Capturing Miracle Moments

Thursday, March 26, 2015 No comments

Albert Einstein is credited for saying, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I wonder how many of us have fallen into the former category, missing the miracles around us each day. We are too busy, stressed, overwhelmed, distracted, living life at 200 mph, and the miracle moments of our days go by in such a blur that we don't even see them. Imagine how different we would be – how grateful and joyful – if we stopped to capture those miracle moments.

If we collected them all throughout our children's childhood, what an amazing bank of memories we would have. If we gathered them throughout our marriage, what a strong bond we would create. If we captured miracle moments every day, with the intention that a child collects dandelions from the yard, what a beautiful life we would live.

I'm ready to live more fully. I'm ready to capture my miracle moments. If you'd like to join me, here are some ideas to get us started on our journey.

Start the day with intention.
We need to set our focus anew each and every morning before we start our day. Begin with a verbal affirmation. “My miracle awaits.” Repeat this mantra as often as needed throughout the day. Visual reminders are helpful, so put them wherever you frequently go. To live life with your eyes and heart open, we have to change our daily habits. Intention, mantras, and reminders help us stay focused on our new goal.

Notice the miracles you encounter.
The little one who comes to your bed for a cuddle is a miracle. The morning sun shining in your window is a miracle. The friend who offers you an encouraging word is a miracle. If we really look, we will notice that we encounter many miracles in our ordinary days, and noticing will cultivate gratitude. The gratitude and the miracle capturing, they enforce one another.

Keep a record.
Once you notice it, capture it. I'm a journal keeper, but maybe you'll choose a miracle jar or photography. In whatever way you choose, keep a record of your miracle moments.

I wear this reminder every day. It helps me to keep my eyes open for miracles that await me each day. You can get yours here. I don't have many of them left!

Love Courageously Challenge Compilation

Monday, March 23, 2015 No comments

I am not here to tell you how to parent. My purpose in having this website and Facebook page is only to encourage you to tune out the clamor of society and tune into your hearts and your children, and secondly, I hope to inspire you to see the miracles around you, to enjoy the seasons, and find joy in the journey. Positive parenting isn't a formula or a 12-step program, it's a philosophy of connection. It's learning to give unconditional, courageous love in a conditional love culture. It's about living and loving well.

In February, we had a 28-day Love Courageously Challenge. Below is the link for each day so that you may complete this challenge any time or refer back to those posts you need the most.

What Loving Courageously means.

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5 Things Your Toddler Needs You To Know

Thursday, March 12, 2015 No comments

Hi there. I'm your toddler, and there's a few things you really need to know about me. Knowing these things will make things better for all of us. Also, please let me have a cookie while you read this.

1. My Brain is a Toddler Too!

You know the part of your brain that is responsible for logical thinking, forming strategies and planning, foreseeing and weighing possible consequences for behavior, and impulse control? That's called the prefrontal cortex, and mine is very underdeveloped! It doesn't even really begin to develop until around age 4, and it won't be mature until I'm in my 20's!

That means I can't possibly be manipulating you when I cry or have strong emotions. Manipulation requires forming strategies and planning. I'm really just having a hard time when I have a tantrum or act aggressively, and what I need is help.

The best way to make sure my prefrontal cortex grows strong is to show me what it looks like to use yours first, because I really like to imitate you, and then, when I'm a little older, help me practice using mine by teaching me ways to calm down, showing me how to empathize, and helping me learn how to problem-solve and think my way through problems. My brain and I will thank you when I grow up!

2. I Am NEEDY!

Related to the aforementioned underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, now you understand that my bedtime shenanigans and toileting woes are really not a master plan to drive you bonkers. Promise. It's just that bedtime isn't as fun as playing with you, and I like my diaper just fine.

Due to the whole wavering ability to foresee and weigh possible consequences and control my impulses, sometimes you might think I'm being naughty. Just try to understand that everything I do is to get a need met, because that's my driving force right now. That only fully developed part of my brain (the brainstem) is all about getting my needs met. So, if you want me to go to bed, let's make a sweet routine, snuggle a bit and I really like it when you rub my back. 

3. I Am Whatever You Say I Am!

My self-concept is being formed right this minute, and right now, I see myself the way you see me. So, if you see me as naughty or bad, that's how I'll see myself. If you see me as kind and wonderful, that's what I'll think about me, too. Oh, and just so you know, I'll always strive to live up (or down) to my self-concept; that's what we humans do. If you want me to be good and kind and caring, catch me being those things and tell me! I like hearing you say nice things about me, and when you see me as a good person, I'll want to behave like one.

4. Be Connected!

Lost in Translation - The Truth About Positive Parenting

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 4 comments
Here's a comment on a recent thread about being a gentle parent:

Today's children are spoiled brats with no sense of honor much less respect because many parents fear disciplining their children. Gentle parenting is coddling and spoiling kids instead of teaching them manners, respect and to respect their belongings and others around them.... no baby you can have whatever you want cause Mommy or daddy are afraid to say no cause you might throw a temper tantrum.

This commenter is sadly misinformed about what positive or gentle parenting is, but unfortunately this is a common misunderstanding. I've seen dozens of comments like this one over the years, and I wonder if our message is getting lost in translation.

People hear "gentle parenting" and automatically assume we coddle incessantly, only want to be our child's friend, and have no limits.

People hear "positive parenting" and automatically assume we are blinded by an ideal of sunshine and kittens and don't quite get parenting is a big job with real challenges because apparently we make everything all better for our fragile tulips at the first sign of distress.

People here "peaceful parenting" and assume that means we do anything to keep the peace, including giving in to our child's every demand and whim.

Finally, people hear "conscious parenting" and perhaps think it's some sort of new-age fad.

Language is very powerful. The associations we build with certain words brings an automatic emotional reaction. We all know this to be true already. Mother. Father. Religion. Faith. Spouse. Republican.

These words all have definitions, and yet each words means something a little different for each of us based on our associations with the word.

We use terms like gentle, positive, peaceful, and conscious to convey the message that we've chosen something other than conventional punitive or fear-based parenting, but the message of what positive parenting really is isn't reaching people because I lose them at the word "positive."

Perhaps it's time for a new term? I wonder if considerate parenting is more palatable? Intentional parenting? Compassionate parenting?

I suppose my favorite may be "mindful parenting" because that truly is the definition of what I'm doing. I have to be mindful to not repeat old patterns. I have to be mindful not to yell. I have to be mindful to maintain emotional discipline. I have to be mindful about building relationships. I have to be mindful about what I'm teaching my children.

Maybe I need to change the name of the page.

But let me tell you the truth about the positive parenting *I* speak of on this website and on my Facebook page.

Positive parenting is not permissive parenting. Permissive parents fail to set limits or teach children what is acceptable, and that is negligent, not positive and certainly not mindful.

I believe actions have consequences, I just don't throw my weight around to hand them out to make my kids "pay." I believe they are responsible for fixing their own mistakes, and sitting in a chair or losing an iPad doesn't teach them how to do that, so we look for solutions when there's a problem. Problem-solving is about solving the problem, not just punishing it. It takes work, actually, and quite a lot of time and teaching. I'd rather send my kid to a time out chair, actually. That'd be easier, but I mindfully choose to discern what lesson needs to be taught in each situation and guide my child to learning that lesson. Sometimes, that means my child loses something. A toy he threw would get taken away when he was a toddler. A Kindle might get taken away today if it's the source of the problem.

I love being my children's friend, but that's not all I am. I have friends. I love them, but it's not the same relationship I have with my children. I can be my husband's wife and friend. I can be a parent and a friend, too. If I let my responsibility to them end at friendship, I'm cheating them out of a mother. I'm so much more than that.

I'm certainly not afraid to say no. I still have the authority here. I'm still the leader. "Can I have this toy, please!?" "No." I say it all the time; just ask my kids. If they get upset that they can't have the toy, I tell them I'm sorry they're upset, but still no, unless you want to work for it. Then, yes, because we can work toward things we want.

Those who think positive parenting is the easy way out are mistaken. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. It has taken so much diligence, courage, study, love, and work to parent this way. Five years in and I'm still a work in progress, and I suspect I always will be, if I'm doing it right. I don't do it to coddle my children. I don't do it to be their best friend. I do it in an attempt to raise wholehearted, emotionally healthy human beings. I do it because healthy relationships make us healthier overall. I do it because what they live now, they will take with them into the world, and I want them to take gentleness and compassion, grace and forgiveness, kindness and love out there because heaven knows the world needs it.