Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Caught not Taught

Let's take a fresh look at what "guiding" is all about. It is too easy to believe that we have power, that we can control the direction of children's lives. At the same time, when things go wrong, we too often allow ourselves to take all the blame, "If we had only done....."

Yes, we have influence, but children come with their own inner compass based on their abilities, their temperaments, their environment. We can provide stability, emotional and physical support, appropriate information, a rich, variety of experiences. But like creating a delicious vegetable soup, the final outcome is part magic, and out of our control.

We also get into trouble if we are guiding them and not taking our own advice. We "know" what's best for this child or that person, but how often do we take the time to live this way ourselves. We want children to be healthy, and eat well, but we often grab whatever is available when we are on the run. We want children to be fit, but we are not positive role models when we drive instead of walking a few blocks to the nearby store or library. We want them to take their time with their homework and check their answers, but we experience the panic when we rush through a project, or find ourselves being chronically late.

Much of who we are today was not "taught" to us. We learned through trial and error. And if we were lucky, we may have learned some through good examples.

What might help us to slow down? How might we take better care of ourselves? What is a reasonable amount of tasks to accomplish in a day? What do we need to live in balance emotionally, physically, and spiritually? The best guidance we can give is demonstrated by right living.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gratitude for today

How quickly each day passes. How precious our time with family and friends.

I am away from home, visiting with family and remembering things from the past, sharing stories with family members. I cherish these times, and am reminded yet again how easy it is to get swept up in the day's busyness and forget where we came from. No matter what the exact circumstances, all of our experiences lead us to where we are today. It doesn't help to dwell on things in the past and get stuck back there wishing things were different today. Acceptance is important. And time remembering can bring us to gratitude for right now.

I am grateful for the love and friendship of family and friends.
I am grateful for the wonder and joy of the young children in my life.
I am grateful for the cool, refreshing autumn mornings.
I am grateful for health and energy.
I am grateful for this day, and this time.

Yes, things are also happening around us that are troubling and frustrating. But frankly, we are powerless over them. We cannot really change those things right now, but we can work on our own attitude. And gratitude puts us in the here and now. Children need us to be present with them, focusing on their needs. They also learn from us when we show them how to take care of ourselves, how to balance our lives and be careful about getting carried away by too much.  Yes, we need to plan, some. And thankfully, we also learn from children play. They can teach us so much.... especially how to be grateful in this moment.

Just for today.... just for now.... gratitude.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Guidance in the Pause

So sorry, kind readers. I have not written regularly. Life has taken me down many different paths. I write in a journal more than weekly, and decided to check in here today. I am making a slight twist in the topics here - Guiding our way, day by day. Where do we find guidance for our daily choices and decisions?

There are so many times during every day when we make choices. Of course many of these times are the mundane things of every day - what to have for breakfast, what to wear, which store to go to for groceries, what activities would be fun for me or the family today, what chores need to be done and when. The need for choices goes on and on.

But there are other choices, too - How do I react to that rude driver? What do I say in response to that tough question? What do I really need to do right now for my health or well being? What will I say to the kids when they are "driving me crazy?" It is so easy in the tension and rapid pace of our days, to react without thinking. Better to pause.... even if just for a moment to consider the "next right thing" or the truly kind or appropriate thing to say or do. Pause... one of those things that is simple, but not easy. When I pause, I am much less likely to say or do things I will regret. I'm less impulsive. I am more thoughtful.

To be of support to others, to do all those daily things with compassion and ease - we do best to pause and consider. This way, we get the guidance we need to do our best.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just for today

This is all we have. Today. It is so easy to forget this as we regret the past - what we didn't accomplish or what went wrong or what we missed out on. Or we stay focused on the future and what will be happening tomorrow.

Kids are such wonderful teachers in this regard. Watch them. They are right here now. Right in the mix of whatever is going on for them, what you see is what you get. Their feelings of pleasure, joy, sadness, and anger are right here. Their enthusiasm for what they are playing or learning is obvious. Or their disappointment when they are not getting their way.

And of course, we are teachers for them, too... in many ways. Sometimes when they want it now, we need to remind them that they need to wait.When they are angry and express it in hurtful ways, we remind them to use their words and be kind.

The lesson for us all is to experience today. Be present to whatever happens. Follow your heart. Notice what is going on around you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More letting go

One of the toughest things to do is to do our best, and then let go of the outcome. We want so much to control the situation. This starts when our kids are very young, and continues as they grow. We want our kids to eat breakfast without fighting us. We want them to stop fighting each other and play cooperatively. We want them to pay attention in school and do their homework. We want them to make healthy, safe choices instead of rebelling and testing everything. There are many things we want for them. And yet all we can do is our best and hold onto our love and hope for them.

I have sometimes had pangs of regret about my own kids when someone has told me with excitement about the wonderful, dramatic things their children were doing today as adults. When my sons were little, I had hopes about the ways they might make a difference in the world. And of course, they are wonderful young men in their own ways. We can't all be superstars. And in fact, most of us must be very content to do what we can in whatever ways we can.

Letting go of our expectations and our ideas about the ways things "should" be is hard. But expectations take us away from the present, from right now and the way things are. Our children are wonderful beings. They need love and care right now, wherever they are in their development and life choices. And just about as soon as they start stepping out in the world, and are influenced by other people, their choices are further and further out of our control anyway. They become their own persons.... and thank goodness, because their world, the one they will have to live in will be one we can't even imagine and we can't fully prepare them for.

The only person we really have the power to change is our self. We can work on our attitude. We can learn more and understand others better. So just for today, practice loving others and then letting go of those potentially crippling expectations.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


As Lennon and McCartney said, "All we need is love." As the holiday of love approaches, it seems appropriate to reflect on this.

Simple, maybe. But certainly not easy. No matter how much we love someone, there are plenty of times when it doesn't come across. We want the best for our loved ones... our idea of what would be best. So we let them know in words and deeds. It feels like our love has strings attached. "I love you when...." They do something we appreciate and we smile or thank them. When they are doing other things, we let them know we are upset or disappointed. This may feel like we don't love them.

How do we give the message of unconditional love. If anyone had the definitive answer, we wouldn't be thinking about this right now. Clearly, love is not easy. Loving takes lots of effort. We work hard to communicate that our loved ones are precious to us, no matter what. What might this look like?

       We give her a hug when she has just broken something precious to us.
       We attend his games faithfully, no matter what else we might have on
       our agenda.
       We remember a special personal holiday or anniversary.
       We try hard to not yell when we are upset, and we explain reasonably.
       We forgive all the little things that can pile up and feel like one big

Now there are plenty of times when loving is easy. They can be so adorable or sweet or funny or kind. Loving during the hard times is how we really communication our unconditional acceptance of them. And there is also the consideration of doing too much for people in our attempts to be loved by them. This can take us into the dangerous territory of co-dependency.

"All you need is love." Of course, this is way too simple. We want our loved ones to know that we care about them. We want the best for them. We believe in them. We accept them just as they are. And we will be here for them through it all, good times and hard times. Love isn't all we need, but it certainly can make the journey a little less bumpy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A new year

I always love to put the previous year behind me. Not that they have been full of bad, horrible experiences. They have not. As with everyone, there is a mix. Some hard things. Some frustrations. And also plenty to be grateful for. And I always look forward to the new year. This is a time for me to look ahead.... and ask questions.

What possibilities does this new year hold?
How am I going to learn and grow this year?
What can I do to pro-actively continue improving my quality of life?
Where do I need to stretch?
Where do I need to pull back?
What must I do to pay better attention to my life?
What will I notice when I focus on what is really important?
What will help me gain clarity in my decisions?
How can I become more loving in my relationships - toward myself and others?
How can I stay open to new possibilities and willing to try?

Life is really about living with the questions. They are always there. Children are always asking questions, especially "Why?" They want to understand. They are learning so much.

"Why is the sky blue?" "Why are people so mean to each other?" "Why did you do that?" I need to do something about these things. I need to be kind and loving. I need to seek understanding. I need to take action. So for today, I am walking into this new year, open to the questions. And responding...