Smile

Before I start week 5 of my Positive Psychology course I wanted to continue with my blogging and summarise Week 4 –  which was last week and which unfortunately I ran out of that precious commodity of time to blog.

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Week 4 was about love. Love is part of our most important bonds, but as a society we have almost put it on a pedastool as a super important emotion. Love can be small, it does not have to be big. It can be momentary and over time built up. It can be a micro – moment that then helps to build a healthy sense of connection…

Photo credit: hdnextyear.com

Photo credit: hdnextyear.com

The term used when one feels love and connection is ‘Positivity Resonance’. For these moments to happen, a person needs to feel safe and connected. The connection needs to be face to face or actually talking on the phone, there needs to be a ‘real time’ sensory connection as so much is portrayed in the embodied emotions. ( There is a challenge for our world today with the texting, intagram and other means of communication – one is not building the ‘positive resonance’.)

Photo credit: intereactiveconsulting.com

Photo credit: intereactiveconsulting.com

The smile is a very important part of building positive resonance. In a brief moment it can do so much and yet it is not a costly investment. As a smile is shared, there is a moment of shared positivity which then can provide the opportunity for a person to ‘broaden and build’.

Photo credit: globe-views.com

Photo credit: globe-views.com

My ‘take away’ thought from the studies this week is how important and underestimated the power of a simple smile is. I want to be sharing a smile with everyone!

“The smile is a ‘hook’ that creates a moment that nourishes us all.”
Barbara Fredrickson

Photo credit: imgarcade.com

Photo credit: imgarcade.com

21 day love challenge

The other morning my 13 year old son informed me “You didn’t come and kiss me goodnight last night.” It was true, I had been tired and finally sat down on the couch and it just seemed too hard to get up. I did, on my way to bed pat his sleeping head, but obviously that does not count, he didn’t know it was happening.

Actions and love go together and I find children are great at making this known. Actions speak louder than words – not to underestimate words either. In positive psychology they talk about love as being the strongest emotion. It is something that everyone needs to survive.

Photo credit: hdnextyear.com

Photo credit: hdnextyear.com

 

I was reading Hands Free Mama and felt very challenged by the end of it! A story is told where her daughter is waiting for her to come say goodnight and even though her Mum is meeting deadlines she stops and goes – her daughter had told her Grandma that “Mama always comes”.

Hands Free Mama then poses a 21 day love challenge:

Why Choose Love

Tackle an extra hour of paperwork or love?
I choose love.
I will be more productive after taking a much needed break.

Scream at the driver who just cut me off or love?
I choose love.
It will be better for my blood pressure as well as the ears in the backseat.

Read a text message at the stoplight or love?
I choose love.
It could save my life, my loved ones’ lives, and spare me from taking a life.

Hold a grudge or love?
I choose love.
Let resentment be someone else’s life-long companion.

Say ‘I can’t play with you’ or love?
I choose love.
Seeing her smile as she sets up the game board fills me with a sense of peace I can’t find anywhere else.

Get in the last word or love?
I choose love.
Our words will be better heard when we both cool down.

Rant about the spilled milk carton or love?
I choose love.
Spills can be cleaned up; broken hearts are harder to mend.

Post a picture of this moment to social media or love?
I choose love.
I will remember it more vividly if I capture this moment solely with my eyes.

Complain about the way she’s dressed or love?
I choose love.
I will encourage her to shine her unique light and be herself by loving her “as is.”

Berate myself for messing up or love?
I choose love.
Accepting my humanness offers my precious ones the freedom to be human too.

Today I will choose love.
Tomorrow I will choose love.
And the day after that, I will choose love.
If I mistakenly choose distraction, perfection, or negativity over love, I will not wallow in regret. I will choose love next.
I will choose love until it becomes my first response … my gut instinct … my natural reaction.
I will choose love until it becomes who I am.

My friends, consider the possibilities for a moment: What might result if love becomes your default choice for 21 straight days? What opportunities might open up? What connections might be repaired? What moments might you grasp that otherwise might be missed? Who might you become?

Instead of

The One Who’s Always Too Busy
The One Who Overreacts
The One Who Never Listens
The One Who Rarely Slows Down
The One Who Always Looks Miserable
The One Glued to the Phone
The One Missing All the Fun
The One Who’s Given Up

You might just become The One You Always Wanted to Be …

A Listener
A Hugger
A Forgiver
A Take Your Timer
A Belly Laugher
A Risk Taker
A Silly Grinner
A Moment Grasper
A Liver of Life

Why? Because good things start with love.

Just show up to love today.
Don’t worry about what you look like or what yesterday looked like.
Just show up to love.
Something tells me you’ll walk away a little better than when you arrived.

Then do it again.

Photo Credit: dreamstime.com

Photo Credit: dreamstime.com

 

I want to give the challenge a go. I am thankful for the reminder to choose love. How about you?

 

A Christmas thought for the weekend…already?!

In my part of the world Christmas coincides with the end of the school year and Summer holidays. It can be an incredibly hectic time with Christmas parties, end of school break-ups and late evenings. It is exhausting and not uncommon for people to look forward to it being over.  We had an evening commitment last week and in my mind I was thinking
“Oh no, here we go, it has started already!”

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Photo Credit: churchwhisperer.com

A few days later I was talking to a friend who said, “I just love this time of the year, there are so many lovely events happening, so many opportunities to catch up with friends and spend time with family. I just love it.”

Then a few days after that I was talking to a staff member at school who was helping me plan and make some Christmas decorations with the class. In conversation she said, “I just love Christmas with all the fun art and craft things that can be done, making them here at school and then making with the kids at home. It is such a lovely time, I just love it.”

Photo Credit: sevencherubs.com

Photo Credit: sevencherubs.com

So, as we approach the Christmas season this year, we have a choice how to see the events and time.
I am thankful that these lovely ladies spoke their thoughts and attitudes in such a positive way – it has certainly challenged me!

Photo Credit: mindwatch.com

Photo Credit: mindwatch.com

 

Love you by your book

I have a child who is struggling at the moment. Today when I asked him ‘What makes you happy?’ his reply was ‘Not much.’
That just broke my heart. I knew he was tired and part of it was a cop out, but I knew it had an element of truth to it. I wanted to stop driving, give him a hug and tell him how much I loved him! (I wished I had……)

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Scrolling through some blogs I came across this one that I had read before and knew that I would go back to sometime and tonight was that time. I leave it with you as an encouragement. I leave it with you as a challenge.
I leave it with myself as something so important to follow through- in the words of my husband, ‘We need to nail it to our foreheads!’

Photo credit: stlaurence.org

Photo credit: stlaurence.org

 

To Love You by Your Book: A Daily Pledge (Hands Free Mama….Click on this for the whole great read!!)

I will study you. I will listen to you. I will watch your face when I use certain words or tones. What brings smiles? What brings pain? I will take note. I will use words that build you instead of break you. When I see that something I do makes you feel uncomfortable and rejected, I will remember and try not to do it anymore.

I want to love you by your book.

I will have one-on-one time with you even if this means having to disappoint people outside my family or make personal sacrifices. Making time to know you may mean declining extra commitments or reducing extracurricular activities. It may mean watching a television show I don’t care for or being willing to learn about your hobbies. It may mean sitting beside you in silence. I vow to be available to you. I vow to show you that you’re worth my time and attention.

I want to love you by your book.

I will tell you all the positive things I notice about you, instead of pointing out where you fall short. There’s enough people who will do that. I will be your encourager. I will be your #1 fan. I want to hear you laugh. I want to see you smile. I want to watch you shine.

I want to love you by your book and witness your amazing story unfold.

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Parenting starts with us!

One of the difficult parts of parenting is that parenting actually starts with us!

I look at my 9 year old who finds it difficult to amuse himself if there is no screen time or siblings around to play with and I realise our life has been fairly hectic for him. I realise that as the youngest of 4 he has not had time to just be. It is like he is continually entertained.

I look at my 15 year old and hear her excitement about having some time at home this weekend and wonder how that can happen when you are 15, is burnout just around the corner for her? Then I look at my schedule and think about the things that are happening!

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Photo Credit: bistromd.com

Today I listened to an interesting talk by Arianna Huffington.  (It goes for about 20 minutes, it was very challenging and thought provoking to listen to – if you can find the time.)  Adrianna was talking about the importance of slowing down. The idea that we need to be looking not just upwards and outwards, but also inward. We need to be giving time to ourselves in this world where people are finding it more and more difficult to connect with themselves and others. I have been taking this idea a step further and thinking that we need to be helping our kids to connect with themselves and others in a meaningful way.

Continually the world in putting demands on us in terms of making money, things we need to be successful, things we need to be comfortable and where we should be on the ladder of work and life if we are to be anybody. Each day these messages are being fired at us. Each day our kids are getting messages like this too. Are they good enough? Have they made the team or got the grade? But, we need to reconnect with the essence of who we are – both personally and relationally.

Photo Credit: projectconnect.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: projectconnect.blogspot.com

Life is shaped from the inside out. Shaped with grace, gratitude, joy, compassion, love and trust. Study after study is showing that these are the things we as people need.  When we put these things as important, that is when people start to thrive.

Photo Credit: reloveplanet.com

Photo Credit: reloveplanet.com

The amazing thing is that when we as parents start to put these things as important and take time to follow through, it doesn’t just effect us, it effects our children, our spouses and those around us.

We need to be having times of mindfulness, getting the sleep, turning the smartphone off, disconnecting etc, etc. There is so much research and knowing of what we need to be doing and now it is up to us to apply it.

Photo credit: parker.edu.au

Photo credit: parker.edu.au

Parenting actually starts with us and we need to be prepared to make changes that actually go against what the world is telling us and what it is continually pushing in our faces. We need to be brave to think outside the square. We need to be teaching our kids what is important in life, having the conversations –  and it is not necessarily the story that society is feeding!

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Thought for the weekend – Happy Father’s day

It’s a tough job being a parent. I imagine it would be a tough job being a father. But I also know it is  an amazing gift to be a parent and father (that’s what my husband says.)

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This weekend as Father’s day is observed,
May you find time to play with your child, play something physical.
May you find time to listen and talk, reminisce, tell the kids some of your history.

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Photo Credit: flickr.com

Find out what things your child actually likes doing with you and give it a go.
Pull out a book and read aloud. Read a picture book you have loved. Read a book that can spark a conversation.
May you find time to sit side by side with a child in silence, with no technology buzzing.

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Photo Credit: wisegeek.com

Take the time to tell your kid what you like about them.
Take time to stroll somewhere together with no expectations on each other.
Show your child respect and consciously connect.

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May you be aware that they won’t always get things right, and neither will you
But, love covers a multitude of wrongs.

Happy Fathers Day to all you wonderful Dads  – especially to my own Dad! He has always loved me, thrown balls with me, sat and read the paper while I practiced piano, played cards with me, supported me …the list could go on!
Never underestimate how important you are in your  kids life.
And, don’t forget to tell them that you love them!

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Photo credit: picshunger.com

 

Mindfulness in parenting

Being the best parent I possibly can is something I am passionate about and know that many of you are too.

As my children get older, I feel like things are getting busier as there are so many different activities vying for their attention. As I struggle to balance these, I find it is important to think about what values we have as a family and ask the question ‘How do these activities match up with our family values?’  In many ways the ideas and research by the ‘positive psychologists’ can help give direction as to what helps kids flourish and what helps us be better parents. But then, in the end, taking time to listen to our hearts is also important.

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photo credit: blogthings.com

I really enjoyed reading the following (on the blog “A Holy Experience”) and wanted to share it – please, not to put anyone on a guilt trip, but to encourage you amongst the cleaning and cooking to live in the moment and enjoy the simple parts of parenting.

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photo credit: dyaneburgon.com

To give the writing context, it is set in Canada and the writer is sending her 18 year old son to live-in University. (For the full story click here.)

“How could I forget that the only thing that we’re always really teaching is love? What if I’m wild to go back to Dr. Suess and begin again? What if I want to go back and make the schedule simpler so our lives could be richer? So I could tie your shoe one more time and bend down and kiss your cowlick….
What if I want to play more games of monopoly and leave the dishes in the sink more often? What if I want to take you fishing more Saturdays and blow off cleaning up the garage? Why doesn’t someone tell all the homemakers: Cleanliness isn’t next to godliness. Love is….
I wish I had cared a lot less about your room being clean and a lot more that you and your brothers being close. Why didn’t I paint it in neon on a wall: More important than a clean house is a close family…
You may forget the chronology of the Egyptian pharaohs, but you’ll remember your Dad sneaking up behind me and kissing my ear while I was scrubbing out the breakfast frying pan. I’m not partial to how much you remember of calculus; but it’s dire that you know that the sum of how you see the ordinary is all that ever adds up to an extraordinary life. The lessons any kid remembers are the ones his parents lived. The goal is simple: It’s not about a 5-year scholarship but being a life-long learner and a life-long lover...
I wished we’d read more Charlie Brown books together and laughed loud on the floor. I should have gone slower. Every time you saw me, a smile is what you should have seen first…
I’d give my eye teeth, my liver and lifetime worth of free bacon to go back and tell you three times a day,  to look you in the eyes and tell you: I really like you.”

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May you find time on the weekend for making memories with your kids. Not necessarily big event memories, but the memories that make up the little things in life…
how you see the ordinary is all that ever adds up to an extraordinary life

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