Amazing Parents

Sometimes it\’s AMAZING. Sometimes it\’s just A MAZE.

The Deep Freeze Experiment

As you know, I blog from the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  Known for it’s rain, we hardly ever get snow that sticks on that valley floor.  Well, this week we have surpassed all usual expectations.  We have truly been bombarded with quite an unusual winter storm.  We’ve had temperatures in the teens…during the day!  Winds have been gusting and to top it all off, we’ve had at least 3 inches of snow that has been hanging around for days.

Because the roads are a solid sheet of ice, the schools are all shut down.  Many stores are closed.  Most of my neighbors have been home from work and been hanging around the neighborhood.   My neighbors and I like to watch and see exactly which of us on this street dares to jump in their car and go anywhere.  As soon as they return we hover over them asking about the outside world.  Did they see people?  Where the roads open?  Were they able to get groceries???

These are all the conveniences of our community that we take for granted.  It’s amazing what happens when you take away our cars.  Truly amazing.

What I love about our deep freeze experiment is how all the families have been taken out of their normal routines and forced to hang out together at home.  I just look out at all my neighbors and laugh in secrecy.  All those families who are putting on and taking off their kids’ winter clothes twenty times a day as the kids keep coming in and out, in and out.  The looks on the faces of the mothers whose kids are with them 24 hours a day.  The looks on fathers’ faces having to deal with their exhausted wives.  Ha ha ha. I love it.

But seriously…the deep freeze of 2008 has given me a lot to think about.  The forced slow down that brings families back together.  It’s sad to me that families aren’t already together like this.  It’s sad to me that people have to have some sort of natural disaster that forces them to spend more time together at home, just hanging out, just living their lives together.

I’m just hoping that some of the families who have unknowingly participated in my Deep Freeze Experiment recognize how wonderful it really is to just throw the world away outside and just stay tucked away inside their warm, safe homes together.  Aaahhh….yes.  It seems I’m always looking for that shift in people.

All I know now is that there truly is nowhere else I’d rather be than here with my babies.  Because I really have nowhere else to go that could possibly be any better than this.  So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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December 17, 2008 Posted by | Soap Box | 1 Comment

At a crossroads?

I’m sitting down to write now.  About what, I do not know.  But whatever comes out is what is supposed to. That is about all I know.  Something about being at a crossroads.  And the Captain said, “It’s not a court thing, but an emotional thing.”  That made me mad.  REALLY mad.  But two days later and I realize that he is right. He is always right.  I hate him for that.  But I love him for that at the very same time.

Because I’m so sick of being in charge.  I am raising these kids alone and making money alone and sleeping alone and eating alone and stacking wood alone.  And all the decisions are always up to me to make.  And I am so exhausted from that.  It gets frustrating.  And my brain is fried.  So much “cognitive noise” that it’s disgusting.  That’s why I’ve turned it off.  It’s all off.  And all I am left with is the silence.  The golden silence of the present moment.  Now I know why they call it golden.  It just is.  Worth every ounce.

There is this popular song called “apologize”.  It says that it’s too late.  I can’t really say that I believe that.  I don’t believe it’s ever too late.  If someone wants to say they’re sorry, then why can’t they just be sorry?  Why do we have to put up our guard and say no?  Who are we to judge hearts?  And motives?  And intentions?  Aren’t we all just getting by in life?  Aren’t we all just as screwed up as everybody else is?

You know, someone from highschool just called me “cool”.  I told him that I resent that.  I wasn’t lying.  I do.  Being called cool makes me very uncomfortable.  He has no right to call me that.  No more of a right to say I’m good than he does to say I’m bad.  Why can’t we all just be who we are?  I don’t know.  I just don’t know.

The Captain is right, though.  It is an emotional thing.  It so totally is.  It all is.  It all is so raw to me.  So deep inside of me.  And I can make no sense of it whatsoever.  I don’t know which way to go at this cross roads.  I don’t even know if I’m at a crossroads.  Maybe this is just the path I’m on.  And there is no choice to be made.  Do I love him?  Absolutely.  Do I think he’ll ever love me? I don’t know.  And that scares me, because I don’t understand it.  Is that about him, and his inability to connect, or is it about me, and my insecurities?

I just don’t know.

So now what?

Maybe instead of telling someone else that it’s too late for him to apologize, maybe I should just beg for his forgiveness.  Yep.  Say, please forgive me.  For not knowing what I want.  And for not knowing where I want to go from here.  For not knowing what is best.  For not wanting to be right anymore.  I just don’t care.  And for that, I’m sorry.  But I just don’t care anymore about any of it.  I just want to be happy.  And right now, I am.  That’s enough for now.  Don’t you think?

November 9, 2008 Posted by | Soap Box | 2 Comments

Give It Birth

It has been brought to my attention that my posts are candid.  That I don’t really hold back when I write on here.  Well, I guess I didn’t think of it like that before, but it’s true.  I am just writing whatever comes out at the moment and I am not really editing to make it fit into anything nicely.  I am just typing as quickly as my fingers can go.  Thoughts rambling.  Ideas popping up.  Situations in my life that need to come out, come out.  All the dizzy stuff inside of me is given words and in the end it begins to make sense.  And man, does that ever feel good.

The best part is, I really don’t care what anybody has to say about it.  I honestly don’t.  Because it’s not about them.  It’s about ME.  This is really one of the only places in my life that is only about me.  No interruptions, no editing, no planning ahead.  Just me.  When I am writing on here, I am literally just in the moment, completely oblivious to anything around me.  I am in a deep place inside myself.  Very in touch with myself.  In a way, it’s a good practice for the rest of my life.

Sometimes I hear that people don’t know how I can take time like this out for myself.  And that touches me deeply.  Because it makes me recognize that that’s exactly what I’m doing.  I’m taking time out for me.  That is so true.

And what I have come to learn about that, is that my kids need me to.  I need to vent and to process and to put words to experiences.  I NEED to.  It’s not indulgence.  It’s a necessity of my life.  And I am so proud to know that I appreciate my own needs enough to do something like this.  Something as write.  Something that comes so naturally to me, so easily.  Something so tiny.  But it’s huge.  Thank you for helping me to see that.  That it’s huge.

What I want to say to you (and you know who YOU are) about this is: write!  Get a journal or start an anonymous blog.  Spit out your words.  Even if only a few words at a time.  Just write.  Write it all down.  Get it all out.  Put words to all that stuff that’s been floating around inside of you.  Because as my friend Yael says, “there’s a beautiful mess inside“.  And how can we stay outside of that?  Go deeper than you’ve ever dared.

So give it birth, Jazmine Gene!  You deserve it.  And you are worth it.  And YOU are as important in your family as those babies are.  Mabye even more so.  You’ve given birth to them.  But maybe now it’s time to give birth to YOU!

I love you.  (I always have and I always will.  You have been with me along the whole way, whether you knew it or not.)


To hear a free tele-seminar by Janet Conner, author of Writing Down Your Soul, please click here.  By filling out the quick form on the link, you will receive the free recording which you can then listen to on your own time or even download to your iPod.  Thanks again Consciously Parenting Project for another great resource!

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Soap Box | 2 Comments

It’s Raining

Today I got paid.  That was cool.

I also saw my dad.  He brought back something he had borrowed.  And instead of just bringing it back, he had to “fix it” for me.  A normal human would have been appreciative, but for some reason I was not.  I found it degrading on so many levels.  I realized this has everything to do with me and where I am right now — that feeling of just wanting to break out of every box I’ve ever been put in — and so I said nothing except, “Thanks, Dad.  That was nice.”  He felt good.  I felt good that I stopped a fight.

But hours after he is gone, I secretly think to myself how sometimes the fight is just so. worth. it.

Smelly J’nelly knows what I mean.  She has been living with The Guiltinator for 8 days straight.  Do you know the kind of inner resolve it takes to survive 8 days of that????  Seriously. It’s so intense.

The difference between me and Nelly is that I usually start the fight.  Because I need to say what I need to say and that’s just all I know in the moment.  But what I realized today was that part of breaking out of the boxes I’m in means breaking out of the ones I’ve made for myself.  Like I don’t always need to start the fight.  I don’t.  Just because that’s what I’ve always done and today I want to do something differently.  So today I just enjoyed saying nothing at all.  I’ve been doing more of that lately.  And now I can see why Nelly has always done it too.  The silent suffering.  Because in a way, it’s just so much cleaner.  So much cleaner to break away from.

I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore.  There is no point to be made.  Just an observation that means nothing in the end.  Except that maybe I’m allowed to experiment with who I am and that’s ok.  I don’t have to always be the one that thinks the fight is worth it.  Sometimes I can be the silent one too.  And that doesn’t make me “fake”.  It just makes me quiet.  And that feels really good.  Because when I’m quiet I can hear the rain.

October 4, 2008 Posted by | A New Paradigm, Soap Box | 3 Comments

That Darned old Pucker Brush again

Like I’ve said before, there is an old saying in the south about being confused.  It’s called “wandering around in the pucker brush.”  And to my understanding, the pucker brush is pretty nasty.  Prickly.  Painful.  Just bad to get lost in.

That is how it feels when you are trying to parent a child with a trauma history and can’t seem to find any help.  (Believe me.  I’ve been there!)

So to help you find your way out of the maze and into healing, you now have access to BCI-trained therapy right here in Oregon!

Check out this link:

Life Strategies in McMinnville, Oregon

And get yourself out of the pucker brush.  It’s never too late.

Peace in the home.

Peace in the community.

Peace in the world.

September 13, 2008 Posted by | A New Paradigm, RAD Education, Soap Box, Support Groups | Leave a comment

I Will Hold Your Hair Back When the World Gets Overwhelming…Whether Or Not You Hold Mine

What happened next wasn’t very interesting, so I felt no need to keep that story going. But if you must know, I will tell you. All the sordid details of every pathetically complicated interaction.

He laughed at me. He said he knows. He said, “Yes, for 10 years. I felt it too. But that doesn’t change today.”

Then my brother got me Conor Oberst tickets and now I’m fine.

And how, exactly does this become about parenting? And especially about parenting a child with trauma? Well, everything. In every way it feels the same. Because my son, and all the stories he could keep telling, about wanting so badly to be loved and to be noticed and to be validated by someone he looks up to. That is what I was doing. That is just what I thought I needed in that moment. And I believe I did. I needed someone to wrap their arms around me and say, “I hear you and you’re safe with me and I love you anyway.” And he did and it’s all good.

But what if he hadn’t? What if he just laughed?

I would have been so humiliated, so hurt, that I couldn’t have left that space with a smile on my face. I would have been in tears.  But worse than that, I would have been in so much emotional pain that I don’t know how I could have recovered.  I would have continued to throw up and stay awake in bed, curled up in the fetal position without a thought in my brain.  I would have chalked it up to every negative thing inside of my head being right, once and for all. They are all right. That I’m that terrible. That I’m fat. That I’m way out of my league here with trying to find love.

That is what foster care is like for our children.  And placements and orphanages and disrupted adoptions.  To be so terrified of sharing yourself with someone.  Yet to go against everything inside of you and actually say what you want.  Then only to be shut down, to be laughed at, again….and again….and again.   To be devastated by someone who you thought was supposed to love you.

I think a lot of times, the traditional parenting paradigm that we operate out of is just like that. Our kids whine and they cry and we say, “Oh that child! He is just doing that for attention!” As if that was a bad thing. What if we stop thinking of it like that and we just give them what they think they need? What if we just meet them exactly where they are? Validate their feelings?   Hold them?  Show them how much we care about what matters to them?  Tell them that we, “hear you and love you anyway” or that “all your feelings are safe with me”?  Isn’t that exactly what they need?  Isn’t that just what you have needed at times, someone to just unconditionally support you no matter what?  Or someone just to hold you?

Because that’s all I needed someone to do. I just wanted to be held.  And that’s not wrong. It’s right. And true connection creates safety to have those needs met. That is unconditional love. And that is what parenting should be all about.

How did we get so far removed from that? When did we start saying “full-time mom”? Like Nelly asked, “When did a child become a full time or part time deal?” Isn’t the very nature of parenting a full-time job? To bring a life into this world, whether by our body or our hearts and be responsible for them in every way?  To be there with someone, for someone. Someone who maybe just “needs” you when they need you. Someone who you are just there for.  You know, just to hold thier hair back when the world gets overwhelming.  Because it’s not our children’s job to hold ours.

And that’s it.  That’s all that happened.  From the beginning until now.  I had an experience of unconditional support from somebody that I needed it from.  Finally, he was present with me and he heard everything I said.  The best part is that he is taking responsibility for his part of the relationship and that makes him a big, strong man.   And that means the story isn’t over yet.  (Wink, wink.)

To be continued in about 1000 years…..

September 11, 2008 Posted by | A New Paradigm, Soap Box | Leave a comment

Tied up and twisted

It has felt that way. For a long, long time now. Like I was tied up and twisted, against my will. With a ball and a heavy chain. Like everytime I tried to move, I was pinned. Down. And down again. Harder and harder. Trapped. Scared to death. Tired. And it’s so heavy and he’s so strong. All I can do is hope that I don’t die like this. But I knew I would.

So one day I just gritted my teeth, and I clenched my fists, and I used every single muscle in my body to get out of that mess. Out of the knots and the loops and the tangles. All that heavy chain just snapping in the moment of my adrenaline finally kicking in. My will to live finally doing it’s job.

People always wonder what kind of weak idiots end up like that. But it wasn’t like that. I’m not weak, nor am I an idiot. It just started to tangle and before I knew it, there I was. When it gets like that, it isn’t something you can just sit and undo. Like Christmas lights two years late. At some point you just have to give up the fight and buy a new set. And just so you know, that’s just one more reason why I hate Christmas. Because there’s always a fight about the lights. No matter what you do when you pack them away. The next year, there they are, all in an unbreakable knot. Tied up and twisted. Frustrating. Stuck. You pull and you push. Everyone in the room thinks they can do it better. But it’s so hard to see where one string begins and the other ends. It makes you want to scream. But you realize even that won’t help.  So each year you vow never to let that happen again, but each year, there they are again.  In a ball, tangled.  Tied up and twisted.

That is what it was like for me. Like I was tied up and twisted. And now it’s all starting to unravel. Slowly. But there it goes. Another piece of me, coming undone. And instead of feeling scary and stupid, it feels so freakin’ good. Like a hot bubble bath or a song that you can’t help but sing. It just feels right. And it makes me want to keep going. To keep bathing and keep singing. To get it all out. To stay right there, where I can see each part of myself, safe. Laid out bare and straight. And I can see it all so clearly. All those pieces of me that I couldn’t find before. But there they are. And I’ve said so much.

And if I’ve gone overboard, then I beg you to forgive me. But in my haste, I have held you so close. It is like ten years ago you crashed into me. And I just finally felt it. And it feels really good.

Thank you for reminding me of who I am.

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Soap Box | 1 Comment

I Like Fish

So….hmmm….I really want to write. I have so much to say. More about irony, definitely. And also something about preconceived notions and stereotypes. Boxes and categories that make me, all of us, so much more comfortable. We do that with our kids a lot. Like that little girl who figgets too much. Let’s call it ADHD and give her some pills. But what if there were no pills? Like there were not for that last thousands and thousands of human history. What then? Well, then you can’t “fix” it. You just have to be with it, as uncomfortable as it is, and accept it someday as reality.

Because I have this friend…..who, for Nelly’s sake, shall remain nameless…..and my relationship with him falls into so many categories, so many perfect little boxes. And I do this intentionally, so as not to “rock the boat”. But you know what, my whole life has just come crashing down and I suddenly realize that all those lovely boxes were lies. Facades. A superficial excuse for what was really going on. Like sex with a stranger and thorazine and pre-recorded chants and a big pink metal bottle of hairspray.

And quite frankly, I’m done. I’m done with it all. I’m done with wondering what people will think. I’m done “over-analyzing” everything. Because I just finally want to be here, present. I want to feel all of my feelings that I have been told to shove down for three decades. I want to be free to express my awe to people that awe me, and to express my disgust to people who turn my stomach up in knots. I want to feel free to cry when someone rings the doorbell, for no other reason than “that’s just what we’re doing here today”. And free to wear my hair like a princess, just because Sister Mary does it, and she always looks so pretty, and just because I. suddenly. realize. I. can. too.

And that includes my over grown lawn and the music I listen to. That includes the laundry I’ve decided to throw away instead of wash. And the bricks that are crumbling by the fish tank.

Which reminds me, my fish never complain.

I like fish.

August 28, 2008 Posted by | Soap Box | 2 Comments

Isn’t it ironic?

It’s like rain on your wedding day….It’s like a free ride when you’re already there…..It’s like the good advice you just didn’t take….don’t ya think?…..Life has such a funny way of sneaking up on you when you think everything’s ok. ….a traffic jam when you’re already late….It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife….like meeting the man of my dreams, then his beautiful wife…. Yeah….

Isn’t that so true? This seems to be my theme song this week. My life and all of it’s uncertainties. Like adopting a child because I wanted so badly to show him love, then being told he is unable to feel it. Then finding a way to make that happen. Now I’m professionally teaching it to other parents, dispelling the myths that have existed for decades about kids like mine. That’s just so ironic. That the one thing I thought for sure would eventually kill me in this life is now my means of living. Now that’s just funny.

Another ironic point to mention is how badly I have searched for love in my personal life, in my marriage. And I swear, it is only after my husband has left me destitude that I realize I am worthy to actually be loved. It’s only after I have been hurt, that I feel safe. It is only during the pain, that I can somehow connect to my inner peace. It is only through having my family ripped apart that I feel whole.

It’s just so ironic. And so cliche I really can’t write any more about it.

I just wanted you to know that.

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Soap Box | Leave a comment

Affirmations for Regulation

One of the resources I’ve been experimenting with lately is affirmations. My friends at the Consciously Parenting Project have challenged me to see if I can help my son turn off his amygdala using affirmations. It has turned into quite the experiment.

In the beginning of my parenting journey, I was very, very skeptical of this kind of thing. I knew people who used them and they all seemed a little bit “out there” for me. When I heard my first parenting affirmation, visions of Stuart Smally from Saturday Night Live would pop into my head, making me snicker out loud. “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And gosh darnit, people like me.” Right?

Ok, ok. I know. You think affirmations are dorky. They seem silly. You’d be embarrassed to be caught repeating them. A year ago I would have, and indeed did, feel the exact same way. But what I’ve learned is that affirmations can be a dynamic resource.

There is a book called “Your Body is Talking – Are you Listening?“, which was written by Dr. Art Martin. Dr. Martin (who by the way is not the black boot with yellow string guy as far as I know) is a little “out there”. He is. He promotes many ideas that the average person might find difficult to digest, and I am not promoting those ideas. However, he is a brilliant man. And his formula for affirmations is very powerful.

Basically there are three steps to creating a personal affirmation:

1) Identify the belief

2) Delete the old belief

3) Create a new belief

I have been using an affirmation with my son based on this formula. It is intended to help reprogram some of his deeply ingrained negative self-beliefs. Although this is not the actual affirmation that we use, it is a fair example of how one would sound. Here is that example:

When I was a baby
my mother did not feed me
I was tiny and helpless
I needed her
But she did not help me
I began to believe I was a bad baby
I began to believe I was not good enough
Sometimes I still feel like I’m that tiny, helpless baby
Sometimes I still feel like I’m never good enough
But that’s not true
I realize now that I was a good baby
It was not my fault that my mother did not help me
I realize now that I am a good boy
I can accomplish any goal I want
I am good enough
I have always been good enough
Today I am very powerful and healthy
Today I feel love for myself
I can feel love from my toes
all the way to my forehead
Because I love myself
Other people love me too
I am good enough
Today I love who I am

An affirmation like this should be repeated daily for 21 repetitions. That will allow the brain to begin to accept the new “program”. I challenge you to create one for yourself and see if you can stick with it for three weeks straight. Don’t forget, if you miss a day, you start all the way over at number 1! So be focused and be 100% committed to changing an old belief that has always bugged you about yourself. See if you can notice the difference at the end of the goal period. And check back with me and let me know how you did. And in the meantime, my son and I will be plugging away at our own.

“….and gosh darnit, people like me….”

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Soap Box | 4 Comments