The Sacred Separation

June 7, 2016
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I grew up, like the majority of humans today, with the subtle belief that there was something missing with who I was, with my life, my choices. No one told me that directly, but it was something I somehow inferred on a subconscious level. I think everyone around me felt the same way! It is in the very air that we breathe in our society…we are taught that we are “sinful” – it is a deep cultural identity. As an adult, the majority of my moments were LACKING in some way and I learned to strive into the next moment and the next on a frantic search to find these missing parts of me. My internal dialogue was incessantly and habitually pointing out all the ways I wasn’t enough, or how the moment wasn’t enough even how people around me weren’t enough, life wasn’t enough. I learned through my conditioning that I was SEPARATE from my own true wisdom, power, beauty, abundance, flow, ease, bliss, joy and LOVE. Separate from my voice, separate FROM MYSELF. I learned to defer to others, to make other people more powerful, more important than me. I learned to distrust or second guess myself and my decisions. I believed I had to be rescued, I believed that the hard times, even the hard emotions were more than I could navigate through and certainly implied that I wasn’t measuring up. I looked at the world that I aspired to and felt shitty. All of the time. I put on masks to hide my flawed nature. The party girl, the happy smiling me, the superior spiritual seeker, the optimist, the perpetual positive one. All of which served as a prison to keep me separate from FEELING, and thus transforming, the sorrow of not being good enough of being wrong or bad, of not being supported by life itself. I was held in this continuous tension of BLAH from morning to night.

The shame of being me engulfed me, took my breath away. I would have bursts of creative flow and expression, my True Self’s attempt to thrive in this world, but would quickly get to a point of fear and pull back. Working with my teacher Ingerid, I saw how I had been living HELD BACK, afraid that who I really was, what I really had to say, what I really wanted moment to moment would bring me back to shame and rejection and I wasn’t willing to risk the feeling of not being loved and supported. As I learned to allow that shame to be felt, to be a part of my days, my moments, it took refuge in my heart and shame became my guide. It told me moment to moment what I believed to be wrong with me, what I believed was missing from the moment, something I didn’t have that made me a failure, less than others. Shame began to shine the light on all the ways I had been abandoning my Sacred Self. As I allowed shame to be held time and time again, I began to see my inherent value, my worth that was not tied to anything physical in this manifested world, but rather the perfection that I was. Just being alive made me a part of LIFE ITSELF, worthy of being! Being life itself aligned me with beauty itself, peace itself, wisdom itself, clarity itself, abundance itself, LOVE itself.

With each breath I began to feel the safety of being ME fill my lungs like never before. I realized that I had walked around in my world since I could remember NEVER feeling safe. Never feeling like I was supported by life, by myself. That is the trauma that we all experience, because we must! Our lives take us deep into who we are NOT in order for us to experience, grasp, breathe in who we ARE on a much deeper level.

I have begun to use my life, each moment, each person, each experience, each situation as a kind of practice in the REMEMBERING of who I am. When something triggers a feeling of shame, of lack, of wrongness in myself, I get curious! I allow it. I allow that feeling, I embrace it like a child in need of comfort, compassion, love. If I feel rejected, hated, misunderstood, bad I allow that pain to be held. It moves through me and love begins to surface. I know that I AM LOVE and that everyone else is that too! I feel love and compassion for the world. When irritation, worry, striving comes up, I breath in these feelings of “something being wrong with this moment, with life, with me”. Soon the Truth that I AM LIFE ITSELF and that all is well all the time comes to stay. When I feel scared about making ends meet, I say hello to those feelings of LACK, I don’t push them away because they are scary, I make space for this fear. And I breathe it in and being to align with the Truth of who I AM ~ I AM ABUNDANCE, I AM SAFE, I AM SUPPORTED. Each feeling that something is missing is, in itself, a gift to see the illusion in  the moment and to remember the Truth of who I really am. This Truth isn’t an intellectualization, it isn’t information from the mind, it is underneath or beyond or before mind…it is a fundamental, organic knowing of who I AM beyond this physical existence and the conditioned identity of who I thought I was.

I cannot tell you the joy of realizing I am NOT who I have always thought I was. Feeling and embracing with LOVE all of these fragmented parts of myself is the lost art of  of bringing myself HOME to ME! All of the ways that I believed life was against me created an intense level of discomfort, misery, stress, suffering and disconnection in myself, my mind and in my day to day life and in my relationships. But this sacred act of radically loving ALL of me transcends the suffering and puts me into direct contact with Life, with the moment, with the Oneness of all that is.

“Immediately behind our human experience of internal separation and suffering, there is a vast and open space of understanding, connection and compassion, where we become fully alive and at peace with existence and with ourselves.” -Pedro Cortina

The shame of being me and all it’s corresponding emotions – fear, anger and sorrow have new meaning in my life. They are my companions, my allies, my guides. They show me where I am abandoning myself moment to moment. They show me the fragmented parts of myself that are asking to come home, to be held, to be loved, accepted. Everything is held in the LOVE that I AM. It is now about growing up and OWNING on a deep level who I really am, who I have always been and the real purpose of suffering and separation. What a JOY coming HOME to Me is.

To contemplate ~ From what I have begun to see we ALL live in separation because we live in a world based on conditional acceptance and love. Very few of us were UNCONDITIONALLY accepted and loved by our families and society. As children, the adults in our lives did not accept and love themselves fully and taught us the same habit, there was nothing more they could have done! But what if it was all ok, sacred, vital even? What if our courage in embracing the pain of our past is truly meant to liberate our very soul? What if you allowed your rage, your sorrow, your fear to be with you if only for a few seconds at a time today, really invited that pain in (it cannot hurt you and it YEARNS to be held). Can you sense the peace underneath? The love even? Would love to hear your comments!

Striving Isn’t ME! Breaking All The Masks

April 8, 2016
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There is this part of me, I call the “striver”…it is part CEO of a multinational corporation, part worried grandmother and part scared child. The striver is the voice of my ego, the false self that has the sole purpose of keeping me alive and loved, it thinks… It’s intention is good, rooted in my soul’s path for freedom, to come HOME to itself, but is misguided, misinformed and afraid. It’s job in essence is to hold up all of my false images, the masks that I have created that I have, up to now, believed would ensure me both success and love in life.

This part of me has functioned more or less under the radar, until now. It has influenced my thoughts, words and actions almost on autopilot. Today is when she is fully exposed, brought out into the light and LOVED. This embrace is in honor of my wholeness, my true, divine Self who is the real source of power and who is ready, very ready to return to her rightful place as leader of my life.

In honor of this embrace, this coming home, I am calling myself out…all of the ways I have lived as a FRAUD…trying to uphold these images, these masks. Not that these ideals in my life are not important, and not that I sometimes actually do live up to them, but I want to expose my attachment to them…right here, right now, naked, for you as my witness. I serve this up as almost a ceremonial purging. Purging the belief that if I don’t live up to these ideals then I will not be loved.

The images that I unconsciously thought were vital to uphold but only serve to stifle me from my natural FREEDOM, my own authentic voice, my own true, divine life are:

  • The image as the perfectly loving mother…raising my children fully consciously, awake, always loving, always accommodating, understanding, always knowing what to do, when to do it, how to do it, always appearing as if I have my shit together, both to others and to them.
  • The image as the successful spiritual teacher and entrepreneur…effortlessly changing the world, one mother at a time and the expectation that I first must live a perfect life before I can help others.
  • The image of the happy, joyful wife in service of her husband…the “what can I do to make you feel better”, people-pleasing trap that takes him away from his own process and me from mine.
  • The dutiful daughter, sister and friend…always being what others need me to be even when it compromises me, what I want and need.
  • The enlightened one…”I better get this spirituality thing right or people will think I am a flake”
  • The image of the aesthetically pleasing woman…the perfect home, nice clothes and other nice crap, cute look. The image of seeking approval, belonging to a flock in order to make me feel safe.
  • The image of the mom with well behaved kids…God forbid my children act crazy or act like kids…scream, curse, hit each other in public. I better look like I have my kids under control and not the other way around.
  • The image of affluence…this mask is more like not looking poor instead of a need to come off as wealthy. The fear of looking needy, not able to afford what others can afford…the mask of falseness and superficiality.
  • The image of the happy, joyful, friendly, positive woman…being THAT for the world so that the world loves me, so that I literally don’t die alone.

These masks all have good intentions, intentions based on an idea of love but inhibit the FLOW of life. When I take away attachment to them, I take away their power. I take away a mind engagement, a stress factor, a living in the future momentum, a disappointment in myself, guilt, a complete disconnection from love, wisdom and power, a leaking of my integrity, my voice, my will, where I then live putting OTHERS OPINIONS, NEEDS AND DESIRES over my own. Many people reading this will think that sounds selfish. “How dare I put my needs AND WANTS in front of other people!”, but besides my children, if someone actually, truly believes it is love for me to compromise myself, my integrity, my voice, my independence, my space in a relationship, those people do not know what true love is and people I am not interested spending time with. We have collectively been taught to believe that serving others needs over our own is what love is. I want to surround myself with people that put themselves FIRST and me second! What joy to be around others that CHOOSE to be around me not because I fill some sort of purpose for them but because of the simplicity of the freedom, the joy, the love that comes forth from both of us and the feeling of that PLAYING in space and time!!

What takes the place then of a life based on attachment? Well, I don’t really know yet, I am just FEELING my way forth here, exploring this, but what it feels like right now is a life lived in the moment, a life lived authentically, where thought, words and actions are inspired by a TRUTH within ME, where yes’s are true yes’s and no’s are true no’s, where deadness is replaced by freshness, newness, inspiration, enthusiasm, playfulness. What I offer then my family, friends and frigging strangers is LOVE. A love that comes from my Truest Self. A love that expects nothing, that rejoices in the simplicity of being. A love for myself that expands out into the world and includes others! A love that is soft and receptive, gently and kind when it needs to be, when the moment calls for it, and strong, commanding or even silent when that is right. This is FREEDOM where my voice becomes my purpose where the light and love of the Divine fills my body and projected OUT, where my mind is quiet, where the moment becomes exquisite where my senses are alive and on fire. Where honesty is my policy both for myself and with others and were I MATTER. A life free of attachment is a life where I get to LOVE ME FIRST. Fucking finally….and I start with loving this striving me, she is tired and needs a hug.

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You Are MORE

April 2, 2016
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I have been writing these last weeks about my journey into freedom and exploring how it impacts my family, how we grow, what we experience and how it feels.

Before I take the exploration any further, I wanted to really take a minute and explain what FREEDOM is and why it is so important to me and to our family and to our world.

But before I talk about what freedom is, let’s look at why the sense of freedom, as a fundamental source of identity, isn’t how life feels for most of us. We come into this world as pure beingness, a blank slate in essence. Through the actions and words of others, parents, siblings, grandparents and teachers mainly, we begin to craft an image of ourselves, based on THEIR beliefs of themselves and their world, what they believe is true and what they believe is false, what is possible in life and what is not. We unconsciously soak in these impulses, this stimuli and begin crafting our own stories, most FULL OF LIMITATION. Most of us do not question the validity of the mental conditions placed on us, we take them to be part of our history, part of who we are, where we came from, the story of our families, they way things are. We don’t realize or even question the randomness, the instability and the illusion of the “foundational” aspects of who we are.

Even though we live for decades in this illusion of identity, it is a beautiful thing!! Without the contrasts I have experienced in my life – the believing of all the things I WAS NOT, I would never have been able to see who I really was beyond all of that. And that sight is a gift beyond all other gifts. For many of us today, life is taking us to a point where we have no choice but to begin to question these “truths” of who we are. We begin to question if we really are as small and as unworthy as we were taught to believe. We begin to question the belief in our powerlessness. Something deep beneath the surface begins to rumble and move, getting our attention in the night or on our commute to work. And if we do not submerge this rumbling with fear and begin to breath into to them, giving the rumblings a little space in those moments, get curious, we begin to hear it’s voice…what does it say? WAKE UP. YOU ARE MORE THAN WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE….

When that voice becomes an undeniable part of your life you have no choice but to begin to question all of the assumptions, identities, expectations, stories that you have soaked in through out your life that make up the “you” you think you are. Each one is presented to you from the contexts of your life in order to examine. For me, when life throws me a situation where unworthiness or smallness is triggered, I have learned to be awake to that, to question the validity of the truth of that feeling. IS THAT TRUE? Is it true that I am small and powerless? NO. NO IT IS NOT even in the smallest bit true. From that resonance, I can then embrace the feeling of smallness. When we allow our feelings, even the ones that don’t feel good, to BE WITH US, to include them in as a part of the family, we become whole. That wholeness in essence, transforms those old identities into the truth of who we are. I do this over and over and over again, exposing layer upon layer of untruths, each time becoming more and more whole. This is true healing.

Freedom is what life WITHOUT these conditions dictating your thoughts, words and actions feels like! It is autonomy, integrity and deep wisdom that is now available to you at all times. It is about taking your life back, owning it again. Claiming dominion over your mind, your spirit, your gorgeous sacred being. You begin to understand just how sacred you are, and I don’t just mean the good and lovely parts of you, but all of you ~ the good, the bad and the ugly. Freedom is an opening, a widening, a expanding of the Truth of who you are, of the experience of being YOU. It is a shaking off of the old no matter what because there is this undeniable urge for busting out of the box you have lived in for so long and spreading your wings to their full expanse. It is about being ONE with life, feeling life course through your body in it’s aliveness, it is about breathing in air all the way to your toes, it is about saying yes when you want and no when you want, it is about a quiet mind, a mind where wisdom flows like water, where love is how you see the world and others and yourself, it is about confidence like never before, it is about wild creativity, wild self expression, wild love, sensuality in all your senses, it is about loving yourself deeply FIRST making no apologies for it or for you! It isn’t about a perfect life, it isn’t about life always feeling fantastic (because it won’t nor do you need it to anymore!), but it is about clarity and the understanding that you are so much MORE than anything you could ever experience, more than anything anyone has ever told you you were. This resting in yourself, your truth, your wisdom, your love, your FREEDOM that is true spirituality.

If you hear your own voice of freedom within you calling you forth into such a journey as you read this, I have to tell you it is THE MOST AMAZING thing that can ever happen to you. And yet it also comes with consequences and it is important to know this. Some people in your life will not understand why you would want that…why you would want or need freedom, autonomy. That is just because who you have been (the small one, the fearful one, the one needing rescuing, etc) has served a purpose in your relationships. Your smallness for example is fundamental in making another person feel BIG, important, special, “loved”. When you remove that from your relationships, there is a big chance that others will react negatively, the “you” that they have know is dying a sort of death. Life could get explosive with their attempts to pull you back into what they need from you, resuscitate the false you because they need that. Standing your ground in freedom is a challenging thing to do, but it is about not just setting yourself free, but others as well. Freeing yourself is the greatest act of love you can give yourself and the world.

I find it almost bizarre that some people in my life don’t understand my drive towards freedom and even more incredulous that they don’t want it for themselves! As women we are taught by or patriarchal culture to put ourselves last – to put others first. That “love” means being in relationships that serve the needs of other people over our own. We are taught not only to like it and that that is what “love” is but also that that is how it is period, that there is no way out, that this is life, “deal with it” and are made to believe that there is no hope for a life that feels free, where we are the captains of our own ships COMPLETELY. We are bread to be people pleasers extraordinaire at the cost of our most sacred joy. Ingerid, my teacher, calls it being the a la carte menu for others. I have been that. But now I say NO THANK YOU to those kinds of relationships in my life. I get to choose and I choose love that makes me feel free.

You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free. ― Hanh Nhat Thich.

In some of my closest relationships I have realized that there was never room for me – not the REAL me, not my emotions, not my desires, not my mistakes, not my messiness. Friends and family have been very attached to the me they wanted me to be. And I have needed them to be! I needed them to understand me, to see and experience that I was perfect, good, nice, joyful, happy, resourceful, prosperous, successful because that meant that I would be guaranteed love. Those were the conditions of our life, the conditions that bought you love, or so I was taught. But my life IS MESSY! It isn’t perfect! The ultimate egoic relationship demands that “I can’t be happy unless you are happy, be happy so that I can be happy!!” I have felt in my relationships that those close to me rushed in to “fix” me because my messy life made them uneasy, inharmonious, imbalanced and called then they called it “love”. But this condition of “perfection”, this intolerance for each other’s messy life, for a person’s whole life is not love, this is co-dependency. But I bless each one of these relationships! Because of them, because of the conditions I was shown, I was able to SEE my True Self and take ownership of her again.

The bottom line is that freedom is my RIGHT. It is your right too. Each one of us needs no permission to live our lives surrounded by things and people that make us feel good. I want to give that same gift of love that feels FREE to others around me. I want the love in our home to be REAL love, unconditional, free, gorgeous love! I want my children learn what FREEDOM in themselves and between others feels like and not settle for anything less in their relationships. Both my and my husbands journey into freedom is so precious to us because it is driven by unconditional love. I don’t believe any of us really know what true love is, what that feels like, I sure didn’t. True love without conditions or attachments feels free, in the moment, celebratory, glorious, wise and peaceful! And this freedom isn’t something we are NOT, it isn’t something we strive to get, to achieve, even to become. It is something that is at the core of our being. It is by uncovering layer after layer of all of the conditions, all of the false identities, that we begin to see we have been FREE all along and LOVE, true love bubbles to the surface.

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The Joy of Being Nothing and the Journey Getting There

March 24, 2016
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I do not write what I write here to teach you anything. I don’t write because I think I know more than you. I write because I am urged to write about my truth and the life experiences that are showing me this truth.

This journey of living so outrageously authentic is radically changing my life and the life of my husband, Gunnar, and our children. It is my belief that it is because of just this work, just this journey that the four of us came together in this life. I will write more about the impact of our transformation on our children in a future blog post. But my husband and I are going through a conscious, active journey, a purification process, in truth. A purification process that implies a clearing out of who we are not, in order to remember, to come back to who we truly ARE. This journey assumes that there is something “in the way” of our true sight, of remembering who are truly are at a core level. This fog or veil isn’t wrong or bad, it is just a thin veil that blinds us from our True Selves for a time (lifetimes perhaps), but is in no way a real or permanent block when you have gotten to the place so many people are getting to in this time of global conscious transformation – a true commitment to FREEDOM. That veil isn’t shunned or thrown out, pushed away or ignored, it is integrated. Freedom means living from one’s WHOLE self, an integrated whole, free of the burden of who we are not that we have been conditioned to believe and accept.

For me, this journey has REQUIRED me to be honest, open and brave. Meeting face to face every illusion and false belief you have about yourself is not a cake walk! But, I began to slowly understand that thought is simply “phenomenon”. When it rises and when we then identify with thought, believe thought, BECOME thought, it is only because it is resonating in that moment with a deeper belief, a story, assumption, expectation or some sort of deeper illusionary concept of ourselves. This sacred journey I am on is about clearing out all of that, removing the veil that stops me from seeing what has always been there…my Divine Self.

So how does it work? What does this deep work of self discovery feel like, look like?

I can only speak for myself, even my husband has his own way of describing his experience of this process for himself. But, what I am meeting is all of the FALSE stories, assumptions, identities, images, expectations, ideas and concepts that I have entertained, believed to BE ME for as long as I can remember and which keep me from ME, the authentic ME, the FREE ME. It is as simple as looking. Each time I am triggered emotionally – I FEEL that emotion fully, that emotion of fear, rage, sadness, etc., that has NEVER BEEN TRULY FELT, never been welcomed in, included, look upon as a part of the team, a part of my wholeness. For me and for many of us, these “bad” or “negative” emotions had been locked up all nice and denied behind an image of a happy person, a together person, someone who functions decently in society, but there was a hidden current of unmet, unprocessed, unfelt emotion running through me that subtly impacted ALL THAT I DID, ALL THAT I WAS.

This process brings all of it to the surface. I know that sounds totally freaky! Why would I do such a thing?! Why would I want to feel all the stuff that would make me feel bad, stuff I had kept nice and tucked away for so long?! Stay with me because one of the biggest human misunderstandings is that our emotions are dangerous. They are NOT! They are just feelings and each one of our feelings MUST be felt with compassion and love. They are not meant to stay locked inside festering and growing like a tumor (literally or figuratively). They are meant as guideposts, pointers along the way. When we feel them FULLY, like really let them in, they loose their “umph” and their power over us fades, they can no longer cloud our mind and influence our actions. It is like an emotional massage…the relief when such emotions are felt and released is palatable. And it is the core of self love. Self love cannot exist without the integration of the WHOLE self, all of our emotions are a part of the whole.

But even though that feels good (ok, bad first and then good), I do not stop there. The next and natural step for me is to get to the core of the thought, the story, the belief. What is feeding the emotion, or rather what thought is the emotion linked to, keeping the emotion alive? Do you follow me? The emotions that haunt us have roots in the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we believe! The stories I found to be lying powerfully dormant in my conscious and subconscious minds were things like “I am not worthy”. That belief allowed me to believe that everyone was more important than me, more powerful, more deserving that me. That thought allowed me to be dominated, run over. The truth is that as my True Self, the concept of worth doesn’t even exist. At my very core, worth is a non-issue. I am beyond worthiness, beyond the mind, I am worth itself.

“I am ugly”. This came from childhood and has cut me off from embracing my wild, free and gorgeous female body, loving her tenderly and fully. My body is this sacred human expression of my divinity and I have begun to related to her as such – the gratitude for this body overwhelms me. I am beautiful!

“I do not deserve wealth, success, abundance, ease”. This came from an ancient allegiance to the patriarchy. With my amazing teacher, Ingerid’s help, I was able to see both spiritually and practically how I kept myself small over many lifetimes because of the belief that “I am merely woman and cannot join the big boys table and enjoy all the abundance of life”. It impacted my relationship with men, authority, bosses and kept me, obviously, small, mediocre and powerless. Seeing this insane truth that shockingly resonated to my core, the doors that were there cutting me off from my POWERFUL self have swung open and crashed in a million pieces, never to be closed again. I am beyond deserving. I am abundance!

“I am imperfect”. This belief fueled that urge to constantly evolve, it fueled my 20+ year long spiritual search. Believing that I was somehow broken and needed fixing before I could experience a joyful life and more subtly before I was worthy of true love, of God’s love. But the JOY was in realizing that I am already a perfect expression of the Divine, perfect in my imperfections, Divinely Human! Ingerid has shown me that the journey isn’t in becoming a perfectly spiritual person, it is in recognizing our spiritual identity first and then embracing our messy, divinely human lives. The next phase for human evolution is this conscious understanding that we are unique expressions of the Divine, in our very imperfect humanness.

I am lucky enough to have Ingerid in my life who has gifts to be able to see deep into my subconscious, present to me what she sees with a shocking resonance. But everyone can get to the root of these stories.  They can come from childhood, past lives, any aspect of our life…the unconscious accumulation of the stories, concepts and ideas we have taken to be ourselves, but ultimately are not true. All that is required is openness and a willingness to look, from every angle, at the triggered situation, emotion and subsequent belief…asking yourself is this TRUE? Without a shadow of a doubt is this true? NONE of these bullshit thoughts or beliefs I wrote about above were TRUE for me! But it wasn’t like they all just disappeared after I saw the insanity of the belief. The emotions tied to them had to be felt again and again and layer after layer, I am being freed.

So as I meet each of of these illusions with GREAT tenderness and love, they take me to the truth of my being. And this is not an intellectual knowing, this isn’t something that I have been taught and accepted because it sounds good, but something I have have experienced. So who am I?

Let me explain with Gunnar’s experience of who he is (because it is the same as who I am) ->

Last week, Ingerid joined us in our home for two days of intensive Satsang. At one point on the first day, Ingerid was helping Gunnar go deep into feelings of unworthiness that fueled his people pleasing tendency. She took him deeper and deeper into the feeling, having him explain it at every step. “What does that feel like?” and “Tell me more…”.

He got down to what he called Nothingness. He said…”I am nothing”. He sat with that and she asked him to describe this “being nothing”. I was sure he was going to explore a hopeless energy of being identified with that nothingness, but instead he blew us away as he described it as wide, expansive, SAFE, loving, surrounding him and in him, free, abundant, powerful, tender, connected to a feeling of ONEness with all he was looking at. His mind was silent and he saw how THIS was his True Self, his real being. He looked incredulously and said “this is who I have always been…”  This wasn’t just his truth, this was my truth too. And all three of us sat there silently basking in that glorious nothingness. This is how he described it…

“I didn’t take space any more – conscious, physical space…I didn’t demand space, I just merged with the elements surrounding me. A sort of disappearing. It was like movement happens…physical movement in the world, but from this nothingingness, there are no worries. I felt safe because I was a part of everything! When you remember you are nothing, you become everything!” – Gunnar

It may be hard for many to imagine this nothingness as a true identity, an exciting prospect! Most of us are deeply attached to all of the sources of identity outside of ourselves, the noise that covers up our true selves and just the thought of letting go sounds ridiculous. For us, all of these “false gods” so to speak (because they have been worshipped!) or false identities are falling away. This glorious emptiness is so FULL!!! By meeting all of the “conditions” that we have been carrying around squarely in the face, feeling the unmet emotions, questioning the illusions, the stories, we are clearing the space within us to that life can flow. We experience the release of fear and the rush of Truth!!! Each day we offer ourselves up to LIFE ITSELF, to our messy, imperfect lives, to making mistakes, to true communication, to unconditional love, to authenticity in ourselves, to meeting, with LOVE, what hurts, what scares us and merging with the flow of aliveness, of existence. This nothingness is LIFE ITSELF! I AM LIFE ITSELF! I am alive and it is radically beautiful!

From FREEDOM, from this merging into LIFE ITSELF individually in our own ways, Gunnar and I are beginning to experience what a “relationship”, a marriage feels like from there. What do you think it feels like? I never knew what true love was until now…will write more about this next week!

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Freedom

February 19, 2016
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When I started my work with The Joyful Mother, it was inspired by a yearning within me to parent from joy. It was my strong instinct that my joy was my children’s birthright and that I was a stronger and better parent when parenting from love and joy. I knew that love was strength, insight, clarity, acceptance, patience and it empowered me to be the best version of myself as a parent. Parenting from love and joy did not turn me into a weak, apathetic or “door-mat” kind of parent with no backbone, on the contrary, when I was connected to that strength of love, I was present, connected to my children, connected to myself, my wisdom, my power, my clarity. I was everything my children needed…their rock, their safe place to fall, their everything.

And although I am still of the strong belief that parenting from love and joy is the very best for my children, I am only now realizing that that was only part of the picture of “success” for me as a parent and as a human being. The intention was there, and a natural loving nature, but I had to start looking at why parenting from joy was hard sometimes…

You see, the striving for a constant loving mindset, a joyful heart, constant peace, clarity, etc…set me up. Because I wasn’t always joyful, always loving. I didn’t always act from peace, I wasn’t always their rock. Sometimes I lost it, said things I couldn’t take back, wallowed in confusion, frustration, exhaustion, depletion. That is a part of life and a big part of parenting, everyday, for most of us. But, for me, my mistakes were not just mistakes but were deep emotional wounds that I inflicted upon myself. The mistake was one thing (I could learn from that and did) but, on top of it would be piles, mounds of self punishment. The expectation to be a PERFECTLY joyful parent all the frigging time was a drain at best, a sickness at worst. I was black and blue on the inside and smiling on the outside. And worst of all, this inner conflict took me away from love. Love that is this energy of connection that is only available in the present moment. The focus on my self-hate filled mind chatter was a constant distraction from the now moment, from life.

And truth be told (why hold back now right?!), it wasn’t just in my relationship with my kids where I strove for perfection…it was in all of my relationships, it was in life. This striving for perfection I realized was my attempt to secure love. If I could just BE who people wanted me to be (i.e. perfect), they would love me forever, I would be safe, I could relax. But no where, not in any one of my relationships, not in any aspect of my life, was I able to stay in that constant state of joy in order to be in service of everyone else’s joy, in order to feel peace and love that I so craved. Does that crazy cycle make sense to you? It started to feel like the house of cards that my relationships were built upon – the conditions and expectations that held each one up were collapsing.

Because the truth is it was ALWAYS unsustainable. All of the expectations, identities, attachments, assumptions and stories I had been telling myself about WHO I WAS  began to crumble. This conditioned self, the false me, I could not carry anymore. Everything began to unravel. Because it had to. My instinct to parent from love and joy could NOT be fulfilled with my mind, my body, my heart full of illusions, untruths. They had to be emptied, drained, the impurities purged to make space for LOVE and the light of my True Being to rush in and take over. This is not a pleasant experience, I must warn you. And it has JUST BEGUN for me. This dumping out process HURTS! But it is like child birth somehow. The pain does not define this process, it is only a part of it. And it is truly the birthing of my Real Self.

So with this dedication and readiness, a few months ago, both my husband and I began, our journey towards transformation, a full conscious commitment to this dumping out process and the birthing of our True Selves and our birthright…true FREEDOM. Our teacher, our guide, our sister, Ingerid Esme Ferrer, took us under her wing…

Ingerid Esme Ferrer is a midwife to the song of freedom that is birthing on the planet: she coaxes the melody of beauty and the cadences of grief from the hidden shadows of the psyche and invites a total free fall into the arms of love. Esme authentically embodies the love that changes everything: the love that embraces the dark and the light, the pain and the beauty, the lies and the truth. She is the Great Mother and the Destroyer Goddess Kali, cutting through the illusion to deliver the gifts of surrender and sweet release from the traps of the ego and the delusions of the mind. 
Pamela Gerrand ~ Singer, composer and sound healer

Ingerid is teaching us, guiding us, ushering us into an understanding of who we really are. As a parent, as a woman, I had denied my darkness and I was ashamed of my aliveness. I had resisted embracing my mistakes, missteps, weaknesses, innocent ignorances like the plague. How could I allow what wasn’t perfect, what wasn’t going to guarantee me love? I couldn’t take that chance! But my GOD! How wrong I was….The resistance only made me more separate from my True Being, my Divine Self, from love, wisdom and power of my this unique ME. By including, allowing, unconditionally LOVING every flaw, every emotion I never wanted to feel, I am becoming whole. With each loving embrace, peace, love and clarity rush in. It is the doorway to the NOW, the ticket to true connection with myself, my children, every other person and God.

Each day Ingerid holds our hands. She takes us deep into what is uncomfortable, painful, the fears, doubts, insecurities and MAKES ME breathe and FEEL every last one of them. Feeling it all fully, in the light of day is the transformation from a life lead by illusion and conditions to one lead by Truth and love. Feeling it all fully transforms the pain. Our pain and suffering WANT to be felt, need to be felt in order for us live and breath authentically. We are all conditioned to be something, someone we are NOT, living in our self imposed prisons, denying the most magnificent Truth…we are whole, we are free already, perfect in our imperfection, powerful beyond belief, we are all unique manifestations of the One, we are God.

My joyful mother journey went beyond joy and into FREEDOM. Because my children don’t need or want their father or I to be perfect, happy all the time, masking our true selves, they want us to be FREE so that they can maintain their natural freedom. Being a mother is turning out to be the greatest catalyst to true FREEDOM I could have ever asked for. My children have shown me that underneath IT ALL, all of the identities, expectations, attachments of my false self is love and freedom. Always. It was always there! Underneath it all is God. God is LOVE. The thing that I was striving for, yearning for, was there the WHOLE TIME! The key was not to avoid the bad, the painful, but to include it, to become whole, fresh in every moment, brutally honest, and unconditionally loving to myself.

We are encouraging and cultivating the habit of emotional honesty in our home now where ALL emotions are allowed, nothing is off the table, nothing is shameful, not anger, fear, shame. We try not to lash out with these heavy emotions, but instead, we talk about them, put words on them, FEEL them and listen to each other…deeply. We are teaching our children to welcome their emotions in the moment, put words on them, feel the release of that pure loving honesty which helps them find their way back to their Real Selves more and more consistently. As we allow our emotions to be, to flow, they move through us and OUT and what we are left with is Truth. The sacred, unique Truth of the average everyday moment. And the illusions are a sacred part of us too! That has been one of the greatest things I have realized. That everything I am NOT is just as beautiful a part of me as the Truth of who I AM! I hated the imperfect me, the angry me, the sad me, the confused me. Now I am learning to love, accept and embrace my WHOLE Self! Our family dialogue no longer judges or punishes BIG emotions. We make space for them, make space for our whole selves.

Ingerid taught us that an honest relationship with our feelings is the all time greatest act of self love, because it takes us directly into the arms of our True Self and there is no other place my husband and I would rather be. It is with great urgency and love that we transform, that we embrace our FREEDOM so that both of us and our children can consciously navigate from the Truth of who we really are. We want to be REAL, no matter what and it isn’t just trying to do better, it is an honest transformation of self, of our beingness that is needed, no, required.

I will continue to post about our journey with the hope that sharing our life inspires you in yours. And please stop by Ingerid’s blog ~ a visual inspiration for women transforming into their own divine sensitivity and beauty and love for all things beautiful.

Photo source

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Our Shocking Lack of Presence

December 18, 2014
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When Danish dialogue facilitator and specialist in conflict mediation and reconciliation, Carl Plesner, was talking to a group of fifth graders about wellbeing and conflict mediation in school, he asked one of his routine question a bit differently than usual. The children’s responses shocked him.

The session with the kids was based around a dialogue with a set of “need cards” as the basis for their talk. The cards depicted 60 “universal needs” that all humans regardless of culture, religion, gender, age and geographic location have in common. Things like friendship, safety, closeness, intimacy, protection, rest, peace, calm, learning, acceptance, and food. The children sat in a circle around the cards. Ordinarily, Plesner would ask the group which needs they want to put more focus on in the their class room. But on this day, he asked instead without thinking, which needs the children wanted to experience more of in their life.

The children begin to talk. The third child that spoke was a boy. As he begins to talk, he burst into tears. In his hand he was holding the card closeness. He tries again to speak, but the tears choke the words in his throat. Another child, a girl, also begins to cry. She is holding the word friendship in her hand. She begins to tell the group that she yearns for friendship with her parents, about how busy they are all the time at home, about the harsh tone in the morning when everyone is rushing out of the house to work and school, and about the afternoons when her parents rush through dinner to get back to their pc’s to put in a few extra hours of work before putting them to bed. She says how much she wants to make dinner with her father, but that she feels he is unavailable because he is lost in his own world, constantly checking his mobile phone, answering messages and listening to music.

Many of the children begin to cry and tell their own similar stories. The teacher passes around tissues. Plesner gathers the children in closer and listens to their stories. All the children listen intently to each other. In the space there is calm, focused attention and deep connection. They all tell different versions of the same story. How intently they yearn for contact with their parents and how much they need their parents to just spend time with them.

Plesner asks the boy who chose the card “closeness”, the boy who was choked with emotion and could not speak, why he chose that particular card. He sighs and tells the group about his father, who travels often and is rarely home. Plesner asks this child what he defines as “closeness”. The child answers to be seen and understood by his father. Plesner swallows back his own tears at this point and digs a bit deeper. He asks him how it feels not to be seen or understood by his father. He answers “it feels like a huge, cold, black hole inside of me.”

The children’s stories moved Plesner deeply. Since then he has asked this same question to 8 other classes and the answers have been very much the same, regardless of age. He says, “I am shocked at the number of children that experience a lack of emotional closeness and connection at home. It saddens me deeply.”

He presents this thought to all parents to contemplate: “We MUST prioritize our children and make that feel, experience that they are a priority in our lives. Allow ourselves to see and be moved by their lives. Many families are experience much stress in balancing work and family life, it seems like this balancing act has never been harder. But what is more important? That we get to work on time or that our children are happy? If we do not prioritize our children, we have, in my opinion, betrayed our responsibility to our children and as a parent.”

He asks us to think about our legacy as a parent and when our time is done in this life, what will we remember with the most joy, the most fondness? Closeness and connection with our children? Or that report that we wanted to get finished before we put our kids to bed – who sat silently and looked at us with sorrow & longing for our presence?

We must do more than just contemplate these questions, we must simply own our emotional responsibility to our children. Every day.

The fact is we are all busy. You see, it isn’t just busyness that takes us away from our kids, that is just the external form it takes. It first comes from our mental engagements – what you are choosing to focus on throughout the day. For most of us, we focus on ourselves – our stresses, our frustrations, our worries, our fears – all of which take up ALL the space in our minds. These conditioned thoughts, beliefs and assumptions make up the egoic mind. And most of us are run by this part of our minds.

Robin Simon, professor of sociology at Wake Forest University found that parents are more likely to focus on mundane duties during the day such as the school run or mealtimes, rather than the less frequent but more happiness-inducing moments such as a first smile, first step, or even just a goodnight cuddle. (Source: Psychologies article, Do Children Make Us Happier).

Before my clients begin to wake up to the healing and connective power of shifting their focus, the tendency of focusing on the negative, the stress, the anxiety of the day, is quite unconscious. That is because of the brain’s “negative bias“. Our brain is actually built with a greater sensitivity to unpleasant stimuli. It is like this negative bias keeps us locked in the egoic, ME part of our sense of reality and separated from actually SEEING others and connecting from a deeper part of ourselves.

Because we don’t intend to neglect the emotional needs of our children, that is just the effect of the ME based egoic mind and the brain’s negative bias. But we can change our habitual tendencies with practice! The first thing to do is to SEE this, to recognize it in the moment and STOP. Just ask yourself throughout the day… what am I focusing on right now? Stop in that moment and switch your focus. It is as easy as shifting your gaze from your cup of coffee on your desk to the vase of roses. Shift your gaze and then do nothing but get curious….open up to truly SEEING your child beyond your egoic interpretation, your judgements, your assumptions or even expectations. Just open up and SEE him.

A simple yet profound act of love. Truly the greatest gift you could ever give your child.

Become a conscious parent, practice this each day and it will become habitual and you will see your children blossom in so many ways and your heart and your relationships heal.

Wishing you a VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from me!

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Note: Carl Plesner trains people in restorative dialogues, nonviolent communication and conflict mediation. Both in private business, schools, the public sector and open trainings.

Link to full article in Danish

You Are Already Perfect Mom…

November 19, 2014
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We, moms today, seem to be in a constant state of polishing this thing called motherhood until it gleams. We are so busy and concerned about everything related to motherhood, our houses, ourselves, our partners, our activities and our children and their activities to LOOK a certain way in order to fulfill a certain need, desire, feeling in us. But wait…that sounds a bit selfish. I mean, none of us start out as a mom, looking to fulfill our own needs, we don’t intend to make it all about us. We do all of these things FOR OUR KIDS right? So that they can be successful, be beautiful, be liked, be talented, to be happy, to thrive, right?

And yet, if you peel this back a bit and really look at it, our striving is more about us rather than our children, can you see this? Please…keep reading. This is not because we are ego-maniacs but because we know of no other way to succeed as moms. Our society teaches us certain values for success, these are ingrained, conditioned within us. These values are based on the patriarchy that we live in and are such things as outward recognition, competition, focus on doing, productivity, intellectualization (over-thinking), tension, fear, struggle, lack, failure, rejection, judgement. All of these values influence our definition of success. They started out defining our success before we had kids, in school then in the workplace, but as we grow in our role as mother, we begin to slowly see that measuring success as a mom or dad from these criteria disconnects us from our kids, disconnects us from what parenting is really about and maybe most critically, disconnects us from our best selves.

AlreadytheYou_the_joyful_motherBecause isn’t parenting is REALLY about serving our children’s highest good?  When I say serving, that does not mean waiting on them hand and foot. It means taking the ME, the perpetual focus of motherhood on YOUR experience and shifting it to your kids. Getting curious about them, seeing them, making time for connection, stillness. It is about supporting them physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. It is also about being what I call the Loving Leader, which means guiding our children through the rough terrain of growing up with structure, clarity, strength but never abandoning love.

Over-thinking and the preoccupation with how motherhood looks, with perfection, I believe, comes from the fact that we are stuck in our definition of what success as a mother means. Recently I asked a group of over 100 moms what the most important thing about motherhood was to them. By far, the most popular answer was to raise happy and thriving kids. The frustration we feel as mothers is a sort of unconscious panic. We know on some level that the urge for perfection the striving for external success as a mom is not really cutting it, that it isn’t THAT that is going to fill our children’s hearts and minds with confidence, self-esteem, love for self, to set them up to tackle the world. But that is all we’ve got to go on!

It is time to ask ourselves if we don’t need a new set of criteria to succeed at that sacred and vital goal of shepherding our children into a happy and thriving life. Because what we are doing now is not the WHOLE picture and it is NOT working. Look at the scary reality of our preoccupation with the external as a measure of our success, our identity and how it is causing major problems for our children. Please listen to Meghan Ramsey’s TedTalk on Why Thinking You Are Ugly is Bad for You.

It is my life’s work to awaken women to this new skill set. And yet, calling it a skill set is not really right. Who we are fully, the entire potential of us as mothers, as individuals has always been with us, only hidden from view. It is like if you look up at the sky at night for the first time and see the moon in its crescent moon shape and then from then on out you just assume that the moon is in that shape without realizing, without being interested in the TRUTH of the moon’s shape, its fullness, it’s wholeness.

We need to look at the FULL moon!! Because of our conditioned ideas about who we are, what we are capable of, where success comes from, we have cut ourselves off from our full moon state. As fully, whole, conscious and SUCCESSFUL beings we value and have access to not just the masculine parts of ourselves in the DOINGS of life, but the feminine energies and parts of ourselves as well, the BEING. Parts of ourselves like our intuition, introspection, creativity, relaxation, mindfulness of action, intention, love, consciousness, knowing, acceptance, peace, mistakes as learning, living in the moment, stillness. Those are aspects of all of us and yet, by societies standards relatively meaningless.

We are missing out on filling our children with what they so vitally need, love and connection by our preoccupation on the doings, the strivings of life as a “perfect” mom. This is an amazing video by Dan Siegel looking at the science of being vs. doing and WHY we must begin to value BEING with our children more than our constant urge to do.

So what can you DO about it (Ha! Yes…life is a paradox…)? To help explore this topic and to give you some practical insight and advice, I want to invite you to join me and my 3 guests for an event on Thursday the 20th of November at 3:00pm EST where we will be exploring how patriarchal values and norms limit our attitude, confidence and ability as a parent and how a greater understanding in our own evolving human consciousness is expanding our strength and insight and enabling us to show up as the best version of ourselves in our families. We will talk about what the Conscious Parenting movement actually means on a practical level and specifically how parenting from a heightened space of consciousness makes parenting easier.

Click here for more information, to get your ticket and receive the call in info! PLEASE SHARE with your friends!

Everything you need to thrive as a mother, to feel proud as a mother and to help support your children growing into happy and thriving adults is ALREADY within you!!! You don’t need to learn anything, you just need to uncover a deeper side of yourself. This I teach and explore in my upcoming book, Mommy Makes the Weather, to be released in 2015. Stay tuned for more updates!

To your success!!!

Signature_SigridKjeldsen

 

 

“All I Want is My Children To Be Happy”

October 13, 2014
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Jennifer Senior, author of All Joy and No Fun asked some incredibly important and relevant questions for parents in her recent TedTalk, For Parents, Happiness is a Very High Bar.

Why is parenting associated with so much anguish and confusion today?”

Why are both mothers and fathers experiencing parenting as a kind of crisis?”

She raised some interesting points, in specific stating that it is not our children that are the source of the problem, but something about parenting that is. “We don’t know what parenting is supposed to be…” as she so succinctly put it.

She is right. The majority of us are scrambling in order to provide our children with all of the skill, talent and performance ability they can jam in their young minds in the hope that they won’t fail, or feel pain, or be unhappy or unsuccessful. All of those possible futures for our children send shudders down our spines, we want to avoid them at all costs. Jennifer talks about how middle class American parents are so unsure what portion of their own wisdom will be useful for their kids, that they manically prepare them for every kind of future. These parents feel like if they aren’t trying everything, it is the same as doing nothing and thereby defaulting on our obligation to our children.

Senior goes on to say that our goal of creating happy, well adjusted children is an illusive, unrealistic goal. That a child’s happiness is an unfair burden to place on a parent and an even more unfair burden to place on a child.

Instead, she says much more realistic goals should be raising decent kids, moral children, productive citizens and let happiness and self esteem work itself out.

happykidsAnd it is here that I felt pulled to interject. Our children’s happiness…I do not see this as an illusive goal for parents, just one we have yet to fully understand the mechanics of. In our modern society, we have entered an age of limbo. We are shifting from the external conditions of life being the main determinant of happiness, well being and self esteem to charting new territory and learning a new happiness skill set that will deepen our ability to both profoundly support our own happiness and that of our children.

Just because happiness is an intangible goal in and of itself – not just for our children, but for ourselves as well, is no reason to not try! Jennifer correctly stated that all parents can agree that our children’s happiness is paramount. It is now that we must challenge our ways of thinking, parenting and living in order to support our children’s evolution.

We have a responsibility for our children’s physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual well-being. We cannot just focus on one or two of these areas and just throw up our hands and resign ourself to the fact that we don’t know how to support our children on the others if we intend to raise well-adjusted kids. No, we roll up our sleeves and start figuring it out! And we do this by first committing to our own happiness and self empowerment. The most significant impact we can have on our children is modeling health, happiness and autonomy in our own lives. They must witness what a happy life looks and feels like. We cannot fake this, and just put on a happy face. Our children can sense our deepest emotional states of mind, we must do the work.

For me as a parent, my greatest wish for my children has less to do with happiness and outward success (those things come and go do they not?), but rather for my children to live emotionally autonomous lives. What does that mean? It means that they understand that for any lasting success and happiness to be established in their lives, mastery of their minds, their inner worlds is paramount. It is only in the cultivating a happy and resilient inner world can we ever expect to live a happy and successful outer world. And it is only as I evolve in this way, committed to my own joyful, inner world, manifesting a joyful outer one, can I teach my children, bit by bit, the life skills that will equip them for the same.

Here are some of The Joyful Mother Life Lessons, the universal truths of this paradigm shift. These I have both discovered from my journey as a parent and also from my years of working with hundreds of moms finding their way back to their BEST selves and experiencing the amazing impact of that BEST self on the happiness, wellbeing and success of their children. It is first and foremost about YOU exploring these truths for yourself, integrating them into your life one by one.

My wish for our children:

  • Don’t believe every thought that you think – with a little bit of insight and practice you will be able to discern a true thought from a thought based in fear, or an untrue thought.
  • Do not fear pain, struggle and unhappiness. Do not let them define you.  But, instead, see all such experiences as an avenue for growth and learning. Have enough introspection to stand back and see what the situation is trying to teach you, extract this lesson and move on. Life is a journey.
  • Ask yourself a lot, “What Would Love Do?”
  • You and NO ONE ELSE and nothing else is responsible for your happiness. That is your job and is a totally doable task.
  • No matter what…take care of YOU. Always fill your mind, soul and body with things, thoughts, actions that fill you up. This is the only way you can be your BEST and give to others.
  • Recognize that it is through your own creative mind (imagination) that you create your reality. That what you focus on consistently is what will manifest in your physical lives. Try it out for yourself and create the proof you need to believe this.
  • That there are only two emotions, fear and love and their derivatives and that love is only love when it is unconditional. Everything else is an absence of love.
  • That it doesn’t matter what you do with your life, if you love it, are dedicated and passionate about making a difference in the world, for people, you will succeed.
  • Forgiveness is about your liberation and vital to your sense of worth. Anger, rage, bitterness, revenge are only poisons inflicted upon yourself.
  • You are BORN worthy of abundance, grace, immeasurable love.  You are love.
  • That you have an inner guidance system and trusting it is vital in your everyday. Even if you don’t understand where your intuition is taking you, trust it. It will always take you in the right direction.
  • Joy and peace is your natural state of being. Anything else is just resistance to that state and a forgetting of who you are. But you will forget that. And you will remember it again. This goes on your whole life and is a part of your growth process.
  • You are never alone. The Divine, Source energy, God is a constant presence in every moment. You are a unique expression of what it means to be human and of eternal spirit. Make space for this, focus on the BIGGER you everyday by inviting the Divine to walk with you everyday.
  • Success STARTS with the right mindset and inspires the “right” action. Always connect with your inner genius before you begin work on anything.
  • It really is all about LOVE. Success comes from habitually and consciously connecting with the energy of love. Love is an energy and is all around you. Accessible to you at all times. See love and beauty in everything and everyone and you will know it in yourself.

Jennifer calls for new norms for parenting today. I could not agree more. But those norms must come in the form of habits. Inner habits of mind that merge our spiritual and emotional selves with who we are, our intellect and what we do in this physical realm. It is only in this delicate and exciting balance can we find happiness and equip our children with the depth to do the same.

I implore you not to give up on your children’s happiness just because it is hard, just because you don’t know how exactly! Giving up on actively influencing your children’s happiness is, for all intensive purposes, giving up on doing the same for yourself. Happiness is a habit that can be learned! To raise children that are productive, moral, decent, hardworking and loving, for all its positive intention, cannot be the goal either. Those things are simply the gorgeous byproducts of an empowered inner world. It is in the living and breathing of The Joyful Mother Life Lessons stated above that we can make an impact as powerful influencers of our children’s joy.

This is the most vital work we can do in service of our children’s lives and is the REAL obligation we have as parents. I ask that you consider the idea that in addition to all of the opportunities we create for our kids to grown intellectually, academically, that we claim our full responsibility as parents in supporting them on all levels of growth. Not only will you create fertile ground for happiness, love and connection in your children’s hearts and minds, but you will get it all back and finally feel fulfilled as a parent – finally knowing how to parent from your BEST self.

 

Love,

Signature_SigridKjeldsen

 

 

 

 

My Top 5 Tips For a Joyful Family Dinner!

September 17, 2014
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I came across an article today called “Study finds that home-cooking disproportionately burdens mothers“. I think this is for sure the case for most of us, would you not agree? But does it have to be?

Analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank (UK) shows that eight out of 10 married women do more household chores, while just one in 10 married men does an equal amount of cleaning and washing as his wife.

So, not only do most of us moms juggle housework, a job (part or full time) and coordinator for their kids activities and school work, we experience the dreaded “what the hell am I going to make for dinner that everyone will eat” dilemma pretty much everyday.

But here is the thing…I do not think we have to just suffer through this. For most of us, we year for relief because we know we cannot be our BEST self as a mother, wife and rockin’ individual when we are pulled from all corners. The work that I do at The Joyful Mother is based on the idea that as we shift our internal perspectives, our reality shifts. I wanted to give you My Top 5 Tips For a Joyful Family Dinner that you can use and integrate in your evening routine in order to find that relief, that ease, that sense of “Dang! I rock at this mommy thing!” Because most of us fall asleep at night wishing things were different, that life was easier. It can be.

family-dinner-400x4001. Focus on the GOOD, focus on LOVE: Science has proven that the human mind is way more powerful than we have realized up to now. I am reading a book called The Field by Lynne McTaggart which documents how scientist have proven that what we focus on, our attention at any give time is what creates our reality. So what are you focusing on as a mom? How is that showing up in your day to day? Stressed out mind = stressed out family. When we see making dinner as a hassle, another chore to do, when we lock into the idea that what is the point of cooking when no one is going to eat our food anyway…dinner time will suck and you will struggle and you will hate it and dread it everyday. Sound familiar?

When I start feeling this way, I stop myself and make the CHOICE to remember to focus on how dinner is a sacred time for us. I am then able to shift into a state of mindfulness and focus my efforts on love. Because, for me, cooking dinner for my family is an act of love. I know that my attitude, my energy impacts not just how the food tastes, but the energy of my family around the table.

Here is a wonderful article about mindfulness and loving-kindness while cooking. My husband likes to cook on the weekend. I mean he loves to cook. It is sort of a de-stress-from-the-week kind of thing for him. But knowing him like I do, I also know that he derives much joy from making food that pleases his family. So I often find him in the kitchen with the music playing, a beer in hand and a HUGE smile on his face. And I swear to you, you can taste the LOVE in this man’s food…

2.  It’s NOT about you. So growing up, we would always have family dinners. My mom was a really great cook. But, as kids, sometimes we didn’t like the food she cooked. Oh man…it was like WW3 if we ever said we didn’t like the food she slaved over for hours. Don’t get me wrong. I have literally made dinners explicitly because I thought the kids would like it (based on past likes of course) and they don’t eat it. Sure, it is disappointing and frustrating because I want them to have the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. The difference between me and my mom, is that I don’t make it about ME. I don’t take personal offense to it. I have full understanding that my 6 year old is going through a very picky-eating stage and find joy in my 11 year old loving all that I cook! We have a “eat what is served or get no dinner” policy in our house. It takes the stress out of dinner for us. My husband used to get mad when the little guy didn’t eat. This felt like a sort of survivalist panic…pure instinct. And it made dinner time like a war zone. But I really made an effort to help my husband see that us setting a lovely table, making good and healthy food may not be appreciated now, but he WILL get it – even if if doesn’t turn out the way we want tonight, have faith that the little guy will learn! It is also about respecting his physical needs. He may have eaten a big lunch or going through a stage where he needs less food. Sometimes he looses his chance to eat dinner and is totally fine. And last night he ate 3 hot dogs in one sitting…I think he is going through a hungry stage…perhaps a growth spurt. We just have to ride the wave of his physical needs sometimes!

My point is that we get so bent out of shape if our kids don’t like the food we took time to prepare, but it really isn’t about us! Shift your focus to honoring your child’s needs and at the same time challenging him to learn good and healthy habits. And be patient!

3. Connection – Curiosity. I get frustrated when I hear of families NEVER sitting down and eating dinner together. I mean, as a family, we are busy…school, homework, activities, friends, the friggin’ internet… Dinner is a time for us all to just STOP and be together. I have started ringing a little bell when dinner is on the table. Everyone knows that the bell signifies a shift of focus from whatever it was that was consuming their attention a few moments ago into a choice to be PRESENT here and now at the table with the family. A coming together of our collective energies. Sitting at the table gives us time to connect, to ask the kids questions about their day, to talk about plans for the week or the weekend or summer, to laugh and reminisce. It may be easier to just plop dinner on a tray and hand it to them in front of the tv, but is that the BEST I can do as a mom? They need me to be tapped in, to ask questions, to feel the cohesive energy of a family – all 4 of us hangin’, to feel that making dinner was a loving act, I make good food because I LOVE them’! It is also a time to teach them manners, how to use a fork and knife, how to sit at a table properly without squirming and getting up (something that has been a challenge with the little one!). All of which adds to their BEST selves.

4. Organization and Simplicity. I think the times dinner making sucks is when it is 4pm and I am standing in the grocery store completely at a loss of what the hell to make for dinner. Been there? And then I just grab something less than healthy for lack of imagination and time. So we have just started a new school year and when that happened, I decided to manage my home with a bit more forethought and organization. On Sunday’s I sit down and plan the weeks dinners. On Monday, I do all the shopping so that everything I need is there, right when I need it. Oh, I cannot tell you how this makes me feel. Peaceful. It allows me to get excited about making dinner and, as I mentioned above, mindful! All of which helps me show up as my BEST self. There are some great apps for recipes. One I am really into now is Big Oven!

5. Communicate YOUR needs. Most moms experience burn out from time to time – that is natural and part of being a mom! But don’t just suffer through it!! Sit down and talk with your family, from a place of peace and a true communicating of your needs, without attack, without blame, without anger, ask for help. I think the main reason our men resist helping or that we experience conflict in the marriage around distribution of chores comes from the way we communicate our needs. I know from experience though that sometimes I don’t know I am close to a breaking point, until I am there. And then all hell breaks loose! But when I communicate my needs to my husband from a place of anger, he shuts down. It separates us from love. I challenge you to sit down with your partner, with your kids and put words on your emotions. Their lack of help makes you feel ________. And then ask them if a happy mama wouldn’t be better for everyone and then tell them what they could do to help you! Do not shoulder the burden of household chores on your own if you can help it!!

Hope these tips can help you make your home life a refuge, a place of peace and connection instead of a hotbed of stress and frustration. Do not accept stress as a way of life. Challenge it, learn strategies that support you and CHOOSE a new way of being and watch your reality change!!  Good luck!! Connect with me if you need support! Starting my Mommy Mentorships this fall and giving away your first 1hr session for free!

Would LOVE to hear your tips for making dinner an enjoyable experience for your family!! Post in the comments below!!

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Waking Up From the Collective Intoxication

September 5, 2014
stop-drinking-alcohol1

So, a year ago this month, I stopped drinking alcohol.

I was not what you would typically think of as an alcoholic. Actually, I never and still don’t considered myself an alcoholic in the traditional sense. But what about in an untraditional sense?

Did I tell myself I needed alcohol to have a good time? Did I get just a little bit giddy on a Friday afternoon as my husband rolled in the drive way for a cocktail with my man to kick off the weekend? Did I use alcohol to relax and deal with stress? Was I the life of the party and the first to hit the dance floor after a few drinks and my jam came on?

Yes to all of those.

But for years, I struggled with my relationship with alcohol. It seemed to always be in control of me. It was rare at a party that I was able to limit my intake. Not that I always got smashed or needed to, but it was like I could never just stop at one or two. Even though time and time again, I saw that I actually did not like the experience of drinking after the initial “buzz” wore off, nor did I especially enjoy the taste of alcohol. The mornings after were riddled with guilt and disgust in my inability to control my alcohol intake. There seemed to be this voice inside my head that kept whispering to me, wanting desperately to be heard. I was riddled with real mental anguish which made my relationship with alcohol even more complicated. Not only did I not have control, felt like I NEEDED it, but the guilt was growing.

I never even actually thought about stopping alcohol all together. Every time I imagined that I was overwhelmed with sadness and this idea that life would be so excruciatingly boring. But as a surprise one afternoon, that is exactly what did happen.

I happened to pick up a book at the bookstore that day while shopping in Dubai. It was called Kick the Drink Easily by Jason Vale. The book was EXACTLY what I need. It presented information about our culture of intoxication – accepted and expected social addiction and broke it down why we don’t need the stuff in basic fact. My favorite line in the book “Not only is it easy to stop drinking, but the process of stopping is enjoyable and it is easy to stay off the stuff too.” And that is exactly what happened to me. I woke up from the boozy conditioning society places on us and realized that I don’t actually need it!

Another AMAZING perspective that completely rocked my world was: “The fear for most drinkers is that they will not enjoy or cope with their lives in the same way without alcohol. The only thing that keeps people hooked is the illusion created by the drug itself and the years of conditioning and brainwashing…Drinkers are only hooked on what they have been brainwashed to believe alcohol does for them. The chemical effect of alcohol creates the illusion which seem to confirm all this brainwashing. All we have to do is remove the brainwashing, then the addition is automatically removed.

So just like when I was 21 and I decided in an instant to quit smoking and threw my pack of smokes out the car window. I was done with booze too. In the book, Vale suggests to have a ceremonial “last drink” but I didn’t even go for that. I considered the gin and tonic I had had two nights before as my ceremonial last drink. I could not WAIT to start my life without that STRESS – that constant battle within me between craving and intuition. And sitting on that sofa with that book in my hand, I was free.

stop-drinking-alcohol1Life this past year has been amazing. I have had little to no craving for alcohol besides on special occasions like Christmas or New Years. But I have started getting really creative around how to make parties fun and cozy for me while everyone else gets excited about their cocktail, I mix myself up a mocktail full of fresh fruits and vegetables! Now people are reaching for my glass at parties instead of theirs! And I realized not long ago, that even those 2 minute urges are now a thing of the past.

But the BEST thing by far is my quiet mind. I feel so proud of myself. At peace. No more conflicted self, no more being at the mercy of a craving, no more beating myself up. I honored the voice within!!! I went against the grain, dared to step outside of this conditioned belief system of what a good time has to include. I don’t think anyone I knew had ever known anyone that had quit drinking without having a serious debilitating problem with booze. People were a bit shocked but most of them really supportive and excited! My husband at first was a bit bummed, his drinking partner was gone. But my choice has lead my husband, my sister and some friends into making more conscious decisions around alcohol. My husband drinks much less, and focuses on quality over quantity. Many friends have asked me for advice as they too would like to be more in control of their alcohol intake (my friend’s email this morning is what inspired this post!). It is something I am seeing more and more people talking about.

And at first partying without a drink in my hand was weird. At parties, all of my senses were heightened – the music was way too loud, everyone was drunk, smoke in my face. I invariably would get headaches and have to go home early. So even if I felt amazing the next morning, fresh, clearheaded, I wasn’t having fun social. Until one night. I came home with a headache and laid in bed and thought about how I wanted to enjoy parties now. I got a sudden image of an author and teacher I love and admire, Dr. Wayne Dyer. He had quit drinking many decades ago – hear his story here. In my mind’s eye, I was back at the party only an hour or so before and Dr. Dyer was there. I saw him, all in white, enter the room with a peace, centeredness and interest and curiosity for the other’s in the room. I saw him sit and engage in joyful conversation, laughing, entertaining the people he was talking too. He seemed to radiate love. In that moment I knew that that image would be my beacon – what I aspire to be. And it has become just that. Because I think when you are focused on getting your fix at a party, getting a buzz, at least for me, it was all about ME and my experience, my high. Subtracting alcohol from my social interactions allows me to get curious about others, to be free and be myself with others more than ever before. And I still own the dance floor.

Ok, the last and maybe the coolest thing that happened because of this. A few months ago we were at a party, the whole family. My daughter and I went to the bathroom at one point and when it was just she and I, she said “Mama, it is so much better when you don’t drink.” I realized in that moment that my choice to not drink had given her choice! I, and most of us, were not given choice growing up. I was taught, indirectly, that to have a good time, you really had to drink. She is 11 and I do not tell her to never drink. I tell her what I have learned from this journey and the perils of alcohol use, but she told me the other day she isn’t going to drink when she gets older. Who knows, but I am glad she is conscious of her choice at this point.

As Dr. Dyer says in the audio link I included above, inviting in a peak experience like this that changes your life forever, is about being open. If you enjoy alcohol that is super!! I would never imagine attempting to convert those that enjoy a glass of wine on the weekend and have full control. Rock on! But, if you are wanting to change your relationship with alcohol, quit the drink, and don’t know where to start, just begin by being gentle on yourself and staying open to a solution coming your way. And it will! In addition to staying open to a solution, I had been actively and consciously expanding my spiritual self for many years, expanding who I really am, from the inside, out. I found that alcohol systematically took me away from that part of myself that was growing, that part of myself that I LOVED, that part of myself that made me my BEST self, that made me feel whole. Alcohol put me in direct contact with my ego and lower emotional states of mind. I could not live with that anymore. That is not who I wanted to be.

A year into this teetotaling journey, I thought I would share with you some of my experiences. If you are where I was a year ago, I hope this helped. If you know someone with these same struggles, share away! Feel free to connect with me at sigrid@thejoyfulmother.com if you have any other questions about my journey and get Jason Vale’s book!

Good luck!!