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Anyone else counting the days until school starts again?

I LOVE the routine of the school year. Sure…sometimes someone is home sick or some other bump in the road appears, but in general I have some semblance of certainty as to when I can get my work done. Then the weekend comes and we can PLAY! I also LOVE working from home…but not so much during the summer months. And yes, I’m sure if we were heading off to some tropical location or lake house for the summer I might feel differently. But alas…that is not the case. Mindful parenting in just harder when the kids are out of school, let’s face it. 

So what to do?

I’m leaning in to some old standbys here because they are just so good. 

Breathing 

My kids have interrupted me about fifteen times today while I’ve been in the midst of some kind of creative work. After the fifth time or so I caught on to the tension I was feeling each time the door started to creak, so I began to focus on one inhale and one exhale each time that door began to swing open. All of a sudden I was a little bit happier to see them. 🙂

Gratitude

I’ve started a little notebook where I’m jotting down everything I feel grateful for a few times a day. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain and unshackles us from toxic emotions. It’s hard to be all grumpy about summer when you are writing down what you are grateful for. Plus, who is grumpy about summer? So strange right? 

Taking Mini-Breaks

I mean duh…this SEEMS so obvious. I’m fairly sure I have been hiding out in my office to avoid listening to my children tell me how bored they are…which leads to less breaks than usual. I started taking a walk in the sunshine mid way through my workday while reminding myself how valuable boredom and mind wandering are for my children. Let them be bored! It’s good for them. Really it is. My little walks also help soothe the guilt I might be feeling about us not being on vacation this summer.

And about that GUILT… I can hear you thinking “why should you be guilty about not going on vacation?”

You are so RIGHT

If I get still and u-turn around to what is going on within me, it’s pretty clear I’m stuck in the loop of my mind telling me what we “should” be doing this summer. As if anything should be any different than it is right now. I can also sense a longing to slow down a little more with family and friends. It’s so easy to see the to-list and just keep going… and then feel guilty afterward. So silly we are. 

With all that said, I am going to continue breathing a little more intentionally, focusing on what I’m grateful for, and taking more breaks. Will you join me? 

These long days and warm nights aren’t so bad either…

How is your summer going? 

I’d love to hear stories of sun, struggle, fun, and bored to tears kids driving you nutty. 

With Love,

Michelle 

Sibling Struggles, Stressors, and Solutions

Don’t you wish this blog post could solve all of the issues you have at home with siblings? 

Yeah….. me too. Yet here we are…. with siblings who may have some….. ummm….. let’s call them “challenges”.

I was inspired to write about this topic today when my youngest son marched into the kitchen this morning and announced “I don’t hate Tyler this morning!”

He was clearly proud of himself. This reality seemed revolutionary. 

We were all a bit stunned of course. I was quickly reminded of him screaming emphatically the day before how he hated his brother and he always would. 

Whew. Good morning! 

How much of this is normal, I often wonder? How do we know if they will grow out of it? Well… we don’t. I often find myself asking adult siblings if they despised each other when they were young. Most of the time the response is….absolutely! This always makes me feel just a little bit better. 

What I find when I get still (and do a little self-inquiry) is that I have a ton of my own identity caught up in raising two boys who will be close when they grow up. Siblings should be close, right? Right???

If they are close this must mean I’m a good parent (or something like that). 

The moment I turned my attention to that thought (siblings should be close and if they are close this means I’m a good parent) it began to melt away. 

Our mindfulness practice can support us in catching these thoughts and not buying too much into them. 

How about a little inquiry? You can do this on the spot or during a longer journaling session. 

Try using these three levels of awareness of thought 

1- Get to know the content of your thoughts. What are you believing? Is it true? 

2- Notice how thoughts are not real. See them as a movie playing in your mind. Watch them come and go

3- Use your meditation practice to become the one who watches the thoughts. Become a clear space of awareness that witnesses it all. 

Having stressful thoughts is just a normal part of being human. Our tendency to hold on to our beliefs is pretty extraordinary. 

Underneath most of our thoughts is simply a desire to connect to ourselves and others in a deeper way. I certainly find this to be true. 

So the next time your kiddos fight see if you can call up that sacred pause and notice the thoughts at play under your frustration. 

Let me know how it goes….

For a little more exploration of siblings you can listen in to one of my top downloaded podcasts. Enjoy me chatting with our friends Cecilia and Jason Hilkey from Happily Family

Find the Podcast: Siblings, Stressors, and Solutions HERE

 

Coming Home (To Ourselves) For The Holidays

Thanksgiving Day is upon us, and for many that means the start of the holiday season. Here we go! The stress, worry, relationship struggles, shopping, hurt feelings, awkward moments with your drunk uncle sharing his political views….. you know the drill.

This year….come home yourself for the holiday’s. What do I mean? Have I lost it? Well, I probably have, but let me share the only solution to all of this mayhem that has worked for me over the years (aside from crawling under a rock and avoiding the holiday’s all together).

Pause. Breathe. Practice Compassion.

Do this ever so quietly in your own mind…over and over again (should others catch on they may think you drank too much of the punch). And start with compassion for yourself before offering it to others. This is how we come home to ourselves. When we find ourselves getting irritated about something “out there” we immediately take a u-turn back to our own hearts and minds.

Each time one of those “inconvenient irritations” appear just pause…take that breath…and offer yourself a little compassion. Once that compassion has sunk in offer it up to others. We can’t love up on others until we love up on ourselves.

Here’s the deal…everyone is doing their best with their current situation and state of mind. And during the holiday’s many folks tend to lose their minds. It’s just the way of it. We can’t and shouldn’t expect anyone else to change. We are the one’s we have been waiting for.

Compassion is this beautiful space awaiting us under the big emotions that often get triggered during the holiday season. It’s so generous in that it does not ask us not to feel what we are feeling, but instead to see any given situation with reality. It asks us to take off the veil and be with what is….just as it is. Compassion reminds us to stay open to the truth of any moment, even when that moment hurts us in some way. It walks us straight into presence and into the arms of love.

Let’s spend more time together in the arms of love this holiday season. I plan to start in my own loving arms and move out from there…

Now off you go to practice presence during this holiday season. One moment at a time…

Xo

Michelle

Four Steps to Diffusing Big Emotions

One of the most common requests I receive from corporate clients and stay at home/working parents alike is to help them manage their response to stress. Personally, particularly on school day mornings, as I’m trying to get my kids out the door and myself to work, having the ability to bring it down a notch is absolutely critical. No one can find their shoes, the dogs are barking, the waffles just burned, and I’m running late to see a client. The best parts of me can be pretty hard to find in those moments.  

It’s perfectly normal for us to experience stress, and some measure of stress is actually good! It can motivate us and spark us into action. However, when the level of stress we experience passes our ability to skillfully deal with it, then it’s important to have some skills to help in that moment.

A useful skill to self sooth on the spot is to label our emotions. A study done back in 2007 by Matthew Lieberman and his colleagues looked at functional MRI images of people who were emotionally triggered. They found that if you labeled your emotion by simply saying sadness, frustration, anger, or any other emotion, this had a direct effect on calming the amygdala which is the alarm center of our brain that goes crazy when we are stressed. Labeling the emotion decreased the activation of that alarm center. When we identify our emotions we miraculously stop being identified with them! Self soothing 101.

To help my clients (and myself) practice this technique I like to use the acronym STOP.

S- Stop. Pause. Don’t do or say anything else! Seriously. Don’t.

T- Take a breath while focusing on a long exhale.

O- Observe the emotion present. Label it.

P- Proceed, with lower emotional reactivity and a more sane response.

Now go do life and keep this little mindfulness hack in your back pocket….. What we practice grows stronger! 

A Conversation on Fatherhood with Soren Gordhamer, Founder of Wisdom 2.0

Listen in as Michelle & Soren talk about fatherhood, parenting, and the adventures of the teen years.

Within these thirty minutes you will hopefully be inspired and gain practical ideas for living more consciously with your children.

About Soren Gordhamer

Soren Gordhamer works with individuals and groups on living with greater mindfulness and purpose in our technology-rich age. He is founder and host of the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, and the author of Wisdom 2.0: Ancient Secrets for the Creative and Constantly Connected (HarperOne, 2009), one of the first books to explore living with mindfulness and wisdom within the context of our modern technology age.

Awakening Joy in Kids with James Baraz and Michele Lilyanna

Spirit Rock founder, author, and teacher James Baraz’s Awakening Joy offers his large and devoted readership a program to gain contentment and happiness by cultivating the seeds of joy within. He joins with Michele Lilyanna, a classroom teacher for 25 years, to offer caregivers and children ways to find joy in each day together.

This unique offering nourishes both adults and kids. James shares the practices for the adults—parents, caregivers, and teachers. Michele offers her own experiences as a parent and as a teacher, showing how the themes work with kids, followed by the tried and true lessons that she’s used herself in the classroom and at home.

Tune in to hear James and Michele share about their many years of working with thousands of adults and children in retreats, workshops, and the classroom.

You can purchase the book through Amazon HERE.

Learn more about James & Michele’s work, sign up for their newsletter, and learn about their course offerings HERE

Thanks for listening. If you like what you heard, please give us some stars and a favorable review at iTunes.