Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mindfulness Retreat and My Introverted Tween

Hi Friends - I don’t think I even know how to write blog posts anymore. Please bare with me. It has been a long time and a lot has happened since I posted last. We’ve taken amazing trips and lost some important people since I was with you last. 

For now, I have been writing a novel for the last six months and am so caught up in narrative and my characters’ lives, I find it difficult to write about my own. 

A few weeks ago I took my, now 12 year old, daughter to a half-day mindfulness retreat. I was a little nervous about how she may react. Would she reject the idea? That's what tweens do sometimes. Would she blurt out something or fall asleep? She is pretty sensitive but, at times, her filter is not there. She tends to say what she thinks and it’s not always polite or thoughtful. She’s a kid, that’s what they do. So, so what, right? 

The general goals were;
  1. To give the two of us a shared experience,
  2. To fill our toolbox with new ways to deal with stress and anxiety,
  3. To find new ways to allow us to focus on what we want to focus on, instead of reacting the majority of our days. 

Some tools were familiar and good to be reminded I already had back in depths of my mind while others were wonderfully new and easy to repeat and keep with me.

The biggest surprise of the day was watching my normally self-conscious, somewhat shy tween participate and actively listen to the lessons we were being taught. 

She soaked it in and seemed to flourish in the quiet calm of the day. 

I was reminded of when she was a baby and would quickly fall asleep in the middle of loud crowded places. How she would cover her ears when loud music played and how she would be happily reading in a quiet room alone during many, (sometimes her own) birthday parties in the early years. I was reminded that she is sensitive in every sense of the term and that she needs the quiet calm to think and to be.

One of the last activities we did at the retreat was to create a Mind Jar. We gathered an empty mason jar and filled it with glitter in various sizes, colors, and shapes, then added water with a little glue. The Mind Jar, when shaken, looks like the busy blur of our minds during times of stress. Then when left still, the glitter all slowly settles and the jar becomes clear again. 

I watched my reserved, pensive tween eagerly create an array of colors, adding music notes and butterfly shaped glittery pieces into the jar, then comfortably go to pour the water in the jar with others. She didn’t shy away or ask me to do anything.

This was a safe and comfortable place for her and I got to see her within that space, outside of our home and with other people. I watched her hold the door for others. I watched her help a little girl. I watched her politely wait in line for lunch. I watched her all day in amazement. 

The tools that we were taught and given will be helpful to both of us but the real gift of the day was witnessing the beauty of my daughter, in that time and place. The gift of seeing who she is really becoming in the quiet calm.

With Love,

Read more: 

Independence Day | Raising Strong Capable Children 

My Introverted Child | Listening to HER Voice

The Gratitude Project | 'Unspoiling' Our Children

Monday, April 20, 2015

Revolution of Dematerialization Update: Today's Big Event

BIG news: We sold our house today! Our house that is almost 100 years old and needs lots of love and care. 

Our house that we are afraid to leave for longer than a week or so at a time for fear of a catastrophe. Our house in which both of our children took their first steps. Our house where we celebrated so many birthdays and picnics on the lawn. Our house where we planted trees and flowers. Our house in which I have lived longer than any other house in my life. 

Our home.

A year of talking about it. Starting what we deemed a 'Revolution of Dematerialization'. Moving slowly at first, then stalling for a few months...THEN hyper-drive. Deciding to sell our home. Putting it on the market. Three offers the first day and closing in a month. It's such a wonderful and sad day. A valuable bittersweet step.

Five years ago this month, my husband and I were both recovering from thyroidectomies. We were self-employed and self-insured and had two children ages five and three and were dealing with the potential of both of us having cancer at the same time, in the same place in our bodies

Five years ago today, my husband - the love of my life - was having his neck sliced open in what was supposed to be a two hour surgery, but took almost seven hours. My vocal chords had been damaged in my surgery 12 days earlier, so I had no voice and no one would talk to us to tell us what was going on. Five years ago we were terrified. 

Five years ago was followed by months and years of difficult decisions and residual issues and financial impacts. 

Five years ago changed the course of our lives. It was an awakening. A terrible, cruel, strange, eye-opening time. And now, today, we are taking steps to live the lives that we envisioned before that time. And guess what, we are less afraid because of five years ago.

We learned how to let others be there for us. We learned how to be grateful and humble.

We are stepping out of the strong current of the massive river that we found ourselves swept up in once jobs and houses and kids happen, and we are standing on the riverbank for a moment and deciding a different way. 

We are learning to make intentional decisions about every aspect of our lives, not just the 'important ones'.

Today, we are moving toward a simpler life. We are learning about smaller living and how to reduce our responsibilities. We are finding ways to live bigger by downsizing. 

We will have a wonderful home base to give our children roots in a community that we already adore with friends close by and not too far from what our children consider home. (We are moving about four miles away.) 

We are letting our 2000+ sq. ft. historic home go to a wonderful young couple to start their family and we are going to a two bedroom newer town home. With a smaller footprint, we'll cut our overall living costs by at least half. We will have the ability to homeschool but also have terrific public schools as an option.

This change will give us wings to see as much of the world as possible like we had hoped without having to give up so much of our time trying to make money to do it.

My oldest daughter is not as excited as the rest of us. I'll share some of her troubles and how we are dealing with them in hopes of helping others out there that have children very resistant to change too. 

In the meantime, we are looking forward without leaving our beloved community behind. We are planning our travels that start in about six weeks to the Pacific Northwest and many stops to all learn about this great big place. World schooling in increments.  

We aren't alone and have some great inspirations and teachers to learn much about this awake, intentional living.

It's a perfect start for us. Can't wait to share it with you!  

Much Love,

Get new posts and updates right in your emailbox, click subscribe at the top right of this page. (I don't overload you with email! Just new posts and that's all.)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Games Girls Play | 'Friend Problems' in Childhood and Adulthood

It's interesting what people bond over. Often it's what seems to be positive feelings like righting a wrong. A common cause. A common interest or belief. A good book. Football. Sometimes it's just liking the way someone makes you feel; validated, valued, appreciated, even loved and admired.

Often bonds are built on negative platforms. On the negative feelings one has gotten from another. 'We can agree that this person or action is wrong or annoying' and go from there. On the fueling desire to get back at someone or how someone else has treated you or acted in a situation of which you both (or all) don't agree. A common 'enemy' is a very strong bonding agent.

 My 10 year old daughter is in the throes of drama and the games girls play. Some of the games are innocent. Some are just to see what they can do or how much power they have. Some are much more insidious.

My daughter has a wonderful group of friends that have pure hearts and generally do not participate willingly in these games. We are so grateful for them. It wasn't always like this.

A few years ago, she was being played a bit by a girl in her class. It wasn't overall damaging behavior, just disappointing. She would be in class one day and she'd be loved and accepted and included (which is very important to her). The next day the same friend would decide that she didn't want to include my daughter in recess or other social time and activities. We didn't label the girl or even blame her, exactly. She was just flexing her social muscles. We chose not to intervene but to coach her on how to look at this behavior.

Now, in 5th grade, when the games are much more complex and the girls' motives are much more difficult to see, my daughter has a clearer vision. She knows that if you are brought into a group by one 'friend' that hasn't really showed much interest in you (or even disdain) in the past to be careful. Keep your eyes and intuition keen.

Our short and sweet advice has been to stick with the friends that never make you feel bad on purpose. The ones that don't require you to agree with them to be their friend. The friends that are still there after an argument and that don't throw you away so easily or make you earn or keep their friendship through deeds or agreements. The ones that don't give you a 'pot of bubbling liquid' (as my daughter puts it) in your stomach. (Our more specific advice below.)

As an adult, I remember those girls very well. I remember not really being in a clique and being okay with that. I'd think, "I'm friends with everyone." And was comfortable having only a couple of close friends.

Even now, I have been made to feel that these games are still alive and well at times.

Years ago, before my children were even in school and I was in the middle of babydom (and feeling a little isolated), a woman literally 'cozyed up' to me on our first meeting. She was super interested in me and seemed smart and even kind. I had a new friend! It was nice. She emailed me a few times. 'Friended' me on Facebook. A week or so later, she invited me to dinner with some friends. I realized quickly that she invited me to try to add me to her semi-organized group that, I felt, was not working in an open fashion. I politely declined. From that point forward, the friendship stopped. I wasn't playing along or something. I was no longer of use or maybe she just didn't like me. She was cordial but not very friendly after that. At times even condescending. I was okay with that really. It was refreshing to see true colors.

Sometimes, I think of how much easier it is for some to just be a part of a particular social group and feel that acceptance of being part of that group. Having everyone in a similar mindset, similar likes and dislikes, family situation, tax bracket. Easier to know you'll agree on most ephemeral subjects makes for less conflict and who doesn't want that?

However, that just doesn't feel like the right answer for me. It isn't the right answer for my daughter either. She and I both have friends from different parts of our lives. People that we truly find real and have a sense of peace for being ourselves in their company. From whom we don't need to constantly seek acceptance.

I want to learn from the people around me. I want to see the world from different points of view. I want to trust those that I choose to give my time and tell my story. I don't want to always agree with my peers and I want the space and acceptance not to but to still have the conversation.

The advice that I've given my daughter, over and over again now is not new. It's borrowed from years of reading and the wisdom of others:
  1. "How someone treats you says more about them than it does you. Recognize what it's saying. That goes the same for how you treat people."
  2. "If you feel nervous about acceptance from a friend, reevaluate if that is who you want as a friend or what you want IN a friend."
  3. "Life is too short and energy too important to waste it on the wrong people. You don't have to be friends with everyone but you should be kind to everyone." 
  4. "If someone is not interested in the person you happen to be, but only for what you can do for them, move on. That is not a friend." 
When my daughter gets caught up in some of the games girls play and is confused about what to do and who to trust, we go over the points above. My 10 year old is even giving her little sister advice as, at age 7, she now navigating some of these issues. 

This school year, at one point, she got so caught up in the drama and games that I saw her behavior change and her attitude change but the confusion was still there. We went with a different approach. I asked her to think about and write down the top five qualities that she valued in a friend. She wrote them on a small piece of paper, folded it and put it in her pocket. That piece of paper is with her almost every day at school.

That list is there to remind her what's important for both her actions and those of her friends. She needed to take a minute and look at why. This has really seemed to help her when she starts to get sucked in. (And it CAN suck you in!)

One of my daughter's go-to words of advice, as she reports:

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
 ― Maya Angelou

This one sticks for her and helps guide her.

I am not saying that my daughter handles every situation well. She doesn't. She has a naturally judgmental personality type that makes her decisive and unafraid of action, which can be great for a leader. It also makes her less open-minded and reluctant to compromise as a first reaction. However, her ability to recognize and evaluate situations has grown tremendously in the last year or two and that is a great step to navigating the tricky world of being a preteen and soon, a teen girl. (Wow!)

Learning to be kind to everyone but that you don't have to be 'friends' with everyone. That you should choose your friends, not let them choose you. These are powerful lessons. Most importantly, they are empowering

We'll continue, both she and I, to hold true friends in the highest regard and let go of the others. We will do our best not to get caught up in the games. Recognizing them is a great step.

Much Love,

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Things have been deep and real around here for a little while now. I haven't shared my writing during it. All of our projects have halted. We've worked on new ones instead. I am working it out. I am writing about it. 

During this needed hiatus, where focus is in other places, I have been keeping my need to write going by developing characters for some non-fiction short stories I plan to share one day soon.

For now, I'll share this one that started as a character and became a poem. Something that reminds me that we all have something going on deep down underneath. And that's okay.


She has a sadness about her. The type of sadness that is 
deep and black and palpable. Thick and sticky like tar.
That doesn't wash away with rain or a clear blue day. 
It is what poets call sorrow, and what she calls consciousness.

Her smiles and clear-eyed existence can mask it for a while. Then the sorrow comes back in and she hides away until it passes. Until the tar can be covered over temporarily with white cotton and lace.

There was always something a little different about her. There was always a distance. She longed to be connected, to give and receive. The distance made it impossible and very few made the journey through it to sit beside her. Those few were rewarded with love and pain. With doubt and certainty. With truth and question. 
With tar and white cotton.

With Much Love and Warmth,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

NEW HABITS Summer 2014: Day 20

If you have not, please read 

Day 20
WAYPOINT: Focus on the positive.

Close your eyes and think of your happiest moment.
Answer the questions below. 

  1. What is the memory?
  2. Why did it make you happy?
  3. How old were you?
  4. Did you enjoy thinking about it?
  5. Were there other events that were close seconds to this one?
SHARE: Take time to share your answers with your family/friends or those that you may be close to you.

Happy New Habits!
Much Love,

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” 
                      ― L.M. Montgomery

Saturday, July 19, 2014

NEW HABITS Summer 2014: Day 19

If you have not, please read 

Day 19
WAYPOINT: Focus on the positive within you.

Record 3 things (traits, attributes, talents, etc.) that you 
like about yourself.
 Please be sincere, specific and thoughtful in your answers. You can decide, as a family, to share or not.

Happy New Habits!
Much Love,

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” 
                                     ― Voltaire

Thursday, July 17, 2014

NEW HABITS Summer 2014: Day 18

If you have not, please read 

Day 18
WAYPOINTWrite 3 things (traits or attributes) that you love 
about each member of your family

 Please be sincere, specific and thoughtful in your answers. Then set a time today or in the next day to share your answers with them.

Why are we doing this? Often, we focus on or tell others what what we don't like and not enough about what we appreciate about them.

*This is one of my favorites. Even if you do none of the others, do this one.

Also, this is a great practice for when you have bickering siblings or need a quick reconnect with friends. 

Happy New Habits!
Much Love,

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” 
                                     ― Voltaire