A Love Letter to Mindful Parents of Little Ones

A Love Letter to Mindful Parents of Little Ones, via theorganicsister.com #quote #marianne #williamson #parenting

I remember when we first starting parenting from a place of gentleness.

A place that taught us how to not use our hands to get our point across. A place that teaches us to breathe and listen and connect first. A place that models patience and kindness so he’ll know how to use it too. A place that showed us how to trust.

It was hard. Just as hard as I know it now is for you.

On one side we had the voices in our own head screaming, yelling out years of conditioning, of fears, that love is not enough, that kids need discipline, they need someone to control them, they sure as hell don’t need a friend. The voice within that was afraid. Afraid of screwing this up. Of “creating a monster”. We had our triggers and our angry to peel back and heal. And lord knows, we never got a fucking break.

On the other side we had well-intentioned families or neighbors or strangers, and their voices. Voices full of doubt. Or voices held behind the sideways glances of condemnation when he was having a meltdown and we weren’t coming down on him. Voices that actually told us our son would be a “detriment to society” and then got angry and offended because we didn’t respect their opinion on that matter. Voices that told us “we turned out alright”, we “survived”. Voices that rolled their eyes when we explained we want our child to do more than “survive” his upbringing.

Voices that were offended, voices that thought we were judging them, voices that told us he was turning into a brat. Voices that yelled at him when we didn’t. Voices that made us all cry a time or three.

But we also had glimpses. We had glimpses of support from another mama in the grocery store. Glimpses of support from family and friends who really wanted to believe the crazy-ass vision we had that this whole “respecting him as a person” thing could work. Glimpses from other parents who had gone before us.

And that’s why I’m writing this to you today.

Zeb turns 14 tomorrow.

For almost 7 years we’ve been following our hearts, and doing the very deep, very hard work of parenting him with patience, trust, compassion, and kindness.

It has not been easy. And there were times we wondered.

Times when he tried to climb the walls of a restaurant, and we struggled to find the right way to handle amidst the criticism. Phases that can really only be called “obnoxious phases”, where he tested out his autonomy in ways that weren’t much fun for any of us. Times when he made bad decisions and we allowed him to, not with “tough love”, but with patience and lots of gentle conversations as we guided him through the consequences. Moments when we watched him struggle and deny any guidance at all. Moments that made us cringe and wonder if we were doing the right thing.

This too shall pass” became my mantra.

This is not his life sentence” became my reminder.

This is not about impressing others” became my own personal practice.

And even when I was sure I was wrong, I was right.

At 14, he’s neither a “detriment to society”, nor a “spoiled brat”.

In fact, this past week, as he’s been visiting family and friends out of town, we’ve been privileged to read the thoughts and impressions of those he’s with. We’ve been honored to see him through the voices of others for a change.

To hear his cousin remark how smart he is and how happy she is that he has a mind of his own, and how much she loves being friends with him…

To hear how he’s opening doors for others and helping with the dishes…

To hear how much he makes everyone laugh…

To hear my own mama say that the rest of the questioning and ridicule we’ve received was all wrong, that we are all lucky to know this amazing young man…

To hear that others can see in him what we’ve seen all along…

And this is what I want to share with you.

There are, what I like to call, “the messy years”. Years when it very much does look like you’re creating a monster. Years you’re not sure will pass.

Years when you sure as hell don’t think you’ll ever hear words like I’ve heard above.

There will be times when your kid will scream at you and you’ll wonder just how patient is patient enough. Times when someone doesn’t see the 14 conversations you will be having with one another over the next week about this situation and the way you’ll come together with love and apologies and deep heart lessons for both of you, and instead they’ll only see that you are to blame for “the problem with kids“; you know, the ones who get neither love nor appreciation and truly do act terrible because of it.

There will be doubts. Moments when you want to go back to yelling or spanking or shaming because “at least it got shit done”, and it sure as hell wasn’t so tiring.

And there will be mistakes. Bad choices of your own when you look like a terrible example of conscious parenting, or a terrible example for any kind of parenting for that matter. Moments you’ll handle poorly enough to embarrass yourself. Moments you’ll wish you could do over for years.

It’s going to be hard.

Really hard.

Really fucking hard.

You will – at least once, I guarantee it – change your mind, throw in the towel, and be absolutely assured that this hippie-dippy shit only works for some kids. That love and respect and kindness isn’t actually universal. And that if it is, you just don’t have what it takes to make it work.

You will get to that place, trust me.

And in that moment I hope you’ll remember to have these words tucked away in your heart, and to come back to them to remind yourself what I’m saying here.

It. Will. Pass. The doubts, the fear, the messy years. It’s not their life sentence. Love and patience and kindness is universal (although how your kid needs it to look isn’t). And one day, standing before you will be this incredible person (who still challenges the bullshit out of you), with a grin on his or her face, and a big wonderful heart, who learned to share it with others because you shared yours first.

You will not have “created” this amazing person who opens doors and speaks up for the little guy and has intelligent conversations…but you will know you nurtured them to their fullest potential without getting your own triggers and  inner fears in their way.

Again, let me repeat, there will be times where it is impossible.

I’m not saying it will “seem” impossible. By all means, you’ll know it IS impossible.

And in those times you get to make a choice.

A choice for your values or immediate results.

A choice over who is going to win: the voice of fear or the voice of Love.

This is parenting for the long-term. For the big picture. So remind yourself, through all these messy years when there are boogers dragged across the walls, and screaming matches over LEGO, and the first time they ever steal something, and words you wish you’d never taught them, and everyone is so kind as to point out their perfectly manicured children who never talk back or make mistakes because they’d get their ass whooped if they did…

Remind yourself that real, mindful, conscious, organic, peaceful, respectful parenting doesn’t look good in the beginning, in the same way a freaking souffle doesn’t look like a souffle until it comes out of the oven. (And if you keep poking and prodding it’s not gonna come out looking like a souffle at all.)

This kind of parenting doesn’t come with instant gratification like spanking and threatening and shaming does.

Instead it comes with real gratification, the kind that comes when one day they are taller than you and out there making their impact on the world with the kind of tools you modeled for them.

So this is my love letter to you, as much as it is to my younger self.

This is my reminder that your kids chose you as much as you chose your kids.

This is my reminder that the only things that really trigger us is our moments without love and trust.

This is my reminder that whether you pushed an 8 lb baby out of your vagina or simply caught one with your hands or your heart, both prove that you ARE in fact cut out for this, that you DO in fact have enough love to give, and that you WILL in fact find out how incredibly amazing of a parent you are – not when the world finally sees it, but when you finally do.

Howling at the Moon and the Things Captured

A full moon, a super moon, sumer solstice, and the lead-up to Mercury Retrograde. Oh I was feeling it all. And this time I let myself go, let myself create a little #howlfest to sink into.

I circled with new friends and allowed tears to flow, even though they had no obvious source. I leaned in and trusted the cleansing process that I could feel was taking place.

Barefoot wine in a mason jar. Cheesy movies on the couch. Fire and marshmallows in our future. And I might just sneak out to Mama Ocean again. #howlfest

I rested. I drank cheap wine from a mason jar and watched stupid movies and was okay with that.

I drew myself in with my guys, disconnecting for the weekend, and allowing ourselves to head to a matinee, to laugh in the truck, to make new dishes, and read paperbacks I found in the laundry room.

Forming. #howlfest #drumcircle

Drumming to the changing of the guard. #sunset #moonrise #howlfest #drumcircle

I dove into a drum circle, and took place in the changing of the guards, the drumming to the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon.

Me and Big Mama falling in step together. #howlfest #djembe #drumcircle

I let myself go in the drum circle. I closed my eyes and stopped trying to play along and just played.

I got up and danced, not just around the circle, but in Mama Ocean. Jumping through her shallows, splashing through my inhibitions.

I talked to Mama Luna, and laughed with my man-child as we sunk into the soft moving sands and he gave up on trying to keep his clothes dry and I put down my camera in favor of my suit.

I body surfed with my guys, laughing again as the moon pushed us back toward the sandbar, and I got water up my nose, and didn’t even care.

And then there was this. And this photo does nothing to show the brilliance of Mama Luna or the magic of swimming beneath her with my guys. This goes down as one of my favorite days ever. #howlfest #fullmoon

I drifted in the calm waters, laying back while I soaked up the brightness of the moonbeams, gazing up at her, while my man and my man-child drifted next to me, while we talked, while we slowed down. While we just took it all in and created one of my favorite memories of all time.

"I would rather be happy than dignified." - #Bronte #howlfest

There are some things you take photos of not because you think you can capture the moment, but simply to give you a glimpse of what you captured in that moment.

This weekend was one long stretch of those moments.

Upside Down Makes More Sense

Epic Storms, art journal, www.theorganicsister.com

their story is a cautionary tale
a monsoon thunderstorm dropping a deluge on the desert
bristling with electricity

most storms move fast
this one crept over whispering,
“Some things you learn best in the calm.
No two storms are the same.
No two skies are either, so watch closely.”

so I let go
and found it all upside down
and suddenly making sense

Have you ever had that sense? That everything is upside and off from the ways in which you thought it should be, and yet – without being able to articulate a damn word of it – you knew it all made sense.

This is the fact of Life.

It all makes sense. Always.

But what throws us around is our ideas of what should be. Our thoughts. Our expectations. Our demands. Swirling and upheaving the whole delicate balance of Nature, of our Nature.

It’s terrifying to let go, to find ourselves “without control”, to consider the idea that Life might carry us away – to what? For how long? And what will that mean? Who will I be? And most damagingly, what will others think?

Our thoughts needs to be turned upside down, shaken up, shaken out.

And if we’re holding so tightly to them, we’ll find ourselves turned upside, shaken up, shaken out right along with them. But that’s only when we’re so damn attached to our thoughts that we can’t tell the difference between them and us.

What happened the last time you let go of the thought being shaken up?

Did you, like most of us searching for it, suddenly find yourself in a state of peace?

The Things That Matter in 5 Years, What We Birth, and the Space Between

A lot of you have asked me where the inspiration for my “Organic Wisdom” updates on Twitter and Facebook come from. The answer?

They are my own reminders. They are the things that my intuition reminds me when I pay attention, the things I hear when I’m banging my head against the keyboard, the words Spirit slips my way when I’m artfully avoiding it.

This one {above} has been with me for years.

Do you know how often I find myself nit-picking, nagging, sighing over {a little habit I picked up from my mom – thanks Mom. 😉 }, getting riled up about, worrying over, or generally being a bitch about that WILL. NOT. MATTER. in five years?

More than I care to enumerate.

Life is a freaking process.
Growth is a practice.
Letting go challenges me in deep and sometimes shattering ways.

We travel to Vegas this weekend, to meet Zeb there and see my sister walk down the aisle and spend the Thanksgiving week with family.

I’m equal parts excited and not ready.

Lordy Lordy look who found a vintage carry-on suitcase for the plane. #score #thriftstoresrock
Vintage luggage find at the thrift store.

This quiet space we’ve had lately has been one of those shattering things – shattering in the very best of ways. Just Justin and I and a quiet little patch of Nature. He’s been working for a state park here in FL and loving it, and I’m not going to lie – I’ve been loving all these quiet hours to myself.

Space to DIG IN, space to throw it all away and practice surrender to what is, space to play in my art journal {my god, that’s been a journey of its own}, space to experience stillness.

All this space is not something most of us women or mamas see often.

We are busy. No…we keep ourselves busy. We birth families and work and homes, and then we birth drama and fear and “shoulds” {or maybe we adopt those}. And we forget to birth peace of mind. We forget to birth understanding. We forget to birth empathy and patience and roots.

We forget to birth ourselves.

{Or maybe that’s just me?}

These past three weeks, with Zeb in Vegas with family, and Justin working, I’ve been birthing myself. I’ve felt myself shatter to pieces in order to fall back together. And this shattering has happened again and again. It’s been painful and exhausting and uplifting and lightening.

And I don’t think it’s over. But my space is coming to an end. We’ll be with family for a week – busyness and energy overflowing. Then Zeb will fly home with us and life will shift again – maybe shift back or shift forward, I don’t know.

And my heart keeps asking, how do you maintain this much space, needed for this place I’m in, this place of pulling back, of slowing down, of sinking in?

I’ve made some hard choices recently – choices to slow down my work, choices to put projects on hold, choices to back off certain activities.

These choices all come from the same message: This is a period of pulling in. A period of examining what will matter in 5 years.

Maybe it’s in alignment with the whole Mercury Retrograde thing. Or my upcoming birthday. Or maybe it’s just one of those spaces we all experience in our life, when the flow ebbs and we take the time to breathe and be and sink back into what matters.

{Ask yourself: What is Life saying to you about what matters? How much energy are you sinking into what doesn’t?}

The New Professionalism: Unapologetically Imperfect

My most ergonomic desk eva. #myofficetoday

Today is my day to breathe. Take space. Drop my shoulders.

The Organic Parenting e-course is complete, sent out, and officially off my To Do list. It was such a huge project, with so many components and dozens of contributors, making it my biggest project to date.

Over a year in the making. The last three months of which were flipping crazy.

I’ll admit. I have a bit of a perfectionist streak. Especially when it comes to the work I love to do, sharing my heart and soul. And the parenting topic is such a big, tender one that I spent a lot of time stressing about how it was coming together, how the audios turned out, the right formatting, the right voice, if it all made sense, and so on and so on.

This project alone was a full time job.

That’s without seeing clients, facilitating the Organic Tribe, holding events, and still exploring the country with my family.

As I inched closer to today’s date, I began to inch closer to my perfectionist saying all sorts of things:

“You must have all the audios completed before you go to Wide Sky Days.”
“You’ve got to send out at least 4 emails next week.”
“You need more blog posts! What happened to the 5 other posts you had planned?!”

According to my project and marketing plan, I was far from perfect.

And this would have really stressed me out in the past. I would’ve been a big old ball of nerves trying to do it all, be it all, have it all together.

But this time I adopted a very fitting motto as I worked…

“Unapologetically imperfect.”

“I’m going to unapologetically create a course I believe in, without fear that it must meet every last person’s needs…”

“I’m going to unapologetically say what’s on my heart without fear that I’ll sound crazy to people who don’t get it…”

“I’m going to unapologetically take breaks, or complete postpone pieces of the project that aren’t inspiring me in order to play with my friends and family or read or work on the part of the project that is calling my name…”

“I’m going to unapologetically get the last audios created and uploaded in their own timing…”

“I’m going to unapologetically screw up my marketing plan this time around…”

“I’m going to unapologetically be happy about it all too…”

No amount of stress can make time slow down so we can get more done and still have time to play. No amount of trying can make every last person happy, can make this everything to everyone, can possibly simplify such a big topic, or can get those last audios uploaded by my chosen deadline. No amount of stress is worth missing out on our family throughout any project either – something I did too much of at the start.

So I let it all go. And embraced something different.

Imperfect entrepreneurship. Without apology.

Of course, there’s a balance there…leaving people hanging isn’t cool. Creating less than your best isn’t cool. Not taking into account the needs of others while you meet your own needs doesn’t actually meet anyone’s needs at all.

But there is a difference between professional and perfectionism.

You can be the first without trying to be the second.

I let go of the idea that I’d have all the audios from all six modules edited and uploaded by the time the first module started. I let go of the idea that the contributors goodies would be organized and formatted before the third module.

I just let go and leaned into joy and trust.

If this “trust” thing is good enough for parenting, you’d better believe it’s damn good enough for our passions as entrepreneurs. 😉

Of course, letting go changes everything.

I did, in fact, have all the modules completed before Module One began today. And I got the Village Wisdom contributors PDF formatted and uploaded this afternoon.

I could’ve stressed over doing these things, and likely not done them.

Instead I just adopted the same philosophy I have toward life itself: Joy and Trust. And it all fell together without the stress, because I just let go and leaned into joy and trust.

What Have I (Re)Learned?

The same lesson life is teaching me again and again…

I don’t care if you’re talking about parenting, or your partners, or your work…you’ll never regret the sense of ease, wonder, and perfection that comes when you stop trying to be perfect, stop forcing it to happen or controlling how it does, and let the current carry you where it will.

Make and follow a plan. Just don’t marry the damn thing.

And stop apologizing – to yourself or anyone else – when you follow where your heart pulls you.

Ask yourself: Where do I need to let go and allow?


Part One: Releasing and Letting Go (Video)

I wrote about some of the inner work my 30th birthday was bringing me.

Here’s where I am 3 days later…and be sure to watch until about half way through to hear what’s in the plans for my hair this week! Eeeee!

Be sure to check out freeplaylife.

Want to read more about my process from dreadlocks to a shaved head?

All dreadlock posts from start to finish are here.

Part One: My announcement video of my decision to shave my dreads

Part Two: A more in-depth, emotional and raw video on my decision

Part Three: Putting The Process of Shaving Them into Words (and lots of photos)

Part Four: A GORGEOUS Video and words from other women who’ve done the same

And lastly: Burning My Dreadlocks: The Final Goodbye

A Week in Transition (Or Surrender and Acceptance)

We’re aiming to make this our last week off the road. By Friday, we will be heading toward Southern California; Disneyland to be exact.

Transition is always emotionally and spiritually full. We get filled with thoughts of what needs to be done, timelines and deadlines and regret. We scurry, we ebb and flow, we forget and remember and forget again.

And we oscillate, between looking back and looking forward, and all the world conspires to compound the dichotomy of here and there by pouring on the rain, piling up the hurdles, throwing in a little more madness.

I think there are two reasons Murphy’s Law is real and true:

  1. Because madness creates or attracts more madness.
  2. And because life loves to test our resolve.

I used to confront these maddening times of resolve-testing with a strong mix of doubt and added resolve. Was I on the wrong path? And what did I need to change?

My approach was one of sheer will and barreling through.

Today, as I sit with a mind full of tasks and exasperating challenges, piles and piles of paperwork to scan, a fender-bender to contest and repair, and an old friend demanding more than I will give, my approach is different.

No task lists, no sense of urgency, no feeling of obligation, no impending deadline.

My approach now is one of surrender.

Of savoring.

Of slow, methodical movement.

Of earphones and blueberry muffins.

Of trust.

Of quiet and breath and acceptance.

Instead of frenetic energy, of compiling and pushing, of resistance or fixing or spiritual darting…

I’m allowing.

Allowing the emotions to sweep through me, observing the place where I am, feeling peace as things go undone, as they remain imperfect, and being whole in that imperfection.

Something funny happens when you allow your world to be imperfect and messy.

It ceases to be imperfect or messy.

Perhaps it’s the people whose lives have taken sudden new twists – people who have learned to embrace the creative possibilities of change – who stand the best chance of penetrating life’s mysteries. – Hugh Mackay

I think it’s called exhaustion…

a belated....and very dusty... bench monday
A belated Bench Monday

I lost it yesterday. We were trying to pack up the weekend leftovers and searching out the remnants of our keepers. I couldn’t find something and when I asked my husband if he’d seen it he said something that felt an awful lot like an accusation. I went to playful whack him, but it came out a whole lot more angrier than that. I think I shocked myself as much as I shocked him.

That’s when I realized I’m bordering on losing it. I went upstairs, laid down on the floor and took a four hour nap. When I woke up I went out to the RV and slept all night.

I’ve spent the entire morning in a very hot, very long bath trying to figure out where all the emotion came from. And I realized the estate sale was what I was holding in my mind as the last Big Thing to do before we leave. I was holding it all together to get through it, essentially putting off my own processing and acclimation and emotions until they now feel like they’re pouring out.

I feel a bit like I’m detoxing. My allergies have been horrendous, my head pounding and my body hurting. And my mind is so discombobulated I can hardly think straight. And when I look around there is still more to do than I imagined.

I’ve spent the last two nights sleeping in the RV. The first night was tough; I felt both safer and less safe. Safer because the area feels cozy, almost womb-like and I could hear any potential danger. Less safe because it felt we were so close to the outside world with only a few inches separating us from said potential danger.

Why I’ve even felt so concerned with “potential danger” is still unknown. I assume it goes back to that perceived sense of security we gain from a home. But on the other hand, living in a home with wheels means feeling unsafe is less likely – if we perceive danger, we can simply move on.

Zeb had a few rough days before and during the sale. I needed more help than he was able to manage and I had to remind myself that this isn’t his job. Since then he’s been able to balance helping out with enough downtime to still process and adjust.

Justin is still working on Benny’s veggie oil conversion with Sara’s husband, Matt and it’s taking much longer than anticipated. They are still waiting on parts to ship and we may not even be ready to roll out by Monday. Justin is also taking care of anything big, so that I can relax a bit today (it’s a pretty good man that sees my outburst as a cry for help).

I’m know there is a lesson in all this about “expectations” and “letting go”. Again. Because that seems to be the lesson of my life, doesn’t it? I need to take a really deep breath and stay in this moment. I need to let go of the expectation of things going a certain way or happening by a certain date. I need to chill and realize we’re not in a hurry. If I can’t do it now, how will I do it on the road?