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Author: michellegale

You don’t agree with me? Now what?

Many of us have no idea where to begin when we find ourselves across from someone who we disagree with. The words fight, flight, or freeze come to mind as our ineffective toolkit of responses. How is that working for you? Not so well for me…

Difficult conversations don’t need to be quite so… difficult.

With a little curiosity, effort, care, and courage any of us can learn to lean in to these moments with more skill. One of my favorite resources to guide my way is a book called Fierce Conversations written by Susan Scott. She shares seven principles to communicate more effectively with one of your kiddos, your partner, a colleague, or anyone else you find yourself not seeing eye to eye.  

First of all… fierce means real!  Seriously real. How many times do we say yes when we mean no, pretend we feel one way when it’s really another, or don’t say anything at all when we are hurting inside? Each conversation we have with others brings us closer together or farther apart. Make a commitment to nurture the relationship by honoring how you feel and relating to what they have to say. Lean in with serious authenticity and a willingness to make the conversation genuine.

Be Courageous and Interrogate Reality

The truth is… reality changes. What was true about our ten year old a few weeks ago can be very different today. Take a long hard look at the reality of the difficult situation in front of you. Is what you are thinking and believing true? As Byron Katie would ask us… “who would you be without your story?”

Choose Authenticity

This chapter in the book is titled, Come Out from Behind Yourself into the Conversation and Make It Real. Who are you, or who do you wish to be authentically? Are you courageous enough to shine a light deep within and speak your truth? What truly matters for you about this difficult conversation? It’s probably not really that your partner left the dishes in the sink, but more connected to cooperation, respect, or dependability. How about having that conversation?

Practice Mindful Listening

During a difficult situation can you pause for a moment to become present, to be in this moment fully and completely? Can you listen to and speak to the person in front you, while putting aside any stories you may have in your mind from the past fogging things up? Everyone longs to be known and seen for who we are and what we are in this moment.

Meet Your Worst Struggles Head on Today

What happens when we put off dealing with the tough stuff? We almost always make matters worse, and the problem seems to grow, almost taking on a life of its own within our psyche. Your toughest challenges stand between you and the peace and happiness you long for. The things hardest to discuss hold our freedom in chains. This includes stuff like speaking openly and honestly to your teen about relationships, intimacy, and sex. Just do it!

Never Underestimate Your Intuition

Pay attention to the wisdom of your body. Messages are coming to you all day, every day if you are willing to slow down and listen. Tap into this intelligence and trust what is coming through. Discuss it with trusted family members, friends, and colleagues. Abide by the voice within.  

Take Responsibility for Your Emotional Wake

Nothing you say to your children or anyone else is meaningless. You have no idea how what you might have said has impacted another. Intention does not always match impact.  Conversations are a key part of relationships. Own up to all of the words and messages you put out into the world. Be prepared to address how you might have made someone else feel.

Honor The Gifts Silence Gives Us

Most of us say way too many words. Seriously. Way too many. Can you be still and quiet when in an uncomfortable conversation? What is your relationship to silence? Deeper feelings and hurts often emerge within this space. Silence makes most of us nervous, but it also slows everything down. Insight emerges in the spaces between our thoughts.

Meeting challenges with others is never easy. However, these moments can bring us even closer together when we are willing to bring our full authentic selves to the relationship and to the moment. Which fierce conversation is waiting for you?

Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster with Linda Graham

Resilience is the learned capacity to cope with any level of adversity, from a series of small annoyances to the struggles and sorrows that break our hearts to the utter disasters that change our lives forever.  

Resilience is essential for surviving and thriving in a world full of troubles and tragedies, and it is completely trainable and recoverable – when we know how.

Lindas new book has more than 130 evidenced-based tools to help you cope with anything, anything at all.

A step-by-step process to strengthen the foundations of resilience:

Somatic Intelligence: body-based tools to restore our baseline physiological equilibrium, and inner sense of safety, the range of resilience that primes the brain’s neuroplasticity for learning and growth.

Emotional Intelligence:  managing the full range of emotions, empathizing with and managing reactions to other people’s emotions, cultivate practices to antidote the innate negativity bias of the brain and reliable shift the functioning of the brain out of reactivity and contraction into more openness, receptivity. Not just to feel better but to do better.

Relational Intelligence within Oneself:  Using self-awareness and self-acceptance practices to foster inner capacities of response flexibility and claim and inner secure base of resilience, the “home base” of a wise, trustworthy, courageous self.

Relational Intelligence with Others:  learning how to engage with other people, in both intimate and social relationships, in ways that allow you to trust and connect with them as refuges and resources of resilience.

Reflective Intelligence: cultivating the mindful awareness that allows us to see clearly what’s happening (and our reactions to what’s happening) shift perspectives, rewire habitual thought patterns that block response flexibility , discern options and make wise choices.

 

LINDA GRAHAM, MFT is an experienced psychotherapist, coach, and trainer in the recovery of resilience. She integrates practices of mindfulness, relational psychology, and modern neuroscience in her international trainings, workshops and conferences.

 

You can learn more about Linda at https://lindagraham-mft.net/

The best thing to ask your kiddos when they get home from school is……

Ready for it? 

NOTHING!

How about that? 

Instead of asking them….

  • How was your day?
  • Do you have any homework? 
  • How are you feeling?
  • What grade did you receive on your test? 

Tell them….

  • I’m so happy to see you. 
  • I missed you! 
  • The house/apartment just got a little brighter with you in it. 
  • I’m noticing you look a little worn out. I’m here if you need anything.

And if you must ask them something….

  • Can I make you a snack? 
  • Did anything fun or unusal happen today? 
  • Which friends did you play with at recess?
  • Do you need any support from me this afternoon/evening?

The transition from school to home can be a tricky one for our kiddos.

They have been working hard all day trying to do the right thing, say the right thing, answer in just the right way…

Bombarding them with intrusive questions the second they walk through the door or get into the car tends to shut them down. The opposite of what we all wish for right?

Instead, use the power of mindfulness to tune into yourself and your kiddos.

Pause… notice your breath… ask yourself… “what’s most important now? What does this moment ask of me?

I find that if I stick to this, my boys will eventually offer up how their day was. Yes, even my teenager. It might not be until bedtime… but it happens. 

Let me know how it goes! 

With Love,

Michelle

 

 

 

Reflecting on Childhood, Sleep, Full Hearts and Big Hugs with Andrew Newman

Join Michelle & Andrew as they chat about conscious parenting. Andrew Newman has followed his deep longing for connection and his passion for spiritual development in a 12-year-long study of healing. His unique series of books are part of The Conscious Bedtime Story Club where you can also support his kickstarter campaign to bring his latest two books into the world.

Back to school transitions… the struggle is real

Hi Everyone! 

By now, most of your kids will be back in school, whether that be in a formal school setting or a homeschool.

Let me just share that the transition into middle and high school has been REALLY REALLY HARD! Did I just yell that? Ooooops. I’m suppose to be mindful and calm… or something like that. <wink>

Well… like all life struggles, these situations invite us into presence and inquiry if we are brave and committed to ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​the hard work of waking up. Seriously… I may have struggles, and they may at times really get me down… but it’s not long before I look at them deeply, and get curious about what they have to teach me.

For instance, my high schooler has more homework than is at all reasonable some evenings. He’s also learning to get into the groove of a catholic school for the first time. Plus, he’s fifteen. And fifteen just comes with its own set of dilemmas.

I have been hearing a lot of bemoaning about how he has too much homework… not followed by much action planning on how he is going to manage it (and of course get the info he missed during class from a classmate). Let me also add that this is a young man diagnosed with ADD, slow processing, and memory issues, who happens to be tenacious, wise, and absolutely brilliant. (but can you really trust a biased mother’s account?)

So here is the conversation we had last week. Prior to starting this conversation and throughout, I was focusing on my breath and asking myself the question…what’s most important now?

Son: I have too much homework. It’s ridiculous.

Mom​​​​​​​: Agreed. Too much. My heart hurts with you on how difficult this is sometimes. But nothing we can do about the required output. What’s next? What is here for you to learn?
​​​​​​​
Son: Ugh. I knew you would say that.

Mom: Are you willing to hear what I imagine you can learn over the next couple of years?

Son: Do I have a choice​​​​​​​ in listening to this?

Mom: Not so much really. Here goes… You are smart enough and wise enough
to figure this out, but it is going to require you to grow. How you ask will you grow? I’m so glad you asked! You will learn to speak up and advocate for yourself. You will learn to manage your time more wisely, meaning no listening to 90’s hip hop while you are doing your homework. You will learn to go to sleep by 10pm because your allowance will depend on it. Yes I am bribing you to get a good nights sleep. You will learn what you are really made of.

Son: You are talking to that quote on my wall. The one from Martin Luther King.

Mom: Ahhh Yes. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” So here you are… in a time of challenge. Now you get to know yourself better. And I’ll be here supporting you, while being equally fascinated as to how this all turns out and affects who you are as a young man. And I think you are awesome just as you are right now. I love you. And I will not request a hug, but I reserve the right to do so at some point in the near future.

Son: Mom… you are awesome too. And such a weirdo

The End

I’m hoping you are reading this and thinking… oh man… poor you. The start of school has been a breeze over here. What a bummer to be acting as your sons executive functioning two to four hours a night. Alas…it’s true. But we are making progress each day, growing closer together, and I get to give him the kind of support that was so elusive to me in high school. This has been healing all around.

I’m assuming that we all have some struggle going on, and I hope my reflections supported you in some way that you can relate to. Do tell! I love to hear from you!
​​​​​​​
With Love,
Michelle

​​​​​​​PS- Tyler got his braces off just after the attached photo was taken so I will leave you at the edge of your seat to see his new smile in a future blog post. Can you see the love for his momma on that face? Or does he seem to be saying…really mom? Another selfie? LOL! 

Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence with Dr. Dan Siegel

Listen in as Michelle explores the practice of presence with Dr. Dan Siegel along with its many positive effects on the parent child relationship. Dan’s latest book is titled Aware: The Science and Practice Presence 

Aware provides practical instruction for mastering the Wheel of Awareness, a life-changing tool for cultivating more focus, presence, and peace in one’s day-to-day life.

An in-depth look at the science that underlies meditation’s effectiveness, this book teaches readers how to harness the power of the principle “Where attention goes, neural firing flows, and neural connection grows.” Siegel reveals how developing a Wheel of Awareness practice to focus attention, open awareness, and cultivate kind intention can literally help you grow a healthier brain and reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in your life.

Whether you have no experience with a reflective practice or are an experienced practitioner, Aware is a hands-on guide that will enable you to become more focused and present, as well as more energized and emotionally resilient in the face of stress and the everyday challenges life throws your way.

Learn more about Dr. Dan Siegel’s work HERE.

Falling Awake, How to Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Michelle has been reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s new book Falling Awake, How to Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Life and she wanted to share it with everyone.

From Amazon…

More than 20 years ago, Jon Kabat-Zinn changed the way we think about awareness in everyday life with his now-classic introduction to mindfulness, Wherever You Go, There You Are. He followed that up with 2005’s Coming to Our Senses, the definitive book for our time on the connection between mindfulness and our well-being on every level, physical, cognitive, emotional, social, planetary, and spiritual.

Now, the original text of Coming to Our Senses is being repackaged into 4 smaller books, each focusing on a different aspect of mindfulness, and each with a new foreword by the author. In this second of these books, Falling Awake (which was originally published as Part III and Part IV of Coming to Our Senses), Kabat-Zinn focuses on the “how” of mindfulness – explaining how meditation brings us into intimate relationship with all our senses, how to establish a formal meditation practice, and how to overcome some of the common obstacles to incorporating meditation into daily life in an age of perpetual self-distraction.

By “coming to our senses” – both literally and metaphorically – we can become more compassionate, more embodied, more aware human beings, and in the process, contribute to the healing of the body politic as well as our own lives in ways both little and big.

 

Remember to register for the free online conference Mindful Parenting in a Messy World which runs from September 18th-20th here.

Inspiration & Insights for Modern Working Parents with Sara Mauskopf

Join Michelle as she chats about being a working parent with Sara Mauskopf who is the co-founder of the website Winnie, whose mission is to create and organize the information parents need and make it accessible through products, technology & community. Whether you want to ask other parents for advice, find new things to do with your kids, or just get to the nearest changing table in a hurry, Winnie can help. www.winnie.com

Register for the free online conference Mindful Parenting in a Messy World which runs from September 18th-20th here.

Sign up for the Mindful Parenting Online Course ‘The Foundations of Practice” offered October 2018 here.

Different does NOT mean Deficient

Hallelujah to that statement you guys! I’m saying it again… Different does NOT mean Deficient.  As many of you know, both of my boys have learning differences and those differences have surely put doubt in their minds about their true worth and what they are capable of.

Knowing they doubt themselves DRIVES ME CRAZY and makes me so sad. I struggle sometimes with how best to support them in having a positive self concept.

I care about the stories they tell themselves and how those stories express themselves in their lives. What we believe we become. 

And the truth is, most of the time I observe happy, healthy, confident young men. But sometimes… when they come up against a challenge I’ll hear it… 

“Oh, I can’t do that because I have ADD” or “I’m just not smart” or “My friends don’t have to go to these stupid therapies” or “Why can’t I be normal like others kids?”

By the way kids… normal is sooooo over-rated. And seriously… normal? Who’s normal? 

Well… recently I came across a video by author Jonathan Mooney that inspired me and I wanted to share it with all of you. 

I IMMEDIATELY watched it with my younger son and his face lit up like a light bulb.

If you have a child with a difference please WATCH THIS VIDEO and let me know if your heart exploded like mine did.

My son watched this with a friend of his sitting next to us. When the video was over his friend turned to him and said he thought his learning differences made him funny and creative. 

Yes! Yes! Yes! Sure, learning differences make traditional school pretty uncomfortable, but his differences also contribute to him being funny, creative, kind, compassionate, loving… I could go on and on.

Consider this your daily dose of inspiration for the day! 

And if you need a little more inspiration you can listen in to my podcast interview with author Debbie Reber titled…

“Differently Wired: Raising and Exceptional Child in a Conventional World” 

Grateful to be on this path with you… messy differences and all! 

With Love,

Michelle

 

Mindful Rituals at Home

I recently hosted the Mindful Schools summer program, and the topic was “Mindful Rituals at Home”. Join me here for a short video introduction, an offer to set an intention this summer, and a 10 minute meditation….

With life, work, kids, and more vying for your attention, it’s helpful to embed mindful rituals at home and throughout the day to remind yourself to come back to the moment. I invite you to watch my talk about weaving mindful rituals into your daily life. If you’re completely new to mindfulness, you might want to check out this Introduction to Mindfulness article first.

Setting an Intention

This week, set an intention to notice places and times where you might want to incorporate mindfulness into your day, come up with an idea for a ritual, and try it out.

Let me know how it goes!