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What It’s Been Like to Meditate Every Single Day for 15 Years

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Me and my husband with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, in Melbourne, 2009

I guess you can say that I’m addicted to feeling good.

I understand that doing anything extracurricular for 15 years every day, sounds freakish and unattainable. Although… I never actually set out to ‘achieve‘ anything other than peace of mind.

I was 19 years old, and in my second year at Salisbury University, living on campus. Everyone kept talking about this cute guy who taught the yoga club every week and that I ought to come and try it. A few months later, and I was DATING the yoga instructor and also going to his classes. He told me that in a few weeks, someone named Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, was coming to New York City, and that we needed to go see him. It wasn’t hard to convince me to go on a road trip to NYC, so I skipped my afternoon classes, and we drove from Maryland to New Jersey and hopped on the train into the city.

It was January, 2002, and Sri Sri was giving the talk somewhere in a hall in midtown Manhattan (?). I forget where exactly. We arrived late, but the lady at the door said it didn’t matter, as long as we got there in time for the meditation. There were a few hundred people there and we squeezed into some empty seats way up in the second floor balcony seating. From where I was sitting, I noticed that Sri Sri was Indian and dressed in a white robe. He had this sing-song voice and people were all bowing down to him. All I could think was, “What the HELL is going on?!” Keep in mind, I came from a small town in New Jersey. Very white. Very ‘normal‘. Nothing exotic. Ever. Sri Sri was giving a talk, of which, I recall not a single word, when he asked everyone to close their eyes for a meditation.

I tried it.

It was amazing.

I had never experienced anything like it in my whole entire life! All at once, I could ‘feel‘ everyone in the world. Everyone’s joy. Everyone’s suffering. Everyone’s everything… It was surreal. It was like the biggest drug trip ever… except, there were no drugs. I had found something! And, I hadn’t even been looking for anything to begin with.

All was quiet and I sort of forgot about the meditation thing, until a few months later, my boyfriend told me he was organising this program called the Art of Living course (now called the Happiness Program), a course that was designed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It cost money. I didn’t want to do it. To make matters complicated, my boyfriend’s ex-girlfried was helping to organise the course. Awkward… So, I came up with every excuse I could find to not do the course. Not enough time. Not enough money… But, eventually, I ran out of excuses and decided to just sign up.

I can’t remember much from the course, except that the teacher who came, was from somewhere out west, and he was really good looking, and that, most importantly, we learned this breathing technique and meditaiton that was out of this world. It was something that I could do every day, by myself.

The day after the course was over, I found a secluded spot in this secret garden part of the campus, early in the morning, and did my breathing. I was too embarrassed to do it in my dorm room with my roommates watching. You may not recall, but 15 years ago, not everyone was doing yoga and meditation. It was still something for the nutters. I felt really self conscious out there, like someone was going to catch me! But, I was willing to take my chances because that breathing and meditation had just been too good. For six months, I did my breathing and meditation every day. I found lots of new places to do it and that summer, I went to Washington state to teach at a summer sailing camp on this beautiful island in the Puget Sound.

The place was magical where I was staying, there were no people around, only me, in this this huge empty house, in the middle of nowhere, overlooking the water (the owners had gone cruising for the summer). I spent the summer this way, meditating before and after work. Doing lots of yoga too. This was also the summer that I stopped drinking alcohol and smoking pot. After so many months of purifying, I had a beer… it made me feel like total crap. I decided I would never drink again. The same happened when someone offered me a joint. Never again.

That autumn, I was back at uni. I didn’t have time to do my breathing and meditation one morning. The morning rolled on, and by lunch time, I was feeling a little… fuzzy… I couldn’t think so clearly. Then it hit me that I hadn’t done that breathing and meditation thingo and decided to go straight home before lunch so that I could do it. After I was finished, I felt so fresh again. It was then that I realised that I had learned something REALLY precious and that I needed to keep doing this. Every day. No matter what.

And, that was pretty much all it took. I’ve never missed a day since the day I learned how to do it. That includes days I’ve been too sick to leave bed. Days I’ve had to wake up at 3am to travel. Days I’ve done NOTHING but travel (planes are great places to meditate). Days of boyfriend break ups and days of enormous stress (the yoga instructor and I never worked out). Graduations. Days I’ve worked from dawn til dusk. Days I’ve given BIRTH. And, all seven + years of me being a mother. I’ve never missed a day.

Nobody told me to not miss a day. It became sort of like taking a shower and brushing my teeth. Mental hygiene. Although… I’m pretty sure I’ve skipped some showers in the past 15 years… but never skipped my meditation. Priorities folks.

Do I still get angry?

Yes.

Stressed?

Yes.

Make mistakes?

Yes.

Do I worry?

Yes.

But, the anger doesn’t last as long. The stress is less intense. The mistakes are less stupid. The worry quickly dissolves.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed, especially after having three kids, is that I tire less easily and experience less burn out. I’m able to relax more easily and be more in tune with my kids. My intuition works better because when the mind is less clouded by stress, your thought process is more clear. I have more patience. I have less fear. I’m happier.

As the years have gone by, I feel my meditation practice is the one thing that I own. Anywhere. Any time. (ok, almost anywhere and anytime) I can close my eyes, and I’m there. I don’t need anything to do it. In fact, quite the opposite. I can literally drop EVERYTHING and do it.

Even if it’s 10 minutes before bed. Or, if right in the middle of my meditation, a voice yells out “Mom, I’m done, will you wipe me?!” It’s still worth it. Even if it cuts into my time of doing other things, it’s always worth it. Even if all it seems like I’m doing is ‘thinking‘ while I close my eyes, it’s worth it. Yes, even 15 years later, I still have meditations that seem to suck… although in reality, no meditation sucks. You can’t judge how good your meditation was by the experience you had. When people say they can’t meditate because they can’t stop thinking… well… it happens to the best of us some days, so don’t worry.

Daily meditation is like an umbrella. What ever garbage comes flying down around me, I’m safe.  Sure, I have days, weeks, maybe even months when I might be down in the dumps, but in general, with daily meditation, I have less days like that. I have more days of fun. Less days of worry. More days of health. Less days of stress. It’s something I hope to be doing for the next 15 years of my life.

Anger is Wasted On Children

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The kitchen renovation was the reason for most of it. Work, the full moon and the icing on the cake was when my 7 year old acquired new sassy back chat antics from hanging out with some friends. Her ‘new‘ attitude pushed me over the limit. I got angry. REALLY ANGRY! And, for days too! I did stuff I normally don’t do, like take away their toys and threaten that we wouldn’t go do the fun stuff they like to do, etc. Some people get angry more easily than others. I am one of those people!

Did my anger make them cooperate more?

Nope.

It was such a waste! And, I knowwwww better! But, that old record player somehow took over. That voice in your head that REACTS instead of responds.

After a few days of me being angry, and it getting me nowhere, I was ready to give up! Give up on what exactly… I’m not sure. But GIVE UP! And, I was sure that if I gave up and stopped being angry, that my children would walk all over me for the rest of my life.

I told them we were GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE (capital letters for my tone of voice), for a walk. They skipped ahead of me, laughing and blabbering away. We had just had a yelling/crying match a few minutes ago, and here they were oblivious to the fact that my mind was still reeling! I laughed at myself.

My anger meant nothing to them. It was not their anger and they would rather not have any part of it. At the moment of my epiphany, I took out my phone to take a picture of them walking down the path. When they saw me pull out the phone, they stuck out their butts, as if to rub it in my face that their joy had triumphed over my anger. The baby locked eyes with me and drooled. Awww….

Kids live in the present moment. Anger, to them, lasts for less time than it takes for a tear to dry. An adult’s anger doesn’t teacher a child ANYTHING worthwhile. An adult’s anger only confuses, creates fear and causes disconnect, which causes MORE undesirable behavior. A child who laughs at an adult’s anger is actually expressing fear. You might have experienced this and it’s infuriating! The more angry you get, the more they laugh and giggle! This happens because it’s too painful for children to bear the anger. It makes them scared. And, laughter is the antidote for fear.

I could see where if you didn’t know any other way of getting kids to cooperate, you would think that you needed to get more serious about your anger towards a child in order to get her to cooperate. But, it just doesn’t work!

Tonight, for about half an hour, we sat and played the silliest game of Snap. We were cheating and lying and laughing and laughing. Kids RESPOND to laughter. They RESPOND to fairness and silliness. It was only me. It was ALL me! As soon as my attitude changed, they were back to ‘normal‘. After the game, I quickly brushed their teeth and they fell asleep, without a complaint and with their total cooperation. Without a worry. Without any fear. Their cups were full. They were happy to have me back. And, I was happy to be back too!

Luckily, kids live in the present moment, so they’ll easily forget about the turd I was to them for a couple days.

To get more ideas on how to use play to get more cooperation from your children, I highly recommend reading the book, “Attachment Play” by Aletha Solter. 

Don’t Sit a Baby Up? Natural Gross Motor Skill Development in Babies

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Baby #1, sitting with no way to get back up if she fell.

Without a second thought, I used to prop my first baby up, and by about 5 1/2 months old, she was sitting well. She would sit there and happily play with her toys. I would build a circle of cushions around her, in case she toppled over (which she often did). I was proud that she could sit so early and used to compare her with other babies who were ‘late sitters’.

While she was happy to sit and play, she didn’t crawl until she was about 9 months old and if I recall correctly, she couldn’t push herself into a seated position until about 9 1/2 months. You see, tummy time and independent play virtually stopped when she was able to sit, because she seemed so content to view the world from a new perspective. But, she could ONLY sit if I placed her in that position… and she could ONLY play with the toys I placed in front of her.

It was my second daughter, Goldie, who really taught me about the natural progression of gross motor skills in babies. She absolutely would not let me prop her up. If I tried to, she would slump over and slither onto her belly, where she felt confident and safe. At 7 months, she learned to crawl and to sit at the same time, but only because it was then that she had learned the skill to do so.

My friend from Germany was visiting when Goldie was going through that developmental phase and I mentioned to her that I thought Goldie was a ‘late sitter’. She then told me about the natural development of gross motor skills in babies and why sitting before crawling (or creeping) is actually sort of backwards. Babies should be able to push themselves up to sitting before they can truly sit.

My son is 7 months old at the time of writing this and no way can I prop him up. If I try to, his breathing gets all funny and he slumps over on purpose to get to safety (the floor). He started proficiently commando crawling at six months, and he can pretty much get to anywhere he wants. He stays busy for a long time creeping around the room and hardly needs any help from anyone. But, he still does not sit.

My son, exploring freely, at the same age, without needing much help.

What Does it Mean in the Long Run?

I’ve only read what others have said and I’ve observed my own children and their gross motor development. Please note, I am not an expert on infant development, and we all know how very different every child is! My older daughter is now 7 and the younger one is almost 5. Do I notice a difference in their gross motor skills now? Not really. But, I do notice a difference in the way they acquire new skills and in the way they play.

In general, pushing babies to sit before they’re ready is probably just one thing of many that parents get their children to do before the child is developmentally ready. I’ve pushed my older daughter to do lots of things before she was developmentally ready! Getting her to sit early was just the beginning.

Confidence is another reason not to sit a baby up. If a baby falls, she can’t put herself back in that position. She gets upset and then you rush to come help her… you prop her back up and then she learns that maybe she can’t do it herself… I see this tendency a lot with my older daughter still! Although it’s less now that I don’t push her to do other things before she’s developmentally ready.

It could be purely coincidental, but, my middle child is much more confident in some ways. She will only try something once she knows she’s developmentally ready for it. And, you can’t talk her into doing ANYTHING! She is much better at independent play. Whereas, my older one always seems to need me to do stuff with her constantly… could it have been those months when my first was a baby and I was always sitting her up and bringing things to her? Could that have prevented her from naturally developing the skill to play confidently? I wonder…

Interestingly, my older daughter is always trying to get her baby brother to sit! Even though I never say that he needs to. It must be something stored in her consciousness from when she was a baby. The middle daughter, the one who learned to sit on her own, never tries to get him to sit.

Vestibular System

Young babies are developing what’s called their vestibular system. That system is a sensory system that has to do with balance, equilibrium, coordination, hand eye coordination, muscle tone, etc. Many people would say that by sitting a baby up, you’re interfering with the natural development of a baby’s vestibular system.

Sitting babies in ‘baby seats’, like bumbos and walkers seems to make life easier, but it’s best to let babies roll around on the floor. I used a bumbo seat a few times when my daughter was about 5 or 6 months old (pictured below) and I imagined how it would feel if I had been sitting in it myself and I realized it would have been very uncomfortable, the way you have to hold your neck and head up without having a strong core yet. And, the way her legs were sticking straight out, instead of folded in a sort of ‘seat’ underneath of her. I do use a bouncer now, sometimes, as it’s not always possible to let my son roll around. But as soon as my son started enjoying being on his tummy, I set him down on the floor much more than in the bouncer. Of course, there are times when he ‘sits’, usually in my lap, occasionally in the high chair, but I can tell that he doesn’t really like the high chair, because he starts to slump over. 

A little sidetracked, but totally related is babywearing and carrying your baby. Carrying your baby around has so many benefits, but a big one is that carrying your baby helps to strengthen a baby’s upper body muscles. When you walk around carrying a baby, it’s a vestibular motion that your baby experiences and he really has to hang on and learn to use his muscles. My mother told me that she used to manhandle us when we were newborns and sling us over her shoulder to get stuff done. And, we got strong really fast because of it!

I was trying to get a shot of how much of a big hot mess I looked like… but we sort of look cute.

So anyway, it’s not really the end of the world, but it’s something very interesting that many people don’t know about, or never question. Could it be that some babies prefer to sit before they crawl? Yes, probably. But, I think it’s good to know about the natural progression of a baby’s gross motor skills. I never questioned if I should prop a baby up, but when I heard about the reasons for not doing it, it instantly made sense to me!

4 Easy Steps to Raising Earth Conscious Kids

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The environmental impact of raising a child in a western country is like 10 times greater than raising a child in a developing nation (I’m not entirely sure on that statistic, but you know what I mean). Our kids eat more, they have more stuff, own more clothes, they waste more and travel more than kids ever have before. I personally know many people who have made the choice not to have children mainly because they feel guilty about the carbon footprint their offspring leave behind.

I’ve realized that teaching children to care for the environment goes beyond telling them to switch off the lights when they leave the room or taking shorter showers. It goes beyond using cloth nappies and toilet training early. It’s about creating long-term environmentally conscious citizens of the planet. Its about every one of us contributing to a solution.

1. Teach children about consumerism.

It’s nice to buy second hand toys and clothes, but tell kids why you’re doing it. Yes, you save money, but you’re also recycling! And, when you buy something new, where will it be in a week? A month? A year? Where did the thing you’re buying come from? Do you really need it? Was it made ethically or not? Who made it and in which country was it manufactured in? There’s some great topics of conversation here. What you’re doing in the long run is educating little conscious consumers by bringing up these questions. You don’t need to overwhelm kids and guilt trip them every time they want sometime. But, it’s good to raise their awareness.

2. Eat less meat and grow a veggie patch and buy local.

Kids are naturally curious about their food. The meat (and dairy) industry is estimated to contribute about 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Believe it or not, scientists say that the meat and dairy industry contributes more to global green house gasses than the automobile industry! Plus, there is a lot of waste produced by farming animals. Even people who reduced their consumption of meat, significantly reduced their carbon footprint. Eating vegetarian food is really easy these days. Our family is vegetarian and it’s really no biggie. Also, kids LOVE growing food. It’s not about being able to grow enough food to make it worthwhile, it’s more about planting the seed of consumer awareness. Even a small veggie patch can produce a lot of food. And, I’ve grown a lot on just my balcony. Or, see if your town has a community garden. Kids who play and work outside have a greater respect for the planet too.

3. Take up less ‘space’.

We’re a 5 person family and we live in a 2 bedroom apartment in a town. By living where we do, we take up less space and leave more space for wildlife and nature. We have less paved surface areas (like driveways) because we share our living space (our building) with 9 other families. I know not everyone is jumping up and down to squash their family into a small apartment, and many people already have their homes, but how much space do human beings really need? The dream always seem to be a bigger house. But, do we need a bigger house to fit everything? Or, maybe do we just need to get rid of some stuff we already have and we would fit comfortably in the space we’re already using.

4. Cultivate a sense of sharing and belongingness.

When my kids ask me for the last bite of my food, that I was looking forward to eating, I usually give it to them. Why? Because I want them to feel like ‘what’s mine is yours’. When they’re about to finish the last cookie, they’ve learned to first ask everyone if it’s ok if they have the last one, and if not, they break it into pieces to share. Of course, it doesn’t always happen as beautifully as that, but that’s general idea. When we see a piece of trash on the beach, we pick it up. If there’s a community service clean-up project we can get involved with, we sign up. If we see someone who needs help, we stop to see what we can do.

Sharing and belonging are what every human being craves in this world. We all want connection and understanding. We all want to know that we are all sharing the same responsibilities. Caring for the environment starts with that feeling of belonging to the whole world and to all the people who live here! If kids are raised with a sense of connection and belonging, there’s no way they can grow up to trash the planet.

7 Reasons Why I Won’t Be Celebrating Earth Day Until 2027

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I started writing this informative Earth Day post on how it’s easy to teach your kids to be eco friendly. It’s easy, I was writing, all you have to do are a few simple things to help reduce you and your children’s carbon foot print!

Eat less meat, turn the tap off… teach your children about consumerism.

Then, this morning, my 4 1/2 year old asked me for *the* fluffy dress from H&M. We saw *the* fluffy orange dress about 8 months ago, and she still remembers it. I told her, “But, you already have like 10 fluffy dresses… your dress-up drawer doesn’t even close! Why do you need another one?!” I took down the globe and I explained to her about the consumer chain of production. Where do the raw materials come from? Who makes the dress? How does it get to Australia? I took about 3 minutes to explain it, and she listened attentively. Then, she replied, “I still want the dress.”

What a joke. So, here’s seven reasons why I won’t be celebrating Earth Day until my son, who is a baby, is at least 10 years old.

  1. My kids stand in front of the open fridge for at least 18 minutes a day.
    You think I haven’t told them to close the fridge a hundred times? No, that’s right, because I’ve told them a thousand times.
  2. They take showers with both the hot and cold water running full blast.
    I’ve explained it before, yes, the water pressure is great when you do that… but who’s going to pay for the hot water?! ME AND MOTHER EARRRRTTTTHHHH!!!!
  3. Children are reckless consumers. 
    They want Elsa dresses, even though they already have at least 7. They want the sheet of ten stickers that are in a package the size of a cereal box because it looks big! They want the crappy plastic crap thing that I tell them will be in the garbage in a month… just because they want it. There’s no reasoning with maniacs.
  4. Going to the shops = Buying SOMETHING
    They don’t care what it is, but they have to buy something. ANYTHING! You cannot leave empty handed (of course we do most of the time). And heaven forbid the other one gets something and they don’t. I know you’re sitting there thinking that it’s my fault because I trained them to be this way. But, I promise, pinky swear, I’ve done everything I could to make them conscious consumers. But, it’s this force deep within them… THEY NEED SOMETHING! My 7 year old is sort of starting to get it… sort of…
  5. They waste food.
    Babies and toddlers especially. The baby literally throws food on the floor… at least when I forget to pick it up, he gets it later when he’s commando crawling around. Let’s not forget when they beg to put extra soy sauce on their food, then won’t finish their plate. I try to salvage the food and eat it myself, while my taste buds are burning from excess salt, trying to ignore the fact that they’ve made the food completely inedible. I’m doing it for you, Mother Earth *fist bump*. The thermos I found from last week, full of food and the leftovers I had to throw away because I forgot to put them away at night while I was wrangling kids to bed… I’m sorry Mother Earth.
  6. Disposables, Cloth and Laundry
    I thought having an extra child would mean that the amount of clothing I wash would only go up by 1/3. But, actually, the amount of washing I do has quadrupled. Scientists haven’t figured this one out yet. And even though I actually take my babies to the toilet (it’s called elimination communication), I still have to do a load of cloth nappies, plus all the other dirty, slobbery, food laden, baby vomit drenched clothes and sheets, every day. When I get tired of washing cloth nappies, I have the stash of disposables… which gets thrown away and stays underground for the next 5,000 years. Toilet training them early helps, yes… but I still couldn’t look my boss in the eyes, when she once told me that she decided not to have kids because of their environmental impact…
  7. The Boogie Man
    My kids leave the lights on in the other room at night because *IF* they have to go into that room, they need the lights to be on well and truly before they get there. If those lights are not on because I turned them off, and I happen to be reclining down in a comfortable position, I then have to get up off my carcass and turn the lights on for them… So, I let them leave the lights on (some of them).

P.S. The paper my daughter is holding is a picture of Donald Trump’s head photoshopped onto the head of an eagle who is pooping poo emojis over a famous Australian beach. My Read the rest of this entry

I Let My Kids Lie, Cheat and Win When We Play Board Games

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When I first read Aletha Solter’s book, ‘Attachment Play‘, I really resonated deeply with everything she said… Except… when she suggested that you let your child be silly and beat you at games or that you should let your child play the wrong rules if she wants to.

*Cue adult voice*

Losing is a part of life...” or “They have to get used to losing sometime...” or “If you always let them lie, cheat and win at games, then they’ll grow up to be egocentric, selfish brats.”

But, then, I tried it. I let them lie, cheat and beat me at the little games we played and I was astonished with the results. I took a deeper look into why I was holding onto this idea that I must always play by the rules and found that it was only fear of losing control that was stopping me from letting them act silly.

Board games are just that: they’re games. They’re not real life! Games certainly can teach you about life, but always trying to turn everything into a learning experience can just make everyone so uptight!

Kids get enough disappointments in life…

I thought of how many rules my children had to follow on any given day. I thought of all the times they appeared to be doing something ‘wrong‘ in the eye of an adult. I thought of how many instructions and orders my kids had to follow. All damn day. It’s ALL kids do! Follow rules. Listen to instructions.

Even in my very relaxed homeschool environment, my kids still have to follow family and society rules all the time.

So, if for a few minutes week, I let my kids break the rules, lie, cheat and win, imagine how relieved they are to have a little fun? How nice it is for them to let loose and jokingly do the wrong thing and get away with it. And, believe me, my kids KNOW that I let them win. They KNOW that I’m letting them cheat when they peak at their cards. They KNOW when I’m making a stupid move on purpose to let them win. They KNOW when I let them beat me up the hill (actually, the big kid can legitimately beat me up the hill now). They laugh. I laugh. I let them win!

They appreciate it.

And, I appreciate their attitude later on when they’re more cooperative at bedtime because of the time earlier when I let them do the *wrong* thing. It’s really amazing. The silly little games we play, actually helps my kids to be more adjusted, more cooperative and more pleasant little people. They’re much less likely to act up outside of the house because I sometimes let them ‘get away‘ with doing the wrong thing at home.

Kids don’t need a life lesson at every turn. Sometimes they just need to laugh, be silly, make a loving connection with another human being and take a break from all the rules and formalities.

They’ll get enough life lessons about playing by the rules. My kids know that I can be their safe space. They can do the *wrong* thing and it can be our little secret fun.

Nothing Can Disturb You More Than Your Own Mind

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I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I have a house, car, clothes, beautiful family, all that. But, I’m telling you, none of that matters.Even if you have everything you need, if your mind is upset, you can’t enjoy any of it!

Some days, I walk down the beach and watch the sunset and I’m in awe of life’s beauty. And, some days, I walk on the SAME beach. I have the SAME house to go home to and have the SAME beautiful things in my life, but if my mind is a mess, I can’t see a thing.

Luckily, I’ve been meditating for that many years that I usually catch my mind wandering and I can quickly snap out of it. And, over the years, I have far far less of the disturbing days than I used to have.

When I do snap out of it, it reminds me. It doesn’t matter what you have. No amount of money. No amount of things. No amount of beautiful scenery. No amount of relationships or success at work. NONE of it will make you happy if your mind is disturbed! This crazy mind jumps from here to there and there to here and back again. It will drive you insane!

So, we need to take care of that silly old mind of ours.

The funny thing about the mind is that you can’t control the mind with the mind. You can’t just negotiate with an anxious mind to make it calm. You can’t just tell your mind to stop planding so that you can drift off to sleep. You can’t just tell your mind to stop broofing over the past.

This mind is tricky!

You can practice mindfulness and awareness, but it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to control the mind that way.

The fastest and easiest way to keep the mind in balance is through breathing and meditation. I’ve been meditating every day for 15 years, and trust me, it works. It really works to help keep you happy.

Why?

Because breathing and meditation bring your mind to the present moment…. and if your mind is in the present moment, then you don’t worry as much. And, if your mind isn’t worrying as much, then it’s less disturbed and that means you’re more happy.

If you’re more happy, the people around you are happy. And, if you’re happy, the sunsets always look better!

A good meditation app I use sometimes is called ‘Sattva’ there are lots of free meditations on there. Also, the Art of Living foundation’s ‘Happiness Program’ will teach you the most amazing breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya. The organization runs programs all over the world.

The Honest Reason Why Your Husband Needs a High Five For Accomplishing Stuff Around the House

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Yes, I’m going to make generalizations here and I’m going to stereotype. Yes, I do realize that this is not the 1950’s. But, there is a legitimate reason why your husband, or any man in your life, is looking for praise when he does something around the house.

It’s not because he’s lazy. It’s not because he wasn’t trained properly. (Debatable)

It’s because a man needs to have his ego pampered.

I know, I know, the feminists out there are rolling their eyes and possibly getting sick to their stomachs. But, it’s entirely true.

I used to get confused when my husband would announce that he’d taken the garbage out AND grabbed the laundry off the line before the rain. Like… seriously??? Why did he feel the need to tell me what he had accomplished?! Because, dude, I took the garbage out and grabbed the laundry off the line before the rain while I simultaneously cooked dinner, answered a spelling question, wiped a butt, fed the baby, and danced around holding in my pee! And, YOU want a pat on the back for doing some uninterrupted chores?!?!

It used to make me so confused and a smidgen angry…

But, now I know… men need their work to be acknowledged. In and out of the house, men NEED to feel useful and important. They need to feel like they’re clever and strong. An ego is that sense of ‘I am’…. and a man needs to have that feeling of ‘I am of GREAT use‘!!!

When a man doesn’t feel special, he gets deflated quickly. He starts moping around and gets unmotivated. He gets grumpy and lazy, and it’s a downward spiral, because the more deflated he gets, the less he does and the more his wife (or whoever) starts letting him know he’s grumpy and/or lazy (I’m raising my hand here: guilty).

So, next time your man puts away the laundry, or wrestles with the dishes, or the kids, or changes the lightbulb that you’ve been bugging him to fix for a week or year. Tell him THANKS! Tell him he’s clever and useful. Tell him you couldn’t have done it without him! (Even though of course you could have, and you could have done it without having to ask him 18 times). Hide those eye rolls the next time he announces that he took garbage bins out to the street! He really needs your help to feel special. Give him a high five and pat on the back. He needs it. It’s his nature. And he’ll be much happier if you occasionally pat his ego.

You’re welcome.

(The hilarious video below was inspiration for this post).

Respecting a Baby’s Space

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Babies are so cute! They’re so innocent and non-judging… they make lots of people feel the love, belongingness and connection that we all crave.

And, babies need to be picked up, handled and held for just about every activity they do! As an attachment style parent, I’ve had very close contact with my babies all day and night. Physical touch and connection is vital for a baby’s well being.

But where do we draw the line as to what is respectful to a baby’s body or what may be unintentionally violating a baby’s space? Shouldn’t there be a difference in how a stranger enters your baby’s space as opposed to someone the baby knows? And, just because a baby is smiling, does it mean that he’s enjoying the interaction?

I know, I know, again, baby’s are so cute! It’s hard to not want to tickle them or stroke their soft skin or ask to hold them or to squeeze them and poke all their round delicious parts. My son is just about to turn six months old at the time I’m writing this, and man, is he a ham! It’s hard for people to keep their hands off him!

But… babies are people, let’s not forget. Small adorable people, who can’t talk. Would it be ok to go around stroking a stranger’s cheeks? Or, if you saw a cute looking guy in the shops, would it be alright to stick your finger in his hand? No…

I don’t have the right to tickle, poke and prod or do anything that might make my baby feel uncomfortable. And, I feel like I need to protect my small person from other well-meaning people who can’t help but want to do the same.

I’ve had countless strangers approach my babies and try to get a squeeze, or a poke or a kiss! Even when my babies have been tucked away in the baby carrier, and I try to turn away, I’ve had people touch my baby’s toes, plant a kisses on my baby’s head, put a finger in my baby’s soft hand or stroke my baby’s cheeks (their cheeks are amazing, I admit).

Then, people ask for cuddles…

If the baby is tucked away in the carrier, they won’t ask (thank goodness). But, if the baby’s out of the carrier and they ask, I don’t always know what to say. Saying ‘no‘ seems rude. If they could ask my baby and he could answer, then the answer would be straight forward. But, how do I know if HE wants you to hold him? This is not a game of ‘pass the baby‘, this is a little person with feelings!

How would I feel if a giant stranger, who looked, felt and smelled very different from my mother, picked me up? I’m not sure I would like it…

I love the most when people interact with my son by smiling at him and talking. That way, he can simply snuggle his head into my chest if he doesn’t feel like interacting. Or, he can choose to respond by smiling back. Sometimes my son smiles during an interaction with someone, but I have to look at his body language to know if he’s enjoying the interaction. Is he smiling, but tense and pulling and squirming away? Or, is he smiling with his body relaxed? If he’s relaxed, then I know he feels safe and comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, other people have definitely held my babies, I’m not that uptight and it’s beautiful when the holding is done with awareness. My parents just came to visit from America and my son spent tons of time on their laps. And, some of my good friends, that I see on a regular basis, get cuddles. But, people whom I don’t see often, I just don’t feel comfortable saying ‘yes‘ to when they ask for a casual cuddle. A cuddle is a very intimate thing, in my opinion!

It’s not just strangers who want to poke and prod babies, I think about how often my husband and daughters (or even I) may accidentally invade my son’s body space. My girls love him so much, tthe second I put him down, they’re all over him like white on rice! It’s a tough one, like I said, because babies need to be picked up, interacted with and helped all day long… and we do love to play with him. So, I try my best to nicely remind everyone to look and listen carefully at his cues to see if he starts feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed.

The whole idea of respecting a baby’s body in the way I’m talking about, is a very subtle concept. It’s not to say that we limit the touching or holding of our babies, because babies absolutely need lots of closeness. And, we should act natural around babies! But, is the touching and holding done with awareness? And, does the baby feel safe and comfortable?

We just don’t know what strong impressions are being made in a baby’s brain at such a young age. True, they won’t remember individual events, but they do remember the feeling. I want to make sure that down the track, my children grow up with the feeling that they have felt safe and respected.

I Hate Having Kids

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Sorry if I hold your hand too tight when we cross the street. Sorry if hover too much. Sorry if I ask you, “are you alright?” a few too many times. Sorry if I check all night long that you’re breathing. Sorry that I over react sometimes when I think you might get hurt.

What’s that cough? What’s that bump? Am I saying and doing the right things? I know I have to let you go and I have to have faith that you’ll be safe. But deep down, there’s always that nagging thought… I’ve learned to quiet that thought, but it’s still there. I’m not an anxious person, but you do something to me that defies everything I thought I knew about myself.

The same thing that brings you joy can also make you miserable. I KNOW this. If you told me this knowledge on life about anything else, I can get it. A new car that brings you joy, makes you miserable when it gets scratched. An exciting new job can get mundane after some time. A new love will turn old. A young beautiful body will get old and wrinkled. I know all this and accept it… but when it comes to my babies, it’s so different. I love you, I worry. I can’t help it. I love you so much that I hate it!