Monday, February 29, 2016

Healing My Inner Child

It sounds a little wacky to talk about a hurt "inner child," but I think the concept is so important to talk about and address. 

I think so many of the ways in which humans are awful to each other stem from how some awfulness was done onto them as children.

My own childhood issues are not relatively awful, but they have left me with emotional issues that I need to work on. 

My mother got accidentally pregnant when she was 22 years-old, and my biological father never wanted to have anything to do with me. I feel the tears start to well up as I write that sentence. I can see how so many of my emotional issues are tied to that initial abandonment. 

I can see how I became a perfectionist and a striver in order to prove my worth out in the world--to overcome the lack of worth that I must carry around inside of me since half of the people who are supposed to care most about me in the world didn't care about me at all. 

I can see how I gravitate toward controlling situations and people because of the complete lack of control my inner child must feel. 

I can see why I was most attracted to emotionally unavailable men in my twenties because I was hoping that I could convince just one of them to love me the way my father never did. 

One component of my ongoing work in life is to continue to support and heal my inner child. I started reading this book on the topic, and I loved this piece of the introduction:

In each of us, there is a young, suffering child. We have all had times of difficulty as children and many of us have experienced trauma. To protect and defend ourselves against future suffering, we often try to forget those painful times. Every time we're in touch with the experience of suffering, we believe we can't bear it, and we stuff our feelings and memories deep down in our unconscious mind. It may be that we haven't dared to face this child for many decades. 

But just because we may have ignored the child doesn't mean she or he isn't there. The wounded child is always there, trying to get our attention. The child says, "I'm here. I'm here. You can't avoid me. You can't run away from me." We want to end our suffering by sending the child to a deep place inside, and staying as far away as possible. But running away doesn't end our suffering; it only prolongs it.

The wounded child asks for care and love, but we do the opposite. We run away because we're afraid of suffering. The block of pain and sorrow in us feels overwhelming. Even if we have time, we don't come home to ourselves. We try to keep ourselves constantly entertained--watching television or movies, socializing, or using alcohol or drugs--because we don't want to experience that suffering all over again. 

The wounded child is there and we don't even know she is there. The wounded child in us is a reality, but we can't see her. That inability to see it is a kind of ignorance. This child has been severely wounded. She or he really needs us to return. Instead we turn away...

The wounded child is also in each cell of our body. There is no cell of our body that does not have that wounded child in it. We don't have to look far into the past for that child. We only have to look deeply and we can be in touch with him. The suffering of that wounded child is lying inside us right now in the present moment. 

But just as the suffering is present in every cell of our body, so are the seeds of awakened understanding and happiness handed down to us from our ancestors. We just have to use them. We have a lamp inside us, the lamp of mindfulness, which we can light anytime. The oil of that lamp is our breathing, our steps, and our peaceful smile. We have to light up that lamp of mindfulness to the light will sine out and the darkness will dissipate and cease. Our practice is to light up the lamp. 

When we become aware that we've forgotten the wounded child in ourselves, we feel great compassion for that child and we begin to generate the energy of mindfulness. The practices of mindful walking, mindful sitting, and mindful breathing are our foundation. With our mindful breath and mindful steps, we can produce the energy of mindfulness and return to the awakened wisdom lying in each cell of our body. That energy will embrace us and heal us, and will heal the wounded child in us. 

Share |

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Getting My Life Back After Having Two Children

Henry turned five this past weekend. Tate will be three in July. 

And just this week, I started to feel like myself again. Like my old self. My pre-baby self!

This week I:
  • Talked to a good friend on the phone several times
  • Went running twice
  • Went to yoga
  • Started planning my summer Reflection & Rejuvenation Retreat
  • Started reading a book about healing my inner child
It looks so pithy when I write it out in a bulleted list, but it feels huge! I feel like the past five years I've only been able to choose three of five things from this list: big work, family, sleep, exercise, creative endeavors, emotional growth, or friends. I routinely chose the first three.

And this week I got to choose all of them!  

It feels like a major milestone. 

What a huge relief! 

As you know, this parenting journey has been hard for me. It's a relief to feel like I'm starting to find a semblance of balance. 

I think the trick is making sure to keep your eye on the vision of what you need in your life on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. It's much easier to figure out how to squeeze it in if you know what you want.


Share |

Monday, February 22, 2016

Organization La-La-Palooza!

I forgot to share all the organizing I did during the Winter Break.

We finally got through the "Tornado Two" stage with Tate. We can now tell him not to rifle through every cabinet, closet, and drawer and he will actually listen to us.

It's a small miracle!

For someone like me who is pretty much a permeable membrane and soaks in the order or the chaos around me, I was ecstatic to be able to get everything organized. Here's what I was able to accomplish:
  1. Organize under the kitchen sink
  2. Organize the pantry
  3. Organize the cabinets above the refrigerator
  4. Organize the office supply basket
  5. Organize under the second bathroom sink
  6. Organize Henry's closet
  7. Organize Tate's closet
  8. Organize under the master bathroom sink
  9. Organize the master bathroom drawers
  10. Organize the master bathroom closet
My approach was always the same:
  • Pull everything out.
  • Separate it into piles: To keep, To toss/recycle, To donate
  • Clean out the area
  • Put the "keep" items back in. 
It feels so much better around our house now! 

Share |

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Life Tune Up

I love this Facebook gem (thanks for sharing it, Jennie!). It provides some good food for thought.

Share |

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Healthier Pancakes

As part of my quest to be a "present parent," I try to make pancakes with the boys from time to time if I can squeeze a little time out of my morning. Since I'm trying to balance that goal with my goal to focus on "Health & Wellness" in 2016, I went looking for a healthier version of the recipe and landed on this one from Everyday Detox. I was able to find it online and wanted to share it with you! 

I haven't yet tried it with coconut flour, but it works just fine with wheat flour! I love how this version of the recipe minimizes the flour and maximizes the eggs and bananas. 


Share |

Monday, February 15, 2016

Looking for a Life Partner?


On the heels of Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but try to play Matchmaker. You see, I am a very picky person. When I was in the dating phase of my life, I had an Excel sheet with more than 100 (or maybe 200?) criteria of what I was looking for in a mate (including minute details, such as: “He does not kill spiders.” and “He turns off the water while he brushes his teeth.”)

In my 38 years of life (I just had a birthday last week!), I have come across three people whom I suspect I might have wanted to marry: One of them I actually married (love you, Matt!), one of them is happily married, and one of them is still single.

Since he is 44 years-old and wants to get married and have children, I am feeling urgent about helping him find an amazing life partner.

He is a deep thinker, he does meaningful work, he has high levels of integrity/loyalty, I imagine he would strive to be an equal parenting partner. He would be a good person to laugh with, to love, to work alongside, and to raise children with.

He is currently living in Seattle. Are you or someone you know looking for a life partner and interested in starting a conversation with him? If so, shoot me an e-mail to let me know!

And thanks for indulging this random, Amelie-esque blog post!

Share |

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Plan for School Lunches

It used to be that Matt made the boys' lunches every day. And I loved him for it. But my efficiency brain kicked into high gear when I noticed how long it would take him to make the lunches each night or how stressed he would be if he waited until the morning. 

My good friend and organizational muse, Maia Heyck-Merlin, introduced me to the concept of "batch processing." The idea is so simple. Instead of making 10 separate lunches 5 separate times, you make 10 lunches all at once. You save an immense amount of time because you only have to take everything out and put it away 2 times instead of 10 times. You only have to open and close everything 2 times instead of 10 times. 

Because I am at the very edge of my capacity in general right now (my organization is still in start-up mode! I have two young children! I'm trying to exercise! I'm trying to make time to talk to my husband each day!), I've been doing batch processing in the laziest way possible. Here's what I've been sending to school:
  • Ethically sourced turkey for Henry; chickpeas for Tate (in a Tupperware container)
  • Cucumbers (in a plastic baggie)
  • Cheese stick
  • Applesauce (in a container)
  • Crackers (in a plastic baggie)
It's been super fast and convenient this way, but I can't continue contributing to the land fill (and general demise of our world) in this way. It's time to invest in container. Ten containers, in fact. 

I know. It's going to be expensive. I recently read that the average woman has 27 pairs of shoes. I have about 4 (two for the summer and two for the winter). So at least I'm saving money in the shoe department? 

I'm going to try out the LunchBots Bento Cinco. We don't send a lot of liquidy stuff, so it should be okay. I'm going to start slicing the cheese instead of sending individually wrapped cheese sticks, so that will reduce the waste some. I like that the product doesn't contain any plastic at all. 


Share |

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Parenting Is Tough


Last weekend I attended the Teach For America 25th Anniversary Summit. I got to reconnect with so many amazing old friends, and I found myself inevitably talking about and reflecting on how we are all trying to work toward social justice while also balancing the needs of our family. After all, we are in this work to make the world better, but we aren’t actually working toward that goal if we make our family miserable. 

Then I read this article about how you have to choose three things from this list: 
Work. Sleep. Family. Friends. Fitness. Pick three. And remember, you can choose a different three every day. As long as it balances out in the long run, you're ok. So don't put pressure on yourself to do all five of those things well every single day.
I definitely feel like that described my life in the past several years. I picked work, family, and sleep. And I definitely felt the impact of not having time for fitness and friends. 

So this year is the year of Health and Wellness, which is very exciting, and I'm even squeezing in some friendship into it, too.

My friends and I traded strategies about how to balance everything. One of my friends has a full-time nanny, and another one has a live-in au pair.

Here are my strategies:
  1. Have a husband who works from home. This helps a lot! 
  2. Get my groceries delivered each week. I actually spend less money than when I go to the store. And it would still be worth it, even if it cost a little bit more! 
  3. Make lunches in bulk on Sunday to decrease the amount of time it takes overall and alleviate some of the stress during the week. 
  4. Prep dinner ingredients on Sunday. It makes pulling together dinners so much quicker during the hectic week. 
  5. Don't watch TV. I do watch some Netflix, but I have to stay away from TV series because they are so addictive and are such a time suck. When I stick to movies, I am much more intentional about using TV to relax rather than procrastinate. 
  6. Put down the phone! It's so easy to go into a Facebook coma and just veg out on my bed. Although I get a couple good things out of being on Facebook and am not one of those people who wants to eliminate it yet, I definitely need to limit my time on it. 
  7. Intentionally make time for me. I now exercise three times a week. One of those times happens while the boys are still in after care at school so they don't even really notice. One of those times happens after bed. And one of those times happens while they go to the dog park with their dad. We also put the boys to bed as early as possible to make time for ourselves at night. On weekends, we give each other about three hours of free time alone. Matt uses his to play soccer, and I usually use mine to write blog posts (I write them on the weekend and schedule them to run during the week). 
  8. Intentionally make time for us. Matt and I go on a date night once a month, and we are now trying to take a trip together once a year. 
I think those are all of my strategies! Please share yours in the comments so I can add to my repertoire!

Share |

Monday, February 8, 2016

Trying to Prioritize Family When Traveling for Work


The Spring is always a busy travel time for me. I usually attend several different education conferences, and this year I’ve had to travel to meetings with potential funders, as well as the Teach For America 25th Anniversary Summit.

My family definitely feels the impact of me being gone. I already feel like I get just barely enough time with my boys on a daily basis, so when I’m gone for a couple days, it feels even worse.

In an effort to reduce my time away, I’ve been trying to be conscious about my flights. When I compare flights, I look at how much time away I will miss. For example, if I fly to California at 9pm, I can do the whole dinner/bathtime/books/bedtime routine with my family and still get to my destination at a somewhat reasonable hour. I also try to make time to connect via FaceTime each day. It's fun to hear their voices and see their faces.

It's a constant conversation in my mind and consideration in my heart about how to pursue my passion and be a good mother. I don't always get it right, but I'm doing my best! 

Share |

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Updated Family Mission Statement

I updated our Family Mission Statement with a new photo of our family! The last photo featured Matt, me, and Henry as a four month-old...

As a reminder, here's what the text says:

We are a family that...
  • Prioritizes health and wellness.
  • Resolves problems, issues, and conflict respectfully and in a constructive rather than destructive way.
  • Does professional work that is meaningful, enjoyable, fulfilling, and good for the world.
  • Maintains a daily pace of life that allows us time to laugh together, express our love and appreciation for each other, and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Shares responsibilities equitably but covers for each other when needed.
  • Cultivates community and connection among friends, family, and neighbors and continuously seeks to expand our circle.
  • Aligns our lifestyle choices and actions with our concern for the environment.
  • Keeps our living spaces organized, calming, welcoming, relaxing, de-cluttered, and beautiful.
  • Continually explores the world through travel.
  • Maintains traditions and rituals around daily and weekly routines (like eating home-cooked meals together and prioritizing conversation and connection while eating), celebrations, and sicknesses.
  • Builds up trust through our daily interactions with each other.
  • Patiently supports and celebrates each other as we pursue our individual interests and passions.

Share |

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Henry's 5th Birthday Plan

Henry's 5th birthday is coming up! We decided to throw a chef party at our house. We've started getting invited to parties at expensive venues like amusement parks and jump houses, but we only gave Henry two choices: home or the park.

For appetizers were going to serve:
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Fruit kabobs (strawberries, bananas, and grapes)
  • Chips and homemade guacamole (plus queso from our neighborhood restaurant) 
The the main course, the children are going to make their own quesadillas with a choice of rainbow colored vegetables and toppings:
  • Minced red bell pepper
  • Grated carrots
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Grated beets
For dessert, Henry picked ice-cream, so we're doing make-your-own sundaes with the following toppings:
  • Cookie dough bites
  • Gummy bears
  • M & Ms
  • Strawberries
  • Sprinkles
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Cherries
  • Homemade whipped cream
We're going to follow the recommendation of only invited a small group of children since Henry is so young (his age + 1). The smaller group is likely to be less over-stimulating and overwhelming.  

I don't think we're going to do anything special with games, although Henry does want a pinata. We're going to make one in the shape of an ice-cream cone. 

It might also be really cute for Henry to bake something in advance that we then wrap up for favors. 

I'm looking forward to it!


Share |

Monday, February 1, 2016

Reflection & Rejuvenation: My Goals for February

February is here! 

Thank you for a great month, January. 

The stats around New Year's resolutions are pretty depressing. I think it's something like 80% of resolutions fail. And yet resolutions are our chance to declare an intention for our lives and then to make it happen. How depressing to think that only 2 out of 10 intentions for ourselves come true! 

One of my tricks for setting an intention and making it happen is this kind of thing right here. This monthly post forces me to come back to what I said I wanted this year and to check in with myself. Sometimes I get to celebrate what I've been doing. More often than not I have to recommit to what I want to happen. And sometimes I have to change what I said I wanted. 

Let me check in with myself:

  1. Start the year with the 21-day cleanse from Clean and work through a book about breaking the emotional eating habit. Yes! My mom and I did this together, and I am so proud of myself.
  2. Eat more salads with dinner. Yes, I've been doing this!
  3. Drink at least 80 ounces of water each day. Yep.
  4. Run once on the weekend and once during the week. Yes! It's been really tough to fit this in every week, but I'm pushing myself to do it.
  5. Go to yoga once a week. Yes! I have gone once each week!
  6. Do 15 minutes of strength building once a week (either MommaStrong or my back exercises). No, I have not been doing this. This is one of those intentions that I want to eliminate rather than berate myself each month. Doing three different exercise activities a week is enough.
  7. Cultivate a daily meditation and gratitude practice. Half and half. I've meditated about half of the nights. I've been forgetting to practice gratitude. I want to be sure to do this. I need to start doing it at the dinner table again.
  8. Publish five books.  I haven't started this at all!
  9. Clean and organize our house before the boys go to bed each night. Kind of!
  10. Track our expenses in daily so that we are able to hit our saving goals. Kind of!
  11. Invite friends over monthly. We didn't do it in January. But we did go over to a friends' house. I guess I'll just have to count that....
  12. Use my work time in the evening to clear out my inbox and do bigger-picture planning. Try to move all projects into slots during the work day.  Hmmm...I have gotten better about scheduling projects to work on during the day.
  13. Take a trip with Matt. Still trying to figure out childcare for this one...
  14. Go on a retreat by myself. Not for a while!
  15. Reflect each month about how I'm doing toward these goals. Here I am!

2016 Family Goals

  • Take a road trip to Oklahoma: Yes!
  • Take a road trip to Dallas to see Kyla: Not yet.
  • Read three chapter books: We've finished two!
  • Read all the BOB books: Working on it....
  • Go camping: Planned for March
  • Take more day trips to small Texas towns: Not yet.
  • Hang out at the creek in the summer: Too cold! 

Goals for This Month
  • Keep up with the salad, running, yoga, and water. 
  • Work on my daily gratitude and meditation. 
  • Find a graphic designer to design the cover of our first book.
  • Plan my birthday celebration.
  • Plan Henry's birthday celebration.
It's going to be a great month!

Share |

Related Posts with Thumbnails