Time to Make the Doughnuts!

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If you are old enough to remember the commercial from the 80’s where the doughnut company’s employee wakes up early to make the doughnuts each morning, day after day. It’s like Groundhog’s Day where the same thing occurs over and over again. A merry-go-round of sorts. Can you relate?

Once my oldest started preschool, I began a daily drive to and from school. I would find myself saying, “Time to make the doughnuts!” every time my alarm sounded to remind me to pick up my kids. I would say it jokingly, but there was some truth behind the jest. When moving to Maine, our intention was to find a school we liked first and then a house nearby. It didn’t happen that way. We found our amazing old farmhouse and orchard first and then chose a school that now requires a 30 minute commute each way. A minimum of 2 hours each day, I am commuting to get my kids. It was difficult for some time, but I was committed to both choices and needed to find a way to come to peace with it all, for my own sanity.  

In searching for a solution, I realized that in order to be at peace with the choices I had made, I needed to find fulfillment in the mundane task of driving. With an adjustment in mindset, I now take pleasure in the hour I have with my boys (locked in a car with me!) where we have committed time to talk and go over life. I know they won’t be this young forever and it’s time I will no doubt miss in the future. And during the hour I have to myself, sometimes I just listen to my own thoughts or I enjoy listening to interviews, podcast, and radio that feeds my mind and soul.  It’s time I really look forward to now!   

Coming into Thanksgiving, it is a time for reflection as we give thanks for the blessings in our life.  I invite you to reflect – without judging yourself or others – on what situations, people, tasks, or other things that are not currently enjoyable and ways to shift your perspective that can actually make those situations more joyful.

Many blessings to you,

Ali

Giving Voice to the Inner Critic

file_000-4We all have an inner critic, often we have more than one.  Each one may say something different, but it’s the negative self talk and limiting beliefs that you use to define yourself.  Who you are and who you’re not.  It’s the voice that tells you, you’re not good enough.  It tells you, you need to keep working harder and harder, but you’ll never see any recognition or success from your hard work.  Do you see it’s the same scenario that plays itself out over and over again?  It’s the same play, just new actors playing the roles in a new scene, but it’s all the same.  Without understanding it as a voice outside yourself, you buckle down even more only to have it come up again… and again.  It’s exhausting, yet you don’t know what to do.  

First, know that the voice telling you these negative thoughts are not you at your core.  

You are more than the negative self talk.  Think of the child inside.  The joyful child that spun around like an airplane on the front yard… not concerned if someone was going to think you were autistic; ate snow… without a care of how dirty it could be;  drank from a cup your friend just sipped out of… who thinks of germs at that age?  That’s it!  Who thinks of these things at that age?  We are given “baggage” to hold along the way that was never ours to begin with.  Often it’s done with our best interest at heart, even to keep us safe and free from harm, but it’s just one bag being passed on from one to another.

What did you want to be as a child?  Is that who you are now?  Were you given the support and tools to become who you wanted, or who others wanted you to be?  Our current education system is an antiquated model serving an old paradigm that valued the creation of an obedient labor force.  It continues in its attempt to mold minds within a standardized format, limiting both teachers and students creativity.  

Side note:  I see a future in education where individual interests and talents are observed and cultivated, where creativity is valued above all else.      

In the meantime, we all have these bags we were handed.  They were given to us 30, 40, 50 years ago and have become a part of us for so long that we can barely uncover what’s beneath all the baggage.  Without a conscious effort to make a change, most people haven’t upgraded their definition of who they are… unless there is some sort of catastrophic event- an illness, an accident, the death of a close friend or relative.  Life says to you, “we can do this the easy way or the hard way… you decide.”  But do you really want to wait for a catastrophic event to happen in order to live your life?

So, what do you do with all those bags?  Do you silence the inner critic or do you embrace it?  Where do I start?  First, as I said before, realize that the negative self talk is a voice outside of you.  I invite you to embrace the voice and confront her head on, giving her a name and personality.  The steps in this article are straightforward and help you dig deep into who you are and who you are meant to be.  To paraphrase:

  1. Understand the Role of the Inner Critic – What is the purpose of the negative self talk?
  2. Recognize the Voice of the Inner Critic – Learn to distinguish who is talking to you.
  3. Evaluate the Word of the Inner Critic – Is what the inner critic telling me true?
  4. Counter the Inner Critic – Challenge what the inner critic is telling you with a new perspective.
  5. Silence the Inner Critic – Limit the strong hold the inner critic has on you by taking it outside of you.  Use positive affirmations you design for yourself to replace the old ones that were given to you.

Another important step is quieting the mind to allow you to separate from all the should have, could have, would haves that go through your mind.   A good friend and mentor, Rachel Horton White has a guided meditation that works to get at the core of limiting beliefs the inner critic is telling you.

Need more help to recognize the inner critic?  This video by Rachel Horton White expands upon this concept.  I would also recommend reaching out to her personally!

Wishing you love on your own journey,

Ali 🙂

What Our Children Teach Us

file_000-3I probably have half a dozen posts I’ve started that remain unfinished.  I haven’t been able to commit to any one of them.  I’m guessing there will come a time when they will become relevant again and I can pick up with renewed insight and energy around them, but at this time a heightened sense of urgency is pulsing through my veins to write about my experience as a parent.  Moving to Maine was in great part due to the wholesome style of living I wanted to give my children.  The orchard, as I’ve said before, personified every reason I wanted to live here.  Brilliant stars at night free from the lights of a big city, small hometown values, people that are connected to each other and the earth with nature abounding everywhere.  My purpose has focused on my children’s needs above all others.

My story starts with the birth of my first child.  My pregnancy was picture perfect as I basked in the glow of anticipation of a first time mother.  It was the happiest time in my life where I felt in perfect harmony with my body, mind, and spirit.  My son was full term with no indications of distress during the labor; the birth seemed to go well until the point where he was to take his first breath.  He didn’t cry.  I questioned, “Isn’t he supposed to be crying?”  The delivery nurses did what they could to clear his breathing passages, but called in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for support.  He was placed in the NICU where I had no say in his treatment.  He was put on a breathing apparatus the night he was born and within a few hours was taken off because he was screaming.  They figured if he could scream, he could breathe.  After a short stay in the NICU, we were sent home with our son and a bidding of farewell from one of the nurses that went something like, “Good luck with this one!”  I was taken back and a little angry.  How could someone say that?  He just needs his mother, once he’s home with me he’ll be fine.  Well, it wasn’t fine.  He screamed from then on out.  Screamed, mind you, not cry.  He didn’t sleep or nap and neither did I… for the next 9 months.  I brought him to every medical doctor trying to understand what could be wrong, only to have everyone say there wasn’t anything they could find medically wrong with him.  A gastroenterologist said at 11 weeks, that his problems were “behavioral.”  I have a behavioral 11 week old?!  At six months the pediatric cardiologist “diagnosed” him with ADHD.  Teachers have subtly questioned me, making the assumption that I must be doing something that has allowed for a challenging personality.  This has been since birth and it’s a story I have been carrying around with me like a badge of courage.  But I don’t think that story line is my purpose or path and I don’t want it to be.

I have been guided to get off the merry-go-round of action and reaction, to look beyond the behaviors to find the hurt child that is crying out because he feels so deeply and doesn’t understand the big feelings he is experiencing.  In addition, I have to look at the bigger picture to understand how I play a part in all of it.  I believe children come into our life for a reason and have the ability to highlight long buried beliefs, feelings, thoughts, and emotions with the higher purpose of clearing them out, first by bringing them to the surface.  It can be a difficult process, no doubt, but if you pay attention to the signs that are presented, it can be less painful.  The signs become evermore loud and present when we are not in tune with them.  Albert Einstein is credited with defining insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  When a situation plays itself out over and over again, it’s a clear sign that the current way of dealing with it isn’t working and needs to change.  I am reminded:

You can’t change what’s going on around you until you start changing what’s going on within you.   

I don’t have all the answers.  I won’t pretend that I do.  And I won’t pretend that I could be a perfect parent that can keep it together all of the time.  But there are resources that are helping me navigate a new path and a new story. Aha! Parenting is one such resource that recently featured an article with tips and advice for anger inducing situations with your child.  Here, one recommendation is to take an adult “time out” to give you time to respond appropriately, rather than instinctively, in combination with a mantra like:

  • “He’s acting out because he needs my help with his big feelings.”
  • “Only love today.”
  • “When my child is at her worst, she needs me at my best.”

Another resource I was guided to and has helped wonderfully (when I remember to use it!) are the steps in 1-2-3 Magic.  Here, you clearly define your expectations and consequences.  The warnings 1-2 and resulting consequence after #3, are purposely short to avoid the draw of dramatic conflict and heightened emotions.

All in all, I believe there are lessons to be learned from our children if we are willing to listen to them and the signs presented to us from our interactions.  Children are meant to enhance our lives and there is nothing greater than experiencing that joy with them!

God Bless,

Ali

 

A Grateful Heart

 

In times of difficulty, I have found it centering to focus on what I am grateful for, rather than adversity.  I am grateful for the apples we have; nutritious and flavorful.  More of the mid season apples are producing and for that I am grateful.  The people we meet, the conversations and connections we make are my favorite part of the orchard.

Happy people focus on what they have, unhappy people focus on what’s missing.

To combat a woe-is-me mentality, I have been guided to find ways to express a grateful heart and count my blessings.  I continue to see hearts all around and now Farmer B is finding them and pointing them out.  Even in the seemingly darkest of situations, there are things to be grateful for.  People have healed themselves from both emotional and physical pain using gratitude.

There are many benefits of incorporating gratitude into your daily life, from being more attractive to others to reduced stress levels and increased overall happiness.  If you need help getting on the happiness train, fake it til you make it.  It’s an age old trick that actually works!  Read here for more of the science behind forcing a smile and a fun study that proves its effectiveness.

Here are a few ways to express a grateful heart… Give it a try!

  1.  Gratitude Journal. Every night before going to bed, focus on three (3) things to be grateful for.  Even if it is a warm bed, or a pinky finger that doesn’t feel pain, there is something we can each be grateful for.  Focusing on gratitude is calming and centering, a great way to begin a restful sleep.
  1.   Sticky Note Challenge.  Carry a few sticky notes (and the pen!) to leave an anonymous note for someone you feel gratitude towards.  You can also write notes for situations you are thankful for and keep them around the house or in a notebook.
  1.  Handwritten Note. With the change in technology, most people do not send handwritten personalized notes, but when you do they become THAT much more special.  Send a handwritten note to tell someone you love them or just how much you appreciate what they have done.
  1.  Give a Positive Review.  So often a bad experience motivates us to write or verbalize a negative review.  Imagine how you’d feel if someone went out of their way to say how you positively affected their day!  Now go out and do that for someone else.  The feeling is contagious.
  1.  Give Back.  There are many ways to give back and it all comes back to you in one way or another.  A few suggestions include: Donate whether it’s money, time, or unused items, it’s all valuable.  Mentor someone in need, teach a new skill or simply share your experience.  Provide respite for someone who is in need of a break.  Provide companionship for someone who could use some attention and love.  

If you are looking for a little guidance to start bringing gratitude into your life, there are many guides to gratitude journaling.  Here is one that I found highly recommended.  

And finally, thank you to all who have touched my heart!  Each person who has crossed my path, has given me something to learn and grow from and for you I am grateful.

Love and gratitude,

Ali 🙂