“I” not “You”

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Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to get into a scuffle with a family member in all the hustle and bustle of life?  And, as the parent, isn’t it amazing how easy it is to start a conversation with “You…!”  As in, “You are a …..,” or “It’s your fault…,” or ” If you would just….”

When we can hear those words coming from our mouths, we just know that this “conversation” is actually a criticism of someone, and most likely will not have the positive, productive outcome we desired!

But how to change it!?

Wouldn’t life be better if that person was just told what a pain they are being and that they need to shape up or else?

“You” messages are pointed, critical, feel like an attack and bring forth anger, defensiveness and hurt!  So,the chances of inspiring change or contrition or anything positive aren’t very good when an interaction begins with the pointing finger of “YOU always…!”

A saving grace that I learned in college (oh, that I could have employed it far more in my parenting!!!) is simple formula of, “I….feel about….because….”  You fill in the blanks. When I learned about this special secret, we were given the assignment to use it!  I didn’t know if I’d have any opportunity.  But, almost immediately, I was in a delicate situation with a roommate (aren’t most situations with women, delicate-not because we’re delicate, but because we can be, you know, moody, tearful, offended. Ha! Wish it weren’t true!)

I finally figured out a way to fill in the blanks of the secret formula with how I felt and why and mustered up my courage to have a direct, but non-threatening conversation, and what do you know?  It worked!!!  It is far easier for me to want to shy away from confronting someone, but using this technique takes the teeth out of it so that it doesn’t become a “confrontation.”

“I feel frustrated about the dishes not getting done because we have agreed that they would be done while I worked on your prom dress.”

“I feel embarrassed about the laundry on the couch because our friends will be here in a few minutes and they’ll probably wonder what kind of homemaker I am.”

“I feel sad about our practice time because I hoped to get through a section.”

I tell you, even with practice, I still have to really think about how to phrase this. It takes work.  But it is truly worth the effort.

The dilemma I had with that roommate was solved in about 10 seconds because, as it turns out, she had no idea that her behavior was causing me any grief.  And when she saw that she wasn’t being attacked, and that she didn’t have to defend herself, she quickly apologized and we made a new plan about how to have differing schedules and share a room.  (Of course, it also says a lot about the caliber of person she is!)

But who doesn’t detest that feeling of being possibly misunderstood, judged and convicted all without having an opportunity to give their perspective or even to say we’re sorry, we didn’t know our behavior was a problem?

We know that arguing is a black hole.  (The problem doesn’t get solved because we’re too concerned with who is right!) We know that criticism is counter productive, (not to mention self-righteous and smug!)  But often we just don’t know what to do to right a difficult situation.

So I offer this little recipe.  And I challenge you to use it in the coming week and share your experience if you feel it would be inspiring to someone else!

“I feel happy about my work because I get to associate with amazing women who are dedicated to being the best they can be!”

Love to you!

Jacque

Hands on Her Head

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Have you ever sat behind someone who is stroking the hair of a loved one beside them, like a mother, stroking the long hair of her daughter?  Have you ever noticed what happens as you observe? When I register it, I realize that I feel my shoulders lower and my face soften.  And it strikes me how that mother, or sister or father, lovingly touching that child or spouse or friend, effectively changes the feeling in the entire room, at least among those who can see them and those who have eyes to see the tenderness being given.

Kindness and gentleness ripple out in every direction!  As do frustration, anger and neglect, unfortunately.

This summer I had the opportunity to brush the long, beautiful hair of young friend, after it was freshly washed. It was a nurturing experience for me, and I hope for her as well. So smooth and long and healthy. Before long, stroke after stroke, it seemed I had brushed it into pure, dry silk.

So here’s a question: when was the last time you brushed your child’s hair with the intention to show them nurturing kindness, not just to hurry out the door for school or an appointment?  When was the last time you beamed your love and smile into the food-smeared face of a toddler as you gently washed it clean?

Sometimes, we get into a hurry (very understandably so!) and forget that every time we touch our children, we have the opportunity to connect with them, to push deeper into their memories and fill them more with our joy in them.

I sat next to a little mother in a meeting a long time ago, who had on her lap an unkempt child, with hair falling into a beautiful, but mostly hidden face.  The child seemed to be a burden to carry like a heavy shoulder bag, and she seemed to be given about as much attention as a shoulder bag would be given too.  I hoped that this was a one time event, but sadly it seemed to be a way of living for maybe an overwhelmed mother in a difficult time.  Heaven knows I’ve had my own struggles at times with feeling overwhelmed on a daily basis!

I don’t pretend to know the challenges, thoughts and intents of this little girl’s family.  I hope they are supported and growing and thriving.  But I noted, as that little girl peered at me through her unkempt hair, with no expression on her face, that the way we are grooming, washing, combing, brushing, and dressing our children, will have a direct impact on the sense they have of their own worth.

Maybe the benefits of grooming come first to the parents, who show love and respect for themselves by keeping themselves physically clean and presentable.  Then in a space of abundance and self-love, they pour those blessings onto their children, who can then meet the world with calm confidence.

Maybe no one reading this post needs this reminder, but as we become more and more casual in our societal customs, it can’t hurt to remember that our bodies, and our children’s bodies are the temples of God.

Are there any improvements we can make in keeping our children clean and combed and fed?  Is there anything we need to change so that we can give them the happiness of being seen AND heard and understood?

Love is all the simple things.  Hopefully we won’t allow ourselves to become so distracted that we forget to practice those simple, daily acts of love.

My love to you!

Jacque

“I am divine.  All of my actions toward my family members are filled with love.  I show respect for myself as I care for my own needs.  I give and receive love every day. I am better every day at using a kind voice in my home. My children and grandchildren feel my love. I am enough.”

Swinging Recovery

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A client asked a great question the other day; “Do you think that if you’ve been trying to lose weight for a long, long time and you’ve been on a ‘don’t eat this, and never eat that’ roller coaster, can you really escape the crazy-making by just beginning to eat whatever you want, whenever you want?  Like Geneen Roth says, erase the food rules you think you know and somehow you’ll lose weight and become balanced just by having this paradigm shift and getting off of the merry-go-round of dieting?” Ha, ha, she said it much better, but you get the gist I hope!

Maybe a little preface before I reply.

I have read several books, and taken several classes written and taught by Geneen Roth, a very talented coach who works with women who have difficult food issues.  She wrote a book titled, Women, Food and God that I recommend to my clients.  Geneen is such a genius, I think, because she has lived through some very difficult experiences and has overcome major obstacles and has the determination to help those who struggle like she has.  She holds retreats for women with eating disorders and those who just want to lose weight and get into a ‘normal’ mindset concerning food.

Geneen suggests, in several of her books, that when women want to let go of their destructive mental feedback loop about weight loss, they can get started by beginning to eat whatever they want, whenever they want and that their bodies will balance out on their own.

So my client, after reading this asked if I thought it would really work.  (I told her that I thought this question was so good, it was worthy of a post!)

This question reminds me a lot of a suggestion I read recently in an addiction recovery book.  Melody Beattie, in her book, The Language of Letting Go, writes that if you are used to over-extending yourself into other people’s lives and business, and you have become a ‘care-taker’ at the expense of your own health and well-being, then you may have to stop doing anything for awhile until you can come to a healthy balance of give and take in your relationships.

I remember doing this.  I wanted to FIX things for people.  I couldn’t think about helping someone without getting overrun with ideas of dramatic ways I could make a difference for them.  I didn’t  just want to take a card and a flower and say I’m thinking of you and wanted to cheer you, no, I’d think that I needed to take them a meal and tend their kids and clean their house and, wave a magic wand to take away their pain…AND, what really happened was that while I was overextending myself,  I didn’t have to look at my own problems too squarely!  Yes, serving is a wonderful thing, but when it becomes your escape, your trying to mend other people’s problems, (whether they have asked for help or not…) while ignoring your own needs and issues, it becomes a twisted and confusing trap.

I finally realized that my thinking was messed-up.  So, for awhile, I curbed my over-the-top care taking ideas, and practiced taking care of my own problems and focusing on my own growth.  It was difficult because I was worried that I would become selfish.  That I would swing to the other extreme and get too into my own stuff.

But, it turned out to be a necessary step and a great habit breaker.  I still had to counsel myself, when I found I was getting overwhelmed just thinking about all the things I wanted to do to help!  When I would feel the physical weariness starting somewhere in the thought process of deciding what I might do to serve someone, I would talk myself backward until I came up with an idea that didn’t exhaust me as I thought about it, and that I could do and still fulfill my responsibilities to my own health and my own family.

Like all addictions, it’s not necessarily about the drug of choice, be it meth or food or pornography or negativity or care-taking. It’s also what is under the need that must be addressed. It’s the child inside who needs to be valued and heard.  It’s the pain that needs expression and the wounds that need binding.  So along with making a break with the habit, pouring in all the self-love and acceptance and kindness we can, will help us start to heal the the problem.  Declarations of hope and confidence and wellness can go a long way in retraining our thinking about our own worthiness and well-being.  A great therapist and a real friend or two can do wonders too.

I think Geneen makes her suggestion with a lot of confidence because she has lived through it and she has witnessed others doing the same.  It’s like saying, what if I just decided to get off this mental train and start down a new track?  What if I learned new rules and threw these old ones away forever?  Could I trust myself and my instincts to let me know when I’ve eaten enough instead of counting calories? Could I allow myself to enjoy food instead of being afraid of it?  Could I relax and try new things and be at peace with myself?

Her suggestion is a hard breaking away designed to end one way of being and start into another, hopefully healthier way of being.

That said, like my stepping back from a codependent way of “giving,” it may take a little time to find your balance.  And you may wonder at times if you’re headed in the right direction.  But little by little the way becomes clearer and when we’re out of the addictive patterns, we can get back to the work of growing up, of discovering self-love and living a full life with healthy relationships and healthy, balanced bodies.

I hope this answer gives good food-for-thought!

Much love,

Jacque

“I am enough.  I am lovable and worthy of my greatest good.  My body is instinctively in balance. I love myself and others.  I respect other’s boundaries and I am happy to lend a hand when help is needed.  I take great care of myself.  I take loving care of those in my stewardship.  I am loved and from that place of plenty, I give of myself in meaningful and appropriate ways.”

It’s Alive!

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This salad is so beautiful!  Puts me in mind of Valentine’s Day, though it isn’t a sweet treat.

Start with about 3 cups of mixed greens

Add 1/2 of a steamed, chopped beet

1 boiled egg (I soaked the egg in beet juice overnight for color)

A dollop of cottage cheese

1 sliced avocado

 

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp of: salt, turmeric and garlic with herbs spice (just granulated garlic would work too)

2-4 Tbs chopped pecans

1 Tbs honey

The turmeric is a fantastic inflammation fighting spice and adds a little bit of a golden glow to the vinaigrette.

This is a pretty filling lunch!

Have a happy day!

Jacque

Ah…Relax!

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Here’s a little idea for taking a dip in your own mineral spa!

Right before bedtime, add 2-3 pounds of Epsom salts in a tub of warm water, not hot or cold.  After you’re in, run warmer water until the bath is comfortably warm. Soak for at least 20 minutes and drink a few glasses of water while you relax.

Dry off, slip into your comfiest  pj’s, and enjoy a wonderful night’s sleep.

Take care of you.  It’s the best thing you can do for your family.  A rested, hydrated mom, is a happy, loving mom.

Love, love, love,

Jacque

P.S. To those of you who will be up with babies tonight, know your time to sleep for several hours at once will come!  Sometimes you wonder, but truly it will!  Meanwhile, get all the rest you can.  You’re simply amazing.  God bless you!