Mothering

Inspiration on parenting

What is Beautiful?

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{First: I have heard several reviews from yesterday’s intense post.  One was “love it!” and some were something like, “oh dear!”  If you have a response to share, please do!  Drop me a note and I will be interested to hear what you have to say.

For clarification, the opinions I expressed were toward large social issues,(not any one individual) some that are so worrisome, and so destructive, that I think they deserve a forthright and firm response in the other direction. But, I realize that for as many people as there are on the planet, there are differing situations, all that require adaptations and compromise with family roles and structure.  I, in no way, intend to offend you who are working so hard to do the absolute best you can. Which is all any of us are doing!

That said, I wonder if we, as a society, have become so sensitive to being politically correct, or at least appropriately alarmed when someone is not, that we become uncomfortable even when the opinion being expressed may align with our own?

Whatever the reason, I have felt uneasy today and I wish you to know that I will do my best to be straightforward and speak what I see as the truth, in love; and if I missed my mark with you yesterday… I hope you can forgive me and let me know your ideas, and I will continue to practice the art of merging kind, gentle, respectful and firm! Thanks!}

On to today…

It has seemed that as I have gotten older, I have come to realize that there are so many kinds of beautiful!  My family was very into “perfect.”  Perfect features and the perfect weight and the notion that if you weren’t a certain kind of beautiful, it would be hard to succeed in life.

It was amazing to me when I heard a friend of mine say how much she loves her freckles, and that doesn’t ever want to wear too much make-up because she didn’t want to cover them up.  That floored me (even though I thought of her as beautiful) because I always saw freckles on myself as blemishes that needed to be concealed!

But just today, I heard myself say to that face in the mirror that those freckles are pretty!  (Isn’t it amazing how much we can evolve and change in our simple life time?)

What is beautiful to you?  And do you feel that you are designing your kind of beautiful, or do you feel that you must fit into the one that you accepted growing up?

Beautiful, for the most part, is the glowing person that comes out of your eyes when you are feeling loved and valued and at peace with your own behavior, and I might say, when you are having loving thoughts toward others.

Love does make us beautiful, doesn’t it?

I hope you’re bathing in self-acceptance and self-care!  So that, that centered, lovely, intelligent soul that is you will be shining out to your family and everyone you meet!

Be well.

Love,

Jacque

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”
Audrey Hepburn

Make The Connection

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Time for another rant.  You’ve been warned!  xo

How many times a day do you hear that the world has gone crazy?  That our prisons are full and the government is corrupt and X number of countries are bankrupt and that men are untrustworthy and that the air is unsafe to breathe and….you know the list.

And do you wonder why many of our media sources highlight and dramatize these problems further? And why millions of dollars spent are on creating horror “entertainment”? And why games are created to entice children into virtual spaces where they become objectified and preyed upon by addicted, criminal adults?

Why????

I think the resounding answer, the sun bursting through the clouds and angels singing, (in this case maybe they are singing, “Duh to the world!”) is that:

We have given away our human connections. 

We’ve collectively traded real, living neighbors for virtual pseudo relationships. We’ve gone from home in search of something “out there.” Some greater accomplishment.  Some other life that isn’t as raw and difficult and human.

Some of us need to earn a living, and many who do, do a beautiful job keeping family first amidst daunting challenges of balance.  And some of us, with a little sacrifice can have the luxury of being home and devoting our time and talents and ambition to home and family.

But I’m talking about the epidemic of children being on their own, of a society that has little use for supporting parents in making their children their top poiority.  The idea that children are there to fulfill our dreams and that they can fit neatly into our insane, self-made schedules.  Seems that on a whole, society has bought into the idea that women are of far greater value and their contribution to society is more profound, when they leave home and family and enter the “real” world, where they can be all they want to be.  Fulfilled and equal and respected.

We have foolishly bought into the idea that more and more and more of things equals more and more and more contentment and happiness and peace.  Are we kidding?

What are we thinking?

Well, to be fair, we’re really not thinking, we’re just watching the construed, contrived models that show us, pictures headed straight into our subconscious brains, that when we have x, y or z, we will be vogue and “in” and of course, so much happier and socially acceptable. (Behavioral psychology holds that you don’t have to control a group, you only need to control the model they are watching.)

So what that often this expectation requires women, hurrying and stressed, to drag their children half asleep to the sitter every morning?  So that they can run all day and work under deadlines and get to the gym and then feel oppressed by all that needs to be done at home when they have no energy left to give? I fail to see the wisdom, if you are at liberty to choose a simpler lifestyle, in making  the sacrifice of giving up the role of greatest human impact for lesser things.  And especially if it is simply for the oh-so-fleeting praise and honor of a soul-sick society.

Let me say this: if you find yourself on a regular day like today surrounded by people you love no matter how demanding they can be, who love you and need you and find solace in your being; if you have a roof over your head and food to eat and books to read and music to play and the sun in the sky and birds flying overhead…if you have a place to hear silence and maybe even a piece of earth that you can plant…then you are living in the pinnacle of life.  You have, right now, all the true luxury and sticky kisses and soul-strengthening life that can be found. This is the coveted prize. 

So, go ahead and work your guts out teaching your children to get along.  You keep on keeping order and model again and again that cleanliness reigns.  Continue to watch your tongue and apologize when it runs away without you.  You keep fighting for your marriage and for the real, sweet intimacy you crave, and don’t you quit!  Keep using those relationship strengthening words and phrases that hopefully your mother taught you, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you.” And by all means, keep striving for the balance, wether you are in the home full time or part, that keeps family relationships at the top of your priority list.

Because, society can’t afford the outcome of children being unattached.  Because, at home you are in the real world.  That other photo-shopped, have-it-all, everything’s tidy, what’s-wrong-with-you, gloss-it-over, don’t get your hands dirty, I-just-need-to-be-me world is a fraud.

Home.  That is where real living is happening! And if you think that there is something that you are missing in the way of glam and lights and fame and glory, you’re just understandably mistaken.

So dig in!  Love your life!  Look at your children!  Give them the comfort of your comfort. The peace of your peace.  Let them see your wide-eyed curiosity about the wide, wonderful world of nature, and you see theirs!  Bask in them, love them, connect, connect, connect!  And that connected-ness will go a long way in immunizing their souls against addiction, helplessness and despair. And they will carry your bond wherever they are and literally raise society to a more functional and happy state. And if you must be away from your loved ones, simplify your commitments and spend all of the time you possibly can teaching and loving them.

Do what you need to do, but don’t bases your decisions on a myth. You aren’t missing a thing out there. Unless.  Unless the illusion of what you might be missing is clouding your vision to the point that you are half asleep and unaware of the riches that are yours in this moment. Those little ones and the relationship you have with them and your spouse and extended family and friends, that is the coveted prize.

So a question:

What is one tiny thing you could do right now that would make you more able to connect with yourself, your spouse and your children?  Your parents, your siblings and your neighbors? Are there tasks that are taking dividing your precious family time that could be delegated or let go altogether?

Got something in mind?

Ok, just do that. Just rethink it and use your creative genius to benefit your family.

AND LOVE YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW.

I love you.

And I wish you strength and vision and more joy than you can hold.

Jacque

“… the act of deserting home in order to shape society is like thoughtlessly removing crucial fingers from an imperiled dike in order to teach people to swim.” Maxwell

 

Under the Influence

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Have you heard the phrase, “they were at an impressionable age”?

While I realize that children, in their innocence and inexperience and state of phenomenal growth are very impressionable, I don’t think we ever outgrow that completely.  In fact, I believe that we were created to be influenced, and likewise to be influential.

And I think this is the first decisive part of being an agent!

It’s not a matter of will we or won’t we be influenced by someone, or whether or not we will influence others, but a matter of by what and whom do we choose to be influenced?  And knowing that we are influencing people and circumstances minute by minute, what kind of influence do we choose to be to others?

What influences do you choose?

I think the answer is found in these questions:

How do you spend your time?

To what do you give your greatest attention?

What music do you choose?

What do you read? What do you watch?  What thoughts do you entertain? What kinds of conversations do you have?

If we want to be an influence for good on our children and spouse and friends and community, we’d better get extremely good at choosing the things that will influence us for good.  We are impressionable, and there’s no getting around it!

And on a personal note, I sincerely hope that this blog will be an uplifting and empowering influence to those who read it, so thank you for spending some of your precious time with me.

Love ya!

Jacque

“If you want the consequence, make the choice!”

 

 

 

What About Food?

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I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “The problem with life is that it is so daily.”  I don’t know why exactly, but that tickled me and still does when I think of it.

Kind of like the way the movie, Groundhog Day tickles me. We want our days to add up to something.  To learn, however gradually.  But man it takes repetition doesn’t it?

I have found myself thinking, didn’t I just have this problem yesterday and now I’m trying to figure it out again?  This daily-ness is teaching us something all of the time, over and over until we get it!

Part of what we learn has to do with our body’s daily need for sustenance. It is having to deal with food.  Every meal. Every day.  And when you are the person who does the cooking (and shopping and planning, etc.) that can be a pretty big part of life.  Understatement huh?

Add to the relentless hunger of a growing family, the political/social climate we live in where every month (or more often than that) there is a new study on what is “good” and what is “bad” to eat, what the new findings from X university is showing, or what government funded research (that may coordinate with a government subsidy that may want to encourage people to buy and eat certain things…) and we find we have real confusion about what IS best to eat!

I remember reading an article that claimed that carrots were now on the “bad” food list. That was almost 30 years ago, and when I stopped trusting “the latest research” as a good source of dietary information.  Common sense has got to factor in somewhere doesn’t it?

I love this dietary mantra from Michael Pollan; “Eat food.  Mostly plants.  Not too much.”

That appeals to me so much!  Partly, because I am witnessing levels of confusion that lead to a great deal of OCD-type behavior around food, and for some, a complete paralyzing shut down when the code seems too hard to crack!  I had a dear client who had stopped cooking and was stocking her freezer with frozen burritos that the kids could eat whenever they were hungry because she had heard so much conflicting information, she couldn’t think of anything to cook that wouldn’t be “bad” in some way!

That is quite a hopeless feeling.  And what a travesty to miss out on the wonderful array of taste, culture and creativity available to us! In many ways, food is life!  We just can’t afford to miss out on that!

But I think we can all relate to the frustration to a degree, can’t we?

So, here are my two bits.

If i’ts real, and your body can handle it, find the highest quality you can afford and eat it without worry!  And for heaven’s sake, enjoy it!

What do I mean by real?  I mean if it grows and is part of the natural world, eat it.  I hear people say they don’t want to get fat so they don’t want to eat avocados or nuts. (Know that the “fat makes people fat” trend is over.)  Be concerned if it is refined, man-made, food science-d, chemical laden, artificial flavored or colored.

If something can sit on a shelf for months or years and not get rancid or grow bacteria, it isn’t food.

Good rule of thumb; shop the perimeter of the grocery store and you’ll be getting more “realness” than in the middle where the cans and boxes with commercials printed on the labels reside.

Go for fewest ingredients possible, and those you can pronounce.

Make your own bread or find a simply made brand.  (For fun count the number of ingredients, and do your best to identify what they are, in a loaf of commercial white bread.)

Put butter or olive oil on your steamed veggies, and enjoy them!

Garnish and flavor food with meats and or make meat servings small and not part of every meal. A little goes a long way.

Get good at cooking beans and legumes and rice and keep some on hand.

Eat regularly and prepare meals before everyone is in starvation mode.

Snacks aren’t usually necessary but consider four meals a day for little ones if that makes sense for their needs.

Prepare and serve the same meal to everyone.  Grind little people’s servings in a baby food grinder so that they can break it down (without too many teeth.)  Kids don’t need separate meals of packaged macaroni and cheese and peanut butter and jelly if they are given the opportunity at a young age to eat and appreciate real food.

Model eating and enjoying real food to your children!  They are listening and watching and learning from your habits!  Do your best not to have hard fast rules about what you do and don’t like.  Give them the freedom to like things without feeling that you won’t approve. THEY WANT TO BE LIKE YOU.  Yes, this requires broadening out your own taste buds!  Experiment! Open up and take a few eating risks!

Get curious about new tastes!  I was in my late 20’s before I tasted coconut milk with peanuts, cilantro and curry, and wow, what a joy!

Learn to make nutrient rich desserts and make them beautiful too!  It is wonderful to know that there are “treats’ to look forward to eating that will help you celebrate special days and events.

We’ve got to shake loose from the worry and crazy-making rules regarding our food.  And in order to do that, it seems to me that our society has got to shut off the marketing and hype, tie on an apron and make friends with real, nourishing, family-bonding food.

I wish you every good thing!

Love,

Jacque

“I love myself.  I take the time I need to cook for my family.  We love eating together.  I simplify this part of my life by planning what we will eat each week.  I love real food!”

 

Celebrate!

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It’s a tricky thing, achieving some sort of balance.  Some days trickier than others, huh?

Finding the balance between work and play.  Between taking charge and going with the flow.  Between supporting family members with our presence and supporting them by giving them space.  Between focusing on our goals and personal development and focusing on what we can do for others.

And then there’s the profound balancing act between doing and being.

A few years ago I was in bed with some health challenges.  It went on for months, and the challenge changed in part to just enduring the unknown.  I’m sure you’ve had experiences when you didn’t know what it was you were supposed to be learning from something difficult, but you wished you’d hurry up and learn it so that you could move on!?  That’s how I was feeling.

And somewhere in all that time, I observed an important thing.  My children, all grown and gone, would come home to visit and instead of me running around getting things ready for them, cleaning, cooking, planning activities, I was just laying here in my room!

And they would come in and sit down on the cedar chest and talk.  And I would listen, and we would visit.  For hours.  I made a mental note that when I was up and going again, that I needed to adjust my brain from always feeling the need to be “doing” for my family, to valuing more time spent “being with” my family.

So, during Christmas this year, I was a little crazy.  I started out the season feeling behind and in the press to “catch up” I was doing and doing and doing.  In the end, I felt I had missed out on much of the “being” that makes the holiday a holiday!   But just like every other stage of my life, I have to learn and practice and eventually get good at balancing myself, my time and energy and expectations with the new variables of grandchildren and all that comes with this current stage of life.

So, here’s a little activity to consider.

On a piece of paper by your calendar, take a moment (this really shouldn’t take nearly as long as checking Facebook once…) and write down all of the things you did during the day. Not just the “to do” items, but all the stuff you usually don’t give yourself credit for, like making the beds and fixing breakfast and combing a child’s hair and getting everyone dressed, and changing X number of diapers and taking the garbage to the street and doing three loads of dishes or laundry (or both) and feeding the dog and wiping up spills and getting the mail and paying bills and sweeping the garage and vacuuming the car…you get the idea.

Then, when you get that jotted down, step back and look at all you accomplished!  Wow!  You are a veritable house on fire!  Turn on some music and dance with the gang!  They’ll think you’ve lost it, but you can share with them the reason for your celebration!

After the party, take a break and just “be.”

Sing songs at the piano with the kids.

Read story books.

Chit chat with your husband.

Relax.

If you think of things you need to do, write them down and tackle them tomorrow.

You’ve done more than enough.  Now, enjoy being.

You’re wonderful!

Love,

Jacque

“I am enough.  I have a wonderful sense of balance and I can feel when I need to take a break and recharge my battery.  I am making steady progress.  I learn from everything I experience.  I am keeping my heart soft and open and I trust that God is leading me to my highest good.  I trust that He is preparing me to be useful to His purposes.  I am happy and I am at peace.”