Swan Mothers

Discovering Ourselves through Parenting

11/11 Gateway to Easier, Happier Mothering

11/11. The ones of today’s date seem to create gates.

  • Wouldn’t it be nice if we could step through a gateway to an easier, more joyful life with our children?
  • Wouldn’t it be nice if today were the day to take this step?
Whether your are reading this on November 11 or on a day with no elevens in the number at all, consider that today can be the day. Read on for some ideas for stepping into easier, happier living.

Reaching for “A Little Better”

Are you content with life? How do you see your children today? How do you feel?

Esther and Jerry Hicks created an Emotional Guidance Scale  that helps us move from feeling bad to feeling better about whatever we are experiencing.

In looking at the chart, most of us yearn to be at the top, in the purple zone. Even the blue and green areas look good. We want to feel hopeful and happy and to appreciate our children and our lives.  However, if we are currently in the gray or burgundy zones of guilt or grief or despair, the leap to joy seems inconceivable.

Instead of aiming for giant leaps, it is usually easiest and most productive to move through one gateway at a time. Sometimes, we simply step through. At other times, we must knock and a door will open. Once in a while, we need a battering ram.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

One way to move up a level its to find something — anything — that feels good about the current situation.
  • In the midst of a tantrum, consider finding something good. “My child is safe. I am staying calm and looking for a good way to handle this moment.”
  • When you child struggles to communicate, consider, “We have wonderful speech therapists. Look how she tries to show  me what she wants!”
  • As your child insists on the thousandth meal of the same food, think, “It is so easy to feed him. I know what he wants.”

Celebrate Success, Celebrate Yourself and Your Child

Every step is one that brings you closer to the Joy Zone. Anger and rage may not, by conventional standards, seem like a good thing. But anger and rage let you know that your do not feel powerless. You are moving closer to hopefulness and joy.

Tools for the Journey

Please browse the blog archives for tips for really easy ways to support you as you step through each level.
Consider exploring:

Next time you see 11:11 on the clock, take a deep breath and think of one thing that feels good about that moment. Every good feeling that you focus on will bring you closer to more experiences that feel good.

 

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The Amazingness of Atypicalness in the Age of Half-Bloods, Wizards and Magical Creatures

All around the world, influenced by brilliant stories from gifted authors, children who thought they were different in a bad way are discovering that they are, in fact, different in a magnificent way.

  • Harry Potter thinks there is something wrong with him because his family forces him to live in the cupboard under the stairs.  Plus, he “makes things happen” and can talk to snakes.
  • Percy Jackson has profound ADHD and dyslexia.  He’s so “bad” that he has never been able to attend the same school two years in a row.
  • Elissa is being raised by an old woman as a servant in a castle and knows only that her mother is dead.  Yet, she is the daughter of a king and deeply connected to the Earth by her magical powers.
  • Aang is the last of his kind.  He is the only person left on the planet with the ability to bend air.

At the heart of every myth and legend lies a grain of truth.

Grain:  The smallest possible amount of anything, a small, hard seed – the essence, crux, heart, significance, or soul of the matter.

How do the stories of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Elissa and Aang reflect what is going on with our real, uniquely magnificent children?

It is neither surprising nor coincidence that there so many hugely popular books and movies about magical children have been produced in the past two decades.  This is the same time span during which magical children began appearing on Earth in large numbers.

Many of today’s children are called indigo, crysal or rainbow, autistic, ADHD, atypical or neurodivergent. They probably arrived via quite-ordinary birth.  But those who are paying attention see clearly that there is something different about our children.  Some want to call the differentness disorder or disability. I call it magic.

Learning from the Magical Heroes

Each of the characters mentioned above must find his or her own way for the old ways no longer work.  The premises have changed.  Their perceptions of themselves have been turned upside down.

Harry must shift his perspective from the Muggle to the Magical World.  Percy has to embrace his god-nature.  Elissa, a humble girl who knew her own mind even if she did not always choose to speak it, embraces her mission and taps into powers she had not realized she possessed.  Aang, at only 11 years old, must restore balance in the world.

As our heroes become attuned to their powers, they realize that with great power comes great responsibility.  This can be a heavy burden for a child or teenager to carry.  Our heroes waver, err, and complain, but they stay true to their calling.

In each of the books of the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson Series, the Phoenix Rising Trilogy (Elissa’s story) and the Avatar:  The Last Airbender Saga (Aang’s story), it is not only the hero who is magical.  Friends and enemies have magical powers too.  Our heroes do not possess unique gifts.  They possess gifts that are available to many.

As we notice our children’s gifts and talents, it is useful to consider:

  • What are my gifts and talents?
  • What can I do differently than I have always done it until now?
  • Am I working from an obscured premise?

Parenting the Heroes

In many fictional accounts, the heroes’ parents are conveniently missing. Harry’s parents are dead.  Percy’s mother, fully human, is not allowed at Camp Halfblood and his father, a god, does not have time for his half-human children.  Elissa’s mother is dead and her father is missing.  Aang’s parents have been dead for almost a century.

For those of us parenting magical children, there is no hint in these books of what the children might need from us.  We are left with a bit of insight into the children, but with no new information on what is required of us.

You must get used to the fact that there are many things in magic which are not and never will be explained. God decided to do certain things in a certain way and why He did this is a secret known only to Him.”  (Paulo Coelho in Brida.)

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

“May your path be one of peace in times of peace, and of combat in times of combat.  Never confuse one with the other.”  (Paulo Coelho in Brida.)

Again and again we are presented the lesson that there is nothing to do but carry on, taking one step and one second at a time, learning what we can when we can, being willing to walk in the dark.  Without a roadmap or a manual, we learn to listen and watch our children and our hearts.  We figure out a way to make it through each day.

I love listening to podcasts. Here’s a good one about being your true self.

 

In Autistic Hermione Thoughts, autistic blogger Alyssa of Yes, That Too, writes about reading Hermione as an autistic person.

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Magic for Muggles: Change the Way You See and Experience EVERYTHING

Sometimes, muggles get really lucky and stumble upon some magic.  Magic we can actually do.  Easily, consistently.

I had such an experience when I attended a Matrix Reimprinting seminar with Karl Dawson.  (The photo shows me, Karl and my friend Linda Friedman Jones at the seminar.)  Even though I have known about EFT for many years, even though I had finally figured out how to use if effectively, I had no idea about the amazingly transformative power of meridian  tapping.

What is Matrix Reimprinting?

Matrix Reimprinting is a new meridian tapping technique developed by EFT Master Karl Dawson.  Like EFT, Matrix Reimprinting often resolves long-standing emotional and physical issues.

By changing

  1. how you perceive old events

  2. how ingrained ideas shape your words and actions

Matrix Reimprinting can be used to create a life you love by creating better energy flow in your body

During a Matrix Reimprinting session, we tap on points that have been used in acupuncture for thousands of years.  Most of the points we use are at the ends of meridians.

Meridians are channels for energy flow just as blood vessels and arteries are channels for blood flow.  Emotional, chemical and physical trauma can disrupt the flow of energy in the meridians.  When the energy is obstructed, disease may result.

We can correct the flow of energy by stimulating the meridian points.  In EFT and Matrix Reimprinting, we do this by tapping on them.

How is Matrix Reimprinting different from EFT?

In conventional EFT, tapping on meridian end points is used to take the emotional intensity out of a past memory. When an issue is resolved with EFT, you are able to recall your most traumatic and stressful life memories without any emotional disruption or stress.  This is a useful healing strategy since most disease results from stress.

When an issue is resolved using Matrix Reimprinting, the memories associated with it are actually transformed.

During the Matrix session, the practitioner will guide you as you go into a past memory.

There, you may say and do what you wished you had said and done.  You will be shown how to bring in people or tools to support you in any way that you need.  You will recreate the recorded picture in your memory. This will transform your reflexive reactions in situations that were triggering an unwanted response.

But these things did happen!  No one can change that.

In Matrix work, we never deny that an event occurred.  We do not use distraction techniques. In fact, we recognize that the best way to transform a situation is to be fully present in it.  You will not relive the situation.  Matrix Reimprinting is a very gentle technique – easier to demonstrate than to explain.

Experience Matrix Magic

Matrix Reimprinting is an essential part of all of my group sessions.

Physically, mentally and emotionally healthy parents, family members and caregivers create a healthy life for autistic, ADHD, and other children with special needs.

Want to know much more about Matrix Reimprinting?  You can read all about it in Matrix Reimprinting Using EFT:  Rewrite Your Past, Transform Your Future by Karl Dawson and Sasha Allenby.

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A New Kind of Time Out

Most of us are rather enlightened parents these days.  When our children hit or scream or take another child’s toy, we don’t spank them.  We put them in time out.

There they sit, one minute for every year old, contemplating their transgressions and regrouping.  They take a break from out-of-control emotions and behaviors and call on inner resources and external support systems to return to a harmonious state.

As I walk through our modern world, watching adults running like hamsters on treadmills and children getting exercise from wii and x-box games, I wonder:

If children had more time out(side) and time off, would they still need time outs?

We live in an age of over-stimulation and overwhelm.  For all of our time-saving devices, we work more and sleep and relax less than humans of times past.

Children need time off from school and from schedules. They need to have time to do nothing and time to do whatever they want.

There are studies that validate the importance of play in the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills.  But we don’t need studies.  Be observing our children at play, we can see this natural development in action.

IMG_20110808_111243When my children were 13, 11 and 8, they often played in our yard with the neighbors (12 and 10). They figured out how to play kick-ball and other games in a way that was fair. They made adjustments for ages, special needs or extra skills (my middle child is autistic), number of children out playing that day.

“Sarah and I get only two outs and the boys get three,” my daughter informed me one day.  The next day, if three or four of them wanted to play, they found another solution.  No adults mediated or suggested anything.  When they are red-cheeked and sweaty, they reach for water and flop on the grass to rest.

Implementing the New Time Out

Amidst school or homeschool activities, sports, music, and dance schedules, and work obligations of parents, it can be challenging to find a way to, as my children say, chillax.  Here are some ideas to get started:

1.      Take a Mental Health Day away from school.

Let the kids stay home and do nothing once in a while.  This may keep them balanced and healthy so they don’t have to get sick to get a break.

2.      Schedule at least one day per week with no planned activities.

For us, this is Sunday.  We all look forward to it.

3.      Encourage free play.

Let the children fill their own time.  Save your boxes and paper towel rolls and see what happens, even if your children are in middle school or high school.

4.      Spend time outdoors that is not in organized sports.

Children love to make up their own games or explore.  You don’t have to do anything (beyond ensuring safety).  They will create worlds, climb trees, and make their own fun.

2805_70655739737_5197931_n5.      Be Silly.

I’m not good at silly, but the children love it.  So Daddy takes over and they giggle and scare each other and tell jokes.  If you need help, share your children with an adult who knows how to have fun.

6.      Go All the Way:  Take a Year Off

Consider how you can take a Really Big Time Out.  Take a vacation.  Homeschool.  Travel.  Enjoy.

Check out these families who did it.

One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children by David Elliot Cohen

The Family Sabbatical Handbook: The Budget Guide To Living Abroad With Your Family by Elisa Bernick

Benefits of the New Time Out

There is a Sufi tale that tells of a scholar being ferried by Nasrudin across a body of water.

“Have you learned mathematics?” he asks the ferry-man.

“No,” Nasrudin replies.

“Do you understand the sciences?” he continued.

“No,” Nasrudin answered.

Next, the scholar chided Nasrudin for his ungrammatical language, and, hearing that the boat-man never went to school exclaimed, “Half of your life has been wasted!”

Shortly afterwards, Nasrudin asked him: “Did you learn to swim?”

“No, I did not,” replied the scholar.

“Well, in this case it seems all your life has been wasted.  We are sinking,” said Nasrudin.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic are useful skills.  Proficiency in sports, music, and arts can bring much enjoyment.  But over-planning and over-scheduling may produce an ignorance of how to live.

After I post this, I will go and enjoy my own time out(side).  I hope that after your read, you will too.

Want to believe this is possible but don’t?  Join me starting January 2014 and shift to joyful thinking and easier living. More information coming soon.

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Tools and Words for Reducing Anxiety in Children (Part 1: Changing Old Stories)

Many mothers have noted that their children are anxious.  They eat too much or too little, have trouble falling asleep or wake during the night,  cry easily and melt-down.

As parents, we want to help our children to feel better. We can teach them how to get to a calmer, more relaxed place on their own.

If you have observed that your child is very anxious, consider these questions:

1.       When did this anxiety start?

2.       What makes it better or worse?

3.       What words does my child at these times?

4.       How does she act when stressed or anxious?

If the Anxiety has an Obvious Cause or Starting Point, Use Matrix Reimprinting

Matrix Reimprinting (MR) is a method that engages imagination and problem-solving abilities in a way that changes perception of old events.  Changing perception changes our experience of everything.

Was your child embarrassed by some incident at school?  Was he in an accident?  Did she see something that scared her?

All of us are shaped by our experiences.  Believe it or not, we can change events so that our children are left with a positive (or neutral) experience of them.

How to Facilitate a Matrix Reimprinting Session for Your Child

1.      Ensure that you are calm and centered.

Take a few deep breaths. If you have strong feelings about the experience you wish to address with your child, do your own work before working with your child.

2.      Choose a peaceful, relaxed time to be with your child.

I like to tap with my children at bedtime. Reading a book or a foot massage may facilitate a transition to quiet time.

3.      Introduce what you are doing in a way that is appropriate for your child.

“I have learned a magical way to make you feel better.  Would you like to try it?”

If your child says no, respect his or her choice.  The goal is to empower our children – not to force them to do something against their wills. We can always try again at a later time if our children seem receptive or interested.

Choose one of these methods for tapping or present your child with these choices:

  • Tap gently on your child while he tells the story of what happened.  (Click on the Super-Easy Tapping Guide to learn the tapping points.)
  • Instead of tapping, touch and hold the tapping points gently while he talks.
  • Model for your child by tapping on yourself.  Encourage her to tap on herself if she is receptive.
  • Use a doll or stuffed bear to demonstrate the tapping.  Encourage your child to tap on the bear while she tells her story. You can ask, “How did bear feel when his friend pushed him?”  Let your child use her own words as she taps.

4.      Telling the Story

Begin tapping on your child and continue to tap throughout the process.

Encourage your child to close his eyes and see a picture of the incident that you suspect initiated his anxiety.  (There may be many contributing incidents. Use whichever story the child chooses to tell. You can work with other incidents at a later date.)

As he describes the scene, tell him to step into the picture and describe what he sees. What is going on with his younger self that we all the ECHO?  Is the ECHO scared? Angry? Confused?

He can then approach his ECHO, introduce himself, and offer to help him by tapping on him.

Using his imagination, your child will tap on the ECHO using simple phrases (see earlier posts) that reflect what the ECHO is feeling. For example: “Even though you’re very scared because you fell and are bleeding, you’re going to be o.k.” or “Even though it hurts, your body knows how to heal itself and you can call for help.”

In the Matrix, your child has magical powers and can bring in any resource his ECHO needs to feel better. His ECHO gets to choose. Perhaps a trusted relative, a doctor, a teacher, or an angel will come to reassure the ECHO that all is well. Sometimes, the ECHO wants an object to help him – a magic cape to protect him, a toy for comfort, a weapon to defend himself.

Encourage him to provide his ECHO with all he needs to feel better. Continue to tap on your child as he taps on or talks to his ECHO.

When the ECHO has no further requests and is satisfied that all is well, the ECHO may choose to do anything he wishes. Often, young ECHOs will want to go play.

At this point, ask your child to observe the new, happy scene.  Ask him to imagine this new picture coming in through the top of his head and filling up his body. Let him send this new picture out into the Universe.

Then, have him open his eyes. Stop tapping.

Encourage your child to notice if he  feels different. Remind him that he can always tap on himself or his ECHOs to feel better.

If you would like to experience a guided EFT/meridian taping session, please contact me.

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How to Discover the Wisdom of the World

I’ve learned from reading parenting books. I learn by reading blogs of autistic individuals. I learn by living life. But my favorite way of expanding my awareness is by reading fiction.

In recent months, I have experienced unexplained trepidation. I seem to have lost  understanding of what I once understood. I have more questions than answers. I’ve pursued common-sense solutions (eating better, moving more, spending time outdoors), but remain stuck. And so, I reach deep into the fictional story of Paulo Coelho’s Brida, hoping that I will learn from her journey as I seek to unravel some mysteries of my experience.

Discovering the Answers to Your Questions

Each of us must discover the answers to her own questions in her own way.  Brida learns that there are four paths to discovering the wisdom of the world, four Rings of Revelation that a woman can use. (pp. 62 – 63)

The Ring of the Virgin

The Virgin needs no one.  She does not wear herself out by loving others.  Through Solitude, she discovers the wisdom of the world.

The Ring of the Saint

The Saint has the courage of those for whom giving is the only way of receiving.  The Saint offers everything for others.  Through Surrender, the Saint discovers the wisdom of the world.

The Ring of the Martyr

The Martyr has the power of those who cannot be harmed by pain and suffering.  She surrenders herself, suffers, and through Sacrifice, discovers the wisdom of the world.

The Ring of the Witch

The Witch discovers the wisdom of the world through Pleasure.

Which ring will you choose?

Do you recognize your own path in one of the above descriptions?  All paths are worthy, but if we can choose to learn through solitude or sacrifice or suffering or pleasure, which would you prefer?

Brida’s wisdom teachers tell her that “In her life, every woman can make use of the Four Rings of Revelation.”  In my life, I’ve worn each of the rings. I  believe that to every thing there is a season. Yet when I consider how I want to experience life, I realize that I yearn to wear the Ring of the Witch. I want to grow through joy.

Pleasure for Parents

Magic is a bridge, a bridge that allows you to walk from the visible world over into the invisible world, and to learn the lessons of both those worlds.(p. 10)

I suspect that all of the readers of this blog practice a bit of the above kind of magic daily.  We find bridges that connect us to our children.  We build bridges that allow our children to step safely into this world.  We understand that it is all one world – and that our children experience the world in a way that most of us do not yet understand.

the age of miracles is returningand no one can remain indifferent to the changes the world is beginning to experience…Anyone not already following their own path will begin to feel dissatisfied with themselves and be forced to make a choice:  they will either have to accept an existence beset with disappointment and pain or else come to realize that everyone was born to be happy.” (p. 199)

Here are a few more quotes to propel you in shifting your beliefs:

page 203:

“Never be ashamed.  Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup.  All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.

How will I know which is which?

By the taste.  You can only know a good wine if you have first tasted a bad one.” 

 page 11

“When you find your path, you must not be afraid.  You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.  Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.

 page 26

“You must get used to the fact that there are many things in magic which are not and never will be explained. God decided to do certain things in a certain way and why He did this is a secret known only to Him.”

page  42

“But the path of magic – like the path of life – is and always will be the path of Mystery. Learning something means coming into contact with a world of which you know nothing.

page  74

“It isn’t explanations that carry us forward, it’s our desire to go on.”


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Doing It My Way: I’m No Mother Warrior

How do you label a child who, before kindergarten, has the vocabulary of a seventh grader but can’t cut with scissors? Where do you put her? How do you teach her? Public school “averaged” gifts and deficits and put Ellana a regular classroom, where she was alternately bored by the basic reading and writing instruction, and frustrated by cut and paste time. By first grade, we realized that even the schools that claimed to work with all of a child’s abilities – including Montessori and Waldorf schools – were doing more harm than good.

At this point, the Warrior Mother would have started scheduling meetings at the public school and engaging advocates and lawyers to ensure that her child gets what she needs. She would have created a gifted program for first graders in her school system, brought in a cut and paste advisor for her child. I was no mother warrior.yoga-2176668__340.jpg

“I won’t put my energy into fighting,” I told my husband.

We took our child out of school and I began homeschooling.A few years later, our second child “graduated” from the amazing autism program where he’d been thriving for three years. He no longer belonged in the specialized autism classroom. He spent his kindergarten year putting in a full day, half of it in a regular classroom (no aide) and half in a room for cognitively impaired kids. That was the best the school would offer, though he is not cognitively impaired. I knew that what worked in kindergarten would not work in first grade. There would be more verbal instructions and more demands for independent work. If I wanted an aide in the classroom for first grade, I’d have to fight for it. I had not developed any warrior skills in those years. I started homeschooling two children.

Our choices worked for me and for my children. Another family, another child might need a Mother Warrior. My children got a different kind of mother, one that works for them.Though I am not nor do I desire to be a Mother Warrior, I have great respect for Mother Warriors. They do what they need to do for their children. I do what I need to do for mine. There is a place for warriors — and a place for peacemakers.

Curbies on Autism

I learned the term “curbie” reading Kim Stagliano’s memoir All I Can Handle:  I’m No Mother Teresa. Kim is the mother of three girls with autism and “a curebie. That’s an autism parent who believes that, in our lifetime, we will be able to bring these kids to point where they blend in with their peers and can live full, independent lives – through a combination of medical treatment, therapy, schooling, and a rosary that stretches from Connecticut to California.” Stagliano adds, “Call it recovery. Call it cure. Call it remission. Call it pasta e fagioli. I don’t give a crap what it’s called… I just want Mia to be able to live a garden-variety, normal live without needing an adult to keep her safe… I want a cure for her, damn right. What kind of parent would I be if I didn’t?”  (p. 19)

The Neurodivergent Camp

I am not a curebie. I excelled at blending in and doing garden-variety my whole life.  When I heard the terms neuroatypical – and later, neurodivergent – I fell in love and embraced the concept with my mind, heart, and soul. The idea that it was okay for my children to be themselves was freeing and exhilarating. (Could this liberating idea mean it was okay for me to be myself too?)

I also strive to keep my children as healthy as possible. I have long-studied nutrition and the natural health sciences. I continue to learn. I continue to provide the best food and living environment that I know for my family. I believe that everything matters.

Many Flavors of Autism, Many Flavors of Mothers

carefree-2280933__340.jpgMy experience of autism is not the same as Kim’s. In one of my favorite passages, she says that autism is like Bertie’s Every Flavor Beans from the Harry Potter books. She points out that some autistics got raspberry cream or root beer flavor. “They can speak eloquently, write blogs, move out on their own…”  “Others with autism, like my three girls, got the ear wax/vomit/dog poop flavor. They need help 24/7 to navigate the world. When I talk about autism, I mean the version that my three girls have.” Obviously, that is simplified, but it makes the point that if you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.

I hear and understand what Kim wants. Though we use different words, and I do not want my children to be indistinguishable from normal (whatever that is), Kim and I mostly want the same things for our children. We want our children to live comfortably in the world, to enjoy life. Kim wants that through recovering her children. I want it through transforming the world into a place where we all live in harmony.

Getting to this place of acceptance has been a journey. I wrote about it in my book, Swan Mothers: Discovering Our True Selves by Parenting Uniquely Magnificent Children.

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