Let’s look at one another

Our Town

These are one of the last lines the character Emily from the play “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder says in the last act, after she has crossed over to the world of the non-living.

“Our Town”, written in 1938 and set at the turn of the century, is the second most performed show in North America and one of my favourite plays. It is currently playing in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Even though I have seen it unfold in different artistic versions many times over the last 40 years, it still gets to me each time; it touches me deeply and makes me reach for a Kleenex because it so beautifully captures the simple truth.

In the third and final act, Emily, who has just died in childbirth, misses life and wants to go back to relive a day. The other souls who have crossed over long ago urge her not to do it, but she has to experience this for herself. She chooses to go back to her twelfth birthday, when all her family was still together. It strikes her how young her parents look and that her brother is still alive. They all go about their mundane lives with ignorance for what the future brings. Going back with the awareness Emily now has, she can’t bear how they are not looking at each other, not really, how they are not quite present to the beauty and sacredness of each moment.

Her soul cries out: “Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I’m dead, you are a grandmother, Mama. I married George Gibbs, Mama. Wally’s dead too. Mama, his appendix burst on a camping trip to North Conway. We felt just terrible about it—don’t you remember? But just for a moment now we’re all together. Mama, just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another.”

No matter whether we live in a small town in New Hampshire at the turn of the century, or in a big city in present day North America, how often do we actually stop and look at each other? Really look into each others timeless souls? We always have this “to do” list; we are caught up in one thing or another. When do we make time to just be; to see, hear, smell and feel each moment with each other? How often do we realize in all those ordinary moments the extraordinary fact of being alive?

Charlie Gallant as George Gibbs, Kate Besworth as Emily, Patrick Galligan as Dr. Gibbs, Catherine McGregor as Mrs. Gibbs and Benedict Campbell as the narrator/Stage Manager

As Shaw Director Molly Smith writes in her Director’s notes about the play, “There are so many reasons why Our Town is one of the greatest American plays. It’s plainspoken and is a deep meditation on love, family, marriage and death.”

What if we created more meditative moments with those we love, with our partners, our parents and our children, and even with a stranger on the street, to really see and know each other at a heart level? It takes awareness and courage to do that. The courage to stop running for a while towards some imaginary goal, the courage to drop meaningless conversations about material belongings in exchange for deeper communications, and most of all, it takes listening; really listening from your heart, allowing yourself to be fully interested in the other person.

 

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A Son’s First Hero and a Daughter’s First Love

Have you heard the saying “A Father is a son’s first Hero and a daughter’s first Love?” No matter whether we are boys or girls, our first male role models teach us—just like our first mother figures—what love is. Through them we experience what it feels like to be safe, comforted and loved, or if they are unable to provide that for us, we learn to comfort ourselves and not to expect this from others. They also teach us courage and integrity, or lack thereof; they become our first heroes—if we are lucky.

Sons first hero daughters first love

How many of us have actually had a father, step-father or father figure who understood himself and his own wounds well enough to parent consciously and not repeat the same family patterns that are often being passed down from generation to generation?

In every love relationship, our childhood issues and family patterns are being revived. We watch our parental figures struggle to solve their old issues with each other. In the relationship with us, our parents also mostly respond and act from their conditioning. A father—or a mother for that matter—cannot love much differently from what they themselves have experienced when they were children.

Working with clients, I have over the years heard different family patterns repeat. Sometimes it’s patterns of addiction; other times fears and traumas are resurfacing from generation to generation. In some cases, the patterns don’t affect us negatively, for example a pattern to leave one’s hometown and move abroad, other times they cause a lot of pain. One pattern, I am sharing with the permission of the client, is the loss of a parent at an early age.

This father, let’s call him Dave, left his first wife to remarry when his son was four. Unfortunately, the ex-wife was so bitter that she estranged his son from him. Dave felt helpless and allowed her to continue doing this until he didn’t see his son at all anymore. The little boy essentially lost one parent due to the mother’s manipulation and due to Dave’s inactivity to counteract her words and actions.

Looking back at his own childhood, Dave realized that history had repeated itself. Dave himself lost his mother when his parents divorced when he was four. His father was the one who decided to take him away and remarry a step-mother Dave hated. But that’s not where it started. We can go back another generation to notice how Dave’s father Adam was unconsciously repeating the pattern of his own childhood. At the age of four, Adam’s own mother died and his father William remarried, presenting Adam with a step-mother.

The pattern of losing one parent and having an unwanted step-mother or substitute mother most likely goes back even further. Unfortunately, most of us do not know enough about our family history to notice and break those patterns. So we, for example, end up estranged from one parent.

I wasted many years of my own life grieving for the father I wished I had and believed I didn’t. For several decades, I chose to focus on what he was not, instead of accepting and loving all that he was and is. I used to look at him and see the man who did not stand up for me. I thought he was weak. I believed I didn’t matter enough to him to fight for a relationship with me. I felt I had an emotionally absent father. I listened to my mom’s story born out of her own wounds. Her story was having a husband who disappointed her and never stood up for her. She probably didn’t realize until he lovingly cared for her when she had cancer, that he was always there for her in the way he knew how. For many years, I allowed her to make her story my story as well. It wasn’t that she was doing this on purpose or that she was lying. She shared her perspective and experience unconscious of how that would affect me. This was HER story, it didn’t need to be mine.

Familie Kurth 1943 crop 2

My father grew up during WWII and for many years, my grandfather was not around as a male role model. When my grandfather returned after the war was over, he was emotionally exhausted and quietly took a place in the background of the family, not making much of an effort to connect with his oldest son. My father was only acting in the same way his own father had acted. He was absent. When I recognized the family pattern, I was able to let go of the story and heal the relationship with my dad.

Today, I see clients of all ages and the stories are similar. “My dad left…”, “My father didn’t care…”, “His new wife was more important to him…”, “My father was irresponsible…”, “My father had anger issues…” and it goes on and on. There are of course circumstances like severe addictions or sexual abuse where the only healthy interaction is no interaction. However, in all the other cases, I invite you to re-examine your stories.

Let’s use Byron Katie’s four questions:

  1. Is my story about my father true?
  2. Can I absolutely know my side of the story is the only truth? Or might there be other sides to this?
  3. How do I react or feel when I believe my story?
  4. Who would I be if I let go of the story that my dad does not care about me? What if I let go my expectations of what he should be saying or doing if he truly loved me? What if I worked on healing my old wounds and allowed myself to interact with him in whichever way is possible?

As children, we don’t really have much of a choice what happens to us, the adults in our life make the decisions. However, once we are young adults, we can examine our stories and change them. We can choose to continue with the narratives of hurt, disappointment and resentment or we can get to know the person our father or mother, step-father or step-mother really is. Life is not like baseball, three strikes and you are out. It is possible to extend another chance and to start over.

In order to do that, we have to stop wishing or hoping our parent figure was different from what he or she is. We have to stop waiting for them to change and finally do or say what we always wanted them to. They didn’t get the same “script” to this play called “Life” that we got and they have no idea what we are waiting for.

Script

A Father’s Day just passed and if you did not send a card and did not pick up the phone, you might have missed an opportunity to live a real relationship with your father, beyond all disillusionment.

Relationship Coaching,

Angelika, 905-286-9466,

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Steam Kettle

Have you ever engaged in any of the following behaviours, short-term or long-term? Most people are familiar with at least one of these responses.

– addictive eating, drinking or smoking

– taking drugs or medications

– engaging in workaholic behaviour

– addictive exercising

– gambling

– shopping to feel better

– addictive consummation of media

What is going on with these behaviours? These are all short term coping mechanisms to distract ourselves from unpleasant emotions. We have been conditioned to respond to pain, sadness, grief, and stress by eating, drinking, smoking, or distracting ourselves with any of the other above mentioned activities.

Short-term, these activities might feel like they give us some relief, but we have not addressed the real problem by engaging in these behaviours. We have taken our emotions and stuffed them down with food, alcohol, drugs or we have distracted ourselves from acknowledging and feeling them. We are doing what we have learned as children when we were comforted with food. Our caregivers didn’t know that the cookie to sweeten the disappointment, or the tub of ice cream for the heart ache, or the cake to stuff the anger down would become our automatic go-to and our basis for any addictive behaviour.

Do you still remember those old fashioned steam kettles which sat on the stove with a flame burning below? John W. James and Russell Friedman use the example of such a steam kettle to explain what is going on. These kettles were fitted with a whistle to notify us when the water has reached the boiling point. Instead of responding appropriately to the whistle and dealing with the hot water, we have been trained to jam a cork in the spout. The cork represents our beliefs that sad and other uncomfortable emotions are too painful to feel and should be kept under wraps. A steam kettle without a cork can release built up energy right away. A steam kettle with the cork builds up to an unbearable amount of pressure. As a result, we engage in one of the addictive or unhealthy activities above to relieve the pressure short-term. They help us to temporarily forget or bury our emotions.

Unfortunately, emotions are energy in motion. Energy has to go somewhere. It ends up stored in our bodies and manifests as energy blockages, pain and illnesses. Suppressed emotions consume tremendous amounts of energy. We need all our strength to keep the cork in the spout and all our concentration to ensure the steam kettle will not explode. The more emotions we push down, the more energy is required. Unresolved emotional issues have a negatively cumulative effect. We lose our health, wellbeing and joy.

Stem Kettle - When you welcome your emotions

To change the addictive behaviours and to regain our full energy potential, health and happiness, we need to learn to deal with emotions differently. Instead of pushing them down, we need to look them straight into their face; instead of judging them, we need to let them be what they are; instead of blaming others for our emotions, we need to take responsibility for them and forgive others for triggering them.

Nobody makes us feel angry, sad, “not good enough” or any of the other many emotions. Other people and circumstances are not responsible for how we feel inside. If somebody brings low energy, addiction, victimhood or other states of mind into your life which you do not want to partake in, set clear boundaries. Then take responsibility for your own emotions and do the “happiness work”. Decide to work thought and release what you do not want and bring joy and happiness into every day. Gratitude, joy and laughter are a choice; they are your choice!

We also need to teach our children that they are strong enough to feel any emotions. All emotions are good because they give us feedback. Anger is the brightest warning light. It gives us the feedback that something is not right. Underneath the anger, there are usually other more vulnerable feelings. We can teach our children to listen to what is really going on, that their needs matter and that they can share their feelings and needs.

Steam Kettle - Your emotions are your best friend

Emotions inform us. Sadness, for example, gives us the feedback that we are missing a person or object. Grief is long-term sadness due to a loss or change we’ve experienced: something is still incomplete in regards to this change and needs to be completed. Depression could be hidden grief. Frustration lets us know that something is not working, that our needs are not met. Fear and stress are a sign that we need to change our stories and beliefs, which cause anxiety and overwhelm.

However, before we can address the needs these emotions inform us about, we need to remember that all emotions are good. To shift out of our unhealthy responses to emotions, we need to accept them, love ourselves with them and take responsibility for them.

In my one-on-one sessions as well as in the Shadow Energetics workshop, I teach an emotional release process. By applying this process, we change how we handle emotions and we have a tool to effectively release stuck emotions from our body and field. Once we have released the emotional charge, we can understand the message and address our needs appropriately.

Angelika, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca, 905-286-9466

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Empowering stories versus disempowering ones

Everything has a vibration, every thought, feeling, word, and action. In each moment in life, we choose which vibration we want to be in. Do we want to have an experience of doom and gloom, feeling like we are a victim, or do we choose to vibrate at a higher level of trust, peace and love? Fear is our enemy and influences what stories our left brain is able to create.

I have written before about our left brain being a “story teller” (Jill Bolte Taylor). We are faced with facts A, B and C and the left brain gives those facts a meaning based on our beliefs and past experiences. It literally fills in the gaps between the neutral facts with an interpretation which either makes them “good” or “bad”. The bare facts I was confronted with over the last ten days are “I fell” (fact A), “I broke both my ankles” (fact B), and “I am not able to walk for a while” (fact C).

There are countless ways I can tell the story around those facts. A victim story would sound: “Poor me, I fell and I broke both my feet. How terrible is that. I did not deserve such a tough experience and all this pain. Now I am completely helpless and need to be looked after. I can’t do anything anymore. I can’t take care of myself or work. And I bet this will take a looong time to heal. Meanwhile I am missing out on summer and on all the fun events going on which I was planning to attend. Poor poor me!”

A self-blame story would go like this, “How stupid was that of me to fall! If I had just not gone back down the stairs in the dark I wouldn’t be in this terrible situation. Now I have to pay for this stupidity for weeks and weeks. I deserve to suffer for being so careless…”

Or sometimes we choose to tell a story which blames others for our perceived misfortune. “If I hadn’t been alone, if so and so hadn’t turned off the lights, if I hadn’t been so tired because I had to do this or that for so and so… bla bla bla…” Or we might tell a combination of the victim and the (self-)blame story.

Empowering stories - bookshelf

I choose to tell neither of these dis-empowering stories. I choose to trust in the Universe and everything happening in Divine order, bringing us beautiful gifts and amazing lessons. God or the Source is loving and benevolent, not punishing, revengeful or chaotic. We are being “hit over the head” with the proverbial “baseball bat” when we don’t listen to a message, when there is no other way for us to learn our lessons. We can refuse to learn the lessons and tell victim or blame stories, or we can grudgingly learn them or we can even joyously learn what there is to learn and find the beauty in every experience in life.

This experience for me is an experience of how creative, adaptable and resourceful I am. Through different mobility devices, I have become as independent as possible and I have shifted my work to skype for the time being. It also is an experience of how blessed I am to have so many loving and giving people in my life who support me in so many ways.

I am amazed that 99% of our family and friends either consciously or intuitively understood the importance of not letting fear write our life stories for us. I overall encountered true empathy instead of pity, amazing practical help instead of meddling, and most of all trust instead of fear.

Sometimes we come across people who are not really able to be empathetic or supportive but plain nosey. Their prodding and digging for something negative might come from a place of fear. They might be thinking, “If I know how this happened, I can prevent this terrible disaster for myself”. Or perhaps it is our media which conditions us to sensationalism instead of looking for the bright side and the beauty in life. Just as we have the choice to watch the news, or not to watch it, we also have the choice to allow somebody to pull us into a low vibration, or not.

Empowering stories - baseball

When life throws us a curve ball, we have the choice to whine about how unfair that is or we can adapt and make the best of it and gracefully win the game. My family and I choose to fully focus on the light and the gifts in this situation. We opt to address this situation with laughter and strength instead of focusing on suffering and fear because we have a choice.

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Angelika, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca, 905-286-9466

Inner Critic – Friend or Foe?

Listen to this topic as a podcast here, or read about it below!

A member of our family was going shopping. He carefully planned out his route to run several errands and included a grocery shopping list. As we sit down for lunch later I ask, “You bought water, didn’t you? Is it still in the car?” He slaps his forehead. “You won’t believe what I did. I left the six water bottles sitting at the check out!” No big deal, we have a water filter too, but the perfect opportunity for his Inner Critic to rear his head and make a mountain out of a molehill.

If you want to know what his Inner Critic voice might say, just think of what your own Inner Critic has to say when you make a mistake, “screw up” or forget something. It pretty much kicks you – depending on how “bad” and “unforgivable” the mistake rates on your personal scale. It might say “You are such an idiot! How can you pay for something and then forget it! Now you have to go back and see if the cashier remembers you. In fact, you are not just stupid, you are getting forgetful. It must be because you are getting old. Or maybe something is seriously wrong with you. Forgetfulness is a symptom of…” And the Inner Critic is off and running, making us feel like a complete failure and scaring the living daylight out of us.

Our Inner Critic is always playing in the background like a radio which we do not even notice anymore. It is constantly assessing and comparing how we are doing. And certain situations bring on real Inner Critic attacks. When we are stressed, weak, tired, hungry, in an unfamiliar place or in a new situation, the Inner Critic might torture us more than usual. When adverse fortune strikes, when we get bad grades or negative assessment, or lose our job, or an important relationship ends, the Inner Critic will make sure we feel terrible and at fault. All those are typical moments which make us more susceptible to an Inner Critic attack.

How do we know we are having an Inner Critic attack? Usually, the first sign is our emotional state. We might feel depressed, or irritated or angry at ourselves. When we listen closely, we can then hear those negative defeatist thoughts which are making us feel “not good enough”.

Originally, the Inner Critic is the internalized parental voice. Just as our parents had the intention to help us by giving us feedback on where and how we could do better, the Inner Critic voice also operates on the assumption that it is protecting us. The idea is, “If I, the Inner Critic, criticize you first, you can fix what is wrong and you are safe from outside criticism”.

The Inner Critic is generally trying to protect us from embarrassment and shame. But due to the harshness of that inner voice, it causes exactly the feeling of shame and not being good enough that it is trying to protect us from.

Inner Critic 1

The Inner Critic loves certain buzz words like “mistake”, “failure” and “symptom”. If Mary has the goal to lose weight and she goes for the bowl of ice cream in the middle of the night, the Inner Critic is likely to tell her that she is and always has been a complete failure, that everybody else has no problems losing weight, and that her eating is a serious symptom of a sugar addiction or even worse.

I have been meaning to write this blog on the Inner Critic for about three weeks. Usually, my blogs literally write themselves. It starts with an idea and the blog around the idea begins to formulate itself in my head before I even type one single word into my computer. Not so with this one.

What would my Inner Critic like to make out of that fact? It is teaming up with my Inner Pusher which says you should be productive and get something done. It might start to say, “What is wrong with you? You are such a procrastinator! You could have / should have / ought to…” And if I do not stop the Inner Critic right there and then, it might bring out the heavy cannonballs along the lines of, “This is a serious symptom! You have never had such a long blogging pause. You have a writing block! What if you never write a single blog again!”

Never mind that I prepared and taught two weekend workshops over the last few weeks, the Inner Critic will label that sort of rational justification as “an excuse” and try to convince me that I’m really slacking off and losing “it”, whatever “it” might be.

The Inner Critic also loves comparisons: “You never used to forget anything!”, “Did you read the amazing blog Grace wrote the other day?”, “Look how thin your sister is, you are such a failure!” or “Look how comfortable and funny Anna is with everybody; you are so dull and awkward and you will never make friends at university.”

No matter what you do, the Inner Critic can never be satisfied! It will always find someone to compare you to and it will always find something to criticize. And it will even find the exact opposite to criticize.

The other day, I had a client who is in his mid forties. He just started a new job and his Inner Critic is having a field day with him. It’s a new situation, and there are new rules and new processes to learn. The Inner Critic is trying to tell him he is too old, too slow, and just plainly not good enough. One moment his Inner Critic says “Your younger colleagues have an advantage; they only had to learn the new processes and not all those old redundant skills which you possess.” The next moment, the Inner Critic turns around and says “The colleagues who are ten years older than you have an advantage because they have more experience than you!” So which is it now, is he too old and slow, or to young and inexperienced? The Inner Critic does not care!

Inner Critic 2b

There is only one way to win the game with the Inner Critic and that is NOT to play!

The Inner Critic works on two principles:

  1. There is a correct way of doing things.
  2. Other people are going to judge you all the time.

Aren’t those interesting assumptions? We just need to go to a different culture or time period to realize there are many different ways of doing things. Each culture has its own rules and value systems.

The Inner Critic works together with other primary selves which we have. We all have different primary personality parts, for example the Perfectionist (likes things to be perfect), the Pusher (wants us to achieve something), the Pleaser (wants to make others happy), the Rational Mind (great at logical thinking but mistrusts feelings and intuition), the Inner Patriarch (echoes the beliefs of thousands of years of patriarchal society), just to name a few.

Each of them operates on certain beliefs. For example, the Perfectionist part in us believes that it’s not okay for us to make mistakes and to be satisfied with imperfection. The Pusher is relentless and constantly pushes us to be productive and achieve something. The Pleaser is convinced that we won’t be loved/liked/safe or that we will experience other negative consequences if we don’t please others. The Rational Mind disregards feelings and intuition and is convinced that it is necessary to understand and dissect everything. All these personality parts are useful. The danger lies in over-identifying with one or more of them. None of these personality parts support relaxation, trusting and going with the flow, being gentle and loving with ourselves or meeting our own needs.

The Inner Critic is the “cop” of the system. It enforces these rules which are beliefs on the level of the subconscious. In order to achieve some separation from the merciless Inner Critic voice which completely paralyzes us and pulls us into depression, we need to change those beliefs which are not supportive for us.

These beliefs are held in the subconscious mind and cannot be changed by the conscious mind. That’s why affirmations only have limited success. Belief change processes offer a way into the subconscious mind to achieve separation from our primary parts and our Inner Critic.

When we have a strong Inner Critic, it is quite easy for others to manage us. We just need that one look or that raised eyebrow and our Inner Critic kicks in immediately. “Oh, I must have said or done something wrong. He/she is not happy with me. I better make sure he or she is pleased with me again …” And without being aware of it, we are giving our entire power away to others.

So how does one tame the Inner Critic and get that voice to shut up?

First of all, we have to learn to recognize when the Inner Critic shows up. The Inner Critic is invisible and often even inaudible. We can make it audible and visible by sharing out loud with our loved ones what the Inner Critic is saying. Journaling and using a different colour when the Inner Critic voice shows up, is another way of calling it out.

The next step is to examine the basic rules the Inner Critic adheres to and makes a crime of, because it works hand in hand with our other personality parts. So the more separation we are getting from our primary selves by changing the beliefs they operate on, the less fuel the Inner Critic has.

Finally, to achieve even further separation, we can get in touch with the energies the Inner Critic tells us we should disown because they are “bad”. Those energies or traits are called our shadows. Shadow work fosters greater balance, inner harmony, self-acceptance and self-love.

Underneath the Inner Critic is anxiety and fear that we need protection to be safe. Love heals all fear. We need to become an Inner Parent to our vulnerable part inside—which is also called our Inner Child—and bring a loving supportive voice up to balance out the Inner Critic. So if the Inner Critic says “You are not good enough!” the loving parent voice can reply “You are perfect the way you are. You are beautiful, smart and lovable in every way.”

The most obvious criteria of separation from the Inner Critic is humour! When we hear the voice of this Critic and can respond with humour, we are on the way to separation.

So what did we do to help our “forgetful” family member to stop the Inner Critic attack that was brewing up like dark storm clouds? We made the voice audible and visible and laughed at it. That prompted that family member to start singing “It’s a good day to go to Superstore, Superstore, Superstore…” to the tune of “The wheels on the bus”. And with everybody’s laughter, the Inner Critic had lost all its momentum and power over the situation. Instead of ruining the day, or at least the next hour, it brought us amusement and entertainment.

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If you want to learn more about your Inner Critic and embark on the journey of separation you have three options:

– Contact Angelika for individual sessions, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

– Sign up for the next Workshop on the Inner Critic

Saturday, July 9, 2016 from 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m

Sunday, May 7, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

 

 

Magical Forest

As a child, the highly symbolic Brother Grimm’s fairy tales were read to me in the original version and I always wondered what these magical mystical forests from the traditional tales were like. They were forests in which you could get lost; they were dark and mysterious with fairy doors and other mysterious creatures, places to find lots of amazing gifts.

Last month, I had a truly beautiful experience. I had the opportunity to visit an incredibly old forest in British Columbia, just like the ones I had heard about as a child. The energy in this forest was indescribable. All the trees were as old as 300-800 years; some had fallen down naturally and ferns were growing over them, covering the entire floor. Giant Douglas Firs can grow as old as 1000 years. It was a sensual experience to walk through the muddy forest in rain boots, hearing the squelch squerch of each step and feeling the softness of the ground underneath my feet. The smells were rich and strong.

IMG_3892

Trees have a calming and balancing effect on us. Our human heart generates a measurable bio-electro-magnetic filed. Scientists have shown how trees also generate a bio-energy field similar to the field of the human heart. The trees’ bio-energy field of the heart comes into coherence with the human heart when they get close to each other and visa versa. What we experience is being in resonance with the trees. Each tree has a different field. You can experiment with your eyes closed, touching different trees and with a bit of practice you will be able to keep them apart based on their different energy.

IMG_3974

Plants also certainly have a consciousness. They sense light, have smell receptors and can even hear. Scientists have shown that the sound of a munching caterpillar alone causes a reaction in plants. However, their consciousness goes beyond that. They can pick up on intentions. Cleve Backster’s polygraph experiments with plants in the sixties show that plants are able to pick up whether they are truly threatened to be harmed.

Backster, who was a criminologist, had the idea to hook up one of his plants to a lie detector to see if the plant would respond to a threat. He came up with the idea to burn one of the plant’s leaves. The moment he conceived of the idea, before he even moved to go get matches, the polygraph responded indicating distress; the plant had picked up on his intentions. When he came back into the room with matches the plant responded with a new high on the graph. When Backster decided he had caused enough plant panic for one day and made up his mind to forget about burning the leaf, the plant, which was still attached to the polygraph, calmed down completely. The plant had responded to his actions and to his intentions. Backster has beautifully demonstrated with this and other experiments the unified field of consciousness as it connects all life.

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Peter Wohlleben, in his book “The Hidden Life of Trees”, describes how trees help each other out through their underground root system. The root system supplies each tree with water and nutrients, connecting it to the other trees and anchoring it to the ground. According to Wohlleben, trees communicate through scents and through their roots with each other. They warn each other of parasites and other dangers. They are a perfect example on how we all need each other.

Trees of the same kind literally support each other and feed those members of their tree family which are located in areas of less water or nutrients. They know that if some of them die and disappear it creates gaps in the forest, and then hot sun and strong winds can alter the growth conditions for the entire forest. You could say trees have the ultimate unity consciousness of being one, which we humans seem to have all forgotten about.

In the old forest, we came across some living tree stumps. They had no greenery anymore to capture sun light and to use photosynthesis to produce plant food. Yet, they were clearly still living. They were alive thanks to the underground root system because they were still being fed by their neighbouring trees.

Being present with the trees, all of a sudden, we began to notice a peculiar thing. Many of the trees seemed to show up in pairs, being nurtured from the same entangled base of roots or at least standing close together or right across from each other, sometimes even with the path between them. As much as the trees shared their energy all around, there clearly seemed to be a certain frequency going between those pairs.

Walking through this forest, it occurred to me how the trees in this old forest are beautiful role models for our relationships. We all are tied and connected through our roots to a greater community and within that community we form one-on-one relationships, which undergo different experiences and changes. The stronger our one-on-one “relationship roots” and our connection to the whole community are, the more likely it is that we can survive any challenges.

The bark of each tree acts like a coat or like armour providing the tree with insulation and protection from the elements. The stronger and older a tree is, the better it is protected from outside influences. Perhaps the bark is comparable to the growing awareness and experience which comes with age and also symbolizes the energetic boundaries we learn to set with the outside world. Lots of us humans might need to examine if our bark is solid enough to repel negative influences. Is our bio-magnetic heart energy field strong, vibrating at the level of love and joy?

This is a giant hollow Red Cedar. It caught fire and smouldered for several days but then continued to live. Sometimes our relationships “catch fire” and burn out like this tree. Despite a fire, our relationships have the potential to continue to stand strong and grow tall when the fire has reached its end. This tree is now an amazing hollow cave, perhaps more beautiful and special than before: a living sign that when we open up to anything being possible, we can rise even out of a huge crisis.

Sometimes other people set fire to our relationships, intentional or unintentional. This giant red cedar which once stood 71 metres tall is a sign of hope. Vandals set it aflame in 1972, ending its 700-year life. It had to be cut down to prevent the fire spreading to other trees. But do you see the new plant growing on top of the old tree? This tree is an example of how something new grows out of the ashes of the old. When an old relationship dies, we can trust that a new one will grow from the ruins of the old.

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We need to acknowledge the loss of the old relationship and grieve it. Our conflicting feelings result from the fact that a familiar pattern has changed or ended for us. Grief is perfectly normal when a relationship ends. It might end due to death or separation/divorce. As John W James and Russell Friedman remind us, “divorce severs the martial, sexual and social ties, but divorce does not complete emotional ties”. We might need to ask “What do I wish had been different, better, or more?” to help us find what is incomplete and to take responsibility for our part in the relationship ending. An incomplete past may doom us to repeat the same patterns again. Incomplete grief can cause “hyperviligant self-protection from further emotional pain” (James/Friedman) and be the reason for fearful choices. For the new plant to grow strongly on top of the old one, we have to go back to complete any remaining grief. Then the new one can grow healthy, strong and even more beautiful.

The same applies to our non-romantic relationships. Resentment, anger, misunderstandings, and our stories of how somebody made us feel not good enough, keep us from healing relationships and allowing new sprouts to grow from the old. Forgiveness, letting go, and the willingness to take responsibility for our own past, present and future feelings, and for co-creating all our experiences, turn disharmonious and painful relationships into ones which unfold with grace, joy and harmony.

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Contact Angelika for Relationship Coaching

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

What is Ground Zero?

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was standing together with my neighbour and some of our kids, when my neighbour shared that they are going to New York with friends and that their friends want to visit Ground Zero. At that point her nine year old daughter piped up, “What is Ground Zero?” We all realized that she hadn’t heard about 9/11; she hadn’t even been born in 2001.

Now how does one answer a question like this without causing unnecessary fear in a child’s mind, or causing any political indoctrination or anger in the next generation? The term “ground zero” is used to describe the point on the earth’s surface closest to a detonation. Is that what her daughter had asked? Or did she rather need to know that—despite events like 9/11 or more recent bomb explosions in 2015—she can allow herself to feel safe in this world? As it was her daughter, I let my neighbour reply and she did a fabulous job of honesty answering while filtering her replies for the mind of a child. Very consciously finding the right words, she explained the events of 9/11 and that they had altered the world.

Be Soft

How do we hold the feeling that this is a beautiful and safe world? Fear is a powerful force. What effects have events like 9/11 had on the world? They increased the “them versus us” experience. The author Oriah Mountain Dreamer on her CD “Your Heart’s Prayer” shares how she and her spiritual friends got together just after 9/11 to pray and be in touch with what was happening in the world and what was reflected inside them. She describes how difficult it was at that time to remember that we are all one.

Listening to her friends, there was a lot of talk about “them” and “they”. Some friends would say, “They (the terrorists) hate the American way of life and want to destroy it!” And some Non-American friends would be concerned not just about the terrorists but also about the Americans and say, “They (the Americans) just want to strike back and bomb somebody, anybody.”

The message Oriah Mountain Dreamer received in one of her dreams at that time was “try saying ‘some of us’ because we are all one human race”. So she started saying, “some of us hate the American way of life” and “some of us just want to strike back” to acknowledge that we create this suffering for us, for the human family.

The next message was to even change the “them versus us” thinking further by using the phrase “part of me”. She began saying, “part of me hates the American way of life” and “part of me wants to just strike back”. Acknowledging that we all have those parts in us as well completely changes our experience.

Separating ourselves from “the others” in our life creates fear. Yet we do this unconsciously all the time. We think of our business versus that of the competition, or of our inheritance versus that of our siblings, or what our mother-in-law or daughter-in-law does differently from us, or what our ex-spouse might be out to get or do to us.

We create our own little ground zeros: The day our competitor underbid us and declared war, or the day our sibling did or said something absolutely unforgivable, or the day our mother-in-law or daughter in law showed their true face and became our enemy, or the day when our ex-spouse betrayed us. How many ground zeros have you created in your life?

 Tell me a story

We have a choice what stories we want to claim as ours. Let’s rather ask, “What do I share with people in the same business?” Maybe we all want to help others and can relax into knowing that there are enough clients or customers for all of us. “What do I share with my siblings that is way more important than the money?” That might be a common history, or precious memories, or the same blood, or the love for the same parents. “What do I share with my mother-or daughter-in-law?” Perhaps, the love for the same man and for the same children, or being a woman who is doing the best she can. “What do my ex-spouse and I have in common?” We both want the best for our children and are both trying to make the right choices for them and ourselves.

“Them versus us”, or “me versus him/her” mentality means we are choosing separation and judgment over unity, understanding and healing. The first causes fear. It’s the source of competition, stress, ongoing conflict and fights. The latter helps us to realize that the fear we have deep inside can be overcome in favour of a place of love and unity consciousness. That certainly is not an easy task but one worth undertaking.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Are You an HSP?

I went into a busy mall a few days ago and within three minutes I was reminded why I do not do that—ever. The loud noises, the busy movements, the bright lights, all the sensory in-put from too many people vibrating at different levels of energy, many of them excited and emotional, immediately had me going into “fight or flight mode”.

When I was young I was told on a regular basis and in a reproachful voice, “Sei doch nicht so überempfindlich!” which translates into “Don’t be so hyper-sensitive”. This was usually said with the expectation that I should be able to just flick a switch and turn my sensory perception off. I used to feel something was wrong with me, being “too sensitive”. After all, those comments carried the suggestion with them that I must surely be over-exaggerating or being unnecessarily dramatic about people’s energy or my surroundings.

HSP crowd

Today, I know that around 15-20% of the population are HSPs, or Highly Sensitive People. “What seems ordinary to others, like loud music or crowds, can be highly stimulating and thus stressful for HSPs. Most people ignore sirens, glaring lights, strange odors, clutter and chaos. HSPs are disturbed by them. Most people’s feet may be tired at the end of a day in a mall or museum, but they’re ready for more when you suggest an evening party. HSPs need solitude after such a day. They feel jangled, overaroused. Most people walk into a room and perhaps notice the furniture, the people—that’s about it. HSPs can be instantly aware, whether they wish to be or not, of the mood, the friendship and enmities, the freshness or staleness of the air, the personality of the one who arranged the flowers.” (Elaine N. Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person)

When I end up in the theatre next to somebody who noticeably wears a perfume, my daughters will automatically volunteer to switch seats with me, knowing that strong smells completely overwhelm me. At other times, they will lovingly make fun of me because I am always the first one who goes, “What is that smell?”, when nobody else can detect it, yet. I am also the loving family joke because I make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows. My family remembers the times when I had to leave the movie theatre for a while during a scene which for most people would qualify as a “regular amount of violence”. The movies are particularly challenging because they come at me with well placed sounds, the intense emotions of the characters and light effects. That usually is too much stimulation for my nervous system.

Some people like parties and loud music. It gives them energy. Loud music and a lot of other noises literally make me feel like I am being attacked. A social gathering of two hours stretches like an eternity for me. The other day we were at a busy restaurant for three hours with wonderful friends of ours. We had a lot of fun, talking and laughing. I enjoyed myself immensely. Yet, in order to tune into only their words and energy I had to tune out everything around me which requires a lot of concentration. After such a gathering, I feel completely drained and desperately need to have quiet around me, preferably even be completely alone for a while.

“Our trait of sensitivity means we will also be cautious, inward, needing extra time alone. Because people without that trait (the majority) do not understand that, they see us as timid, shy, weak, or that greatest sin of all, unsociable. Fearing these labels, we try to be like others. But that leads to our becoming overaroused and distressed.” (Elaine N. Aron)

HSP Tia

Up to the age of 14, I had been attending a small school in Africa. When I returned with my parents to Germany, I was put into a big high school with approximately 800 students. Being in that school everyday completely overwhelmed me. It was like going into a battle field every day, sorting out all the different stimulations and emotions of everybody. The suppressed unhappiness, hostility, anger or aggression of many students and teachers were hard to take. My dad was sure I would get used to the big school. After all, what was the big deal? My mom knew better. When the first opportunity arose for me to switch schools and attend a high school further away with only 300 students and a very different, more personal and supportive atmosphere, she advocated for the change. She didn’t know about HSPs. But she had enough empathy to understand that I would need a more predictable and manageable size of an environment to do well. And she was right.

Elaine N. Aron uses the acronym “DOES” to describe what a Highly Sensitive Person is like. D stands for “Depth of Processing”. HSPs often have a strong (yet not infallible) intuition. When an HSP is asked to make a decision consciously they are often slower than others because they think over all option carefully. O is for “Overstimulation”. If a “situation is complicated (many things to remember), intense (noisy, cluttered etc.), or goes on too long (a two-hour commute)” overstimulation is experienced. E is for giving emphasis to our Emotional reactions and having strong “Empathy” with others. S is for being “Sensitive” to all the subtleties around us, for example the non-verbal clues or sometimes even having what is described as a “sixth sense”.

D O E S

In my field, there is an unusual high number of HSPs. At a meeting of practitioners earlier this year, we were going around the room to share how we all got to be in the alternative field. There were four women sitting right next to each other who all described a very similar story. As children they were all told that they were “too sensitive” and that their intuitive perceptions where not valid. For a while most of them suppressed their sensitivity and strong intuition trying to be like everybody else. Each of them, however, realized at one point that being different has it’s challenges but also is a precious gift. The gift is to be able to tune into other people and to feel them and what is really going on with them energetically. Some of us see energy, others can feel other people’s pain and emotions in their own bodies, some just know things and are intuitively guided while they facilitate a session.

If you suspect you are an HSP, remember that you are not crazy or flawed. Being outgoing, tough, stoic and always searching for entertainment, is only the ideal in our culture. “In China ‘shy’ and ‘sensitive’ children were among those most chosen by others to be friends or playmates. (In Mandarin, the word for shy or quiet means good or well-behaved; sensitive can be translated as ‘having understanding,’ a term of praise.) In Canada, shy and sensitive children were among the least chosen.” (Elaine N. Aron) However, not all HSPs are introverts. According to Aron’s research about 30% of all HSPs are in fact extroverts.

Not all HSPs are the same. Some HSPs are affected more by other people’s moods, others more by sensory in-put, some are easily moved by emotions, arts or music, others are easily rattled by having a lot to do in a short amount of time and feel annoyed when people try to get them to do too many things at once. Some HSPs cry easily, when they are happy or when they are sad, others really struggle with making a conscious choice or decision. Most HSPs crave deep relationships, and feel unhappy without meaningful interactions. Not all characteristics apply to all HSPs in the same way.

Whether just a few or many characteristics of the HSP definition applies to you, you can learn to accept yourself the way you are and thrive in the world. You can learn to protect your energy when you are around others. You can train yourself to be more outgoing and social, as long as you meet your need for quiet time to recharge. You can change your limiting beliefs around your abilities and embrace them as a gift. You can learn to express what it’s like to experience the world in the way you do and take care of yourself.

Contact Angelika for Life Coaching

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

“I Just Want Christmas to Be Over”

Opinions about the holiday season vary greatly. You come across people who truly love Christmas and you come across people who are not that thrilled the holidays are here once again; some even literally hate this time of the year.

How we feel about Christmas—and about celebrating this or other family holidays—depends a lot on what experiences we have had and what beliefs we have learned. Sometimes our apprehension might be connected to missing a person, sometimes to how we get to celebrate. In fact, it’s a time in which we are really tested in regards to negotiating compromises.

With the permission of two clients, I want to share two different Christmas stories today. Both stories started with a depressed sigh and with the sentence, “I just want Christmas to be over”.

The first client was a woman in her fifties. She told me, “Christmas is so stressful; it is just work for me!” And then she listed all the things she had to do and the lack of time to do it. When I asked her how Christmas would look if she could have it exactly the way she wanted, she was speechless for a moment. She had no clear idea. She started saying, “Well, if I could have what I wanted, I wouldn’t have my whole family over and cook for everybody on the 25th, and I wouldn’t go to my in-laws from the 26th to 28th, and I wouldn’t buy so many gifts and… but that’s not possible because everybody is counting on me to do this! If I don’t do it nobody else will!”

So this was clearly a case of negotiating needs. In order to do that, this wonderful giving woman first of all needed to believe that her own needs matter. We needed to teach her subconscious mind more supportive beliefs about herself and her needs, especially in comparison to other people’s needs. She also decided to take an honest look and ask herself what energies she had over-identified with and which opposite energies she had disowned. Her perfectionist, pleaser and care-taker parts were strong personality parts for her. She liked to give to others but because her opposite energies were underdeveloped, she ended up feeling resentful, unappreciated and completely overwhelmed. She needed some more separation from her perfectionist, pleaser and care-taker and had to embrace her own inner child which wanted to have play time and relaxing time over the holidays.

She came for three sessions at the end of last year. I just heard from her a few days ago. She is creating a completely different holiday experience for herself this year. She negotiated that they would only travel up North to stay with the in-laws every other year and that everybody in her family would help with Christmas dinner at her house. “I had to let go of my need to have things ‘just so’, but it was worth it! I actually have found time this year to start cross stitching again; I always used to love needle work. And instead of giving gifts to everybody in the family, we are only doing cards for the adults. All I need to worry about is my grandchildren and it’s fun to shop for them. I am actually enjoying this time of the year! It is wonderful!”

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The second client is a man in his late thirties. When asked why he wants Christmas to be over, he said, “I don’t know. It is just depressing. Just thinking of Christmas shopping makes me break out in a cold sweat; in January we are always in debt because of all the December expenses.” When asked how he envisions a Christmas that meets his needs he replied, “I have no idea! Christmas was always a time I dreaded, going back to the year when my grandpa Miller died” and his eyes filled with tears. He quickly wanted to push that sadness down again but I asked him to sit with it and feel it. It turned out that as a child a few years in a row, traumatic events happened around Christmas: somebody died or moved away or an accident of sorts happened.

Subconsciously, this man still expected the worst to happen at this time of the year. His work was to joyfully release past Christmas experiences and to expect the best Christmas now and in the future. He also chose to change beliefs about being a horrible gift giver and about having to spend a lot of money for Christmas. His son now has a chance to experience a different holiday, one where there are less expensive gifts under the tree but where everybody sits together playing board games and laughing. It’s a Christmas where this dad might finally feel comfortable sharing about his childhood and what his Grandpa Miller was like, a different and special holiday memory for his son.

Wishing you a holiday

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Angelika

Belief Change Coaching

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Disillusionment

Sarah finds out that her widowed father has a girlfriend and has kept it from her. Jim realizes that his wife is not the patient mother he had hoped she would be. Veronica has to admit that her husband is threatened by her making more money and is  not supportive of her career. Mario finds out that his girlfriend has a spending problem. Mary is shocked to hear that her new partner has an illegitimate son who he hasn’t mentioned before. Sally notices that her sister has gossiped with somebody else about her.

What do all those situations have in common? All these experiences are about realizing that somebody is not the way we expected them to be. We have to adapt to a new reality minus the illusion we had about a person.

When we experience a sense of disillusionment with another person or with the relationship we are receiving a great gift. Disappointment gets us stuck in feeling something is hopeless. When we feel something is hopeless, we dissociate and give up. Dis-illusionment, on the other hand, frees us from illusions and can be very productive.

Dissilusionment allowsEach relationship with another person is a journey which also contains moments of disillusionment. When we grow up, we usually get to a point when we realize our parents are not who we thought they were when we were children. In our romantic relationships, we have moments which trigger our hurts and issues and also make us realize our partner is not who we expected them to be. The other person might not do or be who we hoped they were. An illusion we had about our partner is taken away. We have the choice to allow the loss of our illusions to make us bitter or to allow ourselves to lead relationships which are more real.

Everybody wants toWhen we lose our illusions, we open up to getting to know who the other person truly is. Disillusionment is part of a normal development for a relationship. When we engage in those experiences and share them with each other we can work through how it felt to experience the disillusionment. We can grow from those moments. Everybody ultimately wants to be known for who he or she is, especially in close intimate relationships. Being put up on a pedestal is lonely. Everybody wants to be loved for who he or she is. Through a situation of disillusionment, we start to see something about the other person which we didn’t see before. It’s a new discovery of who we are in a relationship with. We can then strengthen the bond on those new insights, free from illusions.

Real appreciation

Angelika

Relationship Coaching

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Mother Earth, Please Take This from Me

Have you ever said “I need to digest this”? That might apply to actual food, or some knowledge you have just learned, or it might be something emotional.

This week, I was reminded of an important lesson: I do not have to digest everything other people serve me! I don’t have to “eat” anything that is served in the buffet of life unless I choose to. I get to pick and choose. If somebody serves me something that is clearly of a low vibrational energy, born out of jealousy, judgment or fear, I do not have to digest it. I have the right to refuse it and to immediately release the energy before it can drain or affect me.

Sometimes people serve us something under the pretext of caring or meaning well, yet the energy is not one of acceptance or love at all. Other times people serve us something out of fear and lack of self-love, unconsciously trying to trigger the same feeling of fear and being unlovable in us.

When somebody tries to tell you that you are lacking in some way, whether that is physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, remind yourself that they have projected their own fears of not being enough in some way onto you. They are probably completely unaware of how you mirror to them what they fear about themselves. You are carrying their shadows, what they don’t like about themselves and therefore judge in others.

Blowing out someone elsesEach time this happens and somebody says or does something that is not coming from a loving heart, it’s a test of how much we have learned to love ourselves so far. Each relationship is a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves. Do we truly love ourselves? Do we have enough awareness to simply refuse that judgmental energy? To release all residue from our own field? And to stay away from people who do not mirror love and acceptance to us?

One Shamanic ritual to release an unwanted energy is to place your left hand on your stomach and hold the right one up. Breathe deeply and let the situation, the incident, the energy rise into your right hand. Then give the energy from your right hand to Mother Earth to take it and clear it.

Mother earth please takeI don’t believe that people are toxic; however, interactions can be toxic for us. We wouldn’t eat a spicy dish when we have a sensitive stomach, or dairy products when we are lactose intolerant, or attempt to eat peanuts when we have a nut allergy. So why would we feel we have to digest energy which is incompatible or even malevolent?

So, if somebody is trying to blow your candle out and trying to make you feel not good enough in some way, remind yourself that you are lovable exactly the way you are. If you have a moment of doubt, turn to somebody who can see your bright light and hear them say:

You are beautiful the way you are

Angelika

Life Coaching

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

HOMEWORK – Part One – by Mary Strachan

I have a special treat for you today, a collaboration on the topic “homework”. I am sharing the blog space for today’s post in two parts with my colleague, friend and fellow mother Mary Strachan, who is the founder of Fresh Perspectives, a Parenting Coaching Service. She coaches and mentors parents and children. The purpose of Fresh Perspectives is to empower parents to get clear on what they want most, understand what might be getting in their way, and get re-energized to raise a happy and healthy family. Here is a story Mary would like to share:

PART ONE

How a Grade 3 Book Report Turned into a Parenting Life Lesson for Me

By Mary Strachan

When our son was in grade 3, he had a series of 3 book report projects to do over the course of the year. The first one went really well. I supported him to break it down into pieces and he was able to get it done without any drama at all. It was really quite a pleasant experience, with minimal involvement on my part.

homework mary 1- zombiekins

The second one didn’t go so well. His motivation to do it just wasn’t there, and, ski and snowmobile season had started so he spent most weekends away, enjoying his fun in the snow. He definitely did not work on it a little bit at a time.

Suddenly it was Family Day weekend, and the project was due on the Tuesday, and it wasn’t anywhere near being done.   As you can imagine, stress levels were high – both his and mine. The more I pointed out that he was running out of time, the less he wanted to work on it. Instead, he suggested he might as well not do it at all, seeing as he’d “never get it done anyways.” (In the heat of the moment, I may have suggested he’d never get it done at the rate he was going.)

Several arguments later, I found myself bargaining with him to get it done. If I drew the characters’ heads, would he colour them in (please say yes) and, if you tell me what you want to say, I’ll type it out for you (it was so painful to watch him type.)

We got the project done. On time. Mission accomplished. Crisis averted.

I could breathe again. Until Tuesday night that is. When he came home from school, he was worried about how a class mate would do on the project because she had only written a couple of sentences for each section – unlike him, whose sections were full because I had typed them out for him. He was convinced she was going to fail. But I knew better. If anyone had failed, it was me.

homework mary 2- failure

Sure enough, I got a call from his teacher later in the week, asking me to come in and talk about his project. Even though I was embarrassed, I went in to have the conversation. Luckily, his teacher kept an open mind about what happened, and wanted to understand what lead me to do so much of the project for him.

Together we figured out that leaving most of it to the end was a really big part of the problem. He felt so overwhelmed at the thought of having so much to do that it was just easier not to do it at all. He also changed the kind of project he wanted to do at the last minute, creating more work for himself. We agreed that she would work with him to set up a time line for the last project to keep him on track and stress free.

But there was more to it than that. She also helped me see that I was unwilling to let him take the project to school “as is” and incomplete. The thought never, ever, crossed my mind. It was due so that meant it would be finished and handed in. No ifs, ors, ands, or buts. At least not on my watch.

Cartoon

Cartoon

My belief that he had to have a finished project to hand in robbed him of the opportunity to learn from his choices. To feel the consequences of the decision not to finish it. To understand what to do differently next time so he wouldn’t be so overwhelmed. To admit to the teacher it didn’t go the way he’d planned. Even worse, it taught him that the only way to handle the situation was for me to do the work for him.

And, at the end of the day, if he didn’t hand in a completed project, on time, didn’t it mean that I was not a “good” mother?

Lots has changed since then. I’ve seen him hand projects in on time and late. I’ve also seen him hand in a version of the project he thought he was supposed to do that was very different from the one he was actually assigned. I’ve kept him company late at night while he has finished them and celebrated with him when he’s completed them a day early. I’ve encouraged him to check in with his teachers to make sure he’s on track and to be honest with them when he’s having trouble. I’ve bought supplies for him, driven him to friends’ houses to work on group projects, and even proof read his writing when he’s asked me to do it.

Are there times when I want to manage his work more? Sure. Are there times I’d love to jump in and rescue him? Yep – I’m still working on this one. Do I like it when he procrastinates and leaves things to the last minute? Not really – I find it kind of stressful, actually. But I realized something. I’ve had my turn at being a student. This is his turn. And the more I do for him, the less opportunity he has to experience what it truly means to learn – beyond the facts and multiplication tables and capital cities.

homework mary 4- plantinhand

As far as my worries about being a “good” mother, I know it has less to do with being “right” or what other people think about me and more about allowing space for my kids to experience all of what life has to offer – the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, and allowing them the chance to discover what works and doesn’t work for them. It’s about staying connected with them without overdoing it and being available and present when they need me to be.

Check out Mary’s website for 5 Ways to Support Your Kids With Their Homework Without Actually Doing It For Them