Recently, my husband and I have been preparing to sell our house in Georgia. After de-cluttering and a lot of cleaning, our agent was walking through the place with us and making recommendations about possible changes. She mentioned replacing the chandelier that hangs in our two-story foyer.
I was thinking, “What’s wrong with the light? It works fine and seems OK to me.” However, my extremely resourceful and handy husband pulled the light over to the second-floor balcony to have a look. He cleaned every inch of the glass and replaced the light bulbs. It was amazing—the chandelier looks the best it ever has and it definitely didn’t need to be replaced!
As I was admiring it that evening, I realized that our experience with the chandelier has applications to our lives. Sometimes, we get busy with the daily details and forget to pay attention to our relationships with those we love the most. They get dusty and gather cobwebs as we rush to get things done. We miss the precious moments to stop and say a kind word or touch a shoulder because we are so focused on what we need to do. Our connection and our lives lose some of their brightness. And we wonder what happened, how we got here and where the time went.
After many years of research, Dr. Brene Brown says in Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, “I am sure of one thing: Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. . . . Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement.”
That connection is what we create when we pay attention to each other and invest in our relationships with our partners, children, parents, grandparents and friends. Even when we are not physically together, we can send a text, share a joke, find time to video chat or write an email.
Currently I am in training to become a Safe Conversations facilitator and the founders, Harville Hendrix, PhD, and Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD state that a relationship is two (or more) people and the “space between” them. What we put into the space between impacts the quality of our connection. Using a dialogue process, affirmations and a commitment to practicing “zero negativity,” I am learning to support individuals as they deepen their connection with each other and find greater joy and wonder in their lives.
If you are interested in knowing more, check the website safeconversations.com/ I will be offering a Safe Conversations class in November after relocating to Northern California. Let me know if you would like to be on the list or would like more information Contact Me
The more light we allow into our lives and our relationships, the brighter our world will be.
Some of you know that I am currently writing a book entitled, "The 7 Best Gifts To Give Your Child." Just thought I'd share an excerpt from the introduction. Stay tuned for updates and availability.
As a preschool and kindergarten teacher for 25 years, I had a small plaque hanging in my classroom that read, “I touch the future, I teach.” This simple reminder helped keep me connected to why I chose the teaching profession, especially during the challenges and frustrations that arise in trying to make learning fun for a room full of young children.
Now as a Parent Educator and Coach, I support parents as they raise their children. My new motto is “I touch the future, I parent!”
Recently, I saw a social media post that said, “Parenting today is like juggling, but all of the balls are screaming.” The world that you are raising your child in today has changed tremendously over the past twenty years.
The thing that hasn’t changed is that the most important component in raising a healthy, happy child is your connection with them. This integral connection of parent and child is the root and building block for your child’s future.
In their new book, The Power of Showing Up, Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson say, “Showing up means bringing your whole being—your attention and awareness—when you’re with your child. When we show up, we are mentally and emotionally present for our child in that moment.”
The connection you create when you “show up” is at the heart of your relationship with your child. Connection is the energy that is created between us and them. It allows them to feel safe (protected), seen (cared for and loved), soothed (comforted when hurting) and secure (feeling “at home” in the world.)
Dr. Siegel and Dr. Bryson explain further that “Showing up isn’t the goal of parenting. Rather it is the means by which you move toward your desired outcome. The actual goal is what’s called secure attachment.” The benefits of secure attachment of children to their parent are huge—higher self-esteem and empathy, better ability to cope with challenges, and happier and better relationships. And how do you develop it with your child? By showing up.
We do not have to be perfect parents, never losing our cool. Nor do we need to read all the parenting bestsellers or sign our kids up for the right enrichment classes. We just need to be present.
Recently, I was watching an episode by Dr. Greg Baer on his "Ridiculously Effective Parenting" Face Book Live event. He described how a parent handled a mistake that her daughter made. The girl had dropped a glass that shattered across the hard floor and her face illuminated the horror she felt.
Rather than focusing on the mess on the floor, the mother picked up the girl and carried her to safety. Then she said, "You feel bad, don't you? Many times I have made you feel ashamed when you made mistakes by frowning, raising my voice or saying hurtful words. I want you to know that I was wrong to do that. You needed me to love you and I was mean. I am sorry."
Then the mother took her daughter to a mirror, asked her to look at her reflection and said, "Do you know what I see? I see my lovely daughter who tries to do the right thing. Sometimes she isn't paying attention and she makes mistakes. But you are not a mistake, you are beautiful and I love you just the way you are. Let me give you a hug and then, let's go clean up the broken glass."
I am paraphrasing the story. But what an impactful example of reclaiming the power of Real Love! You can watch the complete video with Dr. Greg Baer and check out other content here: https://www.facebook.com/RidiculouslyEffectiveParenting/videos/1473845179464372/UzpfSTEwNjM0MzMzNDA4Njg4MTpWSzozMTcxNTM2NDkyOTMwODY/
Dr. Baer goes on in this session to talk about how important it is for us as parents and grandparents to convey to our children/grandchildren that they are so much more than their mistakes and broken parts. They receive this message constantly from the culture around that no one will love them as they are and so they pretend they are someone else by hiding behind the latest shoes, clothing, makeup, friends, trends and gadgets.
He referred to a song from The Greatest Showman "This Is Me." It begins:
I'm not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
'Cause we don't want your broken parts
I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one will love you as you are
But I won't let them break me down to dust
I know that there's a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown 'em out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me...
There is much more to this powerful song. You can hear it sung by Keala Settle and others from the movie at the link below. In fact, if you haven't seen The Great Showman movie, I highly recommend it. Even if you have seen it, rewatch it with your middle school and older kids and have a discussion about who we are. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjxugyZCfuw
I believe that for many of us, we still have feelings, wounds and beliefs hidden away that cause us to feel ashamed of our mistakes and broken parts. We cannot give to others what we don't recognize and honor within ourselves. To reclaim our Real Love power, we have to start with ourselves. I would like to invite you to join me in an online free four-week Real Love Small Group begining Wednesday, July 15 at 8 pm ET. For more info and to sign up, click here: Home
Sharing from the facebook page of Sarah Sutcliffe
I wanted to share some food for thought. As we face uncertain times here in WA (and everywhere) I see many parents concerned that their children are going to fall behind as our schools head into a 4-6 week closure. But I see this an incredible opportunity. An opportunity to slow down. To sit in silence and see what makes their souls happy, what interests them. Learning literally happens EVERYWHERE, not just in school.
So take a leap and watch how much growth can come from this. Do they have a love of music? Enjoy watching birds? A passion for cooking? See this as a time to deep dive with them. Learn to play the guitar, watch birds and create a nature journal, or let them cook dinner! This is not a time to fall behind in school this is a time to see what sets their souls on FIRE! 🔥 We can teach them about our community and how we can think bigger than ourselves. We can show them that they can take control over their own education and help them see just how brilliant they are.
There are a ton of resources out there, many that are free or low cost I would be happy to share. One of our favorites is Outschool.com. They can take online classes that interest them and Skype with teachers and other students. It’s time we show these kids what it’s like to slow down and FEEL the ebbs and flows of life. We as a society can either continue to rant and complain about this or we can show the future generation what an incredible opportunity this is for connection. The choice is yours.❤️
Resources for those that have asked….
But PLEASE, please do not try and recreate ‘School’ at home. This is already a stressful and confusing time for all of us. Use this time to connect deeper with your kids and find out what interests them. School at home doesn’t need to take place for 5-6 hours a day.
ABC Mouse tinyurl.com/t7f7l69(little kids)
storyboardthat.com (creative thinking)
Websites for printable worksheets:
Additionally many Museums offer online tours. A few of our Favorites,
The Spy Museum
create a fairy garden
ART. ART. and more ART.
create a nature journal
photography (let them take and edit)
start a garden (even in a pot)
Read Aloud REALLY GOOD books
By Dr. Charles Fay
Love and Logic Parenting
Perseverance is the key to building grit. There is no doubt that kids who develop it will lead happier and more productive lives than those who don’t. Listed below are few “grit builders” with corresponding “grit stealers.”
Teaching perseverance isn’t complicated. It requires a willingness to allow kids to experience healthy challenges as they grow. It also requires that we let them see that they have what it takes to cope with life’s challenges.
About a month ago, I started hearing noises overhead at night while trying to fall asleep. We have a large oak tree in our back yard and it isn’t unusual to hear squirrels run across our roof but not at night. After a few nights of lying awake due to the scratching noises, I became convinced that one of the squirrels was living in our attic.
I was met with skepticism when I told my husband, Michael. That is until one night, he heard the noise too. Now I love nature and animals as long as they don’t decide to move into my domain. What I really wanted was for my husband to do something about it—to fix the problem. But he wasn’t quick to respond.
I am not proud to say that I went into victim mode. I whined and fussed and complained. Finally, he said, “Why don’t you do something about it? Call someone to get a quote.” Wow, what a novel idea! Here I was wanting him to take care of the problem and suddenly, I was empowered to take action.
I contacted four companies that came to our home, tramped around in the attic and gave free quotes for their solution to our problem. I found out way more than I ever cared to know about critters that live in attics—roof rats, squirrels and even bats.
Turns out that squirrels can squeeze themselves through a hole the size of an apple core and rats can get through even smaller openings. And our roof had a number of possible entrances. One of the inspectors pointed out a chewed-out area on one of the gables that looked large enough for a whole family of squirrels to gain access. Michael got in on the action by putting a motion-sensitive camera in the attic and we identified our unwelcome guest—a raccoon!
The amazing thing about acting like a victim is that it puts us in a state to view everything in life as happening to us. Victimhood is the belief that other people need to make us happy and solve our problems for us.
With impeccable timing, Michael and I have been reading Greg Baer’s “Real Love for Wise Men and Women” during the raccoon habitation. Dr. Baer says, “If I appear pathetic and helpless enough—if I act like a victim—I can attract your sympathy and accomplish two things: you might not hurt me and you might give me what I want. Victims have to lie about their responsibility for the choices they make, and they have to lie about other people being perpetrators. These lies separate them from the truth and the possibility of feeling Real Love.”
Children learn their beliefs and behaviors from observing us. If in their presence, we whine and complain about our boss, our co-workers, our spouses, the government, the neighbors and so on, our children see us and learn to act like victims themselves. As well, we teach them to act like victims when we allow them to manipulate us. These learned behaviors can contribute to our children developing a sense of entitlement and view the world as treating them unfairly.
Almost all parents, when asked what they most want for their children, would respond that they want them to be happy. Being a victim can buy sympathy and attention, but never Real Love. Genuine happiness comes from taking responsibility, doing what needs to be done and feeling the sense of accomplishment no matter how old we are.
I am happy to say that we hired one of the pest companies. They have removed the raccoon and will patch up the holes in a few days. And I had the opportunity to relearn an important lesson in part because I have a wise husband who is helping me to recognize and move out of victimhood.
For almost twenty-five years, I taught kindergarten and preschool. I believe that I learned as much or more than all the students that I had the privilege of interacting with each day. Learning to be more present and authentic brought me the personal satisfaction. Developing more patience and willingness to try new things enhanced my life beyond the classroom.
I learned that I didn’t have to know everything and admitting mistakes was refreshing. Young children are refreshingly honest in their observations as well as being forgiving and accepting without too much judgement. Asking questions and really listening to what kids have to say is a wonderful way of empowering them to feel secure and to be curious about life and the world around them.
More than thirty years ago, Robert Fulghum published a simple credo that went on to become a New York Times bestseller. As an author he has written several other books, but this credo is still crucial and relevant wisdom for us all—that the most basic aspects of life offer the most important opportunities.
I share it with you here and hope that you can find wisdom to guide your daily choices in your family, workplace, community and beyond.
All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten—Robert Fulghum
Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand box at nursery school.
These are the things I learned. Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you are sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw some and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day.
Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out in the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why but we are like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seeds in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we.
And then remember that book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK! Everything you need to know is there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation, ecology, and politics and the sane living.
Think of what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
A young preschooler was trying to get his mother’s attention as she scrolled through social media sites on her phone. After trying repeatedly to get her attention, the young boy finally put his hands on either side of her face. Moving her face towards him, he said, “Mommy, I need you to listen to me with your whole face.”
This mother was participating in an experiment organized by ABC News. In May of 2019, the network spent six months traveling the country and talking to families, teachers, doctors and even tech insiders to put together a two-hour special about how screen time is affecting us and what we can do about it. The project was headed up and hosted by Diane Sawyer.
You can watch several short reports about what Ms. Sawyer discovered. I would like to first mention a shocking fact that I learned from this report by asking you a question? Do you know how many times a day you look at your phone? If you're like the average American, you unlock your phone around 80 times a day which adds up to about 49 days out of the year! If you think, “That can’t be right, that’s impossible,” at the end of this article you will find resources to help you monitor the screen time usage of yourself and your family.
During the six-month experiment, ABC News ran screen time experiments to see how young children reacted when their parent was distracted by his or her phone. Even though the parents were instructed to ignore the young child for only two minutes, most children got upset, cried or withdrew after less than 30 seconds. Watch a sample here. www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7_2K9E2m-w
In another video report, a brave family invited ABC News to come into their home and monitor their device usage for 30 weekend hours. The family was stunned to learn how much time they had spent on their phones and other devices. The good news is that they walked away from the experience with some steps to help make better choices as a family: 1) have a family meeting to discuss what they learned, 2) plan a family outdoor adventure and 3) embrace technology as a way to connect with each other through the day. www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqeOWatgN9w&list=PLQOa26lW-uI-pNs2w7ie09BET5LY_xDOF
If this issue is a challenge that your family faces or you want to be more aware for the future, there are tools available to help you monitor your own screen time as well as that of your family members. Remember, it is important as a parent that we lead by example. Check out these websites or find other options online. Getting buy in from your kids is key and might include some kind of family discussion or even a challenge to find out what your family’s devise usage really looks like!
11 apps that help you monitor/reduce your screen time:
Apps to help parents:
Today, our children need our attention and presence more than ever. Making time to connect is a challenge for most families in our rapidly changing world. Navigating phones and other media devises are just one of many issues parents face today.
It is important to remember that despite all the technological advances we have seen in the past 20 years, parents will always be the most important source of information and values for their growing children. Building relationships with our kids takes time, investment, patience and presence.
A young executive was running late for an important meeting as he drove down a neighborhood street near his office. He had a lot on his mind, and he was going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. Remembering that it was summer vacation, he did keep an eye out for kids darting out between parked cars.
Thinking that he saw something up ahead, he slowed down, but no one appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door. Slamming on the breaks, he backed up to the spot where the brick had been thrown.
Angrily, he jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid who was standing there and shouted, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?"
The young boy was apologetic. "Please, mister...please! I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do. I threw the brick because no one else would stop!"
With tears running down his face, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."
Sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."
Moved beyond words, the man tried to swallow the rapidly rising lump in his throat. He lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a crisp linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts on the boy’s leg.
"Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger.
Too shaken up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. He walked slowly back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message, "Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!"
Sometimes we need to be reminded to take notice of the precious moments with our children and others we love before they pass us by. Those we love need to be given our presence, not just presents. On this Valentine’s Day, think of how you can express your love with your presence.