Posted by: befulfilledmom | May 22, 2008

I’m back with changes

Hi! I’m back and I’m changing things a little. I’m no expert on mental health, but every once in awhile I strike gold so I’m going to be happy with that. On the other hand, I do have some experience with being a wife, mother, and homeschooler. I’m not promising fantastical stuff, but I’m going to be on the lookout for neat things about my day to share or things I’ve learned about that might be of interest to someone else out there.

Hopefully I can help you smile a little bit too!

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Posted by: befulfilledmom | April 2, 2008

Creative way of helping kids with stress

I don’t know if my sister is posting this anywhere, and frankly it’s too late to call anyone right now so I’m reprinting her email without permission. (If I didn’t think it would be okay, I wouldn’t do it.) It was an email directed to her whole entire professional email list. Professional meaning everyone that has had a class or cranial sacral therapy from her.

KIDS AND STRESS

Do our children experience stress? The answer seems obvious. Of course they do. The next question is, though, harder to evaluate. Do our children know how to deal with stress? What are we doing to teach them coping skills?

First, stress is not an emotion. Stress is a symptom – the RESULT of emotions that are not resolved. So we cannot “fix” stress. We CAN work with the emotions. That’s a very important distinction to make. Remember – separate the “situation” from the “feelings.” Don’t worry about solving the situation right now – resolve the feelings.
Say that Suzy is frustrated because she isn’t able to figure out her homework problems. She is LOUDLY frustrated (you can visualize, I’m sure). Let’s make it even tougher. Let’s pretend that Suzy has dyslexia (I have two children who do), and that in reality the homework really IS hard for her. Yet you know that somehow it must get done, or she will be behind.

So – if we work with emotions, what do we do? Do we simply hold her, express our love and support to her, and tell her that you will help her do it? This is tricky. Yes, we do want her to feel loved and supported. However, if we are fairly certain that she knows that we love and support her, and that we have helped and supported her with homework many times, then it really wouldn’t help her much to simply express support. What we need to do is give her tools.
Do we have to spend a lot of time analyzing, figuring out exactly what she feels, understanding? Not necessarily. Energy is quick. Thoughts and feelings are energy. But remember, energy is quick.

We can immediately say, “Suzy, what specifically are you feeling?” She may or may not have an answer. That’s okay. You’re just trying to build awareness in Suzy’s mind that there IS a specific word for what she is feeling, even if she doesn’t know what it is. This is important, because it tells the child that we are dealing with a TANGIBLE thing, a REAL emotion, and that it’s not just imaginary. It’s also okay to feel it. So listen if she says, “I’m feeling mad.” If, however, she simply spouts off about the terrible situation, be sure and bring her back to the principle – “Well, Suzy, that’s the situation, but right now we’re just going to work with the feelings.”

Don’t worry if she doesn’t understand any of that, or if you really don’t get any feelings. You have to do this many times for them to understand, but they will get it. The important thing is for them to know that there are real ways to deal with their situations and feelings.

Once you know that the child knows you are trying to understand, it’s time to help the energy shift. You can say, “Suzy, I know that you don’t really want to feel miserable and angry and you don’t really want to bethrowing things around. Let’s change the energy so that you can deal with the homework. You need to be able to think clearly before I can even help you with the homework. Then use a technique to shift the energy.

One of the simplest with very little children is simply to have them visualize with you. This is how I would say it.

“Suzy, imagine a balloon. Let’s put all the negative energy and feelings you are feeling right now into it. Let’s fill it with the frustration, the anxiety, the anger….etc. (You are actually pantomiming this whole thing – gathering energy into your hands, pushing it into the balloon as you are blowing it up, etc.). The balloon is getting big, isn’t it? It’s amazing that it isn’t popping. It’s SO big! There! Do we have all of it yet? Are we missing any mads? Any sads? Let’s get it all. Stuff it in. Tie it shut. Now what will we do with it? We want it to go away and be released so that we can fill ourselves up with good energy. Let’s send it out the window. Open the window. Then push the balloon out. Oh – it’s going to high in the sky! Look! It’s just about disappeared! Now it’s gone! Good! We don’t want those things with us any more, that’s for sure.
“Now let’s look. There’s a big hole where all those mads and frustrateds were. We don’t want that – so let’s fill it! Let’s fill it with peace. Let’s put in there some happy feelings, some glad feelngs, some smart feelings, some joyful feelings. Let’s fill the holes! Now, it’s done!

“NOW we can work on your homework! Can I help you, or can we figure out a way to make it easier so that you can understand it? NOW it’s just homework, not a mean, bad, hurtful thing! Your homework is something that we can work with! Let’s do it now.”

Little children are easily caught up in this analogy. They like it, and it shifts the energy for them. It doesn’t matter if they think you are silly or not. My children literally roll their eyes. Once or twice I’ve had a child tell me not to do the “energy thing” when their friends are over. I just roll my eyes back at them and say, “But does it work?” They say, “Mom! They won’t get it.” I just look at them and say, “Okay, but when you can tell the difference, and when they need that kind of energy shift, you know how to help them!”
There are many other techniques, but this is my favorite because it does bring out the silly, creative side. I like that. It teaches us (myself included) that energy is real, that energy matters, and that energy is simple. We don’t have to be miserable to switch the energy. You do NOT have to push the darkness out. Just flip the switch. It works.

Posted by: befulfilledmom | March 10, 2008

Teaching children about emotions, part 2

The next note from my sister:

My friend wrote, “I have a child that hunches over too. He hunches pretty badly, and I’m concerned about it. What can I do?”

The first place to start is to look at the situation. Make sure you see it clearly. Of course it involves your son hunching over. Does he do this all the time? Is it done mostly when he stands, when he walks, when he is around others, when he is alone, when he is worried, when he is happy, when he is excited, when he is frightened? Make sure that you physically observe details like these. Just observe – don’t try to figure out why that would be, or to judge it in any way. CAN he straighten up? What is his reaction when he is told to straighten up? What kinds of things does he respond with? Is he upset that you would mention it? Does he shrug it off? Do other people seem to notice? What reactions have other people had to this?

Then, using all the information you have, see if you can determine a “core belief.” Why would your son believe that it would be better to hunch over? Sometimes, of course, we might hunch over because our body would be more comfortable if we do hunch over. Is there a physical weakness that needs to be dealt with? Remember that the body naturally strives for perfect balance and health, so it isn’t likely that your son is simply lazy and doesn’t want to stand straight. I would definitely consider that we manifest physically the types of things that concern us emotionally. A good book like “Feelings Buried Alive Never Die” can be useful. That book has an index of common complaints or illnesses and then it lists corresponding very common emotions associated with that physical problem. Consider whether an emotion such as “feels burdened” or “carrying a heavy load” could be a belief that your son has. Just consider these things – don’t try to fix them yet, or assume that they are terrible, and that something must be done. Remember – it is GOOD for emotions to take time to resolve. Of course prayer would also be important too. Many times I have suddenly felt “inspired” as to a core belief a child has, and those beliefs have been ones that I wouldn’t have even remotely thought of.

If you can find what you definitely feel is a core belief, wonderful. We’ll discuss what to do with that in a minute. But what if you can’t figure it out? Don’t worry. Either way, the next step is the same.

Carefully look at your child’s emotions. This is where it helps so much if you have taught your children to clearly identify their emotions. For example, when a child comes to me and says, “I don’t feel well,” what do I do? Do I immediately run to the remedy cupboard and get him something to fix it? No, of course not. I need more information. I need to know what type of thing he is experiencing that makes him feel sick! Does he have a headache? A sore throat? Is he scheduled for a piano lesson that day and is he worried because he hasn’t practice done time all week? So – this step involves asking your child, “Let’s talk about the things that you are feeling, okay? Are things going okay at Scouts? What is going WELL in your life? What do you wish could be different? Are you feeling happy?” Of course he is not going to say, “I am burdened with believing that I have to do better in order to be loved.” But he MIGHT say, “I’m afraid that I can’t do things well enough,” or “I worry that I’m the only one who can’t read the hard words of a paragraph in the group.” He might not say that either. The more times you do this, though, the more confident he will feel that you are interested, that you are caring, and that you are interested in helping him learn to figure out his emotions.

Once emotions or core beliefs are found, what do you do? It doesn’t even matter whether the core beliefs are logical, or whether the emotions relate to his back hunching over or not. Then we just go through emotional CPR.

C stands for choose. Say to the child, “Gee, I’m really sorry you are feeling worried about not reading well. We can work hard on reading at home, and I’ll help you, if you wish. But I don’t want you to believe that you are not okay, and I don’t want you to be worried. I want you to have peace. Do you feel that you’re okay and that you’re at peace? If not, that’s pretty easy to switch, because it’s just energy, remember? Let’s switch it right now. Just say, “I don’t want to feel worried, and I don’t want to believe that I’m not okay. I’m choosing differently. I’m 100% at peace with me right now.”

I guarantee that if your child is under six it will be accepted without question. If your child is older, you will be looked upon very strangely, but that’s okay. You ARE teaching a correct principle, no matter how strange it sounds. And it IS easy to change energy, no matter how hard that is to believe. I’ve gotten gazillions of strange looks from my kids, and sometimes they even ask me not to “be weird” around their friends, but several years into doing this, what do they do when they have an emotion that upsets them? They come to me. Quickly. We go through the process, they roll their eyes, but they go away, and it doesn’t bother them again. They know that, even though when they get older they can’t admit it.

So, the C that stands for choose reminds you to let them choose whether or not to change that emotion into peace. See, the Savior actually provides peace – but we have to CHOOSE to delete the negative emotion. He then changes it into positive. I have explained this many times to the children, and in the process I have found that their faith in Him has become mighty. They know, for they have felt.

P in “CPR” stands for ponder. You have pondered to find emotions – invite the child to ponder also. Say, “When you hunch over with your back, it’s a signal that something is out of harmony with truth. Your body wants to stand straight naturally. So during the next couple of days, will you think about what you are feeling?” Let the child in on the process. Meanwhile, you continue to ponder and search.

R in “CPR” stands for responsibility to release. As parents, we have a responsibility to be good stewards and help our children grow and develop. This might mean taking the child to get a physical to determine if there is a physical resolution to the problem. It might also mean teaching the child that he can have the power to deal with his emotions. It means teaching the child how to “script” away negative, changing them into positive emotions. If there is a core belief, the responsibility might be upon you to help your child have experiences where he can feel “okay” and decide that he IS okay. It will also be your responsibility to make sure that even if you have to deal with the same emotion every day for 21 days, you teach the children to say, “I am choosing to be at peace and to get rid of feeling that I’m not okay.” Remind the child often that, “You have the responsibility to choose your emotions. I want to help you in that.”

Finally, believe. Our emotions DO influence our actions, and they DO influence our health in our bodies. Believe that with adherence to correct principles (choosing not to keep negative emotions, pondering to find core beliefs, and responsibly releasing negative emotions), your life can be full of peace.

Posted by: befulfilledmom | March 10, 2008

Teaching children about emotions, part 1

Recently, my sister sent me a copy of an email she sent out to a group of people that had taken her class at a symposium. I wanted to share it here in its entirety because she is so good at teaching the principles of good mental health. Here it is:

When the Americans went to liberate a concentration camp, they found skeletons of men. It was a horrifying, dark scene. However, there was one prisoner who looked much better than the rest. He was also very outgoing, very positive, very friendly, and, since he spoke several languages, very important to the Americans, he became the translator. The rest of the prisoners all looked to him and earnestly loved him. He was of invaluable aid to the Americans in the processing of all the prisoners. The American soldiers assumed that he had been in the concentration camp for just a short time. However, one day they found his records. He had been there longer than most of the other prisoners. They were amazed, and one American asked him how he was put in the concentration camp. By this time he had been given the nickname of “Wild Bill Cody.”

Wild Bill Cody replied that one day the Nazis took his entire family outside of their house and shot them at point blank range, but they didn’t shoot him. He said that right then he had the realization that he could spend the rest of his life hating them, or he could forgive them. He chose forgiveness, right at that moment, and he said that was why he hadn’t suffered like the others.

It’s a wonderful, true story. I think of the courage that took – the devotion to principle – and of the determination to re-make that forgiveness each day. However, there is also one thing more – when he was at that singular poignant moment of his life, he recognized his emotions! He was able to interpret them correctly and know that HE had the right and responsibility to choose. We may think that we all know that – surely we all know about forgiveness and the need to forgive. However, a few years ago I had a situation occur where it was difficult to choose forgiveness. At that time, I knew that if I had not “practiced” emotions, been “in touch” with them, and KNEW the power of “flipping a negative emotion into a positive,” I would never have been able to forgive, at least not right then.

Can a child immediately reach a point of “forgive or not forgive” moment in life and choose forgiveness if they have never “practiced on the small stuff” like being frustrated at a sibling, being teased a little, or something like that? Will they even understand why it is important to forgive if they haven’t experienced the peace that comes from changing negative emotions to positive? I don’t know that it would be as easy.

One other thing – and sorry this is so long.

As I was teaching the class at convention, an understanding hit me about something in my life. Because of its personal nature, and the time constraints there, I could not share it, and it happened to my conscious awareness as I was teaching something else.

However, I will share it now. I mentioned in the class how during my jr. high and high school years a boy teased me incessantly and pointed fingers at me – and consequently I began to hunch over in a misguided attempt to not be noticed. Children often do things like that. Anyway, I never told my parents about this boy teasing me. I’ve often pondered that over the years. Without question my parents would have stopped that teasing immediately. Without question I knew my parents loved me. And, surprisingly enough, I talked to them about ALL my emotions, and my fears, my dreams, etc. I was not hesitant to talk to them at all. But why didn’t I mention the teasing? Surely, since it went on for five years, that would have been important.

In that millisecond of revelation right there during the convention, I realized with shock that the reason I never told my parents is that I simply did not realize two things. Number one, I didn’t realize that the teasing was causing me to hunch over. (That is a principle too – in books on emotions, and in the book I am currently publishing, that we actually do lodge emotions in our bodies.) But number two, I didn’t realize that I was experiencing emotions! I simply did not realize that his teasing made me feel inadequate, ugly, etc. I NEVER connected with my own emotions. How weird is that! Certainly you would have expected me to, right?

But – teenagers DO NOT usually connect with their emotions! My parents were great parents – but I had never been consciously taught to look for my emotions. I had not been consciously taught to look at the “fruits of my experiences in life” and examine whether they were negative or positive and think about what I believed or felt in relation to that. Without a doubt, I understood in that instant that THIS is why I teach – because if I HAD been taught those principles, my entire life experience might have been different.

That is not to say that teenagers don’t THINK they connect to emotions, but in talking with them, I really do believe that many times what they think are emotions are really misguided attempts at obtaining what they need, but don’t know they need. They are feeling a subset of a belief about themselves that most of the time doesn’t even reflect what they really want to believe at a core level. When it is peaceful and quiet and they learn to tune in to their own emotions, they are really shocked and surprised to find that it is so easy, and so different from what they have been feeling. Because I have counseled with so many adults who experienced trauma as a child or teenager, I realize that this is a huge problem for them too. Amazingly enough, though, as soon as a person is taught to tune in to their emotions, figure out what they are, and accept them and decide if they are negative or positive, their whole lives change. Trauma of great magnitude is healed very, very quickly. It is indeed almost as quick as just turning on the light switch instead of having to go in and push the darkness out of the room first.

Sorry this is so long, but I am so passionate because I believe it is more than important – it is essential!

Posted by: befulfilledmom | March 10, 2008

Here’s one for me

One of my favorite books in healing yourself and making a difference in your own family is called Remembering Wholeness, by Carol Tuttle. I highly, highly, highly recommend it! In chapter 49 (her chapters are very short), she emphasizes the need to affirm our children. Many times we, as adults were not validated as children by our parents and so we go through life waiting for others to tell us, “You are worthwhile.” Carol Tuttle teaches us to take back that power and become your own healthy parent.

Likewise, our children need to be validated by us. Tonight, I got upset with my daughter because she dawdled her way through setting the table, causing dinner to be cool when we actually got to sit and eat. Then I got upset with her again because she was too busy talking to eat. Neat mom, huh. Not one of my stellar moments!

So my resolution, and I’m typing it here in full detail so I remember it better, is to affirm my children with statements Carol Tuttle recommends in her book for ages 6-12 years old. The developmental need, per her book, is to come into your own identity and power. These are the statements these children need to hear repeatedly.

  • It is okay for you to test your boundaries and find out your limits.
  • We will set appropriate limits for you to keep you safe and help you find out who you are.
  • We like your energy; we like your curiosity about life.
  • It’s okay for you to think for yourself, and we will think for ourselves.
  • You can think about your feelings and have feelings about what you are thinking.
  • You can know what you need and ask for help.
  • It’s okay for you to feel any way you want ot feel.
  • We see and appreicate your wholeness.
  • You can think and feel at the same time.
  • We are glad you are starting to think for yourself.
  • You can try out different ways of using your power.
  • We love to listen to you.
  • We are here for you.
  • We love to do things with you.
  • It’s okay to cry even though you are growing up.
  • It is good for you to find out the cause and effect of your behavior.
  • You can ask questions if something confuses you.
  • You are not responsible for our marriage.
  • You are not responsible for our happiness.
  • You are not responsible for the problems in our family.
  • It’s okay for you to explore who you are.

I see some here that I’m going to emphasize the very most. At the most, I am going to focus on three of these at a time, make them my own so they are natural for me to continue all the time. Then I’ll select 2 or 3 more. I’ll let you know how I do. The energy one is definitely appropriate for one of my sons; he has a definite zest for life. Finding out about the cause and effect of your behavior is needed for the other, and you are not responsible for the problems in your family for my daughter. She often says, “I’m sorry,” when she wasn’t even involved, just to try to ‘fix it’ and restore harmony (usually disturbed by her brothers who are busy testing the limits with each other.)

P.S. Here‘s a post from Ice Cream Diary that I have been trying to incorporate more into my day too.

Posted by: befulfilledmom | March 9, 2008

Do you feel anger?

I wish I could say I’m writing this post for the sake of transparency, but I’m not that good! I’m writing this post because I have realized that there might be some others that might benefit from the things I am learning. I use the phrase “I am learning” because I don’t know if it is something you ever totally master—at least, in this life! We learn about enduring to the end, and these are strategies that I have learned to endure and actually stay on top.

The challenge I am talking about is that of dealing with a sometimes overwhelming urge toward anger, impatience, and frustration. It is triggered by a variety of things. For me, outside influences can include my husband’s job not going well or monetary pressures—a feeling of never being able to get on top of it all. Sometimes it comes from having to teach the same concept, again, with the same child for the third year in a row and the frustration of wondering what I am doing wrong that he doesn’t get it. Sometimes it results from my husband being gone, either to work and then meetings or out-of-town business meetings and the resulting 24/7 no-relief syndrome. Sometimes it comes from a poor night’s sleep. Sometimes it comes from the fear that I’m not doing enough, either at church or homeschool, with the neighbors or friends, for the person having struggles or whatever. The need to be perfect drives me harder than probably anything else out there!

I think I about covered the major triggers for me. For others, there are probably others but this list might be a good starting point. The money fears and perfectionism triggers are probably the most common elements in my mental undoing than anything else and so that is where I have focused most of my energies.

One of the things that I have learned about is that there are angels out there who are connected to us, maybe by blood ties, maybe by friendship, that want to help us. Think about your best friend. If you had an emergency, who would you call? Would it be a friend, a family member, who? Now relate that to angels. I had an ecclesiastical leader who taught us about angels. He taught us they are surrounding us all the time and that we just have to ask for their help.

Remember that principle of free agency I shared the other day? Angels are required to honor our agency. They will never violate it; they will never force their help on any of us so we have to ask them if we want their assistance. They are not God either. They do not replace God any more than your best friend or sister would. I don’t pray to angels as I do to God, or my Heavenly Father, as I refer to him, but I do ask them for things. Sometimes I simply ask them to smooth out my day so I don’t have any major triggers come up. Sometimes I ask them (as well as praying fervently to Heavenly Father) for their intervention in helping my kids learn a certain concept that has remained foreign to them no matter how hard I have tried. I believe many of these angels are ancestors of ours who have a personal concern in our well being. I have felt their influence even though I don’t know their names. It is enough that they will help.

Sometimes when I feel a monetary concern pressing in on me, I will simply say, “I need X amount of money for such and such.” If I will walk away and do something non-threatening and basically forget about it, it tends to show up. Sometimes I have to look to realize it showed up. Like I said, my anger is often triggered by monetary concerns because worry over money tends to short out my thinking and patience in explaining new (or difficult) concepts.

There are days when I say, “I can’t deal with this today. Please help my kids learn on their own.” That happened the other day when I had to disengage because of too many outside pressures, and I was amazed with what my children learned. A higher power helped me correct their previous days’ work and give some guidance, but then I hit the point that I recognized as my snapping point. The books they pulled out after that to research something they were playing or telling a story about were not what I expected. It was incredible! Did I pray for help? Yes, and I think that’s why I got through it and came out on top. But I know angels were also helping with my kids just as my family members would have if they lived nearby. They helped me have the time I needed to pull myself together.

Is this something that is easy to remember to do? It hasn’t been for me, but I’m working on that. I remember as a young, single adult, I learned everything I could about certain grandmothers because I felt an affinity to them. At a poignant time in my life, I literally felt them with many others who I realized were other grand and great-grand mothers pressing around me, supporting me and giving me their strength to carry on. Because of that, I learned about angels readily from an energy therapist and the ecclesiastical leader. It was like my spirit said, “Of course!”

This works. Ask them for help just like you would from a friend. They want to help because they care. They are interested and want us to succeed. I think many of them understand exactly what we are facing because they faced some of those same demons too. That helps them help us.

Posted by: befulfilledmom | March 8, 2008

What do you imagine?

One thing that amuses me is women who say, “Oh, I can’t imagine homeschooling my children.” For a long time, I thought, “What are you doing with your children before and after school if you aren’t teaching them?” It finally occurred to me that the secret is in the word imagine. They can’t, or don’t, imagine it.

Today such phrases as, “If you can dream it and believe it, you can achieve it,” and “Dream big!” are so common that it’s strange to realize that is still “outside of the box.” Even when its advice is followed, it’s usually associated with landing a man on the moon or being the first female in top management.

I think those applications, while appropriate, are too limiting. I think it applies to everyday life too. If I can dream and believe that my kids will finish a project on Argentina, they will, and it will be ready for the International Fair.

We just attended an International Fair, in case you were wondering, and we had a display about Argentina. This was the first time we have ever participated in one of these fairs, but it will not be our last. Were we as focused on Argentina as we could have been? No. Did we learn as much as there is to learn? Not on your life. We barely scratched the surface, but the point is that we finished the project. I had the audacity (in my children’s view) to sign up for a display, and actually expected them to do some research about the country. We did some mapwork on South America and Argentina, learned about some of their customs and government, some of their language with their distinctive accent, and tried out some of their foods (to my husband’s delight). Then we put together a display with food.

I cannot tell you how many “fairs” we have attended but not participated in, but this time we pushed outside of our comfort zone to participate. In short, I imagined doing it. Now that it is done, my children can imagine it and agree that it was a great thing.

Now when people say, “I can’t imagine homeschooling my own children,” I think, “I can’t imagine sending them to school.” Because I can’t. I haven’t practiced that imagination. It is not my desire nor my inclination to subject them to public school. It is my desire to allow them their innocence just as long as they wish. I have sent my children to school so I know what that would be like, but I don’t imagine it. Likewise, I cannot imagine working outside of our home even though that is a common experience. Others do. Even if it isn’t their first (or even second) choice, they imagine it. Imagining is the first step in any endeavor. Car salesmen know that. They work very hard to put a potential buyer behind the wheel of their choice of cars because they know that is the first step to selling the car. So it is everywhere.

So who am I? My picture of myself includes being a homeschooler . . . because that is what I have imagined. That is my reality. Does that make everyone else wrong? No, but it illustrates my point that we become that which we imagine. I graduated in secondary education but could not imagine teaching high school so I became a a technical writer until I had children. Then I finally indulged in my fondest imagination of being a mother and eventually as a homeschool mother.

Finally, do we imagine ourselves as happy in doing what we are doing? That is the biggest, most important skill of all, I believe. If I imagine homeschooling as sheer drudgery, how long will I last? Not as long as I have lasted and definitely no further than this! But if I imagine the breakthrough times of “Ah, hah! I get it!” and the fun projects and making the drudge work a little more fun, I can imagine continuing.

So if can I imagine doing what I am doing or desire to do, and imagine myself radiating joy while I am doing it, it happens. That’s why the days I wake up wanting to growl at the dog are the days I bury myself away from my children so I don’t infect them! And the days I’m excited about doing a project are the days we hit it hard! The days I want to growl at the dog and hit a new subject or project or drudge work out of sheer determination are my disastrous days when there is no good spirit in our home! So today’s definition of “fulfillment”? Doing what I imagine and doing it joyfully!

Posted by: befulfilledmom | March 7, 2008

Checkpoints—sometimes just relax

Hmmm. What are my “check points”? I used that word rather loosely the other day in a post and got caught on it.

One of my check points is, “Am I getting too uptight over noise?”

Here’s my reality. I was blessed with two rather noisy, typical boys. Unfortunately for them, their mother (me) was raised in a two-girl house and quiet.

As a result of this reality, I have had to learn when to back off. When to let go of teaching (not necessarily of assignments but teaching new concepts or grading papers). And crawl into bed or do housework or something else equally mundane. When to walk over to the phone for a son to speak to their father about their behavior because I’m too wrapped up around an axle, so to speak. When to banish a child to their room for a lengthy time-out (or me to my room). When to say, “Movie day!” and be grateful that I have something reasonably educational to throw into the VHS or DVD player. When to decide that today would be a great day to just read history—not do a timeline or analysis or anything earth shattering—just to read it and then put it away. When to be grateful for my children’s interest in learning so they grab a book or magazine or something to study a little more about whatever subject is at hand. When to buy that workbook at Barnes and Noble for a change of pace (that in my more serious moments would snub.)

Today has been a mixed day with some of all the above. My boys were very sick the other day, so much that one of them got out of bed for breakfast and went back shortly after. That was the one that never stops. The other one sat or napped in the “big chair” all day until I sent him to bed mid-afternoon. After finding an herbal combination at the health food store that had been recommended to me, I started handing it out like candy. It was a very quiet day. Normally that would have been welcome, but not when I was so concerned. That night, I did cranial sacral therapy on both boys, and my husband did it again on one later that night. So with a vaporizer going full blast with oregano filling the room with steam, we closed the door and went prayerfully to bed. The next morning, my son who had been the sickest woke me with music in his voice. My heart filled with relief immediately!

Since then, the boys are ramping up on their energy levels, and I’m sick. Head cold—just enough to make me want to not move. They all got their language arts, math, and reading assignments done and we sat and read a little more about Caesar Augustus. Maybe we’ll go back and make a timeline . . . next week. I have gotten the laundry done (changed all the sheets so the kids have clean ones tonight) and folded! Woot! That feels good. I have my cold water load on the line, and I’m not eager to go bring them in. My ears are clogged, my sinuses are clogged, and cold air really stinks on them. We are having chili tonight though, and I loaded it with chili powder. Hopefully that will help unclog me!

My husband came home for lunch and fed the kids while I did the housework. But I feel guilty—we haven’t done anything in science for awhile. I’m reminding myself to give myself time. There is tomorrow for preparing lessons, grading papers, cleaning where company won’t see. So maybe that’s my lesson for me today. Relax and allow my kids to do what they will, trusting that they won’t do anything wrong. So far they haven’t. Right now they’re looking for the Ancient World Activity Guide. Kids will learn even if I want nothing to do with it! One of my sons just pulled out his Faith in God booklet and is working on the next requirement.

It just doesn’t get better than this to see that my kids have learned to learn. This is “fulfillment” to me today.

Posted by: befulfilledmom | March 4, 2008

Principle #1: Free agency

My sister wrote me after reading my first posts in this blog with the following comments:

I still can’t quite come to grips with the fact that we create other people’s actions. Some of that I can see, and see powerfully, but not all.

I agree that we can, by becoming “clear” ourselves with our emotions, have an effect on how another person choose to act. For one thing, if I am simply not able to be teased, the person that is determined to tease will finally leave me alone and go find someone else to bother. That is very powerful. (In scripture terms, when wicked people are fighting peaceful people, they are often influenced because they see the difference — they see that the peaceful people don’t have a desire to fight, etc.)

But if I believe that I can choose my own thoughts and feelings at any moment, and that those change my life, can I also believe that they will change someone else’s choices? I’ve always been confused there with that concept. I don’t think I understand it clearly.

One of the things I believe is that we were all born with a God-given gift of free agency. We are allowed to choose. Sometimes those choices are limited; other times they are almost totally unlimited. I read a book called Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl that talks about that. He was a prisoner of war with extremely limited choices. His choices narrowed down further and further until his only choice was whether to control his own mind. Because he recognized that choice and acted on it, he survived and after he was finally released, he thrived and created a new life.

There are many energy therapists that teach that we can literally change other people’s choices. I believe that is true within a certain scope. I easily buy into the idea that we can influence and affect other people greatly by our own choices and by what we put our focus on, but we cannot change the fact that they are free to make their own decisions. I think it is more important that we learn to change the energy surrounding us so others are inclined to treat us as we wish to be.

Let me use an example my husband experienced. He was working for an excellent company in Cincinnati when it slowly became apparent that my husband’s opportunities were narrowing for no apparent reason. He has excellent credentials with so many certifications to his credit that he never lists them all. His resume is impressive to say the least. His track record with that particular company was phenomenal. So why did everything seem to be going south for him there? We finally realized the source of the problem was a minority owner. I don’t know what the guy’s problem was. Of note is recent news that he was has been forced out of the company because he singlehandedly has caused more people to quit than we’d ever thought possible.

We tried to use affirmations, visualization, prayer and fasting. Then the book The Peacegiver: How Christ Heals Our Hearts and Homes, by James L. Ferrell dropped into his hands, which helped him see the situation in a new light and prevent the experience from cankering his own soul.

My husband’s attempts to change the outcome there didn’t work. However, we finally stopped asking the question of “How can we improve this situation” and started asking for what I believe was the “right” request to bring us a different situation to accomplish our goals. We also asked for a buyer to be prepared for our home when we put it on the market. In less than 7 months, my husband had received and moved to a better situation in another state, our home sold the first day it was on the market (the closing happened three weeks later), and our family was back together in our new home in two more months.

I think the same approach works with children. Recently, I have caught myself getting down on one of my sons for not doing the things he has been assigned, and I have been poignantly reminded to be kind. So I am now quietly reminding him about the things he has to do but doesn’t particularly care to do and working on catching him doing good things to talk about. Will that change his happiness over practicing the piano? We’ll see. That is still his decision, but I am not going to get ramped up about him missing his practice sessions. I’ll still insist he do it at least through April which is the end of his teacher’s year, but hopefully he won’t feel his control over his life is threatened. I am open to showing him the sympathy I feel for him in preparing for Festival. I think my negative approach has made him resent it just on principle.

I remember another lady from my church that I was supposed to visit at least monthly. She was a difficult person to even want to visit. No matter what happened, it was bad, even if it was an upturn in events. I later learned that she had two therapists “fire” her because her attitude toward her life was so sour. I was amazed how many blessings could come to a blessing without being acknowledged or even recognized. I used to pray for her and sit with her by the hour, and come home depressed and snappish at my own family. I remember I would prepare for those visits by filling myself up with positive affirmations and scripting and everything I could think of. I used a technique of visualizing her place with white light so there would be a positive energy there and I could leave from there still feeling positive and upbeat. I think I affected her, but only temporarily. I could not change her agency to choose. It wasn’t for me to do that and I believe it would have been wrong for me to have asked for that power. Ultimately, I chose not to go back because I did not want to subject myself to her negative energy. Had she been more receptive, I believe my influence, in combination with others who were also working with her, could have changed her life had she chosen differently. The choice was hers to make, and apparently she isn’t ready to make a different choice.

Thankfully, I think children are much more receptive to positive influences and make quicker changes.

Posted by: befulfilledmom | March 3, 2008

I am a child of God

Tonight my daughter asked me to sing to her as I tucked her into bed. The song I sang is one every child in our church learns. The first verse goes like this:

I am a child of God,
And He has sent me here
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me,
Walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with Him someday.

That song has always been my checkpoint. I can’t very well sing that song about loving parents if I’ve been screaming at them all day long, now can I?

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