The not so nice UN-Mindful Moments!

drawing too much ruminating w500
Has there been a time this last week when you were particularly UN-mindful?   There was for me – and I added to the moment by beating myself up about it – but if we become aware of the process and notice what happens then we can (SLOWLY) learn what not to do!
My parents are arriving tomorrow and in our end of the week Sunday house clean-up I suddenly noticed fingerprints, clutter & grime I normally wouldn’t even see…but suddenly I could see it and the more I cleaned the more I saw and before I knew it my mind was spinning with the need for perfection and thoughts of self-blame (why don’t I have a cleaner house? why don’t I clean more?) and blaming others (why can’t my kids be cleaner & tidier & have more respect for this house, why can’t my husband clean more?) and round and round my thoughts went as I got angrier & angrier and more and more tense (sound familiar??) until I was a bubbling cauldron on the inside….
I wasn’t even particularly aware of how I was adding fuel to the fire in my own mind until I exploded in anger over the smallest thing and my family looked at me like ‘you’re weird, what’s wrong with you?’
Then began the battle in my mind as part of me justified my level of anger and kept arguing and adding fuel to the fire (it can be so hard to stop the ruminating once your mind is on that treadmill!)while the other part of my mind was valiantly trying to calm me down but was also upset and disappointed that ‘there I go again, how long have you been doing this mindulness suff ? and you are completely undone by having visitors and doing some cleaning!!!’
So instead of helping myself to be calm and feel better I was just beating myself up for being so UN -mindful an making myself feel worse!! At this stage I was so caught up in the whirlwind in my head that I was completely unaware of anyone else or my environment!! And I was still cleaning furiously!!
Until finally something clicked and I was able to remember to breathe…and pause…and acknowledge this ruminating and internal debating isn’t getting me anywhere, in fact it’s making me feel worse! And to rapidly think well what else can I do? This is where all of my mindfulness practice comes in handy – the more you practice the more available it is in a crisis and my mind turned to gratitude. In fact I was clinging to it….hoping desperately it would save me!!
‘Thank you for this house, for this item of furniture, for the kids who are actually helping in this clean up- for my partner who is working hard cleaning, for my parents who are visiting, for the fact that I have been following my passion and that is why I haven’t had time for much cleaning’
And somehow this was enough to give me some space, some perspective and to see – ‘it’s OK if our house isn’t perfect’ and ‘it’s OK to have other priorities’, and ‘near enough is good enough!’ and then to be mindful of what just happened there? How I had completely lost my mind to an old pattern…?
It still took me awhile to calm down but through this process I was able to laugh about it and apologise to my family and feel calmer and more mindfu!! And hopefully each time it happens I learn a little bit more about the process and I become more mindful and use strategies earlier! I know in the old days I would have exploded but not even really be aware of the pattern and I would have felt justified and angry for hours… it’s nice to focus on the progress and not on how far I still have to go! 🙂
So when were you UNmindful? And are you willing to share?

Resilient Families Thriving Kids

Imagine if we could raise kids to be emotionally and socially aware and with life skills that mean they are resilient, confident, capable, creative and content with life.   Imagine if we could prepare children for adulthood, for school and the corporate world by the way we raise them in our homes. Imagine if we could reduce the rates of depression and anxiety and rage in our teenagers and young adults by teaching social and emotional life skills and raise their awareness of themselves and others in their community in order for them to thrive?

This is the aim with my new Resilient Families Thriving Kids Program that will be launched in June with my new look website at  This is following on from the success of the Raising Resilient Kids workshops I’ve been running in schools and will incorporate all my knowledge and skills I have collected in mindfulness, life coaching,  parenting programs and communication skills.

My mission is to empower all parents/carers/grandparents to create resilient families and raise thriving kids who are confident, resilient and content.

Research demonstrates that resilient families demonstrate the following factors (Greg Eells – link); social connection, flexible optimistic attitude, strong core values, emotional awareness and the ability to be silly / find the humour in a situation.  All of these factors are included in the Resilient Families Thriving Kids program.

The world is changing rapidly and there is a need to equip our kids with the skills to be creative and resilient so that they can thrive in a future we cannot yet foresee.

Parenting is more challenging than ever with the cyber world at kid’s fingertips and today’s world and childhood being extremely different to the childhood parent’s experienced approx 30 years ago.

Learning one small strategy can make a world of difference in a family’s life …. from little things big things grow…. We can change the culture within one family and from there make a difference to the communities we live in now and in the future.

All parents I have worked with have wanted the following life skills / values for their children when they reach adulthood:

  • happiness
  • good health
  • confidence
  • good communication skills
  • great relationships
  • empathy
  • independent
  • resilience
  • emotionally self-aware and intelligent
  • educated
  • fulfilling job
  • kind and caring of others
  • respectful of themselves and others
  • contributing to the community
  • values – knowing right from wrong
  • positive outlook on life
  • good at conflict resolution / solving problems

It can be mind boggling to know how to achieve all of this in the chaos and busyness of everyday parenting. Resilient Families Thriving Kids incorporates strategies to achieve these life skills and values long term.

I teach and coach parents/carers/staff from all walks of life how to role model and teach their children/teens how to:

  1. Communicate effectively with siblings, parents & peers
  2. Problem solve creatively
  3. Understand and safely process their emotions
  4. Cultivate positive life skills, qualities and values
  5. Be present to the joyful /golden moments in everyday life
  6. Contribute to their community in a purposeful & meaningful way

Contented, resilient parents = contented resilient children.

I work from a solutions focussed and strengths based approach. I have found by teaching families about resilience, emotions, social skills and problem solving parents are empowered to make changes to their parenting and find win:win solutions to any behavioural issues they have been experiencing at home while continuously working to the long term goal of helping their kids to thrive now and in the future.

The content in the Resilient Families Thriving Kids Programme is based on the latest neuroscience and mindfulness research. It is strongly influenced by evidence based programmes that I have been trained in and facilitated including ACT Mindfully, MindUp, Bringing Up Great Kids, Positive Discipline, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen. These programs and Resilient Families Thriving Kids draw on the research of experts such as Dan Siegel & Brene Brown (link to resources page).

The Resilient Families Thriving Kids Program complements all Social & Emotional Learning programmes in school curriculums such as CASEL, Friendly Schools, Kids Matter & MindUp. The program is also beneficial to all professionals who work with families such as teachers, carers, educators, case workers. It can also be tailored to suit your school, preschool or organisation.

The Resilient Families Thriving Kids Program empowers parents to role model and teach kids how to be:

  • Compassionate
  • Content
  • Confident
  • Connected
  • Communicative
  • Creative
  • Caring
  • Capable &
  • Contributing to their community


And is organised in 6 easy to learn modules:

  1. Understand emotions and process them safely
  2. Effective communication & connection with others
  3. Win : Win Creative Problem Solving & Conflict Resolution
  4. Cultivate positive life enhancing qualities
  5. Learn how to be in the present moment and have fun, rest, play (offline!)
  6. Contribute to the community in a meaningful and purposeful way

The Resilient Families Thriving Kids Program is delivered through workshops and / or an online group coaching program online  as well as through 1:1 parent coaching via skype or in person.   The program supports parents to learn the skills and knowledge to adapt to their own lives and improve their own well-being as well as to teach those skills to their children.

Can’t wait!!

Mindful Decluttering – Does it spark your joy?

Physical, Emotional & Mental Decluttering
Thank you Kareen for introducing me to Marie Kondo and her ‘does this spark your joy?’ technique for decluttering (
I was a bit sceptical and didn’t think I had time to declutter – but simply asking ‘does this spark my joy?’ has helped me to declutter clothes, and junk collecting areas of my house and actually get me to unpack some removalist boxes that have sat unpacked for 2 years!!
In coaching there is often talk about when you physically declutter your life then you begin to menatlly and emotionally declutter your life? Again I was sceptical but have found this to be true! Sometimes you have to live it to believe it! Not only have corners of my house become decluttered (still a few corners to go!) but also my life is becoming decluttered – all because I am asking the question of ‘does this spark my joy?’. The answer is always a clear YES….or it seems so far, a clear NO – and then it makes the decision easier to decide for example what exercise to do that week, what programs to run at your work, what friends you want to spend more time with, what holidays you want to book…how you want to spend more of your day..
It’s amazing how the universe works as I was going through this process when I read a review this weekend on a new book inspired by Marie Kondo – it’s by Sarah Knight and it’s called The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A ______: How To Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have With People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want To Do. An extreme title of teh book – but it seems it is all about organising your mental clutter into things, work, friends & family – and working out what is sparking your joy – and doing more of that! Great if you are a people pleaser and find it hard to say No and find yourself putting every body else’s need first!
So what can you do this week that sparks your joy? And what can you say no to – so that in essence you are looking after yourself and you can feel a little calmer and healthier inside?

Big Feelings – and how to deal with them?

How To Talk book cover 2012

I recently received this post in my How To Talk So Kids Will Listen 2016 group (currently closed to new members – new coaching programmes coming out soon on – stay tuned)

‘I feel a bit at my wits end with H (3.5) at the moment. Very defiant and rude and yelling at me etc.? I just get down on his level and try to empathise and wait it out. However this is so hard with a 6 month old too.
He’s great with words and after will tell me “I had big feelings or I was So frustrated I just yelled” But after an hour it’s hard to remain chipper. I’m just so tired by this time of night from keeping my composure etc’ M.

Below is my  reply – but so many parents myself included struggle with this – showing empathy and validating emotion but not knowing how to move on!  I thought there might be some strategies there for you to try too?

‘Hi M. – I know what you mean – especially if the big feeling is directed angrily at you, it is exhausting to be patient and show empathy 🙂 For me, each kid and age and stage have been different with how it works best to respond to their big feelings. I like the approach by Dan Siegel (The Whole Brain Child)– he says to empathise and allow feelings – and to help kids know how to process and move through them and his great advice is to get kids moving… This works for all my kids, but especially my boys – and for me too really!

So when overcome with a big feeling, 9/10, flipping the lid, reaction – it can feel really scary and overwhelming. By going for a walk, running, jumping 20x, racing out to the back fence and back – this can help to engage the ‘brake’ (mindfulness) part of the brain to help to dissipate the emotion enough to be able to make some good choices about what is needed… (for you and for them).   This isn’t distraction – as you still validate the emotion – instead it is teaching them a life skill;  when overwhlemed – move & make choices and decisions later.

I would usually discuss with kids when they are calm, ‘what will we do when there’s a big feeling?’ They may have one thing they do – or they may have several (you can put pictures up on the fridge). Then in the heat of the moment – if they choose not to do any of those agreed things – you role model it – by saying:  ‘ no worries, I can see you are sooo mad, I’m feeling (X) too – so I think I’ll run out to the clothesline and back (or whatever you have agreed on!) – come and join me when you are ready.’

This way too you are validating feelings, role modeling how to deal with them but also showing that your feelings are important too. That is the firm bit of kind & firm (Kind & Firm video  )– respect for yourself, for others & for situation.

So it is great to teach kids I’ll validate your emotions, but if the anger is directed at me I can only listen for a short time – and then I need to do something to calm me down. It’s been great for me to build that understanding (slowly) in our house – that we all need to go and do what works for us to calm down – before we can then talk about it… (Video on Big Feelings: )

I know for me personally – I have sometimes sat and stewed on an emotion and felt worse…but if I go for a drive or go for a walk or go outside I begin to feel better – and then solutions come. My friend once had her daughter at age 6 do the worst hysterical tantrum she had ever seen – at a beautiful serene hotel pool adn she was dumbstruck – couldn’t think of anything to say or do and then remembered Dan Siegel’s ‘MOVE” – so grabbed her hand and said ‘Mia lets run!!!’ It took two whole blocks before she felt the softening and the ending of the tears and then she could give her a hug and have a chat about the scenario. I love that story!

When we go camping, or to stay with others, – I still say to my kids – ‘what are you going to do if you feel overwhelmed and get really angry with someone – what is our agreed plan?’ In the past we have picked the ‘fighting’ tree – ‘if you want to fight with eachother you need to take it to the tree’ – 9/10 times – just the mere act of walking to the tree helps to calm the situation and for them to decide to come back! Harder with younger kids – but generally if you walk to the tree – you feel better and they follow?

Sorry to write so much but to me it has been the biggest issue to get my head around! What do you think, will any of this work? 🙂 Sara

It was great to receive M’s reply:

‘Thank you so much!! I will definitely get into this. I love the Move idea! I always have tried to yell into a pillow to show him that’s how I get frustrated.
I will love to try this with him to see if I can get in there in the moment he is so enraged.. If not right then I can talk to him afterward about doing it next time to see if it makes up feel better.
Thank you so so much for your guidance and words ❤️❤️❤️’

What do you think?  Anything helpful there to help you or your child when experiencing a big feeling?

Cheers, Sara 🙂


So the beautiful thing (for me) about mindfulness is that it’s not just about being mindful and curious about what’s happening in the present moment (non-judgementally). It is also about cultivating those qualities you would like to see more of in your life – optimism, resilience, compassion etc.

forgiveness  Picture from

One of the most powerful practices that I have come across is to consciously focus on forgiveness. As Denise Duffield-Thomas says ‘Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with giving yourself permission to be worthy of love and forgiveness yourself.’

Denise suggests saying to yourself quietly something as simple as ‘I forgive you. I’m sorry. I love you.’ These three statements are about offering forgiveness, acknowledging that on some level you may have contributed to the issue and an offering of love/kindness. You could change it to ‘I forgive you. I’m sorry for…… And I’m sending some love/kindness.’

This is a great exercise when you find yourself ruminating on how someone has hurt you / slighted you – when instead you can choose to activate your brain towards a more positive pathway. And in my experience, with regular practice, there is often a softening inside – and at times a shift in the relationship – yet all you have done is this small exercise.

The act of forgiving is like any skill – it takes practice – so start with something small and practice – save the heavy duty / difficult stuff for later. If you want to you can find specific recorded meditations that just do forgiveness just like this one by Tara Brach

but it doesn’t need to be a meditation – it can be just a few words you say to yourself whenever you find yourself spiralling in your thinking to thinking negatively of yourself or others.

My favourite practice that I have used for almost two years now is to say to myself 3x:
‘I forgive you
I forgive me
I only send you love and light
We are both free
It is done. it is done. it is done.’

Try it this week – even just for little irritations at work or at home – instead of holding on to them – just say these simple phrases and see how it feels – remember it is an experiment- there is no guaranteed outcome – you are just seeing for yourself if it works. And it needs to be a practice – like learning guitar – it takes time for it to come easily!

Let me know how you go? 🙂 Sara