown, a black hole, out of control, stormy.  It is normal for girls to feel anxious or fearful around the transition phase of life called puberty.   

However, sometimes girls are down right adamant that puberty is NOT going to happen to them!

  They don't want to give up their younger selves or their younger bodies.  They don't want their bodies to change and they don't want to lose control of how and when it will happen.  They don't want to give up playing their "childhood" games and when puberty comes knocking at their door early, it can cause a heightened sense of these feelings.

When girls are resistant to puberty we need to recognize the wisdom that is coming from deep within them.  They get it.  They get that they will be seen differently, although they can't really put a firm understanding and expression of it. They get that things become a lot more complicated as they leave the childhood years behind.  

So How can we be there for them?

Don't try and fix it: Sometimes as parents we want to fix things, to make them all better.  It's hard to watch our kids suffer and not want to take it all away. Here's the thing, when kids feel such big emotions they don't want us to fix it!  They want us to let them feel them, express them and hold them while they do.  We don't have to solve it, always help them figure out the why, or come up with ways to make it better.  Just be there and hold them in the muck!

Keep showing up:  Keep talking and communicating in whatever way works for them.  This means that you may have to have a conversation around expression.  Do they want to talk about it, write about it (journal with you), sing?  Share with them the importance of continuing to move through their feelings and ask them how they want you to connect with them.

Know what's normal: It is important to know what is normal for kids to experience during this time!  It helps keep you sane and it helps you notice anytime where what your child is experiencing is something you might want to seek additional guidance around.  It is really normal for emotions to be all over the place; emotional storms!  It is normal for kids to experience anxiety and fear around these changes and to move through them. 

Know what's NOT normal: It is not normal for them to want to hurt themselves, to not want to communicate in some way to some one about the changes, to have major personality changes that are destructive and dark.  When things that are abnormal are occurring it may be due to many different deeper reasons.  It may be awakening a loss of control in their life and have nothing to do with "puberty" but more to do with unresolved issues with a divorce, bullying or any other things that occurred or are occurring where they feel out of control.  In these cases their intense resistance to puberty is their expression of the unresolved issue and additional support is recommended. 

Draw out their stories: They also may have stories about what puberty looks like. One of the first things we can do as parents to support them is to draw out the stories they are telling themselves about puberty.  They may have seen something, heard something or gotten an idea about something that just isn't true.  Often times the stories are around seeing sex as tied up with puberty and they are NOT ready for that!  It's up to us to find out what those stories are.  You can do this by asking what they think and feel about x,y or z (open ended questions) or you can practice writing or telling a story, where your daughter gives a fictitious character a story around puberty and see what comes up.

Give them knowledge:  Share with them what the changes are all about and why they happen.  Talk to them about their questions, go through books with them and show them how to put on pads, tampons or take a powerful puberty class and learn about all these things and so much more with other girls and their mothers! 

Offer stability in their emotions swings: We are all humans right?  Of course when your daughter is raging at you or throwing a tween tantrum it is easy to say "stop it, grow up, it's not that bad" or just simply to be reactive to them.  What actually helps in these situations is being a emotionally stable adult.  Don't worry none of us are perfect and sometimes we will react and join in the storm, it's normal!  Don't beat yourself up!  However, it's important that we understand where they are at, so that the majority of the time, we are a tree swaying in their storm, rather than joining in to create a super storm.  Connecting with other adults around this to decompress is HUGE. (I have created a Powerful Puberty facebook group just for this decompression and learning, feel free to join!)

Honor the negative feelings and show the positive side: Honor the crud; whatever that looks like to them!  Saying things like, "Yeah I get how that seems weird or how you don't want that to happen"  and see if you can draw out the stories of why. Make sure the honoring is also mixed in (in the right moment, not in the emotional stormy times) with all the amazingness about the change.  Puberty is a time where she gets to step into her own strength, make more of her own choices and discover more of her unique personality and how that shows up in the world.  

Create a ritual:  Puberty is a coming of age, a transition in life and it should be honored.  Find some way of creating and honoring your daughter.  I suggest that you make sure that she knows that she is still the same as she was the day before her period started or her hair grew and she is also new and deeper. 

Girls that are going through or have gone through puberty need to be shown that they are still who they were before.  Simply put, there is a now a new layer to who they are and that will continue to happen as they grow older.  It doesn't take away from who they are.  They can bring their joys, toys and friends along with them on the journey.  They are simply becoming a more full version of themselves.


If you would like further you and your daughter's connection with each other and her body during this phase of life please check out my Powerful Puberty workshops.  

 

We have been lied to and manipulated

Taking your period from burden to blessing.

There is a myth in our culture.  It comes across in various messages but it boils down to this, your menstrual cycle is a major burden!  It is filled with pain, discomfort, emotional messiness, and unpredictability. 

Advertisements reinforce the myth.  Tampon commercials call it "mother nature's curse".  Feminine hygiene products are created and advertised to allow us to continue our active life styles; never let a period slow you down and you can even wear white clothes.  What do you think the advertisers said, as they sat around their circular table throwing out ideas?  "Well Jim, I think that women everywhere just want to play tennis and wear white clothes while on their period, so let's go with that angle".  As my 80's self would have said "Gag me with a spoon"!    

Our modern day myth around the feminine burden is just that, modern day.  For THOUSANDS of years women found connection with each other, their bodies and to the inherent cyclical nature of life and wisdom through menstruation.  Women would gather together to bleed.  They would honor the slow down, as would their entire culture.  It was celebrated and honored and in some cultures it still is today.  They saw it for what it was and is, wisdom that flows through their own bodies.  Connection to our own internal rhythms and power.

Most women today scoff at the idea of embracing their cycle; let alone actually enjoying it or seeing the wisdom and power that our ancestors found within. We are taught or not taught to keep it quite, hidden and just deal.  How many stories have I heard of young girls (who are now women) hiding their period when it started, feeling ashamed, feeling lost and confused, not knowing what to do or who to talk to.  Think of the life long impact of that!  When young girls are learning about puberty in a classroom it's biologically based and deadened of the actual power and connection that is possible to be found within the cycle.  

So what is normal. 

It is normal for your body to speak to you in all sorts of different ways.  It is telling you something and it wants you to connect and listen!  It is not trying to hurt you, annoy you, burden you or act like a toddler throwing a tempertantrum.  If you are experiencing intense cramping...there is a reason!  And no throwing a birth control pill in your mouth every day will not "solve" that reason, it will mask it for awhile and may cause other things to start to talk to you.  No judgement, I was put on the pill at an early age because of my intense period discomfort and it worked for awhile, and it unleashed a whole other set of undiscussed symptoms, that can't or aren't quantified by a scientific method.  Emotions/feelings are not scientific, but when I got off the pill and talked to other women how different and alive I felt after getting off, I was met with SO MANY of the same and similar response.     

It is normal to feel more tired, and it would be fine to want to sit more, to not work out those days.  It would be normal to want to go into a cave and not be all for everyone for a day or so.  It's not summer all the time right?  We can't always go, go, go.  It would be normal to get moody and if you get down right Cruella de Vil then your body is telling you something. 

If your body is yelling at you there are reasons; life imbalance, hormonal imbalance, emotional releases, diet shifts that need to be looked at.  Really tuning in and listening to your body, honoring what it is asking by doing it and letting go of the guilt, excuses, shame or whatever story comes up that prevents you from taking action on the listening.  Tuning in and making some changes will shift your relationship with your period from burden to blessing.

It is a lie that our cycles have to be a burden, it is a lie that our cycles have to cause us pain, it is a lie that the suckiness of it all is normal!  It is simply a disconnection and it takes space, time and awareness to get reacquainted.  For so may generations now the disconnection has gotten deeper and deeper and it's time for us to not only stand up and say "#metoo this isn't normal how we are treated, but it isn't normal how we treat ourselves!  

It's time to heal and reconnect.

 

 

Check out my womb work sessions to start connecting to yourself now.

I was a really good mom before I had kids

Ever since baby #2 arrived over 10 years ago I have had this desire to write a book called, "I was a really good mom before I had kids".  It was going to be filled with funny stories and anecdotes that I have heard mothers tell over the decade and a half of being a mom and midwife.  I love to joke about motherhood because, well when you nurse, are pregnant or have a toddler for almost 14 years STRAIGHT, a little humor is needed.

Before having kids I worked as a midwife, a nanny, a teacher, and several different programs with teens.  I love kids and was always great with them.  Moms would come up to me and ask me how I got their children to behave so well, to sleep so well, to act so different than they do with them.  I thought I was amazing; that I had a super power with kids and parenting was going to be E.A.S.Y for me, and then I had kids of my own.  Mine didn't (and still don't) sleep, they have been known to hit each other, through tantrums in the middle of a store, yell.... you get it.  For a few years I would  beat myself up about these things.  I wasn't doing it right, I couldn't figure it out, I wasn't a good mom, I had to try some new thing or book.  After baby #3 I realized, the things that they do, DOES NOT make me a bad mom or make them bad kids, it just makes us all human. We are all learning and growing and that is NORMAL!

What I really wished I would have know BEFORE having kids is this

1.  They don't come with instruction manuals.  Yeah, I actually did know this but I thought if I read every book on the subject that would substitute.  It doesn't.  They are each unique and changing it up ALL THE TIME!!!  Your intuition and connection to them is KEY and even then, YOU WILL MESS IT ALL UP sometimes.

2. Putting your oxygen mask on first SHOULD NOT just be a cute saying you hear but don't honor.  We can all 'yes but' our way out of taking care of ourselves but parenting is a LONG HAUL and as much as we want to pour it all into those little bundles; if we don't pour it into us and recharge first we get burned out, overwhelmed and stressed!

3. Earplugs are THE BEST present anyone can give you.  Forget cute baby clothes or the latest contraption; earplugs are where it's at.  Not so that you ignore them!!!  So that the sensory overload isn't how you react to them.  Kids are loud, they are suppose to be loud, inside voice are great but for me the glee filled giggling of 4 kids is enough to send me over the edge. 

4. Your heart will be pulled and tugged in a million directions.  You want to do the best for them, to give them all you can but you can't and that's okay.  

5.  You will mess up....a lot.  Don't judge yourself or other moms.  Acknowledge your mistakes, say your sorries and truly love on you and other moms

6.  It's easy to be on the outside looking in; to offer advice, criticize, judge.  What we all really need is someone to hear us and laugh, love and tell us that we aren't alone.  We all struggle in some ways as parents and humans.  #adultingishard

7.  You may never sleep through the night again.  Although I am told that this may just be a phenomenon in my house.  

8.  If you let them, your kids will help you transform in ways you never knew were needed or possible.  Your personal growth, self development and evolution is spurred way more by kids than ANY self-help book or latest trend.

So now that I am deep into this parenting thing with kids in the teens, tween, and toddler stages.  I no longer desire to write the book.  What I realized is that I am a really good mom, that despite falling down sometimes, not always wanting to parent,  I continue to show up for myself and for them.  To learn, grow and be a good mom.  I define what that looks like not anyone else.

  

2018's Self-love Embrace

Last year I went on a journey of transformational self-care.  Several years before I had a realization that I almost always put other people's to do's, wants, needs ahead of my own.   In fact I realized I was really disconnected from even knowing what my own needs were.  So much so that I often didn't even realize I was holding in pee because I was tending to someone or something else that I saw as more important!  I know I am not the only women or mom out there to do that!  I love to give, I love being a mom, I love being a wife and I love working.  I thought that in order to do all of those things "perfectly" I had to give and give and give.  The deeper issue there was that I was feeling my worthiness in what I was doing and showing up for people, rather than knowing that I am enough without doing or being but because we all are.  Then my body started to shout out to me that my pace and lack of attention to myself wasn't working and I realized that I had to shift. 

2017 was all about transformational self-care; taking care of myself in a way that truly transformed my relationship to giving, receiving and to myself.  When I went about this journey I knew that it couldn't be just about adding things to my to do list, even if that was an exercise class I would love.  I knew that adding more things would actually stress me out more and I wouldn't be able to sustain them.  I am a deep person and so I had to go deep.  Transformational self-care was about finding ways to bring self-care to all that I already do and take things out of my life that weren't serving my self and/or others.  It was about being brave enough to say no as a way to say yes. 

We are now one quarter through 2018...what?!?!  It has taken some time to reflect on the changes that were brought about last year.  A few weeks ago I spent a weekend alone and I realized what A LONG way I have come.  That changes that came about lasted and it was because I was intentional, connected and loving to myself even when I wanted to run away from what I saw.  It didn't require more money, more time, more things I didn't have!  It was about making small changes that last.  

This year my word is openhearted presence.  My focus is on self-love. 

Yes, it is a part of what I was working on last year but this year I am working on deepening that openness to myself, especially when things get gritty and I want to shut down.  In my experience whenever I commit to working on something it shows up everywhere and sometimes I think to myself, "Am I really up for this"?  Being brave, vulnerable and opening up, instead of shutting down when your stuff is brought up, is hard when you have been someone who shuts down, shuts up and then internalizes.  I have been working on opening, vulnerability, and communication for years with others but this year it is time to turn that around on me.  As always I want to share what I am working on, learning and finding along the journey with you all.  I know that much of what I am working on applies to so many of us.

So....introducing the self-love embrace. 

I am offering guidance, thoughts, and tools for the rest of 2018 via short videos and embrace activities in your inbox every Monday evening starting on 4/23.  

If you feel like self-love is something that is calling you to focus on and you would love more love and embrace in your inbox sign up below! 

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Puberty's emotional rollercoasters are a gift!  How to use them to help your child become emotionally intelligent

Did you know that moodiness in puberty is a normal, IMPORTANT phase of development?

  I know it doesn't always feel great, being on either side of it!  However, when we have the knowledge of what exactly is going on, specifically in the child's brain during this time we can see the moodiness for what it is; a time to teach them to name and express emotions, so that one day they may become emotionally intelligent and expressive adults.  

Did I mention it isn't always easy! 

My daughter woke up a few weeks ago in one of those spaces that I know is tricky at best to navigate.  Eventually she erupted and as her volcanic lava burst onto the scene I knew that being on time to school wasn't going to happen.  I had a meeting and wasn't happy about letting go of my own life to be there to cool her lava.  I took a break to express my own emotions productively and make plans for how my day could continue to honor both of our needs.  After I was able to let go of my own stuff and center, here is what I remembered.  Her brain is going through RAPID change as is her body.  She is already sensitive and so emotionally aware and puberty is reeking havoc in there.  The emotional powerhouse in her brain is all lite up and the part of her brain that helps regulate it is not going to come online for a few more YEARS! 

How's that for evolution, we get to feel the emotions intensely but we don't have regulation yet. 

This is where we come in as parents, we help children navigate their emotional rollercoasters.  We hold space for them and provide a grounding presence to the sometimes seeming insanity inside.  When we do this they learn that it is okay and safe to express their emotions.  In that safety we can then move on to teach them how and where to let their expressions out in a way that they don't emotionally endanger themselves or others.  

I do not always succeed at being patient in the lava flow but when I am, when I really can slow it down and see her, big leaps happen.  

The Science Behind the Ride

So often discussions around puberty are focused on the outward body changes.  This is what the children learn in their health course and it's the theme of the majority of the conversations that adults have with children about puberty.  However, there is SO MUCH more going on during this transition time!  One of the ways to deepen our understanding about puberty is to learn about what is going on in the BRAIN.  Understanding THIS helps us get, navigate and offer tools for children.  It helps provide the CONNECTION that children need because we now GET it on a whole new level. 

So follow me along here for a very basic science lesson.  

The limbic system (which is the part of the brain that is responsible for emotional and feeling development) develops really early on in puberty.  It gives children access to all sorts of new emotions and very quickly.  Of course we all know that their hormones are also in MAJOR flux, while their body is figuring out the balance. Not to mention that the child is experiencing these hormones for the VERY FIRST time.  Then add in the fact that the brain growth is rapidly increasing for independent thought, so that they can practice making their own choices and with that a whole new level of body consciousness comes in. 

It is no wonder that all of this creates a perfect storm for emotional rollercoasters. 

The final and most important piece of the puzzle is this; the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that regulates a person's response to their emotions, doesn't develop until later on in life.  So your daughter is feeling really strong emotions, trying to be more independent, feeling a bit out of control and that's because she doesn't actually have the capability to control them!  Obviously telling her to stop being so emotional or calling her dramatic, well it's just not helpful.

Maybe this all is happening for a reason.  In this big stage of emotional development for young people, maybe we are meant to show up for them in big ways as the next phase of our relationship with them begins.  The phase where we get to have a much more interactive role.  Where they are practicing making their own decision; practicing being more adult like in the safety net of their own home.  There body is having these emotional storms and if we are able to help them during this time, it may be a key to unlocking children that are emotionally intelligent and expressive.  Gone are the days where we all need to hold our emotions in, stuff them down and focus only on the good.  It's time for us to help our children name and identify emotions,  feel them, "make friends" with them, and help them with expression.

So what the heck does help?  How can we all thrive in the emotional rollercoasters?

We need to help them learn how to first identify their emotions, and then express their emotions in productive ways.  Here are some ideas on how to do this.

1. Start helping them become emotionally literate.  There are so many ways to do this.  One suggestion is to come up with an extensive list of emotions and then at the dinner table choose one and ask the family if they have ever experienced this emotion and to describe when and how.  Of course having the adults go first will help them identify emotions that they are not familiar with.  Another way is to simply begin to have discussions about different emotions; begin to talk about the large variety of emotions, more than just happy, sad, angry and give examples.  Talking to your daughter about her ability to name emotions helps her then feel and express them so they don't take hold.  I have found the audio, Still Quiet Place by Amy Saltzman great for younger girls to help identify emotions; call them by a name and a place in their body that they feel the emotion.   

2.  Give them a journal.  Journaling is an useful tool to both get emotions out and then in later years they will be able to begin to process their emotions in this way.

3.  Help them find their natural expression:  talking, singing, dancing, hitting a punching bag, meditating, stretching, running.......you get the idea.  Some way to move their emotional energy out.

4.  Additional Tools:  Centering tools like essential oils or different herbs (passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm, lavender) to help calm their body.

Teaching tweens/teens how to identify their emotions, accept them and express them is one of the MAJOR works and lessons of puberty!  It gives meaning to the emotional rollercoaster.  

You are there to be their guide during this transition process.

 

Powerful Puberty

Feelings of being alone, awkward.

Roller coaster emotions that take over and don't make sense. 

No one understands!

Growing parts of the body and things on the body: too big, too small, not enough, too much at the wrong time, too soon, too late. 

The unknown, the unspoken, the who to ask, the secretiveness, the embarrassment. 

It's all just too much? 

Puberty!  The phase of life when everything changes, there is no control and often times very little knowledge of what the heck is going on.  

It's time to change all of that!

We can create a new way of honoring this phase of life for young girls.  We don't have to continue the secretive nature, feelings of being alone, no one to connect to or talk with.  We can offer them a different way.   

What does it mean to have a powerful puberty? 

Simply put it means to go through this major transition period in life feeling connected to the self, the body and loved ones, as much as possible!  In reality it is a lot more complicated. 

As adults we have to remember that puberty takes places over SEVERAL years time and there is A LOT that goes on during this time! It is a transition phase from young girl to young adult.  That is BIG!  Let those words be your guide in those moments when your loved one is deep a pre-teen/teem temper tantrum.  

What is our supporting role?

Having a powerful puberty isn't about never falling down, feeling emotional, yelling, messing up, pushing boundaries or breaking the heck down in a heap on the floor.  In fact all those things should and will happen.  It is about honoring their feelings and the bigness.  We can help our young girls feel all their feels and help them find the ways and words to express them! 

We can help them by knowing, teaching and using tools to help them through this transition.  It's about teaching young girls how to express themselves, how to name their feelings, how to be themselves, now in this moment, and as they change.  It's about teaching them to know and accept their own bodies, their own needs.  It's about teaching them how to be comfortable with themselves.  To fit in while being them.  It is also about giving them full knowledge of what is going on in their bodies and minds and why.  Knowing the realities will help them feel powerful around what is needed in their bodies and what they can control. 

To have a powerful puberty is to learn and practice self-love and self-care NOW.  Can you imagine how different life would be for so many of us if we had that touch stone, that knowledge and that power as we were going through this first of many major transitions in life? 

Having a powerful puberty means we need to acknowledge that sometimes growing is hard. 

We still can educate about what is going on, frame it in an open and positive light, celebrate it and all of these things should happen!  We should speak openly about this so that girls don't have to go through this alone. 

Connection is key! 

It is what helps us up when we fall down, it is what keeps our hearts open and allows us to have the courage to grow.  We can't control puberty, what it does to the body and mind but we can put the focus on staying connected during this time.  We can surround them in a safe community to talk about the bigness, ask the questions and see that they aren't alone!

To do all this as mothers means that often we may need to do our own work. 

We also will fall down, we also will feel all the feels and we also can love and accept ourselves in those moments.  We too need to feel the connection.  To often when our children are at this point the mom's groups, the support that we may have had when they were younger is no longer there.  We don't share the stories of our teens melt downs like we did with tongue and cheek humor when they were little.  We take it more personally.

  The most common work that I see needing to happen is around education and revisiting.  We need to educate ourselves around what is "normal" now, what is going on in their bodies and minds and why, so that we can come from a place of understanding and empathy when we connect.  We also may need to do some revisiting and healing within ourselves around what our own experience was with this transition phase.  Many of us didn't have powerful puberties.  Some of us weren't allowed to express ourselves, to know our own feelings or bodies.  If we leave this unchecked it is very possible that something our daughter goes through may trigger this wound in us and therefore we wont react or be able to guide from a place of wisdom. 

What does being powerful feel like to you? 

Before we conjure up a time when you felt powerful in your life, let me first clarify what I mean when I talk about power.  I am not talking about the power of one up, power over, or that that is derived from external sources like beauty, money or status.  I am talking about the power that comes from within.  This power comes from a connection to ourself, to love, to our internal resources and gifts.  

Given that definition, can you remember a time in your life where you felt incredibly powerful?  Seriously, sit still for just a minute or if you have more than a minute take out a piece of paper and think or write about a time you felt powerful.  Conjure up that feeling, the story, what did it look like, where was the feeling held in your body, and WHY did it feel so powerful?  

I can thankfully remember many powerful times in my life.  One of the things that all my memories have in common is this, feeling powerful often comes with connection.  That can be through an external community connection or internal/personal connection.  

This is the essence of a powerful puberty to me!  The inevitable falling down and feeling out of control, weak, emotional and the coming together. the honoring of the time, the connection and the growth.

When young girls are allowed to feel all the feels and they are acknowledged and loved through it, they feel powerful; even if we can't make it better.  

That is what we want to give to young girls.  That is powerful puberty!

Winter Nesting- Using the Winter's Darkness to Embrace and Love Your Whole-self

One of the only things that I am truly sure of is this; things change. 

Change can feel so many different ways: unnerving, unsettling, ungrounding, exciting, wanted...  In order to feel grounded and secure, as well as to embrace change, I have found myself turning to the natural, rhythmic changes that occur each and every day, week, month and year.  This helps me feel safe and more able to embrace all the unforeseen changes that occur throughout life.  

I pay attention to what the moon is doing on any given day and notice what my own moods do in response.  I notice the new seasons that each of my individual kiddos enter and try and meet them there.  I embrace nature's seasons.  As a mom, I am so aware of how important the seasons are to shaping the rhythm of my family.

So imagine my shock when a recent ah ha moment slapped me right in the face. 

It was out of a movie: bells ringing in my ears, flashes of recent thoughts and action all speeding through my brain in fast, fuzzy images, becoming so clear all at one and then bang,  I got it.....I am freaking nervous for the coming winter.  In fact I am out right resisting it.

 I am reading a new book and through an exercise where the reader is asked to write a timeline of memories where you enter into the "dark parts of yourself", I had a major realization!  For many years now I have descended into the darkness when the winter season comes.  Winter has rhythmically symbolized for me a time of great heartache, stuckness (that has to be a word and so I am sticking with) and what some may call seasonal depression.  Well NO WONDER I am feeling anxiety about the coming season!  I can already feel the pull into the darkness.  For the past 4 weeks I have sat with this; like literally sat with it, often staring at the ceiling, sometimes praying and writing trying to get at the heart of the season.  

What I realized is winter is dark.  I know, I know, big realization there, but stick with me on this. 

The literal darkness is our cue, it's our gift to slow and go within.  It is a time of self-reflection.  In years past I have been to busy and maybe even more than that I have been a bit scared to let that be the guide for the season. 

 The winter is asking our bodies, our souls to slow down! To sit with our own inner darkness and embrace and love ourselves, not just the great stuff but all of us!  

To love the impatience, the grumps, the imperfectly perfectionists and well to love all of us.  

My plan for the season is to embrace the dark, literally and figuratively.  To let the dark come in at night and after the children are asleep to simply sit more, write more, look at my whole self and focus on my practice of self love. To be with the darkness no matter how uncomfortable and to let love be the warmth of the season.  

 

We must feel weakness to experience strength.

We must feel weakness to experience strength.

"We are just going through a slump but after the slump we come out every time stronger and more present".  It's about feeling it when it comes, staying aware within it, embracing it and coming out on the other side.  When I feel empty and try and fill it with whatever I can it stays empty, but when I jump into the emptiness I end up being filled up.

What to do when things fall apart

Sometimes in life things falls apart.  There are days, weeks, and seasons in life where everything goes “wrong”.   We have this idea of what this day, week, or season of our life was supposed to look like and everything is just wrong!  It often feels confusing, sad, horrible and very uncomfortable. 

When things feel like they are falling apart it’s often because what is occurring feels so incongruent with what our plans were.  We are judging, fighting and kicking and screaming inside against what is actually happening.  Of course we are because most likely, it SUCKS!  When we aren’t accepting the moment, we are actually pushing against what is.  In order to move through the moment we must continually come back to accepting it for what it is. These are wise words that I have heard, read and occasionally actually practice and what I know is this, it is so easy to say and so freaking hard to actually do! What I also know is that acceptance does create peace!  From peace can come a peaceful action if need be and a shift occurs either way.


As a midwife I have seen countless mamas fight against their labor.  One of my favorite stories was a mama who had had many babies before.  She was well aware of the pushing stage and she already knew this was a stage she didn’t like.  As her body began to push she said, “Please God I will be ready to push if you just give me a break”.  She said this over and over again.  I stepped in and said, “Your body is telling you it’s time, there is no controlling this, you’re safe and what if you just went with it”.  She looked me in the eye with an angry all knowing face and pushed her baby out in one push.  All was better! Once laboring moms are able to get out of their own way and accept what is occurring the labor becomes “easier”.  Mamas describe it not that the contractions change in terms of pain but by no longer fighting them, they accept and rode along with the feeling and it became a part of them.  It became easier. 

Life is the same way!

When you are experiencing yourself or one of your loved ones falling apart; have a temper tantrum, experience something incredibly hard, acting in a way that hurts them, it is hard to stay present and in the moment and let the emotions pour out.  It is hard to sit there and be present to not think how the heck did I f#*k this up.  Where did I go wrong on this one? Did I give enough space, enough love, enough……   To watch your child go through any hard time in life is like you are dying with them. They are a part of your heart and you feel it all right along with them.

Recently I had such a day like this.  My family was literally falling to pieces all around me.  The teenager had his first teenage EPIC temper tantrum filled with so many emotions that he and I couldn’t even name.  The baby was teething, the toddler was being so naughty and the 9 year old was a ball of NEEDS. We went from one melt down to another and all along I had an idea of what the day was going to look like and it wasn’t this! I felt like everyone was going INSANE!  In the beginning I felt like a strong oak tree.  This is something that I call upon when days become really windy with emotions.  Then I reached my breaking point and thoughts and feelings of the day being horrible, grumpy, and resentment all flowed.  I caught myself and retreated to my sacred space for 15 minutes and breathed.  In the bathroom I worked on just letting go.  Letting the day be what it was and riding the wave.

So what do you do when things are falling apart?

The most common paths that people take are: to check the heck out, to stop showing up and unconsciously retreat, to spiral and engage in self-blame and bullying talk, to ignore, to think it’s all roses or to be the fixer and try and fix it no matter what. There is always something you can do to make things better right?  Yes and No.

Have you ever tried just letting them?

What if I told you that the best thing you could do when things are out of your control and falling apart is just to breathe and let them.  In that space that you create if there is solution it will come otherwise you just keep on breathing.  You may have been hoping that this post was going to give you the 5 steps you need to survive when things fall apart.  If it was I would say that step number one is to accept that things are falling apart and step two is to let them.  These two things are so simple and powerful!  They are however not EASY!  It requires a great deal of self-awareness and commitment to accept and let go as a way of life.  There are other things that will help like: taking breaks, regrouping, centering, connecting, grounding yourself and giving some self-love.  But what if the best thing you can do is just to let it all fall apart.  To trust that there is a lesson, some wisdom, something you are meant to be getting from this experience and the best way to receive is just to let go.

Giving birth is hard, parenthood is hard, life is hard AND it is joyful and beautiful.  It is this and that.

So when things are falling apart, when it’s the best of times and the worst of times stay with it mamas, accept it, feel it, show up to your bruitiful life, and show up with each other.

Has being selfish gotten a bad rap?

 

Who out there has ever thought any variation of following: I can’t possibly take an extra hour to be by myself, to say no when people really need me, to ask my partner to put the kids to bed while I go spend some time with friends.  How many times have you really wanted to do something but didn’t because you thought you were being selfish? 

What does it actually mean to be selfish? 

Technically being selfish means to only care for oneself, regardless of others. So when we take that extra long shower, when we say no to a function that we don’t really want to go to, even though we know it is expected of us, are we being selfish or stay with me here, are we really caring for ourselves and therefore caring for others?  Are we actually creating more life energy to put to good use serving others in ways that we do have energy, talents and excitement for? 

If we don’t want to be selfish, what do we want to be?  Selfless.  Selfless is the opposite of selfish it is concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own self.  Based on those definitions it is no wonder that we want to be selfless and not selfish, right?

Where did the strong negative association with being selfish come from ladies? 

On a cultural level being selfless is something that is culturally ascribed to a female.  We receive this message over and over again.  Women are supposed to be selfless; it is part of our nature to serve and in some ways that is actually true.  However, we have taken it on so much that it can cause us to feel bitter, angry, and burn out because all we do is give, give, give.  It becomes this unconscious thing that we do because we are suppose to rather than this beautiful thing that we do because we want to.

We need to examine the messages that we have and continue to receive about women and selfishness. Even as I research images for this blog post I am struck by the images that I have to choose from.  Images of women and mothers that depict being selfish are shown as mothers doing things for themselves and a child left crying in the corner…seriously.  Images depicting selfless involve mothers shown as a bird flying, rain coming down and the mother sheltering the babies and getting sopping wet.  Images of words that say help others, and love is selfless. Basically proving exactly what so many of us have in our heads…in order to be a good mother, wife, daughter etc. we must be selfless and give, give, give.  It we take time for ourselves then our children will be crying in the corner and that is bad.  So it’s time to make some change and that starts with YOU!

Maybe being selfish has gotten a bad rap

Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of actions that warrant a negative connotation to the word but as many things in life humanity has created this all or nothing/black and white idea; we are either selfish or selfless. So imagine here that you have said yes to something that, given where you are at in your life, this is causing you feelings of overwhelm.  You do it anyways because you think it is expected of you and you don’t want to be selfish.  Your might think we all have a full plate so you just have to suck it up and do it.  After you are done with the project you get extra grumpy with your kids and short with your partner.  You stay up way late and the next day you turn in the project feeling bitter and burned out.  Ugh! Now say that you said no to the project.  You were self-aware and knew you had too much on at the moment and this particular project wasn’t in your skill set.  Consciously saying no helped you realize that you were feeling low on energy and so you enacted some strategies to help fill you up.  You DID NOT beat yourself up and knew that you would be able to give at some point just not right now.  The next month when another event comes you have more space and energy so you dive right in, getting the project completed in half the amount of time and twice the amount of joy as you would have if you simply would have said yes the month before.  Sounds easy right?

How can we change this in our lives? 

First we need to figure out our own relationship with the word and idea of selfish.  I suggest doing some journaling around what this term means to you in your life.  What is your history with the term and how does it show up in the now?  Then if you find that this is a major barrier for you create a list of what triggers your thoughts of selfishness.  Become self-aware of what occurs in your mind when these reactions are triggered.  Finally, make a commitment to change and see how it positively affects your life. You can change by becoming more aware and making different choices both internally and externally.  It takes time and effort to change!

Start here and answer the question, how would your life look differently if you lived it from a place of self-awareness to what you can really do and what you want to do in service to others?

Let's do this!