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Rethinking Cancer
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Cloverhill School
Eurythmy Spring Valley
Custom Web Development
Custom Web Development
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www.northwaters.com
slow parenting
Antioch
holistic corner store
Camphill
Center for Anthroposophy
Isis Biodynamics
sunbridge
Waldorf Shop
Eden Foods
Conscious Media Network
Teen Talking Circle
Acorn Designs
True Botanica
Administration Services
Greenlinepaper
Rethinking Cancer
Badger
Weleda USA
Rudolph Steiner Clinic
Cloverhill School
Eurythmy Spring Valley
Eurythmy Spring Valley
Custom Web Development
Women's Retreat
www.northwaters.com
slow parenting
Antioch
holistic corner store
Camphill
Center for Anthroposophy
Isis Biodynamics
sunbridge
Waldorf Shop
Eden Foods
Conscious Media Network
Teen Talking Circle
Acorn Designs
True Botanica
Administration Services
Greenlinepaper
Rethinking Cancer
Badger
Weleda USA
Rudolph Steiner Clinic
Cloverhill School
Cloverhill School
Eurythmy Spring Valley
Custom Web Development
Women's Retreat
www.northwaters.com
slow parenting
Antioch
holistic corner store
Camphill
Center for Anthroposophy
Isis Biodynamics
sunbridge
Waldorf Shop
Eden Foods
Conscious Media Network
Teen Talking Circle
Acorn Designs
True Botanica
Administration Services
Greenlinepaper
Rethinking Cancer
Badger
Weleda USA
Rudolph Steiner Clinic
Rudolph Steiner Clinic
Cloverhill School
Eurythmy Spring Valley
Custom Web Development
Women's Retreat
www.northwaters.com
slow parenting
Antioch
holistic corner store
Camphill
Center for Anthroposophy
Isis Biodynamics
sunbridge
Waldorf Shop
Eden Foods
Conscious Media Network
Teen Talking Circle
Acorn Designs
True Botanica
Administration Services
Greenlinepaper
Rethinking Cancer
Badger
Weleda USA

 


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LILIBLOG

  • Redefining Manhood

               Recently author, Hanna Rosin predicted The End of Men: And the Rise of Women and caused a quite a bit of alarm among guys. Is she right? Is this really the “end of men” or is a new kind of man emerging? Are the old archetypes of manhood really dead or dying? And if so, can men and women navigate relationships in this rapidly changing society in which gender roles appear to be in transition?

     

               In Redefining Manhood: A Guide for Men and Those Who Love Them (Findhorn Press, April 2015. $14.99) award-winning journalist and author, Jim Ewing presents a thought-provoking look at what it takes to be a man. It’s a timely book that looks at the theory that men are losing their grip and that patriarchy is crumbling. While Ewing concurs that ‘Iron John’ and ‘Wild Man’, are disappearing, he argues that these old archetypes are being replaced by men who are more able to function in our emerging new world.

     

               Women increasingly have more education and a higher earning capacity than men. They no longer wait for Prince Charming but actively initiate relationships. They are firefighters, warriors, welders and CEOs. The role of men on the other hand is becoming muddled and confused.  Many guys just don’t know “how to be.”

     

               Ewing demonstrates how our views on manhood have become skewed and examines the kinds of societal forces responsible for those shifts.  He explains how neither resorting to the masculine ‘wild man’ nor adopting a feminized version of their roles is the answer for guys. Women don’t want their men to be women, nor do they want a man who patronizes them.

     

               In Redefining Manhood, Ewing is offering men (and their significant others) a new way of thinking about manhood in a positive way, one that is based on age-old indigenous practices. Ewing shows how new guys are compassionate, rationale, intuitive and judicious in the use of force. They do not traffic in fear and anger as means to a self-serving end, promoting patriarchy and domination, but see the world as a place of competing choices where responsibilities are shared and impacts of behavior are carefully assessed.

     

               Ultimately, the book aims to help individuals define themselves based on spiritual and commonsense principles that have guided humankind in societies around the globe for thousands of years.

     

    Traditional Archetypes Fail to Guide Young Men 

               Where are the roles that young men today can adopt to meet modern needs and expectations and offer spiritual guidance? The roles assigned by society—that is, the ones that provide Gilgamesh’s paycheck—don’t value self-sacrifice and giving unto others. These essential traits were found in Native America and, indeed, among indigenous people around the globe before modern nation-states emerged based on the Roman dominator model.

                We cannot go back to Enkidu. The tassels of his corn hair have been shorn (or genetically modified), and he has succumbed to the comely delights of iTunes and smartphones. Our traditional archetypes are skewed and wrong for today.

                By definition, the word “archetype” means the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind derive. In Jungian psychology, the concept of archetype is extended to include the inherited “collective unconscious” idea, a pattern of thought or imagery that is present in all individuals. It’s a pernicious concept. We adhere to an idea or image of something, and by doing so we promote that concept or image. Archetypes are both overt (that is, promoted consciously and held up as examples to be emulated) and covert (that is, guiding our thoughts and behavior subconsciously as guides and prejudices).

                An example would be an advertisement in which someone goes to the pharmacy to make a purchase after reading an advertisement for a certain product. The pharmacist sees the purchase and reaffirms the customer’s choice, saying it is a good one based on sound science and praising the customer for buying it with positive phrases such as: “You have good taste” or “You certainly know your products. That’s an excellent choice.”

                In this case, the advertiser chooses an actor who looks like the target audience or who that target audience aspires to be (men or women with disposable income between the ages of 18 and 34). The actor displays the behavior the advertiser wants (buy the product), then the message is reinforced by an authority figure who is depicted praising the behavior of the customer. All this in 30 seconds.

                That’s how archetypes are built and reinforced in our society. We see and model behavior presented to us as authoritative or worth emulating. As the saying goes, the tree grows as the tree is bent. Accept certain archetypes while young, and they become laws in our minds that govern our thoughts and actions; eventually, they become part of us.

                Where are our major models for behavior found today? Sports is one avenue. For men, sports offers a unique blend of aggression and rules, team cohesion, and individual achievement (heroism). Women in our society often seem baffled by the fanaticism (the origin of the term sports “fan”) among men for team sports. While participation in sports in the lower schools is a common channel for higher levels of team play, as part of the physical education curriculum, relatively few male children achieve high levels of proficiency in team sports. So why the attachment?

                Among men generally, even without professional sports teams in their geographic area, affiliation with a team offers a sense of belonging to a group and an avenue for self-identification larger than individual pursuits. This sense of belonging to a community while simultaneously upholding the values of competition, winning, and heroism acts as a bonding mechanism among men. Studies show that this identification is further strengthened by increased geographic mobility in today’s world and the decline of traditional social and community ties. Following professional sports provides a buffer from feelings of alienation and depression, while giving a sense of belonging and self-worth. As an icebreaker in social situations, it offers an avenue for inclusion and the building of social ties, while also within social groups allowing maintenance of standing within the group.

                This individual bonding and social identification mechanism, along with cohesive characteristics for a social system as a whole, has been around in various forms around the globe. In Native American societies, for example, ball games created a similar bonding mechanism— and it was taken even more seriously by its players and fans than American football and European soccer today.

                In Mesoamerican societies, such as the Maya, it was the winning team on the ball court that had the honor of being sacrificed to live with the gods, and players’ beating hearts were cut out of their chests and held aloft for the crowd to see. In the Southeastern United States, tribes would decide territorial boundaries and other important conflicts through stickball games rather than going to war. The religious significance of sports was represented in virtually all American tribes through the antics of the Thunder Twins or similar gods who played a stickball game with the earth as their ball in a continuing battle between good and evil. This was contextual, not absolute: Neither of the twins was “bad”; they were immortal and beyond the understanding of human beings, but the consequences of their game had profound effects upon the world.

                If sports had more of a spiritual aspect (which many sports leaders try to make it with prayers for victory, and so forth), it might serve a greater function as a balanced role model for men. However, the status of sports in general, and professional sports in particular, is riddled with misogyny. As Michael A. Messner of the University of Southern California has noted, organized sports have come to serve as a primary institutional means for bolstering the faltering ideology of male superiority. The development of female athleticism represents a genuine quest by women for equality, control of their own bodies, and self-definition, he notes, and as such represents a challenge to the ideological basis of male domination.

                If you doubt that there are ideological gender roles in sports, ask yourself: Would you want your daughter to be a lineman in the National Football League? Or a cheerleader? Is the well-publicized calling each other “wusses” or worse as goads and criticisms a positive role model for young men. Can a person participate in team sports without gender bashing, or worse?

                As this book was being written, the American sports world was awash in yet another controversy involving violence against women, with a top athlete caught on video punching his fiancee (now his wife) and dragging her out of an elevator. This seeming straw that broke the camel’s back regarding violent attitudes by athletes toward women prompted well-known CBS sports anchor James Brown to lament: “This is yet another call for men to stand up to take responsibility for their thoughts, their words, their deeds. Our silence is deafening and deadly.” And, as if seeing the need even for a book like this one, he called for “ongoing, comprehensive education of men of what healthy manhood is all about.”

                But rather than embracing the changes underway toward greater equality and respect in male and female relations, many men are railing against them. This is particularly true in talk radio and sports. As Michael Kimmel points out, the title of basketball player Mariah Burton Nelson’s book is The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football. Women, minorities, and immigrants are all blameworthy for the plight of the poor white male in talk radio, which blames the “feminazis” for everything.

                      You can’t blame this negative male behavior on testosterone. Carefully controlled studies of increasingly elevated testosterone levels in young men have shown only mild effects in aggression, sexual or otherwise.8 However, it is true that libido, or sex drive, is driven by testosterone levels in both sexes. Biochemically driven behavior— or thinking between your legs—is a unisex activity; it is just more socially pronounced among men.

     

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Jim Pathfinder Ewing is an award-winning journalist, workshop leader, inspirational speaker and author in the fields of mind-body medicine, organic farming and eco-spirituality. He has written about, taught and lectured on Reiki, shamanism, spiritual ecology, integrative medicine and Native American spirituality for decades.

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  • Chinese Calligraphy

    中国书法

     

             李笠

    晨和夜

    围着毛笔旋转,变成黑字

    母亲的教诲:"一切都在这里,苦练

    才能不朽!

    雨抽打一扇扇关闭的窗子

    和窗背后的脸谱

    我带着同样的墨上路

    我写着同样的字

    天和空,为什么是意思相同?

    云笑而不答

    投下鹅毛大雪。

    墓园展销一块块巨墨

    一切都写在这里:名字,出身年月

    我,一支轮回千年的笔,在写

    大地展现死者写过的字

    天空俯身观览

    并很快又铺上一张浩大的宣纸。继续苦练!

     

    Chinese Calligraphy

     

    Morning and evening

    swirl around an inkbrush become black characters

    with mother’s instruction: “All is contained in this. Diligent practice

    Is the route to enduring art!”

    rain lashes all the closed windows

    and facial make-up behind them

    I go journeying with the same kind of ink

    I write the same character

    heaven and sky, why the same meaning?

    clouds laugh without giving answer

    sift down flakes as large as goose down

    giant inksticks are put on exhibition

    All is contained here: name, birthday

    I, an inkbrush reincarnated for a thousand years-keep writing

    the land exhibit characters written by the land

    the sky gazes down upon

    them

    quickly it lays out a vast sheet of rice paper. Keep on hard training

     

    Li Li (1961-), Born in Shanghai, now resides in Sweden. He is the author of several books of poetry including Eyes in the Water, Weight of time, Escape, Retune, etc.

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  • 5 Tips to Cultivate Gratitude in Children

    Admittedly the plunging temperatures and rising snow falls in much of the country is leaving many families battling the worst case of cabin fever in years, but there is still plenty to be grateful for.

     

    Dr. Monisha Vasa, a board certified psychiatrist, Huffington Post blogger and author of the new children’s book My Dearest One, says we can remind our children to express gratitude no matter what the weather!

     

    Here are five tips to help your child develop an attitude of gratitude:

     

    1. Start with cultivating your own gratitude practice: If we believe in the value of being thankful for all that we are blessed with, our vision starts to shift.  If our children see us connected and thankful, that energy will flow downstream towards them.
    2. Vocalize gratitude as part of an everyday conversation: Say it out loud. “I really appreciate being able to watch you play in your soccer game.”  The more we say it loud, the more we feel it in our bones.
    3. Discover gratitude even for the small things: Children inherently are excited about both little and big things in life. Encourage gratitude for the small, mundane parts of life, not just the exciting Disney World moments. Sometimes, on difficult days, all we might be grateful for is another day on this Earth, or the beating of our heart. That is more than enough.
    4. Encourage downtime for reflection: Noticing is the first step towards counting our blessings. Ask your children questions about the enjoyable and difficult parts of their day, the “highs” and the “lows.”  This can encourage a dialogue about both gratitude, as well as the struggles they are currently experiencing.
    5. Acknowledge the reality of their emotional experience: Kids, just like adults, won’t feel grateful for everything, all the time. It is a practice for all of us.  Sometimes, we need to feel through the anger and sorrow of an experience, before we can come to a place of gratitude.  

     

     

    Monisha Vasa, M.D. is a board certified General and Addiction Psychiatrist in private practice in Orange County, CA. She is a Cum Laude graduate of Northwestern University, completed medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and her Psychiatry residency, Chief Residency, and Addiction Psychiatry fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Vasa resides in Orange County, CA with her husband, two beloved children and two English Bulldogs. She is also a marathon runner in addition to practicing yoga and meditation.

    For more information, visit www.monishavasa.com.

    My Dearest One is available at www.monishavasa.com, Amazon and Net Galley.

     

     

     

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  • Book Review: Drops on the Water

    Drops on the Water: Stories about Growing Up from a Father and Son by Eric G. Muller & Matthew Zanoni Muller, 265 pp., Apprentice House, $16.95.

    This book is comprised of sixty-four wonderfully vivid and engaging mini-memoirs by a father and son that range from their earliest childhood memories through their college years.  These powerful stories span the globe and employ poetic language that captures the full range of human emotions.

    In “Graffiti,” in which (father) Eric and a friend spraypaint the drabbest building on their university campus, Eric describes their flight from a nearby guard: “Intermittently, and above the frenetic polyrhythm of the wild chase, the giant guard bellowed, which sounded like a chilling invocation inaugurating a ritual killing.”

    In “Physical Therapy,” (son) Matthew describes his shame at the conclusion of a teenage basketball game of twenty-one.  Matthew’s shame is two-fold.  First, instead of just enjoying the game, he “blindly and stupidly” wants to trounce his friend Tarik who usually beats him at basketball.  Second, his friend defeats him yet again.  Here’s how he relates this double shame: “We walked back to his house and I felt something small and shamed and broken flapping along beside me while he dribbled and told me about girls and parties and sports, a little smile growing as he talked about them.”

    In the next story, “Betrayal,” Matthew reveals to his friend Dan that he secretly has tallied the wins and losses of all of their basketball games over the last three years, and he informs Dan that he has never won a game.  Here’s Matthew’s description of Dan’s reaction: “He stopped and I felt the friendliness inside of him register the betrayal.  He stared at me wildly and then walked back from the barn without me….”

    In “Dorian,” Matthew describes his grief over the suicide of a friend who left a note saying I have no friends: “That note became a small round stone that lodged itself inside my sternum and never quite got back out.”  In another story, “In Their Room,” Matthew empathizes with a grieving classmate whose girlfriend has died of a drug overdose: “…the incredible emptiness he must have woken to in the mornings, the absence thick in the house, as though an explosion had gone off and left a stunned silence just hanging there.”

    Readers also will enjoy “Barefoot,” Eric’s account of walking barefoot for a year in South Africa: “There is something addictive about going barefoot, almost like a narcotic…I yearned for the direct contact of the earth—the soil, the sand, the grass.  Nature spoke a subtle language through my feet.”

    This remarkable volume accurately and artfully captures a wide array of human moments.  Highly recommended.

    --Allen Long

     

     

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  • The Women-Helping-Women Movement

    The Women-Helping-Women Movement Is All About Connecting.
    Here Are 11 Ways to Do It Better.

    Making meaningful connections with other women can change your life (not to
    mention the world). Problem is, many of us don't know how—or where—to do it.
    Dr. Nancy D. O'Reilly offers 11 tips to help you improve your connecting skills.

              Santa Barbara, CA (February 2015)—Competing with other women is out. Connecting with other women to share ideas, work together on projects, and offer support is in. The changes brought about by the global economy have made collaboration and innovation "must-have" skills, and the great news is that women tend to be naturals at them. And that, says clinical psychologist Dr. Nancy D. O'Reilly, is why the women-helping-women movement is really picking up steam.

              "We're making a shift to what I call 'Connecting 2.0,'" says O'Reilly, who along with 19 other women, cowrote the new book Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life (Adams Media, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-440-58417-6, $16.99, www.drnancyoreilly.com). "It's more meaningful than the 'mile-wide and inch-deep' type of connecting we associate with social media. It's based on sharing and co-creating, not self-interest. It's authentic, it feels good, and it works."

              This deeper approach to connecting works so well, in fact, that we are creating an ever-expanding network of resources offering expertise and support to women in business, government, education, philanthropy, and other fields. The idea is not just to advance our careers and make money, but to make life itself richer, more exciting, and more creative.

              "This is more than a trend; it's a movement—and women are loving it," says O'Reilly. "More and more smart, amazing women are connecting to help their 'sisters' live their very best lives. These likeminded women are passionate about making the world a better place—so they are finding one another and building strong, supportive communities."

              The women-helping-women movement is nothing like the phony, self-serving, let's-exchange-cards-and-move-on networking that most of us hate. Sure, connecting with other women does pay off in amazing ways, but the rewards flow organically from our "feminine strengths" and a genuine desire to make a difference in the lives of others.

              You may be wondering, Where do I sign up? The answer is "everywhere." This is not some exclusive club—it's open to all women with passion, enthusiasm, and a yearning to live a richer, more fulfilling life and maybe even change the world. But O'Reilly knows you may not be used to thinking this way. That's why she offers the following tips:

    · First things first: Aim for a good mix of online and face-to-face connecting. It's easy to send an email message, and it's really easy to like, to share, to follow in the world of social media. That's why so many women do it. (It's easy to push a key or click a mouse after all.) And while there is nothing wrong with social media, it's also no substitute for real-world human interaction. The women-helping-women movement depends on both types of connecting: virtual and face-to-face.

    "If you're burning up social media, consider taking an online contact offline," she advises. "Tell her you'd love to meet her for lunch the next time she's in town. Conversely, if you're proudly 'old school' and are neglecting your social media presence, dive in. You really need a foot in both worlds."

    · Join a new group that interests you and really attend the meetings. Make them a priority. It doesn't matter what activity it's based on. This may be a book circle or a kayaking club or a community cause. What's important is that you're getting together with other women who share a common interest—and that you go to meetings and events often enough to let these strong connections develop.

    "It's the shared passion for the activity that generates the connections," notes O'Reilly. "And those connections take on a life of their own. You may end up forging alliances, finding jobs, winning clients—even though that's not the 'purpose' for the group."

    · Get on a different team at work. We tend to stick to our comfort zone. But shaking things up from time to time keeps you sharp and puts you in the path of exciting new people. When you work with women you don't know on projects you're unfamiliar with, you will learn, grow, and often discover vital new talents and interests.

    · Get involved in a philanthropic cause that speaks to your heart. Women who care enough about others to volunteer their time, talents, and treasure are the kinds of women you want to meet. They tend to be "other-oriented" and want to make new connections, too. So whether your "cause" is homeless animals, kids with cancer, adult literacy, or clean oceans, get involved.

    "I actually met the 19 women who cowrote the book through my Women Connect4Good, Inc., foundation," she adds. "In fact, the book is living proof of the kind of collaboration that happens when women make connections based on their desire to serve."

    · Think about what you need to learn. Seek out mentors who can help you learn it. Let's say you have a small catering company specializing in weddings, parties, and family reunions. You'd like to expand into the healthcare conference arena but know nothing about the field. You might reach out to someone who plans such conferences and offer to trade services—perhaps cater an upcoming event for free or for a greatly reduced price—in exchange for the chance to learn and get a foot in the door.

    "You're not asking for something for free," notes O'Reilly. "You're also bringing something to the table. Who knows: Her clients may love your fresh approach, and it could result in the two of you starting a whole new venture."

    · Likewise, give back to women who need your expertise. In other words, don't just seek out mentors. Be a mentor to women who can benefit from your knowledge and experience. It's "good karma" and it can pay off in unexpected ways.

    · Take a class. (And don't just sit there; talk to your neighbor.) Whether it's continuing education for your job, a creative writing class at the local community college, or even a martial arts training session, actively pursue new knowledge and skills. This will bring new and interesting women into your life—women who, just by being there, show that they have a zest for life and learning.

    · Volunteer your speaking services. Yes, yes, you hate public speaking. Many women do. But taking to the podium is a powerful way to get your voice heard, to build up your confidence, and of course to make new connections with those who hear you speak. And there are many civic and service organizations—like the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club—that need speakers.

    · Handpick five to ten powerful women in your community and ask them to participate in an event. This might be a roundtable discussion that takes place at an industry conference or a community fundraiser, for example. And don't think that busy, important women won't have time for you, says O'Reilly.

    "Remember, women love sharing stories, best practices, and ideas," she says. "You might be surprised by how many will say yes."

    · If you're invited, go. When someone invites you to an event or gathering—whether it's an industry trade show, a party, or a hiking trip—go if you can. Yes, even if you're tired, out-of-sorts, and feeling blah.

    "Say yes if it's remotely possible," advises O'Reilly. "There are always reasons to say no and some of them are good reasons. But overall, life rewards action. Life rewards yes. The more times you say yes, the more connections you will make. The more connections you make, the richer and more creative your life will be."

    · Set a goal to meet "X" new women per month. Insert your own number, depending on your circumstances and personality. Hold yourself to this number (it will help greatly to keep track in a journal or calendar). If you take this metric seriously, you'll figure out how to make it happen. And while meeting isn't the same as connecting, it's the essential first step.

    "Let's say your goal is to meet five new women this month, and it's the last day of the month and you have two to go," says O'Reilly. "You can always pop into the spin class at your gym, or maybe go to an open house or political rally. While you're there, of course, strike up conversations with at least two women and introduce yourself." Voilà! You've met your goal!

              While women are naturally good at connecting, it doesn't happen automatically, notes O'Reilly. We really do have to make an effort.

              "Most of us are so busy and overwhelmed that we just don't make it a priority to connect with other women," she says. "We really do have to be deliberately purposeful about it. The benefits of connecting with other women are incredible, so we owe it to ourselves—and each other—to make it happen."

    # # #

    A Connecting Cheat Sheet: 10 Easy Hints to Help You
    Move Beyond "Surface" Networking and Make Deep Connections

    Excerpted from Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life (Adams Media, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-440-58417-6, $16.99, www.drnancyoreilly.com), by Nancy D. O'Reilly, PsyD

              If you want to join the women-helping-women movement, you're already looking for opportunities to make deeper, more meaningful connections, support each other, and make the world a better place. But just going to the conference or fundraiser or team meeting isn't enough. You have to know what comes next—what to say or do to connect with other women in ways that yield real relationships and change lives (including yours) for the better. 

              Here, Dr. Nancy D. O'Reilly offers 10 tips to help you supercharge your new connections:

    · Make the mental shift from "What can I get from you?" to "What can we create together?" Simple as it sounds, this really is the first step and the key to successful connections. When we think of networking as a self-serving exercise, we really don't want to do it. It feels bad. But when we infuse sharing and giving into the process, suddenly it feels good. And it works.

    · Go to functions alone. This will force you to meet people rather than spending the whole time chatting with friends and colleagues. At first, it's really hard for some women to do this (probably most of us), but we are hardwired to connect. When you get over your initial anxiety, you will see how natural (and fun) it feels.

    · Sit beside a woman you don't know. Like showing up alone (though perhaps a bit less scary), this will force you to get to know someone new. Be friendly: Introduce yourself, introduce her to others, find something in common.

    · Have three or four good "go-to" questions in the bag. This will be a huge help in case a conversation grinds to a halt. (Awkward!) It doesn't matter what the questions are, but you might consider thought-provokers like "If time and money were no object, what would you be doing right now?" or "What is one goal you'd like to accomplish before you die?" or "What have you done lately that was fun?"

    · Practice being interested rather than interesting. The old style of networking involved a lot of "selling" your skills and showcasing your knowledge. Resist the urge. Instead, when you're talking to someone new, ask her about herself and really listen to her answers.

    · Probe for people's passions. Then stick to that topic for a while. You can tell when someone is excited about a subject. Her eyes light up. Her voice gets animated. When this happens—whether it happens when she mentions snow skiing, Civil War history, or helping African women support their villages—keep the conversation going along these lines. Passion is a powerful energy source for making connections.

    · Read three relevant articles before the event. If you are at, say, a business convention, you might want to scour the trades for new trends, products, and processes. This gives you fodder for discussion. The idea isn't to use it to "show off" or impress the other person but to bolster your own confidence, which makes you comfortable enough to connect.

    · Gravitate toward women who are smarter than you. Don't make the mistake of thinking you have to be the smartest, most interesting, most successful person in the group. Try not to feel threatened by other amazing women—instead, ask yourself what you can learn from them.

    · Ask, "What can I do to help you?" (Then follow through.) This may catch people off guard. They probably expect you to ask for an interview or a chance to pitch your product. When you ask a woman if you can, say, introduce her to an influential colleague or bring your therapy dog to the children's hospital she runs, she will be delighted.

    · Avoid phoniness at all costs. Be real. Don't hide or downplay your true nature or your beliefs to fit in or to make sure the person you're connecting with likes you. Healthy relationships are built on transparency, and people respect this...even if you don't agree on everything.

    # # #

    About the Author:
    Nancy D. O'Reilly, PsyD, is an author of Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life and urges women to connect to help each other create a better world. She is a clinical psychologist, motivational speaker, and women-empowerment expert who devotes her energies to helping women achieve the lives they want. O'Reilly is the founder of Women Connect4Good, Inc., and for seven years she has interviewed inspiring women for online podcasts available on her website.

    For more information, please visit www.drnancyoreilly.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

    About the Book:
    Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life (Adams Media, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-440-58417-6, $16.99, www.drnancyoreilly.com) is available at bookstores nationwide and from online booksellers.

     

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  • This Valentine's Day, Push the Reset Button on Love

     

    This Valentine’s Day, Push the Reset Button on Love

    (and Start with Yourself!)

    If you aren’t in a relationship, you may be dreading couples-centric Valentine’s Day.

    Here, I explain how you can still use February 14th to fill your life with more love—starting with the way you treat yourself!

     

    By Avalon S. Brandt

     

    If you aren’t currently in a relationship—and especially if you’ve recently ended one—you might not be looking forward to Valentine’s Day. The lovey-dovey cards, heart-shaped candy boxes, sappy commercials, and made-for-TV movies can all feel like too much. (And let’s not forget about the unofficial my-partner-is-better-than-your-partner competition that takes over social media this time of year.)

    Having been married and divorced three times, I understand how difficult it can be to spend Valentine’s Day without the one you love, and I have some advice to help you survive the next few weeks without strangling Cupid.

    Our culture has made Valentine’s Day couples-centric, but it doesn’t have to be. I use this time to consciously reset how I feel about love in general, and myself in particular. One lesson I’ve learned the hard way is that if we don’t know, respect, and appreciate ourselves, it’s unlikely that anyone else will, and we’ll continue to attract unfulfilling, dysfunctional relationships.

    In my book, Still I Love: Loving after Three Divorces, I tell the story of my three marriages and divorces, which I navigated on the long road to earning my degree as an attorney. . I hope that my reflections will speak to anyone who has dealt with a broken heart and divorce. And most importantly, my continuing belief in love—romantic and otherwise—will provide hope and healing.

    Here are 12 ways to show love to yourself—which is the first step toward attracting the relationships you need.

     

    Identify all the things you love about yourself. Maybe you can’t stop replaying insults from your ex. Perhaps you constantly hear your mother’s critical voice in your head. It’s possible you dislike certain things you see when you look in the mirror. Wherever they come from, it’s so easy to listen only to these negative voices.

     

    This Valentine’s Day, focus your attention on more positive messages. Figure out exactly what you love about yourself. Is it your smile, your hair, your laugh, your shape, your intellect, or your talents? Allow yourself to not only acknowledge these things, but to bask in them.

     

    Strengthen your existing relationships by celebrating other people you love. Make a mental list of the people who enhance your life: family, friends, mentors, colleagues, etc. Consider reaching out and making plans with some of them, or writing a “thank you for being in my life” email.

     

    When you have been disappointed in love, it’s easy to focus only on what you lack: a partner. But one thing my divorces taught me was the true value of all the other relationships in my life. I don’t share romance with my friends and family, but those relationships are still full of love. As February 14th approaches, put your energy into valuing and nurturing the people for whom you’re thankful.

     

    “De-friend” and distance yourself from people who are bringing you down. It’s amazing how far others can drag us down without our consciously realizing it. Especially at a time of year when you’re already feeling vulnerable, take a fresh look at your friend list and back away from people who act in a way that makes you feel worse about yourself.

     

    Maybe you need to block your ex from your newsfeed—even though you split “amicably.” Perhaps you should stop spending so much time with the “friend” who constantly talks about how wonderful her life is (while implying yours isn’t), or with the coworker who has perfected the art of the backhanded compliment. You don’t have to sever all ties—but don’t sacrifice your self-esteem, either.

     

    Forgive your ex—and yourself. Even though your relationship is over, you may still be angry at your ex—and chances are, it feels good! Perhaps you’re savoring the fact that you have the moral high ground. Or, you might think, it’s better to be angry than to be depressed. Certainly, allow yourself to process your anger and resentment—but eventually, try to let go of those negative emotions. You may find it helpful to remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re condoning your ex’s bad behavior. Rather, it means that you’re choosing to let go of resentment, blame, and anger.

     

    You can’t fully love or be loved if you can’t forgive. As long as you’re living your life with bitterness and anger eating away at you, you’ll be a prisoner of the past. Learn the lessons you can, stop playing the blame game, and move forward.

     

    Re-evaluate your daily life. Try to look at your daily routine through fresh eyes. What do you like about it? What don’t you like? What energizes you and what drags you down? What can you change to make yourself happier and feel better?

     

    The changes I’m talking about may be big, like researching a career path that would be more fulfilling. But they might be much smaller, too—like deciding to stop going to the grocery store that always reminds you of shopping with your ex, or quitting the spinning class you dread and signing up for tai chi instead.

     

    Plan a fun evening out (no chocolate and roses necessary). Odds are, you know other people who might also be sad or resentful that they’re flying solo this Valentine’s Day. Reach out to them and make arrangements to meet for drinks, go ice skating, or enjoy a potluck meal, for instance. 

     

    One caveat: Consciously choose to stay positive, not to wallow in bitterness. Look at this gathering not as an excuse to air your dirty laundry and rehash the past, but as an opportunity to support and encourage one another while enjoying the holiday.

     

    Give yourself a break. Be a rebel. Take a look at your to-do list and cross something off of it even though you haven’t actually completed that task. (Gasp!) Then do something nourishing instead.

     

    Get a massage, read a book, take a nap, go for a run, see a movie—whatever! Just make sure you’re nurturing yourself. The point is to see yourself as a human being who is worthy of being celebrated and indulged—because you are!

    Challenge yourself to be the voice of dissent. Anytime we go along with the crowd or keep our mouths shut instead of saying what’s really on our minds, we feel disingenuous, and our self-esteem takes a hit. Saying what we really feel and being true to our opinions is a courageous act of self-love.

    This could be as simple as speaking up in a colleague’s defense at the water cooler, or telling your friends you don’t like the restaurant they’ve picked for dinner. So many of us fall into the trap of living our lives to please others while not making waves, and in the process, we become disconnected from our true selves.

    Take yourself out on a date. Of course you would like to be going on a date with a romantic partner who likes, respects, and values you. I admit that even though I have found happiness after divorce, I still hope to find love again. But your desires for the future shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your life now.

     

    After my second marriage ended, I made a special effort to discover life beyond being a wife. For me, a big part of that was exploring and enjoying the spectacular dining scene in Washington, D.C. At first, it was strange learning how to enjoy a meal alone. I got curious looks from maître d’s, waiters, and other diners. But over time, I began to dwell less on what other people were thinking and more on savoring each satisfying bite of my meals. Sounds simple, I know, but learning to enjoy a meal alone became a crucial survival tool that enabled me to reconnect with myself after a disappointing marriage.

     

    Affirm a bright future. To help yourself stay focused on loving yourself, find a personal mantra and remind yourself of it frequently. Your mantra might have to do with moving on, finding someone new, or personal development. Don’t discount the power of the words you tell yourself. Positive or negative, they are powerful tools in focusing your intentions and shaping your attitude.

     

    As my first marriage was ending, I remember buying a calligraphy set and writing on construction paper some words and themes to encourage myself. I wrote on one sign the words “I’m on my way to the top one step at a time.” I drew a ladder beside the words and I taped the sign on my bedroom wall. Every day I read it, several times a day, and slowly I started to feel myself changing, just a little at a time.

    Clarify your vision of Mr. or Ms. Right. Is it possible that your past romances have failed because you’re looking for the wrong type of person? Are you hoping to find someone who mirrors your favorite movie character or someone who will solve all your problems? Do you tend to overlook flaws and incompatibilities when the other person is funny or flattering? 

    This year, stop daydreaming about what you want in a relationship and get real about what you need. I learned valuable lessons from each of my divorces. And while I have had opportunities to enter additional relationships in the more recent past, my experiences taught me that committing to any of these men would be a mistake. Saying “no” to individuals I liked and even respected was difficult, but it was also one of the most powerful acts of self-love I have ever shown myself.

    Remind yourself that February 15th will be here soon. No matter how much you focus on showing yourself love and boosting your mood, you may still feel the “Singles’ Awareness Day” blues—and that’s okay! It’s normal and natural for a holiday focused on romance to bring up feelings of sadness. When this happens, remind yourself that February 15th will come.

     

    This is some advice I had to give myself recently. I was listening to a love song, started to think too much about my past relationships, and the next thing you know tears were streaming down my face. I had to get myself together quickly before I ruined my makeup! My point is, nobody is immune to negative feelings, so when they hit, allow yourself to experience them for a few minutes. Then remind yourself that this too shall pass—and maybe turn the radio to a song that will make you smile and dance!

     

    Even after experiencing infidelity and divorce, love is still the center of my existence on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year. My number-one goal and priority is to value, honor, and love myself. I affirm this intention by looking into the mirror each morning and saying with a smile, “I love you. » Then, I show myself love through actions big and small, such as the ones I’ve shared here. I encourage you to do the same!

     

    # # #

     

    About the Author:

    Avalon Sequoia Brandt, Esq., is the author of Still I Love: Loving after Three Divorces. She is a successful attorney in Baltimore, Maryland, who for 13 years has practiced complex civil litigation. From 1994 through 2001 she worked as a family law attorney in her firm, Wilson & Brandt, P.A.  

     

    Over the years, Avalon has appeared as a guest speaker for career day programs at various public schools in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Since 2008 she has served on the Board of Directors for L.I.F.E. (Living in a Free Environment), Inc., a successful non-profit that provides housing, daily activities, and job training for persons with physical and mental disabilities. Avalon is a member of the New Psalmist Baptist Church where she has worked in numerous capacities for over 35 years.

     

    After unexpectedly experiencing divorce, Avalon decided to share her story with others. She still believes in love and has a strong desire to be married in the future. In the spring of 2015, Avalon will launch her workshop, “Still I Love: Healing for Victory.” In this workshop, Avalon will explore with others what it means to love and how to overcome the pain of being hurt by love.

     

    About the Book:

    Still I Love: Loving after Three Divorces (Avalon S. Brandt, 2014, ISBN: 978-0-615-98121-5, $18.95, www.stillilove.com) is available at www.stillilove.com or Amazon.

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  • Lifeways Week in England

     

    “Lifeways Week in England, A Heartwarming Experience for All Ages

    by Mary Lee Plumb-Mentjes

     

              In America, the word “Lifeways” is associated primarily with providing care for the child between infancy and three years old, when it is not feasible for the very young child to be at home with a parent during the day.  In England the emphasis of “Lifeways” is the involvement of individuals of all ages from the young child to teenagers to parents and even grandparents in the celebration of life.  Many fun books related to Lifeways have come out of England like Families, Festivals, and Foods by D. Cary and J.Large, as well as All Year Round and The Birthday Book, both by A. Druitt and C. Fynes-Clinton.  These resources provide inspiration for simple imaginative activities for how parents can own their family celebrations rather than “buying them.”

              In addition, there is a Lifeways Week held each year in midsummer at Emerson College in Forest Row, England.  I had heard that this event really succeeded in keeping all family members engaged, and this past summer I went to see how it was staged.  My first day there I was impressed by how many parents told me their children loved coming to camp there.  Still more impressive to me was the fact that most families have been coming for years!  Some first attended the event as a child, then as a counselor, and now as parents of children. 

              There are activities and groups for every age.  The young children attend a morning crèche with a parent (like a Waldorf nursery school) doing “circle” with stories, simple crafts with natural materials, and watercolor painting.  Children from 4 to 6 years old attend a morning program like a Waldorf kindergarten where parents leave once the child is settled; children from 7-8 years attend a morning program similar to the Waldorf Main Lesson.  Older children from 9-14 years old have a sleepover tent camp where the only adults that are allowed are the camp counselors.   All children gather on the lovely lawn of Emerson to spend tea time with their parents and to enjoy some free play. 

              The adults have a great parallel program with a wide variety of workshops during the day; this year's offerings ranged from acting techniques to making willow baskets to building a trail through the woods.  Also from trying one's hand at creative writing to discussing relationships or studying the natural landscape.  The day starts with call and response singing for all interested participants.  In the hour following tea break, a choice of topics was offered ranging from puppet shows for children to talks for adults (e.g.on bees, how our feelings affect our health, or the Mayan calendar).  After supper (featuring Biodynamic produce) adults could attend the evening presentation, which could be a lecture or storytelling, a presentation of the various talents of the conference participants or a country dance on the lawn. 

              This Lifeways Week itself began in 1986 but traces its roots to a peace conference held in 1984. The initiative of the then head of Emerson College, the late  John Davy, who was taken aback by the numbers of  children arriving with their parents at this center for adult education.  Davy pleaded with his wife Gudrun to "do something with all the children."   She immediately took hold of the situation and soon handcraft workshops, games and other activities were in full swing.  From that spontaneous beginning this family-friendly event took off and now has over 200 individuals (singles, couples, and families)  attending each year. 

    My conclusion is that this Lifeways Week is indeed worthy of imitation in America!

    For more information on the Lifeways Week at Emerson College visit the Emerson website www.emerson.org.uk; the next Lifeways Week will be July 26-August 1, 2015.   For information on Lifeways in North America, see the website www.lifewaysnorthamerica.org or contact Cynthia Aldinger, author of Home Away From Home, at [email protected].

               

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  • From Binary to Threefold

    Letter from the Publisher

    From Binary to Threefold

     

    Our world is showing more and more signs that can be connected to the strong presence of the binary code, the system of yes or no that governs all computer programs and software. The resulting dualistic mind orientation categorizes issues into an "either–or" constructs such as good–bad,  rich–poor,  hot–cold,  drought–floods,  or liberals–conservatives. I am well aware that I missing nuances, granularity, and definition, but I am willing to paint with broad strokes in order to illustrate the impact of this phenomena.

     

    We, the human race, have accepted the computer and the underlying binary code lock, stock, and barrel. Our binary vision is evident in the way we educate our children, run factories, and conduct warfare. We use our strength to conquer nature, humans, and problems—we play “creator” as we are work on the decoding the human genome, the repairing of DNS, the charting of human traits and behaviors, and the reducing of them to functions that can be replicated by a computer.

     

    We have only come to this point of viewing the world through a computeristic lens in the last thirty years, a small amount of time in the long history of mankind—extraordinary developments are happening at an ever-accelerating pace. In fact, technological developments are going so fast that the information overload has reached a point where no human being can absorb the daily information available. Only collectively, like single cells in a large “über” brain, can we processes the overall, global picture.

     

    At the same time we have an ever-growing body of people who are not willing to be confined to a reductionist view, but continue to search for heart-felt solutions that are not black or white. People who treasure nature, want to stop global warming and lessen emissions, create computer free zones, build small houses, or develop local solutions to problems. These people are becoming part of a newly forming stratification in our society, and are bringing in new ideas beyond the binary mindset.

     

    A third element needs to be fostered, an element that is laid down in our Declaration of Independence, in Martin Luther King’s actions and words, in the many non-partisan workers in the government of our society, in the daily activities of volunteers in soup kitchens, tutors, and entrepreneurs who are looking at the triple bottom line, so-called B Corporations. We are searching for this elusive element, a human, a balanced, a growing but not fixed process, that we can all experience and recognize when we see it.

     

    We are calling on all those who have an interest in bringing this element, this third element, into the political and societal process to become aware of each other, to penetrate the underlying fundamental principles and begin to understand that there are more of us who hold this truth to be self-evident than those who unconsciously follow some binary design—IF we would just know of and connect to each other.

     

    This is a call for awareness and for readiness for the fall of 2016—so I will end with this in the fall of 2014 and ask that you consider supporting LILIPOH through your subscriptions, advertisements, and by sharing LILIPOH in your community.   We are forming a LILIPOH Foundation to further this work and welcome your interest and involvement. Contact [email protected] for more information.

     

    ~Claus Sproll

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  • Mother's Day Weekend Giveaway!!

    LILIPOH Magazine is giving away a free hardcover copy of Acorn by Yoko Ono to one lucky mom!!

     

    This is a beautiful meditative book...."In Acorn, she offers enchanting and thought-provoking exercises that open our eyes—and all of our senses—to more creative and mindful ways of relating to ourselves, each other, and the planet we cohabit." (amazon.com)

    http://www.amazon.com/Acorn-Yoko-Ono/dp/1616203773

     

    Leave a comment here or on our facebook page telling us why you are grateful for mom or the amazing woman in your life and you will be entered into our drawing.  Winner chosen on 5/12/2014. 

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  • Understanding Child Discipline: Self and Social Awareness

    Whenever I am asked to speak or write about discipline my first question is always this: what do you mean by discipline? Do you mean getting your child to do what you want? Is it blind obedience you desire, or are you wishing for your child to demonstrate self-discipline, that magic balance of impulse control on the one hand and motivation on the other? I will assume that your desire is to have a child who is self-disciplined. To achieve this, you need an understanding of human development, because the very same action will elicit one result at one age and a totally different result at another.

    I see parents who treat their teenagers like toddlers or their toddlers like teenagers—with disastrous results! Self-discipline is a balance between impulse control, which is holding oneself back, and motivation, which is a moving oneself forward toward a goal. This is similar to driving a car. We must propel it forward to reach our intended destination and show restraint by braking and steering clear of fixed obstacles. While this may take some time to learn, it is not a complicated process. It is when there are other vehicles with other drivers, with their own destinations and levels of skill that things get tricky. What is required for a safe and satisfactory journey is simultaneous awareness of one’s own vehicle as well as the other cars sharing the road. This is where convention, with such things as solid yellow lines and clearly marked road signs, comes in handy.

    And this is where my analogy ends, because we are not really talking about driving cars. We are talking about driving bodies and souls, with all their peculiarities, through a life that has no white and yellow lines and no clearly marked road signs. This requires a highly advanced stage of development! Surely you don’t expect your child to possess this skill already? Because, if you do, you will become frustrated and have an adult tantrum. Self-discipline is both self-awareness and a social awareness. How does a child develop this capacity? Human beings progress from a state of total dependency, through a stage of “dependent inter-dependency,” and finally, if all goes well, to a state of “independent inter-dependency.” (Note: complete independence is a myth. No one would survive without some form of inter-dependency).

    Each stage of human development has its own biological and emotional needs. A need met is a need met forever. An unmet need will continue to seek satisfaction, even long after it is age-appropriate. Behind it all is the urge to survive. This manifests in two primary strategies—to belong and to be free. At first, these two strategies appear to be in conflict, but it makes sense when viewed from the perspective of an entire lifespan.

    The human infant is the most vulnerable creature on Earth.  He cannot survive on his own. At birth, the urge to belong is strongest—it is essential for survival. This is where attachment comes in. The infant needs a strong emotional attachment so that, no matter what happens, it knows you will not abandon him. Slowly and incrementally, the young child shows signs of exercising freedom, yet in the first nine or so years, the child’s need to belong is greater his need to be free, no matter what behavior he exhibits. A nestling may flap its wings, but it is not ready to fly out of the nest! Going back to the car analogy for just one moment: I’ll bet that nobody ever told you that being a parent meant driving your own car while simultaneously teaching someone, who hasn’t learned the language yet, how to drive his!

    Blind obedience is starting to look good! And, in the very early stages of a human being’s life, it is good. Where it runs afoul is when the parents aren’t clear about the temporary role of blind obedience in their child’s development, or they practice it inconsistently, usually as a last resort. Your young child needs consistency, clearly defined boundaries, and patience.  Blind obedience through the use of intimidating force will ultimately backfire. This stage of discipline is much like dog training—one must be clear about what one wants and what the child is capable of, be consistent, be gentle, be firm, and the parent must train himself or herself to give the command only once! It differs from dog training in that the dog’s needs for blind obedience are life-long. the human being, on the other hand, is striving towards autonomy (self-governance), and it is an aware parent who always keeps this in mind. You may employ the characteristics of a dog trainer with your young child, yet with full awareness that this is but the initial stage of their training towards self-discipline.

    It is essential to hold the big picture in mind even as you negotiate the small decisions. Who makes the decisions? You, the parent. It is a modern myth and a tragic abdication of authority to assume that the infants or young children make the decisions, or that they should be making decisions. the result is that they will feel too “free” and they won’t feel securely attached, resulting in co-dependence or counter-dependence later in life. It is common for otherwise “conscious” parents to confuse a child’s innate intelligence with the ability to make decisions. i will attempt to clarify this: making decisions is the parent’s job, and listening to the child’s innate intelligence is part of the process of coming to a decision. Parenting is a process of guiding a child to self- governance. You begin by example and gradually involve the child more in the process. The most common error is giving a child too much decision-making privilege (freedom) too soon. Learning to make decisions is a process that takes years!

    A rule of thumb here is to hold them back (“belonging”) until it no longer works. How do you know if something is not working? By your child’s anti-social behavior. It is then up to you to determine whether the child requires more “freedom” or more “belonging.” You will know you are right when the behavior disappears.

    I will give you an example. When my son turned seven, he fell in love with baseball. He asked to join a little league team.my response? “Not yet.” I told him that competing before you have the skills can lead to bad habits, one of which is cheating.  So, instead we played “friendly ball” for two years. Then, when my son turned nine, the real rules began to matter very much to him. One day, when his dad let someone get away when he could have tagged him, my son exploded on his dad, yelling and even hitting him, which he had never done before. In that moment i could see what was happening. I said, “We’ll talk when we get home.” When we got home, he and his dad and I sat down, and then I said, “You know that it was not okay to hit your dad. What i am seeing is that this type of play is no longer suitable for you. I think it is time for you to join little league.” He did and he excelled.

    Another example has to do with guns. My motto was, “We don’t play with guns. Guns are not a toy.” I would always give an alternate suggestion for what that stick could be, but I never allowed it to be a gun. So, when my son was 13, a mom called to say that her son was having an airsoft gun party for his birthday and she wanted to check with me first before inviting my son. I went to my son and said that he had been invited, but that he could not go, because “we don’t play with guns, and every family is different”. Have you ever seen time-lapse photography of a flower wilting? That’s what my son looked like when I said this to him. What had worked in the past was no longer working. So I withdrew and did some soul- searching. I owned my fear of guns and violence, and I remembered what was most important to me when i was 13—to be trusted. So I went back to him and said, “I think you want me to trust you.” He perked up immediately. I let him go. I had to trust that he would not become violent or want to play with guns every weekend. Actually, he never played again.

    When your young child does not respect your authority, it may be a symptom of a need to revert to an earlier stage of decision-making. (When an older child exhibits the same symptoms it might mean just the opposite!) In this situation a child either attempts to ignore you or to boss you around. The child can also be contrary or verbally or physically abusive. What the child is saying is that he feels no boundary, and because of this, he feels insecure. If the child succeeds in aggravating you enough perhaps you will explode, and then the child will know where the boundary is. A parent whose attention is distracted, perhaps by work or worries, but distracted nonetheless, often have children who behave like this. It takes quite a lot of attention to set just the right limits that your child needs to feel safe, yet still have room to grow. When you set a boundary, you are creating a membrane. The pressure on either side of the membrane needs to be roughly equal, or the membrane will rupture. What is called “acting out” is this membrane rupturing. A sound parenting practice is every time you say “no,” also say “yes,” and every time you say “yes,” also say “no.” think of the “no” as belonging, and the “yes” as freedom. For example, whenever i told my son, “we don’t play with guns,” I also said, in the same breath, “but that stick is very useful for putting out fires” (a fire hose nozzle) or “spotting pirate ships” ( a hand telescope). Another time, when my son was 12, he asked to play video games and fell into a slump, because he thought for sure I would say “no” as usual. I surprised him by saying, “I can see that you really want to meet the world, so I am not going to say ‘no,’ but I’m not going to say ‘yes’ to everything. Let’s find a game that we can both agree on.” We did and he excelled.

    Because of the way I parent, I can only think of one time my son’s behavior said, “I need you to rein me in.” That was when he was six and I was picking him up from school. He was spraying a friend with water from his water bottle and his friend was not enjoying it. When I told him to stop he paused, looked at me, and did it one more time. I knew that one day he would shift his need for authority from me to his dad, but this was too young. What happened next still fascinates me.  I became furious in a very clear-headed, non-vindictive way.  I was using anger to re-establish the boundary! The result was that he became calm, and cheerful, and compliant. and I learned a lesson about maintaining boundaries.

    The shift from mother’s authority to father’s came when my son was almost 14. He was becoming increasingly disrespectful to his seven-year-old sister and me. He also began to demonstrate complete disregard for my authority. If I reminded him to do a chore or his homework he just ignored me. A couple of times I felt furious, but inside I knew that something was changing for him. Namely, his need for guidance was shifting from mothering and its protective shield, to fathering and its access to the wider world. I confirmed this by experimentation. Every time he ignored me I called his dad and asked him to make the same request. Result: instant compliance for his father. So, rather than fight what I considered a natural development, I devised (with the help of my parent coach) to support it. Father, son and I sat down and came to a new agreement. His part was doing his chores with only one reminder, and respecting his sister and me with no reminders, and for taking on the job of after-dinner-dishes (which was a big deal for him!). My part was to relinquish all decision-making pertaining to him over to his father. The only way I could bring myself willingly into this agreement was to understand his need for autonomy and to trust that everything I had done to protect him up to this point was enough. It was one of the best moves I ever made. The next day he was friendly and playful, engaging me in a mock-sword fight with soda straws. A few days later he confided to me how nervous he was about a school dance. I knew that I would not have access to this part of my son if I was still trying to parent him like a younger child. Again, he excelled.

    Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Every time my son acted out, I looked for the message in his anti-social behavior. I didn’t just try to stop the behavior. I made it clear that the behavior was not acceptable (the “no”) and provided what he was needing (the “yes”). When his developmental need was met the anti-social behavior stopped on its own. Discipline isn’t about getting a child to do something; it’s about finding out what a child needs. It is about governing so that the child may gradually develop the skills necessary to be self-governing. This process takes years and requires a commitment to finding the appropriate balance between freedom and belonging.

     

    Thea blair is the mother of a 17-year- old son and 10-yearold daughter. She is a Waldorf teacher, and a pediatric massage therapist. She operated a successful, Waldorf-inspired pre-school out of her home for 14 years. Observing the amazing results of touch (our first language of belonging) in resolving children’s emotional stress led her to learn peer massage. She now works as a parent and teacher coach, and a touch educator.

                                                                                                              www.theablair.com

     

    From LILIPOH Issue 69 VOL. 17, Fall 2012--order back issues by emailing [email protected] or [email protected]  

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