emotions

The other week I stumbled upon a writing prompt I had written in my journal with the intention of responding to it later.  It was a series of prompts to write a letter to your self that I had found while blog hopping (sorry to say I could not find the original reference- but when I Googled it there were many renditions of the letter to Self).  One of them was to write to yourself 10 years ago.  I thought I would give it a try.

 

After just writing a few sentences I was struck  by how powerful this exercise was for me.   My intuitive parent stepped right in and began to respond with such empathy I was brought to tears.  Parenting is tough, we all know that.  But sometimes we can be our own worst critic, ruminating over how we should have done things differently or comparing ourselves to other parents who don’t seem to be having such a hard time.

 

For me 10 years ago was a very significant point in time as a parent  because it was really so near  the beginning of parenthood for me (my eldest son would have been 1 1/2 years old).   Allowing myself to speak to my “new” parent self now, after 10 years, also brought to light how very important it is to continue to show the same empathy for one’s self even later on in one’s parenting career.

 

Perhaps this is something each and every  parent can give themselves as a gift for the new year.  We often talk about empathy for our children when they are going through tough times, but how about extending that empathic understanding to ourselves?

 

Here are some excerpts from my letter to my younger parent self.  The advice I give myself is relevant at any point in my parenting, even to this day when my children are (almost) 8 and 11 1/2 years old.

 

Dear Petrea,

You are a great mommy who loves your little baby boy deeply.  I know it is hard to be away from him and you feel stressed because you wish that you could give him more of your time.

You worry. Don’t let your worry take over who you are and get in the way . . .   You will have another child.  You will learn more . You will make mistakes that you regret, but you must let go of that regret, you must pay it no mind for it will eat away at you and fuel your worry, your self doubt.

Know that you are a wonderful parent, a fantastic parent.  You are human , yes, you make mistakes, yes, but you can and will learn from  them.

You are the best mom your son has, he needs you, he needs you to believe in yourself.  For when you believe in yourself as a mother, as a parent, your son will learn to believe in himself.

Don’t worry that one year has passed.  There is still time, there is always time.  You are a great parent, know that, feel that, believe that, and you will see how much easier things will be,  your life will be easier, your parenting will  be easier.

 

Let go of the past.

Walk boldly, with confidence, into the future!

Love your Wise Parent Self.

 

No matter what stage of parenting you are at, whether it is 2 months in, or 2 years, 12 years or twenty years into parenting, it’s never too late to show your self some gentle understanding and acknowledgment for all of your hard work as a parent.  Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective of time to realize the beauty of what we have done as parents.  I invite you to write a letter to your younger parent self.  For showing compassion to yourself is the first step in letting go of past “mistakes” and moving towards the intuitive parenting that we all have inside.

 

 

As I sit here stressing, yes stressing over what to write for today’s Metaphor Monday, feeling behind (no video today, sorry) and at a loss of what to write, there it is. Life lessons everywhere indeed. Once again humbled by my struggles.

 

While I don’t exactly like to be stressed about things, I am reminded of how motivating stress can be. Let me clarify, when I was a grade school student , even in high school, I was one of those do your writing assignment at the last minute and get an “A” kind of gal. Yep, I was almost always doing my assignments at the last minute, procrastinating, avoiding until I could not put it off anymore. And it always turned out, for me anyway.

 

Though leaving things until the last minute certainly isn’t for everyone, it speaks to the importance of a little bit of stress to motivate one to move forward. Too much stress of course can be imobilizing. This is not an inviation to push stress upon your self and others, only a call to take notice of it when it is already there.

 

The old addage “No pain, no gain” comes to mind in another way. There has to be just the right amount of discomfort inorder for one to move forward and recieve the gains of doing so. If you just stay put, and don’t stretch beyond your comfort zone then you will of course just stay put, nothing new tried out, no new insights.

 

Applied to parenting it looks something like this: when we see our children struggle with something new or even something they have tried before, sometimes standing back and letting the frustration unfold is the best thing we can do for them. If we do it for them, or jump in too quickly and tell them it doesn’t matter, we do our children a disservice. We rob them of that motivating stress which can push them beyond their presumed limits and show them just what they are capable of.

Taken a step further we can see stress’ role in creating change in our lives as parents too. When we are feeling stressed because of how things are going with our children, whether that be arguements, sibling fights or chaotic routines, it is a good time to step back and figure out what is the gain here? What message is this pain trying to convey? Just as our body gives off physical pain signals when it is injured and needs tending, stress is usually a good indicator and hopefully a motivator to shift some things around with a little tender loving care. We can get sucked into that drama of “woe is me, other families don’t have to go through this“, or we can take a closer look and see what is the underlying message here. What needs to change?

 

It is a balancing act for sure. Knowing when to step in, and when to sit back. Knowing your own levels of tolerance for stress and when you may need some help. I would be lying if I said that there should be no pain. We are human, with emotions that somtimes are like being on rollar coasters. We are human, carrying around that baggage of times past. We are parents, we are learning, we are gaining more life expereince every minute, each day.

 

Be ready for some pain and tears. Be ready to let these go. Be ready to move forward again and gain some peace of mind knowing that every parent every child is human.

 

The Parent Inspiration Toolkit can help you parent through the stress. With guided meditations and expressive arts exercises to ground you and strengthen your connection with your intuitive parent.

Sometimes we just need to not take life so seriously.

 

Metaphor Monday  We interrupt regular programming to bring you this special seasonal post . . . .

 

This weekend our family attended the 12th annual Night of Dread here in Toronto. We’ve been going almost 10 years now. The thing that keeps us coming back year after year other than the spectacular parade of giant puppets, live drumming bands to groove to and a parade of community, is the facing your fears portion of the night. After the parade we gather round a large circle and the archetypal fears are called forward. One by one the fears step into the centre of the circle and community is invited to laugh at or shun the fear with “Boooo”s.  There is fear of natural disasters, fear of government aka “Prime minister Nobody”,  Toronto’s Mayoral gravy boat, fear of war, fear of consumption.  The list goes on.


After that, other big and “little” or idiosyncratic fears are called upon, each written on cardboard signs pre-made by participants prior to the parade.  Fears such as the fear of “getting into trouble” “zombies” “fear of racism” “fear of authority” to name a few. We are all called upon to repeat these fears out loud, yell them loud just before they are thrown into the cleansing fire in the middle. Its a ritual with such deep meaning, perhaps not always fully comprehended by our children though enjoyed by them just the same. They have the opportunity to see the community at large gather to protest, fight back and take control of their fears in a fun and peaceful way, all the while bringing awareness to important issues and creating a feeling of not being alone in one’s fears.

 

After this, the community (not audience as we are all participating on some level by just being there I believe) are invited to dance with death.  Every year I waltz with death.

 

This year was bitter-sweet: for not only did I have the usual feeling of gratitude for my life, but also a great sense of loss for my family, as my father-in-law had died this past spring.

The gathering was held in a large park and after the activities we took some time to visit the shrines that were scattered across the park, each lit with a small candle.  This year we participated on another level as a family.  Night of Dread invited people from the community to make shrines for loved ones who had died or to morn the loss of other tragedies such as natural disasters, pollution and so forth.  Together (while my mother-in-law watched) we built a shrine for my father-in-law.  Chris did most of the arranging of items and pictures he had picked.  My sons made a rendition of a lira, an instrument that their grandfather’s father use to play.

As we walked among the collective shrines that night we saw a shrine for the earth, one for Haiti, pet cats, John Lennon and others loved ones who had died.

My sons made a lira to hang in their grandfather's shrine

 

This multimodal approach to fears is what kids need. Talking about fears is useless to kids because being rational is not a part of one’s fears.  Kid’s know that there are no monsters under the bed but they feel them there anyway. Through ritual, these fears can be acknowledged, accepted and released.

 

 

 

Welcome to the 25th episode of Metaphor Monday! Today come for a drive with me as I talk about parenting from a different perspective.

 

 

 

 

On today’s Metaphor Monday, I look at the importance of learning how to put on the breaks with your children.

 

 

Special note: the music credits should read: “Ares live on the Ukulele”.  Thanks Ares for the impromptu music performance!

 

 

Are You Carrying Around Too Much?


 

Well, I took a week off from doing Metaphor Monday in keeping with my self-care practice: practicing what I preach.  I have just been super busy this last week or so.  I figured there is no need to get all worked up and tense then carry that baggage of “oh I failed because I missed a week of Metaphor Monday” I said to myself.   So without further ado, here is this week’s Metaphor Monday; the last of the Temagami-nature-inspired  metaphors for this year.   I’ve made a short video for this Metaphor, taken from one of our portages.  I hope you enjoy it!

When we go canoe camping we have to pack light and be practical about what we take with us.  We need to pare down in preparation for our portages which obviously will be more difficult if we have too much baggage.  After all we want to be able to enjoy the scenery when we portage.

When we set up camp we take out what we need and put it back right after, rearranging it at that time to balance the load.  And every time we have a meal it makes for a lighter load.

As parents we all  have baggage that we carry with us from our past into our present experiences with our children.  Some of it may be useful, like when you use your own experiences as a child to guide you towards parenting in a way that is best for your child (and not necessarily the way you were parented).  Some of our baggage that we carry can interfere with our ability to parent to our best  because we get so weighed down emotionally from our baggage.

Sometimes we pass this baggage on to our children unwittingly when we put expectations on them that are too high.  Expectations that our parents had of us. Expectations that we feel we should have because other parents do. Expectations that ultimately our children feel they need to live up to, and when they don’t they carry this baggage around with them continuing the cycle.

Sometimes we need to remember to unload some of the luggage we carry piece by piece, carefully holding on to what serves us well, what feeds our soul, memories that teach us. We need to take care that we shift our load around to balance it out when we do. Sometimes that may mean replacing our baggage with more efficient, positive lighter things.

 

6 Ways to Avoid Being Bugged

Welcome to the continuation of last weeks Metaphor Monday about being bugged by your children’s behaviour.  This week I share some ideas on how to protect yourself from being so “bugged”.

 

 

 

Don’t get so bugged . . .

 

Today’s parenting metaphor takes a closer look at why we sometimes are bothered by our kids.  Filmed in Temagami and  inpsired by nature, while we were canoe camping this past August.

Calm Waters

 

Welcome to another Metaphor Monday for parenting tips and tools. This week I give you some parenting tips for avoiding disappointment from turning into overwhelm for your child.

 

Filmed in the beautiful wilderness of Temagami Ontario! Enjoy!

 

 

Letting Go

I have created a short video below about letting go. I also included a story about how it came to be in this weeks post. Enjoy!

 

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of stuff. For some of us that means letting go of things we are sentimental about.  Sometimes its letting go of memories; things that happen that become our story or our truth. We may have invested our emotions in in the past with events that bothers us. As we hold on to these emotions they linger and overshadow our present moments. But in holding on we pay a price, the heavy load, the luggage we carry around wears us down.
With kids this holding on sounds like “he always does this” or “always gets his way” or the famous “its not fair” hanging on to perceived past injustices and carrying them into future experiences of what’s going on. Everything unjust becomes labeled as “always” happening and there doesn’t seem to be room for change because there is a holding on to the past experience so tightly that it is expected in the future. Holding on in this case is not the holding on of hope but rather of negativity.

 

The other weekend while canoe camping, a process in and of itself is a practice of letting go of stuff and leaving conveniences behind, the boys decided to make boats. They usually love collecting rocks like most boys or like to bring back souvenirs like chewed beaver sticks or other “keep-sakes” from their trip. Both enjoyed taking pictures of the sunset the first night. My youngest was photographing the sunset and was getting frustrated when he was not able to see the pictures right away on the camera screen. I reminded him that he could look at it anytime and to just enjoy the real thing in front of him, after a few more grumbles he was able to let it go and relax, not getting stuck in his expectation of how things should be.

 

After the boys made their nature boats they talked about bringing these back home with them. After hearing his brother talk about bringing them home my youngest decided he wanted to as well, even though on the way my youngest had made a boat on his own which he let go at the dock before we paddled off to our camp site. After talking about how we could document their launch with photos just as we had when they made them, they both agreed and became excited about launching their boat, sending it out into the water, out into the world, letting it go. Who knows what kind of travels their boats would go on perhaps it would be like the little carved canoe in the film “Paddle to the Sea” where a boy carves a wooden canoe and then releases it into the river which then travels down to the great lakes and eventually out to the ocean. This got them excited, they were ready to let go and open up to the possibilities. We talked more about not having to hang on to everything.

 

At one point when we were paddling back to the car, my youngest spontaneously released his boat, I thought prematurely, but he was fine with this. However, being the typical adult, who sometimes gets stuck and has a hard time letting go of stuff or ideas, I suggested we retrieve it because I missed photographing the moment of release.

 

We all can learn to let go a little more, whether it is letting go of fear of whether your kids are capable of something, or simply letting go of the past as in the last minute that just went by. Letting go of “hard” feelings is also a tough one. But if we don’t learn to how will our kids. Holding on to resentment or disappointment can also be a set up for us expecting similar unwanted behaviours from our children. If we just let go of our expectations a little more and be open to all the possibilities, imagine what adventures we can enjoy.

 

Parenting from a different perspective . . .

 

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Last week I spoke about the importance of taking time to breathe and slow things down with your children.  When I taped Metaphor Monday #16 I ended up having more to say than I had thought so here is part two of “Metaphor Monday Breathe”. Enjoy!

Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. ~Oprah Winfrey

Are You Breathing for Life or Breathing for Living?

 

“He lives most life whoever breathes most air.”  -Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

 


“A lifetime is not what is between

the moments of birth and death.

A lifetime is one moment

Between my two little breaths.

The present, the here, the now,

That’s all the life I get.

I live each moment in full,

In kindness, in peace, without regret.”

Chade Meng, Taoist poet

 

 

 

Parenting from a different perspective.

What can animals teach us about our children? In Today’s 11th Metaphor Monday I explore a different way of looking at children’s feelings of fear and anger. Please post your comments or questions below.

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