A Lesson in Self-Love



Woman_Enjoying_CoffeeThe other day my 12 year old daughter asked me who I love more: Her and her sister, or myself.

I had to pause for a minute, with the millions of appropriate responses running through my brain.

Is this a trick question?

If I say I love myself more, will she be offended? But if I say them, what lesson am I instilling? That we should always put ourselves second to others?  I took a deep breath and answered truthfully, “Of course, you two.” My daughter gave me a look of slight disappointment. “You know mommy,” she scolded, “You should really love yourself the most.” 

Deep sigh.

Indeed, she had been listening to the lesson I had been trying to impart, but I apparently I had not. It was true, I always put them first, followed by me, as a close second. 

As a woman, this is definitely a challenge, and as a parent, even more so. We know we would give the moon to our children if we could, or take a bullet, etc. [insert your favorite cliché here]. Many marriages and relationships suffer because children are placed first, sacrificing important intimacy with our spouses or significant others.

lovely_flowersThe truth is self-love is the ultimate first. If you can’t learn to love yourself the most, how can you expect your children to love themselves first? I’ve told myself this truth over and over again, but never truly let the fullness of in sink in, until now.

Raising daughters is challenging on so many levels, especially in the sense that I don’t want my girls to make the same mistakes I did, or suffer any self-esteem issues that so many young girls face.

I finally had to face the reality that no matter how hard I may try, I cannot protect them from the world. In fact, I would be doing them a disservice, and at the same time shielding them from developing their own strengths.

So many adults, myself included, deal with self-judgment, negative self-talk and doubt on a daily bases. If we want our children to learn to love themselves, then we must model it for them first and foremost. I truly love the beautiful lessons my children teach me. We no longer live in a world where the parents always are right even when they are wrong. It’s ok to be called on our shit by our kids from time to time, even if they don’t realize how profound their words can be.

Pastel HeartThe lesson in all of this is simply: learn to love yourself. I know it sounds like a broken record (or as my youngest calls it, an old-timey CD player), but learning to love and honor yourself is the only thing you can do before you can truly love others, even your children.

My 12 year old wrote this poem for a school project, but her ulterior motive was to give encouragement to her little sister, who was feeling down about herself at the time. I wanted to honor my lovely and wise tween and share her poem here:

 

You Are Wonderful

by Isabelle Atha

Life is full of ups and downs.
It’s like a rollercoaster.
But, no matter how much life shoots you down, just stay positive.
People will say “you can’t” or “you won’t”
Well, you are full of potential and you can.
In your lifetime, people will deny your ideas, call you names, and make fun of you.
Those people are just jealous of you.
If you let these mean and hurtful comments get to you, you’ll start to think “I can’t or “I’m dumb.”
You are extremely capable and smart.
However, here are some things you aren’t:
You aren’t worthless, you aren’t the worst person in the world, and you aren’t hated.
You are an amazingly talented and kind human being.

                         

There is no time like the present to start this work. With the full moon approaching tomorrow (July 1st), check out this great blog from the gifted astrologist, Cindy Morris, on how to use this energy to tap into loving yourself.

And finally, my last words on the matter (as I often need to hear them myself): Be ever so kind, gentle and compassionate with yourself.

 

Finding Balance Amidst Chaos



View from 33rd floor of TIAA-CREF Building, Denver

View from 33rd floor of TIAA-CREF Building, Denver

 Last week was one of those weeks that everything seemed to swirl into a tornado of chaos, churning violently causing a trail of destruction around my house, my body and life in general.

It started with a few late nights of homework battles, exacerbated by tween hormones and emotional meltdowns. As a single parent, there’s only so much patience left at 9:30 pm when your children should have been sound asleep. As I attempted to multitask between what felt like herding cats, and preparing a powerpoint presentation, I had a moment of such overwhelm and exhaustion that I decided that was it; I was done for the night. I shutdown the computer and told my daughters that I would no longer participate in the battle of homework and bedtime. I crawled into bed and politely (through gritted teeth) suggested they only call me when they were ready to be tucked in, and that mom was officially off duty.

The week progressed with the usual ups and downs, but then Friday arrived and the tornado was joined by a conflagration, typhoon and tsunami of everything that could go wrong, and did. The girls had spent the night at their father’s house. So, I woke up early to put some Virgo finishing touches on my presentation, deciding a few more slides and images were necessary, and emailed it off. Naturally the email couldn’t be opened and I frantically resent it in a different format, praying that would work.

I was already running late to my daughter’s school, where she was receiving an award at 7:30, before 1st period, and because the day was jam-packed, I had to make sure I had everything with me for the presentation and other activities. I grabbed my computer and coffee, ran out the door, leaving my uneaten breakfast on the kitchen counter. As I was cussing and driving, empty stomach rumbling, I noticed a hole in my stockings…ugg, maybe my skirt will cover it, I hoped. My California driving skills kicked into full gear and I made it to school in record time. Unfortunately, it was not fast enough. I marched into the library to see my daughter, sitting with her dad and sister, as the ceremony, which only lasted 10 minutes, was ending. Feeling like parent of the year, I silently judged myself and assumed everyone else was doing the same.

At least I was staying for her appearance in the spelling bee, I’d possibly redeem some of my mothering points, right? Then the email came in that my presentation STILL could not be opened. As I frantically awaited for the Bee to begin, I grabbed my computer and emailed several different versions and formats praying one would work. Finally, the PDF worked; this being less than ideal because my animations were rendered obsolete. Deciding it was good enough for now, I closed the computer and nervously watched the stressful activity of my child on the school stage, spelling words that I was pretty sure I would need spellcheck to complete. However, my daughter, who has horrible stage fright, rocked it!  I was able to stay to the end, where other parents had left…yay, more points for me. She didn’t win, but did very respectably. I smothered her in proud hugs and kisses, hopped in the car, and headed toward downtown Denver.

As I drove a little unsure of the directions, I spotted my destination marked with a giant TIAA-CREF sign, and kept my building in my site. Of course, I missed the garage entrance and did the drive out of your way, navigating through the one way streets, dance. Starting to feel anxious that I would be late, I was able to park and find my way to the lobby with ease. As I sat in my friend’s office, who had asked me to come speak, I realized that my adrenaline still pumping and probably had been for the past three or four hours. I took a moment to appreciate the beautiful view of the city and mountains from the 33rd floor and took a deep, cleansing breath. I closed my eyes and visualized all of the anxiety and stress of the morning leaving my body.

As I finally calmed my heart rate down, I reflected on how insignificant the issues of my morning actually were. Getting this presentation just right was not going to make or break me. Yes, I was upset about walking in late to my daughter’s award assembly, but I also stayed another two hours to support her. She knows I love her and go above and beyond to show her in every way possible. Most likely, no one was judging me, but if they were, it was their issue, not mine. I reveled in my ten minutes of uninterrupted time to just sit and be in peace and calm. Our bodies are really not designed to be in that flight or fight state for too long. I realized I was already starting to feel drained at 11:30 for that reason. It is why so many people end their days with that same depleted feeling.

Finally it was time to get the projector set up and naturally, an adapter was missing, and then there was something wrong with the lights, and so on. Because I had taken the time to meditate for a few minutes, I was able to take it all in stride. The presentation would be great, with our without the technology gods on my side. I ended up weaving this story into my talk. After all, my focus was on organizing your life. I could see the look of horror and sympathy on my the faces of my audience as I recalled the day’s events with humor, and then finally relief as I reminded them all was good. I was ok with the mishaps and was chalking it up to this is what happens in life.

Things will go wrong, they will not go as expected; it is completely out of our control. However, we do have control over how we react and how deal with it all. Taking time to find balance amidst the chaos is how we navigate through the murky waters of life. As it turns out, the presentation went well, but I didn’t have time to get to the slides who’s early morning addition made me late in the first place. I could’ve have thrown a tantrum about this, and set blame to how those slides were the initial cause of the day’s chaos, but I just laughed at myself and said, “oh well, they weren’t meant to be seen today. I can use them the next time and they’re already formatted.”

It’s equally important to recognize your limits and know when to take a time-out, as I did with my children earlier that week. Believe it or not, the world continued spinning when I checked-out for the night, and they somehow managed to find their way to bed. By the time I kissed them goodnight, my anger had slipped away. I feel so blessed to continue to practice these skills needed to calm myself, and I do emphasize the word “practice.” Meditation isn’t something that you master in a day, or week or year for that matter. My mind still wanders to my to-do list and other thoughts, but even if I can get myself to take a few deep breathes, I’m already better off than I was the few minutes before. As a Virgo, I understand that we are our own harshest critics, but isn’t emerging from chaos with poise and maybe even a giggle or two so much better than pain and suffering?

Children’s Meditation Class



ChildrenMeditating_Flipped_72ppiNotResampled_320pH_JPEGveryHigh

In our over-scheduled, technology-saturated world, more and more children feel the same stress and overwhelm as many adults, on a daily basis.  Children may be even more sensitive to these energies, manifesting in difficulties focusing and sleeping.

This class is a simple introduction to meditation, taught in an age-appropriate style using fun imagery and visualization.  Your child will learn methods for:

  • Meditating and relaxing.
  • Feeling safe in his/her own personal space.
  • Managing his/her own energy.
  • Protecting him/herself from unhealthy energies.

Meditation can help your child to:

  • Increase concentration and focus.
  • Release stress.
  • Decrease bedtime struggles and improve sleep.
  • Cope with anxiety and fear.

Ages 5 to 8:   1 pm – 1:50 pm

Ages 9 to 12:  2 pm – 2:50 pm

This is a drop-off class.
Fees for siblings are discounted!  Register online.

 

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