The Purejoy Parenting Blog
The work we do here in Purejoy is about parenting.
I’ve been asked if Purejoy would be supportive for someone who is not a parent themselves- and when I consider that question the answer is a resounding YES!
Here is why- the way YOU were parented has a profound impact on the ways you do almost every relationship in your life. That lands us all in the same boat- we all had parents or caregivers that passed their views onto us.
We call it your family template.
Looking at my family template closely- I see the areas that didn’t fit for me. Especially where my authentic expression met an emotional block or a limitation in my parents.
When that happened, when I was just being a kid- in my experience, I perceived that what felt most true of me in the moment wasn’t ok. I felt the limit, I changed myself, or was punished, or maybe shamed, or blamed so that I would shift my behavior and be more pleasing to the adults.
Over time this sort of situation layered up over my true nature and I don’t know about you- but I find myself in adulthood, especially in my parenting reacting to those layers, rather than to my child.
Beginning the work of Purejoy in 2016 I was a swamped mama. I had these 5 precious kiddos that I loved so much I would give up an extremity if it came to that.
I would DO ANYTHING to make sure they knew I loved them. Especially, I would homeschool them, keep them close to me, and let them enjoy childhood and be free to play, emote, and move.
I had such a grand plan of how I would curate the perfect setting, and activities, friends- it was going to be magical and full of whimsy and delight.
They would never be stressed, pushed, or coerced- I would protect them from the layering.
You can imagine what a reckoning it was when I met this content- to find that my fantasy had actually become an agenda that trapped my kids into what I wanted, and actually landed them right in my family template, with a different flavor of expectations.
Leslie said- that all sounds so lovely, did you ask them if that was what supported them? Did you ask them if they want to homeschool and only be with you, and play house, and have wooden toys and beeswax crayons?
That’s where I realized the way I was parented- my family template had such a profound impact on me.
I was creating exactly the childhood I wished I had had.
Not the one that my kids came to have in relation to me as their mama.
I’m imagining an old cartoon where a mysterious anvil falls from the sky and pins a squirmy character in the middle of the desert- right? Such a huge AHA to see that I was parenting in response to the challenges of my childhood, rather than sinking into the moment with my beloved children and finding out what would work the best for us as a family.
It also happened in the ways I loved parts of my childhood- I clung to those pieces and added them to my parenting creation.
Or maybe you have this other story I had then too. You see, in an attempt to curate that magical world of childhood bliss, I looked out to the experts. One told me to focus on daily rhythms and my child would happily do chores.
Another said to eat only the best foods and your kiddos will never be sick.
Yet another said to leave them be to their curious nature and they will magically read by the time they are 7 or 8 years old.
There I was with 9 and 11-year-olds who resisted chores, wanted to eat chips and candy, and could care less about reading a book and rather snuck a hand-me-down Nintendo to bed and played video games late into the night.
Not to mention the nursing twins and a rowdy and curious toddler I was wrangling with BOTH hands.
I was FAILING!!! At all the expert advice as well as responding to my own childhood experience.
So here is how I turned that around- and I’m not going to kid you, it was hard and slow.
I started putting my attention inside- little bit by little bit.
I sat down in my SafeSeat for a few minutes every day and looked at a picture of me as a little girl. I went there too when I was emotionally activated in my parenting and just noticed what was coming up inside – my own thoughts and feelings, my body sensations.
It took time- but one day I started hearing a voice inside – the one who wanted a magical and slow childhood, with a lot more freedom. I started speaking to her with loving kindness- about all the ways she so wanted something different. What she desired, and felt and believed- it was beautiful!
I said to her from another part of me that could tolerate the disappointment- Of course, dear one…you wanted that. Instead, you had these other experiences… I’m here now. I’ve got you. Tell me about your magical desires and a big imagination.
And then I was able to turn back to my kiddos, in our home, and in our interactions and get curious, and say- how about you? What would you like to do today? Would you like to go to school? Would you like to have a different kind of toy? What are you excited about? Tell me about you!
New things started to happen when I offered kindness to the one in me that didn’t get what she wanted. She calmed down, she relaxed, and she let go.
My children did the same.
Next, I took up setting internal boundaries, which we will be exploring over the next several weeks, and releasing my children as characters in my fantasy childhood recreation.
My son, who will be nineteen soon, can tell us all how it shifted for him as the oldest, how it also took time to trust a new version of me who was genuinely curious about him, and what he desired, and how it made all the difference for him to step into his own true nature and share his brilliant self with me.
Hey Mama… are you at the point of no return? Have you been there recently? You’ve probably been there before, yeah?
I was the one catching all the hot potatoes of feelings from my kiddos. I was taking all of their unresolved emotional energy into my experience, and making it personal.
I was receiving all that external intensity and shoving it somewhere down inside of me.
Then I would get so full, overstuffed. Still, intensity would rise up and I’d repress it. After all I was determined to be a peaceful and calm mom who never yelled, or got frustrated- more conscious.
So I would repress, and repress and repress…
Until WHAMO! I hit the point of no return and I yelled at my kids, shaming them and even walking away and hiding in my bed or my car.
I hated the way I acted when I hit the point of no return and all those repressed feelings just came roaring up. The things I said to them, or didn’t say. The ways I grabbed and moved their things. I hated the thoughts that raced through my mind about what I actually wanted to do – drive away and leave them, call my husband, and unload it on him. It all felt so wild and unreasonable- and it happened so much!
I was working so hard, and I’m sure you are too- I talk to parents all the time that so deeply want, and are striving to be, the very best parent to their beloved child. What I notice is that it comes in the form of restraining yourself, repressing your feelings, and avoiding discomforts. All in a grand attempt to be the parent you’ve always dreamed of being!
I so get it! Here we are, working to be more conscious, and yet there is a common misconception that that means we have to act peaceful and calm all the time.
In Purejoy we use the SafeSeat practice to work the point of no return in a different way, and this is where it all shifted for me as a mama, and beyond!
When you hit the point of no return, rather than repressing, restraining, or avoiding- your work is to bring consciousness to what is going on in your internal experience.
The key is to focus your attention on what is coming up for you on the inside, rather than focusing on your child’s behavior. That might be your own body sensations, your feelings, your thoughts- or a mix of those parts of your experience. A focus on the child’s behavior actually centers your consciousness on them- rather than becoming conscious of your own experience and what is arising in you.
With your attention out- your consciousness on them, you are missing what is arising in you and it builds and builds and builds until you hit that point of no return.
Imagine a pressure cooker- the steam has to be released occasionally or the whole thing will just BLOW.
So this week- try bringing your attention to your experience when the intensity comes up in your home, in your parenting. As you do, see what happens when you offer kindness to the internal pressure instead of offloading it onto your kids. If so you won’t get so caught up in the mom guilt cycle, beating yourself up for how you acted, how you’re not getting it right, and how you are ruining your child.
If you don’t do this- let the pressure off a bit, take the focus back inside- you explode at the point of no return. Usually, when that happens you are then acting out early childhood strategies- such as running away, screaming at your child, or trying to control the external environment which was smart as a child.
When that happens you look around at what has just happened- how you acted out a young strategy and start to beat yourself up.
I’ve read all the books…
I know how to be conscious (forced calm)…
I’m supposed to be regulated…
When you do this- in Purejoy we say, you are refusing to be intimate with exactly where you are in the present moment.
What would it be like rather than beating yourself up to say this to yourself?
My energy really came up in that moment…
Things got really intense inside of me…
I didn’t know how to ground that charge, no one taught me that and I haven’t practiced that one…
My energy did blow…
The crazy thing about it is – when you do hit the point of no return whatever action you take, the young strategy that plays out, brings release- and for a brief moment, it feels good. It resolves the intensity.
When you look out and see the mess that your explosion created when you see the mess or your child’s reaction- the backlash comes rushing in and the guilt and shame are right there and if you repress those feelings, or try to control your environment- the cycle starts all over again.
This is why in Purejoy the support is to practice this beautiful and challenging step of turning the focus of your awareness back inside yourself- and see what else might be possible if you are truly more conscious of YOU!
Attunement- what does it even mean?
This word is used a lot in conscious and attachment parenting- and I admit, on several occasions, over the last few years, I googled the meaning as I’ve practiced the Purejoy view.
What does attunement feel like? What does it mean to attune? It was not a word I was very familiar with or had a deep experiential understanding of.
What I found- a definition of attunement ‘is a kinesthetic and emotional sensing of others knowing their rhythm, affect and experience by metaphorically being in their skin, and going beyond empathy to create a two-person experience of unbroken feeling connectedness by providing a reciprocal affect and/or resonating response’.
Even right now- my word processing program wants me to correct the word- it doesn’t recognize it, and even though I’ve sat with this word before- I’m still mesmerized by just how significant this idea is in my parenting. How I was so unconscious to it- and have become more and more aware.
What was alive in me was also alive in my child.
First, I started with noticing my own experience in the moments of parenting- the ones where I acted in ways that kept me in that mom guilt cycle we’ve been covering in the last few blogs.
The next step was being with all that was coming up in me in my SafeSeat– the thoughts, the feelings, the behaviors- and the beliefs that they were rooted in.
I met SO many feelings I’d organized my life not to feel- so many. Shame, anger, sadness, rejection, powerlessness and even joy and delight. Those were feelings I didn’t have the capacity to process and resolve as a child- so they were buried and hidden and it took a lot of energy to keep them there.
Then, of course, my kiddos felt these feelings- in them, and looking for support for the big feelings and sensations in their body, THREW me the HOT potato of said feelings.
Whew!!! In their innocence, they relied on me to be the grounding pole they needed to stay safe in their experience.
But the truth was- that until I was willing to take a look at my patterns and open to the unresolved repressed feelings- I kept throwing that “hot potato” back as fast as I could.
Catching that hot potato would trigger the unresolved charge inside and I’d throw it right back at them in an overpowering move, or a hopeless collapse- so that we all stayed organized away from the true feeling.
The whole environment was set to my avoidance of the moment we were in.
Just take that in- the enormity of keeping all those feelings away, for everyone.
As a child that was so so wise- to stay in the love, but as an adult, what I know now- is that my body has the capacity to feel it, the intensity. I’ve felt to the depths of my being some of those feelings I learned to repress and their charges— and I’m alive and well, writing this message out to you today. I’m also enlivened in a new way since I’m able to ground the charges as they arise and actually experience my life force.
It’s not always easy to do the work- I’ve heard that several times from mamas who are sitting deeply with this same part in their parenting this week- and it is challenging, and somehow I also know it is so true, or good, or profound.
What do you notice? When you consider that it is possible to expand your emotional capacity- and then support your child in their whole experience of life?
Here’s a step to work on this week – when the emotional intensity comes (your kiddo throws you the hot potato).
Put your hand on your heart- own the sensations, thoughts and feelings that live in and are being awakened in you as yours (not caused by your child).
Take a deep breath.
Take another one.
Keep breathing and sending the intensity down into your body- even into the ground below you.
Stay with the intensity in your experience- looking around you, noticing how you are safe in this experience now- as an adult. Offer yourself the tenderest kindness as you come home to yourself.
Hello Loves! We’ve been working through some of the deeper feelings that drive your behavior in parenting over the last few blogs.
We moved through cooperation versus compliance.
Last week we talked about the energetics of rage and how when that rage arises inside of us it basically takes over the body and acts out.
Once it does, and then happens over and over, what do you notice?
I know I would make promises to myself, inside, about how to be better. I would fall asleep making a list of things I needed to work on, to change. I would be calmer, I would finally get organized, I would get down on the kid’s level, I wouldn’t yell or shame them, I would eat better meals, go to bed on time, and squeeze in some reading while they napped rather than scrolling Instagram.
And then BOOM, the next morning my kiddos would wake me up wanting breakfast right away. I would see the piles of laundry waiting to be folded, a few remnants of yesterday’s messes that didn’t quite get picked up the night before… and it was as if I had failed before the day even started. I felt that rage again, about how it’s never-ending- I can’t get what I WANT! even tho I promised myself just the night before I would be different.
Right on the heels of that rage was so much disappointment- another feeling I had organized my life not to feel.
My first step of not feeling was to then project that disappointment out onto my kiddos. If they would just clean up after themselves, if they would just get their own breakfast, if they would just listen when I asked them to do their lessons, or go play outside, then I could actually be the good mom I was trying so hard to be. I looked around and said to myself- other moms are doing it, maybe my kids are just more difficult, why do they fight? other kids don’t!
Disappointment is just so heavy- so heavy. I felt trapped and stuck and wanted so much an escape from this pattern. I was so desperate- I would overpower, then feel guilty, then promise to do better, then fail, and rage and rinse, wash, repeat.
I try hard- it’s one of my main operatives! If something doesn’t work, I try a new thing. If I get curious, I try a new thought or idea. When I make a mistake I try try try harder the next time. There is a lot of trying over here. It comes from a very young and precious part of me that decided and then believed that I could try my way into love.
But what I notice now as an adult- is that the harder I try the heavier the disappointment- take that one in for a minute?
I try and try and try- and each time I’m TRYING, it’s about getting the external to cooperate and change the environment around me so my insides can feel good. It JUST DOESN’T WORK. I did it for years and I still do sometimes.
Rather than stay with my disappointment I go to this place of trying, striving, promising I could and would do better, that I could be better. Sometimes the flip side of that. I give up, and say it doesn’t even matter anyway. We just suck at this, and fight and are lazy and no good- and so we will all just be horrible in the end. Whew! It’s intense, yeah?
At the center of this energetic dynamic was my struggle to get my environment to reflect to me a state of goodness that wasn’t true- it was a fantasy! I was trying so very hard to get my kids to meet my needs. I desperately wanted them to cooperate with me – to make me feel good!
Here’s what I know now. That was never their job- they could not fix a problem they didn’t create! From a very young and vulnerable place inside of me, I perceived them as a threat to my goodness, on an emotional level. I could not get this right!
So I took the work inside of me.
I noticed that all the strong shame and frustration I was overpowering my children with- was first happening inside of me.
I was so self-aggressive on the inside. With all this promising to be different.
It’s so deep, the ways we feel we disappointed our caregivers as children- right?
It goes so deep.
So in a quiet moment of pause- in my SafeSeat. I became aware, that it was my own self-loathing and self-berating, that kept me in an energy dynamic of feeling this horrible weight of disappointment.
A pause- and a choice to offer love to this part of me that couldn’t bear to feel disappointment all the way through.
Saying to her- Oh Love! Of course, you want to be found ‘good’ and held in high regard. You work SO HARD to make sure everyone has what they need and even want, and you get tired and you give and give and give- Oh LOVE! I see you, and I’ve got you. You are Loved. You are good- for being just who you are. You don’t need to change a single thing! Even your disappointment.
Picking up where we left off last time- powerlessness.
For me, it often comes up when I just can’t get what I want, which is usually some kind of cooperation- then the powerlessness I feel inside triggers rage, and that’s when I behave in ways that don’t feel true of me. I overpower my kids, I start self-aggressing, beating myself up for how I acted and it feeds a negative cycle. Do you do this? It is really exhausting!
Having more capacity for the intense charge of rage, after lots of practice in Purejoy, what I’ve learned, simply put, is that it’s human to experience all feelings off and on. I know when I began this work there were certain feelings I did not want to stay with and experience. One of them was rage! What do you notice about your experience of rage?
Let’s take a closer look at the energetics of rage.
Rage is hot! Really, really hot! It’s spicy and intense!
Just close your eyes for a minute and think about a behavior you see in your child that you often get mad about, something you hate- whining, clinging, eye rolls, door slams? Messes?… you feel that?
And as you feel it getting hotter, you notice yourself calling on your control strategies to command compliance- you’ll do anything to STOP the intensity building inside. It’s SO hard to contain it without acting out or imploding in!
A switch goes off inside- a very young part of you gets activated. All of a sudden you see your child as a threat on an emotional level. It’s as if they are out to get you- because if they loved you, they would cooperate, yeah?
Going under that- imagine yourself as a child. A desire arises or you want something and you need cooperation from your caregiver. You look for the energy to be received and met. You innocently believe that you will get support for getting what you want.
Most likely that’s not what happened. Your parents saw you as rude, greedy, and demanding. Your innocent desire triggered something in them and they made your desire bad and wrong since it triggered their vulnerability which they didn’t know how to be with.
You had these big beautiful desires and when you were seeking support BOOM! You hit a wall inside because your parents had resistance. The unresolved energy of your desires got really bottled up inside.
Over and over this happened until you chose to organize your life to repress the energy of your desires. And yet your desires are still inside hidden away, deep down. It’s a matter of hide and seek and you’ve hidden them well.
You have it together until you ask your child to do something and they say NO! Or won’t get off their phone, or pick up the legos, or just stop crying. FOUND! And then all that bottled-up desire and intensity comes rushing up in you- rage! And before you know it you’re screaming at your kid, or trying to get away, or if you’re like me, speaking sharply and threatening.
It is so hard, so fast, so hot- especially if you haven’t learned how to work with the energetics of rage.
Slow this way down… it’s a big one, because most likely what you really don’t like here is your behavior, right? How you yell, coerce, punish and shame your kids. No one likes to be in that place. Then you spiral into self-aggression beating yourself up, and it’s that exhausting cycle again – yeah?
In Purejoy we say- when your child can’t get what they desire, and their energy gets big and intense, they throw you the hot potato! The energy comes blasting out into the environment around in hopes of support from you. Your child innocently believes you will know what to do with it, but likely you were never supported on an emotional level to know what to do. You’ve got a hot potato in your hands!
With practice, you learn to contain the heat, gather that energy up and tend it into a beautiful warm fire supporting the desires that are needing to be explored and created in their experience.
Rage like fire.
You can work with the energetics of rage, right now, as an adult rather than repress, or act it out- but to tend to it just like you would a campfire. What do you notice if you imagine working with your rage as a campfire?
Left unattended it can get out of control, and start a wildfire- it can get dangerous.
If you dump a bunch of water on it, repress it, you may lose the flame, the fire goes out and then you’re cold and dark and your energy is gone.
Keeping it safely contained gives you warmth, it’s nice to sit around, it’s beautiful, and you can even make s’mores! The energy is safe and attended to, it’s supported.
Purejoy supports you in not trying to get rid of the rage, which is what most people would rather talk about. I know that was how I viewed it before too. I don’t want to feel this!
But the truth is, the feeling is here, so what would it be like to turn towards it. You can choose how to act, and not express that fiery energy in a way that gets out of control- just like your campfire.
Curious to meet your rage- here’s a process to work with it.
First, set up a SafeSeat practice by signing up for a free 5-day email course from Purejoy.
And then, remember when you believe you absolutely have to have cooperation, drop down to what you really want, that innocent desire of wanting, and when you’re met with a no- when this energy arises in you- it’s yours! Your kiddos don’t cause it and they cant fix it. Just notice what comes up, for you.
In this way, as you welcome your rage, it potentially becomes the great awakener, all those sensations and feelings are expressions of your life force energy- coming back into your own knowing from all those times before when you denied your experience because you couldn’t get the support you needed to stay with it.
Play with this! Let us know how it goes!
I meet other parents in the Purejoy space, and I notice we are all at different points on the same journey.
I see so many previous versions of myself, lots of parenting moments, where I noticed what wasn’t working, and tried a new practice, a new perception. Over time I witnessed a shift in myself, in my relationships, in my being. The part that no one else can tell me about, that I’ve come to appreciate is my own experience, first internally and then how I move out in my reality.
One of the things I love and have been so supported by in Purejoy, is constant encouragement, to take these little lessons and practice them, and then notice. It’s subtle and profound all the same, because it is about me, and for me- it’s mine! No one else is telling me how to do this, it comes from a deep place of intrinsic motivation to be more like myself every day.
Being More Like Myself
And I’m lucky! I have to pinch myself most days, and it’s really true- that I have stepped into a position in life where I get to spend time every day sharing my own experience with others like you!
So my support this week, is to inquire inside yourself and to see if some of the things that I share resonate with something inside of you, and if not- what’s that like?
You might get emotionally activated! You might even say, no way! And that’s all welcome here!
And then, my ask, is that you take a moment to check it out on the inside, and ask some questions about why? And if those thoughts and feelings are true, of you? What else feels more true, more alive- for you.
Because when I did that, I found so many messages, and beliefs that weren’t actually mine. I was operating from a place of conditioning- while my own beautiful brilliance was trapped, and stuck and hard to access.
Living from messages that weren’t my own truth looked like me promising myself to do better, and be better, and try harder- and every day finding myself frustrated, overwhelmed and worried. All of this fueled behaviors that were so unlike the kind of mama I dreamed of being.
I could get my kids to do almost anything I wanted them to- we could put up a really good looking front, but it took a lot of force, manipulation and control. The control required my kids to comply with my agenda. If they did not do what I wanted, I got all huffy and mad and barked at them to pick things up, quiet down, wash their face, get off the screens, eat more whole food- the message was, you are doing it all wrong, do it better, be more, change- do it, for me.
I feel the tenderness rising in me, remembering a younger time when I felt myself trying to be something for someone else- changing, covering my brilliance, taking on the messages.
Whew! Even as I type this- and recount the ways, it feels heavy.
Recognizing that, slowing way down, and really taking a deeper look at why I acted out on my kids, doing that deep inquiry we just talked about, another deeper sense rose in me, a desire to connect, instead.
I don’t know about you, but if someone wants my cooperation- it goes over a lot better if they can see me, right where I am, and ask how it is for me, and then invite me into the moment with them.
If I’m being told to follow someone else’s agenda, or accomplish a task for them that doesn’t include my wanting, then I’m going to resist! How about you? What do you notice?
I saw how the way I was treating myself inside, controlling, coercing, shaming- trying to be perfect, to change, to be something else than I was in the moment, and I could then see how I was passing that template of being onto my kiddos.
I felt so powerless when my kids wouldn’t come along with my grand plan, and I saw how it was really inside of me, those feelings, and thoughts that turned into behaviors.
3 Steps you can take towards your internal experience
Close your eyes
Put your hand on your heart
Just notice, without trying to fix or change or repress
For me, it took a lot of practice, of tuning into the deeper desire for connection that saw us all to a place of cooperation. When I was willing to cooperate with the tender part of me that felt like she had to change to be loved, I then turned to my kiddos with deep compassion for their reality which is powerlessness- they’re kids! They’re stuck with me!
Meeting them right where they are, I then invite them into cooperation in the moment and we are in!
A phenomenal thing happens often in my SacredSeat, especially when I’m asking myself how this Purejoy journey for me began.
I revisit the different internal versions of myself- child, maiden, young mama, mama of 2, then 3 kids. I spend time with my memories, and it’s curious that it connects them all into one incredible body of being.
This story of spontaneity comes from a version, a part of me, that knows how to drop everything and follow the HEART.
As I reflect on it, it reminds me that Life, or Universe, or God was getting me ready to meet Purejoy, long before I actually joined Parenting Paused, and experienced Leslie and the work.
I became a mama one week after I turned 22, again at almost 24 and was carrying babe number three just months before I would turn 26. In those years my husband was finishing college and getting his Masters’s degree while working full time, and buying and sprucing up our first house… we were not taking life lightly. It felt like a grind. There was a method to this madness, maybe?
And it was catching up with us. We were tired. We were defeated. The road ahead seemed long and paved for us- if we just followed it, we would win, have success- BE HAPPY.
We were driving on an old dirt road one afternoon in late winter, the Earth beneath us in that hanging phase between sleep and awake.
The question- always, what are we doing? Is this it? Is this life? Is this what works for us? Are we missing something? Its hard, we felt like that Earth, hanging, waiting, wondering…
And an old idea came visiting again- one we had blown off a couple of times, it was audacious and wild, and it didn’t fit so well on the paved road plan.
And I still remember the sense some 15 years later, that part of me speaking up in my body, my thoughts, my feelings – that said, YES to spontaneity. It felt so alive. I called it wild and crazy and thought- who knows if it will work.
But if we didn’t say YES, we would find ourselves again the next year, crawling out of winter, wondering if the life that someone else promised us, and then trained us to believe, would fulfill the deep longing for the truth of who we were as a family. We might still be asking – is this it?
Then a flood of fear, that was rooted somewhere in a young voice that said, will they still love us if we are far away? And so the same spontaneous vibe we just picked up, saw us turning right off of that back country road and heading straight to tell our beloved ones we were moving our young family to a far away place, to Alaska!
It’s important that I’m writing this to you, right now, because it’s 15 years later and I can close my eyes and still feel all the fear and excitement that was sharing my body. I didn’t know then how important that sensation would become, but from this point now- it’s part of my embodied wisdom.
We were met with devastation, and disappointment from our family. As best we knew how then, we absorbed a lot of it. It felt heavy to activate those feelings in our loved ones. We stayed with this other curious part that said, check it out, find out what your WILD HEART is calling you to, what if it’s okay to get off the paved road?
And so in a matter of just weeks, maybe a couple of months, we reduced our belongings to the size of a 91 Toyota 4 Runner that also fit our most precious cargo- two zesty toddlers and the one that rode right inside my body the whole way along.
I can see still the clothes I wore nearly every day of the trip North. My favorite yellow shirt getting tight and wearing out, and my trusty stretchy mom jeans held on my a hairband to extend the waistline around my growing belly.
It was by far the most spontaneous moment my life has held- the dirt road, that conversation, that feeling- that led us all the way to a small sea town on the Cook Inlet that hails as the end of the road.
We landed in our new home just in time to explore and settle in our new surroundings and find the care that would support our transition to a family of five.
Next week will be the Summer solstice, and here in Alaska we have daylight all day long ! I was up just last night looking for the full Sagittarius moon and all I could find were partly cloudy, sunny skies at 1 am- makes it tough to moon gaze. It also takes me back to this story I am telling you- and how there was no such thing as bedtime.
Back then, we spent our days in the salty sea air. I have to laugh at the tenacity of those little toddler legs and my pregnant sway- and how much ground we covered like that. But we did! And every night- at exactly who-knows-what-time it is? We went to bed exhausted.
And woke again to the same sun, ready for more play, more adventure.
Before that, I had never felt more free in my being, more in touch with what it meant to be alive.
I grew up around a conversation of God- and how HE could be met and communed with through meetings at a building, through a life of economic success, and duty. I know that worked well for some, but for me, it was binding, and so many rules and regulations, I couldn’t feel, let alone find life force.
That one brave spontaneous moment on a back road near home led me to a beach, an ocean, mountains, and a handful of salmon roe, my son kicking and bubbling in my tummy- and something deep inside, maybe my soul, said loud and clear- GOD IS RIGHT HERE.
The colors of sun-kissed skin and glittering eggs of life melding in my eyes- I looked up to the mountains, to the sea…
I learned something so vital in those short 3 months, in the spontaneity that led to that one moment of nature, before Ezra was born, exactly 15 years ago right now.
That when my Heart speaks wild and clear – and I know- but all that is in the way is the form, or the rule, or the structure, or the certainty- to really check that out, and see if it’s true, for me.
To ask myself, what feels most ALIVE- and follow that spontaneity with curiosity and courage of HEART. Sometimes ALIVE is about feeling that fear and excitement simultaneously.
I have a practice that goes like this- I am feeling (insert feelings) and it activates a sense of aliveness.
I am feeling FEAR and it activates a sense of ALIVENESS.
I am feeling JOY and it activates a sense of ALIVENESS
Living by this mantra reminds me that when my house looks like chaos, that the order will come, and when the order is here, I can also listen to the voice of the wild one who still sees the expansion and adventure of being absolutely spontaneous.
I remember the first time I met the voice of the younger more vulnerable one in me.
My kiddos had finally made it through bedtime routine and were tucked in their beds. The ones that needed my closeness to drift off were sleeping hard enough that I could slip out from their limp arms and legs slung over my body.
From where I am today I can only imagine, not really remember, taking myself back down the burly steps of our log home, the flat top of a log split in half meeting my heavy and tired steps.
Down, away from bed and towards the sink full of dirty dishes, maybe even two days’ worth.
I was at the lowest point in my parenting journey.
To even admit that felt like donning a heavy cape of failure. Every night as I tidied up from the long days, I promised myself that things would be different.
I said to myself: just hit the reset button. I would have these darn dishes done early in the day. I wouldn’t snap at the kids for making messes. I would eat salad instead of leftover pbj crust. This list ranged from simple todos all the way to fantastical dreaming.
Some of the things I daydreamed about doing to chase the ever elusive- relief, rest, restore fantasies were scary, even to me. Some of them absolutely impossible.
Standing in front of the sink, the piled up dishes with remains of discarded bites of my constant offerings, a few tears rolled off my cheeks.
I looked around the open living space littered with little trails of kid life left behind, and out of my mouth came the words to no one but myself- ‘I don’t want to do this’.
I had been setting up my SafeSeat in the few days previous as part of the Parenting Paused course I decided to take which was on the list of things I could do to hit reset.
If nothing more- I recognized I could PAUSE and I took the tears and these few precious words quickly there.
I momentarily forgot about my dishes. (Unbelievable!! )
I grabbed the wide-blue-eyed polar bear cub stuffy I borrowed from my boy for the practice, a photo of myself at age 4, and sat down in my SafeSeat.
I didn’t know if I was even doing it right- and yet everything inside me was saying- this is it, tune in.
Get as quiet as you can and just listen.
I thought of the words I just heard from a place inside of me- ‘I don’t want to do this….’
Closing my eyes I listened even closer- to a space inside of me.
I felt another part of me that seemed ahead of where I was in the moment offering space to these young words, and anything else that would come along with them.
Some tears, a few little grunts, sounds of breathing hard and shallow.
And my imagination half drifted half followed then to a little one, a girl- sitting with her back against a wall, knees hugged tight and close to her chest, her head bowed between with curtains of hair draping the around her little body.
A muffled voice- the one, saying- ‘I don’t want to do this!’.
And then a funny thing happened- I was so excited to meet my inner girl- I got sort of giddy.
It seemed like an insensible response to such a desperate cry, but really truly it was the start of something.
I could meet this part of me.
In a sense I thanked her for showing herself to me- and that I was here now. We could do this. I was willing to listen- excited, even.
The Parenting Paused course said I could find her, this voice… and I had been trying- and it was so silent anywhere… until I stood right in the moment in front of those dishes, and truly listened.
And that was it! I went back to the sink with a smile on my face and little more oomph in my arms for the practical task at hand.
I couldn’t be sure if she would visit me again, but we had established something- which I now know ( 6 years later) to be the start of a beautiful relationship that would support me to grow up emotionally and see me back home to myself and show up truly how I wanted to parent my children.
I’ll be guiding others towards this same experience in the upcoming course Parenting Paused beginning June 15th- if you’re curious to know more- head over to the purejoy website to learn more about the course offering by Leslie Potter and put your name on the waitlist to be notified of sign up steps.
Healthy Aggression? You are asking?
I know there was a time that I sure was!?!
How could aggression be anything other than horrible, wrong, bad? I asked Leslie in a session one summer afternoon after my son punched the neighbor kid.
When it happened I was immediately embarrassed…worried…I felt a rise of energy in my body…
Close your eyes… she said.
I did it…by now I knew she was about to rearrange the furniture in my brain.
Imagine your boy- you know him… he’s out there on the yard, playing…
I see him so clearly as she recounts the story line I just spilled to her through helpless tears…my desperate wish that my boy would be seen good, held in high regard, not outcast.
See him there, feeling the same sense of helplessness, of powerlessness to get what he most needed in the moment.
You know he doesn’t hit unless there is something coming in hot and fast, unless he is in a vulnerable place, like helplessness. It’s age appropriate when he’s engulfed.
And consider, what are the benefits of him hitting?
Benefits? Are you kidding me?- I say.
Yes, she says- stay with it.
He felt helpless, he felt powerless in that moment…
And it came over me like a wave of warm water…
He took care of himself!!!!
Yes…and what else is true if he took care of himself?
That he knows his limits.
And so on I went, listing the benefits of my son hitting the neighbor.
I’ll be honest by the end I was sort of giggling to myself at the practice.
Not that someone was hurt, right? I was all along holding that point in my loving kindness, but this new part was also staying with my child, by staying with what was coming up inside of me.
By the end I noticed my heart was light and I was ready to come alongside of my boy. I got curious about his sense of helplessness, of powerlessness- of options and creativity we could practice going forward.
That one moment taught me a magic mama trick I use often and I’m going to share it with you.
You see, I was fixated on aggression being bad.
So I started playing with taking the other side and said, what if the aggression was serving something- what if it was good?
And in brought me to the middle, he aggresses and he is meek.
(Quick tip- google: What is the opposite of (insert- trait/behavior/feeling)
I do it with traits too.
The kids are being destructive, I say.
What’s the polarity? Creativity.
We are destructive and creative.
In order for us to have one, we must be willing to see where we also possess the other.
Most recently I’ve been practicing finding things I hate.
Why? Because I LOVE to love…and my love is only as true as my hate.
It’s liberating, to be honest with myself.
I am never only nice and not mean,
I am never only fair and not unfair,
I am never only sweet and not spicy,
I am never only happy and not sad,
I am never only cheery and not glum,
I am human, and my soul is here to experience all of it!
When I am willing, to tell the truth of my inner world, of these traits and feelings in my SacredSeat, I discover my true nature and parent from there.
I recognize that I am all the things and it just becomes energy, life force- and then I get to choose how I behave.