Monthly Archives: January 2015

Connecting Our Kids To What Matters, Part One

This post is a disclaimer for some posts that are to follow. Coming soon, I am going to write about my parenting successes. I am going to write about how when I was a 37-year old single woman and an (almost) 8-year old little girl moved into my house – I decided what kind of parent I wanted to be. I will describe how:

I focused my parenting on connecting my new daughter to her spirit, to a faith in realities that we cannot see, to the big, beautiful world around her and to all the amazing people in it.

These upcoming posts will focus on what worked for me, but first I want to say that I did plenty of crappy things too. When I suggest ideas for other parents to connect their children to what really matters in life – I write not as a pollyanna, but as someone who gets crabby, is sometimes selfish and sometimes disengaged.

My biggest character weakness is probably my lack of patience. It’s the quality that most often causes me to act like a jerk. I sometimes lose patience when I am driving. I suck at small talk because I don’t like empty chatter. Also, I would be a terrible preschool teacher. While being a parent has made me more patient, sometimes I yell at my daughter. Sometimes, I act irrationally towards her because my patience has stretched past the breaking point.

That is the reality. After my daughter moved in with me, there was plenty of chaos in our house. Very quickly, I had to stop and take stock of my intentions with my child. I had to get clear on what was most important to me as a parent and focus my energy in that direction.

I decided that, for me, being a good parent means two things:  #1 Giving my child the tools she needs to create a meaningful life  #2 Building her up more than tearing her down.

What are your most important parenting intentions?

In upcoming posts, I’m going to describe how I focused my parenting on those two intentions, and I want readers to know that I did it despite serious weaknesses. Having clear intentions guided my decision-making and boosted my confidence as a mother. I hope that if I share my experiences here it will help other parents.

#1 Tools She Needs To Create a Meaningful Life

I believe that a meaningful life means being connected. Connected to our inner selves, connected to others and connected to something bigger than us.

My daughter is now 16. Everywhere I look, I see teenagers who are lost. Dis-connected. Self-destructive. Did you see this article in the Huffington Post: The Real Cause of Addiction ? Basically, the latest research shows that drugs become most addictive to humans (and rats) who are lonely or cut off in some way from the world around them.

I have suggestions about how to lessen the likelihood of our kids becoming lost. There were specific things I did to increase my daughter’s sense of connectedness. But before I write about it, I want to be clear that it did not come easily to me. I am not a sunshine and roses, super evolved, peace and love, Earth Mama type. Sometimes, I am an impatient jerk.

I’m also someone who cares deeply about purpose and spirit and meaning.

That is why soon after I became a parent, I decided what my most valued parenting intentions were and I focused my actions on living them. I have a knack for that – seeing through the bullshit distractions to what really matters.

In future posts, I want to describe how I did it.

#2 Building Her Up More Than Tearing Her Down

This intention was WAY harder than I expected it to be. Especially since I spent the bulk of my career facilitating positive self-esteem programs for girls. Yeah, with your own kid it is way harder. So much of parenting is correcting and that can VERY easily lead to tearing down.

I had to learn how to be honest with myself about my weaknesses and not let them thwart my intentions. In other words, sometimes I act like a jerk to my child, but then I apologize, I forgive myself and I move on. I hope this teaches her how to accept her own weaknesses.

In future posts, I will write about how I moved out of the muck of shame and guilt, and how important that was to building up my daughter and becoming a better parent.

So, there you have it. Sometimes I am a jerk. But I still have something to share with you about being a focused, Spirit Full parent.

What are your most important parenting intentions? I’d love to hear!

Doing What Matters Every Day

Damn, can the days whiz by quickly as bad habits turn into a whole lifestyle, a whole life.

Plans we put out of our minds for just a minute while we run to the grocery store become dreams we haven’t seriously considered in years. We get so lost in our thoughts and worries, our chores and obligations, that we lose sight of who we really want to be.

I could come up with 50 goals I’d like to accomplish in my lifetime, but on New Year’s Day 2010, I focused on the priorities I wanted to have no matter how crazy or chaotic my days were. I came up with three actions I wanted to do every day and I used a day-book to record my progress.


The first goal was a no-brainer. How many nights did I tuck my then 11-year-old daughter into bed thinking, “I wish I would have done something fun with K today” or “Did I really have to yell at her for that?” What if I had to take note of my daily connection with my daughter and report on it? I know I am an adequate parent, and that obsessing over my mothering flaws tends to make things worse, but what if I had a small but meaningful objective that I had to meet every day – cranky days and crazy, busy days included? Goal Number One: Lovingly & Meaningfully Connect with K Every Day.


The second goal focused on the dreams that had been collecting dust for the past few years. You see, in 2006 I adopted a 7-year-old girl. It was a tough few years – lots of trauma and grief to work through and daily – sometimes hourly – rages. Prior to the adoption, I was a writer and performer in my spare time from work. Now there was no spare time and for the first time in my life I had no creative outlet. I stopped writing, attending performances, reading anything creatively inspiring, or watching any films that were not rated G. Goal Number Two: Do Something Creatively Inspiring Every Day.


The third goal addressed middle-age frumpiness. I gained over 40 pounds after I became a mother. Stress was taking its toll on my body and I found myself having to upgrade my clothing size every year. I knew that in order to be achievable, my health goal had to be small and gentle. Goal Number Three: Move my body in some way every day.

So how did it go?

Pretty great! (For about 3 years, anyway, until tragedy shifted our household into panic mode for a long while. I’ll tell you about that in a future post.)  

My first achievement was being mindful of these three areas. I started each week by writing:

Connect ________   Create________   Move________

onto each day of a day planner. Then every night, I would write a few words on each line. For example:

Connect – Played Frisbee

Create – Wrote blog post

Move – Frisbee!


Connect – Nice talk in bed

Create – Journaled

Move – Walked dog

It was VERY satisfying to complete each line, and once the day planner was ingrained as a habit it influenced my daily choices.

K: Want to play Just Dance on the Wii with me?

My first thought, “Not really!” My second thought, “Connect and Move. Okay.”

When I had a bad day, I drew a frowny face next to the goal I missed. When I had a string of frowny faces, I took action. In fact, our now family famous cross-country road trips were inspired by an abundance of frowns in the Connect category.

Great things happened in the years I kept those day planners. My relationship with my daughter blossomed. I started a blog which quickly got thousands of hits and led to writing many essays and being published in an online journal. I lost about 20 pounds.

Focusing my life on what truly mattered to me also deepened my spiritual life in ways that I will describe in future posts.

What’s most important to you? Are these crucial values influencing your daily choices?

Ready For 2015 and Whatever It Brings

Feeling reflective? I am.

2014 was a good year. Big positive changes in my home and work life. Movement, growth and transformation on several levels. It was a good year.

Do you know what was responsible for much of this progress? The wretchedness of 2013. Seriously, 2013 was non-stop crisis. Desperation and paralyzing fear. Frantic police calls, a hospitalization, a death. Misery and chaos in nearly all areas of my life, and little of it within my control.

Then something shifted.

I ended 2013 with the understanding that I can survive just about anything and that my spirit, my me-ness will still be intact. This realization was freeing. My biggest fears lost their power. I changed. I unstuck myself from ruts. The horrors of 2013 sparked the progress of 2014. And now 2015 is starting with questions that I am excited to watch unfold.

I’m sharing this with you because maybe your past year sucked. Maybe your last several years sucked, I don’t know.

Uncontrollable, unforeseen crap is going to happen. That is a fact. Here is what you CAN control: Who is the person you want to be when you finally get to the other end of it? What matters most to you? What can you let go of?

Given that you really have no idea what catastrophe is going to get thrown at you next: How do you want to feel in 2015? What things (within your control) can you do to help you feel that way?

I want to feel inspired, capable and generous.

How about you?