The traps of parenthood

I’m a relatively new mom all things considered.  My daughter is about to turn 4, but I feel like I’ve learned a life’s worth of lessons with her so far.  Her presence has shown me so many limiting ways of being that I was operating from.  Now that I’ve plunged myself into this journey of self-awareness and awakening to the truth of who I am, I’m seeing more and more how many of those limiting behaviors I still have and I’m seeing more how others are similarly trapped (or more or less so, depending on where they are).

Early on, when Zara was less than 1, I often found myself complaining about her lack of sleep, her lack of doing what I wanted, when I wanted.  It was all around me too, all of us young mothers, complaining to one another, and there were many books out there to support the complaints, such as “how to get your baby to sleep,” “how to whisper to your baby the way this person does,” and the list is endless.  I could have stood at the parenting section for hours and not really known where to start.  It kind of felt like I was being given a chance to start over.  Instead of carrying my life forward from my old ways of being and my old job, where we would work and then complain, work and then complain, I was given the most precious gift of all, a beautiful baby girl with a wise soul, deep eyes and an open heart, who showed me with her presence and her reactions to my behavior and my unconscious energetic rebukes, what I was really doing.  She was giving me a chance to try again, to see if there really was another way to operate, instead of from defense, blame, victimhood and what about me-hood, she was showing me what my actions were doing to her and she was looking at me with those wise eyes, almost as if to say, “I know you can do this, really I do.”

I’ve since come a long way.  In fact, sometimes I’m not even sure I’m the same person who was angry at our little precious one (9 months old is one time I remember) for not going to sleep, and then deciding that if she wasn’t going to go to sleep, then I would turn on the TV and just watch it.  I’ve been learning how to forgive myself lately and whenever those memories of my unconscious behaviors come up and I start to blame myself and feel guilty, I’m learning to be kind to myself and stop, close my eyes and put my hands on my heart and say, “I forgive myself,” out loud.  It feels really good.  I really didn’t know any better, I really was doing the best I could have, and sometimes when I forgive myself audibly like that, I get goose bumps and I know that it’s true, that I’ve really forgiven myself and I’ve chosen self-love over self-beating-up like I used to.

I'm so grateful for Zara and all I've learned from her and the opportunities I've had to go within since she joined us.
I’m so grateful for Zara and all I’ve learned from her and the opportunities I’ve had to go within since she joined us.

I offer some suggestions to those who are/were like me, who are/were trapped in unconscious patterns of relating to the world and to their children, so that they may see that there are options and alternatives instead of just following along.  I offer them from my heart, from my experience, because I think we all want to do the best for our children and we often hate it when we hear those harsh words come out of our mouths or feel ourselves pulling away from our beauties, or even exploding at them.  We’ve all done it and I feel like we can all unite together in this, instead of hiding in shame and learn from one another and most importantly, learn from our children.  We all remember being the child who was yelled at, who was shamed, who was hit or threatened with abuse, we all remember those feelings, let’s assist one another in stopping the unconscious patterns and let’s start honoring ourselves and our children.

Some things that have helped me:

  • Notice how you talk to yourself when you are around your children.  Is there a constant stream of “you little brat, I’m going to make you do this, how could you do this to me, we only have 5 minutes left, what do you mean you have to pee, you just threw your food on the floor, are you (insert swear word here) kidding me?”  From my experience and from reading Eckhart Tolle’s books, all we have to do is notice it to pull out of it.  Sometimes I’ve noticed it so strongly and I have to completely stop what I am doing and lie down and breathe, or I may do something absolutely silly (which was not like me early on) and run around the house 3 times (I learned that from the book “Adventures in Gentle Discipline”) or sing a song.  I do my best not to give up my power to the thoughts in my head, which are not me in the first place.
  • Notice yourself criticizing your children, either directly or behind their backs (especially when they are in hearing range, actually, it’s best to avoid it completely, they’ll sense it anyway).  Children hear and notice everything.  If you are supportive in front of them and then turn around and roll your eyes or slump over in exhaustion so your friends can see (I’ve seen this), they will feel it and notice it.  We are not masters of deception as parents, children are masters of detection, I especially remember this from my childhood.  Ask yourself why you feel like you need to complain about your child, what purpose does it serve?  Does it help people to like you, does it help you to feel like you fit in that way?  I wonder if all parents like to hear others complain about their children and what would happen if one of us parents started saying, “actually it really bothers me to hear you criticize your child, please don’t share those negative comments with me.  I will always support you in finding constructive ways to deal with your situation, but no criticism please.”  I think I may give it a try.  Actually, I’ve already done it and it’s worked!
  • Think about the things you were told as a child: you are fat, you are so useless, you are so stupid, you can’t do anything, you’ve dropped that again, what’s wrong with you, I hate it when you do that to me, etc.  It won’t take long to think about them, because they are stored inside us, in our subconscious minds, like a little program we learned as children, waiting to play over and over again.  Consider what program you want running in your child and speak from there.  For more information about children and their subconscious minds and the beliefs about the self that get stored there, you can check out Bruce Lipton’s, “the Biology of Belief.”  That book was such an intense wake up call for me.  Children even have different types of brain waves until they are 6, and that is so they can soak up as much about the world as possible, including beliefs about the self, and they get those mainly from their parents.  Consider what types of things you say to your child!
  • If your child is always resisting what you are saying, consider why.  From an early age (6 weeks) we followed “diaper free baby”, so that meant we would assist our daughter to pee in a potty, toilet or sink, instead of in her diapers.  It meant that we were in tune with her, noticing her body movements as signals for when she had to go, etc.  It was a really cool process and I’m glad we did it, we didn’t have to wash as many diapers and it meant we didn’t really have to potty train our daughter because she understood what her body needed to do and into where, from a very early age.  I remember putting her on the potty at certain points, maybe when she was 8 months and she would stand up and look at herself in the mirror (I had my hands under her arm pits and the potty was on the counter, so you can picture it!) and she would sing and bounce and marvel at herself.  I felt myself getting so frustrated that she wouldn’t do what I wanted.  I had such strong memories of my father being frustrated at me like that and I could feel the frustration in my entire body.  I tried to “get” her to go, but of course it didn’t work.  None of us like to be forced!!  I read “Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting” and my life and parenting turned right around.  I was mindful and aware of when I was forcing and I was able to pull back and centre myself and sure enough, there was less force, less control and less battles because I had adjusted how I was approaching my parenting.
  • Instead of blame and anger, consider stopping, breathing, getting some fresh air and realizing and knowing that your child is not out to get you, but is there to highlight that which you haven’t wanted to see for a long time:)  Consider thanking your child and moving on from a fresh place.  I’ve had a lot of help in my “moving on” and “letting go” because in my experience of life, it has never been as easy as just saying it and it being done.  I’ve learned about mindful parenting, I’ve learned about gentle discipline, unconditional parenting, making time for myself (still working on that one), allowing myself to say no and meaning it and it being okay, and I’ve also learned about healing and letting go with an energy coach/healer/guide that I see quite regularly, and through techniques my husband has learned on his own path of reclaiming his life (reconnective healing and heartmath, http://www.healandevolve.ca).  I’ve also learned that yoga, nature walks with my family and friends and dancing are very therapeutic and enjoyable for me.

I think there are traps in parenthood and I think they are there for a wonderful reason, just as our children chose us for a wonderful reason, to help us see the truth of who we are and so that we may honor and love them and allow them to flourish and shine the way they intended when they came to this beautiful planet.

These are pictures of me that Zara took.  I was doing "I Am Happy, I Am Good" (please see www.playingfromtheheartkidsconnect.com for info, it's a Radiant Child Yoga song), and she was cracking me up because she was coaching me along to do it with more emphasis and feeling.  It was a riot.  I've come a long, long way.  I'm really proud of me.
These are pictures of me that Zara took. I was doing “I Am Happy, I Am Good” (please see http://www.playingfromtheheartkidsconnect.com for info, it’s a Radiant Child Yoga song), and she was cracking me up because she was coaching me along to do it with more emphasis and feeling. It was a riot. I’ve come a long, long way. I’m really proud of me.

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What our experiences can teach us if we are willing to see it

I think we’ve all heard, “it happened for a reason,” about an experience that we are going through or have gone through.  Sometimes that statement can be so obviously true, or super infuriating if the experience is what we may deem as horrible and painful, and it may lead us to wonder what we have done to “deserve it.”

The guide that I’ve been going to see for nearly two years now to clear out all the old energies, karma, emotions and memories, has been repeating several truths to me and I’m starting to get that our experiences can teach us and show us that which we haven’t wanted to see, if we can allow it and be willing to look deeper.

Last week, I got off the bed in our spare room, stepped onto the floor and a sharp, stabbing pain filled my foot!  I screamed out really loudly and I was scared about what could have caused it. I felt the panic rising in my chest and I was nervous.  I gently took my sock off and there was a small piece of wood sticking out of it.  I’ve had splinters before, but this seemed more like  a shard of wood or something and it frightened me even more.  My husband wasn’t home and I realized I was going to have to deal with it myself, which I rarely have done in my life.  My Dad was always my splinter remover and that job just fell to my husband since he was good at it.  I never questioned it, but just said to myself, “ya, I must go to a man to get my splinter removed.”  Ha, I’m laughing as I type this because that thought was so true.

I hopped over to the bathroom to get some tweezers and I was really starting to feel like a victim by the time I got there.  Despite all the tools I have learned for connecting to myself, breathing deeply, acknowledging the fear and feeling it, I was in panic mode and no tool thoughts were able to enter through the panic I was feeling.  I grabbed the tweezers and yanked it out.  It was still really throbbing and painful and I lay on the bed and tried to come deeper into my body and to send some love to where the pain was. It was only after the piece of wood was out that I was able to start using some tools, but the panic had taken over and it was slower going than if I had connected to myself right away.  That’s okay, it was all part of what I was meant to learn and see.

I limped a fair bit on and off for nearly a week, so I figured that there must be another piece of wood in my foot, which kind of kept me in a slight fear mode for that entire week.  Finally, the day came when I walked and the pain was so excruciating that I knew that there must be more wood in there and that my body had been working so hard to push it closer to the surface for me. I had probed around with the tweezers when I initially took it out but I hadn’t been able to see anything.  So, after feeling that pain at the end of the week, I knew that I would have to break through the skin (yikes!) and pull out the beast!

Robbin (my husband) and I were armed with tweezers, nail clippers and needles to try to get it out, and I was squirming and too scared to let Robbin try to take it out.  I tried myself and I felt a lot of “this is so hard, this is going to hurt, I can’t do this,” thoughts and energies moving through my body, so I stopped and breathed and connected to myself.  I thought then that I could let Robbin do it, but it was like I just couldn’t, so I decided to try it myself again.  It got a little easier and less scary, and then I stopped and realized that the reason why this happened to me was so that I could take back my power from splinters and from my body being hurt and hoping/asking that others take care of me.  I mentioned that to Robbin and I felt much lighter inside.  I was able to really dig out the thick skin (yikes, but this time it was much less of a yikes) and then I was able to grab it. I breathed, got the tweezers ready and I pulled it out.  It was sooooo long and thick, it was crazy!  It was an inch long and a millimetre thick at one end and likely a millimetre and a half at the other end.  I exclaimed out loud about it and then I didn’t want to look at it!  Robbin encouraged me to, to look at it, appreciate what my body had gone through, and what a personal victory I had just achieved in its removal.  I looked at it from that perspective and marvelled at it and I felt so free, so happy, so empowered!  It was the biggest splinter I’d ever seen and I was able to see the lesson it had for me and I was able to free myself from the grip of “help me, I don’t know what to do, I can’t do this by myself.”  Hooray!

I took out the garbage that night and it was really cold and refreshing and I got to the end of the driveway and I looked around and then I was overwhelmingly compelled to run up and down the driveway pumping my arms in the air and yelling, “I did it, yes I did it!”  Tee hee, I don’t think anyone saw me, but if they had, they would have joined me I’m sure!

I hope to keep getting the secret messages that my life’s experiences have to share with me!

Awakening and mindfulness

I started on a journey of awakening, well, I guess I’ve always been on this journey, in this whole life time and many other past life times.  That is our ultimate goal as humans, to wake up past the unconsciousness and to remember the truths that we all still have in our hearts, deeper down or closer to the surface, depending on where you are in your personal journey.

I feel like I’ve always had this inner awareness, this inner voice/presence that would  guide me, that would sometimes look at the world in shock, and that sometimes propelled me beyond what I thought was possible.  I’ve also though, been super weighed down by the collective unconsciousness, by the ego that has many of us in its grip.  My true journey of realizing that I was that inner presence, that inner voice, and not the ego, started last April 2011, when I had my first healing session with Jean Brazeau here in Ottawa, Ontario.  I was lead to Jean, whom I found because she is listed on The Journey website as a practitioner, when our family naturopath was trying to help me on the path to health, and she told me I had to clear out some emotional blocks to truly heal and that the Journey process would help me.  I have continued this deep work with Jean (which is more than the just the Journey I have come to learn!) of looking within, finding what is there that is preventing me from living my true life, and I have been constantly astonished at what I have found.  Many of my past blog posts have been about what I have found on my deep inner explorations.  This post will be about how I see the world now as I awaken, with mindfulness, with presence and with a new awareness that is awesome and sometimes shocking because of what I am finally able to see and sense.   Here are a few of my latest observations:

We have gone so far beyond what any of us ever wanted for ourselves on this beautiful planet.  How did we get to the place where sod farms, flower farms, tree farms and pumpkin farms were ever okay?  I had never ever questioned where sod comes from, and then one day I saw this huge truck driving by and it said sod farm right across it.  The realization hit me so hard!  We have chopped down trees just to grow green grass that we need to cut every week when it’s hot and that we spray chemicals on to keep it uniform and free from weeds.  Whoever decided what a weed was?  Is this really how we want the world to look or are we needing to keep what we can see around us perfect because of the fear of how imperfect and how unloveable we are inside that is driving us?

A sod farm in Texas. From http://www.king-ranch.com/sod_texas.html

Why are we using precious land just to grow pumpkins that will be carved and thrown out?  The same for tree farms for Christmas trees?  I love traditions!!  I super do, but at some point, we all have to breathe in together, one big collective breath and let it out and say, “okay, we are so many on this planet, maybe Christmas trees and carving pumpkins are a bit wasteful, maybe we can create more planet friendly traditions?”

When are tons of flowers at funerals and weddings going to cease being important and necessary?  Where are they growing all those flowers that are in every single grocery store in Canada?  Can we not just keep them in florist shops, to keep the numbers lower, to keep the quality high?  Yes, they may still be grown in the same way, but not in the same immeasurable quantity.  When did we decide that planting a seed and watching flowers grow in our garden was too slow, that we need to be able to go to a garden centre and to buy flowers that are already in bloom.  I know that Canadian winters are very long but there is the option of planting bulbs in the fall and getting to watch them poking out of the soil in the early spring, I really enjoy that!

An artist’s painting of a flower farm in California. From: http://celioarts.blogspot.ca/2009/12/flower-farm-in-gilroy.html

I’m not necessarily saying any of these things are inherently good or bad, but it’s more that they are observations from an awakened, aware and more mindful perspective than I ever had before.  I’m wondering if what is being offered to us and what we are buying, is what we truly want?  I’m starting to feel the force and the pull behind advertisements too and I’m having to be mindful in stores and even just when I’m checking my email to ensure that I am not being led by the advertisements instead of by what I actually need.  Are we just so used to buying and buying and buying (and being influenced by ads to buy more too) and having more and more, or are more and more of us ready and willing to look inside to find the source of that need, so we can slowly stop our unconscious habits?

When did Halloween and Christmas and Valentines Day get so commercial, so overloaded and so overdone?  I went to the party store today to buy balloons and I was so overwhelmed by the size of the store and the vast amounts of “party” merchandise they offered.  There was this huge blow up monster with blood marks on it’s blow up teeth at the front of the store and I was beyond shocked.  When did we all get so senseless (I mean when did we all get to a place where that isn’t horrible and scary) that we think that our kids need that for Halloween?  They even sell “severed” hands that you can put in your trunk so that the hand hangs out the back of the trunk.  Again, that just seems so senseless to me.  I pray that my 3 year old daughter doesn’t see one of those.  I know that I can explain it to her, but should I have to?

How can we explain these to kids and are they really necessary for Halloween fun? I’m not sure I want to know anything about a grim reaper….From http://www.explore-harford.com

We have taken the need to be the best, to have the best, to shock and awe, to impress so far that we now have to have a party store the size of Costco for our parties.  I just wanted balloons! There were aisles of goody bag things, some even pre-packaged, like we are so mindless that we can’t be creative and find some little things that would delight children to have, instead of tons of stuff that costs 35 cents so we can buy a lot?  When did a “Happy Thanksgiving” banner become important?  Wow.

In an age when we in Canada (I can really only write about what I see in my own city, but I feel comfortable generalizing it to my own country, but no further really:)) are starting to see the importance of composting, recycling, buying local, eating organic, meeting a farmer, using public transportation, why are the big businesses not catching on?  Why is every new store being build three times the size that it really needs to be?  I would imagine at some point that we all will shop at the smaller stores because we like customer service, we like knowing the name of the owner, like how it used to be.  I remember being a kid and going to my baseball coach’s party store to get balloons.  That was always very special for me.  I sound like I’m 75, but I’m only 32 and things have changed so much in my short life time.

I know more and more of us are wanting that connection and closeness with others wherever we go.  Our world needs more connection with actual people, instead of just through texting and facebook and twitter.  Again, it’s not that any of these things are bad, it’s more the way we are using them, the reasons we are so dependent on them.

We are all beautiful beings of light who are so connected to each other, to the divine, to the source and the more we teach that, the more of it is available through the internet, through groups, through workshops, the more of us will awaken to the beauty within and the world will change.  We’ll go back to helping our neighbors, to having more time as we pull out of the so called “rat race”, we’ll have more time for our children, family members and friends, and competition won’t be driving us any more.  I look forward to the upcoming new world age, as we step into it and awaken, open up more, and move towards love and peace and we leave the unconsciousness, the fear and the violence behind.

Peace to all.

Bradlee

Mindfulness in shopping

Mindfulness!!

I remember my parents telling me to focus when I was younger and I remember knowing they were trying to help me, but they didn’t really help me because I didn’t know how to focus!!

Now I’m learning that bringing your attention to what you are doing is mindful, it is focused, it is being grounded, with your feet on the ground, all those expressions!  It is being engaged in your life, in the present moment, it is caring about yourself enough to notice what is going on, even if that means that you notice you are 20 minutes ahead of where you are in your day!  Mindfulness is noticing where your attention is or isn’t, it’s noticing that you are thinking about ice cream instead of having your attention on your two year old who is climbing up on the stool to reach the ice creams cones that you hid on the top shelf.

I first read about mindfulness in a beautiful parenting book that literally turned my parenting style around with great benefits called, “Everyday Blessings: The inner work of mindful parenting.”  I’ve come across mindfulness more and more as I continue to grow and heal and look inside to find out what is preventing me from living my true life.  There are many brilliant ways to learn about mindfulness and to live mindfully.  This post won’t be about all those brilliant ways, but rather about what I recently brought my attention to while shopping.

We tend to buy organic food when it is available and affordable.  For the most part, we don’t eat as many packaged foods with the exception of crackers and chips and pastas!  We all still love those! I’ve brought my attention to food labels whenever we buy something that is in a package and it’s a way of being aware of what I’m choosing to put into my body and to feed to my family.  We know our bodies can digest and process anything (please see the My Healings section of this blog and My Food Healing for more information!), but we’re choosing to eat healthy foods so our bodies don’t have to work as hard.  I have realized as I’ve shopped over this past year, that just because something is gluten free, or organic or sold as a natural product in a health food store, that it doesn’t mean that it is nutritious or wholesome.  I’ve been surprised that some of the supposedly healthy foods sold in packages are sometimes just as “junky” as their name brand counterparts.  I have found it both rewarding and refreshing to pick up those products, read the ingredients and then put them back.  It makes me feel like my awareness and the attention I put into food is worthwhile.  So here is the exception!

I was going to a local store here in Ottawa because they sell organic ice cream.  The store, Rainbow Foods, is the only one I’ve found that sells it.  So when I saw that it was on sale, I said to my daughter, “oh they have strawberry, do you want to try that too?”  She agreed, so I grabbed it without even looking.  I saw a picture of a strawberry on the packaging, it’s from a company that I buy from regularly and that I’ve always been impressed with, so I bought it! We brought it home and we opened it up right away to try.  For some reason, at that point, I read the ingredients and it said, “natural flavor” and there were no actual strawberries in it.  I felt so misled and disappointed.  How could that be?  How could there be no actual berries in it?  I felt like I was in a science fiction book where you get to choose from wafer 1-15, each with a different flavor because fruits and vegetables and “real food” couldn’t be grown any more because people had taken up all the space.  It was a real moment of “wow” for me, like, wow, how could they do that?  How could there be the word “strawberry” on the outside of the package, without the front of the container having to say, “strawberry flavoured ice cream”.  I used to work at Health Canada before my daughter was born and there are so many food regulations, and I was really surprised that there wasn’t a regulation that stipulated that if there is no actual ingredient, then the packaging must obviously state, “flavoured”.

It really reminded me to continue to bring my attention to the foods I purchase with our money and that we eat to nourish our bodies.  I am planning on writing to the company to express my disappointment and I may even look into if there are any regulatory requirements for that as it is very misleading otherwise.  I found a container of organic strawberry yogurt today that didn’t have any strawberries, only flavour and red cabbage to make the color.  Wow again.  Strawberry yogurt with cabbage in it instead of strawberries.

All that to say, it is important to be mindful while shopping, especially as we buy food to nourish our bodies. I’m not mindful of clothing and other goods yet and knowing which companies best support their workers or which countries have regulations to protect their workers from poor working conditions and low wages, but one step at a time!  Please share any examples that you have come across as you have explored living more mindfully and what has really caught your attention as you open up your heart and your eyes to your life and what is really going on as you live it!!