As of today, I have been a parent for 26 years. Most of those were good, actually all the years were good, but we sure did have some rough moments. Let me take some time to review a few of our struggles now that time has put them into perspective.
Croup – there is not a parent in the world who wants to deal with this one. Your tiny little baby is so sick. Leaving her in a croup tent for a week, just about killed me!!!
Asthma – probably should have seen this one coming. Other than a few misguided supply staff at school this wasn’t a big one. Just the odd trip to emerg for a quick treatment and we were good again.
Rockin John – your imaginary friend. Not sure where he came from, but he lived under the stairs and you loved hanging out with him.
Sister – you were skilled at tormenting your sister. I’m not sure how many times I had to rescue her from the clothes dryer….come to think of it…I should have seen this one coming too – I vaguely remember lifting the lid to the toilet at 3 am and having a very pissed off cat jump out at me…..
Pulmonary Embolism – this was the worst. I was never so scared. But you were a trooper, took it all in stride…
High School – had I known, I probably would have sent you to an all girls school….
Driving – you were so happy when you bought your car, you were never home. You were everyone’s chauffeur….until you weren’t…
Car Accident – “you hit a mailbox, took out 7 trees, jumped a fence and did a barrel roll in your car and lived to tell the tale…” Please don’t do this one again….
Concussion Collection – the next few years were interesting….I’m glad you are finally receiving recognition for the symptoms. Try collecting stamps…
Boyfriends – some were abusive, some were just idiots and a couple of them were really nice guys. I kinda like the one you have now, he’s my fav so far…
College – I am so proud of you for choosing a career path that suits your nature and desire to work with people!!!
26 years and we’re both still alive. I have never been more proud of you (I know I say that every year, but honestly you amaze me time and time again!!!)
Here’s the point of my story, parenting, in the moment, is difficult, confusing, heartbreaking and gut-wrenching; but when you look back on all of it, the pain, the suffering and the heart ache melt into love, pride, admiration and the realization that all those tiny moments, were just pieces of a greater puzzle that is creating the most beautiful memories.
Hang in there parents, it will all be worth it.
If your family is struggling to adjust to or accept some of life’s hurdles, I can help you all get “Back On Track“.
Loads of Love
What is the most outrageous thing your child ever did? Leave a comment below.
Twenty-five – thirty years ago, the world was a different place. The internet was in it’s infancy, cellphones were massive & usually installed in your car and satellite dishes were just making their way into homes (or backyards). Kids played outside with their friends and were involved in after-school programs, community groups and sports teams. At home, there were chores to help out around the house. In high school, you had a part-time job with the responsibility of getting there unsupervised. School projects were researched in the library using a very heavy set of Encyclopedia’s and pictures cut out of magazines (cut & paste had a much different definition). If there was a question to be answered, you had to go find an adult. Back in the 80’s or 90’s, life was a little simpler and the world just a little smaller. Our basic needs were met through interpersonal relationships that do not exist today.
Today, with the internet at our finger tips and cable TV, our children have access to information 24/7. Not all the information is helpful or accurate. Today, we have an extreme influx of Teens diagnosed with Depression & Anxiety. Today, we also have a government that feels they are being helpful by making prescriptions free to those under 25 (but we’ll talk about that in a later post).
I recently read an article by Johann Hari “Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?“** Hari talks about his search for answers regarding his own clinical diagnosis and comes across some very interesting points to ponder. The outcome is a new thought process surrounding depression & anxiety – yes there are biological components in some cases that may require medications combined with therapy to over-come, however; there are key factors to how we live today that directly contribute to these diagnosis.
So, let’s compare 1980 to 2018.
In the 80’s, kids played outside. Their friends were physically connected, by streets, school, teams, relations.
Face to face relationships teach us a multitude of skills:
Physically connecting with people also serves our basic psychological needs of belonging, acceptance and value. We, as humans need to belong to a group. We were not designed to be solitary and thus we live in colonies or families and communities. We need to feel as though we are a valued member of the group; our thoughts, feelings and opinions matter.
It is believed that some diagnosed cases of depression or anxiety are rooted in denying basic psychological needs and thus we have the influx that we are seeing today. There is also growing research that tells us that technology has the same effect on the brain as heroine or cocaine. Creating a strong, debilitating addiction.
If you are depressed and anxious, you are not a machine with malfunctioning parts. You are a human being with unmet needs. The only real way out of our epidemic of despair, is for all of us, together, to begin to meet those human needs – a deep connection, to the things that really matter in life. ~ Johann Hari
If you have a Teen that is struggling, take a look at the broader picture. Are their basic needs being met? Do they have the skills they need to succeed? Do they belong to a group? Do they feel valued?
When one member of the family struggles, the entire family struggles. I have found that the best way to create stability in the family is to look at the family as a whole. Raising children today is difficult, I know that. We are rather quick to point the blame to external forces rather than admit that perhaps we are less than perfect. There are no perfect parents, but I will tell you, the best ones are the parents who are willing to take a look at themselves to find solutions for their children. It’s not about what you’re doing wrong, it’s about finding processes that fit your family, and the needs of every individual in your family.
Getting your family back on track may not be a long, complicated process. We may be able to find solutions and implement processes that will see dramatic results in as little as 6 weeks. Together we will explore the processes that work for your family, and through simple conversation, a few fun & engaging games, we will begin to implement strategies that ensure basic needs are met. We will expand your awareness and allow you to visualize your family’s unlimited possibilities.
In light of all the hatred spread across social media this week, I ask that your voice be louder than those that hate. Your voice of love and acceptance be the voice that is heard. By giving the haters a platform, they have won. Create your own platform. Stand united in acceptance – race, colour, creed, religion and ability; become one.
I do not follow a specific religion, nor am I political. I am, however; a person who still believes in the power of love, acceptance, compassion and the human spirit. I’m not really sure what my message is here, except that Good must triumph of evil – always. We must learn from past mistakes. We can do better, because we are better. We have learned the consequences of inaction & silence.
Stand up against injustices, feed the hungry, dress the poor, house the homeless, educate the sheltered but above all….teach those that hate to love.
Everyone of us needs a hand at some point, whether its in recovery, financial ruin, loss, disaster or empathy. Help those that do not understand the power of unconditional love and acceptance. By hating the hater, we have become haters. Please do not do this.
The stage is yours. As young adults or up & coming adults; today is the day you decide what your future planet looks like. Is it divided by hatred or is it a world where differences are appreciated and love is nurtured ?
You can sit idle and hope this just passes, after all it doesn’t really affect you….or you can make a difference; small, simple acts of kindness.
The choice is yours. What will you do?
Here is a little John Lennon – Imagine, if you need more inspiration….
I am the Best Small Graphic Design Business in Los Angeles for 2014-2017, winner of Addy awards, owner of all of the awesome. Spreader of the joy, font knowledge, and endless gradient (and glitter!) love. Encourager of the silliness, the feeling of freedom, and the loudest laughter.
But I am also the same person who suffered through PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder from 10 to 28, has had to deal with colonoscopies and laparoscopies BECAUSE of those disorders, but I am also the person that found a way to heal. Really, fully, entirely heal. I’ve changed things about myself I used to take wholly for granted. In my mind and my heart, I’ve changed right down to the cellular level. My mitochondria sing the mantra Sa Ta Na Ma
To walk away fresh and renewed, happy, fulfilled, and whole by 32; walking away from a life of chaos and parents each emboldened with their own special flavors of narcissistic personality disorder and into a life full of heart and authenticity. My inner voice is my own, and the boundaries I have are grown from a solid foundation within myself. I lovingly nurture a life composed of a wonderful equally strong and tender marriage, FIVE relentlessly needy (but totally loved) animal babies, hilarious, intelligent, grateful friends and colleagues who lift me up, support me, challenge me, and contribute to my craziness (aka The Kubrick project!). I am loved in my life, and most importantly, I am loved BY my life.
I truly believe that it was my multitude of passions that allowed me to connect deeply with my truest self, carving a pathway overriding all of the nonsense that was to come. It was listening to my truest voice when all others tried so hard to drown it out. It was following my gut even though I thought I was diving head first into the deepest pools of insanity. There were times when nothing made sense, and times when even the things I thought made sense was nonsense but sticking with myself has always lead me exactly where I need to be. So, whatever you do, wherever you are, and whatever you are faced with– always choose you. You will always make the best choice there is. I promise.
Thank you, Jenny, for sharing your story!! As I said to you, your energy precedes you!! Thank you also for contributing the artwork for this post!! It is beautiful and expressive!
Please Leave Jenny a Comment below and be sure to subscribe to my blog to read more fantastic stories of triumph, adversity, success & survival!
If you’d like to share your story, schedule your FREE Session NOW!
Written by: Kim Love – Kim is not only a survivor of abuse, but she is now a successful entrepreneur & author.
I’m not the first woman to fall in love with the wrong man and I’m not likely to be the last. When it happened to me, it was like living in a room with no air. I felt suffocated unless he was there beside me. I couldn’t function without him which became dangerous because when we fought, he would “forget about me” for days. Dating a narcissist is one of the most dangerous habits you could have. Everything started off wonderfully, dating him was exciting and we were always doing something fun.
When I first met him, we were friends and he would often refer to me as his “Princess.” I could do no wrong and his loyalty to me kept me warm. It was like I was high on a pedestal that I would never be able to get down from. When we started dating it was that man that I had been friends with for years that I thought that I would be dating. But within a few months, things started to change. He had always called me intelligent and smart; he was impressed with the fact that I was a writer, but suddenly everything I did was “stupid.” He started saying it so often that it made me wonder if I actually was. I used to feel like I was on top of the world when I was with him but then I started to feel awful every time I was in his presence. He started to say things like my career wasn’t “a real job” or that I needed to work out more. After a while, it was as if I could do nothing right and I started to fall into a deep depression.
It’s sad when you love someone so much and you have a hard time understanding why they have changed. You assume you must have done something wrong and they make you believe that you did. He used to be so kind and now I was struggling to do anything I could to please him all the while he was telling me that I was “the worst girlfriend he ever had.” I had a hard time processing that because I was trying so hard to make him happy.
We got into a huge fight one day and he told me that the world would be a better place if I killed myself. I knew then that if I didn’t leave that he would probably push me to do just that. Leaving was a struggle because he would always pull me back in with promises that things would be better.
I know I’m not the only woman or even man who has struggled in a similar situation. There was a time in my life that I used to think that I was too strong ever to get involved with an abusive man but with a narcissist, you are often blindsided. You don’t see the signs until you are already in love and committed to that person. I made a mistake but I was able to correct it by leaving and I know that there are so many women out there that never do. They don’t realize that there are women just like them, a support system that can get them through anything.
I write many stories about love in You Taste Like Whiskey and Sunshine; some are bad while others are wonderful. I like telling these stories because not only have they made me the woman that I am today but they give me the opportunity to help others who have gone through the same things that I have. I have also met a former survivor of abuse, Andrea Scarborough who works to help other survivors get through their experiences. The more people that talk about these issues, the more women will come forward. Abuse doesn’t define you and you can move on from your past.
To add your story to our growing list, please contact Andrea.
Find more stories of survival, hope & support by following the links below.
Please subscribe to our blog, as more stories are being added!!
THE DAY MY CHILD LOST HER JOY
In an especially chaotic rush out the door to go on a family vacation, I sat in the passenger seat fuming. Mad because I didn’t have time to put the dishes in the dishwasher. Mad because we were late getting on the road. Mad because the garage door was acting up. I’m talking trivial, insignificant, minor inconveniences here, but that was the state of a distracted woman who could no longer see the blessings, only the inconveniences, of her life.
Before we were about to pull out of the driveway, my husband looked at me as if someone he loved very much had died. In a barely audible whisper he said, “You’re never happy anymore.”
I wanted to defend.
I wanted to excuse.
I wanted to deny.
But I couldn’t.
Because I knew he was right.
Where had that happy woman gone? The one who smiled at people she passed on the street just because. The one whose friends often spoke of her positive outlook on life. The one who felt happy simply because she heard her favorite song or had a pack of strawberry Twizzlers in her purse. The one who could laugh off mistakes because mistakes happen, and they are certainly not the end of the world.
Where had she gone?
And that’s when I glanced to the backseat to see if my children, then ages six and three, had heard my husband’s words. Staring back at me was my older daughter picking her lip with worry the size of a small boulder weighing down her small shoulders.
As she pinched that tiny piece of fragile skin on her upper lip with wide eyes, I could practically read her mind:
But there was more. I could practically hear how a young child would interpret her mother’s unhappiness.
Mom’s mad at me.
Mom’s tired because of me.
Mom’s stressed because of something I did.
That’s when an even more powerful question hit me.
Where had my happy little girl gone? The one who woke up with the most gorgeous bedhead and good morning smile. The one who beamed at the words “sprinkler,” “cotton candy,” and “pet store.” The one who laughed so hard tears came to her eyes. The one who licked beaters with sheer pleasure and danced happily to any song with a beat.
Where had she gone?
Because my happiness was based on external measures—on tasks being completed, plans running accordingly, goals being met, hairs being in place—I was continually disappointed … upset … impatient … and stressed. In the process of making my own life miserable, I’d funneled my unhappiness straight into my daughter’s once joyful heart and spirit. Her pain was a direct reflection of the expression I wore on my face.
I desperately wanted to bring a smile back to my daughter’s face. I knew I must bring it back to my own. I began praying for small steps I could take to become a more positive, present, and peace-filled person. On brightly colored sticky notes, I posted daily goals and positive mantras that came to me during morning prayer time. Especially prominent on my mirrors and cabinets were these two go-to phrases: “Only Love Today” and “See Flowers Not Weeds.”
I used the phrase Only Love Today to silence my inner bully. Whenever a critical thought would come to my mind or my mouth, I’d cut it off with Only Love Today. I used See Flowers Not Weeds as a pathway to gratitude, to see what was good in situations and people.
As Only Love Today and See Flowers Not Weeds became a daily practice, I felt a profound transformation occurring in my heart and home. No longer were my goals exclusively items that could be measured or checked off—they consisted of immeasurable items like listening, laughing, dreaming, playing, connecting, and loving. With a more meaningful daily goal, I was able to see the blessings in my imperfect self and in my imperfect life. My eager-to-please, helpful older child looked different too. I saw her for who she was, not an annoyance or a bother, but a loving child with clever thoughts and ideas. For once, I could see all the things she was capable of doing—not perfectly, but good enough for today. The tightness in my face relaxed and the smiles came more easily for both of us.
One morning, I looked out the kitchen window to see her making a little garden right there in the middle of the yard. I watched as she tended to her miniature plot. Her joyful smile made me take pause. Clearly, she was at peace tending to her garden. I took a picture and sent it to my parents. Nothing could have prepared me for the response I received. My parents wrote:
“Thank for this precious picture of our beautiful granddaughter. Over the last two years, we have seen a tremendous change in her. We no longer see a scared look in her eyes; she is less fearful about you being upset or impatient with her. She is much happier and more relaxed. She is thriving and growing into a content, creative, and nurturing person. We know for a fact the changes we see in her coincide with the changes we have also seen in you.”
I covered my mouth to muffle the sobs.
When I was struggling to breathe beneath the weight of perfection, distraction, and self-induced pressure, my child was too.
My daughter had absorbed my tension.
She had absorbed my frustration.
She had absorbed my anxiety.
She had absorbed my unhappiness.
And as my negative emotions were being filtered down to her, they impacted her ability to grow, thrive, and blossom.
If I didn’t know it before, I know it now:
Our children are our garden. They absorb our stress, just as they absorb our peace. They absorb our negativity just as they absorb our joy. And we have the power to control what they absorb, but first, we must tend to ourselves.
It might sound like this:
Dear one, you have feelings. They are worth listening to and acknowledging.
You have limits. They are necessary to keep in place as a means of valuing your time and honoring your health.
You have dreams. You are worthy of time to pursue what makes your heart come alive.
You have needs. You deserve affection, rest, sustenance, and grace.
Perhaps you forgot that it is necessary to look after YOU. It’s okay. I forget too. But we still have today. Thank God, we still have today.Today let’s tend to ourselves as we do our loved ones. Perhaps we can make it a habit. We’ll never know how much we can grow and flourish until we take time to tend to what is most precious.
***Negative behaviours in your children are often a direct result of your own emotions. Emotions your children feel, cannot understand, but simply react to. If you’d like to reduce the effects of your emotions on your children, please contact me for a FREE Consultation.
This post was written by Molly Kathleen. Thank you Molly for articulating this in a way that I couldn’t. This is powerful, raw, and direct.
Click subscribe below to get the latest posts on parenting, family, behaviours, dysfunction, toxic relationships and so much more.
Boredom teaches some of the most valuable skills we will ever use In life. Parents are afraid of letting their kids be bored. But why? Why the need to have them occupied every minute of every day?
“Mommy, I’m bored.”
When I was a kid, those were 3 words that never fell out of our mouths. Mom’s response was usually to occupy us with some horrible chore, scrubbing the bathroom floor, cleaning out the cupboards or weeding flower beds. We very quickly learned that it was going to be much more fun to occupy ourselves. We climbed trees, invented imaginary friends, played with real friends, rode our bikes and usually got quite dirty. BUT, we weren’t scrubbing floors.
I always thought it was horrible of my mother to expect us to do such horrible tasks when we were so little. I vowed that I would never ask my kids to do such terrible things.
Then I became a Mom and I heard “Mom, I’m bored”. I think it was the only thing my kids knew how to say. It was their go to response for everything! Suddenly, I hear myself saying, “Go find something to do, or I will find you something to do”, and they were off like a shot and I had become my mother…
Here’s the thing about boredom;
Boredom teaches us amazing things.
Problem-solving skills – I needed to NOT scrub floors, so I solved that problem by climbing trees.
Self-awareness – when I was little, scrubbing floors reminded me of Cinderella. I knew we did not live in a land of magical Princes and I was not going to be rescued, so I was not going to start a life of scrubbing floors.
Decision-making Skills – I didn’t like the choices my mother had for me, so I decided to make some choices for myself.
Creative Thinking – My sister & I built forts, climbed trees, and pretended we had lovely little prefect lives. We had careers, husbands, and mansions in the trees. We were creative and we had huge, endless imaginations when we were little, that guided us through the rest of our lives.
Today, kids are glued to some sort of device from a very early age. I see toddlers playing games of phones while they wait in line at the grocery store. Electronic games do not allow you to develop these skills as effectively. There is always a button that gives you further instruction. They enter an imaginary world that is completely designed for them, they don’t get to make any choices or creatively influence the story. They just follow along like little sheep. There are several games that promote creativity, problem-solving or decision-making, but they are not designed for real world issues. My sister & I created our imaginary world from the world we actually lived in. We chose the parts of life we liked and inserted them into our imagination and we corrected the parts we didn’t like. Skills we still use today.
Guide to Introducing Technology and other handy resourceshere.
The greatest skills our children are lacking:
Interpersonal Relationships – When my sister & I fought (and we fought a lot), we learned quite early that it was best for us to settle our differences, because Mom’s solution was not going to be fun. So we taught ourselves to compromise, to reason, to be fair and to apologize.
Effective Communication – In our tiny little, perfect, imaginary worlds, we still had needs. There were no adults there (because we didn’t want them), so we had to learn to use our words, to say what we needed, and say it in a way that was polite and respectful.
Empathy – One day, when we were in our imaginary world’s, I slipped and fell out of the tree, hitting my head on a rock. I don’t remember a lot about that, but I do remember watching as my sister suddenly had super-human speed & strength. She was out of her tree, beside me, helping me up and screaming for Mom or Dad all in the blink of an eye. She was my Hero that day. She never left my side, sitting there, right beside me as the doctor stitched my head back together. She was there holding my hand. She was there for the next few days as we moved our imaginary worlds a little closer to the ground (problem-solving & creative thinking). I knew she felt bad, even though none of it was her fault.
Managing feelings/Emotions – I think the worst sin was to swear at either of my parents. Yes, they made me angry. The expectation was, that I would use some of my Effective Communication skills to try to manage my anger and respectfully state my case. I developed quite a skill and still use it today.
Dealing with stress – kids have all kinds of stresses in the real world. We learned to deal with it in our imaginary worlds.
I think the most important skill is Critical Thinking. Critical thinking is what allows us to learn from our mistakes. Take all of the skills we have learned and apply them to create solutions. Allowing children to experience Natural Consequences is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. We have all had that argument about wearing a coat. Some days you just have to let them figure it out by themselves. I will write another post about Natural Consequences later (it’s a topic all by itself).
So, in short, unplug your kids. Let them be bored. Let them get dirty. Let them run, play, create, believe, argue, fall and scrape a knee. Let them be kids, but most importantly; let them learn.
We live in a world where everything is indoors, online, quick and easy. Today’s generation understands immediate gratification, social media and “as seen on TV” (or any other screen).
We’ve lost the social interaction, patience, gratitude and quality time spent with family and friends (in person).
This week, our family rented a little cottage on the water in Muskoka. My husband and I enjoy the outdoors, waterfalls, fishing, boating and hiking. All of these activities were completely foreign to our foster child. She struggled with debilitating anxiety just thinking about this trip. But once we got here, her world changed completely.
She is in awe of the beauty all around her. The huge rock formations that suddenly open up to vast lakes, the height and density of the trees, the stillness of the water, the people are so friendly. All of this was something she just couldn’t understand because she had never been outside the city.
The first day, it was obvious that she wanted to try everything, but didn’t know how to do any of it. I fitted her with a life jacket and we hopped on a paddle boat to tour the lake. Her fear of being on the water vanished as she allowed herself to just breath. She told me that it’s so relaxing here, she can’t get anxious about anything, even the things she would get very upset about at home, don’t bother her here.
After that, she quickly learned to Kayak, Canoe, fish and eagerly looked forward to our little day trips. She can rig her own fishing pole (including the worms), and somehow managed to catch a huge snapping turtle (which we quickly released).
We took her to High Falls, just North of Bracebridge and she was off like a shot. She became our tour guide and lead us to several little falls in the park. She crossed downed trees to reach the other side of the river, she climbed steep rocks, stood on the edge of a cliff looking down, snapping pictures the whole time.
We sat down to chat one evening and I asked her if all the excruciating headaches and anxiety were worth it? No, she said, it was all just a waste of time, this place is amazing! I asked her about her fear of heights and she replied that apparently she doesn’t have that fear anymore.
This trip has been an interesting point of self-discovery for this bright, beautiful and now; highly spirited young lady. She is going to camp for the first time in August and prior to this trip, had spent enormous amounts of time stressing and worrying because she didn’t have anything to compare the experience too, and now she does. Now, she is looking forward to camp and all the activities, the people, and especially the scenery.
Moral of the Story
“if you change your view, you can change your point of view.”
I have struggled with the word “Failure” for most of my life. My mother frequently reminded me that I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t try hard enough. If I would just use some of the negative energy for positive things, I might be something.
These are challenging words to overcome. I felt defined by those words. If your mother says them, they must be true. Why would she, of all people, tell me something that wasn’t true?
An emotionally vacant parent, lead to an emotionally empty and abusive husband, which leads to an ugly divorce, which leads to an abusive relationship, which leads to life as a single mom and a desire for more. More me. More happiness, more life, MORE….but what is MORE???
I was so confused…..
Ultimately I had 30 years of degrading internal dialogue or self-talk. NO-ONE was meaner to me than I was.
My faults, shortcomings, and misgivings were regularly highlighted. Seldom did I feel as though I could do anything right, so eventually I gave up trying. But still, I wanted MORE. More meant changing my internal dialogue. The dialogue I had to change was so embedded in me that I felt as though I was learning an entirely new language.
This was a terrible thing to change. When I sat quietly and listened, I could hear that very tiny, very soft voice within myself that said, “You can do this.” This voice was familiar, as I had spent years pushing it away. Convincing ME that I was lying to ME!!!! (Wow, as I write this, I am still a little sad for that girl I was so long ago.)
But with time, that voice grew louder. Every day I got out of bed, fed my kids, and ticked just one thing off my TO Do List, gave the voice more power. Every day, step by step, that voice grew stronger, and so did I.
I have had my setbacks since then, but that’s exactly what they are – setbacks; an opportunity to re-evaluate that last move, a point of growth.
Today, I use my story, my failures, successes, struggles, and achievements to inspire others to do the same.
Today, I have two happy, healthy kids, a supportive, loving husband, and a list of friends that continue to grow. I have an amazing circle of support. I have learned to lean on this circle when those negative thoughts come back, when I’m having a “stuck moment” or when I’m feeling a little less than me.
I have struggled, we all have. I can honestly tell you, that without those struggles, I would not be who I am today. And for that I am grateful!!!
Join us on Facebook for more conversation like this.
~Come as you are, become who you want to be…