resilience

This morning in an email to our staff from our Executive Director, she spoke of resilience and how this year has tested our resilience – and the significance resilience plays in all our lives – in times of trouble and in times of hope.

And most of us don’t stop to think about how resilient we’ve been – today – or last week – or last month. We just go ahead – and in our individual ways – do what needs to be done.

We do it because we just do – for our children, our loved ones, our friends, our jobs – our responsibility to all those who need us. And it works because of our strong connections with one another – connections that give us the strength to care, to try, to manage and to – well…. sometimes – to breathe.

And these connections – for me – say it all. And in these challenging times – in these uncharted waters of 2021 – caring, connecting and – yes – resilience is what will see us through.

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listening

I remember a person who I worked with many years ago – a teacher – who, whenever children came up to her to ask a question, share something, say hello – she immediately turned to them and gave them her undivided attention – eyes warmly and directly upon them.

And I witnessed the response to this teacher’s power – for myself – and for the children who knew they were valued by her – cared for – listened to.

As parents, we often find ourselves using the most direct eye contact with our children when we are trying to discipline them – to make sure our point is heard – and understood. I get it – who hasn’t? But increasing being more available at other times – a gentler gaze, an interested gaze, a knowing gaze that says ” I’m listening and I care what you have to say” could change the equation.

I think in this digital age when our eyes are often on cell phones and computers, we do need to be more intentional about eye contact with others. And I know how often children have things they want us to hear about – like sometimes constantly. But I wonder – if they felt satisfied with being heard with a parent’s eyes more often – that stronger connection would satisfy and assure them of your caring and interest- and the constant need for attention would lessen.

For nothing says I love you more than focused eye attention when a child or spouse is speaking to you. (and that goes both ways, right?)

Try it – practice it – (you know it makes perfect) and experience the difference it might make – for all of you.

I’m listening.

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A new year

Welcome to the New Year! That’s what I want to say to 2021!

We’ve been waiting for you! We have high hopes for you!

Bring that COVID vaccine on ! Open schools once again so that children can resume their normal lives. Let doctors and nurses and first responders get a break. Let small businesses come alive again. Let people go back to work. Let grandparents visit in person with their grandchildren.

\Let us all be grateful.

Let parents feel a sense of job well done – “schooling” their children while working at home – juggling sometimes more than they are able.

Let hope and gratefulness and anticipation reign. Let patience and understanding and wisdom be a part of it all – as we wait to return to the lives we led before the pandemic. As we wait to embrace what we once all took for granted.

But 2021 – honestly – we’re ready. And we hope this will all happen on your watch!

Wishing all of you, my friends, a 2021 to celebrate and behold!

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a few minutes

Things are different this holiday season – for sure.

But we have a beautiful little live Christmas tree that stands and twinkles at me – especially when I am the last one up in the evening (which is always) and all is quiet and serene.

It’s then that I feel it is just between us – the tree and me – and I find myself lost in its serenity.

And I’m grateful for so many things – and the beauty and peacefulness that this tree offers me.

It challenges me to fall under its spell – to remember, to hope, to smile, to dream of not only the fun and beauty of past years – but the present one as well. And I’m reminded to be thankful and grateful for health and family and young children and old friends – and next year!

So … Happy Holidays to each and everyone of you – my friends – and if there is a Christmas tree in your life this year – take a few minutes – just the two of you –– and listen.

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looking for answers

Most of the time politics is a subject to be avoided – at all costs – in a group or public setting – or – most definitely, a weekly blog from The Parenting Place.

But I listened recently to a group of House of Representative members – 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans – who call themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus.

They are relatively new members of Congress – and they’re earnest in at least trying to get significant progress made – by actually sharing and listening to each other – hearing each other – and hoping to come to agreements in this manner.

And I felt a sense of hope because that’s what progress and compromise and problem solving is – listening, being heard, examining, respecting, trusting.

And, of course, for me it always comes back to families – our families.

And, in our families, we can do the same. I know how easy it is to have an opinion, a strong opinion, and how hard it is at times to give another’s opinion a listening ear.

But – if we can do one thing to make our relationship and families stronger and more effective – more resourceful and more loving and- our children’s lives more peaceful and more secure-, it is to practice this very type of communicating with one another – listening, hearing, trusting.

Looking for answers together.

It’s called family – it’s called parenting!

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Dear ….

I’ve been thinking – feeling – during this pre-holiday season – that perhaps this is the year for me to resume sending holiday greetings through the mail.

It seems for several years now, that the number of holiday cards I’ve received or sent – has really dwindled.

And I miss it! And during such a time like this – when social interactions are so limited and Zoom-like – I’m feeling a need to reach out in a more personal and warm way.

I’m not thinking just a signature – but a line or two – something you miss about not seeing them – something you look forward to in the future – a memory that’s stayed with you – a funny moment shared.

As a child, I remember what seemed to me a ton of cards that arrived daily to our home. It was a big part of the holiday season to sort through all of the many cards, choose favorites, think about who sent them, and, in some cases, as a child, I would have to ask who these people even were.

And it would be extra exciting if, sometimes, one or two would even come addressed just to me.!

There’s something about seeing a friend’s – a relative’s handwriting – that feels almost like a hug – definitely a warm connection that is meaningful and special to discover among the advertisements and junk mail that arrives in our mailboxes daily.

So – I’m suggesting you might want to join me – pick out a few people you know that might really appreciate being remembered, take pen in hand and jot a memory and a holiday wish .

I believe it will brighten both of your days.

Dear….”

. I’m so ready to do this!

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Reading to the sun

There’s something abut the warmth of the bright sunshine flooding into the area where I’m working right now that fills me with quiet peacefulness – and an appreciative and warm gratefulness.

And I realize how – even in these days ahead that will grow much colder and have fewer hours of light – the sun remains there for the taking – to appreciate and enjoy – even if in shorter measure.

Do you have a spot or spaces in your home where you especially feel the sun pouring in? I hope so! And if you do – that’s the very spot – when the sun is bright – to set your children up – with a few books for them to sort through – pore over – look at pictures – “pretend read”.

“Pretend read?” You must know what I mean – when children page through a familiar book and say on each page what they recall – having heard so many times from an adult reading to them. This especially happens when a child is alone with a book.

Alone and reading to the sun I say!

Reading in the sun – a brief, quiet time for children to feel the warmth, the harmony between his/her world, the joy of books, and the brightness and security it brings.

It might be only for five to fifteen minutes – but it’s the start of a habit – of a love – of a quiet appreciation between children and their books.

And the sunshine?

That’s the icing on the cake – a friend over one’s shoulder – filling your page – and your heart – with light.

Try it!

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Mousie

Sometimes it’s the little things that count.

I like to send “fun packages” here and there throughout the year to my grandsons – never extravagant, often “used” items or recycled in some way – to fuel their imagination – their playfulness, their interests.

A while back I had sent to Zeke, our youngest, a little white ” jewelry box” that held inside a very small mouse – a gentleman mouse at that – dressed in a dapper coat, his long thin tail hanging out.

Well this simple gift of a soft mouse for a tender-hearted 3-year-old became Mousie to their family – and every night it is important to “find” Mousie in order for sleep to peacefully occur.

But with all that loving, Mousie, of unknown origins to begin with, lost his arm and his tail. Fortunately, however, for both Mousie and his favorite buddy, there was a loving and creative mom who quickly remedied the situation – replacing the loss with t-shirt scraps and a very nimble sewing hand.

I love this story because it reinforces to me that things that matter – that touch our hearts – that make us feel happy, connected, fulfilled, loved – isn’t usually about big things or expensive items -or even make a huge impression upon receiving – but instead bring a quiet knowing, warmth – that speaks to one’s heart – that we are remembered, noticed, cherished.

As this Thanksgiving holiday approaches, look for these simple messages – gifts from the heart really – to give and to receive – to cherish the “Mousies” in your world that make a difference.

Wishing you all a healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

You, too, Mousie!

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me wondering

Ever watch an infant learning to roll over – every attempt – over a few weeks, days – he gets a little further – until – success!

Ever observe a 12-month-old learning to walk – first one step, then two, three, four – until – joy! – she falls into the welcoming arms of her parent.

Ever see a 6-year-old learning to ride a bike with the training wheels gone – over and over – until – wow! – pure mastery!

I could keep going on and on and I guess I have in my head recently – thinking about the struggles we go through in our life. Most of those struggles, if we’re fortunate enough, relate to our development and growth and anticipation as we mature into adulthood – and beyond.

But sometimes struggles can turn into suffering – and I started to think about hundreds of years ago – in this country – how so many people’s lives reflected hardships, famine, sickness, death and war – some of which in today’s world have been solved, improved, made easier by science, medicine, education, technology, progress and spirit.

Yet – actually – we might be meeting our very own lifetime struggle – right now – facing the rising sickness and deaths, uncertainty and sacrifices that people are being asked to make – to limit the number of rising deaths from COVID – the hospitals that are full, the medical staffs who are strained, the people who are out of work.

And it might not affect you – or me – or anyone you may know personally – but for the greater good, is this our time in history – to sacrifice – to struggle – to face the loss – to accept the request to stay home more, to celebrate the holidays with only those who you live with?

Is this the time to model the strength and courage and will for our own children – to show them – that this is our time – our family’s time – to listen and to respond and to show strength.

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now more than ever

I wish I knew where I read the following excerpt -and who wrote it – when I decided “I should write that down and save it.” but apologetically I don’t.

It’s a pattern of mine – often forgetting to pay attention to the details – and instead, responding so passionately to just the heart of the matter – the emotion.

And – actually that may be the reason this following passage by an observant soul – stirred my own.

“Some of the most kind and thoughtful kids I know are raised in houses that are messy, by parents who forget practices, and who wear mismatched socks. At times I think this may not be a coincidence. When parenting life becomes overwhelming, perhaps they know what to let go and what to put first. Kindness matters – socks – not so much!”

“What to let go – and what to put first” – a truth for parents to live by – for all of us to live by.

And goodness knows – kindness always comes first – now more than ever.

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