Listen to Understand


Have you ever spoken with someone who said, “Uh huh,” at all the right moments during a conversation, but you know that they aren’t really listening to you?  It’s that not-so-good feeling of being discreetly ignored or back-burnered.  Yes, I think that’s a new word, but it is full of meaning don’t you think?

So why don’t we all really listen? Listen more and speak less?  Why do we shy away from someone who has problems or from dealing with a child that is upset about something?

Maybe it’s because we are worried that we won’t have the right answer for them.  Or that we will offer suggestions that they won’t take and it will be a waste of our time.  Or.  Maybe we don’t even know that we’re half-listening and we need to clue-in!

Learning the craft of validation is life-changing.

It takes the pressure off when it comes to listening, because our only job as a validator is to listen to understand.  We don’t have to come up with the best idea for solving their problem.  We don’t have to take another task onto our shoulders.  We don’t have to convince them to buck up and just be happy.  We don’t have to run out and deal with the situation that’s challenging them.

We simply listen, and let them maintain ownership of their problems.

We get in trouble when we get confused and think that we have to shoulder their burden and fight their battle.  And that can cause us to shy away from listening in the first place.

More to come on the how’s of listening, of using validating phrases and asking validating questions.

We can do this!

Be well,




“Listen to Me Mama”


There are times when we are not “present” with our kids.  Maybe we are trying to solve a difficult problem, maybe we are feeling depressed or anxious or we’re tuned-in to a cell phone or maybe we’re just overly busy.  I appreciate this study (see below) that was posted on YouTube for it’s illustration of how children, even very young children, communicate with us and how they respond to our absence. (It’s hard to watch this little child get so frustrated!)

It’s not surprising that these moments of stress can escalate when the child starts shrieking, trying to connect with the parent, and the distracted parent may feel that the child is being annoying or impatient or punishing to them on some level.  Children are simply trying to get their needs met.

The feeling of trying to communicate with a checked-out parent (or spouse or friend) is crazy-making and becomes the antithesis of validation.  Feeling validated means feeling seen, heard and understood. Don’t we love to be heard and understood?!

Thankfully, we are designed to be resilient and we can reconnect with each other, as Dr. Tronick points out.  But we need to beware of patterns of disconnectedness.  

I encourage you to do what it takes to make multiple, daily, meaningful connections with your spouse and children.  A child who is connected has a far greater prospect of building enduring relationships throughout their lives. And the couple who learn to connect with each other in meaningful ways, over time, build a very fulfilling relationship! Note the words; learn and build!  We have to remember that healthy marriage and parenting relationships require time and effort and hard work, they don’t just happen!



Are there any new boundaries that you could set that would help you to be more present with your family this year?  It’s worth asking the question and thinking it through.  We just keep learning and adjusting and trying.  And all of our efforts do add up!

Keep on going!  Don’t give up! You’re doing great!


My Shepherd Will Supply My Need



A few declarations to consider adding to your list:

I am divinely led.
I am right where I need to be in my life’s journey.
It is safe to be me!
I am loved and valued.
I am creating the life I want.
I am setting clear boundaries, kindly, gently, respectfully and firmly.
I move quickly beyond frustration and work to clarify my boundaries.
I like myself, I love myself!

Plug these the truths, and those you have identified, into your circuits like your life depended on it.  Arm yourself with strength and faith.  Model self-compassion to your children.  Then step back and see what you are becoming…

Wow!  Can you see it? What a vision!

All my love to you today,


This song is a beautiful declaration! “David declares, the Lord is my shepherd.” (Psalm 23)

I put these words in the front of my school binder, when I was in a very challenging period of parenting, and slowly working on my degree.  It sustained me many times.  I hope it will bless you too.



Do you ever have days that feel crazy?

And then when the pressure subsides a little, it’s as if your vision clears-up and you can see the things that you’ve been ignoring in the hustle and hurry?

Feeling the chaos of a given day may push us to move and get things done, but it seems there is always a price for buying into that kind of motivation. It’s that feeling of pseudo-productivity when obeying a compulsive thought, a fear, a rush to fix something or to put out an unexpected “fire.”  In the long run, a string of days running on that mental track can siphon our feeling of being in charge of our life, and ultimately our sense of peace.  And that is a high price to pay for dis tractability.

Getting to a peaceful state of mind, on purpose, first thing in the day, can set us up for strings of delightful, serendipitous and productive days that help us to steer our own ship and enjoy life in the process.

What do you do to claim peace at the beginning of the day?

A few centering habits I love are:

  • reading scripture, slowly and with attention to the profound symbolism that connects me to God
  • showering or soaking in an Epsom salt bath
  • more self-care with a simple hairstyle and simple make-up
  • praying; offering gratitude and asking for God’s will to be done in the new day before me
  • moving; walking with friends or on the treadmill or exercising with a good DVD
  • eating something nutritious; a smoothie with protein, eggs, oatmeal, multi-grain cereal, etc.
  • making our bed and tidying our room; feels like cleaning the inner vessel before moving out into the rest of the world, and helps me to know I have a peaceful place to return when the day is over
  • checking my planner to see what appointments or events have been planned

Driving, not being driven.  Choosing, not playing the victim.  Deciding, not being blown by the wind.  Claiming, not waiting.

I wish you many days of peace my friend.






When I was in middle school, the bus would drop me off about six blocks from home.  I loved being outside and I remember walking down the street, often whistling, trying to mimic the bird’s songs.  The road we lived on was long as it left the city limits, where our house was, and became a dirt road that trailed off into the county as far as you could see.  I don’t know why, but I always imagined that there was a beautiful country cottage somewhere on that road where I would live with my future family.  It was a happy thought and I had every reason to be optimistic about growing up and living a bright future.

Fast forward 35 years.  If I were to start at the old bus stop and begin walking toward my parent’s house, I would be able to see that just beyond their house, on the other side of the small Christmas tree farm of my dad’s, there stands a beautiful, country, more-than-a-cottage home where the pictures of my children and grandchildren hang on the walls.  Where our chickens scratch in the backyard and our chocolate lab stands watch.  It is a happy, learning place where people come and go and where we have done a lot of living.

Considering those intervening 35 years, and the amount of change that started with my parent’s divorce the year after I used to walk home from that bus stop, and led to many different houses and schools and situations, sometimes I think that this house standing here is nothing short of a miracle.

So many times I was so focused on making it through the day or the class or the new situation at home, I couldn’t remotely see what the future would hold. I didn’t walk down that street anymore and in all the change I forgot about that house, actually, until we began to build it.  And I remembered the daydream of my youth.

But, If I were to have the luxury of speaking to that young middle school girl, I would assure her that even though she would face difficulties and uncertainty, she need not worry. Even though she would wonder if her heart would ever mend, if she would ever feel relaxed and safe and comfortable in her own skin again, “Yes,” I’d say, “you will.”

I would tell her to keep seeing that house!  To keep feeling the warmth and comfort and security of it! To keep walking forward and on and on until she can see it and touch it and know that it was meant for her.

Most importantly I would tell her that she has what it takes to get through hard times and that there would be a lot of good times mixed in, so don’t let those go unnoticed! If my present self could have had ten minutes to share these thoughts with my young self (and she had paid attention), what would I have done differently as I came through the process of becoming my present self? Would I have let fewer things bother me?  Felt less angst and overwhelm over the unknown?  Most likely.  And would I possibly be ahead of where I am today…maybe?

As it is, I have to trust that my winding journey has taken me to the place God intended me to be.

And I trust that He is taking you to your intended destination too.

So, Little Sister, I say to you, keep seeing your “dream house,” your future, whatever that means for you.  Keep feeling the comfort and warmth and security of it.  Keep walking forward and on and on until you see it and touch it and know it was meant for you.

You will get there, one baby step at a time.  Please don’t worry, just believe.

Love always,