Something happens whenever I get really jazzed about a new efficiency in my life. It stays efficient for all of a week, and then outer influences seem to conspire to blow it to pieces.
Let's use my new, efficient schedule for an example. It's completely within my control to go to bed early so I can wake up two hours before the family to meditate, journal, and write. Or is it? Over the past weekend, between my husband's late schedule and his drawn-out bedtime routine that wakes me up a dozen times before he actually settles in for the night, I haven't managed to get to sleep before 11 or later. And suddenly, Lucas has been waking up crying multiple times during the night, and I've needed to go soothe him back to sleep, which usually involves carrying him around the house until he settles down.
Still … Still! I've been waking up at 5:30 (I just couldn't manage any earlier) to meditate, journal and … not quite get to my writing. See, Lucas has also started waking up at six, so as soon as I begin to write, there he is. (And here he is now, by the way, right on cue.)
Add to this the discovery of black mold on our mattress, (which has necessitated moving to the couch) PMS, loss of the naptime break, and Lucas getting sick again yesterday (for the 4th time this month!) so I couldn't take him to the Y for my pilates class (again!), or to preschool today … and for all my best intentions, my routine has been shot. I'm not very happy about this.
I've been working on a meditation post for four days now and I'm only two paragraphs into it. Never mind about the book-writing. I was looking forward to a nice chunk of time to work on it while Lucas was at school today.
What is up with all this? Is the universe out to get me?
It would be easy to think so. But I know that's not true.
What is true is that surrender is one of my biggest lessons to learn in this lifetime. I can be thankful that I'm being given relatively easy opportunities to practice it. There is no life-threatening illness. There is no catastrophic loss. There is only some inconvenience when I try to control my world and those around me too much.
Maybe if I surrender to the interruptions, to the sick boy, to the PMS, to the sleeping on the couch … if I just manage to roll with them without resisting them, then I will earn enough universal brownie points to be granted some unexpected space and time for writing.
And if not for the brownie points, then at least for the peace that comes with accepting what is. I'll do my best.
Something happens whenever I get really jazzed about a new efficiency in my life. It stays efficient for all of a week, and then outer influences seem to conspire to blow it to pieces.
In case you didn't get it the first ten times I wrote it:
The most important thing you can do for your kids
is to take care of yourself first.
I'm going to keep writing about this until it sinks in – for me!
Once again, I forgot my own advice.
I've been frustrated with Lucas because he hasn't been napping or going to sleep at bedtime. I was blaming him for my lack of time to write. We went head to head for a while, until, thanks to you kind folks who read my blog and your wonderful comments to the aforementioned post, I surrendered his naps. It was time.
But that's not really what this post is about. Letting go of his naps was the catalyst for rethinking my entire daily routine.
After dropping Lucas off at preschool this morning, I headed off to my favorite coffee shop to write, whereupon I ran into my friend, Tessa (photographer extraordinaire). She commented on how fresh I looked, with makeup on and everything, and asked me how I managed this so early in the morning.
I told her my new secret that I'm about to reveal to you.
My New Routine for a Happy Day:
- After putting Lucas to bed at 8, I consider myself "off work." This means no writing, no emails, and no Facebook to keep me up until midnight and leave my mind so activated that I can't wind down until the wee hours of the morning. TV can be just as bad, so instead, I read a bit in bed. I love to read! This also means the pressure for him to go to sleep right away is alleviated. It's my relaxing time, so I can relax a bit longer with him if he wants it.
- I go to sleep by 9:30.
- I wake up by 5 or 5:30. The house is quiet and dark. I go to the den, light a candle and meditate, then journal,* then write. This is a great time for me to write. My mind is fresh and clear. There are no distractions. I can write much more efficiently than at midday after lunch or at night when I'm exhausted. (I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier!)
- I make breakfast at 7 when the boys start to stir.
- After breakfast, Toby and Lucas get some quality time together while I shower.
*Bonus Benefit:By meditating and journaling first thing in the morning, I've removed another element of stress from my life. The stress went sort of like this: I would think about when I was going to meditate and journal, (another thing on my to-do list!) and then I would feel pressured to do a million other more pressing things, and then I'd feel guilty for skipping it or forgetting to do it. Crazy, self-induced stress and guilt! Now, at the end of the day when I look at that journal on my nightstand, I feel such relief and freedom that it's already done!
Pros of raising a sensitive/intuitive/crystal child:
- Intriguing conversations
- Enjoyment of their creative expression
- Live-in Zen master
- Help with choosing lottery numbers (not really – I wish!)
Cons of raising a sensitive/intuitive/crystal child:
- Sharing your PMS
- Power struggles, power struggles, power struggles
(As if on cue, my "napping" boy just popped out of his room for the nth time today, this time naked and requesting help turning off the bathroom light. What the …??)
I know better than to enter into power struggles with my son. I taught elementary school for ten years, and I am skilled at averting and diverting power struggles. But for some reason, against my better judgment and despite my proven skills in this area, Lucas and I are engaged in a battle of wills daily. Daily and throughout each and every day!
Yes, he's three and it's to be expected. Yes, I know he's exploring his power and independence. Yes, I know he's pushing boundaries to see where the absolute limits are to be found.
With sensitive children, those boundaries have to be rock solid and they have to make absolute reasonable sense all the time, otherwise they find loopholes. I'm thinking that maybe I'm just not smart enough to stay ahead of him. Whenever I think a boundary is solid, he finds ways to make it unreasonable to maintain it.
The most common fights are naps and bed time – no surprises there, I'm sure. He goes down for both willingly and serenely. But then he pops up eleventy-billion times, sucking away my few, tiny remnants of personal time like a Remora.
(This interruption was by a naked boy carrying a small pumpkin and holding a shark puppet in his teeth. I don't think he's going to nap today.)
"I have to pee," he'll say, ten minutes after I put him to bed. Well, go pee, and then go back to bed. (Not reasonable to keep him in his bed when he has to pee, right?)
"I have to poop," five minutes later. Okay, go poop, and then get back in bed. (On the off chance he isn't pretending, it's not reasonable to keep him in his bed. On the occasions I've accompanied him to the bathroom to check, I've discovered this one is usually a stalling lie.)
If I let down my guard and actually go to the living room to meditate, I invariably hear some scuffle and return to find my office in disarray, or his clothes out of his drawers, or all the lights on. If I go into my adjacent office to write, he pops in with inane requests or questions every five minutes. "Can you lay my blanket flat?" "Can you flip my pillow for me?" "Are you going to meditate after you do your writing?"
The other night, this went on until 10pm – two hours past his bedtime!
This is painful to admit. I want to be better than this. In sharing it with you, though, I hope you'll either a) have some insight that will help, or b) at least not feel like you're the only one struggling.
I know I was losing it for a while. I would get mad and show my frustration, and I think he was feeding off of my energy, even though it was negative. So for the past week, I've tried a new approach. I've been trying to redirect him with no drama, frustration or emotion. When he gets up, I simply put him back in bed, a neutral expression on my face, and I don't engage. The Super Nanny would be proud.
Only … it's not working. I expected his curiosity to drive him to push me until I broke for, oh - maybe the first couple of days, but we're on day six now, and he's still pushing. This kid has stamina like you wouldn't believe!
My husband tends to want to raise his voice and pull the authoritarian card with him. "LUCAS, YOU STAY IN YOUR BED NOW OR I'M TURNING OFF ALL THE LIGHTS AND CLOSING YOUR DOOR!" Just an FYI, crystal children won't tolerate "because I'm the boss of you" as a good enough reason to respect a boundary. Rule by force or fear doesn't work. Try that approach and watch the gates of Hell open up and let loose in your home, or else prepare for the ice treatment from your child. We've seen both. Toby's wondering why he's getting the cold shoulder from Lucas these days. No mystery, there.
So… 774 words later, I have nothing to share with you other than I think my hair is falling out from the stress of trying to be a good, strong mom to this powerful kid.
I'd love to hear from you about how you're handling these situations in your home.
At the breakfast table this morning, Lucas suddenly turned his head, looking nowhere in particular with his eyes, a happy, expectant look on his face. He called out, (rather loudly for my 7am ears) "Ella, is that you? Ella, where are you hiding?!" He laughed and then turned to look behind him to the orange tree outside our window. "There you are!" he yelled excitedly. "You're up in the orange tree! What are you doing up in that orange tree?"
Ella is either an imaginary friend or an actual spirit friend. I can't know for sure which it is, but she's been one of Lucas' favorite playmates for over a year. We just roll with it when he talks to her.
"What's Ella doing up in the orange tree?" I asked Lucas.
He looked toward the tree, waiting for an answer. "She's picking green oranges!" he exclaimed with a laugh. "Ella, you're picking green oranges! Why are you picking green oranges? That's funny, Ella!"
Ella has a very distinct kind of energy when she shows up. She's very silly, and likes to yell, laugh, dance and jump. I wonder if she's hard of hearing, because he always yells when she's around. Sometimes Lucas will actually "become" Ella and embody her personality. If I'm in the mood for it, it's really funny. If not, it's incredibly tiring. He's already a fireball of energy, and when "he's Ella," it's magnified.
"I'm Ella," he'll yell with a giggle, doing his special Ella dance down the hall, throwing himself up on his bed for a round of jumping, laughing, and yelling.
In addition to Ella, there are two other regular and invisible-to-us visitors named Kasidy and Carolyne. Together, he calls them "My Girls." As with Ella, sometimes he plays with them, and sometimes he becomes them.
Carolyne (rhymes with Clementine) is very sedate and sweet. She likes to read books and play with stuffed animals. When Lucas "is Carolyne" he speaks in a soft, high voice.
Kasidy is adventurous and pushes the limits of what Lucas can do, like flips on the bed. (Yipes!) She also likes to play guitar with Lucas, and apparently, she really rocks out.
Perhaps his girls are here to help him explore different parts of his personality. He's an only child, so maybe they're here to keep him company. Maybe they're just his imagination. Like I said, I don't really know. And I don't know why there aren't any boys in the mix. What I do know is that they bring him a lot of joy, and who am I to burst that bubble?
Energy, as in the stuff I'm made of, has been on my mind a lot lately.
Sometimes it's low.
Sometimes it's on fire.
Sometimes it's scattered.
Sometimes it's blocked.
Sometimes I focus it in the wrong direction or fling it around irresponsibly.
Sometimes it's so magnetic that I can scarcely believe the wonderful things getting pulled into my orbit.
Lucas is my daily reminder that we are energetic beings. He picks up on my energy du jour and mirrors it back, amplified. This is especially bad news during the PMS week, but that's not what this post is about. On the flip side, this crystal kid manifests stuff out of the blue wherever he goes. Balloons, stickers, suckers, toys, clothes … you name it. He even has his own Trader Joe's nametag and t-shirt, thanks to Mr. Keith, manager extraordinaire of our local Trader Joe's. Lucas has a natural ability to pull people and things into his experience with ease.
I can do it with cupcakes. It's a start.
As an energetic being, I'm becoming more aware of what's going on with my energy, and I'm learning that I really do have much more control over it than I thought I did.
Lisa of Mommy Mystic just posted a very helpful and (for me) perception-shifting piece in which she discussed the difference between dispersion and stress. The piece was actually about boosting your immunity through particular chakra meditations, but first, she suggested that we determine which kind of energy depletion we were experiencing. The two most common are dispersion and stress, and often, we think we're experiencing stress when it's really dispersion. In a nutshell, stress is a contraction of energy, and dispersion is a scattering of energy. To find out how to deal with each one, pop over there and read her post when you're finished here.
I recognize that my energy has been more dispersed than stressed. My body has been in one place, but my mind has been bouncing around between, oh … roughly 37 different tasks, topics and worries. (I made a list!) As you can imagine, this isn't going over so well with Lucas. While I'm itching to knock this list down to a reasonable size, there's Lucas suddenly wanting my undivided attention for everything! "What? You want me to come watch you pee?" Jeez! Give me a break!
I set aside mornings to do our newly instituted "circle time" together. We set up a little circle centerpiece, I guess, for want of a better word: a candle on a holder sitting on a swath of fabric, surrounded by collected items from his nature table, like pinecones, leaves, rocks and twigs. Then we sing a morning song and I tell a story, acting it out with the rocks and twigs and pinecones. Then he blows out the candle. This little routine delights the heck out of him!
We move from this into some sort of project together; usually art, sometimes play dough.
And then … THEN! I'm hoping for a bit of a break while he has some independent playtime. After an entire morning of my undivided attention, you'd think he'd be okay with me pulling out the laptop and doing some writing while he played by himself for a while. You'd think! But you'd be wrong.
You see, my attention is only sort of undivided throughout the morning. There are those other 37 things on my mind, after all. And he knows it. He feels it when I'm not altogether there with him, and with his clingy and annoying behavior, he's telling me, "That doesn't count. I want a do-over! Keep trying until you get it right."
This is when I feel the beginning of martyrdom creep into my bones. Resentment, snappishness, impatience … all those feelings I never had any intention of throwing at my son rise to the surface, and I regress to my son's age, yelling, "I need a break! I need a break!"
So this morning, I woke up an hour earlier, meditated, wrote in my journal, and regained some much-needed perspective. I remembered that I actually have some control over what I do with my energy. I can choose to sink into all those dark and prickly thoughts, allowing them to feed off of one another until my energy is a giant, whirling dervish of negativity. (As uncomfortable as this is, I seem to choose it often.)
I can choose to tell those thoughts, "Stop! I need to regroup. This isn't what I want for myself or my family." That's what I did this morning. Instead of looking at my list of 37 things and freaking out over how I didn't have time to get them all done, I thought of what I valued most. What's most important to me is to be present and loving with myself and my family. With this as a starting point, everything else flows more easily. Living each day doesn't have to be a forcing, a pushing, a resisting. It can just flow. There is nothing keeping me from that flow but me and how I choose to direct my energy.
To that end, I wrote down the top three priorities for my time. Wanna know what they are?
- Take care of myself. Yes, indeedy, this has to be number one. Why? Because when I don't, I get sick, impatient, pissed off and completely ineffective. For me, taking care of myself, at its most basic level, means meditating, journaling, getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and giving myself time to relax. When I make these a priority, I have plenty of energy for everyone and everything else.
- Take care of Lucas.
This means respecting his need for routine, planning engaging activities and outings, and being calm, present and loving (not as easy as it sounds).
- Take care of my family. For me, this means creating a loving and welcoming home environment, cooking healthy meals, spending quality time with my husband and son, and working out a reasonable routine for household duties that I can do without gritting my teeth.
Most of the 37 other things aren't really all that urgent or important - not when compared with what I really value. They'll either get done in the cracks between what's more important, or they'll fall off my list.
Getting back to Lisa's idea of dispersion, pulling my energy back from 37 random things and focusing it all into my top 3-4 priorities certainly helps me feel focused, clear, and balanced.
I can breathe deeply now.
What are the top three priorities? How well do they line up with how you actually spend your time? Let me know in the comments.
You see, I was serving these amazing cupcakes to my girlfriends on Tuesday. I had won the gift certificate in a raffle at an event two weeks earlier, and the energy surrounding my win became the topic of conversation.
There had been dozens of raffle prizes, and some of them I'd really hoped to win. I remember staring at my numbers and muttering, "Come on, come on, call anything between 7211 and 7221." I remember trying so hard to visualize myself winning the dinner for two, the Aveda gift basket, the night away at the fancy hotel … and of course, I didn't win any of them.
Then they announced the gift certificate for the cupcakes. Cupcakes just always make me so happy! And these were square cupcakes - what fun! I had turned to my friends gleefully and said, "I'm going to win those and I'll share them with you at our next gathering!" I was projecting a markedly different energy toward the cupcakes, and I just knew my number would be called. And it was.
What we discussed on Tuesday over said cupcakes were the specific qualities of that energy, and how they applied to other things, like … um … money, for instance. We determined that the energy surrounding a successful manifestation was focused, playful, and unattached to outcome.
- Focused: I love cupcakes so much that it was very hard for me to not focus on them to the exclusion of all else. Sad, perhaps, but true.
- Playful: Again – love the cupcakes! They represent fun and love and celebration for me. No heaviness can survive in any thoughts related to cupcakes. I felt tickled by the idea of sharing my win with my girlfriends, too.
- Unattached to outcome: I mean, what did it matter if I didn't win the cupcakes? I can make fabulous cupcakes whenever I want to. There has never been a shortage of cupcakes in my life. I have always felt deserving of cupcakes. If I didn't win these cupcakes, there would be plenty of opportunities for more. It would be fun, but it just didn't matter that much, either way.
It's apparent I need to start thinking of money in terms of cupcakes.
Would you agree with these three qualities or do you have others to share? Let me know in the comments.
For the past few weeks, Lucas has been getting up multiple times during the night, very upset and scattered and not really awake. Nothing we do consoles him; he doesn't want to be held, but he doesn't want us to go, either.
He has a full size bed, which is pretty large for a three-year-old. I've noticed that he always goes to sleep in one tiny corner of the bed, practically hanging off the side. Once he falls asleep, he thrashes all over the place, and often falls off the bed. This isn't what wakes him up, though. Once he falls off, he actually sleeps better on the floor.
I started wondering if perhaps the bed, or more specifically, the bed location, was partially to blame for the sleep interruptions, and this is why: recently, a friend called to ask for my recommendations on Feng Shui and space clearing books, knowing I'd have a few to pass along. As I pulled out the space clearing book by Karen Kingston, I noticed that I hadn't finished reading it years ago. The bookmark opened up to a chapter on geopathic stress.* This is something I would have had no interest in when I first read the book, which is probably why I didn't make it past this chapter heading.
It caught my eye this time, though, because I'm more aware of anything to do with energy and how it affects us – specifically, how it affects Lucas. I skimmed the chapter standing right there at my bookshelf. Kingston wrote that one way to tell where there is geopathic stress is to notice who hangs out where. Apparently dogs hate and avoid these spots, but cats love them, (as do bacteria and viruses – ick!). Interesting, yes, but I still didn't give it much thought … until I noticed that my cat, Princess, has been napping the days away on Lucas' bed.
So we moved the bed.
And Lucas stopped waking up.
And Princess stopped napping on his bed.
It might be coincidence, but it worked for us, and I thought you'd be interested in knowing about it. It's an easy solution to test out, at the very least. The more tools we have to help our sensitive little crystal kids deal with all of the energy they sense, the better off they'll be.
Have any of you heard of geopathic stress before? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments.
*This was the most practical of the many sources I found online to describe geopathic stress. It was written in 1999, though, which seemed to be a popular time to write about this. Take it for what you will.
What sounds scarier, the flu or … INFLUENZA? The flu is what goes around every year and sometimes you get it and it sucks for a few days. Maybe you'll get a flu shot and maybe you won't. But … isn't influenza what killed millions of people back in the day? Oh yeah, that will sell more vaccines. I see the word on billboards everywhere now. Fear.
Fear is what is driving people to inject more and more toxins into their bodies and the bodies of their developing children. This fear is fanned by the media, and bankrolled by the pharmaceutical companies that make billions of dollars when they convince the public that we need a mandatory vaccination program of ever-increasing innoculations. Have you noticed that in years when the flu vaccine is in short supply, the media tells you that it's not really that big of a deal, and only the elderly should get it? But when there is plenty of inventory, suddenly flu stories are newsworthy, and there is a push to make the vaccine mandatory in every school. That's not putting public health first. That's just business - driven by fear.
Fear is behind the panic over unvaccinated children. One mother I know wondered if there was some sort of public registry of unvaccinated children so other parents would know who they were. For what purpose? Children are only going to transmit diseases that they actually have, whether they are vaccinated against them or not. Vaccination status says nothing about a child's current state of health. And if parents believe that the vaccinations their children receive are going to protect them from those diseases, then there would be no need for this kind of concern. But still, the fear exists.
Fear is fanned by incomplete information. There is a ton of research on both sides of this issue, regardless of what makes it into mainstream media. I'm simply suggesting that we do our due diligence and check out more than one side of the discussion. To narrow it down for you, I've provided links to two sites that sit on opposite ends of the debate: on one side is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On the other side is The National Vaccine Information Center. I encourage you to browse both sites with an open mind, ask questions, and educate yourself.
In the end, it comes down to a matter of personal choice, (at least so far we have this right)holding our breath and hoping we've made the right decision. No one wants to feel they've made the wrong choice in something this important, and that's why this debate gets so heated. It's defensiveness of a choice we aren't completely, 100% certain is the right one. I still have my doubts and fears about this, to be sure. It is very challenging to hold fast to what I believe to be the best choice for Lucas in the face of a giant wave of societal pressure wherever I turn. We're all doing the best we can.