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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Me, Happier: Part 2 (parenting changes)

So, my last blog randomly became about forgiveness when originally I hadn't intended to write on the topic. Today I thought I would continue sharing the reasons that my stress and frustration levels have gone down so much. The theme today is: parenting changes.

Parenitng. The joys. The absolute joys. Truly. This is not sarcasm. I have never meant that phrase sarcasticly, but my frustration level several months ago was high, and I had no sense of what to do to solve the problems for my child. These "problems" included everything from not listening to my directions and agressiveness towards other children. I remember sobbing by 10:00 in the morning because nothing was going right!

So, after reading piles of literature on parenting, I realized why a lot of my trial and error was more error than anything else. OK, I'll admit, I can talk an ear off an elephant, and I suppose this encouraged a few lectures. Lectures to a two year old. How ridiculous! I really thought that my insight would sink in, but in reality it would backfire and he would yell something like, "I will never do lojsdflkjksdnfalkndfkldfa (two year old banter)!" Funny now. Not so much in the moment.

So, what I have realized is parenting is much more about my self discipline than my child. They need a guide to teach them what behavior is acceptable, and what isn't. I have learned to love 'mis'behavior, because I have the opportunity to teach them what is right and wrong while the cost is so low. Many parents get in the way with their own agenda, and make their child pay the high price for unacceptable behavior when they're grown up.

I would love to share some of the parenting strategy specifics, but there is SO much rich information, and it all flows so beautifully together. I would highly recommend sprinting to the bookstore or amazon.com and buying "Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline" by Dr. Becky Baily, and "Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood" by Dr. Jim and Charles Fay. They have monumentally changed my life forever.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Me, Happier

I was thinking to myself yesterday how much lighter my heart is now than it used to be. In my heart, I truly feel rest. Peace. Joy. Even with a busy toddler and a newborn, I find myself rarely stressed at the end of the day. This is a change. I have always been happy, but I can definitely assure you that the past year has proven itself to be very difficult, and I felt a great burden in my heart- even on a "good day."

This feeling of rest crept up on me, and treated me to a grand realization that life is good. It really is. My circumstances haven't changed- in fact, they are worse in some ways. I am taking an extended maternity leave with no money in the bank after a frank call from God to be "mommy at home." God wasn't kidding when he said that following His call wasn't easy, but it sure brings rest to the soul.

Other contributing factors? Yes. This blog! Knowing I'm living my life without regret gives me peace of spirit. How could it not?

Exercising. A lot. Yes, this is always a great boost of the lovely endorphins in my brain.

Choosing to use simple consequences that speak for themselves instead of yelling at Noah or getting frustrated and overwhelmed.

Today, my story is forgiveness. The mysterious artform that developes all too late for many people. I have had certain ebs and flows in my life where I held to something painful in my heart. Instead of letting it go I allowed it to fester and grow into a small piece of bitterness below a bubbly exterior. If I let the hurt go, I was saying to myself that it didn't hurt, or that it was OK, and to me; it wasn't. I wanted "them" to understand how much "they" hurt me. I wanted to hear, "I'm sorry." And let's face it, I still want to hear, "I'm sorry."

After years- yes, years; I have finally spoken to a few of the people in my life and let them know how I felt. How much I hurt. Not everyone, (not like there are a lot)but sometimes you have to wait for the right moment. Maybe it's because I'm not ready. Maybe they're the one who isn't ready to hear. Regardless, I'm waiting. Wiating for the conversation, but I'm not waiting to let go.

One of my favorite quotes is from Max Lucado, and it has impacted my life tremendously. He says, "God will never call you to give anyone more grace than He has already given you." Wow. Forgiveness doesn't justify anything. It doesn't mean you are admitting fault, or admitting they were right. It just sets you free. That's all. Will the pain or the memory be gone in that instance? No. Sometimes there are layers upon layers of feelings that come out at different times of your life, or when new memories come to mind. But, at that moment, do yourself a great favor and make the choice to forgive them again. Forgive that person for that moment as many times as you need to. Forgive them again and again. And maybe again.

Setting yourself free from the devastating effects of bitterness or anger will promote a new life. A life that isn't free from difficult times, but one that chooses a perspective of joy. A heart that has rest for you, and for those around you. I truly hope that over time, Jeremy will notice that I am happier at the end of the day. That there aren't little bits of yuckiness in my heart that can creep out and bite at the first sign of a crying baby, or a toddler who doesn't feel like listening. That, my heart has a restfulness knowing that I won't regret having held onto something that held me back instead of allowing for a joyful song.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jeremy Inspire's Me

Jeremy, my most fabulous husband, inspire's me for many reasons, and several of them fall into the category of "no regrets." Jeremy beautifully demonstrates the importance of saying a meaningful goodbye every morning, or anytime he leaves the house without me and the kids. Here is a great example...

It's 7:15 am. Absolutely the last minute Jeremy can leave the house and still make it to work on time. We called for Noah to come say goodbye, but he yells, "No!" Jer gives me a big kiss goodbye, has one foot out the door, and we hear Noah come rushing down the stairs saying, "Daddy, wait! I need hugs and kisses, daddy!!" And here's Jeremy; one foot out the door, late again. Haven't we all been there? Jeremy will always come back inside and give him his full heart, and a great big hug and kiss. Without the feeling of being rushed. He takes in that goodbye and makes Noah feel like his daddy is present in that moment with him. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

I love that my husband doesn't think being to work 25 seconds later than he would be otherwise is somehow more important than his son knowing his daddy loves him. There are so many more moments and truths that Jeremy teaches me about living with no regrets, and I will gladly share more inspiring details in the future...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Noticing

I have recently come across the idea of noticing in a few parenting books. It means realizing what your child likes, and instead of making a judgment statement to them, such as, "I love it when you color pretty pictures," or, "I love how well you dance," you should say, "Wow, I have noticed that you like to draw pictures for daddy, " or, "I've noticed how much you love to dance!" A subtlety, sure; but a significant one. One that makes a huge difference on the self esteem of a child. A child who has the freedom to grow up and be what they always dreamed of- not what they think would make some else- especially their parents- happy.

Today as I drove home, it was just beginning to snow, and there was a driver behind me who was clearly wanting to speed past. I started to get slightly irritated since the weather didn't provide clear driving conditions, and I had two babies in the backseat. Before allowing myself to further indulge my feeling to get over and give him a clear and direct point to the innocent children in the back seat and a furrowed brow, I thought of the idea of noticing.

What I noticed was that this man was in a hurry. Period. Ok. Got it. I'll move over for you. What's the problem with that? Am I really going to waste a single moment on some less-than-intelligent (woops, a judgment!) man that feels the need to get somewhere 30 seconds faster than I do? OK, so I won't get upset. I won't judge him. I won't waste time. I'll simply notice. Notice he is in a hurry.

This little idea has such dramatic implications on the happiness, the peace, and the extra moments I'll own thinking of something brighter. It goes beyond road rage. It can be used anytime someone talks about something they enjoy, something they dislike- it's a way to know someone and their values without judging that they are different than you.  This is the most freeing thought process, and is, in my experience, the easiest way to get away from judging others!  In the end I will be glad knowing that I didn't allow the anger and frustration over someone else's value system to rob me.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why this blog?

Despite my love hate relationship with New Year's resolutions, I decided to make one. Living with no regrets. It's that simple. It's always been on my heart, but today, as I was on the eliptical machine (where I get many of my enlightening ideas), I decided to make it official. What would happen if I consciously thought how I would feel about each decision I make as if I were an 80-year-old woman looking back? Will this decision make my life more or less meaningful in the long run? What am I afraid of? What keeps me from being my true self, or living life to its true abundance? These are questions that I ask myself now, but I am charging myself to never let these questions slip by because it is easier to believe in the moment that NCIS is more important to my life experience. What is that?



Living without regret is such old news I can't believe I am actually blogging on the subject; but I am tired of hearing the regrets of the 60, 70 or 80 year-old, then thinking to myself, "so true- I'll keep that in mind in my life" and then forget a day later. OK, my life isn't boring or meaningless, but I am sure I am missing out on many opportunities to add beauty, meaning, and love to my life because of the distractions and monotony in each day. It's as if there are a few momentous, fabulous, knock-me-out moments that are strung together by many days of ordinary.


Does each day have to be a special occasion? No! It's in the small moments even more than the big ones. It's spending time with my kids and impressing in my memory their warmth and smiles- it's kissing Jeremy goodbye and really taking that moment to say "I love you" and it not being something to check off of a list. I want my attitude to say, 'I am really present in this moment with you." I have this fleating chance to be everything I was created for, and I could easily waste it on TV, laziness, or dreaming too much of the future and missing out on what is in front of me.


I remember in college a friend asked me to play at an open mic at this great place in Indianapolis called The Music Mill. My heart was POUNDING, and I didn't think I could do it. This is coming from someone who has performed many times. But not MY music. Not something so close to me that I was terrified of being judged. That was one of those moments where I thought, "If I miss this opportunity, will I regret it when I am 80?" I knew the answer was yes; so, I did it! I played 5 original songs with just my voice and a keyboard, and it was a stand-out moment for me in my life- and not just because people actually liked it! I could have easily missed that opportunity, but I chose to put aside fears of what others thought of me and fulfilled a dream.


So, this year, and hopefully for the rest of my life, I will take the charge to live in the best way I know how so that I can look back at my life with a deep smile from within instead of a sigh. I would love to hear your story, and I hope mine inspires you to find your best life!