Sunrise: reflections and insight

Today I awoke at 5:30 am feeling refreshed and recharged. Looking out the giant window as I lay in the comfortable bed, I was able to remain quiet and calm and go within. I have learned that I use music to help me focus and to restore my energy. Music is healing

Silence is golden

I often resist quiet meditation time. My sweet husband has reminded me often how important it is to have time in the quiet. I know that in theory and believe it. Yet, I have used excuses as to why I don’t do that. Who has time to sit and be quiet? For me, it isn’t even about the time. It’s more about my mind being so busy with thoughts, often anxiety, that I have needed music to quiet the inner turmoil in order to focus.

Time alone is essential

I have discovered many things about myself over the course of the past three days.

I enjoy:

Walks on the beach without a plan or time frame

Reading while in my beach chair at the water side as my chair slowly sinks deeper and the water rushes against me as the tide comes in

Walking along the boardwalk at sunset

Walking on the beach at sunrise, something I already knew

Watching people

Talking with random strangers and learning about their life

Having casual conversations with the employees at the pier store

Connecting with someone because she has a dog and is standing alone

I have learned these things that either I didn’t realize or had forgotten:

Talking to people gives me inspiration for writing

Having an adventure by myself makes me giggle and also gives me writing ideas

I really do not care what other people think about me

I enjoy video blogging, even if I’m not yet good at it

What is good enough?

I like order and having a plan

I also love spontaneity and the freedom to do whatever…

Drink from the carton with the refrigerator door open

Leave things messy and fall asleep without changing

It is really cool to sit on a bed and be able to view two televisions and to be able to watch two shows at once

And I don’t understand why anyone, even an actress in a movie, would cheat on Richard Gere!

Watching Harry Potter movies by myself is not nearly as fun as watching them with my kids.

Watching feel good, uplifting movies inspires me to write

Stepmom is an amazing movie and makes me cry,while sitting in my pink bath

When I am depressed, I don’t feel real sadness

Depression and sadness are two very different things

Being on the 20the floor with an entire side wall of windows, in the heart of Myrtle Beach and being able to view the city and the ocean, is…

THE MOST AMAZING GETAWAY that I could ever have asked for.

I plan to make this a yearly pilgrimage and I want this very room each time.

I will be happy with any room with a side view from the 20th floor, or the 19th, even the 17th would be high enough for a beautiful view, right?

I like consistency and the idea of coming back to this very room to have memories to inspire me to write even more.

I also love change and variety and know that I will be inspired to write from any floor of this building, yet being up high is the most amazing.

My fear of heights is also exhilarating…

Standing at the edge of the balcony looking out

Looking to the ocean doesn’t really bring fear, but when I turn for the city vie, that’s when my heart races and my chest tightens

Maybe there is a message in that

Or maybe my fear is more about falling into traffic and landing on concrete

I do have some claustrophobia discovered when standing on a narrow hallway with no windows, on the 20th floor of a glass building, and reading the sign that say, “in case of fire, use the stairs, brings scary things into my mind that I had to shut down immediately to enjoy myself.

And maybe that’s the difference with someone with obsessive compulsive disorder and myself. I have fears and even obsess over ideas somethings, yet I have the ability to shut down the thoughts quickly. I knew that OCD involved the inability to shut down irrational, unhelpful, scary thoughts. Yet thinking about standing in the hallway reading that sign and how easily I was able to shut the thought out AND how easily I was able to NOT let it stop me from enjoying myself. Sure, it entered my mind each time I saw it, but I quickly moved on and didn’t obsess about it when I wasn’t standing there next to the sign.

I am always amazed at the clarity writing brings me. I had no idea when I sat down to write that I would talk about the sign and discover insight into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an illness that invades my children’s lives.

We won’t be staying on the top floor next month when I bring my family to North Myrtle to celebrate my 50th birthday. And that is ok with me.

I will stop and listen better to them, knowing that sitting with the fear is what they need to do to overcome OCD, and also that they don’t have to sit with all their fears, especially when on vacation. There is a difference between their fears stopping us living our lives, and minimizing being in fearful situations so that they can relax and have an enjoyable time while on vacation.

I could sit here all day on this balcony.

It’s 7:30 am now and I just remembered I wanted to take a picture of the sunrise for this post.

I can leave today, knowing I can come back here with points and also without points.

I can stay longer next time.

I can leave here today, looking forward to coming back in three weeks with my family with the thought of all five, and hopefully six of us, will be together on the beach.

We have a tradition of family vacations at the beach and that is something they will take with them for the rest of their lives. And even after I am gone, they can come to the beach and think about me, remembering our time together.

I need to go home and find the pen drive with the journal entries I write for Jason’s journal. I have Harrison and Abbys’s on paper in my bedroom closet. I likely have more entries for them as well on those pen drives or stored somewhere on a computer.

My post had moved from inspiration to a to do list….

I will capture my picture of where I am now and move forward.

Caregiver Burnout

I have both personal and professional experience with caregiver burnout.

I work in adult and primarily, geriatric, rehab as an Occupational Therapist. I have worked in this area my entire career, since 1992, when I graduated from Elizabethtown College with my bachelor of science degree in Occupational Therapy.

As I wrote The word career, I had to stop. Yes, I have had a career…it sounded bizarre to me after I typed those words.

Being a mom has always been my desire and passion. Occupational Therapy is something that feels like a part of me, yet since having children, it became a job, one I had to do to earn a living and had to continue doing when my husband’s business was getting started. And over the years, for many reasons, I have been the primary breadwinner most of the time. Don and I are part of book, our story is one of 60 others in Breadwinner Wives and the Men they Marry.

I don’t think of myself as a “career woman”. I think of myself as a mom who is also an Occupational Therapist. Being a mom is my most challenging and most rewarding “job” and my favorite role.

As an Occupational Therapist, caregiver education is very important. Over the years, I have realized in geriatric rehab and especially when working with people with dementia, that caregiver education is vital. With dementia, caregiver education is not only essential but also needs to be the primary role for an Occupational Therapist.

I see first hand from the people I work with and their caregivers, the impact of caregiver burnout.

I also have been a caregiver for my husband after he suffered a near fatal, massive heart attack in 2011 and spent 12 days in the hospital and 6 months in recovery.

When he graduated cardiac rehab 6 months after his “event”, I developed bronchitis which was reoccurring for over 6 months and then was in a car accident, ironically, one year after his heart attack. I still had wheezing at the time of the car accident, enough that they x-rayed my lungs. I didn’t have any major injuries and went home from the hospital the day of the accident. Yet, I suffered from that accident for a long time. Physically, I hurt for several months and mentally and emotionally, I suffered for years.

I honestly believe my recurrent bronchitis was a result of caregiver burnout and on a spiritual level, so was my car accident. The other driver was 100% the cause of the accident, or so the police reports and insurance companies said. I have forgiven the driver, never really blamed her per se. I blamed the fact that she wasn’t paying attention fully as she drove with her 2 year old in the car with her. One of my first questions after my accident was, “Are the other people ok?”, as blood ran down my nose after getting myself out of my car through the passenger door because I thought the smoke from the airbags meant the car could be on fire. The driver’s side door could not be opened as she had slammed into me making a left turn into the front corner of my car, pushing me sideways into another car at a stop sign.

“Are the other people ok?”

I am a mother of three, a wife, a healthcare worker, a child of aging parents, a child of a parent with chronic illnesses. Did I mention they called my husband’s heart attack, “a widow makers heart attack”? The medics and ER doctors, brought him back to life.

I am a caregiver.

I am significantly injured in a car accident and my first question to bystanders is, “Are the other people ok?”

As Caregivers, we often put the needs of others ahead of our own needs. Yet, doing this over time, affects our own health. And if we don’t stop and meet our own needs, we can suffer in many ways.

I am the mother of children who suffer with mental illness.

I am diagnosed with Bipolar Depression, Bipolar II. I only discovers my diagnosis because my brother also has this illness. I suffered for years with undiagnosed depression. Undiagnosed because, to me, it didn’t look like significant depression. I knew it was depression but told myself for years that it was “mild depression”. I was still functioning. I didn’t seek help until a friend who was prompted by my husband to convince me to seek help. That was nearly 5 years ago.

I have always known the importance of taking care of myself. I used to think I did a very good job at giving myself “me time”, attending to my own physical, spiritual and emotional health. My favorite metaphor is,

We must first put on our own oxygen mask, before we can help the person next to us with theirs.

Yet, I see now how much of my energy has been invested in caring for others.

I have repeatedly said that my job as an O.T. is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting and coming home to be a caregiver for others is very taxing. I even joke about how I wish I had become an accountant or gone into a math field, as math was my best subject in school. The thought of sitting alone with numbers all day sounds like a nice change from being a caregiver.

Caregivers care for others because they have to and also many times, because it is their nature to do so.

Many people of all ages, need a caregiver. From babies and children of all ages though aging parents, people can have needs that they can not handle alone.

As humans, we all need to care for each other.

Being a primary caregiver to someone demands our time and our energy. Giving energy to others and not refilling our own cup, is what depletes us.

For me, I need to be alone, away from the house and away from immediate responsibilities in order to recharge. After my second child was born, I began a ritual of Monday night out, writing time. I created Charlottehomeschooling,com in that time. I have written thousands of journal entries, for myself and for my children’s journals that I started for all three of them when I was pregnant with each of them. I started my bogs using Monday night writing. First Gina’s Life Journey and them Child-led Learning . I have used that time to both talk with my husband as well as work on my end for our family coaching Business, Focused Health Family.

My writing time started as a hobby, as my passion. I came home refreshed and renewed and re-energized for the other aspects of my life, for caregiving. Then it became “work” and I found myself escaping from writing during my time alone, playing online games and watching movies and TV shows. I escaped because my life was overwhelming and because distracting myself from all my stress was my way of “coping” and I thought it was recharging me.

I am here now, alone at the beach, for 3 days and 2 nights because I finally realized how burned out I had become. I also finally realized that getting away by myself was essential to overcoming my bipolar depression.

Please share your stories about being a caregiver. My blog is intended to spark a community of support for myself and for others. I would love to share other’s stories , either as a guest blogger or anonymously with my help and your permission to share for your story. I want to help others through my experience, creating a community and connecting others with similar struggles.

I am a caregiver.

Now it is time for a sunrise walk on the beach.

Sending Big Waves into Motion, releasing secrets

Relax, renew, rejuvenate and recharge, take 2.

I am at the beach all by myself. I have never done this before. I’ve been here for 6 hours and I am finally sitting down to write. It has taken me this long to settle in, move from the shock and excitement of actually being here, all by myself. And finally, focusing on here and now.

I texted and made videos and took pictures and FaceTimed my youngest, while exploring my room at the top of the resort building, while walking in the beach and pier. I felt kind of lonely when I got here. I always come to the beach with my kids or at least my husband. One time the two of us went, well, before kids, I guess we went several times. Who can remember 22 years ago before kids?

I have everything I need for my adventure, inspiring books, music, healthy and yummy food, drinks, did you know you can get wine in a can?

As I packed my bag to head to the beach to write, I realized that I forgot my Bluetooth key board that I use with my iPad. My iPad, has been my computer for a while now… years, I guess. Something else that I can’t quite remember.

I have a lap top, buried in books and papers on my desk. It is old and I used to use it often, but decided I liked my iPad much better.

I found myself responding to a post on a Facebook group, Unschooling Special Needs, earlier and it has inspired my writing today.

There are so many things I can write about. Yet, the concerns shared in the post on the Unschooling Special Needs group are so close to my heart and the reason my husband and I now have a business together helping families with challenges, especially those with anxiety issues and challenging behavior with their children.

I have Bipolar 2 Depression. My upswings, are hypomania, not full on mania (well, it can escalate to mania). Hypomania is great, highly focused, functioning and much energy! Yet, the downswing is like the riptide pulling you under the ocean water.

Helping my children with their struggles is extra challenging for me because of my struggles. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for my husband.

In three weeks I celebrate my 50th birthday. I am proud and excited to reach this milestone! Seriously, I am. With age, has common not only wisdom, but confidence, clarity, courage and healing.

I always make time to write when I have come to the beach with my family. I have wonderful memories being here with my family. And I also have memories of stress, anxiety, OCD flare ups, and the feeling of disappointment that we couldn’t just have a “normal family vacation” without the anxieties.

Here I am now, writing and also texting with my tech support son. I might have him help me locate a key pad. Typing on the iPad screen is slow.

It’s getting dark and the sound of the ocean is mesmerizing me.

When I was younger, I would never have gone somewhere like this by myself. The silence of being alone was challenging for me. I now cherish time to myself. I still love the sounds of people talking, and my music, Tom Petty and now Mary Lambert sing in my ear..which is even more beautiful with the sound of the ocean.

They tell us from the time we’re young
To hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves
Inside ourselves
I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else
Well I’m over it

I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are)
I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are)

New Year: If not now, then when?

I enjoy inspirational messages.

Sometimes these messages arrive at the perfect time and it feels like the universe is speaking directly to me.

I receive a daily message from Neale Donald Walsh as well as a weekly question from Paul Clark. (Learn more about weekly question here).

Today the two messages coincided with such relevance to my life right now and for all families looking to live more consciously, connected and respectfully with their children.

Today, as I began to write this post, the stars aligned perfectly with the universe speaking to me loud and clear as Kenny Loggins, “Conviction of the Heart” played.

If not now, then when?”   

On this day of your life

Gina, I believe God wants you to know …

… that as you start the first full work week of the New

The point of your activities throughout the day is not to

make a living, but to make a life; not to ‘work’ but to

create joy. If you are doing what you are doing merely

to ‘pay the bills,’ you will have missed the major reason

for All Of Life.

 

The purpose of life is to know and express Who You

Are. If you do other than that during the days and times

of your life, you will have not used those days and times

in a way that profits your soul. It is soul profit we are

after here, not body profit.

 

This first week of the New Year is a good time to

contemplate that, yes?

 If not me, than who?

Are we making a life or just a living?

I know I am working to pay the bills and I have enjoyed my work as an Occupational Therapist for the past 26 years, yet, my inner passion calls for more.

Life can be cyclical.

I found Occupational Therapy in a catalogue of careers in my high school guidance counselor’s office in 1986. I read the description and discovered a field I never knew existed an that fit with my interests of psychology, special needs and teaching.

In college, I envisioned my OT career would be working with socially and emotionally disturbed children. I had a summer job at Allentown State Hospital with the inpatient children’s program through the Occupational Therapy department and felt impassioned to help children with social and emotional issues.

In 1992, I completed my required internships, two 12 week “fieldworks” as required to complete my degree and before I could sit for the board exam. The second fieldwork was a Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Allentown, PA. I discovered adult rehab and in particular brain injury rehab and followed that interest. It was magical, all I loved about psychology and the brain combined and amazing progress seen working in acute physical rehab. The patients began in a coma and left walking and talking!

Flash forward, 26 years later, I have realized my intention to work with socially and emotionally challenge children did come to fruition, in raising my own children. I take that comment seriously and with true intention.

Now, in my blogs, I am using my skills as an Occupational Therapist is a new way, Writing about my experiences with mental health issues in myself and my family and reaching out to help others. And this includes my work in growing a new business with my husband, Don with Focused Healthy Families and Collaborative, Conscious and Respectful Parenting.

What are your dreams?

In order to help and support our children, we need to be an example of following our own interests and passions and living the life we choose and not the one we feel “we have to do, to pay the bills”

I will leave you with those thoughts and the words of Kenny Loggins…

Where are the dreams that we once had?
This is the time to bring them back.
What were the promises caught on the tips of our tongues?
Do we forget or forgive?
There’s a whole other life waiting to be lived when…
One day we’re brave enough
To talk with Conviction of the Heart.
And down your streets I’ve walked alone,
As if my feet were not my own
Such is the path I chose, doors I have opened and closed
I’m tired of living this life,
Fooling myself, believing we’re right, when…
I’ve never given love
With any Conviction of the Heart
One with the earth, with the sky
One with everything in life
I believe we’ll survive
If we only try…
How long must we wait to change
This world bound in chains that we live in
To know what it is to forgive,
And be forgiven?
It’s been too many years of taking now.
Isn’t it time to stop somehow?
Air that’s too angry to breathe, water our children can’t drink
You’ve heard it hundreds of times
You say your aware, believe, and you care, but…
Do you care enough
To talk with Conviction of the Heart?

Things I Have Learned From My Children.

I believe the children are our future.

I wrote the following post in June.

My oldest child has just turned 21.

Rereading this post has had an impact on me, especially the last 4 lines.

Many of the things I included here are things my children have said, sometimes paraphrased and sometimes not.

No matter how old they are, they will always be our children and no matter how young they are, they are our greatest teachers, if we stop and listen.

I believe the children are our are future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

I find beauty and truth in this song. I am familiar with Whitney Houston’s version yet my research found that it was written by Michael Masser and the late Linda Creed in 1976.

I believe the children are our future.

I also believe that I have learned far more from my children than I could ever teach them.

My children have reminded me of who I truly am.

Living alongside of them, I have found my way back to my true self.

It is a journey.

It is a process.

I know my children have helped me along my journey.

I believe our souls are connected.

On a spiritual level, we guide each other and have connections far beyond our current human condition.

I have learned many things from my children and I continue to learn more every day.

I have been a mother for more than 20 years and look forward to all I will continue to learn from my children throughout our current life time together.

Things I have learned from my children:

  • STOP, and slow down and pay attention to things around you
  • Reading together before bed is a good habit
  • Eat when you are hungry and sleep when you are tired
  • Hugs and kisses are good medicine
  • Laughter is the best medicine
  • Follow your passion
  • Be who you are and don’t apologize for it
  • Speak the truth, speak your truth
  • How we talk to people matters as much as what we say to them
  • Respect is a two-way street
  • If you love to dance, then dance as much as you can
  • Reading a great book is more fun when read along with a friend(s)
  • Satoshi Tajiri created Pokémon
  • Persistence is challenging to parents but is valued by employers
  • Hiking heals the soul
  • The view at the top of the mountain is worth climbing past the danger sign
  • The first time at the beach is the best time
  • Going to the beach is even more fun with children
  • Digging in the sand is calming and satisfying
  • Straws kill sea turtles
  • Don’t let people tell you that you can not hike 20 miles in one hike
  • If you love hiking, don’t allow people to convince you to be a swimmer or a biker
  • Learning to ride a bike is not required
  • School changes how you look at learning
  • Life experience is more meaningful than a college degree
  • Don’t waste your time trying to be something that you are not
  • Music speaks a multigenerational language
  • We can do anything we set our minds to
  • You can overcome severe anxiety and earn 2 gold medals in your first Tae Keon Do Tournament
  • You are more than your anxiety
  • You are more than your mental illness
  • You are more than any illness
  • You are not your illness
  • I have Bipolar Depression, I am NOT bipolar
  • People have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, they are NOT OCD
  • Mental illnesses are not adjectives
  • Being creative can be very messy
  • There is beauty is messy
  • Dogs love us unconditionally
  • Animals are people too
  • All lives matter
  • Climbing up the slide can be as much fun as going down the slide
  • There is always time for one more hug
  • Snuggle time is the best way to fall asleep and the best way to wake up
  • Relationships are more important than accomplishments
  • It is important to admit when you are wrong
  • Your biological age does not define who you are nor what you can do
  • Your biological gender does not define who you are or what you can do
  • Love is love
  • It is never too late
  • You are never too old
  • There is no set age to learn anything
  • We need to listen more and talk less
  • Our actions speak louder than our words
  • If we want to teach anything, than we need to be an example of what we want to teach
  • We teach what we most need to learn
  • Children are closer to God and often have far more wisdom than adults
  • Patience is the most important skill we need in parenting
  • We are energy
  • Our energy affects the people around us
  • We are creative beings
  • It does not matter how you hold your pencil
  • Not everyone draws a straight line first
  • You can learn to spell without any formal school and without spelling tests
  • You don’t need to go to school to learn to read and to write
  • If you force people to learn something, they might grow to hate it
  • If you allow people to learn what they are interested in, they will retain the information much longer than any required learning
  • Arielle is my daughter’s favorite Disney princess
  • Girls can like trucks and boys can like flowers
  • Children’s clothes are sadly gender stereotyping
  • Boys can be quiet, calm and focused and girls can be physical and tough
  • Children of the same gender, can be as different as children of different genders
  • Not all boys like to play with guns and wrestle with other boys
  • Some girls hate the color pink
  • Colors don’t have gender
  • The length of our hair does not define our gender but many people think that way
  • Theater and acting is a great way to learn many life skills
  • Theater brings people together
  • Theater thrives on diversity
  • Sometimes, life just sucks
  • Watching your father nearly die, can be as scary and frightening and troubling as having a parent who dies
  • When your guts tells you that your children will need support from a traumatic experience, listen to your gut
  • Trauma can be trapped inside of us for years and manifest different for different people
  • Being happy all the time is not realistic nor healthy
  • Being highly intelligent is as challenging in this world as having a lower than average IQ
  • Our children have knowledge and understanding far beyond their years
  • We are not born “blank slates”
  • Dogs are therapeutic
  • We can’t solve problems for our children
  • Our children are living their own lives
  • Patience is the most important skill we need as parents and in life
  • Take time for what is important
  • Decide what is important to you
  • Take a nap when your body is tired
  • You can make up your story as you go
  • You can change your mind about your favorite color
  • You can change your mind about many things
  • Walk barefoot sometimes
  • Go outside when it is snowing no matter what time of day it is
  • I love making snowmen
  • I am more committed to making a snowman than my children are
  • The best way to take care of my children, is to take care of myself
  • I am a better mother when I am writing and journaling
  • I am a better mother when I take time for myself, alone

I am more in touch with my true self now after being a mother for more than 20 years, then I have been in a long time. The last time I felt this in touch with myself, I was 11 or 12 years old.

Living life alongside my children and learning along with them, has been a large part of my journey back to myself.

I could write volumes on all I continue to learn from my children. I just need to remember to stop, listen, and pay attention to them.

Children are People Too: (Respect is a Two-way Street, part 2)

When I wrote my last post, Respect is a Two-way Street, I intended to use this quote in the post:

I can remember someone sharing the idea of your child spilling milk on the floor and looking at how you would react and then comparing that to if your best friend was at your house and did the very same thing, spilled milk on the floor and thinking about how you would react.

“Let me help you clean it up.”

“It’s ok. I can get that.”

“No big deal, I do. I do it all the time.”

Are the above statements things you would say to your best friend or maybe a neighbor who was at your house and spilled milk on your floor?

Are these statements things you would say to your children?

Why would you say something kind, helpful and supportive to your friend or neighbor and not to your child?

The first book that comes to mind is, “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk”. By Faber and Mazlish.

And their follow up book, “Siblings without Rivalry.“.

I first learned of these books from a group of amazing women I found in La Leche League. I found LLL when my first born son, Harrison, was one month old. I knew I was going back to work after my 12 week maternity leave and wanted support for continuing to breastfeed when I returned to work. My goal was to nurse him for 6 months which was the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I believe it was December of 1997, when my son was one month old, that the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendation from 6 months of nursing to one year.

I can picture myself at the first La Leche League meeting I attended in Matthews, NC in a building that felt like a comfy old house. I sat on a comfortable couch next to a woman with a 3 month old who was a nurse that worked nights and was home with her baby in the day. I can hear her saying to me, “aren’t they wonderful” referring to her baby and all babies. I hadn’t fully embraced the wonderfulness of caring for a helpless infant.

Motherhood was a slow process for me. I had wanted to be a mother from as far back as I can remember. As a middle child with one older sister and a younger brother, I could not wait to have children of my own and have a little girl, to have that “little sister” that I had always wanted. Yet, when Harrison was born, bonding was a slow process for me. Sure, I instantly loved him, yet, it took time for me to feel a strong bond with him and really feel the connection.

Before I was even pregnant, my husband and I had made a plan. He was staring his own business, working from home and I was the sole breadwinner working full time. I had decided that I could return to work and our future baby could be home with dad until dad grew his business enough for me to work part time. I vividly recall telling my co-workers, “I believe the child can stay home with the father and that is the same thing as the mother staying home with the child.” My co-workers with children and even those without did not agree with me. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to go back to work until my 12 week maternity leave was over and found myself having to return to full time work and leave my baby with my husband.

I could never have returned to work if my baby wasn’t staying home with his dad, my husband and best friend. Yet, it broke my heart to go back to work. I had arranged for reduced hours, 32 hours was all that was needed to keep full time status and my benefits. I coordinated working full days on M-W-F and just 4 hour days on Tuesday and Thursday. I worked just 4 miles from home at a nursing home with great co-workers and an awesome boss. My husband, Don, would bring Harrison to me at work to nurse, when he wouldn’t take the bottle, and later just to visit.

Finding La Leche Leage, changed my life and guided me greatly in being the parent that I am today. It is funny because I remember watching toddlers walk up to their mom and climb in their lap to nurse. I know I thought to myself, “I will NEVER nurse my child past age one.” (Never say never, LOL)

I grew slowly into attachment and peaceful parenting. My baby boy guided me along the way and the example of all the women I met through LLL. I first learned about home schooling from another mom at a LLL meeting. Before I met her, I used to joke I was going to send my kids to Pennsylvania to go to school, because I went to school there most of my life and they are known to have great schools. And I didn’t want my children growing up with a southern accent! (No offensive to my lovely southern friends! I love your accent! I embrace it now.). I was 28 years old when I became a mother and had lived in Charlotte, NC for just 5 years: November 10, 1997.

We were visiting my parents on Lake Murray, SC and had gone to a Columbia Unity church service and then out to eat aftewards. Harrison was about 2 1/2. It might have been the time my parents went to Alaska and we went to their lake house to have a little family vacation, just the three of us. We were eating at this restaurant and a woman came over to us and complimented us on how respectfully we talked to our child. That was the first time that had been pointed out to me that way. It had never occurred to me to do anything but talk respectfully to my child. Her words sealed into my heart with a powerful message, a parenting philosophy was born within me and over the past 18 years, I have thought about what that woman said to me and her words have guided me back to the path when I have strayed.

It has not always been easy to treat my children with respect and many times I have failed. I have made bad choices with my words and actions and have acted in ways that make me cringe. I have had to forgive myself for those mistakes. It has been my biggest challenge: self forgiveness. I feel my shoulders tensing as I write this, thinking about all the times I have been disrespectful to my children, the times when I acted in ways that were just plain horrible.

Yet, I am human. I am a spiritual being having a human experience and mistakes are part of the process and a part of the learning.

We need to embrace ourselves where we are right now.

We can take small, slow steps forward to improving ourselves and improving how we treat our children and ALL children in this world.

All we need to do is remember one word.

Respect

Treat all children the way you want to be treated.

Treat all people on this earth with respect.

My goal in guiding other parents on a more conscious parenting journey is to share my experiences insights and beliefs to inspire others to be the best parent that they can be for their children. We each have a different path and so our parenting will look different as our lives all look different. I strive to respect the differences in all people and our own choices. Our differences make this world a wonderful and amazing place to live. Some of us will send our children to pubic school or private school or boarding school and others will create school at home, or homeschool following a classical approach or an eclectic approach, and others will choose unschooling, and our approach to unschooling might come from different beliefs and philosophies and our lives might look very different. As we each make different educational choices for our children, for our families, we too make different parenting choices.

I learned in LLL to “take what works for you and leave the rest” and this is my message to all who read my blog.

I love to hear feedback and comments from readers. I envision creating a community of support. I also have a facebook page for Child-led learning and invite you to join me there as well if you would like to read more about Child-led Learning.

I will close with inspiring words from an unexpected place:

The wind of change

Blows straight into the face of time

Like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell

For peace of mind

Let your balalaika sing

What my guitar wants to say

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams

With you and me

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow dream away

in the wind of change

Respect is a Two-way Street

And these children that you spit on

As they try to change their worlds

Are immune to your consultations

They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

I looked at a large collection of images and this one really spoke to me.

You can not build (peace) with a (gun)

I took a screen shot on my iPad to share the image. I am aware it is likely a copy-writed image and thus my reason for sharing the entire screen and also the link to the post. I share it honoring the children, teens and young adults who marched out of school and made posters and spoke. I share it so their voices can be heard. ( the image disappears when I save)

Here is the link to the image: March 14 School Walkout

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

(Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes

Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

(Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes

Where’s your shame

You’ve left us up to our necks in it

Time may change me

But you can’t trace time

David Bowie’s powerful words in the song, Changes have always inspired me.

Today in our present climate and given that I am raising three children of this “millennial generation”, and after reading posts and watching videos from the March 14, 2018 National School Walk Out Protests, I realized I needed to write about respect.

Respect

I watched this video from Facebook shared by IJR Blue Presents

And then I participated in some discussion about this post.

And I wrote this in the comments on the post on my wall:

This person is our future. He is the future that I want to see in America. He is he kind of person I would love to see in political office. The voices of our youth have power. They see the world as it is, and without clouded vision of politics, agendas, special interests, and propaganda. We need to listen to them. They have great wisdom. This speech is so inspiring to me and brings me hope because THIS is the AMERICA that I can be proud of.

I read many comments calling the youth of today stupid and many people brought up the incidents of teens eating Tide Pods.

And my reply:

Teens of All generations do stupid things- but not all teens engage in the stupid behavior of eating tide pods. When I was a teen- they sniffed rubber cement- highly toxic. And I am sure you can think of stupid things you saw other teens do when you were growing up. Let’s stop bashing this generation of teens. I know MANY awesome teens/ young adults- 2 live at my house and are amazing people. And many of them inspire me with their wisdom and passion. We need to respect our youth in order to change our future and theirs….

and then I read this comment by another person:

A culture of spoiled brats raised their kids to be bigger spoiled brats, etc…now we are in danger of spoiled brats just popping up and shooting people anywhere. No better reason to arm ones self and remain that way. To hell with spoiled brats. God bless those who didn’t make and support the creation of spoiled brats! Where are the parents of the kids skipping school? Are they being disciplined for truancy? What the hell happened to justice? Doctors, cars, drugs, and cellular phones EACH KILL more children in a year than people with guns do. So many are thinking with their maternal/paternal instincts……but they are to too stupid to teach their kids that we don’t eat tide pods. SHAME ON PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHO CREATED AND SUPPORTED THE CREATION OF SPOILED BRATS! LACK OF DISCIPLINE IS CHILD ABUSE YOU IDIOTS! SMH

RESPECT

The key to changing our future is respecting our children, respecting our teens, respecting our youth.

Respect is a two way street.

The best way to teach respect to children is to RESPECT THEM!

I feel like I could say that one million times and it would not be enough.

Every generation blames the next generation….

Billy Joel sings it so well:

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No, we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it

We need to stop blaming and take responsibility for ourselves and our choices.

As a parent of three children who are now 20, 16, and 9, I feel the most important thing we can do for our children is respect and love them and accept them for who they are.

I am raising independent thinkers who have the freedom to learn in a way that works for them and in an environment of support, love, and respect.

We have had more than our share of challenges along our life journey including financial struggles. Yet we power on, we continue living, we ask the tough questions and do the research and seek support, advice and guidance.

I have made mistakes as a parent, as a person. I am human.

We are all human.

I am a spiritual being having a human experience. Part of that experience is making mistakes. Mistakes are a big part of learning.

I am NOT a perfect parent.

My goal is NOT to raise perfect children.

I am a work in progress and continue to challenge myself and learn and grow and evolve, as a person and as a parent.

I allow my children to make their own choices in life and that includes making their own mistakes. I provide them with the support and guidance they need living in 21st century America. I am here to facilitate their learning and serve as a guide on their life journey.

I respect my children and their individuality, their interests, and their life desires.

I DO MY BEST to respect them in my actions and words. Like I said before, I am human.

I am raising “my children”, these young humans who are a part of my life journey, with the values of respect, compassion, kindness, and honesty.

These children are not “mine”, they are not my property. They are human beings the same as any grown adult is a human being and they deserve the same respect you would give your co-worker or your friend.

The next time your child spills or breaks something, before you respond (or even after), STOP, and ask yourself,

“Would I respond/ have responded that way if my best friend had broken my favorite vase?; or made that same mistake that our child just did?”

“Would I respond/ have responded that way if my co-worker or my boss spilled coffee? Or did what my child just did?”

It may sound cliche, our children are our future.

We need to allow our children to build their own future.

We need to allow our children to express themselves and provide them the opportunity to be the grandest version of themselves.

We need to work alongside our children,, guide, support and respect them.

Listen to them.

Our children are born to us with great inner wisdom and love and trust and express that until we “beat it out of them” or teach them hate, anger, fear and doubt.

We need to listen to our children.

They have great wisdom for they are closer to God/ spirit/ Universe…less burdened with “life baggage”. (Fill in your own belief system)

Maybe if we stop and look at children in a new light, and treat them with respect.

And stop blaming them or their parents…STOP the BLAME!

Point the finger back at ourselves and see how we can be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Maybe then… we can help make real change happen and help our children make a better world for their future.

Billy Joel sings of the many issues and problems over multiple generations in his song, We Didn’t Start the Fire. See the full lyrics here.

He wrote the song in response to a teen telling him back in 1989 how tough it is to be a kid now compared to Billy growing up in the 1950s. I have taken poetic license and use this song to imply that there are always going to be challenges in the world and there always have been controversies and big problems. And to speak to adults complaining about “kids today”.

Kids today are amazing, empowered, intelligent, insightful, truthful and motivated.

….Until we teach them that they are not.

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again

Moonshot, Woodstockand honesty. , Watergate, punk rock

Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline

Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide

Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law

Rock and Roller Cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

But when we are gone

It will still burn on and on and on and on

And on and on and on and on…

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No, we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it

Much thanks and gratitude to:

Azlyrics, Billy Joel, David Bowie, IJR Blue Presents, Chicago Tribune, Facebook and all the people I quoted and those who responded to me

Mommy (Parent) Guilt: “Shoulding on myself”

I first posted this on my Ginaslifejourney Blog.

I share it here now as well.

A parents, we all deal with guilt and worry.

“Did something I do cause my child to have these issues?”

Is it all my fault?

I should have…

I should have worked more hours when i was pregnant with baby number 3.

I should have returned to work sooner after he was born in January 2009.

I should have worked more and saved more while I was pregnant.

I should have returned to work sooner so our debt didn’t grow so much.

I should have known to move money from our tax rebate to pay down our home equity line of credit after my husband had a massive heart attack so that Medicaid would have kicked in sooner, rather than exhausting all that money we had from me working extra hours and our tax rebate. (Deep breath)

The social worker should have told me the rules…

Someone should have told me that Medicaid says if you have more than $3000 in assesses (savings, checking, cash), then you wont; qualify for Medicaid…until that money is gone…

I should have applied for food stamps once we did qualify for Medicaid

I began the application several times, I should have finished it and sent it in.

I should have gotten more help then we would have less debt.

I should have done so many things….

I should have reached out for help sooner when my daughter showed signs of separation anxiety and other issues when I was pregnant with our third child.

I should have realized it was something more than just me being pregnant.

I should have gotten her help sooner so that her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, her anxiety disorder, her mental illness did not become so extreme and severe…

I should have gotten her on medication sooner…

I should have listened to my friend who suggested it might be OCD when it was mild.

I should have gotten her to a therapist sooner.

I should have researched OCD sooner, when my friend brought it up.

I should have listened..

I should have gotten her help sooner so she did not have to suffer so much.

I should have gotten my youngest help sooner when he showed signs of anxiety and OCD from at least age 2.

I should have countered when the therapist said, “I don’t think it is OCD”

I should have completed the paperwork even though it took 6 months to get it from the Development and Behavioral Pediatrician

I should have gotten him in sooner and not waited as long as I did.

I should have taken him to a mental health place sooner to get him help, medication.

I should not have had so much fear about giving my kids medication…I should have found more support when I knew that was needed.

Going to the psychiatrist should have been paid for by Medicaid.

Medicaid should have qualified people to treat my children and I should have access to finding the resources without having to jump through a million hoops and experience unqualified people and ill equipped facilities and services.

My children should be able to go to the specialists they need because of their illness even though they have government assisted health insurance.

I work in health care, I should have better health insurance.

I have a bachelors of science degree in Occupational Therapy and training in mental health care, I should be treated with respect when the people from Medicaid speak to me.

Everyone should be treated with respect no matter what their educational level.

I should be able to access information about my health insurance and services for my children even though it is government assisted.

I have paid into the system since I was 15 1/2 years old and so now that I need these services, I should receive them, if I qualify.

I shouldn’t have to jump through crazy hoops because my income varies from month to month and so does my 20 year old son’s income.

My 20 year old son’s income SHOULD NOT count toward our household income for the healthcare market place and definitely not for qualifying my younger children for Medicaid or NC health choice. My 20 year old son who purchased his own car, pays for his own insurance, and pays to attend community college part time all with his own hard earned money. (Deep breath)

I should have listened to my gut when I realized even though their Dad had survived, that my three kids had gone through a traumatic experience and would need some counseling and help…

Survivors guilt…but he lived, there is no help when your husband lives…

I should have listened to myself because I knew that experience was traumatic for all of us.

I should have let go of “survivors guilt” because he lived and our friends who lost husbands to heart attacks that same year, did not survive. “I should be grateful that he lived.”

I should on myself and others have should upon me….

And I should on other people.

It is really a bad habit and not helpful to anyone.

I should have filled out the special forms and jumped through the hoops to see if my son could qualify for grants for college costs, because they decided to use the same year for 3or 4 semesters to look at our income, the year we took out $65,000 from IRA money to pay down debt.

I should have worked more hours.

I should have been a better mom so my children wouldn’t have mental illness.

I should have been a better me so I wouldn’t have mental illness.

I should have done something different to prevent mental illness?

Is that really possible?

Do parents of kids who have cancer ask themselves this question?

Maybe they do, Maybe they don’t.

I shouldn’t have to wonder about this.

My kids friends and their parents should have been there more for my daughter when she was crippled with mental illness, with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression.

They should have given her the love and support she needed just like they would have done if she had cancer.

WE SHOULD LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE MENTAL ILLNESS IS TREATED THE SAME AS OTHER ILLNESSES, PHYSICAL ILLNESSES WHICH ARE MORE SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE IN AMERICAN SOCIETY.

Mental illness SHOULD be classified the same as other illness because they last time I looked, my head and brain are attached to my body.

We need to stop shoulding on ourselves and on others

We need to embrace where we are now and make the best choices we can in the moment and realize we can not go back in time (not yet) and change the past. What is done is behind us and we must keep moving forward.

We need to stop judging other people and their choices and instead come from love to reach out to and help others with respect and kindness.

I give you this challenge today…

Pay attention to how often you SHOULD on yourself or on someone else.

We are often our worst critic and as moms, as parents, we are our own worse saboteur.

Love yourself and respect yourself first.

Only then can you love and respect others.