I have a lot of nephews. But this story is about one in particular.
His name is Joost (rhymes with Toast) and he has always walked to the beat of his own drum. It’s one of the things I deeply admire, respect and appreciate about him.
For instance, for his 8th or 9th birthday, I bought him a hot pink, gold glitter dinosaur that I stumbled upon in a high-end design store. It screamed JOOST to me because his favorite color, for as long as I can remember, is hot pink. And I knew he’d be down with the glitter too, thanks in large part to my sister’s influence (his mom) who has always parented from a gender-neutral perspective, often painting her 3 boys nails in all sorts of colors, glitter included, and teaching them that ALL colors are for everyone. Way to go, Sis!
Anyway, sure enough he loved the hot pink, golden glitter dinosaur. (I love this kid!)
But why should any of this matter to you?
Because Joost embodies authenticity. He wears bow ties and buttons his shirt all the way up to his neck. And he freaking rocks this look. Some kids would look awkward and uncomfortable. Not Joost, because it’s his style. He embodies who he is. And we all need role models like that.
So here’s the main story I want to share.
Joost started middle school (6th grade) in September, and was having some problems with some boys that were, let’s just say, not being as kind as they could be. In December, Joost got a new pair of red Moon Boots and could not wait to wear them around… everywhere.
In fact, he insisted on wearing them to school the very next day, despite the fact that it was nowhere near cold enough to be wearing Moon Boots yet (he lives just outside New York City).
My sis told him, You might be hot in your new boots, maybe you’d be more comfortable in your sneakers? To which he replied, I feel like I’m walking on a cloud. Why would I wear my sneakers?
Duh, mom! Right? (Kids are the best.)
So my sister called me, worried. What if he gets made fun of? What if people laugh? What if people try to take away his joy? All the normal worries we have as parents. As much as she tried to convince him not to wear them because of the heat, he was insistent and excited (and rightfully so…who wouldn’t want to walk on a cloud?).
And off he went. Her heart felt heavy. Her voice, teary.
I texted her at the end of the day to find out how it went.
To our delighted surprise, everyone LOVED Joost’s Moon Boots. Kids lined up to try them on! Joost even declared to his mom at the end of the day, Phew, I’m glad I’m not popular as I wouldn’t like having all of that attention all the time. That was exhausting!
Joost. A boy true to himself, his style, his own authenticity.
And his commitment to being himself helped elucidate for me how often we hide or play small or deny ourselves (and our children) what we really want (or they want) out of fear; fear of ridicule, fear of pain, fear of not being liked or cool or appreciated.
Yes, in this scenario the Moon Boots were a hit. I’d probably be writing a different kind of blog if they weren’t.
But for today, with this beautiful story, may we be reminded to be ourselves, truly and completely.
Because we just never know what will happen, do we? Especially when we share our joy with the world.
Joost shared his joy and love for his Moon Boots just by wearing them to school on a regular day when sneakers would have been more appropriate.
People love joy. F*ck appropriate!
And with that, may we all find boots that feel like we’re walking on clouds.
I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for 4 years now. It is my self-care, my health care, my mental health salve. It’s how I find my stillness, my center, my strength, my compassion. It has become one of the best ways I know to take care of my whole self.
A few weeks ago, something happened. Feeling tired but committed, I found myself in Warrior I Pose (here’s an image for those that don’t know it) and my legs began to shake. A lot.
I was trying to “tough love” myself through it and force myself to remain in the pose, no matter what.
I became destabilized. The pushing through and not respecting my body’s fatigue resulted in an improper position, wobbling around until I had no choice but to come out of the pose.
And then it hit me.
How often do we push through, only to ultimately become destabilized?Through life, responsibilities, relationships? How often do we try to ignore the signs of own fatigue because we think we “should keep going”?
We say yes to baking Valentine’s Day cupcakes for our kid’s class, only to find ourselves frustrated, resentful and exhausted while making them. We take on another project at work, because no one else said yes and we felt guilty. We ignore our need for a day off, because we convince ourselves that we’re not really that tired (because somewhere inside us we think that taking a day off would feel like defeat or failure).
I know that yoga is not about pushing through at all costs. To the contrary, it’s about listening to your body, being in tune with your needs on a given day, and then responding accordingly. But there’s a big difference between challenging yourself to go further (what I would call healthy pushing) and pushing yourself to get through (not so healthy).
Healthy pushing feels good and satisfying, even though it can feel uncomfortable. Think about the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone. That’s healthy pushing.
Pushing yourself to get through feels icky, tiring, filled with resentment or anger or a deep sense of “NO”.
Let’s give ourselves permission to honor the messages our bodies send us and come out of the poses we hold too long, with grace and compassion. Maybe that means saying no to more things. Maybe it even means disappointing someone we love. (No one said this was easy….but it is worth it!)
Taking care of ourselves is our right. And if we don’t claim it for ourselves, no one else will.
Have you ever been so tired you felt like you couldn’t function? I’m feeling a little bit like that today, and yet here I am, working on this blog. Hmmm, right?
You may be wondering if I practice the self-care that I preach! You’re right to wonder. But you see, as much as I want to go lay down for a nap right now, my desire for something else is stronger.
I want connection.
Deep, fun, loving connection. I want to be in a room with all of you, sitting around with a cup of tea and some candles and just chatting. About life, love, kids, teens and their refusal to wear boots when it snows(!), favorite recipes, places to travel, and how we can make a real difference in the world. About favorite lessons learned and who’s watching what on Netflix. About our fears, hopes and what’s working (and not) in our lives.
You know, the kind of soul-full sharing that refuels us, replenishes us, connects us.
Anyone care to join me? 😉
It’s really no surprise that I’m willing to postpone my nap in lieu of writing to you because we are hard-wired to seek out connection.
Feeling connected helps increase our immune systems, lower stress and anxiety levels, and even helps us feel more confident! And writing to you is the next best thing to being in your company right now!
This article goes into more detail about why connection is so important to our well-being. It’s worth a read when you have a chance.
So? Why the emphasis on connection today?
Because it’s the word and feeling that I’ve been experiencing the most these last few weeks.
My workshop on Nov 3rd….connection. It’s the word most of the women who came used to describe our afternoon together. We created an environment for connection to take place; a connection to ourselves, a connection to each other.
My birthday party….again, connection. I invited my two main friend groups (who didn’t know each other) and they connected beautifully. In fact, multiple people told me how many lovely conversations they had with new people.
I want to explore this feeling and concept with you further! How do you like to stay connected to others?
It’s so easy for us to get swept up into our busy lives and lose those connections.
Who else is thrilled to stay home in their pjs on a Saturday night instead of heading out because it often feels too much?
As people with full and jam-packed lives (and for us introverts especially), we need time alone, in quiet spaces, to recoup from the busyness and noisiness of life. Right?
Sometimes this is legitimate self-care and boundary setting. Sometimes this time alone and being away from others is about reconnecting to ourselves or being with our families.
But what do we lose out on when we say No, one too many times? (read that twice!)
As you know, if you’ve been keeping up with these newsletters, I’ve been emotionally a bit up and down this year.
At my party on Saturday, a friend asked me, “How are you? You seem so happy!” And for the first time in a long time, I genuinely said, “You know what, I am happy!”.
Yeah, so this whole connection thing is real people. LOL!
Less hiding and introverting and more connecting. That’s my motto for this new year in my life.
Do you need a new motto about connecting? Or are you happy and satisfied with the amount of social connection in your life?
What are your tips for staying connected? Let us know!
So, our family dynamic has been somewhat challenging these last few weeks/months. Like, it’s not feeling all that fun, easy, flowy, exciting. We’re in a bit of a rut, you might say.
Lots of things are probably contributing, like the age difference between my kids (enjoyable family activities seem harder to come by these days), my husband’s current workload (which is a blessing for many reasons!), my teen’s desire for distance and her somewhat confrontational attitude with her little sis, my weird digestive issues…
Let’s just say, it’s not our best time as a family. It kind of feels like the lights are dimmed.
And that’s okay.
As the quote above says, it’s okay to just be OK. And I’ve been realizing lately how little we actually tell the truth about how we are. When people ask me how I am in passing, I want to respond with my usual “great, wonderful, super, fine! Ça va bien!”
It’d be easier, but it wouldn’t be honest. I want to be honest. I know honest is the way forward. I’m not afraid of honest.
So I’m responding with, “OK.”
And it throws people off. Which makes me feel a little mad, confused, ashamed, and regretful that I said anything in the first place. Hmmmm. We are so not used to this, are we?
See, here’s the thing though.I know we’ll find a better groove again. This is just a dimmed out phase in our long lives together. I am seriously OK with this. I have hope, faith and the tools to help us work through these up and down feelings and frustrations.
But in exploring how I speak about the fact that I’m “just OK”, I am learning how often we avoid this simple level of honesty.
So when I get the questions that follow my “I’m ok” response (because people assume the worst!), I assure them I am really and truly fine. I am just OK. Not super, not fabulous, not great.
When we allow our feelings room and we then give them the respect they deserve (by not hiding them from ourselves and others), we give them space to move and be heard. To move through us so they can eventually move on. They don’t stay trapped inside. THIS IS CRUCIAL.
And it’s crucial because it works. I am starting to feel a shift. I’m closer and closer to getting back to “good”. Who knows, maybe my birthday next week will bump me into feeling great again?
Either way, I’m OK.
How do you feel about being just OK? Can you relate to this feeling and the social stigma around it? Do you ever feel like “something is wrong with me” for feeling just OK?
Motherhood. It ain’t easy all the time, is it? The hardest aspect of being a parent for me so far, 13 years in, is the cooking/meal planning etc. It never ends! Like….neeeeeever.
Breakfast, lunches, dinners, snacks. The endless choices! The endless demands! The endless preferences. I like this! I don’t like this!
The actual crying.
I mean, WTF? I cook you a nice meal and you have the audacity to cry!?
Clearly, I am failing as a parent if my child cries at the sight of a rice bowl.
At least, that’s where my mean-spirited mind goes when I want to hold someone accountable for the mess of my child, crumpled on the floor yelling, “I want pizza!” at the sight of the healthy meal I prepared with love and care.
How can I be raising such an ungrateful little shit?
I actually threatened to quit being the family chef the other morning after some snarky comment from my youngest. Honestly, sometimes I just want to say, “F*&% this! Cook for yourselves you thankless, spoiled brats!”
Well, that’s not actually true. I have lost it on them before. Like, major expletive-filled freak out!
But now I know better. I know the signs my body gives me. I know my limits. I know how to handle this particular challenge.
And here’s what I did recently when I almost quit being the chef:
Ok, so I am guessing most of you know already the importance of breathe work as a tool to calm yourself and I’m just a little late to the party. But in the event you are not already utilizing the amazing, calming powers of breathe in your parenting, this is for you.
If you do anything to care for yourself, I highly recommend you do this!
When every single ounce of me wants to explode into a fury, I take a breath. And then another. And probably about 10 more. I remove myself from the room, if needed, and I breathe it out until I’ve calmed down enough to not lose my freaking mind.
And just why is this so powerful? Well, for starters because most humans don’t like feeling out of control. And most kids really don’t like seeing their parents out of control. But really, breathe and the act of breathing in and out deeply and slowly calms our nervous systems, almost instantly. It’s works so well! It’s like a magic pill, minus the pill.
For a more scientific explanation on why deep breathing calms us down, click here.
The important takeaway here is the scary “oh my god, here it comes outburst” that rises in my gut and my chest has been deflected.
No scary outburst = a safe, loving environment for my kids to be kids and for me to be in control of myself, my emotions, and my communication. Not to mention how I am modeling for my kids how to manage tough emotions, thoughts, and the like. They see me inhaling deeply, exhaling deeply, walking away, and they instantly become more aware of the what’s going on around them. It actually takes them out of their meltdown and into empathy.
We’re human, not robots. No one is seeking perfection here. We’ve all had many-an-outburst with anger that erupts into a violent tirade! Hell, it still happens occasionally. As I said, no one is perfect. But I hate the way it feels. It’s awful.
Yet when we can notice the urge to scream and catch it just before it happens and choose to transform the frustration or pain by releasing it through our breath, we can then better articulate why we’re so pissed/annoyed/frustrated. We can better listen to our kids. We can show up as the parent that is responsive, not reactive, which feels so much better for everyone.
So for all your screamers out there, are you game to try it? Get yourself super close to losing it…and then take a breath. And then another. And keep going until you feel the volcano inside you subsiding. And see what happens next.
I’d love to know it goes or if you have other tricks you use to calm yourself down when all you want to do it quit.