May 29

Spring in North Dakota is Something to Behold

springtimeSpring in North Dakota is something to behold. This year we experienced the warmest April I can recall, only to find May back to reality temperatures. I have learned over the years to take advantage of whatever weather I get and just go with it. I was raking and cleaning my yard at the first sign of warm weather. I heeded the warning not to plant until Mother’s Day weekend; I couldn’t stand it and planted several pots and a small flower bed on the patio. And, yes, I had to cover the flower bed and bring the pots in. It was worth it, though, to see the progress my plants have made in two weeks. Besides, I enjoyed the color in my entryway, too! The winters we experience in North Dakota help make me appreciative of the green of spring and the warmer temps.

In a similar way our lives are a bit like North Dakota – think with me here. I don’t’ think I have ever talked to anyone who does not want to live each day to the fullest; yet often we miss living fully in the day, kind of like hunkering down for winter and waiting for spring to come. Why is that? My personal experience tells me that negative thinking happens without our awareness. It just kind of creeps in and takes over until we put a stop to it.

The big learning curve here is that I get to choose what I am thinking. We all have a running tape recorder in our heads; it plays the worry theme, the if only wish list, and/or the ever present anger and resentment injustices.

The greater truth and reality are that I have the power to choose where my mind goes! That is a powerful thought, isn’t it? I am not in charge of world events, or how the city places stop lights, what my friends do and think, BUT I am in charge of me. It is easier to change an outward habit, exercise or diet than to tame our thoughts. Changing my thought patterns is worth every ounce of effort I have, when you change your thoughts, you change your life.

Changing thoughts takes an awareness of running records and allows us to see what trips us up and takes us to negative thoughts. Author Becky Bailey says we cannot stop the tapes, but we can overlay them. Begin by acknowledging patterns of thought that take you into a negative frame of mind. As you are aware of those thoughts say to yourself, “That happened a long time ago, it is past or yes, I am embarrassed this happened, it is hard but I will get through this. Today I choose to live in the present and make the most of this day. I take every negative thought captive and choose positive energy to live fully in this day!”

Changing thought patterns takes time, but this is one of the single most worthwhile changes you can make in your life. It will affect you and those around you – for good!

Join me in the journey to live each day to the fullest!

I wish you well, Judith

May 21

Practicing Internal Balance

balanceInternal balance comes from honoring ourselves by listening to our internal response system with a willingness to address internal upset and unrest. Life situations can throw curve balls in an instant. One moment we are moving through the day with predictability and pattern; the next moment can change the course of our day in the blink of an eye.

It is important to know our patterns and tendencies in times of stress. Retreating is one reaction to feeling upset; though it is common it does not help us deal effectively with life situations. A fighting and/or yelling reaction may release energy but does little to problem solve an issue.

It is wise to ask ourselves, why did this situation cause me to feel upset? Acknowledging an embarrassment, disappointment, or loss can help us better understand the emotions we feel. By acknowledging emotions we can begin to process them with some clarity and gain distance from emotional energies.

When an important relationship is at stake, it is wise to calm down and process before responding and interacting with that person. It is wise to say something like, “I do want to discuss this and I value both you and our relationship. Right now I am upset and want to wait until I have calmed down before we discuss things.” That type of response honors and respects both members in the relationship, but clearly states an intention to work on the relationship for good.

Honesty when speaking is essential in a good relationship. It is wise and important to respectfully speak thoughts and feelings. Relationship balance comes from both people being able to express themselves and listening well to the other, and not minding who gets the credit for the outcome.

Addressing internal signals allows our system to process through emotions and situations. Emotions take a great deal of our energy, by addressing our internal signals we can spend our best energy focusing on things of value to us, rather than using more and more of our energy resources on the upset.

Working with you to bring out the best in each other, I wish you well.

Judith

May 18

Stillness

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Sometimes in the midst of life I long for stillness, a moment to rest and get off the main street of life. I appreciate that longing; it is really a beacon call to restore myself, to reflect on my path and realign myself, my heart, to where I really want to be.

Busyness leads us off the main path of our lives and onto a side road we were not meant to travel. Stepping off of Main Street and onto a quiet cul de sac allows us to breathe, rest, and then reflect on our journey.

Stillness allows us to breathe in inner peace and experience the treasure of who we are meant to be. It’s what happens and allows us to remember each of us is here for a purpose. We get to remember we are a treasure. Restoration is what happens when we let go of self-criticism and live believing in our worth and value.

Stillness allows us to redirect the whirling thoughts and take capture of negative thoughts, replacing them with thoughts of gratitude. Peace comes from being still and redirecting, because what changes when we do that is not our circumstance, but our hearts. Rest, reflection, and restoration, can bring about significant change in our lives, a change of heart.

I wish for you to be still today and breathe in the gift of life!

Judith

May 06

Chronic Behaviors

What responses to your child’s behaviors have caused upset in your household?

When children misbehave there are reasons for misbehavior. Parents and teachers often overlook the reason for misbehaviors and treat the action. All behavior is purposeful – a call for love or a need for information.

Consider this common scenario – Your child asks for a cookie and you respond with, “I am making dinner and we are going to eat in 15 minutes. You may not have a cookie.” Then your child asks again, and again, eventually evoking a yelling response or giving in with frustration and resignation.cookie-jar

Both of those responses eat away at relationship. What is your child saying to you when asking for the cookie? I am hungry? When is dinner? I don’t have anything to do.

If this is a rare occurrence you might consider – was lunch 5 hours ago and no snack? Your child may be genuinely hungry and have reached a limit of tolerance. Could you offer a half glass of milk or juice and set the timer for 15 minutes. That would provide a reasonable interim solution and offer a finite time before the family eats. You can also help pass the time by inviting him to be a part of dinner preparation at an appropriate developmental level. My grandchildren help put the washcloths and bibs on the table along with the spoons.

Regular occurrences may be patterns that have developed and are in need of addressing. Consequences are not the solution for regular patterns of behavior. Problem solving is needed. It might look like this: at a calm time, the parent addresses the issue with, “It seems every day we go through you asking if you can have a cookie before dinner. This is not working for me or for you; we both end up frustrated and upset. What can we do to have a peaceful time for both of us before we sit down to dinner?

Taking the time to problem solve sends a powerful message to your child, “you matter to me and I want to invest in our relationship and your wellbeing. Our relationship is more important than the issue at hand.” This line of thinking increases relationship capital and lets your child know his needs matter. It will work to help solve chronic problems and increase the family’s sense of wellbeing. It also takes, according to Dr. Becky Bailey at Conscious Discipline, 2,000 teaching messages, in context, to adopt new patterns of behavior. Two thousand times seems almost overwhelming, but consider how many opportunities we encounter in a day and you realize change will begin to take place in about 6 weeks.

I wish you well as you invest in the wellbeing of your family, Judith

Apr 30

Power

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If I am upset about others – their manners, their driving, or their stand on something that is me giving my power away to other people or situations. I get to decide whether to react or respond. It is so true that there is a grieving at times of situations and how they affect me. Grief allows me to own how I feel about something, deal with it, and move on into a release. Pain is inevitable, but misery and bitterness is optional. Pain avoided produces misery and bitterness, and deeply affects us and those around us.

Strong reactions are an indicator of what is happening inside of us. What rises up in us as we observe the news, witness an argument, get cut off in traffic? Often we only know a small slice of the entire situation.

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Two good questions to ask yourself before responding to a troublesome situation, “Will my response be about me or to help?” and “Will my words bring life to the situation?” Our view is just that, our view; it is only one perspective on any given situation. Recognizing my thoughts for what they are, my thoughts, is an important tool for freedom in our lives and that of other people. Do I respond or react to what is happening around me? Reaction makes it about me and how I feel. Response is empathizing with the situation and wishing well for that person in the moment of their distress. Reaction produces more upset and discomfort, while response produces a peace in our hearts and can be a calming influence for the other person, too.

Wishing you well, Judith

Apr 24

Happiness

rainbowheart210cmHappiness is not dependent on external events; our happiness is determined by our choices in each situation. Granted it is easier in some cases than others, but I get to decide my internal state. It is our nature to blame external circumstances and things we have no control over. The truth is we are in control of one thing, our attitude. The key on which everything else in our life hinges is our attitude. I find I have to remind myself that my choices also affect those around me. I can make it about me and what I want, or I can make it about loving and relating well to those in my world. When I make it about me, it is often not very nice for the people around me. One question to ask, “What is it like to be around me?” Some things we are aware of, other things we are not. It takes great courage to ask that question.

Wishing you well, Judith

 

 

Apr 15

Overwhelmed

There are times life spins so fast I can’t seem to get a grip on anything and can quickly lose touch with a calm and rational perspective. It can feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster; one I do not recall boarding! It happens to all of us; our best laid plans get turned upside down and we find ourselves doing what we can to manage the moment. This week I want to share ideas to help manage those upset moments with self-control and forward movement rather than the first inner reaction to fight or retreat.Presentation1

First things first, we need to calm down! Dr. Becky Bailey, creator of Conscious Discipline, emphasizes calming ourselves down first before reacting to stressful situations. The PRETZEL, one of my favorite calming techniques, helps us breathe in calm and allow the blood to flow to our brains. Emotional upset heightens the senses and slows down blood flow. Breathing calms the body tensions and opens up blood flow to the higher thinking center of our brain, the frontal lobe. Breathing also allows us to put space between the event and my response.

The PRETZELpretzel

Stand Up – cross your feet maintaining balance.

Place your arms and hands straight out in front of you, turn your hands with their backs facing each other, crossover each other to overlap hands, clasp and bring hands and arms to your chest

Close mouth and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth

Breathe for three minutes in that position; you will be noticeably calmer

Catch this clip on You Tube: The Pretzel

Once we have calmed down, the next, IMPORTANT step is to ask myself “What is going on inside on the inside?” Processing my thoughts and emotions will help me discover the core of my frustrations. Often there are many things happening simultaneously, but one thing in particular seems to occupy most of my emotion and energy. When I can identify that thing it is like an “aha” moment and I can then make an informed decision as to what to do next.

Finding out what it is that’s bothering me is the first step; then I explore ideas that would be helpful in resolving the matter. If there is nothing I can do to change the situation; it is me who must make an adjustment. The only person I have any control over, at any given moment, is myself. This important life lesson serves us well when we are dealing with situations out of our control. I cannot control others, but I can control my words and my actions.

Until next time, I wish you well, Judith

Apr 08

Being the Right Person, Doing the Right Thing

There are times I find myself wondering, “How do I handle this situation?” It takes great courage and humility to admit a wrong doing, to ask forgiveness for an offense, or to revisit a decision that was made in haste. One very important thing to consider is not the moment, but long term impact in relationships. It is easy to say to yourself, “I won’t do that again, I have learned from this.” That is an important first step, but just as important is going to the person or group and acknowledging the mistake and working towards resolution. It is not easy. It is, however, right.

During upset or conflict we can focus on justification of our actions. Rarely does that allow for reconciliation and restored relationship. In addition mistrust develops along with disconnect. As adults we are the role models for our children. How we handle mistakes teaches them, too. And it seems that once a ball is bouncing in the wrong direction it continues to go awry. The wise person considers the long term impact of their actions and the relationships involved by going back to the person and asking, “How did my action affect you?” Group dynamics require the same question, “How did the decision we made affect our constituency?” These powerful questions have the opportunity to reconnect us and if both parties are willing to have a redo of the situation. A great question to ask, “Can we have a redo and start over with this?”

I have lived long enough to know that when trust is lost it takes time to rebuild. But, it cannot be rebuilt if we are not willing to look at ourselves and our part in any misunderstanding. The right thing, asking, “What is my part in this?” is always the first step in being the right person. Making amends to restore trust and relationship is a journey and will take time. Taking those steps is what it takes to be the right person doing the right thing.

Growing together with you, Judith

Apr 01

Honesty

Is honesty, saying exactly what is on my mind, always the best policy? All of us have experienced an outburst from someone who is reacting and has not stopped to think – that does not feel good! When do I say what I think and when is it good to hold back?

It is important to acknowledge emotions and feelings; they are telling us something. It is however, not always wise to act on them. One thing to notice when we are upset is our body language and the tone of the thoughts running through our heads. Is my body tense and rigid, perhaps ready to strike a blow, or is my stomach just in knots? Are the thoughts running through my brain thoughts of “I’ll show him a thing or two,” or “Yeah, well you did this, and this, and this.” Those examples are clear signals that it is wise to take a breather and hold off on any type of response.

What I am feeling tells me something important but, before responding it is wise to ask myself why I feel tense or why I want to scream at someone. Feelings are the first indicators of what is first needed before handling an upset. Reacting in the moment is rarely wise and often situations escalate when we do.

Taking time to calm myself down is an important step in handling any situation well. By calming myself with deep breathing, or some other form of relaxation, I increase my oxygen levels and stimulate blood flow to my brain. Calming down also lets me to set some distance between matters, allowing me time to think about my response.

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Stop

Take a deep breath

And

Relax

 

In the heat of disagreement that clearly is headed nowhere, it is appropriate to say, “I know we need to talk about this, but right now I am too upset to think calmly and speak in a respectful manner. Let’s take a break and we can talk about this when we are both calm.” It is hard to argue with logic like that.

When I have calmed down I will be in a much better state to think about moving a situation towards win-win. (Win-win was discussed in the PIC blog on February 20th and 26th). In short, all our thoughts and emotions tell us something and it is wise to listen to them. Unfiltered emotions or thoughts rarely are wise to share. Instead, it is wisdom to view my response through the lens of relationship – how can I work with the other person, respectfully, and grow our relationship through this conflict? If you are a parent this is an excellent time to model and teach this valuable life skill to your children. This kind of modeling will serve them well as they grow and enter into more complex relationships. The good news about conflict is that life provides multiple opportunities for growth and improvement in our relationship skills.

Growing together with you, Judith

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 19

Parenting and Leadership

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A couple of weeks ago the Parent Information Center blog provided food for thought when addressing an issue with someone you are in relationship with. This week I want to take a look at addressing issues in a little different light – as a parent or leader. Parents and leaders are called to guide and direct in relational situations and at times it is not appropriate to ask if the person is willing to learn something. It is wise and appropriate to look for good timing and to teach with kindness.

There is more. Both parents and leaders have a primary call or task to live out our responsibility in a way that invites others to live out and become who they are meant to be. I appreciate the wisdom of an invitational aspect here; we are invited to invest in the lives of those entrusted to our care and supervision. There are many skills in parenting and leadership, how often do we consider the calling to help others develop into who they are meant to be? What an incredible honor and challenge that is to us! Leading well and wisely always begins with me and how I lead.

We are all wired with mirror neurons and the manner in which we relate is seen through the eyes of the person we are relating to. The first thing we can bring to any situation is a calm presence. Parenting and leading often call for us to instruct and teach. No one will receive from us the intent of our skill or lesson if we are angry and possess a voice or body language that is anything other than calm and inviting. Relational instruction requires our calm as we enter into instruction with our children.

Care is crucial to relationship instruction. The person on the other end must feel safe and cared for in order to begin to receive what is being said. Change in any situation begins with a willingness to understand the need for it and then working through to process what does this journey of change look like. Underscored here is the importance of giving time, time. Change is a journey and a process. The wise parent/supervisor knows the value of loving guidance and consistent support during the process of change. Our job is often to teach and reteach, and then teach again.

A child in the early stages of reading is a good example of the change process. Parents model reading to their children – books have stories. As the child grows parents begin to point out words and associate words with pictures, this might be followed by sounding out the letters in the word, and then showing that words make sentences and sentences make up the stories. This example is quite simplified, but represents the progression of sequence, and the time necessary to teach in such a way that helps the child get a solid grasp on the reading process. Once the child has the foundations of reading the process of understanding comes into play.

A wise parent/supervisor looks for signs of understanding and asks questions before moving ahead with the next layer of instruction. The reins belong in my hand to lead and guide with support and encouragement. When we lead in this manner not only does learning and growth take place, but relationship grows as well.

Growing together with you, Judith

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