Swan Mothers

Discovering Ourselves through Parenting

What I Focus on Expands

Close your eyes and think of an animal. Any animal. Real or imaginary. Except for a pink elephant. Don’t think, “Largest land animal on Earth.” Don’t think about that curly tail linked to another elephant. Don’t think about the long trunk spraying water. Do not think about its big, floppy ears. Keep your focus on any animal. But do not think about a pink elephant.

Perhaps someone has played this little game with you. I first heard it as a young child and was completely amazed that, try as I might, an enormous pink elephant suddenly occupied my whole mind. I had never thought of a pink elephant before, but as soon as I was told not to think about it, I could think of nothing else.

Don’t For Children

When children hear our words, “don’t” vanishes. We say, “Don’t play with your food.” They hear, “Play with your food.” Even if they realize that the instruction is not to do so, suddenly, this idea becomes irresistible.

It is more helpful to say what we mean clearly. For example, “Please put your fork down after you take a bite.” Or, “Please put your hands in your lap while you are chewing.”

Changing to the Positive

Consider these options and choose those that feel good to you.

Don’t run!…………………………….. Walk please!

You’re going to fall!………………… I see that you have really good balance!

Don’t hit your sister!………………. Come here and hold my hands to help you feel better.

Don’t for Parents

Just as it is easier to say “don’t” to our children than to find a supportive angle, it is easier to recognize what we don’t want than to determine what we desire. It is helpful to notice where our focus is. “I can’t wait for this day to be over.” “This really stinks.” “More dishes. More laundry. Can’t anyone in this family pee in the toilet?”

We notice how miserable we are being tired and out-of-shape, how long it has been since we’ve had a vacation, how little money and free-time we have. We become so enmeshed noticing lack, that when asked what we do want, we are unable to answer. We forget that we can desire something.

The Gift of Contrast

Noticing what we don’t want is a step. Be grateful for the signs that show you what you don’t want, then consider: Do you want the opposite of this thing that you have? Do you want something else?

“Desire is the movement of life that carries us where we yearn to be.”

Jennifer Louden in the Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year.

Notice what you desire. Notice what you want. Surround yourself with words and images that show the things or situations or experiences that make your heart sing. Let yourself consider the possibility that you can have what you desire and tell me about it in the comment box below.

Getting to Yes! for Children and Parents

In the lovely book, Joyful Child, Peggy Jenkins includes a number of songs for increasing joy, gratitude, and awareness. One of my favorites follows. It helps children (and parents) remember that they are in control of their lives.

What I Focus on Expands

To the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”

What I focus on expands

My life is in my own hands

My thoughts and feelings they create

So I choose a joyful state

What I focus on expands

My life is in my own hands.

Power Shot for Expanding Focus

I like to sing the above song while doing the Cross Crawl. This movement (described below) facilitates the crossover of energy between the brain’s right and left hemispheres. I will help you and your child to:

1. Feel more balanced and energized

2. Think Clearly

3. Improve coordination

Here’s how to do the Cross Crawl:

· March in place.

· Touch the right hand to the left.

· Then, touch the left hand to the right knee.

· Continue, changing sides with each step.

· You can also touch the (opposite) knee to elbow, touch the (opposite) foot behind the back.

· Continue for three minutes.

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Finding the Easy Way to Parent Difficult Children

When there is no time or money for a vacation, when formal practices like meditation seem too arduous to embrace, I go on a mini-retreat by reading a good book.  

The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir’s father’s servant. It is a story of cowardly actions and disloyalty, shame and redemption.

As a young boy, Amir writes his first story and reads it to Hassan:

A poor man found a magic cup.  He discovered that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and rarely shed a tear. So he found ways to make himself sad so that his tears could make him rich.

As the pearls piled, his greed grew. The story ends with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife’s slain body in his arms.

Upon hearing the story, Hassan applauds and compliments Amir. Then, he asks permission to ask a question.  Hassan says, “Why did he ever have to feel sad to shed tears? Couldn’t he have just smelled an onion?”

The Stories We Tell

Most of our beliefs about ourselves and how the world works/how we will be treated are established by the time we are seven years old. Our early experiences teach us that the world is a safe place – or that it is not. Our parents, teachers, and friends validate our early learning by encouraging us or tearing us down.

As we grow, we continue to learn about how things should be. We learn words and associate meanings with them. We determine what it means to be a mother. We decide how our children are supposed to be.

But what if everything we learned is wrong? What if we do not have to cause ourselves grief, but just smell an onion, and pearls will show up in our lives?

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Accepting Love

I want to be loved by you ♫♫♫♫♫ I know the signs by which I expect you to show your love. I hope you know them, too.

It’s lovely if we truly know our children, partners, parents, and friends and are able to love they way they want to be loved. It’s nice if they know us well enough, and have the capacity to, love us as we want to be loved. But it doesn’t always work like that.

My father loves me by preparing beautiful meals for my family. My son cuddles me in an amazingly loving way, but only when he so chooses. Lots of people hug me.

I could tell the huggers, “I don’t like to be hugged by you,” but I suspect they would be hurt by such words. I could ask my son to do something for me, but he wouldn’t do it. I could say to my father, “I appreciate the food, but I’d like to hear about your childhood,” but he would walk away.

I can notice all the ways I’m not getting what I desire, or I can appreciate the love that is freely given, when and how it is presented to me.

I choose to accept and experience love in its many expressions. I choose to notice and appreciate the goodness in my life. I choose to embrace the adventure of living.

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Can you let it all go?

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Here you are, Natalia: in the promised land.

Look — and watch autumn paint leaves. Listen — and hear the sound of clothes washing themselves. Taste — and savor the  salt, sugar, chocolate and almond flavors mingling on your tongue. Feel — and sense the love that surrounds you.

But it is NOT ENOUGH. Not nearly enough. Magnificence and glory await. Joy, indescribable and unimaginable, evident in a momentary tingle in your body, in a flash of almost-seen ultraviolet light, in an expansiveness that constricts as soon as it’s perceived.

Beauty . . . Sweetness . . . Love . . . 
Exhaustion . . . Despair . . . Pain . . .
bind you . . . . constrict you . . . restrict you . . . 

Can you let it all go?

“I can’t let go of my children!” I hear your shout. Have you so little faith in them? Have you forgotten that they are Masters?

Comfort . . . Familiarity . . . Ease . . .
Uncertainty . . . Lies . . . Deceit . . . 
Promises . . . Dreams . . . Goals . . . 

Can you let them all go

And allow Great Mystery?

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I wrote this on October 25, 2013. I could be writing it today. Wondering why I so often feel Life is wonderful, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough.

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Sailing Away

Weaving Gold

I joined Lyn Thruman‘s October Writing Challenge: Writing the Wisdom of the Soul. I am expanding, evolving, shining, and taking the reins in my journey.

Prompt for October 7: The Emperor is a director and overseer, bringing order where chaos can reign supreme.  He’s logic, reason, experience, and boundary protection.

Write about where you could use the energy of The Emperor to protect your boundaries.  Where are you allowing energy or time leaks to occur?


Chaos is reigning in my beautiful, orderly life. It is rampaging through every cell in my body. It is wreaking havoc, destroying every idea and ideal that I’ve held.

Chaos has been demanding and brash. The Fool led me to the edge of a cliff, enticing me to step boldly (or timorously) into plummet into an unfamiliar gorge. And I stepped.

Chaos has been generous and supportive. The Magician bestowed gifts and tools

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Commandeering Myself

From my writer’s blog.

Weaving Gold

I joined Lyn Thruman‘s October Writing Challenge: Writing the Wisdom of the Soul. I am expanding, evolving, and shining.

Prompt for October 3: Channel your inner High Priestess and ask her to reveal your potential, the wisdom written on the scroll. Write her wisdom.


Yesterday, I wielded the Magician’s tools and arrived at Destination Heart. I drank the nectar of knowing and accepted the call to follow the urgings of my heart.

Today, my respite is interrupted by the appearance of a Priestess and the ever-increasing rate of whirling energies on the planet.

“I have the greatest secrets of all to share,” she whispers. “I am the Guardian of Mysteries and the guide to your path.” She hands me a scroll. “It reveals the secret of your highest potential,” she says before disappearing.

I delight at the easiness of today’s task. I am not being asked to step off a cliff or to travel a treacherous…

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Just a Little Bit of Magic Pulls Me Through

Weaving Gold

I joined Lyn Thruman‘s October Writing Challenge: Writing the Wisdom of the Soul. I am writing.

Prompt for October 2: The Magician brings the tools to write the story. He’s the magic mojo man —with faith and the right mix of elements, anything is possible.

Write about the miracles you want or need to manifest with your miracle-maker kit.  What’s going to make your journey sweeter?


The magician has delivered my miracle-maker kit: a chalice, a wand, a sword and a pentacle. I am grateful for each item, but I’ve been on The Journey long enough to know that it is I who am the miracle-maker, or not. Tools can be useful, but they are inert. I must determine how and when to wield them.

In this life alone, my journey has been exhilarating and eviscerating, blissful and busy, wearying and mind-numbingly dull. Yesterday, I embarked on a particularly perilous section of the…

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The Longest Journey

Weaving Gold

I joined Lyn Thruman‘s October Writing Challenge: Writing the Wisdom of the Soul. I am writing.

Prompt for October 1: Write about a journey you want to take in life…


Love is an enigma for me: a word bandied about in writing about partners and children, a feeling that should dwell in my heart, a mystery that is the key to enlightenment. The thought of love causes my pulse to race, my body to quiver, and terror to swish through my belly.

I discern no cause for my trepidation. I had a happy childhood. I was, by every definition, loved. I was valued, honored, and supported. I am in a beautiful marriage. I am, by every definition, loved. I am appreciated, encouraged, and celebrated. I have three amazing children who shower me with hugs, kisses, and conversation. I have friends and community. I have everything I need, except the understanding, experiencing, and embracing of the greatest…

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Revealing Myself, Libra

Our bodies are made of stardust. The moon moves the waters of the world in an intricate pattern of rise and fall. The Earth’s angle toward and rotation around the sun dictate seasons for planting and reaping. Wise Women and Men have long recognized the influence of sun, stars, moon, and planets on life. For many of us, synchronizing projects, plans, and selves with celestial and terrestrial rhythms leads to increased enjoyment and productivity.

As part of my journey to embrace my Swan Mother Essence and to be my best self, I have joined the Magic and Wisdom Circle. During the cycle which begins when new moon in libra, our theme is self-love.

I decided to join the circle about a week ago. Though the circle was closed until the moon moved into libra this morning, self-love information began to show up for me as soon as my intention was set. Last week, I was reviewing an advance copy of Sasha Allenby‘s “Write an Evolutionary Self-Help Book.” In Chapter 3 – Your Life, Sasha writes:

Magical Mirror by Ironshod Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2009-2014 Ironshod via DeviantArt

Self-love is a term that is bandied about very flippantly in the self-help and transformation industries. Here, it is not a term that I am using lightly. If you did nothing else, other than commit to experiencing as much self-love as you have the capacity for in this given moment, and if you are committed to expanding that capacity in each moment, then all the other aspects of your life inventory will fall into place.

I wonder if you are willing to come on that kind of journey with me as we go through this book together? To put self-love at the heart of all you do?

Am I willing to put self-love at the heart of all I do? What a question! I turned off my Kindle and let the idea of self-love (putting it first being a leap I saved for another day), first.

Yesterday, YouTube suggested a video for me: Self Love – The Great Shortcut to Enlightenment by Teal Swan. Teal calls self-love the root from which everything grows.

By setting my intention, my journey to loving myself truly and deeply began. I am, in motion. As I appreciate all aspects of me and practice self-acceptance, I fill myself with a love and harmony so grand, they flow from me. And so it is.

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Two Words (Cruise Ship) Lead to New Thinking

From the archives. Fun conversations with my children when they were younger.

“If you were going to be on an island and could have only five things with you, what would you bring?”  I asked my children at breakfast to stimulate conversation.

“What would you bring Mama?” Ellana asked before any of the children answered.

“Well,” I mused, carefully considering. “I would bring a knife, a butane lighter, a book about survival skills so that I would know what I could eat, a water purifier, and a blanket.”

I was quite proud of myself for coming up with this list on the spot. I meant to start a discussion with my children, not to have to think myself.

After my family nodded appreciatively (or so I imagined), I asked my youngest, “What would you bring Jonathon?”

He grinned broadly and his eyes sparkled. “A cruise ship . . .”

I don’t recall what he said next because I was stunned at the tremendous disparity of our answers. In the seconds before I replied, I contemplated, “What’s the right answer to this question?” My choices were logical and practical. I was thinking survival. It was going to be tough on that island. Like a good scout, I needed to plan and prepare, and to fortify myself.

Jonathon was not burdened with such limited thinking. He did not think, “How can I survive?”  He thought, “How can I have everything I want? And why should I be restricted to the island?” Actually, he probably didn’t even think. He tuned in to my question and gave an answer that met all of his needs and desires.

All too often, I find myself stuck in limited thinking. I carefully contemplate how things “should” be: What is the proper way to act? Which are the correct items to bring?

My thinking limits and confines me.

A Prison of My Own Creation

A simple question, meant as a distraction while we waited for the server to bring our food, opened my eyes and my mind. Maybe you too have created an island prison?

For parents of today’s uniquely magnificent and unusually challenging children, it can appear that our children’s way of being is what keeps us separate from family, friends, activities, and society.  All the evidence is there.

  • No one invites us over.
  • People give us dirty looks when our children act strange.
  • No one understands.
  • We have to do this alone.
  • We don’t get the support we need from our husbands/the school/the insurance company.

What if these stories we tell ourselves are our knives and blankets and lighters?

Could we can trade them in for a cruise ship and sail away in style?

Instead of thinking about how we would survive on the island, we could be sailing on open seas.  Instead of thinking how to find food and shelter ourselves, we could imagine a top chef preparing our meals while we nap on deck or in our state rooms.

Back to Reality

Will you join me in examining your own limiting beliefs? Let’s make a shift from struggling for survival on a lonely island and seize control of our own destiny.

One Technique for Shifting

If all of the above sounds nice — but like nonsense — take a few minutes to try a bit of tapping. Using the points from my Super-Easy Tapping Guide, say some phrases like these:

  • Even though it seems crazy and impossible that there is an easy, magical solution to my problems, I am willing to consider that there might be.
  • Maybe this (name situation) could be surprisingly easy.
  • Maybe someone will offer to help me.
  • Maybe I’ll be amazed at how everything comes together and works out just fine.

A Request

I would really love for you to leave a comment. Let’s explore the assumptions that are keeping us isolated and restrained.  Let’s find away to think differently.

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