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Not Perfect Parenting

not perfect parenting

Give your family the gift of YOU. 

Imperfect, wonderful, awesome-sauce YOU.

Because when we do this.

When we let go of perfect…

Everything is possible.

xo

ps: Have you ever felt yourself letting go of “perfect” in one way or another and felt the DEEPER CONNECTION possible with your family/mama friends on the other side of perfect as a result? Tell your story in the comments below.

When we tune in and trust, everything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because mom-hood is BETTER when we’re holding hands. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest as well, because the manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!

RELATED POSTS:

How Parenting Helps Me Grow

How to Accept the Un-Acceptable

More Posts on Being a NOT Perfect Parent and Forgiveness

Suffering From the Terrible Two’s? Remember to BIRP

How Can I Forgive

Photo Credit: Wise-Living.com

Photo Credit: Wise-Living.com

There is nothing like parenting to pull those old wounds to the forefront of life to be healed. Who, me? Triggered much as a mama? You bet-ja! Having and raising children is like jumping on the super highway to healing old hurts – the kind I don’t even consciously remember and the ones I do.

When I was newly wed, my husband and I were taking on personal growth and healing like it was part of some advanced college-credit course. We were in a committed, loving relationship for the first time in our lives (not just a serious relationship but REALLY committed, like for life) and that was all the safety we needed to start taking on our demons. We were both doing this independent of one another before we met but we picked up the pace a notch after getting hitched. There is nothing like being in a loving relationship to really open ones heart up to healing. And we got right into it, looking together at the the really gunky, ugly stuff that gets stuffed way down deep in one’s soul over decades of living.

The retreats we took both separately and together at Heartland, a retreat center in the Ozarks founded by Dr. Michael Ryce, were heaven sent. As newlyweds, we unearthed things about our-selves that before had been buried to deep to be handled. The retreats we took together, sometimes for weeks at a time, helped us acquire tools to navigate the murky channels inside ourselves that we were now in touch with. We each brought bags of pain (Michael calls this “garbage”) into our marriage. It may not sound sexy, but it’s true… and we all do it, anytime we start a relationship with another person. Matching bags of garbage. (Dang resonant energy.)

We did alot of living those first three years of marriage and it wasn’t all a bed of roses. When we finally did reach our third wedding anniversary, I remember my husband saying, “WHAT? It’s only been three years?” before he realized this was probably NOT the most romantic thing to say to one’s wife on one’s third wedding anniversary. But I completely agreed. Yep, not sexy (I told you) but hugely forwarding. And now that I think of it, maybe it IS sexy, but in a different sort of way. This is the stuff true love can be built on. Now four kids and fourteen years of marriage later, I get down on my knees and give THANKS for those early pre-kid years of intense personal growth we took on as a couple.

Today, parenting twins plus two children together and owning our own business, getting triggered or being “in pain” is not what I would call a rare occurrence in our home. But our upsets don’t throw us like they might have had we not taken on a very important belief early on in our relationship. It’s a belief we picked up at Heartland. This single sentence has guided us threw many a rough sea. It’s one I am thrilled to live by as a mom. It’s a simple statement, just seven words in all. What is this magical statement?

If I am in pain I am in error.

That’s it. Seven words. But these words have forever transformed my life, my relationship with my husband and our relationships with our kids.

When I first read this I completely disagreed with the statement… until I redefined what error meant. Now when I read the sentence, instead of thinking “wrong” which I used to equate with error, I now think “off the mark”. I look at the pain I’m feeling as a sort of red flag, a tip off to myself to think, “Wake up and watch yourself Suzanne!!!” because if I’m triggered (in pain) I can be sure there is something in the situation for me to heal (i.e. let go of, learn and/or grow) from. Error does not mean that the other person or circumstance in the situation is right and I am wrong. Not really. It’s just an invitation for me to look at something a bit closer from my past. Most likely, if and when I do, the thing that has me triggered will cease to hold so much power over me. Here’s a story of how this looks from my life. A “bad” situation that delivered HUGE rewards when I took on the idea that “if I was in pain, I was in error.”

There is nothing like parenting to make life a-parent. I get opportunities to heal things from my past all the TIME delivered to me by the four little master teachers (all under ten) that live with my husband and I.

If I am in pain I am in error. Take a moment to say it over in your head. Let it rise to the top of your consciousness the next time you feel your blood boiling because your two (or thirteen!) year old just will not listen! See if you can recall these words the next time motherhood or life is driving you insane.

These seven words have the power to transform your parenting reality. Here are two links to help these words live even more powerfully in your home. The first is a simple, seven step forgiveness worksheet created By Dr. Michael Ryce. When I started using it, I set a 30-day challenge for myself, committing to taking on seven small or large irritations a day for 30 days. This exercise proved to be a powerful one. You can do that as well or you might want to start slowly, simply committing to using the worksheet to process your feelings the next time you are parenting and feel yourself getting triggered. (Note to self: be sure to take on the small triggers first and work your way up to the doozies. Rome wasn’t built in a day…) This next link is a chapter from Dr. Michael Ryce’s book, Why Is This Happening To Me Again?!, where in the midst of telling a story about a guy named Richard who is learning about the power of forgiveness, he explains how to use the forgiveness worksheet

Thank you Dr. Michael Ryce, for giving my husband and I (and the world) your insightful perspective on forgiveness and the gifts of these tools. The relationships I have with my children and a large part of my approach to parenting in general is built upon the personal work I did before, during and after the weeks and months my husband and I spent in the Ozarks.

I hope these seven words and the forgiveness tools above bring you closer to yourself and to your family. Tell me what you think. How does the statement, “If I am in pain I am in error,” sit with you? What about life or parenting has been upsetting lately that you might be up for *forgiving*?

By Suzanne Tucker, mom of twins plus two, co-creator of My Mommy Manual and Yoga Parenting.

 

Parenting Helps Us Grow

There is nothing like parenting to hold that mirror up to a grown person’s face (to my face, to your face…) and show us where we get to grow. Apparently I get to grow in patience and acceptance because these two keep showing up in my dang mirror. They were there yesterday, staring out at me. I recognized them right away. My eight year old walked into the living room and saw it first. Instead of screaming at the horror she alone was witnessing (which, thinking back to being eight, could have been a fun thing to do) she ran to find me in the kitchen and broke it to me gently. With big eyes and a shocked look on her face she said, “Mom, you are NOT going to like this.” She paused for dramatic effect. I froze and braced myself for impact. “You are really going to freak out.” Grateful for the cue, I realized in that moment that I already was freaking out. A quiet, still sort of freaking out, but a freak-out just the same. I took a deep breath, unglued my feet from where I’d been standing and prepared myself for the worst. Quickly, I walked into the next room wondering what could have happened in the last five minutes. Who was I kidding. Anything could have happened. It had been far too quiet since I’d broken away to wash some dishes. My older two kids had been doing homework and my two year old twins had been playing on the floor beside them.

I made it to the dining room and at first glance, the scene wasn’t bad at all. There was no blood, no broken glass and no obvious harm had come to any of my children or our pets. It was the second glance that got me. As I rounded the corner from the dining room into our family room, I saw it. Big green circles were making their way across our maybe five month-old tan leather couch. And there was my son, caught green-handed. It’s times like these where conscious parenting earns it’s name. When you feel like reacting one way, but by the grace of some force greater than yourself, you respond in another. I caught my breath and Colin’s hand mid-circle, saying firmly, “All done.” I said it over and over until I saw on his face he understood, Mom was not into graffiti couch art. I worked to stay present both to how I was feeling AND to the way I was responding. And in that moment, I wondered, had I been a parent who believed in spanking as an act of discipline, would I have given my son a quick swat on the back side and thought it a teaching moment? Probably. Okay, I thought, then how would I grow? How would I get to own my anger and frustration in challenging parenting moments such as this? Where would patience and acceptance stare out at me from?
I’ve come to think of conscious parenting as equal parts parenting from a place of love AND becoming aware of the times when I parent from not-love… places like fear, judgement and anger. Those times are just as powerful and maybe just as frequent. They are not failures. They are opportunities for me to practice forgiveness, asking for it and offering it to myself.
Keeping it together as a parent when you feel like freaking out (say, like, when your two year turns into Keith Haring at the expense of your new couch) is no small task. For me it’s a lot like yoga. It involves breathing (lots of it— lots and lots of it) and that I find and maintain my center in exactly those moments I want to jump over the edge.
Parent or not, most human beings would agree, mindful living is a challenge and takes practice. And here’s the good news for us parents (or not so good news, depending on how you look at it) by definition, being a parent means we are going to GET a lot of practice. It’s part of the job description. Being a parent help make our lives a-parent to us. Every day. The laundry, the fighting, the whining, getting out the door in the morning without having a heart- attack or biting someone’s head -off, AND all the magical moments that fall in between. It’s in those sweet moments where your five year old comes down from snuggling with dad and announces “Snuggies are what life is all about.” Or when your three year old says, “Mom, snow is quiet.” We are teaching our children, and they are teaching us.
Parenting TRULY is a spiritual path. It’s pure bliss AND a chance to grow all wrapped into one. We all parent less than consciously, far away from the present moment. We’re upset, worried about what might happen (the future) or angry about what already did (the past). We might yell a choice four letter word, or maybe just “No!”. It’s more likely we’d yell “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!” because, for some strange reason, we adults think the word “no” is only heard when repeated loudly, seven times or more.
I get it. I get being mad. I get feeling frustrated. People seem to get where their true power lies in changing, correcting AND creating desirable behaviors when it comes to their pets. Just watch any of the pet shows where the pet expert is called in to help a pet owner whose dog is acting out. Who gets the training? The OWNER. They are taught to be consistent, to show love, to set boundaries, not to hit, not to yell, to reward positive behavior, to ignore, replace or otherwise correct negative behavior. We’ve just described the basis for conscious parenting, but we were talking about our dogs. Image from petsclan.com Research on learning and brain development shows us that what’s good for Rover is also good for Bobby and Susie. Our power lies in love and connection, not force and fear. How can I say this? Studies show human beings learn far more from positive reinforcement than negative. In the face of fear, thinking moves out of the cerebral-cortex and into the brain-stem. The fight or flight mechanism takes over and no learning occurs. This is what happens within the brain of a child getting spanked. Fight or flight. If we want to teach a child right from wrong, we get to deliver the lesson in a way that the child can receive it. Why not teach to the thinking part of their brain? Back to my teaching moment. It didn’t take much for the light bulb to go on in my son’s head. I imagine it went something like this… “Mom took the marker away. She said “all done”, over and over. She moved me away form the couch and then wiped away all my cool circles. She sat me at the table and got out the markers again. She showed me where my marker belong. On paper. She gave me a marker and let me draw on the paper. I get it!” Even as green swirls were taking over my once tan leather couch, the idea of parenting as a spiritual path jumped into my head. What am I needing to learn about today? Ah yes. It’s my old friends patience and acceptance. Come on in guys. Have a seat. Pick up a rag and help me scrub these circles off the couch. In times of domestic chaos when I am near my edge it helps me to remember that I am indeed on a spiritual path. The spiritual path of motherhood. This realization alone helps me. It helps me pause, take a deep breath and wonder with each new day of skinned knees and blowout diapers, what is here for me? Connection. Connection, first to ourselves and then to our children, a true gift for all as we grow along the spiritual path that is parenthood. Related Articles: How to: Parenting with Boundaries… Peacefully Zen Mommy Minute: Beautiful Boundaries How to Parent Soul to Soul —————— Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy In addition to mommy-ing to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003 and twins born in February of 2010, Suzanne co-owns a holistic health center with her husband Shawn in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as Certified Educator of Infant Massage and health education teacher.
 

A Curvy Road

The beginning of my third decade on Earth brought with it our first child and there began my walk on the spiritual path of motherhood.

How to sum up this walk???

For me it’s been a spiritual practice in many things, but forced to name just three they would be acceptance, self-love and intuition.

Acceptance.

Ever the fighter for control and/or having things go the way I’d like them to go, Spirit wisely threw me quite a few curve balls in my late thirties. I’d sum up the spiritual exercise of early motherhood and later, living through five miscarriages in a single word. Acceptance.

Being a first time mom and feeling the grasp I thought I had so firmly on life slipping through my hands. Living through loss after loss, accepting I had no control over whether, with each new baby, I would carry them full term or not. The experiences combined, motherhood and miscarriage… better than a college credit course in teaching me to allow.

I look at our experiences with loss now differently than I did while they were occurring. I still feel the sting of these experiences but can also appreciate them for what they brought me. As I see it life forced my hand, demanding of me to learn to be with what is rather than how I’d have it.

Non-attachment. Not an easy lesson, but a valuable one and I am still a student of (big-time). Life as “mom” gives me new lessons in sweet-surrender on a daily basis. Holding on to letting go. It’s become my mommy mantra.

Softening into life rather than fighting it when inevitably it doesn’t seem to be going my way. This is the lesson acceptance has offered and it’s been immeasurably helpful in parenting, especially of late now that we have two tween daughters and twin 2.5 year olds.

Two’s and tween/teens. All you READ about parenting these ages has to do with conflict and power struggles. The terrible two’s. The dreaded teen years. Thankfully we are not there (knocks on wood.) I think the resistance that might exist between us has been lessened by a great extent thanks to the lessons life delivered to me (be it with me kicking and screaming every step of the way) in learning to allow. The practice of pausing and allowing before moving head first into responding and reacting; invaluable of late for me. Thank you Spirit.

Self-love.

I look at self-love as coming to better know and love myself for the person I am while forgiving myself for the person I am not (a rather long list).

How can I love another if I don’t first love me? Good question, and one I found motherhood brought into sharp focus for me.

When life feels hard I breathe in “I love myself” and breathe out “I am enough.” This is my other mommy mantra, the one I reach too when life is feeling hard… and it’s been healing beyond measure.

Being enough. Life brings me many opportunities for me to practice self-love, breathing into my mistakes and letting go of the “not-enough” when inevitably I find myself judging (myself and those I love… that’s who we judge most harshly though, isn’t it?) or otherwise resisting life. This is a daily (if not moment by moment) practice for me and probably will be for the rest of my life. It is in modeling self-love and forgiveness I teach my children the most precious thing I have to teach them about love, namely, that I am love. That they are love.

That love is a noun… not a verb.

Intuition.

I see intuition as tuning in and trusting myself and the inner knowing I pose (we each possess) to guide me. I believe this inner knowing to be Spirit and I look to this place inside myself for very real guidance on matters large and small, in parenting and in life.

So many ways to go. Do I do this? Say this? Go this way or that? How do I manage this crisis, this conversation, this decision, thought, emotion? I would be LOST in parenting were it not for the practice of pausing. Were it not for the guidance I receive when I stop to ask,  listen and receive. All that is left for me then is to follow. Thank you Spirit.

—–

Suzanne Tucker aka Zen Mommy hopes if you liked this article you will subscribe and/or join other mindful mamas here. To keep the lights on, Suzanne runs a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband Shawn. She is passionate about the connection we are and to that end offers Infant Massage, parent coaching and YogaParenting. If she can be a support to you on your spiritual path of motherhood, please reach out to her today!

How Parenting Helps Me Grow

There is nothing like parenting to hold that mirror up to a grown person’s face (to my face, to your face…) and show us where we get to grow. Apparently I get to grow in patience and acceptance because these two keep showing up in my dang mirror. They were there yesterday, staring out at me. I recognized them right away.

My eight year old walked into the living room and saw it first. Instead of screaming at the horror she alone was witnessing (which, thinking back to being eight, could have been a fun thing to do) she ran to find me in the kitchen and broke it to me gently.

With big eyes and a shocked look on her face she said, “Mom, you are NOT going to like this.” She paused for dramatic effect. I froze and braced myself for impact.

“You are really going to freak out.”
[Read more…]

How to Set Powerful Resolutions this New Year

“Where love is, so is transformation.

…because love is transformation, moment to moment.”

-J. Krishnamurti

We are now well into the second week of 2012. How’s your New Year’s resolution going? If you’ve all but given up on resolutions, you are not alone. Zen Mommy talks about why most resolutions leave us feeling guilty and looks at the difference between “change” and “transformation” with Carol on Great Day St. Louis.

Maybe you set a New Year’s resolution and are still rocking it; eating better, exercising more, clearing out the clutter that has somehow successfully taken over most every nook and cranny of one’s car, home and office since it was reined in, January of last year.

Maybe you set a resolution for 2012 and have already broken it. If that is the case you now get to decide, is it worth reviving?

Or maybe you resist the idea of resolutions all together. You’ve watched them come and go in years gone by, each time largely failing to truly help you reshape an area of your life that you hoped to change, alter or in some way improve, and this year you’ve just chosen out.

If you are in any one of the three above categories, I invite you to join me in setting an empowering resolution for yourself and your life for 2012. What will make it powerful? One simple word. Love. Creating our resolutions from a place of self love and acceptance verse change, i.e. wanting to make something better, more or different (which is where most resolutions come from) makes all the difference in the world.

Let’s look a bit closer at how this works.

Setting Powerful  Resolutions in Four Steps:

1) Write down your resolution.

It can relate to any area of life or be specific to parenting:

EXAMPLES:

  • “I’m going to get more organized at home and/or work…”
  • “I’m going to start exercising more”
  • “I’m going to be more patient with my kids”

2) Now, take a moment and reread your resolution.

As you reread it, look for any negative beliefs you may hold that might be driving your resolution. What is behind your desire to change this area in your life? Many times, our desire for changes comes from an underlying feeling of not being enough.

EXAMPLES:

  • “I’m going to get more organized at home and/or work…” (I am so unorganized – life is out of control – there are not enough hours in the day)
  • “I’m going to start exercising more” (I am out of shape – I’m fat – I hate my body)
  • “I’m going to be more patient” (I am a bad mom – I wish I was more like so-and-so – I’ve probably permanently screwed-up my kids)

3) Next, write down and re-read the negative belief(s) behind your resolution.

Realize that any resolution born from guilt, pain or fear will most certainly set you on a course for failure, leading to more guilt for eventually breaking your resolution. This step is very important.

Before you go to “change” any area of your self or your life, spend some time with it as it is. Breathe and see if you can let go of the story you’ve made it mean… the drama… and just be with the facts of the story. (Ex: The fact behind the negative belief “I’m fat and ugly” could be “I am 20 pounds over weight) Breathe.

Sit a moment with things exactly as they are without judgment. Accept them. Accept yourself exactly as you are right now. See if you can hold love present even as you think about this area of your life exactly as it is.

From this place, where love is present, you can create your life, not just react to it. From this place, where love is present, so too is transformation. If you feel this shift to love, move to step four. If you have any difficulty here and want to move deeper in transforming the negative belief you hold, there are some wonderful tools for forgiveness on this site by Dr. Michael Ryce that will assist you including his forgiveness worksheet that I invite you to check out.

4) Begin again.

Think about your resolution in new words, declaring what you would like to create in any area of your life by completing this sentence:

“The possibility I am creating for myself and in my life is _____________.

After going through this final step, the EXAMPLES from above might read instead like this:

  • “The possibility I am creating for myself and in my life is structure and order.”
  • “The possibility I am creating for myself and in my life is time for myself.
  • “The possibility I am creating for myself and in my life is peace.”

Make sure to write what you are creating, not what you want to avoid, like “to not yell, to not eat bad foods…” If you are still saying what you DON’T want — that is exactly what you are going to get.

Use positive, creative words. Write them down. Post your new resolution all around you on sticky notes to remind you of it throughout the day. Say your resolution to yourself each morning you wake up and every night before you go to bed. The possibility you hold for yourself and your new year WILL begin showing up in your life.

Happy New Year!!! May 2012 be filled with joy, self-love and acceptance for you and your family.

I hope you will share this exercise with your kids. What a BEAUTIFUL gift for we as parents to give our children.

Transformation.

——————

Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003 and twins born in February of 2010, Suzanne co-owns a holistic health center with her husband Shawn in St. Louis, Missouri  where she practices as Certified Educator of  Infant Massage and health education teacher. Certified in a number of healing and life education approaches, Suzanne offers parent coaching and is the co-creator of the Yoga Parenting approach to positive parenting.

How to Parent Soul to Soul

We all want the best for our kids. The best foods, toys, sitters, teachers, friends… but are we giving them the best “us” there is? It dawns on me that in this moment, as I multi-task with my kids (sorting the mail and writing to you as they do their homework) I am not. In giving them my divided attention I’m clearly not parenting from my “soul” place; more like my “just-a-minute” place.

***3:55 pm — PAUSE WRITING***

***8:55pm — RESUME WRITING***

I’m so glad I’m writing about this to you today. 🙂 It’s not that I was being a “bad” parent… just a not very present one. They didn’t notice… But I could feel it. And this is the sort of thing I’d like to be ever more aware of. Am I parenting soul to soul? I certainly hope so. Do I parent from a place less than this? (on a daily basis?) You bet ‘ja.

Amidst the diaper changing, soccer games, grocery shopping and laundry sorting, each of us experience opportunities to share our TRUE selves with our families (or not). A story from our past. A feeling. Our hopes. Our dreams. Our fears. Let’s not wait until life slows down or for when our kids are a little older to do this very important thing.

Children (even babies) understand way more than we give them credit for. On a soul level, while we are trying to remember, they are trying not to forget.

Our guest is Annie Burnside, author of Soul to Soul Parenting: A Guide to Raising a Spiritually Conscious Family (I know, right?!? Great name.) Listen as she walks us through four ways to connect with our kids, no matter their age:

  • Unborn: Take moments to connect in silence and/or stillness during your pregnancy with your unborn child. You are sharing the same blood after all — how much more connected can two souls be?
  • Newborn: Whisper sweet nothings into their ears: listen to the very sweet way Annie welcomed her children into this world.
  • Tot: Look beyond the terrible two’s and share sweet stories together, planting the seeds of forgiveness, empathy, worthiness, self-love and more.
  • Young Child to Tween/Teen years: Make the space and time for weekly family chats: Annie shares how to dive into the same themes you touched on when they were little… but with a bit more depth.

I hope you’ll consider adding Soul to Soul Parenting to your night stand. I’m glad the publisher sent me a copy and that Annie Burnside is on mine. I’d love to hear your thoughts about any and all the things Annie and I spoke about… including ways YOU connect on a soul to soul level with your kids.

Share yourself on a soul level with your child today and you might be surprised by what shows up; a child that’s been sharing themselves on a soul level with you all along.

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How to Share a Passion with Your Kids

Summer is quickly approaching! Do you have a summer reading list? I’m adding Little Women to mine — because as you’ll see in this video, family reading time has been a big hit in our family! We just finished Call of the Wild! My daughter was rapt! It’s been especially rewarding for me because books are so important to me. I can measure periods of my life by the books that dominated them: Little Women, Call of the Wild, Pride and Prejudice, A Wrinkle In Time, Grapes of Wrath, Dune — all the way to Mutant Message Down Under, Eat Pray Love, and Committed (thank you, Jen Hibbits!)


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How Relationships Go the Distance

When we got married, our dear friends and officiants gave us this great little sign that reads, “Kiss slowly, forgive quickly.”  I literally look at this sign every day, but didn’t get the depth of its instruction until reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage.

I’m talking about forgiveness, as in your ‘daily bread’ variety.  People talk about it all the time like it’s the key to everlasting relationships, but I never understood what the big deal was. (Sometimes, I can be a little thick-headed.  I like to think that I’m not, but yeah, I can be.) [Read more…]

How Things Become A-Parent

In parenting and in life we teach what we need to know. My lesson? SPLASH!splash-water-cut1

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