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.

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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.

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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.

Baxter, 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.

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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.

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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

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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

Walk a Mile in My Moccasins

Carol has been married for over seven years; she is the mother of two little girls. But each time she used to see her own mother, she instantly felt like a little child again.

By that, she didn’t mean she had a wonderful fuzzy feeling of safety, security and love. On the contrary! She felt like her own two year old who wanted to stamp her foot and yell at her mother “I hate you!”

Carol was triggered by her mother in different ways. For example, Carol and her husband made the choice to be vegetarians, yet, the mother kept pushing meat onto her daughter and her grandchildren. She was telling everybody how unhealthy it is to be vegetarian and how irresponsible it is to raise your children this way.

Carol’s husband is French-Canadian and they had decided to send their older daughter to a French school. Carol’s mother was doing everything to find fault with this choice as well.

Carol felt herself triggered into angry comments directed at her mother, which then resulted in her mother being hurt and insulted, calling her daughter cruel and heartless. Carol tried to ignore her mother, tried to explain and rationalize with her. Nothing helped. “She just will not stop!” Carol told me in exasperation.

Carol felt disrespected, criticized and angry. Her own children had been asking to see their grandparents more, but Carol always had excuses to call other babysitters and felt more comfortable avoiding family get-togethers. One day, when Carol had a fight with her husband, he exclaimed in frustration “You are just like your mother!” Carol was offended and shocked. She came to see me.

As Carol and I started working together, Carol discovered—to her surprise—her mother’s desperation for attention and love. She realized that her mother felt scared and out of control through the different life choices Carol and her husband had made for themselves and their children.

Carol has found a way to set clear respectful boundaries with her mother while giving her the love and assurance the mother was looking for. In order to do that, Carol had to work with the mirrors which showed up for her and integrate her own shadows inside herself. She had to embrace the energy of being loud and pushy, and the part in her which is controlling. Her mother mirrored neediness to Carol as well. All three were traits Carol had learned to dislike and had disowned in herself. She judged herself harshly for her own controlling energy and when she herself felt needy and fearful. Carol also chose to do a relationship alignment with somebody standing in for her mother. That’s a process which balances the chakras in relationship to each other, and can greatly shift the energy from judgments to acceptance.

When Carol healed her own wounds and cleared out her triggers, she became really able to step into her mother’s shoes and feel her mother’s experience with compassion.

Moccasins & quoteWhen we walk a mile in somebody else’s moccasins, we realize that nothing is what it seems. Our shoe might pinch in one spot, somebody else’s shoe in another.

Ever since Carol has removed her own triggers and has been able to feel and radiate true unconditional love towards her mother, her mother has also slowly started to put herself into Carol’s place. The mother has realized that her daughter’s choices in life are not right or wrong, they are not a threat to her own beliefs or a criticism of how she raised Carol; they are just different from hers.

“The other day, I heard her defend our French school to somebody! Can you believe that?” laughs Carol. Yes, I can! Carol has done the work and is seeing the results.

Is it time to move beyond right and wrong for you as well? Do you want to have more peaceful and harmonic experiences with others? Are you ready to create better relationships? By finding the parts of your personality that you have pushed away, recognizing their value and then embracing them, you are opening up to unconditionally loving yourself and enhancing your relationships. You gain the freedom to truly walk in another person’s moccasins.

Contact

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.

Empty Nest?

Have you ever tried to push an emotion away instead of dealing with it? Doesn’t work so well, does it? It’s a bit like trying to push a beach ball under water. It is bound to pop up again sooner or later.

I had my own week of pushing down a beach ball. Ten days ago, my oldest moved out. She and I have always had a very strong bond. A friend of mine, who has a son a few years older, has been making foreboding remarks about the challenges of adjusting to children moving out for the last few months. Resolutely, I had refused to listen and “have her put suggestions into my head”. After all, her son had no siblings and the term “empty nest” did not apply to me at all.

When you google “empty nest syndrome” definitions like this one come up: “Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of grief and loneliness parents may feel when their children leave home for the first time. This can result in depression and a loss of purpose for parents, since the departure of their children from “the nest” leads to adjustments in parents’ lives. Empty nest syndrome is especially common in full-time mothers.”

Nest 2

I just couldn’t see how that could possibly apply to me. I have my work which I love, a close loving partnership, another daughter and a stepdaughter. Does that sound like an empty nest? I was worried about how my younger daughter would deal with her sister being away from home. I feared she would miss her best friend and mentor. Her older sister is the one she is closely bonded into. However, I was not expecting to feel grief myself.

My daughter moved out on Friday. On Sunday, my stepdaughter, who is an intuitive little one, asked me twice out of the blue “Are you okay?” I replied to her I was feeling tired but secretly started wondering what she was picking up on. By Monday, I was starting to realize that I was suppressing something. The bond with my oldest is strong and I trust it will change and become in some ways even deeper than it is. So that was not it. Yet, I felt moody, restless and just not myself.

It took a couple of meditations and some muscle testing to realize what was being triggered. A very old primal fear came up. I traced it back to being barely four years old. At that time, shifts happened in my family with one of my sisters being born and my mother almost leaving my father due to another crisis. The experience I had back then was that it is not safe for me when shifts happen among the people I love. Once I had uncovered that limiting belief, it was easy to clear it out.

Nest 5

We can clear out fears or limiting beliefs using PSYCH-K® or another belief change technique. In addition it can help to use NLP-based techniques of refocusing on what we want at this point in our life. This helps us to further adapt to changes and to be able to direct our creative energy towards our own/new goals.

Sometimes we underestimate periods of transition in our life. We are getting married or moving in with someone. We are having a baby. We are melting two families. Somebody moves out. We are getting a promotion into a more challenging position. Somebody in the family is retiring. All these are usually “happy” events. Yet, just like losing our job, a break-up of a relationship, a separation, a divorce or losing somebody through death, transitions shake us and require adjustments. They can trigger emotions and fears. They might bring limiting beliefs up to the surface. They are, however, a gift. They are an opportunity to do our growth work.

Are you going through a transition in your life?

For Life Coaching and Emotional Healing Work

Contact 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.

Additional Points to Consider for Step-Parenting

Do you know what a pot-bound plant is?

When a plant is growing in a particular pot, it keeps growing but its environment, the pot, does not grow with it. The plant gets to a certain point and then becomes what is called “pot bound”. The roots just keep going round and fill up the whole pot. They become more and more rigid. They cannot spread out in that cramped environment. When you break open the old pot and replant the plant in a bigger pot or in the garden the plant can stretch out and grow much bigger.

A stepfamily, according to Sidra Stone—who came up with this perfect metaphor—is like breaking the old pots open and giving the family members, especially the children, a place to grow which is much bigger.

stepparenting - heartWith this new, unfamiliar and bigger space come a lot of adjustments. The plants need to get used to the new soil. If loving gardeners make sure the new soil is rich and fertile and full of nutrients, the plants are more likely to do well in the new environment.

These days, who doesn’t know someone who is part of a stepfamily? In 2011in Canada, there were 464,335 “melted families”. This represents more than 10% of Canadian families with children. Melted families are becoming increasingly complex. In 1995, the simple stepfamilies—in which all the children were the children of one of the spouses only—were still in the majority. Today, complex stepfamilies with children from both spouses are as common or even in the majority.

Stepparenting 7

In my blog “Points to Consider for Parenting” on September 1st, I elaborated on four aspects of parenting which can help us to be more successful parents if we are aware of them:

  1. The Adults in the Family Should Be True Partners in Parenting
  1. Children Carry Our Disowned Selves; They Show Us What We Tend to Judge and Dislike
  1. Be Aware of the Energetic Linkage: Who is bonded into Whom?
  1. Ask, What Does This Parenting Situation Have to Teach Me?

Stepparenting 1

Here are two additional points to consider particularly for stepparenting:

  1. You Are the Parent of Your Own Children

Don’t try to be the disciplining parent for your stepchildren, especially if they still have two biological parents. It’s impossible and bound to fail. Don’t expect to take the part of their mother or father. There is no such thing as “just” being the stepparent. It is an important and enriching experience for everybody involved. Yet different guidelines apply for the stepparent than apply for the parent. When the parent is not taking charge of a situation, it can understandably be challenging for the stepparent to hold back.

It is therefore important for each parent to step into your parenting role when it comes to your own biological children. It is your responsibility to parent your children. Leaving it up to the stepparent to do the disciplining or activities that you do not enjoy is unfair to everybody. Communicate clearly with your partner what you need from him or her. This can mean that you—or your partner—need to step up and become a more confident or involved parent.

Stepparenting POINT 5 - Step up to parent

  1. Vulnerability

When old family systems are dissolved and we move from being a couple to being parents or stepparents, from having no siblings or full siblings to suddenly having stepsiblings, everybody is vulnerable and insecure: the adults as well as the children. Everybody is faced with a new situation and adjustments while navigating their own feelings and experiences.

We need to be aware of our vulnerability and this vulnerability has to be available between the partners. We usually live in our power selves of pusher or rational mind or assertive self and so on, which exist to protect our vulnerability. These power selves are useful for our survival but can prevent real connections.

Vulnerability gives us the option to be with somebody without all the defences and guards. It allows us to be authentic and to feel and communicate all feelings. When things happen in the parenting situation, it allows us then to come to our partner and express how we truly feel and to work out a solution together. If we are not able to do that, we might end up attacking our partner or his or her child because we are not aware of our own vulnerability in a situation. Our power selves jump in and take control. Communicating the vulnerability is the first step towards aligning with your partner. The next big step is to bring this same open communication to the children or stepchildren instead of coming from a place of power all the time. The interactions can then become deep sensitive connections with them, a totally different quality of interactions than when we come from our power selves.

Another vulnerability that comes into play is the new set of in-laws for each partner. In the case of a second or third marriage, we have even lost one set of in-laws and siblings-in-laws from the previous relationship and we need to navigate the new rules and ways of the new in-laws. The new in-laws might be struggling just in the same way with the changes which come up. They might fear losing the contact with their son or daughter and with their grandchildren, now that a new person has come into the picture. It is a situation which brings up lots of vulnerabilities, insecurities and fears. Be loving and kind with yourself and those around you as you are going through those changes.

Stepparenting POINT 6 - Vulnerability

When the parents choose to parent consciously, both stepping up to be involved parents who are aware of vulnerabilities among the family members and ready to address them, the conditions are ideal for new growth. Children can spread out to make new experiences and to grow strong roots in their new and more expansive environment, like pot bound plants that are being replanted in larger pots.

Angelika

Conscious Parenting & Life Coaching

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466

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.

Points to Consider for Parenting

Traveling in Europe and comparing parenting styles in Great Britain and Germany to Canada reminded me of how different parenting is from culture to culture.

The examples of British parenting we saw were gentle reminders of manners, sometimes interlaced with humour. Yet, the children seem to know exactly that something said in a sarcastic or humorous way still has to be taken seriously.

German parenting is more direct and humourless. German parents navigate an interesting balance between granting their children a lot of individuality and freedom—much more than we do in Canada—and yet being quite outright, outspoken and direct when it comes to enforcing rules.

German parents are reluctant to encourage kids to do something they are not in the mood for. Your five-year-old does not want to give grandma a hug and kiss? That’s okay. Your eight-year-old does not want to join in the games at the birthday party because he thinks it’s “blöd” (stupid)? That’s okay. Your twelve-year-old does not want to join the family for dinner even though relatives are over? That’s okay. Your sixteen-year-old does not want to come on vacation with his/her parents? That’s okay.

Hardly ever are children encouraged to put the needs of others or a group over their own individual needs and wants. I suspect that is a result of the Nazi time in which obedience and conformity was put above else. As so often in history an entire nation has done an 180˚ turn. Yet, when children cross “the line”, whatever that line in each individual case and each individual parent is, the parent can get very direct, authoritative and will raise their voice.

Clearly each country or culture has different values for parenting. What seems right in one culture might be frowned upon in another. I was wondering if there are any common points independent of the culture that one might want to consider for parenting and/or step-parenting.

Parenting 1

Children change the dynamics of every partnership greatly. When a new baby is born or when step-children enter into the picture, the self contained unit of the two grown-ups loving each other or the previous family system break open to include one or more other people. If we are not aware of the changing dynamics and in touch with our own feelings and fears, conflicts are inevitable. Instead of bringing more joy and growth, parenting then becomes a burden for the relationship.

Here are some points to consider for parenting based on Hal and Sidra Stone’s work, which I believe might be applicable in many different parts of the world:

  1. Acceptance of the Partnering Model for Parenting

Partnering is a non-hierarchical model of parenting. In partnering, both partners are equally involved in all areas. In partnering everything is a joint venture. There is a sense of a no-fault kind of relationship, instead of blaming the other parent. Each event brings with it a new learning. Both partners should be sharing the authority, the responsibility, and the power in the relationship to the children as well as to each other.

The basic connection in the family system must be between the two people in charge, the couple. Children “smell” very quickly when the connection between the parents isn’t working and are naturally going to take advantage of that fundamental flaw in the family system. Dynamics then begin to happen that don’t work well for the family.

For each partner that means to look at the children and step-children from your partner’s eyes. You do not necessarily need to agree with your partner but you need to understand where he or she is coming from. You need to be able to see and feel their point of view. Learn to honour the viewpoint of your partner, no matter how different it is, because there is a teaching there for us. It is an opportunity to integrate our disowned selves, the traits we don’t like about ourselves and others.

Parenting POINT 1 - Make sure adults

  1. Primary and Disowned Selves, Opposites & Polarization

The Primary Selves are the group of selves who make up our identity, or who we are identified with. The Disowned Selves are the ones we have had to drop because we learned they are not good to have. We usually treasure our primary selves and are attached to them (“That’s just how I am”); the disowned selves we don’t like. The stepchildren, new in-laws, and other people in our life – even the pets—are going to carry our disowned selves and show us what we tend to judge and dislike.

Those family members show us the opposites which we are not comfortable with and we often even polarize into those opposites further as we live and interact together.

For example, if I am quite neat and my child or stepchild is a bit sloppy, the child might polarize into being even messier while I become more paranoid about cleaning and tidying up. The child is taking on my messy energy that I—and possibly everybody in the house—have disowned. However, once they move out, we might find that living on their own, they have quite a neat household.

If I am identified with cleanliness, I might judge the person very strongly for living in a mess. Judgements give us the keys to our primary and our disowned selves. When you feel yourself judging other family members, remind yourself that the judgments give you a feedback about yourself and the parts of yourself that you disown.

Parenting POINT 2 - Children carry disowned

  1. Energetic Linkage

Tune in to find out who is bonded into whom in the family. What I mean by that is notice who feels close to whom and how the bonding happens. Are the energies truly flowing between you and your partner, or perhaps you and your favourite child? Where the real warmth is shows us the bonding patterns in a family. These bonding patterns are always going on underneath. Be aware of them and consciously make sure the main bond is between you and your partner. Enough time and opportunities to maintain the bond between the couple who are the core unit of the family are very important for the entire system and for successful parenting.

Parenting POINT 3 - Be aware

  1. Life is a Teacher

Trust that challenges are there to be worked through. You always have the choice to step back and ask, what is the teaching or meaning of what comes up? Life, illness, relationships and parenting are each a teacher for us to learn to become more whole. Our partner can always trust that we are willing to work something out, when we honestly ask the question, what does this parenting situation have to teach me?

Parenting POINT 4 - Ask what does

Angelika

Conscious Parenting & Life Coaching

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466

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.

Marty, The Richest Man in Town

My friend Karen mentioned an inspirational book a while ago which is one of her favourite books. Not feeling well the other day, I grabbed the book as an easy read. My! It was an easy read, but am I glad I had a big box of Kleenex near by!

“The Richest Man in Town” is the story of Marty, a man in his seventies, who worked at Wal-Mart in a small town in South Dakota. What made Marty so remarkable that the author V.J.Smith decided to write about him?

Marty Martinson

Marty wasn’t like other cashiers. He loved people. He greeted every customer and really connected with them through listening, asking them interested questions or saying something nice to them, always coming from a truly authentic place. At the end, when the customers handed him money, he counted out the change, he “placed the change in his left hand, walked around the counter to the customer, and extended his right hand in an act of friendship. As their hands met, the old cashier looked the customer in the eyes. “I sure want to thank you for shopping here today, he told them. ‘You have a great day. Bye-bye.’”

His line up was always the longest. He made everybody feel special. People didn’t mind waiting for a friendly word, a handshake, or even a hug if they wanted one and a true connection from one caring human to another human. Marty spent about two minutes with each customer but he made those two minutes count. For those two minutes, the respective person—whether old or young, whether a cute little girl or a tough biker covered in tattoos—was the only person in Marty’s Universe. He treated everybody with respect and dignity.

Marty handshake

Marty was born in 1926, grew up during the great depression, served in World War II, and never had a lot of money throughout his entire life. He had a wife, who he still at 76 felt was the prettiest girl he had ever met, and four children. He was humble, kind and compassionate. He lived in a trailer, yet was one of the happiest people. He had understood some simple truths:

  1. Try to do a little more.
  2. Only you can make you happy.
  3. Relationships matter most in life.

If we just assume for a moment that this simple man had the simple knowledge to live a happy fulfilling life independent from his outer circumstances, we really have to ask ourselves honestly, “Am I giving other people or outer circumstances the responsibility for how I feel? Or am I taking full responsibility for my own happiness?” and “If relationships matter most in life, do I put enough time and love into my relationships?”

Marty - Goethe quote

Personally, I find that I have to re-adjust my priorities every so often. It is so easy to get caught up in working, networking or superficial social contacts. All this is important but when I am on my death bed what will truly matter? The moments of real connections, the ways in which I have touched somebody else in their heart, the times in which somebody else felt seen, heard and accepted.

The entire town seemed to know Marty because he had a friendly word for everybody who came through his line at Wal-Mart. And Marty was human and liked that people remembered him for his kindness and friendliness. However, it seems Marty also cared in the same way about his own family. Sometimes we care so much how strangers see us that we forget that the people closest to us are the ones who matter most. Did I take that extra moment to be truly present with my child as he or she was talking? Did I connect with my spouse today? Did I hold that loving space of just listening for my mother when she called? Have I given somebody the gift today to be the only person in my Universe for a few moments?

Being compassionate and caring is not necessarily about fixing problems for others. First and foremost it is about listening, acknowledging the other person and their feelings and showing them that they matter. Even if they choose to feel less than positive, can we hold that space without fixing? Holding the space does not mean commiserating with them and confirming for them that they are a victim of a situation. Holding the space means trusting that they are whole, complete and resourceful. It means knowing for them that they can and will change their experience and how they feel—in their own time and in their own way.

marty - Make every moment count

Choosing to do what matters most, to be fully present with every person you encounter, creates happiness for them and for yourself. Make each moment count. The happiness you give comes back to you. That’s why Marty, a simple man without money or college education, was the richest man in town.

Angelika

Relationship Coaching

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466

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.