The Empowered child is one who sets boundaries.

The Empowered child is one who sets boundaries.

Empowered educator

As an empowered educator, I communicate directly with kids in a classroom setting. Furthermore, our topics of conversation can be difficult to process. My experience teaches me that children react differently to the tough topics that hit them close to home. Because of this, I am always alert to the signals from my audience. A few weeks ago, as we talked about “consent” a young man responded with something that still makes my stomach flutter.

To set the stage, as I present, I often share stories from my own experience to provide context. On this particular day, we were discussing how our parents often instruct us to hug another adult, even if we don’t want to. When I asked the students what this experience teaches us, this kiddo responded “we need to do what adults tell us”.

Whoah. 

Mind blown

As a result, I stopped in my tracks. I was mind blown. First of all, not because he said anything wrong, on the contrary I looked at the larger picture. I mentally asked myself if we (as adults) help our children create their own boundaries or create uncomfortable situations for them. Even more so, the look in his eyes was haunting and the social worker in me wondered what had triggered fear for him at this particular moment that he was remembering.

Ultimately, by forcing our children to hug and kiss other adults, are we truly doing something good? Consequently, are we showing our kiddos have no voice over who or how they have physical contact with others? Click To TweetLikewise,I know that as a child there were certain adults I felt comfortable with and others who I didn’t. Even at a young age, I could recognize who I was not comfortable with…even if my parent’s didn’t.

What if we empowered 

Conversely, as I procrastinated by scrolling through FACEBOOK, I watched a video of a teacher welcoming her children to class. Ultimately, she provided the children with a choice of options on how they wished to be greeted.  What an empowering way to begin the school day! These students were given choices based upon how they were feeling at that very moment. Above all, these children were empowered.

What if  we allow our children to choose how they want to greet others. This doesn’t allow them to be disrespectful, in contrast, it empowers them to make their own choices. Above all, let us teach them to create boundaries and empower them to redirect others when their boundaries are violated.

Authors Note: For more information on ways to keep your child safe, please visit The Set Me Free Project. 

 

 

 

 

The hidden monster…danger is in plain sight!

The hidden monster…danger is in plain sight!

The hidden danger

Danger. The word itself can make me shudder and create an overload of real or perceived anxiety. It also conjures up a vision of a space-traveling robot from the 1960’s show “Lost in Space”. How lucky were the Robinson’s to have a danger alerting robot?

As parents, we teach our kids to look both ways before crossing the streets. We talk to them about “stranger danger”. As mom’s, we hold their hands when we are in public and we take our boys into the women’s bathroom for as long as we can. Parent’s teach their kids to NOT talk to strangers and to never help someone find their lost puppy. 

We teach our children to yell “NO” if someone tries to grab them. We enroll our children in martial arts classes so they know how to defend themselves. We talk about “being kind” and how to handle bullies. We meet their friends and the parents of said friends. Essentially, we are teaching our children how to handle any physical danger they may face…or to avoid opportunities where these dangers may exist.

But we are sorely missing something.

The monster we can’t see

The real danger isn’t in the physical threat. The real danger is in the person we cannot see. It is in the person who has unlimited access to our children without our knowledge. People all over the world have access to our children and often, we as the parents are the ones allowing the direct assess.

Take a peek at your social media. Did you post back to school pictures of your littles? Many of us do as we want to share the moment with our family and friends. However, someone scrolling social media may come across a photo of your little and zone in. When that happens, they will learn how old your child is and more often than not, they learn what school your child goes to.

Consider your next post. In it, you show your son with a valued leggo set that he has proudly built. Another post shows him riding his bike with his little brother through the neighborhood park. Now a stranger knows that your son enjoys legos and bike riding. She also knows he has a little brother.

The dangers of social media

While these posts are innocent enough, consider this. Every time you check into your favorite coffee shop, you are alerting someone that you go there often. When you check into the martial arts school, you are sending out a message that your boys are involved in taekwondo. These are two more pieces of information for a groomer to utilize when they make contact with your child.

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Contact has been established and common ground has been made.

Communication is key

In the above scenario, the chances of this happening are greater than you would think. And if it occurred with my son, he probably wouldn’t even think to mention it to me. That frightens me even more. As much as we communicate, we see the world very differently and he doesn’t see dangers all around him, nor do I want him to. It’s my job to worry endlessly about his safety.

Children are easily redirected by other adults when they do not feel of value. So as parents, our job is to let our children know that we value them for who they are. We find creative ways to praise them for a job well done. We have open-ended conversations with them. We leave opportunities to grow and learn together and we teach them to safely navigate the world (both seen and unseen) while we can provide them guidance.

And as parents, we need to sensor what we share with the world on our social media. We need to know our audience and remember that while we are proud of our kids, we also need to protect them. We do that by leading by example when it comes to protecting their privacy.

 

I understand. No, you really don’t…

I understand. No, you really don’t…

I understand

Actually, you don’t. I understand are two words that I fucking hate to hear someone say to me. Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe those words are said with love and compassion. But let’s get something straight…You Don’t Understand. And to be honest, I don’t understand what you are going through either.

I understand is something we say when we don’t know what else to say. It is something to fill in the uncomfortable silence when we get too close to someone else’s tragic circumstances. Too often, we say “I understand” when we have similar experiences and want to let other’s know they aren’t alone.

Experiences

Your experiences shape your understanding. Considering this, there are no two people in the world who will experience the same event in the exact same way. This is one reason that law enforcement doesn’t give too much credibility to witness statements. If ten people are interviewed about an incident, all ten statements will differ in some aspect. People focus on events based on who they are. Smells, sights, sounds, and even tastes may change based upon who is experiencing them.

And if an experience induces a feeling of trauma, all bets are off. Emotions will dull your senses as your fight or flight kicks in and you will be in survival mode. Many times when a loved one passes away, those left behind are blinded by their own pain. They forget there are others hurting and often personalize the behavior of their family and friends. Everything becomes about them and words and actions are often miscommunicated. Thus the reason that many families drift away after the loss of a beloved matriarch or patriarch…it appears that everyone feels slighted by others. Unfortunately, this is not the intent, it is the by-product of grief.

How to help a friend who is grieving

When I lost my brother, it was devastating. He was my rock and the one who was supposed to outlive us all. I had no idea how many people I knew had lost a sibling and when they began reaching out, I realized I wasn’t alone. Were our experiences the same? No. However, we all became part of a club that none of us wanted to belong to and we realized we were not alone. We could bond over the loss and share our experiences, both positive and negative.

For me, some of the kindest things others have done is to just be there. I have one friend who knows that I hide away when I am struggling and she leaves messages for me, knowing I will call back when I am ready. I have other friends who often ask how I am doing and they call me out on my bullshit when I tell them I am ok.

I often joke that as a social worker, I suck at my own emotions. Truthfully, I am more comfortable with helping others, which are totally forms of denial and avoidance. So just let me know you are here. Let me ramble. Listen as I tell stories. Empathize with my situation, just please don’t tell me that you understand.

What helped me

I love the book “It’s Not Supposed to be This Way” by Lisa TerKeurst. It resonated with me. For so long, I have been stuck within my grief. Within a short time frame, many influential people in my life passed away and each one left a feeling of emptiness. However, as I explain to my children, this is the circle of life and as hard as it is to understand, it means we felt deep love. That is a blessing for I cannot imagine living life without love.

Prayer. I believe in the power of prayer. I have seen God work through people and I know He is with us. Furthermore, I believe we will once again be reunited with our loved ones. 

Being honest about how I am feeling. This is a kicker for me because as I mentioned, I suck at this. There have been times in the past few years that I have been treading water…simply treading. And occasionally I find myself back in that same place. I expend energy but I don’t move forward.

 

 

I see you…when the thread unravels…

I see you…when the thread unravels…

I know you

I realize that we may have never actually met in person, but I know you.

I know you because we share the same defeated spirit.  Right now you are wondering if I am fuckin crazy and that’s ok, sometimes I wonder that myself. What I am trying to say is that at some point in our lives we have done too much. We have committed to too many things. At some point in our lives (or maybe multiple times) we have put our needs behind every other person we know. And we are fricken exhausted.

I’m not talking about the can’t move my body because I am so tired exhausted. I mean we are brain weary, I can’t remember what I was going to say let alone why I walked into this room exhausted. Our minds are toast and our soul is screaming for a break. But we don’t give ourselves one because that would lead to feelings of guilt, which would lead to more commitments, which leads to being overwhelmed and the fricken cycle continues and the thread unravels.

The thread unravels

Have you ever tried to thread a needle? Those little needle holes are ridiculous and as you get older it becomes more difficult (I digress). Here’s the thing; if you don’t have the end of the thread bonded together, it begins to unravel. As that thread unravels, each little tiny piece of material becomes it’s own monster and demands attention and before you know it, you have multiple strands everywhere and none are working together.

The only way to fix it is to cut the thread and start again.

Stop. Cut the chords. Start again.

Real Resentment

Additionally, I understand the impromptu anger that comes when you see the dishes on the end table or the socks laying unmatched near the front door. There are times when I think I am the only person who is able to see these items, although I am most assuredly not the one who left them there.

Resentment begins when we feel overwhelmed by the tasks laid before us. Unfortunately, resentment can sneak up on us, even when we are doing things we committed to doing. It isn’t something that we wear proudly, nor is it something we often talk about. I will say it. There are days that I struggle with wishing others would do more so I could do less. Furthermore, I want to stomp my feet and scream at the top of my lungs to “pick up the fuckin socks.” But I don’t and the thread unravels.

Gratitude

For years I didn’t talk about these feelings, as I felt guilty doing so. After experiencing miscarriages and difficult pregnancies, I know what a gift having a baby is. For me, complaining felt like an affront to being a mother. Now I see it differently and realize resentment and gratitude can live together in the same world. When I begin to feel resentful, it is time for me to stop, cut the chords and start again.

It is time to take care of me and ask the family to help out. It’s my job to teach my boys to become independent, not do it all for them. Although sometimes it is so much easier to just do it myself, I realize that isn’t helping any of us. And when everyone begins to pitch in, I feel gratitude overpowering those feelings of resentment.

I see you

So, girl, I see how hard you are working. And recently, I feel as though I have experienced every emotion these past few weeks. Wondering if I am helping my kids make the right decisions… questioning if I am supporting my husband enough… hurting for those around me who are hurting. I have been grateful beyond measure, followed by waves of grief and questioning. Parenting is hard…loving others is hard…watching those you love hurting is hard.

This is for you and hear me as I say this…“You are right where you need to be and you are doing an amazing job. Cut yourself some slack and just be present”. Your expectations of yourself are so much higher than the expectations of those who love you. Say that again and believe it in your soul.
Cindi

 

Uninspired, but still motivated.

Uninspired, but still motivated.

Uninspired

This is for you, my friend. To the woman who feels frustrated with her wellness. I am writing to the woman who rewards herself with that little piece of candy. Read on if you are the woman who hates looking in the mirror or you are the woman who refuses to have her pictures taken.
This is for you from me...🌟keep going 🌟you are worthy🌟and you are beautiful. Click To Tweet
I was there 11 months ago. Furthermore, I was fit but I wasn’t healthy. As a result, one day I decided to make some positive changes and I wrapped my mind around what I needed to do.
Consequently, nearly one year later, I can proudly show you my progress.

You CAN do this. Above all, I believe in you, even if you don’t believe in yourself quite yet.

My journey

My wellness journey is probably not so different than yours. Seems like I was always petite as a child, slim as a teenager and tiny into my 20’s. Certainly, for those reasons, I could eat what I wanted and while I worked out, I didn’t take my wellness very seriously. Consequently, I didn’t think about my wellness much at all…until my 30’s. 

Life as I knew it began to change as I could no longer eat what I wanted with little or no ramifications. Hence, I began to gain weight and lose muscle tone while the workouts I had been completing were no longer cutting it (pun intended). Ultimately, between grad school and being newly married, the weight kept coming and I felt like I was at a loss to stop it.

Pregnancy does change you

For those reasons, my pregnancies did a huge number on my overall wellness. I was not prepared for the total overhaul my body would go through with each baby, nor was I ready for the hormonal changes that occurred. Please don’t read this as a complaint, as I would not change one thing about my babies; in contrast, I just want to recognize the inability to bounce back as your body truly does change and most likely you will not return to your pre-pregnancy condition.

My stall continues

To be honest, I remember very little about my 40’s. Conversely, while I remember moments, the overall decade remains considerably foggy. Additionally, having my boys at the advanced maternal ages of 39 and 40 resulted in a split pelvis and ongoing hip pain. To complicate matters, I had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands when the boys were both in diapers, followed by injury after injury.

Additionally, I struggled with never-ending shin splints and stress fractures. Ultimately, I endured a complicated hand surgery shortly followed by three abdominal surgeries within 18 months. Because of these situations an ugly cycle of me starting a wellness journey, only to be derailed and starting over began. However, knowing what I do now, I see the error of my ways. First and foremost, I failed to stretch. Although, most importantly, I refused to eat well and I didn’t care what I put into my body.

As my boys grew and became more active, I also made a decision to become more active. Therefore, I empowered myself with knowledge and participated in trial and error. Ultimately, I am determined to be a part of my boy’s lives without just sitting on the sidelines. I want to be involved in their activities, and truth be told, I want to show them how it’s done. 

The defining moment

Even though I had changed my eating habits and carefully chosen my supplements and while I was working out four to five days per week, I was not seeing many positive physical changes. Above all, I knew I was stronger and more fit, however, I was aware that I could improve my overall wellness. Unfortunately, my blood pressure was high and I was still on the heavier side.

My friend asked me if I wanted to join her in the 21-day fix and I vehemently told her no. However, not one month later, I noticed that I was rewarding myself with candy whenever I came home from the gym. HUH. Seriously, it was like a light bulb went off and I decided that I was done.

I adopted the Keto lifestyle, but more importantly, I gave up sugar.

The ramifications? 11 months later and I am down 30 pounds. My joint pain is virtually nonexistent. I am no longer the hangry person I used to be. My dry eye went away. As a result, I have found muscle tone again and I am no longer a slave to the sweet tooth I have always had. 

Empower yourself

I will leave you with my own recommendations to #beabetteryou as I recognize everyone has their own journey to follow:

  1. Stop the comparison game. You are not the same as anyone else and I doubt you know the struggles they have endured, nor do they know yours. Do not, I repeat, do not compare yourself to the other moms, your co-workers, or the women at your gym.
  2. Love yourself. You are worthy of being loved. Treat yourself as you would a best friend who is struggling and grant yourself grace.
  3. Make yourself a priority. GASP. Generally speaking, women often take care of others before we meet our own needs. Ultimately, this backfires on us and we end up feeling exhausted and resentful. If you want to explore this topic more, please read “You can’t pour from an empty cup“.
  4. Ask for help. Reach out to others and ask for guidance. Find a trainer to help you at the gym. So many of us are afraid to step foot inside a gym because we feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Suck it up, buttercup and make that appointment. You will feel empowered when you leave and come back standing tall!
  5. Take pictures. You need to be in the moment, regardless of how critical you are of yourself. Remember that your family and friends love you regardless of how you look, and unlike your impression of yourself, theirs isn’t based on your appearance. Not to mention, this is a huge way to monitor your progress.
  6. Check your hormone levels. So many of the women I know are struggling with hormone and/or thyroid levels. Please note that I am not a medical provider, however, I know from personal experience that both of these can wreak havoc on your body and mind.
  7. Love yourself. Worthy of a repeat. You are beautiful and a scale or a size does not define you. If you are working on your wellness, do it for YOU. The world tells us we need to look or be a certain way and that is ridiculous. I have spent way too much time comparing myself to others and berating myself because I don’t’ look like I think I am supposed to. Embrace who you are in this moment.

I will leave you with this quote: “Courage is moving forward in times of non-motivation.” I receive daily motivation from Constantly Varied Gear, which is a kick-ass group of badass women who are pushing themselves and one another to be their absolute best. I found them on FaceBook. Check it out and let them know I sent you!

I am uninspired!