Tag Archives: single mom

Day 11 Be Present: Keep Going No Matter What Fears Pop Up

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Day 11 Be Present: Keep Going No Matter What Fears Pop Up

When asked, “What disturbs him now about himself?” E.B. White answered, “I am bothered chiefly by my little fears that are the same as they were almost 70 years ago. I was born scared and am still scared. This has sometimes tested my courage almost beyond endurance.”

-E.B. White, quoted in “Notes and Comment by Author,” by Israel Shenker, New York Times, July 11, 1969

You are here for Day 11! YAY! Give yourself a big star today for sticking with this blog, for continuing to read and question, and do the work of being present and working towards more inner peace. Nobody said life was going to be easy. But I still want it to be. And when I get scared, overwhelmed, criticized, or feel otherwise unloved or unappreciated, I want to run away. Single parenting doesn’t let us do that, no matter how badly we want to. The work and the situation are still there. The kids with their bright, shining faces, their hungry bellies, and yes, their hugs and love and forgiveness for our past mistakes are there, every morning. Thank goodness!

If E.B. White had little fears that still plagued him, after so much literary success, then perhaps we aren’t the only ones with fears and trepidation about our lives? Perhaps the bus driver and the guy you sit next to at work have fears too. Maybe the check out lady at the grocery store does too, or the postal worker, the teacher, or the flight attendant. Maybe we all just have to persevere anyway, despite fears of not being good enough, or not getting it right (again), or offending someone, or looking stupid.

Running away from our fears, rather than facing them, and shutting off/shutting down doesn’t do anything but remove us from the present. No one benefits when we don’t stay present in our lives and keep on keeping on.

Action Item: Describe in your journal what fears you have about today (just today). Decide what you can do to help yourself with your scary task. What can you do to prepare? Who can you ask for help? What can you remind yourself?

Affirmation: “I am capable, strong, and have just enough on my plate. I can handle it, one day, one moment at a time.”

Visualization: Stand with your hands on your hips and smile as you look out at the world you are creating for yourself and your children. Do this 3-10 times today, and smile with gratitude and pride for what you are accomplishing. (see, you are doing it!!)

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Day 10: Be Present Accept Present Parenting Situation

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… and find the gifts in the situation!?!? I do NOT relish getting up in the middle of the night ot take care of sick kids, or to go pick up kids at the movie theater at 11 pm, or calling and harassing the 17-year old who is blowing off his curfew. But I do it. And I try super duper hard to remember that this phase will not last forever. In a few years, they won’t be asking for rides, or even sharing breakfast with me on a daily basis. So the time we have together, even if it is after my bedtime, and inconvenient, and feels bothersome, is somewhere along the precious scale.

One horrible epidsode, which is a family joke now, my then-5-year old daughter wa projectile vomiting pink stuff. It got on the floor, the door, the sink, even in my eye! I then, 2- hours later, got the runs myself, which made it a challenge to take care of me and her. An hour later, after everyone was in bed and asleep, I heard my DOG HAVING DIARRHEA in his crate, of course… That was a hard one to beat, that bug! The only gift or blessing in that is the laughter we all have over it now, and actually, that is a really pretty good blessing, to laugh with our kids, to have old inside jokes with them, and to smile and know that they feel loved and taken care of, even when it is a pain in the neck.

And, there are gifts to parenting alone- our ex is a coparent usually, and that is extremeley important to put energy in to preserving that relationship for the kids’ benefit. But our ex isn’t there on a daily basis any more, helping with dinner or carpools or soccer cleat tantrums. BUT- we get to choose consequences without repercussions. No one can go behind my back and let him spend the night with Nick after I said no. We get to decide, alone, how much of our family budget goes towards winter boots vs. power tools, or family vacations vs. hunting trips. We get to choose our family rules about movies, drinking beer at 18 at family occasions, and how short the homecoming dress hemline can be. I especially like the rule I made 12 years ago that we all take very seriously: Every single Christmas morning, we MUST have cinnamon rolls and bacon while opening up presents. Nobody messes with me on that one.

Action Item: Write down 10 things you love about your lifestyle and find 5 more reasons you would NEVER DO IT DIFFERENTLY if you had the chance.

“This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.”
Gary Lew

Visualize: Imagine you are surrounded by that golden loving light, dripping all around from you, while repeating your affirmation 10 times. Pick your affirmation: “I love the life I have built for my kids and me”; “I am capable, strong, caring, and loving and all will be well in our world”; “I claim my own power, and I lovingly create my own reality.”

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Day 1 Be Present: Habits and Rewards

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Day 1 Be Present: Habits and Rewards

This is Day 1! Let’s take a quick second to congratulate ourselves for moving forward, for deciding to move off of our comfort zone. This is exciting! Our affirmation today is :

“I am in charge of my life. I am making changes every day towards more peace and harmony”. Say it as often as we can (10 times three or five times a day?), write it down on a scrap of paper, write it on our mirror, journal about it, visualize it, whatever it takes to ingrain it.

I am lazy. I am more comfortable laying in bed than running in the dark and cold. I would rather eat pop tarts than make healthy meals. A night without kids means I can have cookies for dinner in my PJ pants on the couch. I could be a female version of Jim Gaffigan who has a love/hate relationship with Hot Pockets and sweatpants (youtube him next time you are grumpy, he is a funny clean comic). Many Mondays, if I think about work before I get out of bed, it is extremely difficult to overcome the anxiety and get to the tea cabinet. Left to my own brain, I am a slug (minus the slime).

I think I am not alone. Who wouldn’t rather eat junk food all day (preferably delivered by a faceless person as I lay on the couch). If not for the firm rewards-based consciousness, we would out-weigh our couches and have credit card debt past our earlobes.

In order to make new habits, we must have reward-focused thoughts (Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg). This is a great book- I highly recommend it.

So, I think about the conversations and the laughs I will have with my girlfriends when I get out of bed at 4:45 am to train (or the sunrise, or the shower gel, or maybe even a doughnut). I think about the quiet space I will have if I leave early for work and arrive at my office at 7:30. I think about how much more energy and easier digestion I will have if I eat more vegetables than carbs.

As humans, we have a need for immediate gratification; in this fast-paced lifestyle, unspecific goals with delayed rewards just don’t work as well (Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg).

Just generically today, think over:
-What immediate rewards will you enjoy if you make an effort towards peace of mind?
-What will it feel like to worry a little less about the things outside our control?
-Will it allow us to add levity to our day?
-Will more daily presence allow us to be more creative? Less critical of our kids? More accepting of others’ faults?
-Will it make breathing easier? (some days, this is a big one for me!)
(Tomorrow we will get more specific, because Charles Duhigg says immediate specific rewards work even better. Today is the beginning baby steps though, so just hang on).

Visualize it:
Is the peace of mind a golden haze surrounding you? Or maybe a warm ocean enveloping you? A warm fire within? See it and feel it.

Take just 4-5 minutes and write down the rewards YOU can enjoy if you change a few “worry” habits into peaceful habits? Can you think of 5 rewards? How will it feel to live with more peace of mind? How valuable is that? What would it mean to you?

Now go back and read/write/draw the affirmation. And start your day!

21 Days to (More? Better? Some?) Inner Peace for Single Parents

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As a little kid, did you fantasize about getting up in the middle of the night alone to deal with your sick child, realizing their vomiting would cost you hundreds of dollars in lost income? To get up in the dark to finish laundry, do dishes, and get kids organized for school? For years? To deal with phone calls from the school regarding your son’s behavior either alone or with someone who would blame you for their mistakes? Did you look forward to the shock of meeting a virtual stranger at a coffee shop (realizing the person you thought they were while you were flirting and salaciously texting for 2 weeks is far from what you thought they were)? Did you imagine you would need to move, and then move again, and perhaps even 3 more times, before finding the affordable home for you to raise your kids alone?

Being a single parent is not what we wished for or envisioned while making daisy chains in grade school. We didn’t imagine this lifestyle even existed while sinking hoops in 4th grade P.E. But maybe, just maybe (probably), it could turn out better than we could have ever imagined. I have been there, twice, in fact. I am twice-divorced. I have made many mistakes, but luckily fell in to the hands and books of wise sages who have helped to guide me from victimhood to health. I would not say I am completely healed, or completely healthy, completely prefect, or even completely sane. But I am complete. I am a single mother of 2 imperfect teenagers, and have been a student of this single parent business for over a decade.

I don’t know your situation, and don’t know how hard your battles are, or what you went through. But we can only start to have more harmony with our lives when we make a few changes, a few new habits. I want to share with you a few secrets I have learned to help you through this challenge in your life, to help you be proactive, to help us see the rewards in our hard work at making new habits. What would it feel like to move away from the merry-go-round spinning out of control and towards inner peace?

I wrote a book: 21 Days to More Inner Peace for Single Parents*.

There are actually 6 books in the works, with 6 habits for single parents to practice for 21 days each:
1. Be Present
2. Be Responsible
3. Build Community
4. Be Gratitude
5. Be Optimistic
6. Be Courageous

Book #1, Be Present is designed to help us get a fresh perspective, to allow our lives to unfold as divine gifts, not the mangled lost dream it occasionally feels like. It is a book with silly stories to laugh at my mistakes, hopeful inspiration from published sources you can delve more deeply into on your own, and some “easy” actions to help us on our journey to building the habit of being present. It takes 21 days of consistent effort to make a new habit part of our daily lives. So give me 10-15 minutes for 21 consecutive days (no skipping!). Obviously this is not psychoanalysis, or a 12-step program. I won’t turn you into the second Buddha, but see if your journey is a little more peaceful, a little more joyful, and a lot more purposeful.

“The best is yet to come”. E.E. Cummings

*For blog readers, you are actually reading it on my blog, but it will be available as an e-book. Please comment and let me know your opinions and ideas. Have I hit on anything real for you?

Carving It Out

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Carving It Out

I wake up at 3 am often these days, not sure if it is the heat, anxiety based on chemistry, worry based on real-life stuff, or just hormones.

Part of it is my worry that I am not getting enough time with my son. This is funny, because there are many moments when I have had more than enough of his 18-year old snarky comment about the phone rule (in the kitchen at bedtime), or his lack of cleaning up his own dishes, or the rank smell of his bedroom. I am trying to be ready for him to move on.

I am working on carving out those “love moments” with my teenagers- times when we connect heart to heart without any mention of the dirty socks, the drinking glasses lining his bedroom shelves, his gas money needs, or the lurking conversation about birth control (semiannually I force myself to check in with him, despite the choking sensation I have when I start the conversation).

It is SO important to my son that we have a relationship based on caring about what is important to him,and not on (undone) chores and homework.

My kids blessed me with the insistence on real authentic communication. Unlike my parents, they are not appeased with lame pleasantries. “My day was fine” doesn’t cross my daughter’s lips unless she is REALLY mad at me. She almost always gives me the longest long version possible. When I ask how school went, I might hear “Well, my T-shirt wasn’t right, so my boobs were a bother, and that made me self-conscious. And then in Chemistry, Mason spilled the solvent, and Allie complains about her cramps too much, and… for another hour most nights.”

“Ack!” I want to run screaming 50 years back on first impulse, but we have to buck up and respond, don’t we? We have to be genuine and honest with them, in order to have a genuine and honest relationship. So the tough conversations that mean something to them have to happen- and we have to sit on our hands sometimes while they discuss the best zit-popping techniques rather than lecture them not to touch their faces. They want us in the now, right here with them, with our energy and our focus.

http://www.njfamily.com/NJ-Family/January-2012/5-Steps-to-Better-Communication-with-Your-Teen/

Don’t Sell Out to Easy Money that Costs You Too Much

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Too bad no one will pay me to sit around and read Game of Thrones while eating chocolate chip cookies.  That is what I love to do these days.  Clearly I need some more motivation towards my passion, and to pick up that book again.

The work life balance is so tricky- make enough money to eat, clothe, shelter, etc. and yet don’t give so much energy to the job that nothing is left for parenting and relationships at the end of the day.

Secret of responsible parenting: Don’t sell out to “easy money”, whether it is marrying too soon to a bad choice for “financial companionship”, or sticking with a job too long after it has stopped being a source of pride and energy.  Work is hard, and we would rather not do it- that is why they call it work!  But at the same time, don’t let it become such a burden that it drains your parenting energy.  I need to fix my budget and give up a few things so that I can do a better job balancing work and parenting.

I have not written about my day job very often… It is a time crunch every damn day, and requires personal, technical, managerial, and vast communication skills. I am good at it.  Yet it does not feed a really crucial portion of me.  I am not sure what to do about that slow leak of my soul, seeping out the windows of my office as I sit at my computer.  These economic times and this phase of my parenting life doesn’t lend itself well to going out on a limb.  It is so easy for us to be conservative and stay in the rut.  Don’t risk it, just stay put.

I was on the phone with my Reiki Master and friend Mary last week, telling her I might work on a way to cut back on my corporate hours and get my own Reiki business off the ground finally when she started gasping and exclaiming “Oh my God, a red-tailed hawk just landed in my back yard, looked at me, and took off!”  She continued, “Wow! Yes! Yes!  You need to do that!” and then “That is a clear message.  I have never seen a hawk in my backyard*.  You need to do this, Anne.”

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So limb, here we go…  What or where is YOUR limb to better balance and fulfillment?

* I don’t know if divine intervention sent the hawk or a scraggly cat that looked like tasty prey. I am sorry kitty-cat if you had to be lunch in order for me to risk and try something new!

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February = Love Month (not that kind, read on…)

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I was thinking of Jasmine, and how she reprimanded Jabbar about cleaning his room the other day and I wondered how Camille was doing with her painting, and also if Christine would ever find close friends (she is kind of controlling… more than me even). I took a deep breath and realized I had actually been feeling closer to my favorite TV show characters than with my real- life neighbor Dena and old freinds Katy and Delia lately. Wow- I am very gullible, and out of touch with reality!

I am stopping just short of pathetic because I know I am not alone in this tendency. Why mess with real people when I can sit for 4 hours on Netflix and watch Christine try to make a new friend over wine and sushi?
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Relationships = Relating

If I/we want to have more than 2-dimensional depth, I/we need to put some elbow grease in to it. So- here are the new habits I am adding for the Love month of relating better and loving better.
1. Hug kids twice each daily
2. Call or speak face to face to reach out daily to friends
3. Keep trying to have empathy for annoying (but real!) people. My real- life neighbor Dena talks too much about her toddler. If she tells me one more time about how she won’t wash plastics in her dishwasher due to carcinogen risk to toddler, she won’t let her kid eat hot dogs because of the nitrates, or that every Saturday morning they eat fresh fruit and homemade french toast together, I could scream… And don’t get me started on my retired parents who seem to gloat on a weekly basis about how much free time and extra cash they have on hand to buy new cars for themselves. (I know, I know, I should pray for them. I am trying…)
4. I will strive for a 4:1 compliments to criticism with kids and loved ones every day.

These are lofty. Really huge. I will keep on trying though I know some days I will crave my pretend friends over real life.

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