No more early morning wake ups, last minute lunch help, tuba drop offs, midnight test cramming…… summer is here and it’s time to take a deep breath!
For many families, summer consists of “fireflies in a jar” kinda moments, while others look like a scene from a horror flick. Wherever your family falls on the spectrum, here are some tips to not only survive the summer, but ( dare I say it ?)....actually almost enjoy it :)
Summer jobs: It’s so important for teens to develop evidence of success to bolster their confidence and skill sets. Often that kind of growth can only come from a part time job, and summer is the perfect time to make that happen. Let them own the experience of creating their resumes, dropping them off and making their own follow up calls to impress potential employers ( and keep their resume at the top of the pile!) They may kick and scream because it is new and creates anxiety, but patiently encourage them, help them practice, and under no circumstances do it for them. You already know how to get a job, don’t rob them of a great learning opportunity. If you have a teen who refuses to get a job, you are probably making things too easy for them. Are you reinforcing their lack of motivation by giving them what they need? There is an age old expression “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink”....yah but you can sure make them thirsty!
Staying in bed all day: Let’s face it, wouldn’t we all like to do that some days? Have very clear boundaries and reasonable expectations that are set out from the start of summer break to avoid fighting about it for 2 months. It may look like having 1 day a week to laze in bed if it doesn’t interfere with chores/ job/family plans. It may be a 10 am wake up time. Negotiate with your teen what works best for both of you, and please remember that teens biologically require additional sleep to keep up with brain development ( from a brain cell perspective, it’s like a second phase of toddlerhood with some intense learning….hmmmmmm, that explains a lot!:)
Unplug: Our teens are the first generation predominantly wired (literally) for technology. A phone is an extension of themselves that feels very natural, we are wired slightly different and therefore don’t see it the way they do. That being said, everyone needs to unplug at times, and you will win that argument best if you lead by example. Carve out times when it is a natural expectation to “ditch the device”. Plan a family dinner, organize a family movie or game night, spend time in nature, plan tech free blocks in the day ( like before bed to improve sleep quality!)
Combating boredom: It’s the 3rd day of summer break and you are already sick of hearing the dreaded “I’m bored”.... First off, you are not your child’s summer camp counselor. It is important for teens to take ownership and responsibility for their own happiness and contentment. Before summer break even starts, help them brainstorm a reasonable “summer bucket list “ so they have some “go-to” things to do. Include free, local ideas and throw in a few days that need extra planning, let them organize some activities to look forward to. Encourage them to pick up a book, grab some art supplies, purge their rooms, plan a theme night with friends, rent an instrument, join a summer sports team, or create a nature inspired instagram account. Bored is just another way to say “I need a purpose.” Try not to fill a bored kid’s day with chores, that doesn’t provide meaning for them, and will often be used against you in the next argument you get into!
Family engagement: Families who spend quality time together have stronger connections to help weather the inevitable storms. Do some family exercising, go hiking, biking, swimming, throw the baseball or frisbee around. Plan an ice cream date ( who has ever said no to ice cream?) One thing I have find immensely valuable is to share in their interests. I have been in mosh pits, drove hours to see youtube celebrities, ordered crazy things on amazon, and not because I am a push over ( just ask my kids). It’s because I want them to know I see them, I hear them, I love them and I accept them. I want them to explore their uniqueness, and encourage our differences. I also want them to see I am open minded because that is an important life skill to model.
Mental health checklist: Summer inevitably becomes full of late nights, fast food, the occasional hangover depending on ages of teens, and self care goes out the window. Mental well being is built on the foundation of adequate sleep, nutritional food, moderate exercise, and positive social engagement. It’s important for teens to be productive through work, volunteering, chores and responsibilities. It is also important to encourage downtime for recharging and play to remind us not to take life too seriously. If you see your teen struggling, start by looking at their physical needs and don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for support.
Pick your battles: This is a tough one, but definitely a game changer in enjoying the summer. Try saying yes more then no. As parents we are often locked in autopilot and without thought, jump to a no because often it is easier. It is also very defeating to a teen to hear no all the time. They will argue how unfair that is, not because they are defiant but because they are right. Reserve your “ no” for when it counts. Remember that by a matter of development, teens are still pretty egocentric, so you are right, they aren't thinking of your needs when they make plans. There is no need to lose your cool, just make your position clear and consistent. Learn the fine art of negotiating, parenting is a long game, the more effort at the front end, the greater the rewards. And lastly it’s ok to teach them that “your lack of planning is not my emergency”. Sometimes natural consequences do the work for us. Here’s to surviving your summer!!
Is love, sweet love….
We are knee deep in the throes of a collective consciousness power struggle. Some are rising to the challenge, some are capitalizing on the division, some are simply lost in the fear and confusion that is unsettling us all.
In the past we have fought these power struggles with might and force, feeling vindicated in our righteousness when we appear victorious, or retreating to our corners to plan our next attack when faced with defeat. This is neither the time for conventional brute force or meek retreat, this is the most perfect time for love. For embracing what makes us human, our capacity to be aware, to be conscious, to be co creators of our destiny.
Some are calling it #woke, some use #metoo, others #timesup and most recently #marchforourlives. Whatever words you choose, understand it is a call. A call to arms in fact, those beautiful strong arms we use to hold each other up when dropped to our knees, those arms that can gently cradle a baby with love and safety, those powerful arms that can reach out to another person and say “hold on”. It is an age old call, the world has heard it before but never more timely and powerful as now. It is our chance to unleash our fierceness, that raw energy that makes an everyday person a hero by an act of inspired bravery, that felt sense that starts as a low rumble in our souls and emerges as a primitive battle cry. But this time we wield it with love.
We have to love ourselves as never before, so we have the ability to love another. We have to set aside our differences of man/women, right/wrong, us/them and come together for a powerful meeting of the minds. Now is the time to embrace our natural gifts of tenderness, compassion, understanding and empathy, but not as a show of weakness, oh no, as the show of divine strength that is our birthright, and lives within the heart of us all.
Authentic power comes from our soul, it says “there is room for us all." Our differences are our strengths, it is how we compliment each other. Where I might lack information or experience, you become my needed puzzle piece. Where you might be rushing in blind, my eyes can see the danger ahead. We need each other to thrive and survive. Life is not a competition, the term “human race” is not literal. There is no finish line one group will ever cross.
Our goal while we are here to lift the experience of everyone, and we do that through love. Love your neighbor, love your community, love the stranger, love who you perceive to be your enemy. Show others mercy, seek to understand, walk gently upon the earth, and join hands in solidarity for we are all in this together whether we are choosing to participate or not. This is the tipping point where enough loving voices, strong supportive arms and conscious positive energy can change our global experience.
….it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.
Trust is the willingness to be vulnerable and have confidence in the intentions and motivations of others. The challenge with this, is that in order to feel vulnerable we need to trust, and in order to trust we need to feel vulnerable. It seems an impossible position.
The healthy approach is to start from a place of self trust. How do you love and care for yourself? How do you meet your own needs? Are you willing to shine a light into your vulnerable places and not form judgement or self criticism? The road to trusting others begins with trusting ourselves. When we can have confidence in ourselves , it reduces our need for outside approval and allows us to deepen our connection with ourselves, and therefore others.
Trusting ourselves involves paying attention to our needs and seeking healthy ways to get those needs met. It derives from the most basic needs (hungry=eat), to the more complex emotional needs of our psyche. We often put our misplaced trust into the hands of another and expect them to take good care of us. We have all been hurt, disappointed and rejected by another, even with the best of intentions. Our most consistent ally in life is ourselves and until we develop even a semblance of self trust we will continue to play out trust issues in our relationships with spouses, friends, family, coworkers and even the world at large.
Life happens. We see the news, we all have stories of pain. If we live in fear of everything that can go wrong, we are giving our power away. Trust isn't about thinking that nothing "bad" will ever happen, it's about having enough faith in yourself to rise to the circumstances and navigate your way through the challenge to the best of your ability.
Trust is built on boundaries and discernment. When people show you who they are, you need to believe them. People who violate your boundaries and do not earn the right to witness your inner thoughts, emotions and fears, are not entitled to be a part of your inner circle. And that’s okay. Exposing your entire life to everyone without filters is no longer being vulnerable, it’s an attempt at unhealthy attention and an indication that it's time to work on your self worth and self confidence.
Strategies that help build trust:
1. Be trustworthy of yourself and demonstrate your worthiness to others. Hard to give what you don’t have.
2. Reserve inflexible judgement of yourself and others, be tolerant and patient while you gather information.
3. Take responsibility for your own transgressions and make appropriate amends. It helps to overcome “perfectionist expectations”. We are human, we all make mistakes.
4. Actions speak louder than words. Follow through. It is just as important to keep your word to yourself as it is to honor your word to another.
5. Avoid people who undermine your value or confidence. They clearly don't have your best interest in mind. People who bring out the best in you are worthy of your loyalty and trust.
6. Manage your fears. If you expect a worse case scenario you are in direct conflict with the energy of trust. Reality check the evidence presented and challenge your limited biases.
7. Integrate intuition and instinct. When information comes quietly and with great clarity, it is a “knowing”. When it comes with overwhelm, confusion, uncertainty and lots of head chatter it is more likely fear. We cannot make sound decisions from a heightened sense of fear unless we are in a dangerous situation and need to act safely and immediately.
These guidelines can be easily applied in developing a trusting relationship with yourself, and then with a little luck and a bit of optimistic faith you can develop deep and meaningful relationships with other worthy humans. Imagine the freedom of starting from a place of trust and letting other's behaviour determine the outcome of the relationship or situation, and not allowing our fear of the unknown prevent us from taking some leaps of faith in love and life.
We all fall into the trap and excitement of creating a New Year's resolution every January, and by mid January or perhaps early February ( if you are a real go getter) you are despairing and miserable over the fact you stopped trying. The excitement is gone, the shame dragon has awoke and winter starts to look pretty long. This is exactly the phenomenon that makes sane people eat a whole bag of oreos, or shop online at 2 am. We are all just trying to feel better.
For the last couple of years, I have tried something a little bit different and a little less self depreciating. I have fashioned it more around the law of attraction and the concept of "where intention goes, energy grows." It's simple and I invite you to try it, unless of course you love having a gym membership you never use.
Choose a life theme. What area of your life do you want to focus on? Physical health, romance, new career? The possibilities are endless. For me, 2017 will be focused on cultivating my creative side, all things love, and whole body healing. Sounds daunting to some, but here's how it works. When you are focused on what you want to call into your life, the universe has this beautiful way of supporting you through synchronicity and opportunity. (It also explains why sometimes you get exactly what you said you didn't want, change your focus silly goose!) So by focusing on my theme of let's say creativity, I will be mindful of moments to feed that. Like writing, and later today trying my hand at upholstering my daughter's new footstool. When I focus on whole body health, choices for my mind, body and spirit become a little more obvious. Does it support my healing or detract from it? It is such a gentle way of navigating. When I choose to ignore what's best for me, I know there is something bigger going on and I call a friend, have dinner with my sista, or speed dial my therapist.
I suffered a huge heart loss this year, with the passing of my mom ( and best friend) so focusing on love as a way to heal my heart, simply repeating the word "love" has shown me examples of love. Mostly in funny little ways, like the other day when my knight in shining armour neighbour came over in his big red tractor to snow blow my impossible driveway after receiving 16" of new snow that the town plow insisted would be best to redeposit from the road and heap in onto the end of my driveway. In that moment I LOVED my neighbour! And everytime I feel love my heart grows a little stronger.
Get off the crazy train, life should be gentle, full of surprises, and maybe, just maybe, by focusing on what you want instead of what you don't, this year may just go your way.
Wishing you Peace & Plenty!