Bittersweet Endings & New Beginnings

2001 6

From this in 2000

This time of year is always a great time to reflect on endings and beginnings…I love that pause between the 2 years…..hopefully with a holiday, so there is time for rest, recharging, recovering, reflection & fingers crossed, relaxation, before a New Year fully begins!

This year, though, is a HUGE transition for me, as my 18-year-old son, my eldest, prepares to leave home to study at University!

I guess it’s not surprising that if I found the transition to becoming a Mum hard and an emotional rollercoaster…then maybe the transition to being a Mum of a nearly independent adult, leaving home, will also be a roller coaster too?

They say the more you do your mindfulness practice the more intensely you feel emotions (I can attest to that!) but the more quickly they pass through you (here’s hoping!)

I am surprised at the depth of my emotions….as yet hardly untapped….I’m sure that will come when there is more time to reflect!   I remember reading that every change, every transition, even the joyful ones, can bring some grief…some sadness too.

My friend, Kerrin, used to use the word ‘bittersweet’ to describe those parenting moments when your child makes a leap of development or independence… and you experience a rush of pride and joy and a little sadness that they are growing up too!

I’m sure for each of us parents those moments are different! I felt it when I gave away the cot, the pram, the backpack (but not the highchairs or car seats!!), the first day of primary school, the first day of high school, getting the drivers licence, last day of high school and now here we are, facing leaving home and starting at Uni – WOW!How did that happen?

Such a weird time distortion….all those days as a Mum of a young baby when time ticked very slowly…and each day felt the same…..and now here I am, 18 years later, wondering where that time went? It seems to have gone in the blink of an eye! Did I enjoy and appreciate that time enough? Have I passed on enough teachings, enough values, enough love?

I remember as I held George as a baby, while camping and not coping at all with the sleep deprivation, a woman in her late 50’s came up to me with tears in her eyes and said those are the best years of your life!‘  I wanted to throttle her and cry at the same time!!

Yet I am forever grateful at that reminder to be present to what is here….as very quickly it will change!

Now I find myself looking at Mums with toddlers, and I have rose coloured glasses on thinking aaaaaaahhhhh forgetting that, here too, right now,  are my just as precious years with teenagers and an almost independent adult…  This time too needs to be appreciated, I need to be present…..and soak up this time before it too, quickly goes!

So the next question is how to mark this transition for my son and for me…what rituals and rites of passage can I do to make the transition easier? How can I celebrate such a moment and also allow myself to grieve a little at this new transition? I look forward to pondering that over the Christmas & New Year break!

I wish you and your family a relaxing, recharging and restful break and I hope you get a chance to reflect on any transitions coming up for you, whether it is a child starting or finishing school, whether it is a new job or returning to work?  I’d love to hear your ideas of how you are going to mark that transition and celebrate and grieve any new changes/rites of passage coming your way!  And I’m wondering how you can stay present within those changes and appreciate what is there, no matter what the emotion?  Therein lies the challenge!

The best years of your life are now!?

Best wishes for a mindful start to 2018  x Sara 🙂

Georges last day of school 2017

To this in 2017….

Get Ready for the Holidays…

Get Ready for the Holidays with a Stress Reducing Morning Routine

Guest Blog by  Daniel Sherwin at DadSolo.com

Everyone knows that the holidays can be stressful. However, there are ways to prepare for the season that will help you to enjoy it more. One way to do the holidays right is to create a morning routine that helps get you out the door with as little chaos as possible. Here’s how:

Solo Dad Pic

Image Source: DadSolo.com

Additional Holiday Morning Routine Resources:

  1. Prep the night before and other tips on how to establish a morning routine for kids that actually works
  2. Easy and effective home organization tips
  3. De-stress your morning routine tips
  4. Breakfast to go and other secrets to getting the kids to school on time
  5. Get plenty of sleep and other tips on how to establish a morning routine for kids that actually works
  6. Play music (Revolutionary morning routine hack for kids)

Now that you have a plan for your mornings, you can be ready for whatever the day has for you. You can enjoy the upcoming holidays knowing that you and the kids are good to go.

Understanding meltdowns and how we can calm ourselves & our kids down…

 

For me understanding how our brain processes emotions, the triggers for the fight, flight or freeze responses in myself and in my kids has transformed my life!  I have also seen it transform many parents lives in coaching or in workshops as they understand that their child’s emotional brain is still developing and the ability to put the ‘brakes’ on is not yet mature.

Once we understand how the brain works – (in video above with this model of the Brain In the Hand by Dan Siegel) then we can begin to understand our own emotions and understand our child’s emotions.  What is the first sign for you that you are getting annoyed / irritated?  What is the first sign in your child?  What about for nervousness and excitement?  The Emotional Thermometer (in video below) is one of the best tools for developing awareness and understanding of emotions – a very important part of emotional intelligence.

Once we have this understanding and our kids have this understanding then we can begin to learn some mindful calming strategies – from simple 10 second activities to longer 5-10 minute activities suitable for young and old!

If you would like to learn more on the emotions and on calming strategies check out the NEW Understanding Emotions Online Course with short videos that you can access in your own time at your own pace and begin learning the skills needed to teach yourself and your children how to regulate emotions.

Which tool would be helpful in your house – the Flipping The Lid Brain in the hand model or the Emotional Thermometer?

The reality of school mornings (sigh!) and the need to breathe…

I’m wondering what mornings are like at your house? Yesterday was an absolute classic – with my twins (and me!) getting used to a new bus routine and earlier start time…for high-school.  With lots of opportunities to practice (sometimes without success!) mindful breathing!

breathe-stressed-mum

 

I began by meditating on my balcony, calming my mind and preparing myself for a peaceful Monday morning… (I can do this now my kids are older!)

I walk back into the house to find two kids still fast asleep despite the bus leaving in 40 minutes…
I wake them gently, calmly, glad I meditated..
I make 4 sandwiches virtuously – this is unusual for me as normally the kids help themselves to the lunch ingredients so less food is wasted…
So far so good,

Phil leaves early for work and all is well…
Someone yells there is no hot water – thank goodness it is a hot day and I make a mental note to get that fixed, but not to worry about it now, or even this week!

Kids groan and complain that there is no cereal despite there being 4 open boxes of different varieties on the bench – turns out that even though they went to Coles with their Dad on the weekend no one bought the cereal they like?

I breathe and begin to braid my daughters hair, a special request

Then youngest son takes too long in the shower, eldest son grumpy and yelling, youngest son calls out for a towel, no-one helps, I yell ‘you’ll have to get your own towel’ but in his wisdom he hops back into shower!

Eldest son gets louder and grumpier, and thumps on bathroom door!

I knock on door and shout loudly about 2 more people needing to still have a shower, the need to save water etc – and the door opens – he has found a towel in the bathroom (there all along!) and is now getting out…I loudly suggest please never have two showers in a row again!!!
I breathe but teeth gritted, calmness is evapourating…
I remember I’m out of my toasted muesli and unwisely I begin making this…
Then remember orthodontist appt for two children at lunch time and search frantically for paper and pen to write school notes and realise I will have to reorganise my whole entire day to fit this appt in… and cancel yoga 😦

I breathe…

Then I find youngest son, sitting in wet towel at the computer with 7 minutes to go until the bus leaves….I am no longer calm, I deliver an exploding lecture, I unplug computer in a rage…

And then I remember to breathe…

Two kids leave in good time to catch the bus, but I remember I haven’t said goodbye to one so shout out ‘fond’ farewell from front door that neighbours could hear!! And send a virtual hug!
Youngest son comes upstairs breathless, seemingly dressed, we hug, he thanks me for lunch, all is forgiven, I hug him tight and wish him well.
He races up to the bus…fingers crossed he’ll catch it.

I realise I have overcooked the muesli but it’s saved in the nick of time, thank goodness
Eldest son leaves on his bike, showered and peaceful, again thank goodness.

I breathe…
And I turn to face a tsunami of lunch / brekky stuff left out on the bench, discover the bathroom has been flooded from the earlier shenannigans and clothes are left everywhere…

and it’s only 8:08am!!!

I sigh, I breathe, I feel like going back to bed or at least meditating again to regain some of that calm but instead the day begins and I breathe and breathe and breathe as I regain some order both inside and out…

Phew!!

Anyone else have something similar happen at the start of the school or preschool year??

Finding Self-Compassion

Small changes seem to bring BIG changes if we can just persist and practice enough…

It is amazing to me when things start settling in – first we understand a concept with our minds, and then over time as we practice,  we understand it deeply with our hearts – and then the real change happens…   In my experience real change happens faster when we involve the right side of our brain and our subconscious and art journal / sketch / doodle responses and bring in visualisations / meditations.  Slowly for me have I been learning self-compassion…

self-compassion-book

I’ve been lucky this year to do Brene Brown’s Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course and Kristin Neff & Brene Brown’s Self-Compassion course- both online:  http://www.courageworks.com/shop/classes/self-compassion-with-kristin-neff-brene-brown and Tara Brach & Jack Kornfiled’s incredibly in depth Power Of Awareness online mindfulness course http://www.soundstrue.com/store/power-of-awareness where self-compassion is a key component…

We all have that inner critic, that war within ourselves…sometimes without us even being aware of it. The expectations we place on ourselves can be unrealistic and unachievable and we can be constantly beating ourselves up for not being better, perfect…

When I find myself getting highly critical of my loved ones then I know I’m being even more critical of myself!  Kristin Neff talks about how we are so much kinder and more compassionate to a best friend or child than we are to ourselves in the same situation yet it is very hard to express authentic compassion to others if we cannot express it to ourselves.

For me the journey of reducing this intense self-criticism began when I first became a Mum almost 18 years ago and had post natal depression.   I needed to let go of the ‘perfect’ should messages and give myself permission to have a messy house, look messy and have a messy garden and be tired and grumpy sometimes!   Since then it’s like I’ve needed to peel back the layers – uncovering other aspects of being too harsh on myself that I didn’t even know were there!

In the Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course a powerful exercise is to find photos of your younger self and write down messages of self-compassion…it was very healing to find teenage photos and remember all of the angst and instead write with empathy, understanding, kindness and gentleness…as you would to your own child who is struggling.

Then in Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion course I learned that there are 3 core components to self-compassion:

  1. Mindfully notice that you are at war with yourself
  2. Realise our common humanity – we are ALL imperfect, we are all struggling on some level, we are all on a journey
  3. Offer words of kindness, and explore how to actively nurture yourself…

If you think about it this is what we would offer a friend or a child – we would

  1. Notice they are struggling
  2. Empathise and offer that reassurance – ‘it can be difficult’
  3. Offer words of kindness and give a little nurturing

As Brene Brown puts it when we are truly compassionate for another human being it brings out our best selves – yet often the same scenario for ourselves and we treat ourselves worse than anyone else!!  We would never say to someone else what can go through our own minds!

So I have been art journaling and reading and meditating on this topic for a few months now…practicing….and then just recently I was at war with myself.   I had good intentions to change my life for the better but my inner critic was LOUDLY saying ‘give up, it’s not worth it, you don’t have the will power, you’re not strong enough’ And the debate in my head was so unpleasant I wanted to give up JUST to silence the inner critic.

But then I remembered – self-compassion! I noticed and labelled what was going on….’I’m at war with myself’ – just doing that made it a little easier to breathe…then I was able to place my hand over my heart and breathe into the feeling and recognise…’gee it’s tough sometimes to be human, to have all these choices, to make a change for better’….then I remembered times in my past where it has taken at least a year to make one small change to the point that I can easily do it daily … and I was able to offer some kind reassuring words…

And just that small moment – resonated through my life to be a BIG shift – all week it was easier to make the change, all week I was kinder to myself…  So it took awhile for the info to go from head level to heart level but when it did – it was a beautiful moment!

I’m wondering if you have experienced something similar?  Or if you would like more self-compassion in your life?

I’m excited that we’ll be reading and discussing Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff as part of our online Mindfulness Book Club in February 2017.   We’ll also practice some self-compassion exercises and if you live in Port Macquarie then we’ll meet in person to discuss and practice… I’m really looking forward to it!

self-compassion-mindfulness-book-club

More Info: https://www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/mindfulness-book-club

or you can join us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/littlemindfulmomentsbookclub/