Look Up

The other morning on the walk to work, I realized that it really helps me when I look up when I walk.  It helps me get out of the thoughts I’m stuck in, and helps me see the bigger perspective within and around me.  I remembered that this morning and the walk turned into a very profound experience!  I wrote some words that came to me while I was walking and finished it at my desk:)

Look Up              

When I am stuck in the mind while I am walking to work, I look up.

When I look up, the world shows me how much bigger I am than thoughts.

When I look up, the thoughts diminish, and the true beauty and power of the Earth astounds me, stops the thoughts in their tracks, and I breathe.

When I look up, the trees and their tops guide me and lead me with their strength, stability, silence and stillness.

When I look up, I remember who I really am.

When I look up, there is movement in the clouds and light pouring down, and I remember that I am more than I ever could understand or know.

When I look up, I remember that the Earth is my Mother, the Sun is my Father, the Wind is my Brother, and the Water is my Sister.

When I look up, I remember that no matter how disconnected people are from the truth of their being, the planet remembers, and she remembers for us and does what she can to remind us with her beauty, grace and resilience, in the way that children do.  I am reminded that no matter how much we seek to destroy ourselves, others and our planet, Mother Earth is with us, leading the way, showing us the truth, that we and she are indestructible, that on the inside, we are glowing with light, love and power, just as she is in her core, and that we can learn to tap into our core, our light too. 

When I feel myself slipping, I look up, breathe and remember and am grateful for our planet and the beautiful way she reminds me so gently, so peacefully, so gracefully, that I am majestic, just as she is.

Thank you Mother.
 _______________
The Journey of Tunuri and the Blue Deer by James Endredy helped me remind me of my Earth family.

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.

DSC_0141

The Truth About Santa Claus

I just heard today that there is a movement in the United States to change the words of the classic poem/story, The Night Before Christmas.  There is talk of removing the part:

“the stem of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.”

I can understand that we want the best “model” for our children, but I’m wondering if we should take a closer look at the other parts of our lives and what we “teach” about Santa Claus instead:

  • Lots of people smoke, including the parents of the children who all love and adore Santa Claus….
  • When I think of Santa, I never think of him smoking a pipe, I think of him eating cookies, smiling, laughing, putting presents under the tree, flying through the sky, and loving all the children of the world.
  • If we want to make modifications, let’s first start with the lyrics of Christmas songs, “you’d better not cry, you’d better not shout, you’d better not pout…he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.”  Why are we using a beautiful holiday season and a jolly beautiful spirit like Santa Claus to program and bribe our children so they’ll be “good”?  What is wrong with crying and yelling sometimes?  We all appreciate a good cry and how great we feel afterwards, and sometimes you need to raise your voice, especially if you are standing up for yourself.  Do we really want to teach our children some more polar opposites like good or bad?  How about we teach them how to be, just be themselves, the perfect beings that they are.  Why not teach them that we will love them no matter how they act, that they are unconditionally and whole-heartedly loved, not just by us, but by Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, by all the beautiful mystical beings who exist as so real and so true in the imaginations of our children.  What happens to us that we can no longer believe….
  • Why not teach children and adults the truth of Santa Claus?   Santa Claus is pure love, pure and simple.  Santa is imaginary or real or both, it is up to you, but just because he is imaginary doesn’t mean that he is any less real.  How many of us remember imaginary friends or guardian angels with us, but then because people told us they can’t possibly be real, we ended up forgetting them.  Is it the same for Santa Claus?  Let’s continue with the magic of Santa, the love that he offers to all of us.  We don’t have to give him up or the love just because we are growing up!  We can keep that love in our hearts, Santa has it for each and every one of us, we just have to believe!  We can add to the beauty of Santa and his love and add some details to the story, like how the parents help him with presents, how he talks to us in our hearts, how we can call on the love of Santa any time we need it, not just in December, that he is the spirit of unconditional love and giving, which lives in all of us, and how we can be like Santa sometimes and drop off gifts and delight in the pleasure of giving, not just receiving.
  • Let’s open up our hearts, let’s not talk about Santa from a place of fear, but from a place of openness and trust and love.  He never has to leave us, so let’s keep his spirit alive within our hearts and continue to believe.  The children always will, it’s only because of the way the Santa story has been spun with all the deception and secrets that lends to such disappointment and feelings of deception.  Why let the magic die?  Let’s keep it alive, that is what life is for, reclaiming the love and magic in all aspects of our lives.

from www.scienceblogs.com

 

I so vividly remember my own Santa disappointment.  I remember how much I held onto the belief that he was real, but it slowly slipped away because there wasn’t any support for Santa living on past children being 12 years old (I really held on!!).  As I’ve been journeying to my heart over this past year and a half, I have come to remember the truth of Santa Claus and so I share it with you in this post.  We can change the way Christmas is taught, not with big changes, but subtle ones, subtle changes to encourage children to believe in what they know is true, just like how innately all children know and remember God, even just at the mention of God (our daughter walks around singing a song she made up, “everyone remembers God.”).  Santa is real, Santa is love, love never dies nor does Santa.  Whether he has a pipe, a big belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, or a big pack slung over his back, he is real!  He is love, and when you connect to yourself as I have been learning to do (and like we all innately know how to do!!), you see it as an absolute truth, Santa is real, he is always in your heart, loving you and encouraging you.  His biggest gift to you isn’t the presents (although that is fun and he needs our support for that part), it’s the love!!  The LOVE!!

I was talking to a 4 year old girl a month or two ago and she was already getting ready for Santa and that she was excited for him to come.  I remember telling her that she doesn’t even need to wait for Christmas, that she can feel Santa and all his love right in her own heart, and that is where he will always be.  It was very sweet and spontaneous and her eyes lit up and when I was leaving she gave me a big hug and a kiss, right on the lips!!  I hadn’t seen her in nearly a year and it made me realize how very lucky I was and how I was on to something.  Santa is real and he is always with us.  The children know this!!

I was at a healing session one time and there was quiet healing music playing and then all of a sudden, very loud Christmas music started playing.  I remember looking up at Jean (the healer/coach that our family sees) and she said, “wow, how about that,” and some other words about how there were others there with us at the session and I knew it right then and there that it was confirmation for me that Santa was real, Santa and Christmas are real, as real as we want them to be, we just have to believe.  I came from such a place of sadness and disbelief of all love and magic, so for that to happen as I was starting to reclaim the love that I am, that we all are, it was magic, there was no doubt.  From that moment on, I didn’t worry what I told my little girl about Santa, because he was real.  I could tell her my experience with the music turning on, I could tell her that he is love and about giving and sharing love and that we can celebrate that love and giving with the spirit of Santa every Christmas.  So no matter how we tell the story (that he tells us what to buy, etc), it is okay, because he is real and he is love.  Have I mentioned that enough?   Tee hee.

I also read a great book about the magic of Santa and how to keep it alive without ever worrying about disappointing your children: http://www.thesantastory.com/ I recommend for those interested in a deception and worry free Santa experience for themselves and their families!

Love,

Bradlee

Give Kids Back Their Power!

I was so excited about what happened this afternoon!!  Our family has been learning to take back our power from the world, from circumstances, from scenarios, from people, from everything!  It has been so beautiful and so empowering.  I will explain through the example of what happened at our home earlier today.

My husband Robbin and my daughter Zara (3) were going to go to the park this afternoon and Robbin encouraged Zara to go upstairs to get some socks because it’s cold.  Zara said, “if you don’t get me socks, I won’t go to the park.”  I couldn’t believe it.  We so rarely speak to her or around her like that, but she had heard it before, so she kept it inside and used it right back.  I had first read about teaching children about the reasons for things instead of giving them consequences for why they should do it or removing the privilege in a fantastic parenting book called Gentle Discipline.  The book encourages parents to use logic and reasoning when explaining things to their children instead of just saying, “because I said so,” or “if you don’t do this, you won’t get this,” for example.  Very rarely, I have said to Zara, “okay, well I’ve explained that it’s cold out, so if you’re not going to wear your coat, we won’t go,” (which I totally support when necessary!) and she used it right back at us this afternoon.  After Zara said that, Robbin and I looked at each other, wondering what to say and then out of my mouth came,

“Well Zara, instead of making this about Daddy, why don’t you decide what you want to do.  If you want to go to the park, go get your socks. If you don’t want to go to the park, then don’t, it’s okay either way, but by making it so Daddy has to go get the socks, you’ve given up your power to Daddy going to get them, so do what you want to do instead.”

It was beautiful.  Zara heard me, she left the room, went up the stairs and got her socks and was jumping up and down with excitement to go to the park!!

We can all do this, not just with our children but for ourselves!  Instead of leaving our happiness up to someone else, we can stop, take back the responsibility for our own lives and live for ourselves, and voila, you’ve taken back your power from the world and the circumstances you find yourself in.  I am so grateful for this journey of reclaiming my life and actually living my life instead of being a victim to my life and all its circumstances!

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!!

How I took attachment parenting too far

Before you are a parent, it’s easy to judge, to watch parents, and think that you could do such a better job.  We have all done it.  When you are a parent, you reel, you think, wow, how could this be so hard, how could I be so unprepared for this?  Why didn’t anyone tell me that this little being would open me up so much, that I would be so filled with love for him/her and with pain from my own childhood, all at the same time?  Even if they had told me, you wonder, would you have listened, would it have sunk in?

I was so ready to love a child, that much I knew, but that was the extent of it.  After Zara was born in early 2009, I felt so much love for her, I was soooo happy, I wanted to love her, honor her, squeeze her and kiss her and I wanted to have a chance to do it right.  I thought to myself, maybe I can do this better than my parents, better than other people, maybe I can really do this.  Ha, I used to be so judgmental, even in loving my own child, I had to compare it to others.  I am so happy to continue to pull out of that consciousness that encircles our planet, the judgement, the need to be better, the need to compare, it’s getting easier just to be me, thank goodness.

After Zara was born, there were times when she wouldn’t sleep.  I watched others with babies that slept, so I thought I must have been doing it wrong.  I tried and tried and tried, unaware that trying was what might have been making it harder; trying to be perfect, trying to help her so she never cried, so she would never feel alone like I so remembered feeling.  After a lot of trying and crying, I started reading more and more parenting books.  I read about Attachment Parenting, principles of which include:

-co-sleeping, baby-wearing, breast-feeding and extended breast-feeding, not controlling your child, but rather giving them permission to be themselves, not forcing your child, but guiding them, baby-led weaning, gentle discipline, unconditional parenting, mindful parenting, etc.

I read so many books and I joined an awesome local Attachment Parenting group where I met like-minded people!!  Whenever Zara would nap, she needed to be in my arms, so through reading those books, I was able to accept that she needed to be in my arms to nap (or else she would wake up), so I accepted that for 2-ish hours a day, I would be sitting on the bed, reading.  I took advantage of that time and I read.  I filled myself up with all of these ways to honor my daughter in ways that I never knew possible.  I armed myself with those principles and they became my bible….

I have met so many beautiful parents who are attachment parenting (AP), doing what they feel is best for their child.  It is truly exciting to see so many parents who just aren’t willing to let their kids cry themselves to sleep, or to be let alone in their rooms to cry until they can “calm down.”  There are many more of us who are aware of what we experienced as children and who are trying to do better for their children.  I think the irony is that in the trying, we end up doing the exact opposite of our parents, and then there we are, right at the other extreme, and really, is that any better?  Maybe if I share my story a bit it will help to explain what I went through and what I see other people doing.

I decided that I was going to use every single principle from those books I read: we would limit praise, we would get creative to help Zara transition, we would co-sleep, I would breastfeed until she was ready to wean, she would never be left to cry it out by herself (I had tried that a couple of times in my most desperate moments and I felt like I was a tiny baby again, crying by myself, feeling like I was dying inside, so thankfully it didn’t last more than 3-4 times), we would follow her lead, we would give her lots of leeway, I would carry her in a baby carrier or baby backpack, I would limit how much I would leave her because it was always hard on both of us when I left, etc.   Again, I used all of those principles as my bible, if something happened, I would scan my mental list of attachment parenting tools and I would use the gentle approaches to help us.  Is that wrong, is it a bad thing?  No not necessarily.  It really helped us, but it was extreme and I will elaborate.

It got to the point where it was like Zara was controlling us.  I was so desperate for her to feel loved and appreciated, that I gave myself up. I used all of those tools from the attachment parenting books and I used them to my detriment, even to Zara’s detriment.  I never gave myself permission to say no to her, I did everything I could all the time to say yes.  I thought it was horrible if she cried, so I did dances so she wouldn’t cry.  I tried to keep her happy at all costs.  I sacrificed my well-being, the well-being of our family and my relationship with my husband even, just to employ those principles.  It was like I had read those books through the eyes of a 2 year old hurt me, and I vowed to follow them no matter what, even when I was suffering inside from using those AP principles.  I remember so many incidents where I was using some tools, thinking I was “doing so well”, because I was doing what I had read, but somewhere inside I knew I had gone too far. I even judged other parents for not AP parenting, and I remember judging other AP parents for not being AP enough.

It wasn’t until I got really sick and couldn’t eat anything any more, that I started to see it.  The naturopath I saw told me, “you are reactive parenting,” and I remember being shocked, horrified. What, I thought, how could I be reactive parenting, I’m an AP parent!!  But she was right.  I was viewing my daughter’s life through the eyes of all those hurt inner children who I was still carrying inside and I was reacting to the past hurts I had experienced, from a place of “there is no f&*^king way I’m doing that to Zara.”  And there it was.  I was reactive parenting.  Wow. What a good call!!  Hahaha, it was hard to hear, but it was exactly what I needed to hear, and that comment started me on my path to my soul, to my awakening from the depths of unconsciousness, to the awareness and the place I am in now, more connected to myself, more aware, more balanced than I ever thought possible.

So now, I ask myself, am I still off balance, are there more ways I can come more to the middle, to be living and parenting from my heart and not from the hurts?  I have come so far, I am so proud of myself, so proud of my daughter for how far she has come as I have opened up my heart and let go of the hurt that kept me so deeply locked in protection mode and so proud of my husband for doing the same work, so we can each be free and be a more cohesive and happy and balanced family unit. I am so happy that I am working to get to this balanced place, so I’m not carrying around as much anger towards my parents, instead I can love them and honor them and really and truly know that I am just like them, doing the best I can, through different paths, not one path being better or any more worthy than another. It is truly a different life for me and for my family and I am feeling so blessed and loved.

I can always come closer to the middle, to a more balanced place and I am exceptionally committed to that, to living my true life, instead of one that is chosen for me by emotions, judgement and fear.  No longer.

I ask you, are you at one of the extremes with your parenting?  Can you be honest with yourself and take baby steps to come back to the middle?  I send you love and support as you love yourself and your family and take a look.

With love,

Bradlee